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Title: England's Case Against Home Rule
Author: Dicey, Albert Venn, 1835-1922
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Richmond Publishing Co. Ltd. Orchard Road,
Richmond, Surrey, England



An author who publishes a book having any reference to Irish affairs
may, not unnaturally, be supposed either to possess some special
knowledge of Ireland, or else to be the advocate of some new specific
for the cure of Irish discontent. Of neither of these suppositions can I
claim the benefit. My knowledge of Ireland is merely the
knowledge--perhaps it were better to say the ignorance--of an educated
Englishman. It is derived from conversation with better informed
friends, from careful attention to the discussions on Irish policy which
for the last eighteen years have engrossed public attention, and from
books accessible to ordinary readers. If I can claim no special
acquaintance with Ireland, still less have I the presumption or the
folly to come forward as the inventor of any political nostrum. My
justification for publishing my thoughts on Home Rule is that the
movement in favour of the Parliamentary independence of Ireland
constitutes, whether its advocates recognise the fact or not, a demand
for fundamental alterations in the whole Constitution of the United
Kingdom; and while I may without presumption consider myself moderately
acquainted with the principles of Constitutional law, I entertain the
firmest conviction that any scheme for Home Rule in Ireland involves
dangerous if not fatal innovations on the Constitution of Great Britain.

To set forth the reasons for this opinion is the object of this work.
The opinion itself, whatever its worth, is not the growth of recent
controversy; it has been entertained for years, and has been expressed
by me in various publications. This book is much more than a reprint;
its contents are, however, in part made up of articles which have
already been published. My thanks are due to the owners of the
_Contemporary Review_ and of the New York _Nation_ for their permission
to make free use of my contributions to the pages of their periodicals;
it is a pleasure to acknowledge the exceptional liberality with which my
friend, Mr. E.L. Godkin, has allowed me to publish on my own
responsibility in the columns of the _Nation_, opinions of which he is
himself the strenuous and most able opponent.

Nor are my acknowledgments due only to the living. Gustave de Beaumont's
'_Irelande sociale et politique_' was placed in my hands by a friend
after the plan of my argument was complete, and the writing of this book
was in fact begun. From De Beaumont I learnt more than from any other
writer on the subject of Ireland with whose works I am acquainted, and I
found to my great satisfaction that his speculations curiously confirm
the objections I was prepared to urge against the policy of Home Rule.
It is a duty to insist upon the debt I owe to De Beaumont, because at
the present moment no greater service can be rendered to Englishmen and
to Irishmen alike than to press upon them the study of an author whose
writings are far better known on the Continent than in England, and
whose thoughts, though they may seem a little out of date, are full not
only of profound wisdom but of practical guidance.


OCTOBER, 1886.










Argument  I.--From Foreign Experience
      "  II.--From the Will of the Irish People
      " III.--From the Lessons of Irish History
      "  IV.--From the Virtues of Self-Government
      "   V.--From the Necessity for Coercion Acts
      "  VI.--From the Inconvenience to England of Refusing Home Rule







     I.--Home Rule as Federalism
    II.--Home Rule as Colonial Independence
   III.--Home Rule as the Revival of Grattan's Constitution
    IV.--Home Rule under the Gladstonian Constitution






[Sidenote: Aim and line of argument]

My aim is to criticise from a purely English point of view the policy of
Home Rule, or the proposal to create a more or less independent
Parliament in Ireland; and as a result of such criticism to establish
the truth, and develop the consequences, of this proposition--namely,
that any system of Home Rule, whatever be the form it takes, is less
beneficial to Great Britain, or (to use popular language) to England,
than is the maintenance of the Union, and is at least as much opposed to
the vital interests of England as would be the national independence of

The train of reasoning by which it is sought to establish this
principle, and the consequences which the principle involves, consists
of the following steps: first, an examination into the causes which give
strength to the Home Rule movement in England, and the nature of the
arguments in its support used by English Home Rulers; secondly, a
statement of the advantages and disadvantages, from an English point of
view, on the one hand of maintaining the Union, and on the other of
separation from Ireland; thirdly, a criticism of each of the principal
forms[1] under which Home Rule has been actually presented to the
attention of the public, the aim of such criticism being in each case to
determine how far the particular form of Home Rule can compete as
regards the interests of England with the alternative policies of
Unionism and of Irish independence; and, fourthly, a summary of the
conclusions arrived at by this survey of the policy of Home Rule. My
endeavour will be to make this survey without any appeal to prejudice,
passion, or sentiment, and with the calmness and fairness which a
scientific constitutionalist should display in weighing the merits of
any other proposed alteration in our form of government, such for
example as the introduction of life peers into the House of Lords, or in
estimating the value of some foreign constitutional invention, such for
example as the Swiss Referendum or the Dual system which links together
Hungary and the Austrian Empire. No citizen of the United Kingdom indeed
can pretend to be an impartial critic of a policy which divides the
whole nation into opposing parties. But during a period of revolutionary
excitement it is well to remember that any legislative innovation,
however keen the feelings of partisanship which it may arouse, is always
in itself capable of being looked at from a logical or abstract point of
view, and ought to be so looked at by jurists. To one class indeed among
the advocates of Home Rule the fundamental principle contended for in
these pages will appear irrelevant to the points at issue between such
Home Rulers and their opponents. Nationalists, who still occupy the
position held in 1848 by Sir Gavan Duffy and his friends, and who either
openly contend for the right of Ireland to be an independent nation, or
accept Home Rule (as they may with perfect fairness) simply as a step
towards the independence of their country, are naturally and rightly
unaffected by reasoning which shows, however conclusively, that Home
Rule may be as injurious to England as a complete severance of the
political connection between England and Ireland. A Nationalist may say
with justice that he is no more bound to consider whether England will
or will not be damaged by Ireland's becoming a nation, than an Italian
patriot was bound, in 1859, to show that Austria would not suffer by
being deprived of Lombardy or of Venetia; he accepts Home Rule on the
maxim that half a loaf is better than no bread, but a starving man is
not required to refuse the offer of food because the donor cannot make
the gift without getting into debt; nor does the acceptance of half a
loaf afford the least presumption that the recipient would not prefer a
whole loaf if he could get it. Some indeed of the considerations which
tell in the eyes of an Englishman against Home Rule may indirectly lead
an Irish Nationalist to the belief that the boon of legislative
independence, if granted to Ireland, would prove the present of a stone
in reply to a prayer for bread. But should a Nationalist be convinced
that no form of Home Rule would benefit Ireland, he would cling all the
more firmly to the faith that her salvation depends upon her taking her
place among independent states. To Nationalists, therefore, even though
at present they may be fighting the cause of Irish nationality behind
the vizor of Home Rule, these pages are not addressed; the position they
occupy is one of which no man has any cause to feel ashamed. The opinion
that, considering the misery which has marked the connection between
England and Ireland, the happiest thing for the weaker country would be
complete separation from the United Kingdom, is one which in common with
most Englishmen, and, it may be added, in common with the wisest foreign
observers, I do not share; but fairness requires the admission that it
is an opinion which a man may hold and may act upon, without incurring
the charge either of folly or of wickedness. To Nationalists, however,
these pages, as I have said, are not addressed. The persons for whom
they are intended are either Home Rulers, whether in Great Britain or in
Ireland, who _bonâ fide_ advocate the policy of Home Rule as a policy
good and wise in itself and for its own sake; or else Unionists, who
firmly believe that the whole State will suffer by any attempt to tear
up the Treaty of Union, but yet are unable to give for the faith that is
in them as strong grounds of reason as they would desire. To such
persons the importance of the principle (if true) which is contended for
throughout these pages must appear undeniable; it strikes at the root of
more than one half of the arguments by which Home Rulers from the time
of Mr. Butt to the days of Mr. Parnell have attempted, fairly enough,
and latterly with great success, to win over English opinion to their
cause, and it undermines the whole position occupied by Mr. Gladstone
and his English followers. They assume with undeniable truth that the
English people will not at the present moment, except under compulsion,
acquiesce in Irish independence; they further assume, and must from the
nature of the case assume, that Home Rule under one shape or another
presents a fair prospect at least of advantages not derivable from the
maintenance of the Union, and is at the very worst so much less
injurious to British interests than would be separation from Ireland, as
to offer to England a reasonable compromise between the just claims of
Englishmen to secure the prosperity of Great Britain and the greatness
of the British Empire, and the legitimate desire of Irishmen for
national independence. If the proposition which it is my object to
maintain turn out to be sound, all these assumptions fall to the ground,
together with a host of fallacies for which these assumptions form the
necessary basis. The principle, in short, which it is my object to
enforce--that Home Rule in Ireland is more dangerous to England than
Irish independence--lies at the bottom of all the rational opposition
made by Unionists to the creation of an Irish Parliament, and, together
with the arguments by which the principle is maintained, and the
conclusions to which it leads, forms the true and just and reasonable
case of England against Home Rule.

[Sidenote: Possible objections to method.]

The whole spirit and method of my argument is open to at least three
plausible objections, which deserve examination, both because if left
unnoticed they are certain to occur to and perplex any intelligent
reader, and because their removal brings into relief the strength of my
line of reasoning.

[Sidenote: 1. Too abstract.]

_First objection._--To deal with a burning controversy in the abstract
and logical manner suitable to the discussion of the problems of
jurisprudence savours, it may be objected, of theoretic, academic, or
pedantic disquisition more fit for a University class-room than for the
living world of contemporary politics.

The force of this criticism does not admit of denial. My method of
treating the question of Home Rule is necessarily lifeless when
compared with the vehement rhetoric or heated eloquence which
characterises public or parliamentary discussion; it is also true that
the argumentative treatment of matters affecting actual life always
bears about it a certain air of unreality.

If, however, systematic argument lacks the animation of political
discussion or dispute, it possesses its own counterbalancing merits, and
the mode of treating Home Rule purposely adopted in these pages has, it
is conceived, two not inconsiderable advantages. The first of these
advantages is that it diverts the mind from a crowd of personal,
temporary, and in themselves trivial considerations, which, though they
possess not only an apparent but also a real significance, are at bottom
irrelevant to the final decision of the true points at issue. Whether,
for example, Mr. Gladstone ought to have proclaimed himself a Home Ruler
before the elections of 1885, whether Lord Salisbury's reference, or
alleged reference, to twenty years of coercion was or was not judicious,
and did or did not receive a fair interpretation from his opponents;
whether Lord Carnarvon misled Mr. Parnell, or whether the Irish leader
was a dupe to his own astuteness; whether Mr. Chamberlain ought to have
joined the late Ministry, or, having gone into the Cabinet, ought never
to have left it; what have been the motives consciously or unconsciously
affecting Mr. Gladstone's course of action--these and a hundred other
enquiries of the like sort, which engage the attention and distract the
judgment of the public, possess, in the eyes of any serious thinker
occupied in estimating the strength of the arguments for and against
Home Rule, no material importance whatever. His concern is the merit or
demerit of a legislative enactment. He is not concerned at all with the
conduct or the character of legislators. Mr. Gladstone's motives may be
the highest which can be ascribed to the Premier by the voice of
admiring friendship, or the basest which can be imputed to him by the
unfairness of political rancour. In any case they are irrelevant to the
matter in hand. An unwise measure will not become a beneficial law
because its author is a saint or a patriot; a statesmanlike law will not
turn out a curse to the country because its defender is an intriguer or
a traitor. We all see that this is so if we carry our view back to the
controversies of the last generation; the personalities of fifty or
sixty years ago are reduced before our eyes into their real pettiness.
The first Reform Bill still retains its importance for as a measure
which for good or bad revolutionised the constitution; its beneficial or
pernicious effects are still traceable in the England of to-day; but its
evils are not lessened by the acknowledged virtues of Lord Althorpe, nor
are its good effects marred by the ambition of Brougham or the violence
of O'Connell. It is no slight recommendation of any mode of reasoning if
it suggests to us the prudence of judging the policy of 1886 in the
spirit and by the standards which every man of sense applies to the
policy of 1832. Academic disquisition has its faults, but ought to
produce academic calmness; a class-room is after all a better place for
quiet reflection than the House of Commons or the hustings.

The second of the advantages which marks the proposed mode of argument
is that a line of thought which fixes a reader's attention all but
exclusively upon the probable effects of Home Rule is a preservative
against the errors which arise from introducing into a dispute, bitter
enough in itself, all the poisonous venom of historical recrimination,
and all the delusions which are the offspring of the misleading tendency
to personify nations. The massacres of 1641, the sack of Drogheda, the
violated treaty of Limerick, the follies strangely mingled with the
patriotism of Grattan's Parliament, the outrages which discredited the
rebellion of 1798, and the cruelties which disgraced its suppression;
the corruption which carried the Union, and the broken pledges which
turned political union into a source of fresh sectarian discord; the
calamities, the mistakes and the crimes which mark each scene in the
tragedy of Irish history, afford to Protestants and to Catholics alike
an exhaustless supply of recriminatory invective. But to evoke the
spectres of past ages is not the way to assuage the animosities of the
present day. The crimes of bygone generations are subjects for curious
investigation, but the determination of historical problems, even when
conducted in the spirit of the calmest enquiry, never removes the
difficulties of practical statesmanship. Apologies, at any rate, or
diatribes produced by the necessity for palliating or for denouncing
the misdeeds of other times, only add a new element of confusion to the
turmoil of political warfare. Whether the insurgents of 1641 massacred
every Protestant on whom they could lay their hands, or bear only an
indirect responsibility for the death of eight or nine thousand men and
women ruthlessly expelled from the lands of which in Irish eyes they
were wrongful occupiers, is a question to be settled by Mr. Froude, Mr.
Lecky, and Mr. Gardiner; but the barbarities of insurgent Catholics, and
the retaliatory severity of Protestant victors, which mark the fury of
an internecine conflict removed from us by the lapse of more than two
centuries have little to do with the practical question whether it be
expedient at the present day that the local affairs of Ulster should be
dealt with by a Parliament sitting at Dublin, or whether members from
Ireland should have seats at Westminster. Recrimination, while it adds
nothing to knowledge, disturbs the judgment of statesmen and of
electors; but not even the reckless resuscitation of bitter memories,
which ought to be forgotten, adds so much to the confusion of the day as
does the habit fostered by the illusions of language, and by the falsely
applied historical method, of speaking and thinking of England and
Ireland as though they were two human beings, who, on closing a
life-long quarrel, might be expected to entertain towards one another
those sentiments of regret, generosity, or gratitude which are proper to
men and women, but can only by the boldest of fictions be supposed to
enter into the relations between classes or nations. To this delusion of
personification is due the notion that Englishmen of to-day ought to
make compensation and feel personal shame for the cruelties of Cromwell,
or for Pitt's corruption of Irish patriots; that we are in some way
liable and should feel compunction for crimes committed by (possibly)
the ancestors of the very men to whom we are now supposed to owe
reparation. To the same cause is to be attributed the absurd demand that
the Irish Catholics should put on ashes and sackcloth for the massacres
of 1641, or that living Irishmen should be grateful for the well-meant
though most unsuccessful efforts made by the Parliament of the United
Kingdom to govern one-third of the United Kingdom on sound principles of
justice. A Sovereign's plainest duty is to rule his subjects for their
good according to the best of his power and of his knowledge, and the
mere discharge of duty does not entitle a ruler to gratitude from the
persons who are benefited by his justice. A Parliamentary Sovereign
being the representative and agent of its (so-called) subjects, is _à
fortiori_ if there can be degrees in such matters--bound to govern for
the benefit of the people whom it represents and ought to serve; and
there is something strictly preposterous in the idea that Irish
electors, who in common with the rest of the United Kingdom send
representatives to Westminster, should glow with gratitude when the
Parliament of the United Kingdom so far performs its duty as to enact
laws from which Ireland derives benefit No one suggests that Englishmen
or Scotchmen should feel grateful either to Parliament or to their Irish
fellow-citizens for the maintenance of good government throughout
England and Scotland. And it would puzzle the wit of man to show why
one-third of the United Kingdom should be expected to entertain feelings
never demanded from the other two-thirds thereof.

[Sidenote: 2. Too much reference to interest.]

_Second objection_.--The habitual reference made throughout these pages
to national interest as the test or standard of national policy has (it
may be suggested) a touch of sordidness and selfishness, and implies
that statesmanship has nothing to do with morality.

This impression may it is possible be conveyed to a careless reader by
the form in which the case against Home Rule is stated; but no
suggestion can in reality be more unfounded. It will be seen to be
unfounded by any one who notes for a moment the meaning of the term
"interest" as applied to matters of national policy. The interest or the
welfare of a nation comprises many things which have nothing to do with
trade or with wealth, and the value of which does not admit of being
measured in money. The interest, welfare, or prosperity of England
includes the maintenance of her honour, the performance of all her
obligations, and, above all, the strict discharge of every engagement
which she has undertaken towards countries or to individuals. The
protection, for example, of law-abiding citizens in the enjoyment of
rights secured to them by law; the maintenance of peace throughout the
length and breadth of the Empire; the suppression of lawlessness; the
strict performance of every promise which the State has made to every
man or body of men, whether poor or rich, whether belonging to the class
of labourers, of farmers, or even of landlords--the rendering, in short,
to every man of his due--are things which without any improper extension
of the term interest fall under the head of national interests.
Utilitarianism, in truth, being a body of principles applicable
primarily to legislation and only secondarily to ethics, its doctrines
hold far more obviously true in the field of politics than in the field
of morals. On any wide view of large public questions expediency will be
found to be only another name for justice. It can be neither the
interest nor the duty of any nation to legislate in a way which produces
more of suffering than of happiness. A policy opposed to the interests
or the welfare of the United Kingdom as a whole, even though it may
appear for a moment to favour some particular portion of the State, is,
we may be well assured, a policy opposed not only to wisdom, but to

[Sidenote: 3. Exclusively English point of view.]

_Third objection._--To look at Home Rule mainly from an English point of
view, to criticise it because of its bearing on the interests or welfare
of England, is, it may perhaps be thought, to treat the whole matter
from the wrong side, and to betray an indifference to the welfare of
Ireland. Home Rule, the objector may say, is a scheme for the government
of Ireland. It therefore concerns the people of Ireland alone, it should
be subjected to examination from an Irish, not from an English point of
view, and to consider it in any other light is to exhibit in a new form
that callous disregard by England of Ireland's claims which has
prevented the two countries from blending into one community.

It is of primary importance that this objection should be stated with
all the force which can be given to it, for were it valid it would
assuredly be, in the judgment of all just persons, fatal to the line of
reasoning which my readers are invited to pursue. The objection is,
however, so far from being valid as to present my whole method of
reasoning in a false light. A main reason why an Englishman does well to
look at Home Rule from an English point of view is, that this mode of
dealing with the adjustment of the possibly opposed interests of England
and Ireland is (paradoxical though the assertion may sound) both the
least irritating and in itself the fairest method of meeting the demands
of Irish Home Rulers; though--and this is the one certainly good result
which has arisen from the changed attitude towards Home Rule of Mr.
Gladstone and his followers--these demands may now happily be dealt with
as claims put forward not specially by Irishmen, but by a political
party which includes large numbers of Scotchmen and Englishmen. The
assertion, however, that to look at Home Rule from an English point of
view is the way to minimise irritation, and to deal fairly with a topic
specially requiring fair treatment, requires some explanation.

Experience of the world teaches every man that in complicated affairs of
private life, involving questions, say, both of money and of sentiment,
nothing so surely prevents quarrels as to separate in the clearest
manner possible matters of business from matters of feeling. In
determining a dispute between _A._ and _B._, a great step is gained when
a friend induces each of the parties first to state clearly his exact
legal rights and his exact pecuniary interest, and only when these facts
are made clear to consider what are the concessions fairly to be
demanded from him as a matter, not of right, but of liberality. Nothing,
again, is plainer in the conduct of controversies between man and man,
than that if _A._ intends to exact his full legal rights from _B._, the
most irritating defence of _A.'s_ conduct is his pretence of acting
solely with a view to _B.'s_ own good; and that, on the other hand, no
manner of enforcing _A.'s_ claims against _B._ causes so little
unnecessary vexation to _B._ as for _A._ to say openly that he demands
his rights because they are his rights, and because to demand them is
his interest. Here, if nowhere else, the rules which apply to private
disputes apply also to political controversies. If millions of
Englishmen refuse a request made by millions of Irishmen, by far the
least irritating form of refusal is open avowal that the reason for
denying a separate Parliament to Ireland is the irreparable injury which
Home Rule will work both to Great Britain and to the British Empire.
This assertion has the merit, which even in politics is not small, of
truth. If the Parliamentary independence of Ireland threatened as little
damage to England as the Parliamentary independence of Victoria, an
Irish legislature would meet in Dublin before the end of the year.
Englishmen, it is true, do not believe that Ireland would in the long
run gain by the possession of legislative independence. It is not,
however, the doubt as to the reality of the blessing to be conferred on
Ireland, but the certainty as to the injury to be done to England, which
causes their opposition to Home Rule. To base this opposition upon the
probable inconsistency between a Home Rule policy and the true interests
of Ireland, involves the assumption that Englishmen are better judges of
what makes for the true interest of Ireland than are the majority of
Irishmen. The soundness of this assumption must seem to any man, who
either recalls the most obvious facts of Irish history, or notes the
depth of ignorance as to all things Irish which prevails even among our
educated classes, to be open to reasonable question. What is not
questionable is that the assertion, in whatever form it be made, that
three millions of Irishmen do not understand what is good for themselves
must arouse in their hearts deep and natural anger. If indeed the claim
of Great Britain to look in this matter of Home Rule solely to the
effect of Home Rule on British interests, were equivalent to the
assertion that because England is strong she ought wherever her own
interests are at stake to reck nothing of justice, such cynical scorn
for all considerations except the possession of superior power would
kindle just resentment in the soul of every man, whether in Ireland or
in England, who believes that national morality is more than a mere
phrase, though even in this case the open cynicism might excite less
disgust than cynicism veiling itself under the mask of benevolence.
Happily, however, there is in the present instance no opposition between
truth and justice. Home Rule is no doubt primarily a scheme for the
government of Ireland, but it is also much more than this: it is a plan
for revolutionising the constitution of the whole United Kingdom. There
is no unfairness, therefore, in insisting that the proposed change must
not take place if it be adverse to the interests of Great Britain. This
is merely to assert that the welfare of thirty millions of citizens
must, if a conflict of interest arise, be preferred to the interest of
five millions of citizens. Home Rulers, it must again and again be
repeated, demand not the national independence of Ireland, but the
maintenance of the connection between England and Ireland on terms
different from the conditions contained in the Act of Union. To keep
one's mind clear on this point is of importance, because the result
follows that, as already intimated, a whole series of arguments or
claims which may fairly be put forward by a Nationalist are not
available to a Home Ruler. A Nationalist, for example, may urge that
the will of the Irish people to be independent is decisive of their
moral right to independence, and that the perils which a free Ireland
may bring upon England need not in any way concern him or his country.
Whether indeed the principle of "nationality," or the contention that
any portion of a State which deems itself conscious of distinct national
sentiment may, as a matter of absolute right, claim to become a separate
nation, can be maintained, is an enquiry not so easily answered in the
affirmative as is often assumed by modern democrats. What, however, is
here insisted upon is not that the principle of nationality is unsound,
but that this principle does not cover the demand for Home Rule. A Home
Ruler asks not for the political separation, but for the political
partnership of England and Ireland. He wishes not that the firm should
be dissolved, but that the Articles of Association should be revised.
There is not then the least unfairness in the answer that no
modification can be allowed which in the judgment of his associates is
fatal to the prosperity of the concern. To crowds excited by pictures of
past greatness or of past struggles, by the hope of future prosperity to
be brought about by miracles wrought by substituting the rule of love
for the rule of law, there may appear to be something prosaic, not to
say repulsive, in the comparison of the relation between Great Britain
and Ireland to the relation between shareholders in a trading company.
But at a period when a fundamental change in the constitution is
advocated on grounds of faith, benevolence, or generosity, a good deal
is gained by bringing into relief the business aspect of constitutional
reforms. It can never be amiss to be reminded that, in the words of one
of the most thoughtful among the advocates of Home Rule, "Government is
a very practical business, and that those succeed best in it who bring
least of sentiment or enthusiasm to the conduct of their affairs." It is
at moments of revolutionary fervour, when men measure proposed policies
rather by their wishes than by their experience, that every citizen
needs to have impressed upon his mind that government and legislation
are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination. Nor let any
one imagine that the expression of the belief constantly avowed or
implied throughout these pages, that Home Rule would be as great an evil
to England as Irish independence, shows a reckless and most
unbusinesslike indifference to the perils and losses of separation. My
conviction is unalterable that separation would be to England, as also
to Ireland, a gigantic evil. This position is fully compatible with the
belief that there are other evils as great, or greater. If a man says
that he prefers the loss of his right hand to the loss of his life, he
cannot reasonably be charged with making light of amputation. It is
however perfectly true that the line of argument pursued in this work
must, if it be sound, drive those to whom it is addressed to a choice
between the maintenance of the Union and the concession to Ireland of
national independence.



These are--

i. Home Rule as Federalism.

ii. Home Rule as Colonial Independence.

iii. Home Rule as the Restoration of Grattan's Constitution.

iv. Home Rule under the Government of Ireland Bill, or, to use a
convenient name, under the Gladstonian constitution. Chap. vii.



"Home Rule" is a term which, like all current and popular phrases, is,
though intelligible, wanting in precision. Hence it is well, before we
investigate the different forms which schemes of Home Rule may assume,
to fix in our minds precisely what Home Rule does mean and what it does
not mean.

[Sidenote: What Home Rule means.]

"Home Rule"--or, to speak more accurately, the policy of Home
Rule--means, if we may use language with which we are all familiar in
relation to the Colonies, the endowment of Ireland with representative
institutions and responsible government.

It means, therefore, the creation of an Irish Parliament which shall
have legislative authority in matters of Irish concern, and of an Irish
executive responsible (in general) for its acts to the Irish Parliament
or the Irish people. Hence every scheme of Home Rule which merits that
name is marked by three features--_first_, the creation of an Irish
Parliament; _secondly_, the right of the Irish Parliament to legislate
within its own sphere (however that sphere may be defined) with habitual
freedom from the control of the Imperial or British Parliament; and
_thirdly_, the habitual responsibility of the Irish executive for its
acts to the Irish people or to their representatives.

These three characteristics, which I do not attempt to define with
anything like logical precision, constitute the essence of Home Rule.
Other things, however important in themselves, are matters of
subordinate detail, and open to discussion or compromise. The
limitations to the sphere within which the Irish Parliament is to exert
independent authority, the definition of the term "Irish concerns," the
constitution of the Irish Parliament, the nature and appointment of the
Irish executive (which, though it is no doubt generally assumed to be a
Cabinet chosen in effect like the Victorian Ministry, by the local
Parliament, might well, and indeed far better, be a President or Council
elected, like the Governor of New York, by popular vote), the occasions
on which the British Parliament should retain the legal or moral right
of legislation for Ireland--these and a score of other subjects which at
once suggest themselves to a critic of constitutions are of supreme
importance, but in whatever way they may be determined, they do not
touch the principle of Home Rule. A scheme, on the other hand, however
wise its provisions, which lacked the essential characteristics already
enumerated, would not meet the demand for Home Rule; an Act which did
not constitute a Parliament for Ireland could not possibly satisfy the
sentiment of Irish nationality; an Irish Parliament which did not
habitually, at any rate, legislate with independence of the Parliament
at Westminster could not divest the law in Ireland of its "foreign
garb"; an executive not responsible directly or indirectly to the Irish
people could not give full effect to the legislation of an Irish
Parliament, and the existence of such an executive would (if the true
ground why law is hated in Ireland be its alien character) only divert
popular hostility from the law to the government.

[Sidenote: What Home Rule does not mean.]

Home Rule does not mean Local Self-Government; Home Rule does not mean
National Independence.

Local Self-Government means the delegation by the Sovereign, and in
England therefore by Parliament, to local bodies, say town councils,
county boards, vestries, and the like, of strictly subordinate powers of
legislation for definite localities. The authority possessed by such
local bodies extends over definite and limited areas, (which themselves
are often created by legislation); exists for definite purposes; is
directly conferred or tolerated by Parliament; has no capacity of
indefinite extension; and neither comes into competition with nor
restrains, either legally or morally, the legislative authority of
Parliament. Logically, indeed, there may be difficulty in drawing the
precise line of demarcation between a plan for conferring on Ireland the
minimum of legislative independence which could without absurdity be
dignified with the name of Home Rule, and a plan for giving to the
boroughs and counties of Ireland the maximum of law-making power which
could, without fraud upon the intelligence of the English people, be
comprehended within the elastic phrase "extension of Local
Self-Government." But this logical puzzle need give us no trouble; it is
based on the fact that every non-sovereign law-making body, whether it
be the French National Assembly, the American Congress, or the London,
Chatham and Dover Railway Co., belongs to one and the same genus.[2] The
casuists of jurisprudence may quibble for ever over the confines between
Home Rule and Local Self-Government; men of sense engaged in the
consideration of affairs thrust aside such inopportune logomachy, and
content themselves with the knowledge that were the Town Council, say,
of Birmingham or of Belfast endowed with tenfold its present powers, it
would differ essentially from any Irish Parliament which, even though
denied the Parliamentary title, should represent the people of Ireland,
and should have received the very smallest amount of authority which
could by any possibility satisfy Mr. Parnell. Nor are differences which
may not admit of easy definition difficult for a candid enquirer to
discern. A town council, whatever its powers, does not represent a
nation, and derives no prestige from the principle of nationality; the
feeblest legislative assembly meeting at Dublin would rightly claim to
speak for the Irish people. A town council, whether of Birmingham or of
Belfast, springs from and is kept alive by the will of Parliament, and
cannot pretend that its powers, however extensive, compete with the
authority of its creator. Should a town council use even its strictly
legal rights in a way not conducive to the public interest, Parliament
would without scruple override the bye-laws of the council by the force
of Parliamentary enactment. The authority of an Irish representative
assembly would from the necessity of things be, if not a legal, at any
rate a moral check, I will not say on Parliamentary sovereignty, but
assuredly on Parliamentary legislation. Extended rights of
self-government, though given to every local body in Ireland, would not
affect the relation between the people of Ireland and the Parliament at
Westminster. The very aim of Home Rule, even under its least pretentious
form, is to introduce a new relation between the people of Ireland and
the Parliament at Westminster. The matter may be summed up in one
phrase: Local Self-Government however extended means the delegation,
Home Rule however curtailed means the surrender, of Parliamentary

[Sidenote: Local Self-Government.]

The distinction here insisted upon is of practical importance, for it is
connected with a question so pressing as to excuse an apparent, though
not more than an apparent, digression.

English Radicals, and many politicians who are not Radicals, hold,
whether rightly or not, that the sphere of Local Self-Government may
with benefit to the nation be greatly extended in England. The soundness
of this view in no way concerns us, and it is a matter upon which there
is no reason, for our present purpose, to form or express an opinion;
they also hope that by a similar extension of Local Self-Government to
Ireland they may satisfy the demand for Home Rule. They conceive, in
short, that it is possible to confer a substantial benefit upon the
Irish people, and to close a dangerous agitation, by giving to Belfast
and to Cork the same municipal privileges which they wish to extend to
Birmingham or to Liverpool. The reasons for this belief are threefold:
that Local Self-Government is itself a benefit; that Ireland ought, as
of right, to have the same institutions as England; that Local or
Municipal Self-Government will meet the real if not the nominal wish of
the Irish people. This hope I believe to be delusive. The reasons on
which it is grounded are--one of them probably, and two of them

Local Self-Government is one of those arrangements which, like most
political institutions, cannot be called absolutely good or bad. It is a
good thing, I suppose, at Birmingham, and was some fifty years ago a
good thing in Massachusetts, and it may prove (though this is
speculation) a good thing in an English county. Local Self-Government is
not admirable at New York; it works less well than it once did in New
England; it does not produce very happy effects in London parishes; we
may well doubt whether it be really suited for modern France. Local
Self-Government where it flourishes is quite as much a result as a cause
of a happy social condition; the eulogies bestowed upon it contain a
curious mixture of truth and falsehood. What is true is, that where
self-government flourishes, society is in a sound state; what is false
is, that Local Self-Government produces a sound state of society. The
primary condition necessary for the success of self-government is
harmony between different classes. The rich must be the guides of the
poor, the poor must put trust in the rich. Men who are placed above
corruption must interest themselves in the laborious but important
details of local administration; men who might be corrupted themselves,
must desire to place power in the hands of leaders who are as a class
incorruptible. High public spirit, a detestation of jobbery, trust and
goodwill between rich and poor, are the feelings which make good local
or municipal government possible. There are certain parts of England,
there are larger parts of the United States, where these admirable and
rare conditions exist. Do they exist in Ireland? I need not answer the
question, for if they existed our difficulties in Ireland would be at an
end. If, indeed, there were a genuine desire for Local Self-Government,
expressed by Irishmen themselves, every sensible man would at once
surrender _à priori_ theories in favour of the conclusions drawn by
practical experience. But no such wish has been expressed, and until it
is expressed, a thoughtful observer may fairly believe that Local
Self-Government will not flourish in a country where are presented none
of the conditions on which its prosperity depends, and he may conjecture
that in Ireland, as in France, an honest centralised administration of
impartial officials, and not Local Self-Government, would best meet the
real wants of the people.[3]

The notion that Ireland or any one part of the United Kingdom ought, or
has a claim, to have the same institutions as every other part rests on
a confusion of ideas, and is a false deduction from democratic
principles. It is founded on the feeling which has caused half the
errors of democracy, that a fraction of a nation has a right to speak
with the authority of the whole, and that the right of each portion of
the people to make its wishes heard involves the right to have them
granted. This delusion has once and again made Paris the ruler of
France, and the Parisian mob the master of Paris. The sound principle of
democratic government--and England must, under the present state of
things, be ruled on democratic principles--is, that all parts of the
country must be governed in the way which the whole of the State as
represented by the majority thereof deems expedient for each part, and
that while every part should be allowed a voice to make known its wants,
the decision how these wants are to be met must be given by the whole
State, that is (in the particular instance) by the majority of the
electors of Great Britain and Ireland. From this principle it does not
follow either that every part of the kingdom should have those
institutions which that part prefers, (though in so far as this end can
be attained its attainment is desirable,) or, still less, that every
part of the kingdom should have the same institutions as every other
part. That this is so everybody in a general way admits. No one supposes
that because the people of Leicester abominate vaccination the
Vaccination Acts are not to be extended to that borough, or that the
wish of the people of Birmingham in favour of free schools is decisive
in favour of making education in Birmingham gratuitous. The will of a
locality is admitted not to be the expression of the will of the nation.
No one, again, fancies that the legal institutions of England ought of
necessity to be extended to Scotland, or the law of Scotland to England.
In Ireland recent legislation has, and with general approval,
established institutions which no one alleges must, because they exist
in Ireland, be applied of necessity or as a matter of justice to
England. English tenants might in many cases, it is likely enough, think
the provisions of the Irish Land Acts a boon, but no one would listen to
the argument that simply because under the special circumstances of
Ireland special privileges are given to Irish tenants, similar
privileges ought to be conferred upon every English tenant farmer. The
idea therefore that because English boroughs or counties receive an
increased measure of self-government the same measure ought to be
extended to Ireland, though it sounds plausible, is neither conformable
to democratic principle nor to our habitual practice, grounded as that
practice is on considerations of common sense and expediency. The true
watchwords which should guide English democrats in their dealings with
Ireland, as in truth with every other part of the United Kingdom, are
not "equality," "similarity," and "simultaneity," but "unity of
government," "equality of political rights," "diversity of
institutions." Unless English democrats see this they will commit a
double fault: they will not in reality deal with Ireland as with
England, for to deal with societies in essentially different conditions
in the same manner is in truth to treat them differently; they will
not--and this is of even more importance--perform the true function of
the democracy, which is to remove by special legislation, mainly in a
democratic direction, the peculiar evils which are the result of
Ireland's peculiar and calamitous history.

Once realise that Local Self-Government is essentially different from
Home Rule, and it becomes patent that the idea of satisfying the wish
for Home Rule by increasing the municipal franchises of every township
in Ireland is a dangerous delusion. Local Self-Government may be an
excellent thing in its way--it is possibly (though I do not say it is)
the thing which the inhabitants of Ireland ought to wish for; but it is
not the thing which they do wish for, and it has not the qualities
which, if Home Rule be really desired by the Irish people, make Home
Rule desirable. It does not meet the feeling of nationality; it does not
give the popular leaders authority to settle the land question; it does
not free the law from its alien aspect. The very reasons which make
English reformers favour the extension of Local Self-Government in
Ireland prove that Local Self-Government, whatever its merits, is no
substitute for Parliamentary independence. Englishmen recommend Local
Self-Government because it does not check on the authority of the
Imperial Parliament; Home Rulers desire Home Rule because it does check
Imperial legislation. Brandy is good, and water is good; but when a
neighbour asks for a glass of spirits, it is mockery to tender a glass
of water on the ground that both spirits and water are drink. The
benevolent person who makes the offer must not wonder if he receives no

[Sidenote: National Independence.]

Home Rule does not mean National Independence. This proposition needs no
elaboration. Any plan of Home Rule whatever implies that there are
spheres of national life in which Ireland is not to act with the freedom
of an independent State. Mr. Parnell and his followers accept in
principle Mr. Gladstone's proposals, and therefore are willing to accept
for Ireland restrictions on her political liberty absolutely
inconsistent with the principle of nationality. Under the Gladstonian
constitution her foreign policy is to be wholly regulated by a British
Parliament in which sit no Irish representatives; she is not to have the
right either of raising an army or of endowing a church; she is in fact
to surrender any claim to the rights of a nation in consideration of
receiving a certain number of State-rights. In all this there is nothing
unreasonable and nothing blameworthy. One part of the United Kingdom is
prepared to accept new terms of partnership. But this acceptance,
though reasonable and fair enough, is quite inconsistent with any claim
for national independence. A nation is one thing, a state forming part
of a federation is quite another. To ask for the position of a dependent
colony like Victoria, or of a province such as Ontario, is to renounce
the demand to be a nation. A _bonâ fide_ Home Ruler cannot be a _bonâ
fide_ Nationalist. This point deserves attention, not for the sake of
the miserable and ruinous advantage which is obtained by taunting an
adversary in controversy with inconsistency till you drive him to
improve his logical position by increasing the exactingness of his
demands, but because the advocates of Home Rule (honestly enough, no
doubt) confuse the matter under discussion by a strange kind of
intellectual shuffle. When they wish to minimise the sacrifice to
England of establishing a Parliament in Ireland, they bring Home Rule
down nearly to the proportions of Local Self-Government; when they wish
to maximise--if the word may be allowed--the blessings to Ireland of a
separate legislature, they all but identify Home Rule with National
Independence. Yet you have no more right to expect from any form of
State-rights the new life which sometimes is roused among a people by
the spirit and the responsibilities of becoming a nation, than you have
to suppose that municipal councils will satisfy the feelings which
demand an Irish Parliament.


[2] See Dicey, Law of the Constitution (2nd ed.), p. 80.

[3] De Beaumont's opinions on this point are perfectly clear: they
represent the judgment of an extremely able thinker, who approaches the
problems presented by Irish society with an impartiality which from the
nature of things is unattainable by any Englishman or Irishman. His
utterances will moreover command the more respect from the consideration
that De Beaumont, belonging as he did to the school of his intimate
friend De Tocqueville, was inclined rather to overrate than to underrate
the virtues of self-government; whilst as a Frenchman he possessed a
knowledge which cannot fall to any Englishman of the benefits conferred
upon the people by a good administration of the French type. The
following extracts from a chapter too long for complete citation, which
is written to show that Ireland needs a centralised government, deserve
the most careful attention. The whole chapter, and indeed the whole work
to which it belongs, ought at the present moment to be familiar to every
English Liberal:--

"_Pour détruire le pouvoir politique de l'aristocratie, il faudrait lui
ôter l'application quotidienne des lois, comme on l'a privée
précédemment àdu pouvoir de les faire. Il faudrait, par conséquent,
modifier profondément le système administratif et judiciaire qui repose
sur l'institution des juges de paix et sur l'organisation des grands
jurys, tels qu'ils sont constitués aujourd'hui. Et d'abord, pour
exécuter cette réforme, il faudrait centraliser le pouvoir_.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Plus on considère l'état de l'Irlande, et plus il semble qu'à tout
prendre un gouvernement central fortement constitué serait, du moins
pour quelque temps, le meilleur que puisse avoir ce pays. Une
aristocratie existe, qu'on veut réformer. Mais à qui remettre le pouvoir
qu'on va retirer de ses mains? Aux classes moyennes?--Elles ne font que
de naître en Irlande. L'avenir leur appartient; mats ne
compromettront-elles pas cet avenir, si la charge de mener la société
est confiée dès aujourd'hui à leurs mains inhabiles et à leurs ardentes

_"Telle est aujourd'hui en Irlande la situation des partis, que l'on ne
peut obtenir quelque justice des pouvoirs politiques, si on les laisse à
l'aristocratie protestante, et que l'on ne saurait guere en espérer
davantage, si on les donne aussitôt à la classe moyenne catholique qui

_"Ce qu'il faudrait à l'Irlande, ce serait une administration supérieure
aux partis, à l'ombre de laquelle les classes moyennes pussent grandir,
se développer et s'instruire, pendant que l'aristocratie perdrait son

       *       *       *       *       *

_"Il n'entre, du reste, ni dans mon désir, ni dans mon plan, d'expliquer
la forme et le mécanisme de la centralisation qui conviendrait à
l'Irlande, et dont je me borne à reconnaître en principe l'utilité
passagère pour ce pays; je ne hasarderai, sur ce sujet, qu'une seule
idée pratique._

_"C'est que, pour organiser en Irlande un gouvernement central puissant,
il faudrait de plus en plus resserrer le lien d'union qui attache
l'Irlande à l'Angleterre, rapprocher le plus possible Dublin de Londres,
et faire de l'Irlande un comté anglais._

       *       *       *       *       *

_"On ne conteste point que l'Irlande ait besoin d'un gouvernement
spécial; et s'il y a nécessité de la soumettre à un régime législatif
autre que celui de l'Angleterre, il faut bien aussi des agents
particuliers pour appliquer des règles différentes d'administration.
Mais, ceci étant admis, l'on ne voit pas ce qui aujourd'hui empêcherait
de placer le siége du gouvernement irlandais dans la première ville de
l'empire britannique._

       *       *       *       *       *

_"La réforme de la vice-royauté et l'abolition des administrations
locales d'Irlande ne sont, sans doute, que des changements de forme.
Mais ce sont des moyens pratiques indispensables pour exécuter les
réformes politiques dont ce pays a besoin. Il faut que, pendant la
période de transition où se trouve l'Irlande, ceux qui la gouvernent
soient placés absolument en dehors d'elle, de ses moeurs, de ses
passions; il faut que son gouvernement cesse complétement d'être
irlandais; il faut qu'il soit entièrement, non pas anglais, mais remis à
des Anglais."_--2 De Beaumont, _l'Irlande, Sociale, Politique et
Religieuse_, pp. 124-129



[Sidenote: Strength of movement.]

A dispassionate observer will easily convince himself that in Great
Britain the movement in favour of Home Rule is stronger than is believed
by its opponents. Patent facts show that this is so. In 1880 no single
English statesman had avowed himself its supporter; not fifty English or
Scotch members of Parliament could have been found to vote for an
enquiry into the admissibility of Mr. Parnell's policy. It may well be
doubted whether at that date ten British constituencies would have
returned to Parliament representatives pledged to grant Ireland a
separate legislature. Contrast this state of things with the present
condition of affairs. England has indeed pronounced decisively against
any tampering with the Act of Union, but the leading statesman of the
day has avowed himself a Home Ruler; he is supported by eminent
colleagues, and by nearly two hundred representatives of British
constituencies. Scotland and Wales on the whole favour the policy of
separation, and if, as has been roughly computed, of the electors of
the United Kingdom, 1,316,327 have voted in support of the Union, the
same computation shows that 1,238,342 are, to say the least, indifferent
to its maintenance. These are facts which tell their own tale. The Home
Rule movement has waxed strong. What is in England the source of its
strength, and what are the arguments in its support relied upon by its
English advocates?

[Sidenote: Source of its strength.]

Nine persons out of ten will reply that the Home Rule movement in
England owes its origin and force to the patronage of Mr. Gladstone. No
one who has watched the ebb and flow of popular feeling will underrate
that statesman's influence, and few persons, whatever their political
bias, will deny that but for Mr. Gladstone's conversion Mr. Parnell's
teaching would not at this moment have gained for him as many as fifty
disciples among English politicians. It may even be conceded that but
for Mr. Gladstone's action no English party would, during his lifetime,
have adopted the Parliamentary independence of Ireland as a watchword.
But here, as in other instances, there is grave danger of mistaking the
occasion for the cause of events, and if Mr. Gladstone's conversion has
determined the form and increased the momentum of the Home Rule
movement, it would be an error to hold that the prevalence of doctrines
unfavourable to the maintenance of the Union between England and Ireland
were wholly or even in the main due to his conduct. His conversion
itself remains to be accounted for. This would (except to those critics
who ascribe the most important acts of public statesmanship to the
pettiest forms of private selfishness) remain almost unaccountable
unless it were regarded in the light, in which it ought no doubt to be
looked upon, of an example of the facility with which a leader guided by
keen sympathy with the real or supposed opinions or emotions of the
moment follows, while apparently he guides, the phases of public
opinion. Candour moreover compels the admission that, if Mr. Gladstone's
action has led some politicians to "find salvation"--according to the
miserable cant of the day--in the adoption of opinions which cannot be
dignified with the name of convictions, many honest men both within and
without the sphere of public life have under the countenance of a great
name been encouraged to avow publicly sympathies with the demand for
Home Rule which have been slowly matured, and have hitherto scarcely
been acknowledged even in the convert's own mind. To any one who
perceives that the force of a movement opposed to the traditions of
English statesmanship must be attributed to some cause beyond the
personal influence of a leader, the idea naturally suggests itself that
the prevalence of conversions to the policy of Home Rule is due to the
power of argument, and that the English people have been brought to see
the expediency of conceding a legislature to Ireland by the same methods
which induced them to abolish the policy of Protection. This notion does
not correspond with known facts. Till a recent date hardly an argument
was addressed to the English public in favour of Home Rule; no great
writer or speaker even aimed at proving to the nation that a reform or
innovation which has been rejected again and again as repeal had more to
recommend it under a new name. Great changes in our institutions or
policy have hitherto been preceded by lengthy, in general by too
lengthy, discussion. The doctrines of Free Trade were established by
Adam Smith seventy years before the abolition of the Corn Laws, and
Protection was not vanquished till Cobden and Bright had, by laborious
controversy, exposed its fallacies in every corner of Great Britain. The
reasons in favour of Catholic Emancipation were stated in their full
force by Burke more than forty years before a Roman Catholic was
admitted to Parliament, and the whole case in favour of the Catholics
had been argued out in the presence of the nation long before the
passing of the Catholic Relief Bill. No movement ever appealed to keener
popular sympathies than the movement for the abolition of slavery. Yet
the Abolitionists made their case out--proved it, as lawyers say, "up to
the very hilt," before a single slave was released from bondage. The
Irish Church (it may be suggested) was abolished off-hand. This apparent
exception to the regular course of long argumentative controversy which
in England marks all great innovations has misled Home Rulers, yet the
exception is only apparent. Long before 1869 the intelligence of
England--one might say of the civilised world--had been convinced by
the power of reason that the maintenance in a Roman Catholic country,
and at the expense of a Roman Catholic population, of a Protestant
ecclesiastical establishment was an indefensible anomaly. The walls fell
at the first blast which sounded attack, because the foundations had
been argumentatively sapped and undermined for more than a generation.
With the cause of Home Rule it is far otherwise. Its sudden progress has
been characterised by a singular absence of systematic discussion. No
one supposes that its English advocates are deficient in talent or in
zeal. Mr. Gladstone, Mr. John Morley, Mr. Bryce--to name no others--are
as competent apologists for any opinion they entertain as can well be
found. They have been put upon their mettle; they have addressed the
nation in Parliament and out of Parliament; they have produced a certain
number of reasons, which deserve respectful consideration, in support of
their favourite innovation. But no candid critic can feel that these
eminent men, and other less distinguished labourers in the same cause,
have put forward arguments of strength enough to account for the
undoubted conviction of the reasoners. Appeals to trust in the people,
to confidence in human nature, to the strength of love as contrasted
with the weakness of law, to shame for our past misgovernment of the
Irish, to sanguine expectations of terminating a secular feud which has
caused wretchedness to Ireland and has lessened the power of England,
would appear in the judgment of orators addressing English electors
likely to have much more weight with their audience than any attempt to
prove that the establishment of a Parliament at Dublin will be conducive
to the benefit of the Empire. Nor is this wonderful. The plain truth is
that the strength of the Home Rule movement depends, as far as England
is concerned, on a peculiar, though not of necessity a transitory, state
of opinion. The arguments of Home Rulers, whatever their worth (and I
have not the remotest intention of denying that they have weight),
derive at least half their power from their correspondence with dominant
sentiments. That this is so is admitted by the now celebrated appeal
from the classes to the masses. It is in its nature an appeal from a
verdict likely to be pronounced by the understanding or the prejudice of
educated men, to the emotions of the uneducated crowd. The appeal may or
may not be justifiable. This is not the point for discussion; but the
making of such an appeal necessarily implies that the existence of
certain widespread feelings is a condition requisite for full
appreciation of the reasoning in support of Home Rule. The reasons may
be good, but it is faith which gives them convincing power. They derive
their cogency from a favouring atmosphere of opinion or feeling. Two
features of recent controversy suffice of themselves (if proof were
needed) to establish the truth of this assertion. The rhetorical
emphasis laid by Home Rulers on the baseness of the arts which carried
the Act of Union is, as an argument in favour of repealing the Act,
little else than irrational. The assumed infamy of Pitt does not prove
the alleged wisdom of Gladstone; and to urge the repeal of an Act which
has stood for nearly a century, because it was carried by corruption, is
in the eye of reason as absurd as to question the title of modern French
landowners because of the horrors of the Reign of Terror. Even a
Legitimist would not now base a moral claim to an estate on the ground
that his grandfather was deprived of it through confiscation and murder.
But rhetoric is not governed by the laws of logic, and insistence on the
corruption or the criminality by which the Act of Union was carried is
an effective method of conciliating popular sentiment to the cause of
repeal. No notion again has been more widely circulated or put forward
on higher authority than that past reforms have been due in the main to
the enthusiasm of the masses. But no notion is more directly at variance
with the lessons of history. In the eighteenth century the enlightenment
of the Whig aristocracy was England's safeguard against the Jacobitism
and the bigotry of the crowd. Every effort in favour of religious
liberty was till recently the work of an educated minority who opposed
popular prejudice. In the last century popular sentiment would have
denied all rights to Jews; in 1780 Lord George Gordon was the hero of
the people of England, and even more emphatically of the people of
Scotland. And Burke was forced to present an elaborate defence to his
constituents at Bristol for taking part in an attempt to mitigate the
penal laws against the Roman Catholics. There is every reason to suppose
that even in 1829 a _plébiscite_, had one been possible, would have
negatived the Catholic Relief Bill. The mitigation again of the Criminal
Law was the work of thinkers like Romilly and Bentham. These eminent
reformers would have been much surprised to have been told that the
uneducated masses were their staunch supporters. One of the greatest
improvements ever effected by legislation was the reform in the
administration of parochial relief. The new poor law was essentially
unpopular; its principles were established by economists; its enactment
was due to the Whigs, supported, as it should always be remembered to
his credit, by the Duke of Wellington. It may be conjectured from recent
legislation that at this very moment an indiscriminate renewal of
outdoor relief would command the approval of the agricultural voters.
Protection in the form of the corn laws was unpopular in England; this,
however, cannot with fairness be put down to the moral or intellectual
credit of the multitude. The corn laws were disliked because they
enhanced the price of bread. Even as it was, the Chartists used to
interrupt the meetings of the Anti-Corn Law League, and it is an idle
fancy that the dangers of a protective tariff are in themselves more
patent to the electors of England than to the democracy of France or of
America. Trades Unionism is in many of its features a form of
protectionism. If again we turn to foreign policy, we must read history
with a strangely perverted eye if we hold that the people have in
general condemned wars, whether just or unjust. There is hardly to be
named a great war in which England has been engaged which has not
engaged popular support. In the struggle with the American Colonies the
warlike sentiment of the people was undoubtedly opposed to the prudence
and justice of a small body of enlightened men, who found their
representative in Burke. In England, it is true, no great change of law
or of policy can in general be effected until it has in some sort been
sanctioned by popular approval. But to attribute every advance, or even
most advances, along the path of progress to the masses by whom a step
forward is finally sanctioned, is hardly a more patent fallacy than the
notion that because every statute is passed with the assent of the
Crown, to the Queen may be ascribed the glory of every beneficial Act
passed in her name. To maintain, as every man versed in history must
maintain, that ignorance must from the necessity of the case be the ally
of prejudice, is not to deny to the people their merits or virtues. If
ignorance were wisdom as well as bliss, every effort in favour of
popular education were folly. No doubt the rich or educated classes are
slaves to delusions from which the crowd are free. This concession falls
far short of the doctrine that legislative progress is mainly due to the
soundness of popular feeling. That this doctrine should in one shape or
another have been promulgated, and have formed the basis of an argument
for a complicated change in the constitution, is a sign that the
advocates of the innovation or reform feel instinctively that the
strength of their case lies in its coincidence with dominant sentiment.
Nor is it hard to see what is the condition of sentiment or opinion
which favours the doctrine of Home Rule. The matter, however, is of such
importance as well to repay careful examination.

For the first time in the course of English history, national policy has
passed under the sway, not so much of democratic convictions, but of a
far stronger power--democratic sentiment. Every idea which can rightly
or wrongly be called popular, commands, even among persons who deem
themselves Conservatives, ready assent or superstitious deference. Hence
flow (be it at once conceded) some of the best characteristics of the
age, such as the detestation of inhumanity; the distrust in violent
methods of government; the dislike to anything which savours of
indifference to the wishes, or callousness to the wants, of the people.
Hence the growth of the conviction that property has at least as many
duties as rights, and of the faith inspired, rather by compassion than
by reason, that the toiling multitudes can and must be made to share in
the prosperity and the luxuries created in great part by their ceaseless
labour. From the same source--from the prevalence of the democratic
spirit--arise a crowd of dubious not to say ignoble ideas, as that the
voice of the majority is the voice of God; that it is a folly, if not a
crime, to resist any widespread phase of belief or of passion; that any
body of persons claiming to be united by a sense of nationality
possesses an inherent and divine right to be treated as an independent
community. Many of these notions are radically inconsistent with one
another. The dogma, for example, of the supremacy of the majority, or
the conviction that legislation ought to aim at the greatest happiness
of the greatest number, each belong to a different order of ideas from
the principle of nationality, and may easily come into conflict with it.
This inconsistency does not lessen the influence exerted by the mass of
democratic feeling. We may, however, well note that democratic ideas at
the present day produce their effect far less by exciting enthusiasm
(for they now kindle nothing like the fiery fervour which the doctrines
of popular sovereignty or of human equality excited a century ago
throughout the length and breadth of Europe), than by their singular
capacity for dissolving the convictions which oppose the claims of
revolutionists. Of this solvent power recent events have given us more
than enough examples. One may suffice. The argument that because Irish
householders have received votes therefore the majority of the electors
of the United Kingdom must concede to the majority of Irish householders
anything whatever having reference to Ireland which Irish householders
desire, is logically absurd. But (combined, no doubt, with other causes)
it convinced the Conservative Government of 1885 that the executive in
Ireland was bound to bow to the will of the Irish people, and was
relieved from the obligation of enforcing at all costs the law of the
land. Popular sympathies, moreover, blend in the minds of modern
Englishmen with feelings of a much less generous and much less
respectable order. Dislike of trouble, hatred to the performance of
arduous public duties, a growing indifference to ordinary commonplace
ideas of law and justice, contempt for the legal rights of individuals
whenever these rights clash for a moment with the ease or interest of
the public, exert an incalculable influence on the conduct, and in truth
upon the convictions, both of Members of Parliament and of electors. It
is not too much to say that the favour or acquiescence with which
so-called practical politicians are prepared to accept Home Rule is
grounded to a far greater extent than any one who respects the character
of England likes to confess upon the _naïve_ but intense conviction that
it is too much to expect from five hundred and more English gentlemen
that they should take the trouble of withstanding the continuous
pressure exerted by eighty-six Parnellites. Cowardice masks itself under
the show of compromise, and men of eminent respectability yield to the
terror of being bored concessions which their forefathers would have
refused to the threat of armed rebellion. It is unnecessary to explain
how this condition of opinion, under which the best and the lowest
feelings of human nature are blended in a current of democratic
sentiment, predisposes large bodies of Englishmen towards acquiescence
in the Home Rule movement. My aim is not so much to analyse with
precision the mode in which the cause of Home Rule is fostered by the
moral atmosphere of the day, as to insist upon the all-important
consideration that the progress of the Home Rule movement is due rather
to the encouragement it derives from prevailing sentiment than to any
intellectual conviction on the part of Englishmen that it is dictated by
considerations of sound policy.



[Sidenote: Arguments by which Home Rule policy defended.]

To lay stress upon the consideration that the Home Rule movement in
England derives its force from the condition of public feeling is not,
be it remarked, equivalent to showing that the policy of Home Rule is
unwise; still less that the policy of defended. Home Rule is unlikely to
be adopted by the nation. Masses of human beings must generally, as
individuals must often, trust to the guidance of feeling. The difference
between the sentiment which ought and the sentiment which ought not to
determine national conduct is, that the one admits and the other does
not admit of justification on grounds of reason or experience. Reasoning
is the test, not the source of wise action. Slavery was abolished, the
abuses of the _ancien regime_ were destroyed, Italian unity was created
under the stress of emotions which carried away thousands who could not
have logically defended the impulse which governed their acts. But in
these, as in other cases in which humanity has been carried forward
along the path of progress by the force of emotion, the enthusiasm of
the time could, in so far as it worked for good, be justified on
grounds of reason. Man is (difficult though it often be to believe the
fact) a rational being, in so far at least that he is constrained to
defend on argumentative grounds courses of action dictated by feeling.
From this law of human nature Home Rulers have neither the power nor, in
fairness be it added, the wish to escape. Their influence is due to the
condition of public sentiment, but they justify their policy by
arguments which are the intellectual equivalents for the moral feelings
which go to constitute the opinion of the day. Of these arguments, those
which require statement and examination can be conveniently summed up
under six heads--the argument from foreign experience, the argument from
the will of the Irish people, the argument from the lessons of Irish
history, the argument from the virtues of self-government, the argument
from the necessity for Coercion Acts, the argument from the
inconvenience to England of refusing Home Rule to Ireland.

[Sidenote: Argument 1. Foreign experience.]

_The argument from foreign experience_.--Home Rule under one shape or
another has been tried in a large number of foreign countries, and has
(it is alleged) been found everywhere to solve the problem of combining
into one State communities which, like England and Ireland, were not
ready to coalesce into one united nation. Each State throughout the
American Union, each Canton of Switzerland, has something like sovereign
independence. Yet the United States are strong and prosperous, and the
Swiss Confederacy, which was a land at one time torn by religious
animosities, and divided by differences of race, is now a country so
completely at harmony with itself that without a regular army it
maintains its independence in the face of the armed powers of Europe.
Canada or Victoria have more complete liberty of action than any one
dreams of claiming for Ireland. Yet Canada and Victoria are loyal, and
under the guidance of men who, it may be, were yesterday rebels in
Ireland, support the supremacy of the British Parliament and contribute
to the splendour of the English Crown. The German Empire contains not
only separate States, but separate kingdoms, such as Bavaria, ruled by
kings or princes who certainly value highly the independence of their
countries and the dignity of their thrones. The despotism of Turkey has
not forbidden the local independence of Crete, and self-government has,
it is hinted, produced acquiescence in Turkish rule. The autocracy of
the Czar is found compatible with Home Rule in Finland, and Finland is
the most contented portion of Russia. Norway and Sweden are united in
feeling because they are not by law a "united kingdom," and act in
harmony just because each country has a different constitution, and each
is governed by its own Parliament. Denmark has, with benefit to herself,
given local independence to Iceland, and Iceland is content. Austria and
Hungary, after centuries of misunderstanding and twenty years of bitter
conflict, have finally composed the feud of ages by a compromise, which
gives to the two parts of the Empire the practical blessings of
Parliamentary independence, and concedes to Hungary at least the
sentimental blessing of acknowledged nationality. The argument, in fact,
from foreign experience, professes to be an induction based upon a
foundation of instances as large as can support any conclusion of social
science. In one land after another the existence of Home Rule, or, to
use the curiously inaccurate phraseology of the day, of "autonomy," in
one part of the State has been found consistent with the unity of the
whole. An experiment which has succeeded in one set of cases ought to
succeed in another, and England has no reason to dread a scheme of
government which has been tried with success in other portions of the
civilized world. Nor does the zealous advocate of Home Rule pause at the
conclusion that the measure he recommends may, on the strength of
foreign experience, be regarded as a tolerable evil or as a probable
cure for a chronic disease. He suggests that it is a good in itself, and
laments that ignorance led our ancestors to fuse Scotland and England
into an United Kingdom, when they might, had they understood the
principles of federalism, have left to each country the blessings of
State sovereignty.

[Sidenote: Criticism on argument.]

There is some difficulty in treating with perfect seriousness a line of
reasoning which, proceeding from the quarter whence it comes, holds up
for our admiration the wisdom or lenity of Turkish rule in Crete, and
extols the supreme justice of the system upon which rests the
Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which implies that the arts of government may
be learnt from the Russian administration of Finland, and omits all
reference to the disastrous results of the attempt to endow Poland with
some sort of independence, which bases weighty inferences as to the
proper relation between England and Ireland on the concession by Denmark
to the scanty inhabitants of a desolate island lying 1100 miles from her
coast of as much autonomy (if that be the right term) as under the Crown
of England has been enjoyed for generations by Jersey or Man, and which
suggests lamentations over the splendid triumph of constructive
statesmanship embodied in the treaty of Union with Scotland. _De minimis
non curat lex_ is a maxim of judicial procedure which in spirit applies
to proposals for legislation. Arguments from Iceland and the like may be
set aside as the ornaments or curiosities of debate, and may be allowed
as much weight and no more as would be given to an argument in favour of
petty states from the flourishing condition of Monaco, or to reasonings
in support of Republicanism from the condition of Andorre. Though there
is something slightly ridiculous in the zeal with which the advocates of
Home Rule, using at least as much industry as discrimination, have
scraped together every instance they can lay their hands upon of
constitutions under which something which can be called Home Rule exists
without producing palpable injury to the State, it would be unfair to
deny some real weight to a kind of induction, which, if not convincing
as argument, yet possesses undoubtedly a good deal of rhetorical
effectiveness. Nor ought the concession to be refused that if there be
any man dull or ill-informed enough to suppose that countries cannot be
politically united unless they are subject to a common legislative
power, the slightest knowledge of lands outside England is sufficient to
make manifest his ignorance. When, however, the instances on which the
induction is supposed to be founded are carefully scrutinised, it will
be discovered that those examples which deserve attention are far less
numerous than might be supposed from a glance over the lists now well
known to the public of what may be termed successful experiments in Home
Rule, and, further, that this limited number of instances do not go far
to make out the conclusion in favour of which they are adduced.

At the present stage of my argument I purposely omit all minute
examination of the applicability to the relations between England and
Ireland, either of the English Colonial system or of federalism as it
exists in the United States or in Switzerland. Any scheme of Home Rule
must follow in some degree one or other of these models. It will,
therefore, be necessary to consider in subsequent chapters how far
either of them may admit with advantage of imitation. Two observations,
however, may even at this point not be out of place. An English colony,
such as Victoria, is a virtually independent country, attached to
England mainly by ties of loyalty or of well-understood interests, but
placed at such a distance from the mother country that England could
without inconvenience, and would without hesitation, concede to it full
national independence when once it was clear that Victoria desired to be
a nation. Victoria, in short, is a land which might at any moment be
independent, but which desires to retain or strengthen the connection
with England. Ireland, on the other hand, is a country lying so near to
the English coast that, according to the views of most statesmen,
England could not with safety tolerate her independence, and also a
country, which, to put the matter in the least exaggerated language,
feels the connection with England so burdensome that the greater part of
her population desire at least the amount of independence conceded to a
self-governing colony. The case of Victoria and the case of Ireland each
constitute, so to speak, the antithesis to the other. There is,
therefore, at any rate no _a priori_ ground for the assumption that the
system which successfully regulates the relation of England to Victoria
is equally adapted for regulating the relation between England and
Ireland. The federalism, again, of America or of Switzerland is the
consequence of the existence of the States which make up the Federation.
The United Kingdom does not consist of States. The world has heard of
the difficulty of forming a republic without republicans: this feat
would appear to be easy of performance in comparison with the
achievement of erecting federation without the States which form its
natural members. In America or in Switzerland federalism has developed
because existing States wished to be combined into some kind of national
unity. Federalism in England would necessarily mean the breaking up of a
nation in order to form a body of States. To the question constantly
raised in one form or another, "Why should not the federalism which
suits the United States suit England?" the true answer is suggested by
the counter-inquiry, "Why should not the constitutionalism of England
suit the United States?" The obvious and conclusive reply to both these
inquiries is, that the circumstances of the two countries are totally
different. There is, in short, no ground in the nature of things to
presume that constitutional arrangements, which are well adapted for the
condition of America, are well adapted for the totally different
condition of the United Kingdom. To say this, be it noted, is not to
prejudge the question reserved for subsequent consideration, whether
some kind of federalism may not supply the solution of the problem how
to adjust the political connection between England and Ireland. It is no
more than noting the often-overlooked fact that the admitted success of
federal government in the United States gives no presumption in favour
of its suitability for Great Britain and Ireland.

The experience of foreign countries to which Home Rulers confidently
appeal resolves itself, if the matter be carefully sifted, and if the
colonial system of England and the federalism of America be left for the
moment out of account, into the fact that two powerful continental
Empires maintain Imperial unity, and yet (as it is alleged without
lessening their strength) contain within their limits States each of
which enjoys a large amount of independence. That neither the German
Empire nor the Austro-Hungarian monarchy suffer inconvenience from the
looseness of the connection between the States which they each contain
is one of those assertions more easily made than proved to be true; but
supposing its truth to be, for the moment and purely for the sake of
argument, admitted, there will still be found considerable difficulty in
showing that either German Imperialism or the Dual system of
Austria-Hungary contains lessons of practical value for the guidance of
English statesmen.

What indeed is the precise inference which one is to draw from the fact
that the constitution of the German Empire leaves, for example, to
Bavaria a large amount of independence it is not very easy to
understand. The whole circumstances of the German Empire are as
different from the circumstances of Great Britain as the position of one
civilised European country can well be from the situation of another.
The salient characteristic of German history is that Germany consists of
States which until quite recently have never been politically
consolidated into a nation. The United Kingdom has for nearly a century
formed a political unit, and has now for something nearly approaching
two centuries been subject in reality if not in name to one sovereign
Parliament. The whole scheme of the Empire, with its independent or
semi-independent sovereigns, with its kings, princes, and free towns, is
something to which there is absolutely nothing to correspond in the
present condition or in the historical development of England. The
German Empire is the natural though strange growth of a special and
strange history. The sober English statesmen who advocate Home Rule
assuredly never dreamt any dream so wild as that the Imperial Federalism
of Germany could in any way be reproduced in the United Kingdom. But if
this be so, it is a little difficult to understand references to the
lessons to be drawn from the position of such countries as Bavaria. For
the difficulty of applying German precedents to proposed innovations in
the English constitution lies far deeper than the unsuitability to
England of the forms of German Imperialism. The condition which has
given birth to the present German Empire is that in Germany the
sentiment of nationality has overridden the political divisions which
broke up Germany into almost disconnected and often hostile States. In
Germany the popular passion for unity has compelled the formation of a
United Empire. This sentiment, and not the cumbersome device of an
ill-arranged constitution, prevents Bavaria from using her independence
in a manner inconsistent with the unity of the Empire. The force which
tends towards unity is constantly on the increase. The Empire has the
legal means of diminishing or indeed of destroying the independence of
the States, and should the independence of a State ever come into
conflict with the unity of the nation State rights will not, we may be
sure, win the day. Nor, further, is it any accident that Bismarck whilst
tolerating the existence of Parliaments will not tolerate the
introduction of Parliamentary government. The acquiescence of Liberals
in the evils of personal rule is due to the consciousness that the real
authority of the Emperor is necessary for the unity of the Empire.
Contrast all this with the condition of things under which Englishmen
are adjured to concede a Parliament to Ireland. The leading features of
the case, according at any rate to Home Rulers, are that Parliament is
too weak to withstand the pressure exercised by eighty-six obstructives,
and that Ireland, no less, as we are now at last frankly told, than
Scotland and Wales, desires to relax the bonds of national unity. We are
advised to dissolve the United Kingdom into a confederacy because
Germany, through a clumsy form of confederacy, is growing into a united
empire. This counsel confuses the stages of imperfect development with
the stage of incipient decay; it ascribes to the childishness of
approaching senility the hopes which are proper to the childishness of
early youth. The point is worth pressing. The considerations which
govern a confederacy as it is developing into a nation are very
different from the considerations applicable to a full grown nation
when threatened with dismemberment into a confederacy.

Deak's statesmanship undoubtedly found at any rate a temporary solution
of the questions which kept Austria and Hungary at variance in a
compromise which bears some analogy to the arrangement by which Home
Rulers propose at once to loosen and to maintain the connection between
England and Ireland. In the case of Austria-Hungary, the union which
exists is not, on the face of it at least, a step towards unity, but
rather the surrender of the endeavour to mould the two parts of the
monarchy into a united empire. The Dual system is therefore the instance
of the blessings attending Home Rule which is most sedulously thrust
upon English attention. Let us see, then, what in outline this system
is, and what are the causes which favour its existence.[4]

German jurisprudence has taxed hard its boundless stores of ingenuity
and obscurity in the endeavour to find a proper scientific definition of
the nature of the anomalous union which binds together the monarchy of
Austria-Hungary. With the inquiry, however, what may be the precise
class of constitutions under which we ought to bring a political
arrangement which is "singular" in the strictest sense of that word,
English inquirers need not concern themselves. The broad outlines of
the Dual system, invented by the ingenuity of Deák, and accepted under
the stress of necessity by the sagacity of the Emperor, may, for our
present purpose, be roughly sketched in short, and it is hoped in not
unintelligible terms.

The Dual system is a permanent alliance rather than a union between the
kingdom of Hungary and the countries now represented in the Austrian
Imperial Parliament, or (to use convenient though not quite accurate
terms) between Austria and Hungary.

The essential features of this alliance or compromise, which is in its
nature a treaty far more than an act of legislation, may be thus summed

At the head of the whole monarchy stands the Emperor-King. The rules for
the succession to the throne indeed secure that the Imperial and the
Hungarian Crown shall always devolve upon the same person. The Crowns,
however, are distinct, the monarch on whose head they rest governs two
distinctly different peoples, bound to him by different ties of
allegiance. He has Hungarian subjects and Austrian subjects, but he can
claim authority over no man as a subject or citizen of Austria-Hungary.
The monarch (and this is a matter of supreme importance) is not only the
nominal, but the real link connecting the two halves of his dominions.
He is moreover a true ruler. Englishmen hear of a Parliament at Vienna
and of a Diet in Hungary, of Austrian ministers and of Hungarian
ministers, and they fancy that Francis Joseph is a constitutional king
after the type of Queen Victoria of England, or King Humbert of Italy.
No idea is more erroneous. He is the actual head of the State; he is the
real commander of the army. In the Austrian Empire he exercises a
predominant influence on the Government, and observers who look at the
past exertions of Imperial prerogative, and who weigh well the immense
power of temporary legislation reserved under the Imperial constitution
to the Emperor, suspect that in his Austrian dominions, Francis Joseph
might if he chose as easily suspend constitutional government, as he did
in fact suspend it (though for a most legitimate object) in 1886. In
Hungary the parliamentary constitution is a reality, but the King of
Hungary's authority is a good deal more than nominal. The transactions
between Deák and the Emperor become incomprehensible unless you allow
for the influence conferred by Hungarian loyalty upon the King of

This real monarch rules the monarchy with the co-operation of what might
roughly be called three Parliaments.

The first Parliament is the Hungarian Diet sitting at Pesth, which
constitutes the real and true legislature for Hungary, and which, in
spite of the powers retained by or conferred upon the local legislature
of Croatia, makes laws for the whole domain of the Hungarian Crown. The
King of Hungary appoints the Hungarian ministers, who are responsible to
the Hungarian Diet, and are kept in office by the Diet's support.

The second Parliament is the Imperial Parliament, or _Reichsrath_,
sitting at Vienna, legislating for the territories of the Austrian
Empire which do not belong to the Hungarian Crown. The Emperor appoints
the Austrian or Imperial Ministry, who are responsible to the Imperial
Parliament, and need the support of the _Reichsrath_; it may well
however be doubted whether an Austrian Premier does not depend for his
authority far more on the will of the Emperor than on the votes of
_Reichsrath_; the authority of the _Reichsrath_ is, moreover,
considerably restricted by the powers conferred upon the subordinate
assemblies of the different countries, e.g. Bohemia or the Tyrol, which
make up the Empire.[5]

Englishman should note that the Hungarian Diet has as such no
legislative authority in Austria, and the _Reichsrath_ has no
legislative authority in Hungary.

The third Parliament consists of the so-called Delegations.

These Delegations are two committees of sixty members each, elected by
and from the members of the Hungarian Diet and the Imperial Parliament
respectively, but though I have termed them "committees" they are
committees which within their sphere have an authority independent of
the bodies by whom they are appointed.

The function of the Delegations is to determine the "common affairs" of
the monarchy, that is to say a strictly limited number of matters,
namely, common finance, common military matters, and foreign affairs. On
these three topics, and on these alone, the Hungarian and the Austrian
Delegations are (acting of course with the Emperor) supreme. They
determine the common Budget of the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire; they
determine as far as legislation is required all questions affecting the
Imperial army as a whole; they also determine, as far as their
intervention is required, questions of foreign policy. The function in
short of the Delegations is to deal with matters, and with those matters
only, which affect the Austro-Hungarian State as a united body, and in
its relation to foreigners. Hence three Ministers, the Minister of War,
the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who act
for the whole monarchy, constitute what is called the Common Ministry,
and are appointed by the Emperor-King, and are responsible neither to
the Hungarian Parliament nor to the Imperial Parliament, but simply to
the Delegations. It is natural for Englishman to conclude that the
Delegations regulate matters, such for example as questions regarding
customs, &c., which must affect every portion of the State, and must, if
the two divisions of it are to be united at all, be regulated on common
principles. But this is not so. The economical relations of the two
parts of the Empire are determined by laws identical in substance,
passed by the Hungarian and Imperial Parliaments respectively. These
laws are enacted from ten years to ten years. It is therefore possible
under the present arrangement that in '88 the existing customs union
between Austria and Hungary may come to an end.[6] The position further
of the Delegations is in reality that of two separate committees each
representing a separate Parliament. Infinite pains have been taken to
place the Hungarian and the Austrian Delegations on exactly equal
footing. The Delegations meet alternately at Vienna and at Pesth, they
debate in general separately, and come to an agreement through written
negotiations; they may have a common meeting. In this case the number of
deputies present on each side must be equal, and by a vote of the
majority at such common meeting, any question in dispute is finally

The Austro-Hungarian system is therefore briefly this. Two separate
States, each having a separate administration, a separate Parliament,
and separate bodies of subjects or citizens, are each ruled by one and
the same monarch; the two portions of the monarchy are linked together
mainly as regards their relation to foreign powers by an assembly of
delegates from each Parliament and by a Ministry which is responsible to
the Delegations alone, and which acts in regard to a limited number of
matters which are of absolute necessity the common concern of the
monarchy. This is the Dual system held up for our imitation. Picture it
for a moment as actually existing in what is still the United Kingdom.
We should have an English Ministry and an English Parliament at
Westminster which had not the least authority in Ireland; we should have
an Irish Ministry and an Irish Parliament at Dublin which had not the
least authority in England. Each Parliament would in point say of
foreign policy be hampered by the superior authority of a third
Parliament consisting of sixty English and sixty Irish members who sat
alternately at Westminster and at Dublin to transact or perplex or
obstruct the affairs common to the whole Empire. To imagine such an
arrangement, to sketch out in one's fancy, for example, how the common
budget decreed by the Delegations would be provided for by taxation
imposed by the Irish Parliament, is enough to show that the Dual system
is absolutely inapplicable to our circumstances. It could not last for a
year, and if by any miracle it did last for that time, the whole British
Empire would be reduced to confusion or ruin. The advocates of
innovation exhibit the most singular mixture of despair and hopefulness.
The presence in Parliament of eighty-six Parnellites makes them despair
of the British constitution, which has existed for centuries. They hope
or expect that three Parliaments, in two of which these very
Parnellites, or men like them, would reappear, would harmoniously
legislate for England, Ireland, and the British Empire, and this hope is
based on the alleged success of that Dual system which has not without
difficulty been kept going for not quite twenty years. The alliance of
scepticism and credulity, of which we have often heard in the sphere of
theology, is a startling phenomenon in the province of politics. The
Dual system, however, it will be urged by its admirers, has worked
well. Admit the fact, the success is clearly due to circumstances
negative and positive totally absent in the case of England and Ireland.
The bodies united by means of the compromise do not, like the United
Kingdom, constitute the centre of a world-wide Empire. Hungary has taken
up arms against the Austrian Emperor, yet there has never been in
strictness a feud between the Hungarians and the other subjects of the
Emperor. The compromise or alliance manifestly met the interest of both
portions of the monarchy: it restored to Hungary a constitution which
for eighteen years or more had been suppressed, but which had never been
given up; it secured, or went far to secure, the new constitutional
liberties of the Austrian Empire. Hungary could not stand alone, and she
knew it. The compromise was in reality a politic alliance between the
two leading races among the many races governed by Francis Joseph. The
Germans and the Magyars came to terms; the alliance strengthened them
each against other foes. But with every political advantage the Dual
system, of which the permanence is not as yet at all secure, might have
proved as undurable as Grattan's Constitution of 1782 but for one
circumstance, to which I have already directed attention. At the head of
Austria-Hungary stands not an absolute, but a powerful monarch. The
authority of the Emperor is the spring which makes the cumbersome
machinery of a complicated constitution keep going. The matter is worth
attention The power of the Emperor William holds together the States of
the German Empire; the power of Francis Joseph keeps alive the Dual
system; where the Crown has a real authority trial may be made of
experiments in the way of local independence, which are impossible in a
State where, as in England, the true sovereign is an elective assembly.

Foreign experience then affords but a very tottering foundation on which
to raise pleas for Home Rule in Ireland. It may no doubt be read by
those who are already convinced that Home Rule is desirable in favour of
their views. It may confirm a faith based on other grounds, more it
cannot do. Fairly looked at, foreign experience tells rather against
than for the doctrines of Home Rule. If appealed to at all, it must be
taken as a whole. It then shows that Federalism is when nourishing a
stage towards, not a stage away from, national unity; it shows that a
strong central power above Parliamentary control is almost a condition
to the successful combination in one body of semi-independent States.[7]
It shows that the whole tendency of modern civilization flows towards
the creation of great States; national unity is, so to speak, the
watchword of the age; this is scarcely a reason for breaking up the
United Kingdom. The sagacity of Italian statesmanship rejected the
plausible scheme of an Italian Federation. If Englishmen are to take
lessons from foreigners they need not be ashamed of being instructed by

[Sidenote: Argument 2. Will of Irish people]

_The argument from the will of the Irish people_.--Eighty-six
representatives of the Irish people represent the wish of Ireland for
Home Rule. We cannot under a Parliamentary system of government go
behind the result of an election. It must be taken therefore that
Ireland wishes for Home Rule; and since popular government as it exists
in England means nothing else than government in accordance with the
wishes of the people, the wish of the Irish people for the Parliamentary
independence of their country proves their right to an Irish Parliament,
and terminates, or ought to terminate, all opposition to Home Rule.

[Sidenote: Criticism on argument]

This simple argument, that because three millions of Irishmen, or for
that matter three millions of Englishmen, wish for a thing, they are
therefore absolutely entitled to have it, is not often put forward in
its naked simplicity, but is constantly presented under various
rhetorical disguises, such for example as the assertion that Irishmen
have a right to manage their own affairs, that Ireland only wants to be
left to herself, and the like; and impresses both the imagination and
the conscience of the masses. There is a good deal to be said about the
truth of the alleged fact on which the argument is based, namely the
wish of the Irish people. It might be worth while to note that the
"people" in this case meant only a majority of the electors, whose wish
is notoriously opposed to the ardent desire of a respectable minority;
and it might be well to suggest that the constitutional pedantry which
refuses to "go behind an electoral return," _i.e._, to see things as
they are, is not the same thing as either good sense or statesmanship.
But for the present purpose it is better to admit that the majority of
the inhabitants of Ireland would, if a fair vote were taken, express
their wish for Home Rule, as they might, probably, under similar
conditions express their wish for separation. The argument in hand,
however, even when its basis is conceded, allows, according to the
different meanings which it may bear, of different answers. If taken in
its most obvious sense, as asserting the absolute right of a majority
among Irish electors to any concession with regard to Ireland which they
are pleased to claim, it may be met by another formula of equal cogency
or of equal weakness. "The vast majority of the United Kingdom,
including by the way a million or more of the inhabitants of Ireland,
have expressed their will to maintain the Union. Popular government
means government in accordance with the will of the majority, and
therefore according to all the principles of popular government the
majority of the United Kingdom have a right to maintain the Union. Their
wish is decisive, and ought to terminate the whole agitation in favour
of Home Rule." To any sensible person who has passed beyond the age of
early manhood (for youths may without blame treat politics as a form of
logic) neither of these formulas can present a sound ground from which
to defend or impugn legislation which involves the welfare of millions.
The contradiction however between two formulas each of which if
propounded alone would command the assent of a democratic audience is
noteworthy. This contradiction brings into prominence the consideration
that the principle that the will of the majority should be sovereign
cannot, whether true or false in itself, be invoked to determine a
dispute turning upon the enquiry which of two bodies is the body the
majority of which has a right to sovereignty. The majority of the
citizens of the United States were opposed to Secession, the majority of
the citizens of the Southern States were in favour of Secession; the
attempt to determine which side had right on its side by an appeal to
the "sovereignty of the majority" involved in this case, as it must in
every case, a _petitio principii_, for the very question at issue was
which of two majorities ought, as regarded the matter in hand, to be
considered the majority.

It would however be doing injustice to the argument from the will of the
people to dispose of it by dwelling upon the logical inconsistencies
inevitably involved in every attempt to determine a question of
practical politics by the application to it of _à priori_ dogmatism.
Formulas such as "the sovereignty of the people" often contain much
solid truth hidden under an inaccurate and a too absolute form of
expression. The assertion that the wish of the Irish people is decisive
as to the form of constitution to be maintained in Ireland covers two
genuine and in themselves rational convictions. The first is, that a
body of human beings who feel themselves, in consequence of their
inhabiting a common country, of their sharing a common history and the
like, inspired with a feeling of common nationality, have, if not a
right, at lowest a strong claim to be governed as a separate nation.
This is the doctrine of nationality which, be it noted, though often
confused with, is at bottom different from, the dogma of the supremacy
of the majority. That the doctrine of nationality is, when reasonably
put, conformable with obvious principles of utility may be readily
admitted; but it is a doctrine which can only be accepted with
considerable qualifications. Its validity was denied both theoretically
and practically, and, in the judgment of most English democrats, not to
say of most European Liberals, denied justly and righteously by the
Northern States of America, when the Southern States claimed the benefit
of its application. The argument moreover from the principle of
nationality in reference to the present controversy proves too much. If
the Irish people are a nation, this may give them a right to
independence, but it can never in itself give them a moral claim to
dictate the particular terms of union with England. The second
conviction which underlies the argument from the will of the people is
of far more serious import than any reasoning drawn from even so
respectable a formula as the doctrine of nationality. The dogma that the
will of the people must be obeyed often expresses the rational belief
that under all polities, and especially under the system of popular
government, institutions derive their life, and laws their constraining
power, not from the will of the law-giver, or from the strength of the
army, but from their correspondence with the permanent wishes and habits
of the people. Home Rule, to put this matter in its strongest form,
means, it may be said, the application to Ireland of the very principle
on which the English constitution rests--that a people must be ruled in
accordance with their own permanent ideas of right and of justice, and
that unless this be done, law, because it commands no loyalty, ensures
no obedience. The whole history of the connection between the two
islands which make up the United Kingdom is a warning of the
wretchedness, the calamities, the wickedness and the ruin which follow
upon the attempt to violate this fundamental principle not only of
popular, but of all good and just government. Home Rule may appear to be
an innovation. It is in this point of view simply a return to the
essential ideas of English constitutionalism, it is an attempt to escape
from the false path which has been pursued for centuries, and to return
to the broad highway of government in accordance with popular sympathy.
At this point, however, the argument from the will of the people merges
in the much stronger and more serious train of reasoning derived from
the teaching of history.

[Sidenote: 3. Argument from Irish history.]

_The argument from Irish history._--Appeals to the lessons of the past
are at times in the mouths of Home Rulers, as also of their opponents, a
noxious revival of ancient passions, or (it may be) nothing better than
the use of an unreal form of rhetoric; yet a supporter of Home Rule may
use the argument from Irish history in a way which is at once legitimate
and telling.

On one point alone (it may be urged) all men of whatever party, or of
whatever nation, who have seriously studied the annals of Ireland are
agreed--the history of the country is a record of incessant failure on
the part of the Government, and of incessant misery on the part of the
people. On this matter, if on no other, De Beaumont, Froude and Lecky
are at one. As to the guilt of the failure or the cause of the misery,
men may and do differ; that England, whether from her own fault or from
the fault of the Irish people, or from the perversity of circumstances,
has failed in Ireland of achieving the elementary results of good
government, is as certain as any fact of history or of experience. Every
scheme has been tried in turn, and no scheme has succeeded, or has even
(it may be suggested) produced its natural effects. Oppression of the
Catholics has increased the adherents and strengthened the hold of
Catholicism. Protestant supremacy while it lasted did not lead even to
Protestant contentment, and the one successful act of resistance to
English dominion was effected by a Protestant Parliament supported by an
army of volunteers led by a body of Protestant officers. The
independence gained by a Protestant Parliament led, after eighteen
years, to a rebellion so reckless and savage, that it caused if it did
not justify the destruction of the Parliament, and the carrying of the
Union. The Act of Union did not lead to national unity, and a measure
which appeared on the face of it (though the appearance it must be
admitted was delusive) to be a copy of the law which turned England and
Scotland into a common country inspired by common patriotism, produced
conspiracy and agitation, and has at last placed England and Ireland
further apart morally than they stood at the beginning of the century.
The Treaty of Union, it was supposed, missed its mark because it was not
combined with Catholic Emancipation. The Catholics were emancipated, but
emancipation instead of producing loyalty brought forth the cry for
repeal. The repeal movement ended in failure, but its death gave birth
to the attempted rebellion of 1848. Suppressed rebellion begot
Fenianism, to be followed in its turn by the agitation for Home Rule.
The movement relies, it is said, and there is truth in the assertion, on
constitutional methods for obtaining redress. But constitutional methods
are supplemented by boycotting, by obstruction, by the use of dynamite.
A century of reform has given us Mr. Parnell instead of Grattan, and it
is more than possible that Mr. Parnell may be succeeded by leaders in
whose eyes Mr. Davitt's policy may appear to be tainted with moderation.
No doubt in each case the failure of good measures admits, like every
calamity either in private or in public life, of explanation, and after
the event it is easy to see why, for example, the Poor Law when extended
to Ireland did not produce even the good effects, such as they are,
which in England are to be set against its numerous evils; or why an
emigration of unparalleled proportions has diminished population without
much diminishing poverty; why the disestablishment of the Anglican
Church has increased rather than diminished the hostility to England of
the Catholic priesthood; or why two Land Acts have not contented Irish
farmers. It is easy enough, in short, and this without having recourse
to any theory of race, and without attributing to Irishmen either more
or less of original sin than falls to the lot of humanity, to see how it
is that imperfect statesmanship--and all statesmanship it should be
remembered is imperfect--has failed of obtaining good results at all
commensurate with its generally good intentions. Failure, however, is
none the less failure because its causes admit of analysis. It is no
defence to bankruptcy that an insolvent can, when brought before the
Court, lucidly explain the errors which resulted in disastrous
speculations. The failure of English statesmanship, explain it as you
will, has produced the one last and greatest evil which misgovernment
can cause. It has created hostility to the law in the minds of the
people. The law cannot work in Ireland, because the classes whose
opinion in other countries supports the action of the Courts are in
Ireland, even when not law-breakers, in full sympathy with law-breakers.
This fact, a Home Ruler may add, is for this purpose all the more
instructive, if it be granted that the errors of British policy do not
arise from injustice or ill-will to Irishmen. The inference, he
insists, to be drawn from the lesson of history is, that it is
impossible for the Parliament of the United Kingdom to understand or to
provide for Irish needs. The law is hated and cannot be executed in
Ireland because, as we are told on high authority, it comes before the
Irish people in a foreign garb. The law is detested, in short, not
because it is unjust, but because it is English. The reason why judges
soldiers or policemen strive in vain to cope with lawlessness is, that
they are in fact trying to enforce not so much the rule of justice as
the supremacy of England. The Austrian administration in Lombardy was
never deemed to be bad--it was very possibly better than any which the
Italian kingdom can supply; the Austrian rule was hated not because the
Austrians were bad rulers, but because they were foreigners. In Ireland,
as in Lombardy, permanent discontent is caused by the outraged sentiment
of nationality. Meet this sentiment, argues the friend of Home Rule, by
the concession to Ireland of an independent Parliament. The law which
comes from Ireland's own legislature will be obeyed because it is her
own law, and will be enforced throughout Ireland by Irish officials
supported by the sympathy of the Irish population. Let Ireland manage
her own affairs, and England will be freed from a task which she ought
never to have taken up because she cannot perform it, and you will lay
upon Ireland duties which she can perform but which she has never yet
been either allowed or compelled to take up. Irishmen for the first
time will feel the full responsibility, because for the first time they
have received the full power, of self-government. The argument, in
short, on the Home Rule view stands thus: the miseries of Ireland flow
historically from political causes, and are to be met by political
changes. At the bottom of Irish disorder lies the sentiment of Irish
nationality. The change, therefore, that is needed is such a concession
to that sentiment as is involved in giving Ireland an Irish legislature.
This is the reform by which the result of curing Irish discontent can be
achieved, and it is a reform not incompatible with the interests of
Great Britain.

This is (in my judgment) a fair statement of the historical argument
relied upon by the advocates of Home Rule, though, of course, it allows
of infinite variety as to its form of expression. It is a line of
reasoning which rests on premisses many of which (as any candid critic
must admit) contain a large amount of truth. It is logically by far the
strongest of the Home Rule arguments. It is one, moreover, in which
authorities who on other points differ from each other are in agreement.
Mr. Parnell asserts with emphasis that Ireland is a "nation," and
apparently holds that the passing of a good law by the Parliament of the
United Kingdom is less desirable than the existence of an Irish
Parliament, even should that Parliament delay good legislation. Mr.
Gladstone attributes the inefficacity of laws passed by the Imperial
Parliament to their coming before Irishmen in a "foreign garb," and an
author who is not in any way a supporter of the Liberal leader does not
apparently on this point disagree with Mr. Gladstone. "If there was a
hope that anything which we could give would make the Irish contented
and loyal subjects of the British Empire, no sacrifice would be too
great for such an object. But there is no such hope. The land tenure is
not the real grievance: it is merely the pretext. The real grievance is
our presence in Ireland at all. If there was a hope that by buying up
the soil and distributing it among the tenantry we could make them, if
not loyal, yet orderly and prosperous, even so the experiment would be
worth trying; but, again, there is no such hope. The Land Bill of 1870
gave the tenants a proprietary right in their holdings. They have
borrowed money on the security of that right at ruinous interest, and
the poorest of them are already sinking under their debts to the local
banker or tradesman. If we make them proprietors to-morrow, their farms
in a few years will be sold or mortgaged. We shall have destroyed one
set of landlords to create another who will not be more merciful."[8]

[Sidenote: Criticism]

The only way of meeting the historical argument, containing as it does
admitted truth, and supported as it is by high authorities, is to survey
the broad phenomena of Irish history, and see what are the inferences
which they warrant.[9] Whoever wishes to derive instruction from the
melancholy history of the kingdom of Ireland must, as has already been
intimated, rid himself from the delusions caused in the domain of
history by personification. He must dismiss the notion that England and
Ireland are persons to be charged with individual and continuous
responsibility for the crimes or follies of past ages. He must check the
natural but misguiding tendency of the human mind to imagine that in
national affairs when anything goes wrong you can always, or indeed
generally, lay your finger upon some definite assignable wrong-doer,
that is, upon some man or some men who can be held responsible for
political calamities or errors, as a murderer may be held guilty of
murder, or a robber of theft. A calm critic should also reflect on the
profound truth of the dictum (attributed by the way to an Irishman) that
"history is at best but an old almanack," and, while not entertaining
any great hope that antiquarian research can afford much direct guidance
as to the proper mode of arranging the future relations between England
and Ireland, remember that the most salutary function of the study of
the past is to tone down those historical animosities which derive their
bitterness from the ignorant habit of trying the actors in bygone scenes
by moral laws to which they are not justly amenable. The moral function
of an historian is to diminish the hatreds which divide nation from
nation and class from class; such as at the present moment do more to
prevent real unity between the inhabitants of the two islands making up
the United Kingdom than do unjust laws or vicious institutions. To a
student who regards with philosophic calmness a topic which has mainly
been dealt with by politicians or agitators, it easily becomes apparent
that the crimes or failures of England, no less than the vices or
miseries of England, have to a great extent flowed from causes too
general to be identified with the intentional wrong-doing either of
rulers or of subjects.

One fact thrusts itself upon the attention of any serious student
England and Ireland have from the commencement of their ill-starred
connection been countries standing on different levels or at different
stages of civilization; they have moreover been countries impelled by
the force of circumstances towards a different development. Englishmen
forget, or (more strictly speaking) have never understood, how
exceptional has been the path pursued by English civilization; they do
not realise to themselves that the gradual transformation of an
aristocratic and feudal society into a modern industrial State which
still retains the forms, and in many points of view the spirit of
feudalism is a process which, although owing to the most special
circumstances it has been accomplished with success in England, has
hardly a parallel in any other European country. Ireland on the other
hand has, despite the deviations from her natural course caused by her
connection with a powerful nation, tended to follow the lines of
progress pursued by continental countries, and notably by France. A
foreign critic like De Beaumont finds it far easier than could any
Englishman to enter into the condition of Ireland, and this not only
because he is as a foreigner delivered from the animosities or
partialities which must in one way or another warp every English
judgment, but mainly because the phenomena which puzzle an Englishman,
as for example the passion of Irish peasants for the possession of
land,[10] are from his own experience familiar and appear natural to a
Frenchman. What to the mind of a foreign observer needs explanation is
the social condition of England rather than of Ireland. He at any rate
can see at a glance that the relation between the two countries has
planted and maintained in Ireland an aristocracy, aristocratic
institutions, and above all an aristocratic land law, foreign to the
traditions and opposed to the interests of the mass of the people. Let
an observer for a moment take up the point of view natural to a
continental critic, and admit, in the language of De Beaumont, that the
primary radical and permanent cause of Irish misery has been the
maintenance in Ireland by England of a "bad aristocracy,"[10] or, to put
the same thing more generally, and it may be more fairly that the vice
of the connection between the two countries has consisted in its being a
relation of peoples standing at different stages of civilization and
tending towards different courses of development. Here you find the
original source of a thousand ills, and hence especially have originated
four potent causes of the condition of things which now tries the
patience and overtaxes the resources of English statesmanship.

First,--The English constitution has both from its form and from its
spirit caused in past times, and even at the present day causes as much
evil to Ireland as it has conferred, or does confer, benefit upon

The assailants of popular government point to the misrule of Ireland as
a proof that the Parliamentary system is radically vicious. They do not
prove their point, because the calamities of Ireland afford no evidence
whatever that England, which has been more prosperous for a greater
length of time than any other nation in Europe, has essentially suffered
from the power of the English Parliament. What these critics do prove is
that a representative assembly is a bad form of government for any
nation or class whom it does not represent, and they establish to
demonstration that a parliamentary despotism may well be a worse
government for a dependency than a royal despotism. This is so for two
reasons. The rule of Parliament has meant in England government by
parties; and whatever be the merits of party spirit in a free,
self-governed country, its calamitous defects, when applied to the
administration of a dependency, are patent. Down to 1782 Ireland was
avowedly subject to the despotism or sovereignty of the British
Parliament, and at every turn the interest of the country was sacrificed
to the exigencies of English politics Between 1782 to 1800 the nominal
independence of Ireland placed a check on the power of the English
Parliament, yet in substance the English executive, controlled as it was
by the Parliament at Westminster, remained the ultimate sovereign of the
kingdom of Ireland. If Pitt could have carried the King and the English
Parliament with him, he would, in spite of any opposition at Dublin by
the adherents of Ascendancy, have emancipated the Catholics, just as,
when backed by the King and the English Parliament, he did, in the face
of strenuous opposition in Ireland, pass the Act of Union. And even at
the present day the most plausible charge which can be brought against
the working of the Act of Union is that Ireland under it fails to obtain
the full benefit of the British constitution, and that in spite of her
hundred representatives she is not for practical purposes represented at
Westminster in the same sense as is Middlesex or Midlothian. A
Parliament again is less capable than a King of compensating for the
evils of tyranny by the benefit of good administration, and here we come
across a matter hardly to be understood by any one who has not with some
care compared the action and the spirit of English and of continental
administrative systems. It is hardly an exaggeration to assert that even
now we have in the United Kingdom nothing like what foreigners mean by
an administration. We know nothing of that official hierarchy which on
the Continent represents the authority of the State.[12] Englishmen are
accustomed to consider that institutions under which the business of the
country is carried on by unconnected local bodies, such as the
magistrates in quarter session, or the corporations of boroughs,
controlled in the last resort only by the law courts, ought to be the
subject of unqualified admiration. Foreign observers might, even as
regards England itself, have something to set off against the merits of
a system which is, if the apparent contradiction of terms may be
excused, no system at all, and might point out that in continental
countries the administration may often be the intelligent guide and
protector of the weak and needy. The system complimented by the name of
self-government, even if as beneficial for England as Englishmen are
inclined without absolute proof to believe, is absolutely unsuitable for
a country harassed by religious and social feuds, where the owners of
land are not and cannot be the trusted guides of the people. An
impartial official is a better ruler than a hostile or distrusted
landowner, and any one who bears in mind the benefits conferred by the
humanity and justice of Turgot on a single province of France may,
without being any friend of despotism, hold that in the last century
Ireland suffered greatly from a scheme of government which did not allow
of administration such as Turgot's. In some respects the virtues of
Englishmen have been singularly unfavourable to their success in
conciliating the goodwill of Ireland. It will always remain a paradox
that the nation which has built up the British Empire (with vast help,
it may be added, from Ireland) has combined extraordinary talent for
legislation with a singular incapacity for consolidating subject races
or nations into one State. The explanation of the paradox lies in the
aristocratic sentiment which has moulded the institutions of England. An
aristocracy respects the rights of individuals, but an aristocracy
identifies right with privilege, and is based on the belief in the
inequality of men and of classes. Privilege is the keynote of English
constitutionalism; the respect for privileges has preserved English
freedom, but it has made England slower than any other civilized country
to adopt ideas of equality. This love of privilege has vitiated the
English administration in Ireland in more ways than one. The whole
administration of the country rested avowedly down to 1829, and
unavowedly to a later period, on the inequality of Catholics and
Protestants, and Protestant supremacy itself meant (except during the
short rule of Cromwell)[13] not Protestant equality, but Anglican
privilege. The spirit which divided Ireland into hostile factions
prevented Englishmen who dwelt in England from treating as equals
Englishmen who settled in Ulster. When the Volunteers claimed Irish
independence, and the American colonists renounced connection with the
mother country, similar effects were produced by the same cause. In each
case English colonists revolted against England's sovereignty, because
it meant the privilege of Englishmen who dwelt in Great Britain to
curtail the rights and hamper the trade of Englishmen who dwelt abroad.
For the iniquitous restrictions on the trade of Ireland, which are
morally by far the most blameworthy of the wrongs inflicted by England
upon Irishmen, were not precisely the acts of deliberate selfishness
which they seem to modern critics. The grievance under which Ireland
suffered was in character the same as the grievances in respect of trade
inflicted on the American colonies. Yet but for the insane attempt to
subject the colonists to direct taxation by the English Parliament the
War of Independence might have been long deferred. Even the sufferers
from a vicious commercial policy did not see its essential iniquity, and
it is hardly a subject for wonder that a generation of Englishmen who
supposed themselves to gain greatly by controlling or extinguishing the
colonial or the Irish trade should not have recognised the full iniquity
of a policy which in itself hardly seemed intolerable to many of those
colonists who endured the wrong. Still less can we be surprised that
Englishmen a century ago, amid a world where the idea of human equality
was not as yet recognised, should have failed to perceive what many
Englishmen it may be suspected will hardly admit at present, that to
most men equality, i.e. the treatment of all subjects by their
government on similar principles, seems a form of justice, and that the
multitude will tolerate restrictions on their freedom far more easily
than offences against their sense of equality. No one will care to deny
that French Governments have at all periods been far more despotic than
the Government of England; but few persons who have given the matter a
thought can deny that France has shown a power quite unknown to
Englishmen of attaching to herself by affection countries which she has
annexed by force. Strasburg was stolen from Germany, yet Strasburg soon
became French in heart. Belgium and the Rhine Provinces would gladly
have remained parts of the Napoleonic Empire. Savoy annexed in 1859
showed no disposition to separate from France in 1870. The explanation
of these facts is not far to seek. When France annexes a country she may
govern it well or ill, but she governs it on the same principles as the
rest of the French dominions. Englishmen found it for centuries
impossible to govern Englishmen in Ireland or Englishmen in
Massachusetts exactly as if they were Englishmen in Middlesex. It is not
uninstructive that every French Assembly since the Revolution has
included Deputies from the colonies; no colony has ever sent a member to
the Parliament at Westminster.

Secondly,--The English connection has inevitably, and therefore without
blame to anyone, brought upon Ireland the evils involved in the
artificial suppression of revolution.

The crises called revolutions are the ultimate and desperate cures for
the fundamental disorganisation of society. The issue of a revolutionary
struggle shows what is the true sovereign power in the revolutionised
state. So strong is the interest of mankind, at least in any European
country, in favour of some sort of settled rule, that civil disturbance
will, if left to itself, in general end in the supremacy of some power
which by securing the safety, at last gains the attachment, of the
people. The Reign of Terror begets the Empire; even wars of religion at
last produce peace, albeit peace may be nothing better than the iron
uniformity of despotism. Could Ireland have been left for any lengthened
period to herself, some form of rule adapted to the needs of the country
would in all probability have been established. Whether Protestants or
Catholics would have been the predominant element in the State; whether
the landlords would have held their own, or whether the English system
of tenure would long ago have made way for one more in conformity with
native traditions; whether hostile classes and races would at last have
established some _modus vivendi_ favourable to individual freedom, or
whether despotism under some of its various forms would have been
sanctioned by the acquiescence of its subjects, are matters of uncertain
speculation. A conclusion which, though speculative, is far less
uncertain is, that Ireland if left absolutely to herself would have
arrived like every other country at some lasting settlement of her
difficulties. To the establishment of such a reign of order the British
connection has been fatal; revolution has been suppressed at the price
of permanent disorganisation, the descendants of colonists and natives
have not coalesced into a nation, and a country which has never known
independence has never borne the burdens or learnt the lessons of
national responsibility. Disastrous as this result has been, it is
impossible to say who it was that at any given point was to blame for
it. Had France been attached to and dependent upon a powerful neighbour,
this sovereign state must have checked the cruelties and the injustice
of the Reign of Terror. But the forcible extinction of Jacobinism by an
external power would, we can hardly doubt, have arrested the progress
and been fatal to the prosperity of France. Ireland, in short, which
under English rule has lacked good administration, has by the same rule
been inevitably prevented from attempting the cure of deeply rooted
evils by the violent though occasionally successful remedy of

Thirdly,--From the original flaw in the connection between the two
countries has resulted, almost as it were of necessity, the religious
oppression, which, recorded as it has been in the penal laws, has become
the opprobrium of English rule in Ireland.

The monstrosity of imposing Anglican Protestantism upon a people who had
not reached the stage of development which is essential for even the
understanding of Protestant dogma, and who if left to themselves would
have adhered to Catholicism, conceals from us the strength of the pleas
to be urged in excuse of a policy which to critics of the nineteenth
century seems at least as absurd as it was iniquitous. Till towards the
close of the seventeenth century all the best and wisest men of the
most civilised nations in Europe, believed that the religion of a
country was the concern of the Government, and that a king who neglected
to enforce the "truth"--that is, his own theological beliefs--failed in
his obligations to his subjects and incurred the displeasure of Heaven.
From this point of view the policy of the Tudors must appear to us as
natural as to themselves it appeared wise and praiseworthy. That the
people of England should have been ripe for Protestantism at a time when
the people of Ireland had hardly risen to the level of Roman Catholicism
was to each country a grievous misfortune. That English Protestants of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries should in common with the whole
Christian world have believed that the toleration of religious error was
a sin, and should have acted on the belief, was a cause of immense
calamities. But inevitable ignorance is not the same thing as

Fourthly,--To the same source as religious persecution are due the whole
crop of difficulties connected with the tenure of land.

When James I. determined that the old Brehon law was to be abolished,
and an appeal to the law of England to be brought within the reach of
every Irishman, he and his ministers meant to introduce a beneficial
reform. They hoped that out of the old tribal customs a regular system
of landowning according to the English tenure would be developed. In
forcing on this change, English statesmen felt convinced not only that
they were reformers, but that they were promoters of justice. To a
generation trained under the teaching of lawyers like Coke, and
accustomed to regard the tenure which prevailed in England as good in
itself, it must have appeared that to pass from the irregular dominion
of uncertain customs to the rule of clear, definite law, was little less
than a transition from anarchy and injustice to a condition of order and
equity. They acted in precisely the spirit of their descendants, who are
absolutely assured that the extension of English maxims of government
throughout India must be a blessing to the population of the country,
and shape their Egyptian policy upon their unwavering faith in the
benefits which European control must of necessity confer on Egyptian
fellahs. If, however, it is probable that King James meant well to his
Irish subjects, it is absolutely certain that his policy worked gross
wrong. His scheme only provided for the more powerful members of the
tribes, and took no account of the inferior members, each of whom in
their degree had an undeniable if somewhat indefinite interest in the
tribal land. Sir John Davis, who carried out the plan, seems to have
thought that he had gone quite far enough in erecting the sub-chiefs
into freeholders. It never occurred to him that the humblest member of
the tribe should, if strict justice were done, have received his
allotment out of the common territory; and the result of his settlement
accordingly was that the tribal land was cut up into a number of large
freehold estates which were given to the most important personages among
the native Irish, and the bulk of the people were reduced to the
condition of tenants at will.[15] An intended reform produced injustice,
litigation, misery, and discontent. The case is noticeable, for it is a
type of a thousand subsequent English attempts to reform and improve
Ireland. The rulers of the country were influenced by ideas different
from those of their subjects. Ignorance and want of sympathy produced
all the evils of cruelty and malignity.

Bad administration, religious persecution, above all a thoroughly
vicious system of land tenure, accompanied by such sweeping
confiscations as to make it at any rate a plausible assertion that all
the land in Ireland has during the course of Irish history been
confiscated at least thrice over,[16] are admittedly some of the causes,
if they do not constitute the whole cause, of the one immediate
difficulty which perplexes the policy of England. This is nothing else
than the admitted disaffection to the law of the land prevailing among
large numbers of the Irish people. The existence of this disaffection,
whatever be the inference to be drawn from it, is undeniable. A series
of so-called Coercion Acts passed both before and since the Act of Union
give undeniable evidence, if evidence were wanted, of the ceaseless, and
as it would appear almost irrepressible, resistance in Ireland offered
by the people to the enforcement of the law. I have not the remotest
inclination to underrate the lasting and formidable character of this
opposition between opinion and law, nor can any jurist who wishes to
deal seriously with a serious and infinitely painful topic question for
a moment that the ultimate strength of law lies in the sympathy, or at
lowest the acquiescence, of the mass of the population. Judges,
constables and troops become almost powerless when the conscience of the
people permanently opposes the execution of the law. Severity produces
either no effect or bad effects, executed criminals are regarded as
heroes or martyrs, and jurymen or witnesses meet with the execration,
and often with the fate, of criminals. On such a point it is best to
take the judgment of a foreigner unaffected by prejudices or passions,
from which no Englishman or Irishman has a right to suppose himself

"_Quand vous en êtes arrivés à ce point, croyez bien que dans cette voie
de rigueurs tous vos efforts pour rétablir l'ordre et la paix seront
inutiles. En vain, pour réprimer des crimes atroces, vous appellerez à
votre aide toutes les sévérités du code de Dracon; en vain vous ferez
des lois cruelles pour arrêter le cours de révoltantes cruautés;
vainement vous frapperez de mort le moindre délit se rattachant à ces
grands crimes; vainement, dans l'effroi de votre impuissance, vous
suspendrez le cours des lois ordinaires, proclamerez des comtés entiers
en état de suspicion légale, violerez le principe de la liberté
individuelle, créerez des cours martiales, des commissions
extraordinaires, et pour produire de salutaires impressions de terreur,
multiplierez à l'excès les exécutions captiales._"[17]

No advocate of Home Rule can find a clearer statement of the condition
of things with which on his view the Imperial Parliament is morally
incompetent to deal than in these words of De Beaumont's; but before we
hastily draw any inference from an undoubted fact, let us examine into
the exact nature of the fact. The opposition of Irish opinion to the law
of the land is undoubted, but the opposition is not now, and if we
appeal (as under the present argument we are appealing) to the teaching
of history never has been general opposition to law, or even general
opposition to English law. The statistics of ordinary crime are (it is
said) no higher in Ireland than in other parts of the United Kingdom. A
pickpocket or a burglar is as easily convicted in Ireland as elsewhere;
the persons who lamentably enough are either left unpunished, or if
punished may count on popular sympathy, are criminals whose offences,
atrocious and cruel as they constantly are, are connected in popular
opinion with political, and at bottom, it must be added, with agrarian
questions. For more than a century there has existed an hereditary
conspiracy against the rights of the landowners. The White Boys of 1760,
the Steel Boys of 1772, the Right Boys of 1785, the Rockites of a few
years later, the Thrashers of 1806, the White Boys who re-appear in
1811, 1815, 1820, the Terralts of 1831, the White Feet of 1833, the
Black Feet of 1837;[18] later Ribbon men under different names, the
Boycotters or the assassins who have added a terrible sanction to the
commands of the Land League or of the National League, have each and
all been, in most cases avowedly and in every case in fact, the
vindicators or asserters of the just or unjust popular aversion to the
rights of landlords given by the law and enforced by the courts of the
land. It would be folly to assert that all popular opposition to the law
in Ireland had been connected with agrarian questions. But if we look
either to the experience of past generations, or to the transactions
passing before our eyes, we can hardly be mistaken in holding that the
main causes of disaffection have been either questions connected with
religion, or rather with the position of Roman Catholics, or disputes
connected with the possession of land.

The feeling of nationality has played a very subordinate part in
fomenting or keeping alive Irish discontent. The Repeal agitation, in
spite of O'Connell's legitimate influence, collapsed. No one can read
Sir Gavan Duffy's most interesting account of the Young Ireland movement
without perceiving that just because it was strictly a nationalist
movement it took very little hold upon the people. The Home Rule
movement never showed great strength till it became avowedly a Land
League, of which the ultimate result should be, by whatever means, to
make the tenants of Ireland owners of their land. To this add that in
the judgment of foreign critics, and of thinkers like Mill, the popular
protest against the maintenance in Ireland of a tenure combining the
evils both of large estates and of minute subdivision of farms is
founded upon justice. De Beaumont at any rate teaches that to transform
Irish tenants into peasant proprietors would be the salvation of the

_"Plus on considère l'Irlande, ses besoins et ses difficultés de toutes
sortes, et plus on est porté à penser que ce changement dans l'état de
sa population agricole serait le vrai remède à ses maux....

"J'aurais mille autres raisons pour appuyer cette opinion; je m'arrête
cependant. Un lecteur anglais trouvera mes arguments incomplets. Tout
autre qu'un Anglais les jugera peut-être surabondants."_[19]

This opinion may be well-founded or ill-founded; but no wise statesman
will reject it without the maturest consideration.

History, then, if fairly interrogated, gives this result: Historical
causes have generated in Ireland a condition of opinion which in all
matters regarding the land impedes that enforcement of law which is the
primary duty of every civilized government.

From this fact Home Rulers draw the inference that the law is hated
because it is foreign, and that England should surrender to Irishmen the
effort to enforce legal rights, since this duty is one which can be
performed by a native and cannot be performed by any English or foreign

This conclusion is clearly not supported by the premises. If the source
of popular discontent be agrarian, then the right course is to amend the
land laws while improving the administrative system, and enforcing
justice between man and man.

A Home Ruler may, however, if hard driven, say that my interpretation of
history is erroneous, and that a hatred to English law, and to all
things English, and not a special dislike to the land law, is the
sentiment which prevails over every other feeling of the Irish people.
It is difficult to me to see how this view can be seriously maintained.
Let us grant however for a moment that Home Rulers are right, and that
millions of Irishmen are inspired with the passion of nationality. Even
on this supposition the Home Rule doctrine stands in a bad way. If the
demand of the Irish people be like that of the Italian people--a demand
for recognised nationality--then the demand must be satisfied, if at
all, not by Home Rule, but by independence. The most eminent among
English Home Rulers believes that the law is hated in Ireland because it
comes before the Irish people in a foreign garb. Mr. Froude in substance
agrees in this matter with Mr. Gladstone, since he holds that "the real
grievance is our presence in Ireland at all." But the eminent statesman
and the distinguished historian draw a different inference from the same
premises. Mr. Gladstone infers that Ireland can be satisfied by
semi-independence. Mr. Froude infers that if we are to meet Irish wishes
we must let Ireland be free. Mr. Froude's logic will be to most persons
far more intelligible than the logic of the Liberal leader. Here, at
any rate, we come to the true issue suggested by the phenomena of Irish
history. Is Irish discontent due in the main to agrarian or to political
causes? On the answer to this enquiry depends, as far as the argument we
have in hand goes, the line of right policy in Ireland. But neither
answer favours the contention of Home Rulers.[20]

The argument from Irish history gives rise to, or, more properly
speaking, contains in itself two further distinct lines of reasoning in
favour of Home Rule, each of which supplements the other. The first of
these aims at showing that to leave Ireland to herself is the only
method by which to restore order throughout the country. This I have
termed "the argument from the good effects of self-government," the
other deduces from the necessity for Coercion Acts the conclusion that
England cannot maintain order in Ireland: this I have termed "the
argument from the necessity for Coercion Acts." These two lines of
reasoning are simply an amplification of points suggested by the Home
Rule argument from Irish history, and are of necessity therefore open
to the same criticisms to which that argument is obnoxious. They have,
however, each a certain value of their own, and have made an impression
on the English public: they can each also be met by more or less special
replies. The argument, therefore, from the good effects of
self-government and the argument from the necessity for Coercion Acts
each deserve separate statement and consideration.

[Sidenote: 4. Argument from self-government.]

_The argument from the virtues of self-government._--Self-dependence is
the source of self-reliance and of self-help. Leave Ireland to herself,
and Ireland will (it is argued) develop the sense of responsibility and
the power of self-government. Mr. Parnell or Mr. Davitt as Irish Prime
Minister will be able to perform with ease feats beyond the reach of any
English Cabinets. He will dare to be strong because he knows he is
popular: he will punish conspirators with a severity unknown to modern
English governments; he will feel that anarchy is the bane of his
country, and he will not tolerate disorder. Boycotters, Moonlighters,
Dynamiters or Assassins will find that they are called upon to meet a
force of which they have had before no experience. They will discover
that they are engaged in a contest with the will of the people, and
deprived, as they will be, of the moral sympathy which has hitherto
given them comfort and encouragement, will yield obedience to a law
which is the expression of the national will. Self-government in
Ireland means strong government, and strong government is the one cure
for Irish misery.

This train of reflection has, unless I am mistaken, convinced many
English Radicals that the installation of an Irish Ministry at Dublin
will be the dissolution of every secret society throughout Ireland, and
thus gained over to the cause of Home Rule men who detest anarchy even
more than they love liberty.

This belief in the virtues of self-government is confirmed by the
teaching of American critics, who hold that the recent experience of the
United States presents a clue by which Englishmen may find a path out of
the labyrinth of their present perplexities. Transactions known to every
citizen of the States show conclusively that the hatred of law which in
Ireland fills Englishmen with amazement has arisen among a people who,
whatever their faults, cannot be charged with those inherited vices
which English opinion freely and gratuitously imputes to Irish nature.
In Connecticut, in New York, in Georgia, throughout all the Southern
States, open or secret combinations, supported by public opinion and
enforcing its decrees by violence and murder, have with success defied
the law courts. Social conditions, and not the perversities of Irish
character, are seen to be the true cause of phenomena which, if they are
now a feature of Irish life, have appeared in countries where not an
Irishman was to be found, and where the Irish had no appreciable
influence. To this fact, which appears to me not to admit of question,
Americans add the consideration that lawlessness when supported by
public opinion has in America been successfully met, not by coercion,
but by yielding to public sentiment. Hence they draw the conclusion that
the proper mode of terminating the conflict between law and widespread
sentiment is to yield to opinion, and, by conceding something of the
nature of Home Rule, to turn law-breakers into law-makers. The
application of this dogma to Ireland is obvious: the crucial instance by
which its truth is supposed to be established is the treatment of the
conquered South by the victorious North. From the termination of the War
of Secession up to 1876 the fixed policy of the Northern Republicans was
to maintain order in the South by the use of Federal troops. This policy
began and ended in failure: in 1876 the troops were withdrawn; the
endeavour to enforce law by means of the Federal armies was given up--as
if by magic chaos gave place to order. Local self-government has given
peace to the United States, why should it not restore concord to the
United Kingdom?[21]

[Sidenote: Criticism.]

It has been freely admitted in the foregoing pages[22] that the
historical connection between England and Ireland has brought upon the
weaker country the evils involved in the suppression of internal
revolution by external force. This admission contains the main ground
for the argument in favour of Home Rule drawn from the good effects of
self-government, but is not in reality a sound foundation on which to
place the suggested conclusion.

For the argument under consideration, even after the concession that
Ireland has suffered from not having been left to herself, is vitiated
by more than one flaw.

Home Rule, as it is again and again necessary to point out, is not
national independence, nor anything like independence. Home Rule gives
Ireland at most semi-independence--that is to say, it leaves Ireland at
least half dependent upon England. It is vain to argue that the position
of the member of a confederacy or of a colonial dependency will give to
Irishmen the sense of independence and responsibility which belongs to a
self-governing nation.

Grant, however (though the assumption is a hazardous one), that the
creation of an Irish government and an Irish Parliament would of itself
give to Ireland, even though she were still in many respects dependent
on England, such a new sense of power and of responsibility as would
enable her to create for herself a strong executive. This concession is
not enough to make out the argument in favour of Home Rule. Laws ought
to be not only strong but just, and Englishmen must consider whether
rulers who had come to the head of affairs solely because they
represented the strongest among many Irish factions or parties would he
able to rule with justice. The "Jacobin Conquest" installed a strong
executive in power, but England could not be an accomplice in
inaugurating a reign of terror. The connection which under any form of
Home Rule would bind together the parts of the present United Kingdom
would be, it may be suggested, a guarantee against the supremacy of an
Irish Robespierre or Danton. Granted: but if so, Home Rule would
restrain an Irish revolution. The strongest, in other words the most
reckless leaders, would be prevented from coming to the front. Ireland
would not follow her own course, and since she would not be in truth
self-governed, she would not reap the good fruits of self-government.

Nor in truth does the American version of our argument give much help to
Home Rulers.

In more than one instance popular sentiment has in the United States
defied the law of the land. Nothing can be a better example of such
defiance than the anti-rent war which raged in New York between 1839 and
1846.[23] The struggle exhibited all the recklessness of a no-rent
agitation in Ireland with none of the excuses which can be urged in
palliation of outrage by half-starving tenants; it produced a "reign of
terror which for ten years practically suspended the operations of law
and the payment of rent throughout the district" which was the field of
the anti-rent movement; it ended in a nominal compromise which was a
real victory for the anti-renters. In this instance, be it remarked, no
sentiment of nationality or State right came into play. The law was
hated, not because it was "foreign," but because it enforced the
obligation of an unpopular contract. Landlords, it is now all but
admitted, are not entitled to the full rights of citizens. The triumph
therefore of the anti-renters at New York may command a certain amount
of sympathy. The popular sentiment which in 1833 induced the people of
Connecticut to boycott Miss Prudence Crandall cannot be brought under
the sanction of any "higher law." Her crime was that she chose, obeying
the dictates of her conscience, to open a school for negro girls in
Connecticut. She was subjected to every annoyance and insult which the
most reckless boycotter could invent. Legislation itself was turned
against her, and the State failed utterly in the duty of protecting one
of the most meritorious, and now, one is happy to think, one of the most
honoured among the women of America. The Lyman Riots at Boston, as
indeed every stage in the noble struggle of the American Abolitionists
against popular injustice, tell the same tale, namely, that law in the
United States has once and again failed to assert its due supremacy over
injustice backed by public approval. This melancholy failure may
possibly support the proposition that England cannot enforce the law in
Ireland. It far more conclusively shows that even in countries deeply
imbued with the spirit of legality self-government has no necessary
tendency to produce just government or just legislation.

Let us, however, examine with care the lessons to be drawn from the
treatment of the Southern States of America by the North.

The natural and most obvious moral of modern American history is that
the majority of a nation have both the right and power to coerce a
minority who claim to break up the unity of the State. The most
distinguished English Liberals, such as Bright and Mill, held, and as I
conceive on sound grounds of reason and justice, that the Southern
States were neither legally nor morally justified in their claim to
secede from the Union; but no fair-minded man can deny that a plausible
constitutional case could be made out in favour of Secession, nor that
the citizens of the Southern confederacy demonstrated their wish and
determination to secede by far more cogent evidence than the return of
eighty-six Secessionists to Congress. The primâ facie arguments which
may be alleged in favour of Secession were tenfold stronger--unfounded
as I hold them to have been--than the primâ facie arguments in favour of
Ireland's right to Home Rule. Moreover, in studying the history of the
United States, an Englishman is at the present moment more concerned
with the results than with the justification of the suppression of the
Southern rebellion. The policy of the North attained its object: the
Union was restored, and its existence is now placed beyond the reach of
peril. The abolition of slavery took away the source of disagreement
between the Northern and Southern States, and the tremendous exhibition
of the power of the Republic has finally, it is supposed, destroyed the
very idea of Secession. There is certainly nothing in all this which
discourages the attempt to maintain the political unity of Great Britain
and Ireland. We are told, however, to forget the force employed to
suppress Secession, and to recollect only the policy of the Republicans
after the close of the Civil War. That policy was a failure as long as
it involved the denial to the Southern States of their State autonomy,
and became a success from the moment when it recognised to the full the
sacredness of State rights. This, or some statement like this,
represents the mode in which the annals of the Union must be read if
they are to be interpreted in favour of Home Rule. The reading is a
strained interpretation of events which are known to every one. The
North, once and for all, settled that the matters which lay at the
bottom of the Civil War should be settled in the manner which conform to
Northern notions of justice and of expediency. The abolition of slavery,
and the final disposal of the alleged right to Secession, gave to the
North, all the requisite securities against attacks on the unity of the
Republic. The Republicans, influenced in part by considerations of
party, but partly (it must in fairness be admitted) by the feeling that
it was a duty to secure for Negro citizens the full enjoyment of the
civil and political rights given them, under the constitutional
amendments supported for years the so-called Carpet Bag Governments,
that is to say, the rule of Northern adventurers who were kept in office
throughout the South by the Negro vote. The Federal Government, in
short, up to 1876 gave by its arms authority in the South to the
unscrupulosity of Northern scoundrelism supported by the votes of Negro
ignorance. Such a policy naturally produced bitter irritation among the
Southern Whites. Its reversal as naturally restored to the Whites at
once power and contentment. Whether this reversal was as satisfactory to
the Blacks is less clear. In any case it is hard to see how the
restoration of the Southern States to their natural place in the Union
tells in favour of giving Ireland a position quite inconsistent with the
existing constitution of the United Kingdom. The case stands thus:
Northern Republicans insisted that every State in the South should
submit to the supremacy of the United States on every point which
directly or indirectly concerned the national and political unity of the
American people. Having secured this submission the Republican party
restored to the Southern States the reality as well as the name of State
rights; and allowed the same and no more than the same independence to
South Carolina as is allowed to New York. No doubt something was
sacrificed; this "something" was a matter which did not greatly concern
the citizens of the North. It was the attempt to secure to the Black
citizens of the South the political rights given them by the
constitution. The sacrifice may have been necessary; many of the wisest
Americans hold that it was so. But we may suspect that even amongst
those who, as a matter of policy, approve the course pursued by the
Federal Government in the South since 1876, qualms are occasionally felt
as to some of its results. The able writer who sets American Home Rule
before Englishmen as an example for imitation says with the candour
which marks his writings: "I do not propose to defend or explain the way
in which" the Native Whites "have since then" (1876) kept the Government
"in their hands by suppressing or controlling the Negro vote. This is
not necessary to my purpose."[24] It is however necessary for the
purpose of weighing the effect of American experience to bear this
"suppression" constantly in mind; it has deprived the Negroes of
political rights which possibly they had better never have received, and
has falsified the result of Presidential elections. When we are told
that the South votes solid for a Democratic President, we must remember
that in the Southern States the Negro vote is "controlled"; and that in
reckoning the number of votes to which a State is entitled in virtue of
its population, the Negro voters of the South are counted for as much as
the uncontrolled White voters of the North. Whether this state of things
will always be contentedly borne by the Northern States is a matter on
which a foreigner can form no opinion. It is a condition of affairs
which does not conduce to respect for law, and the satisfaction with
which thoughtful Americans regard a policy founded on the tolerance of
illegality confirms the belief suggested by other circumstances, that
deference to opinion tends in the United States to undermine respect for
law; it certainly does not tend to show that self-government has much
connection with justice.

The argument, in short, from the good effects of self-government
appears, when examined, either to be an argument which tells far more
strongly in favour of Separation than of Home Rule, or else to be an
argument which shows only that England might gain some immediate
advantage from shutting her eyes to injustice committed by an Irish

[Sidenote: 5. Argument from Coercion Acts.]

_The argument from the necessity for Coercion Acts_.--Coercion Acts are
(according to popular apprehension) enactments suspending the operation
of the ordinary law, and conflicting therefore with the principles of
the English Constitution. Order has been maintained in Ireland since the
Union (we are told) mainly by means of Coercion Acts. The English
democracy, it is argued, cannot acquiesce any longer in these violations
of the Constitution; but since order must somehow be maintained in
Ireland, and Coercion Acts must no longer be passed, the English
democracy must surrender the duty of maintaining the law into the hands
of the Irish people, who, as is assumed by Home Rulers, can exact
obedience to the law of Ireland without the use of exceptional

[Sidenote: Criticism.]

A lawyer irritated by the folly of popular declamation is tempted to
dismiss all objections to Coercion Acts, together with all arguments
founded upon such objections, with one peremptory remark--namely, that
since a law is merely a rule which men are compelled to obey by the
power of the State, and Coercion is but another name for compulsory
obedience to the law, to object to Coercion is in reality to object to
law itself, or in effect to the existence of political society. The
temptation to cut down a popular delusion by some such summary criticism
as this is great, but it is a temptation which at all costs must be
resisted. Vague ideas, which have obtained general currency, are, in
spite of their inaccuracy, the outgrowth for the most part of reasonable
feeling. Whoever wishes to meet, and, if need be, dispel the antipathy
to Coercion Acts, must try to understand what is the meaning which
sensible men attach to the word "Coercion," what is the conviction
represented by the dislike to Coercion Acts, how this dislike may be
lessened, and, for the purpose with which these pages are written, how
far the disapproval of Coercion Acts provides a reason in favour of Home

Of all the terms which at the present moment confuse public judgment,
none is more vague and misleading than the word "Coercion" when applied
to every stringent attempt to enforce in Ireland obedience to the law of
the land.

Coercion means and includes two different though closely connected ideas
which the laxity of popular thought fails to distinguish.

_First_.--Coercion means any attempt to enforce a law among people whose
moral sympathies are at variance with the law itself. In this sense
Coercion is opposed to that enforcement of ordinary law with which we
are all familiar. Thus, to punish a Ritualist for not conforming to the
judgment of the Privy Council, to enforce vaccination at Leicester, to
compel a Quaker to pay tithes, to eject an Irish tenant from the farm he
has occupied, to drag him into Court and seize his goods if he does not
pay his rent, to punish severely resistance to the Sheriff's officer, or
to the bailiff who gives effect to the rights of an Irish landlord, are
in popular estimation proceedings which according to the nature of the
law put in force are stigmatised as persecution or Coercion. They
certainly differ from the compulsion by which common debtors are
compelled to pay their debts, or thieves are prevented from picking
pockets or breaking into houses. The difference lies in this. Where the
enforcement of the law is called "Coercion," not only does the criminal
think himself in the right, or at any rate think the law a wrongful
law, but also the society to which he belongs holds that the law-breaker
is maintaining a moral right against an immoral law. The anti-vaccinator
is deemed a martyr at Leicester, the farmer who will not pay his rent is
thought a patriot at Cork. Where the enforcement of the law is not
popularly deemed coercion the law-breaker does not suppose himself to be
in the right, and still less do his associates think him morally
praiseworthy. A thief does not in general hold any theory about the
rightness of larceny, and there is no society in the United Kingdom at
least who deny the moral validity of the Eighth Commandment.

_Secondly_.--Coercion means the enforcement of law by arbitrary and
exceptional methods which tend to diminish the securities for freedom
possessed by ordinary citizens. Thus the suspension of the Habeas Corpus
Act, the abolition of trial by jury, the introduction of peculiar rules
of evidence to facilitate convictions for a particular class of crimes,
a suspension (speaking generally) of what would be called in foreign
countries "constitutional guarantees," in order to secure obedience to
particular laws, would be called coercion.

An enactment, then, which in ordinary language is called a Coercion Act,
has one or both of the two following characteristics.[25] It is an Act
which either enforces some rule of law (e.g., the law that tenants must
pay their rent, or that trades unionists must not molest artisans who
accept lower wages than the scale prescribed by the union), which does
not command the moral assent of the society or people among whom it is
enforced, or else constrains obedience to law by some exceptional and
arbitrary mode of procedure. Now the general prejudice against an Act
which has either or both of these characteristics is within certain
limits justifiable on grounds of good sense. Laws derive three-fourths
of their force not from the fears of law-breakers, but from the assent
of law-keepers; and legislation should, as a rule, correspond with the
moral sentiment of the people. The maxim _quid leges sine moribus_,
though it should always be balanced by the equally important maxim _quid
mores sine legibus_, is one which no legislator dares neglect with
impunity, and a law permanently at variance with wide moral feeling
needs repeal or modification. It is also true that exceptional and
arbitrary legislation is, simply because it is exceptional and
arbitrary, open to suspicion. If it be desirable that personal liberty
should be protected by the writ of Habeas Corpus, a suspension of the
Habeas Corpus Act is on the face of it an evil. If it is not desirable
that officers of the army should suddenly and without legal training
exercise the power of judges, the establishment of martial law is in
itself a great, though it may be a necessary calamity. Legislation,
which has received the odious name of coercion, has frequently (though
not always) exhibited one or both of the characteristics which render it
fairly obnoxious to that designation. The objection, therefore, to
Coercion Acts is on the face of it not unreasonable. What are the
inferences which the objection supports is, of course, quite a different
matter, and shall be considered in its due place.

It is most important, however, to note that the valid opposition to
so-called Coercion Acts may and ought to be greatly mitigated by careful
adherence to two maxims which are obvious, but are often neglected.

A Coercion Act in the first place, should be aimed, not at the direct
enforcement of rules opposed to popular opinion, but at the punishment
of offences which, though they may be indirectly connected with dislike
of an unpopular law or with opposition to rights (for instance, of
landowners) not sanctioned by popular opinion, are deeds in themselves
condemned by the human conscience. Deliberate breaches of contract,
insults to women and children, the murder or torture of witnesses who
have given truthful evidence in support of a conviction for crime,
brutal cruelty to cattle, may be methods of popular vengeance, or the
sanctions which enforce an agrarian code; but one may feel certain that
the man who breaks his word, who tortures or murders his neighbour or
who huffs cattle, knows himself to be not only a criminal, but a sinner,
and that the law, which condemns him to punishment, though it may excite
temporary outcry, can rely on the ultimate sanction of the popular

A Coercion Act, in the second place, should as far as possible be
neither a temporary nor an exceptional piece of legislation.

An Act which increases the efficiency of the criminal law should, like
other statutes, be a permanent enactment. The temporary character of
Coercion Acts has needlessly increased their severity, for members of
Parliament have justified to themselves carelessness in fixing the
limits of powers conferred upon the executive under the insufficient
plea that these powers were intended to last but for a short time. It
has also deprived them of moral weight. An Act which is a law in 1881,
but will cease to be a law in 1882, has neither the impressiveness nor
the certainty which gives dignity to the ordinary law of the land.
Coercion Acts, again, should be general--that is, should apply, not to
one part, but to the whole, of the United Kingdom. Powers needed by the
Government for constant use in Ireland must occasionally be wanted in
England, or, if they do not exist there, in Scotland. It were the
strangest anomaly for the law to sanction a mode of procedure which
convicts a dynamiter in Dublin, and not to give the Government the same
means for the conviction of the same criminal for the same offence if he
has crossed to Liverpool. The principle forbidding exceptional or
extraordinary legislation suggests that Coercion Acts should in the main
give new stringency to the criminal procedure, and should not invade
the liberties of ordinary citizens. The object of a Coercion Act is to
facilitate the punishment of wrongdoers, not to restrict the liberty of
citizens who have not broken the law. This is a point legislators are
apt to neglect. The distinction insisted upon will be understood by any
one who compares the Act for the Better Protection of Person and
Property in Ireland, 44 Vict. c. 4, of 1881, with the Prevention of
Crime (Ireland) Act, 1882, 45 & 46 Vict. c. 25. They were each denounced
as Coercion Acts: the earlier enactment was in many ways the more
lenient of the two; yet in principle the Act of 1881 was thoroughly
vicious, whilst in principle the Act of 1882 was, as regards its most
effective sections, thoroughly sound. The Act of 1881 in effect gave the
Irish executive an unlimited power of arrest: it established in theory
despotic government. The Act of 1882 was in principle an Act for
increasing the stringency of criminal procedure. The one could not be
made permanent, and applied to the whole United Kingdom, without
depriving every citizen of security for his personal freedom. The main
enactments of the other might extend through the whole of Great Britain
and Ireland, and produce only the not undesirable effect of making the
whole United Kingdom a less pleasant residence than at present for
criminals or conspirators.

An Act which should be permanent, which should apply to the whole United
Kingdom, which should deal, not indeed exclusively but in the main,
with criminal procedure, could hardly contain injudicious, harsh or
tyrannical provisions. The passing of one such good Criminal Law
Amendment Act would, though its discussion occupied a whole Session,
save our representatives in Parliament an infinite waste of time, and
would make unnecessary half-a-dozen Coercion Acts for Ireland. To
enlarge the power of examining persons suspected of connection with a
crime, even though no man is put upon his trial; to get rid of every
difficulty in changing the venue; to give the Courts the right under
certain circumstances of trying criminals without the intervention of a
jury; to organise much more thoroughly than it is organised at present
in England the whole system of criminal prosecutions; to enable the
executive to prohibit public meetings which might provoke a breach of
the peace, would in many cases be an improvement on the criminal law of
England itself, and would in several instances be simply an extension to
the whole United Kingdom of laws which exist without exciting any
disapproval in some one division of it.[26] Without special experience
it would be presumptuous to assert that these or similar changes in
criminal procedure would suffice for the enforcement of the law in
Ireland during a period of disturbance. That such improvements in
procedure would go a good way to make special Coercion Acts unnecessary,
is in the highest degree probable. There is, moreover, nothing
objectionable or anomalous in increasing as time goes on the stringency
of criminal procedure. The law against crimes is the protection of men
who are not criminals. Civilisation raises our estimate of the
protection which good citizens ought to receive from the State; it also
places new means of attack in the hands of cheats and ruffians. An
elaborate criminal code is as necessary for a civilised society as are
elaborately trained armies and scientific arms both of defence and

No adherence, however, to sound maxims of criminal jurisprudence would,
it must be frankly admitted, entirely take away, though it might greatly
mitigate, the justifiable distaste for Coercion Acts. The necessity for
these Acts points to discord in Ireland between the law of the land and
the law of the people; they are the outward and visible sign of internal
discontent and disloyalty; they give good ground for supposing that the
law or some part of it requires amendment, and to many persons laws
which admit the existence of a bad social condition will appear to be
themselves odious. But the necessity for amending bad laws or vicious
institutions is no reason why just laws, or any law which cannot rightly
be repealed, should not be enforced. The fallacies of protection
afforded no reason for not punishing smugglers, though the existence of
smuggling gave good ground for considering whether the customs law did
not require revision. There seems to the thoughtless crowd--whether rich
or poor, and all men are thoughtless about most things, and many men
about all things--to be a certain inconsistency between reform and
coercion; there is something absurd in the policy of "cuffs and kisses."
But the inconsistency or absurdity is only apparent. The necessity for
carrying through by legal means an agrarian revolution--and the passing
of the Irish Land Act was in effect an admission by the English
Parliament, that this necessity exists--is a solid reason for the strict
enforcement of justice. Reform tends, as its immediate result, to
produce lawlessness. A wise driver holds his reins all the tighter
because he is compelled to drive along the brink of a precipice. Whether
Coercion Acts, which it must be remembered have been known before now in
England, and were known in Ireland during the era of her Parliamentary
independence, and which are the sign of the difficulty of enforcing the
law, are or are not to be tolerated as a necessary evil, depends on the
answer to the inquiry, whether the Government of the United Kingdom can
by just administration, and by just legislation, remove the source of
Irish opposition to the law? Answer the question affirmatively, and the
outcry against coercion becomes unmeaning; answer the question
negatively, and you produce an argument which tells with crushing power
in favour not of Home Rule, but of Separation.

[Sidenote: 6. The argument from inconvenience.]

_The argument from the inconvenience to England._[27]--Apologies for
Home Rule drawn from foreign experience, deference due to the popular
will, from the historical failure of England to govern Ireland with
success and the like, have about them when employed by English members
of Parliament a touch of unreality; they are reasons meant to satisfy
the hearer, but do not convince the speaker. When however we come to the
argument for Home Rule drawn from the inconvenience of the present state
of things to England generally, and to English members of Parliament in
particular, we know at once that we are at any rate dealing with a real
tangible serious plea which has (if anything) only too much weight with
the person who employs it. There is nothing in the whole relation of
England to Ireland about which politicians are so well assured, as that
the presence of a body of Parnellites at Westminster is an unutterable
nuisance, and works intolerable evil. Of the reality of their conviction
we have the strongest proof. The sufferings of Irish tenants, the
difficulties or the wrongs of Irish landlords, the evils of coercion,
the terror of assassination, but slightly ruffled the composure with
which English statesmen faced the perplexities of the Irish problem.
They first began to think that the demand for Home Rule might have
something in it when the refusal to erect a Parliament at Dublin meant
the continuance of obstruction in the Parliament at Westminster. The
terror of obstruction has to speak the plain truth, done more to effect
the _bonâ fide_ conversion of English M.P.'s into advocates of Home Rule
than any other single influence.

What then is the harm which a body of eighty or ninety Irish members can
work in Parliament? This is the answer. They may (it is said) in the
first place delay, obstruct, and render impossible the carrying through
of important measures; London may go without a municipality; widowers
may wait for years without being able to marry their deceased wives'
sisters; we may not during this generation get the blessing of a good
criminal code, if Mr. Parnell and his followers sit in Parliament
prepared to practice all the arts of obstruction. The Irish members, in
the second place, perturb and falsify the whole system of party
government. The majority of Great Britain wish to be ruled say by Lord
Salisbury; the Parnellites do not care whether Lord Salisbury or Mr.
Gladstone is Premier, but they do care for making the English executive
feeble, and ridiculous. They can, therefore, by the practice of a very
little art, seize some opportunity of putting Lord Salisbury in a
minority, and turning him out of office. Mr. Gladstone comes back into
what is ironically called power. The same game begins again. The
Parnellites coalesce with the Tories, we have a change of Cabinet, and
possibly a dissolution. Nor are changes of Ministry the whole of the
evil. The high tone of party politics is degraded. English or Scottish
members of Parliament are but men; they are liable to be tempted; the
Parnellites have the means of offering temptation; and temptation,
members of Parliament intimate to us, will in the long run be too great
for their virtue. The presence, in short, at Westminster of eighty-six
gentlemen who do not respect the dignity or care for the efficiency of
Parliament is absolutely fatal to the success of Parliamentary
government, and to the character of Parliamentary statesmanship. We
must, it is inferred, let the Parnellites have a Parliament of their own
in Ireland, or else we shall soon cease to have any Parliament worth
keeping in England.

[Sidenote: Criticism.]

The force of this line of argument, as far as it goes, cannot be denied.
The presence in the House of Commons of politicians disloyal to
Parliament causes immense inconvenience; but to anyone not a member of
the House of Commons, it appears singular that men of sense should think
the inconveniences of obstruction a sufficient ground for breaking up
the Constitution. The whole thing is a question of proportion. The
nation suffers a good deal from obstruction, but the suffering is not of
a kind to justify revolution. A toothache is a bad thing, but a severe
toothache hardly suggests suicide; and though life might not be worth
having, if toothache were to last for years, the thoughts of putting an
end to one's existence are removed by the knowledge that an aching tooth
can be drawn by a dentist. Now the more obvious evils of obstruction can
clearly be removed by changes of procedure. Members of Parliament appear
to think that to alter the rules of the House of Commons; to curtail and
limit the power of debate; to confer, if necessary, upon the Speaker, or
upon the bare majority of members present, authority to bring every
debate summarily to a close, is something like overthrowing the
monarchy, a thing not to be dreamt of by the wildest of innovators.
Plain men outside the walls of Parliament can assure our
representatives, that the world would bear with infinite calmness the
imposition of stringent restrictions on the overflow of Parliamentary
eloquence. If even the great debate on Home Rule had been finished say
in a week, the outer world would have been well pleased; and measures
such as the Government of Ireland Bill happily do not come before
Parliament every year. The more subtle evils arising in part at least
from the presence of the Irish members must be met by more searching
remedies. Parnellite obstruction has revealed rather than caused the
weakness of government by Parliament. The experience, not of England
only, but of other countries, shows the great difficulty of working our
present party system of government in a representative assembly which is
divided into more than two parties. The essential difficulty lies in
the immediate dependence of a modern ministry for its existence on every
vote of the House of Commons. If you see the difficulty, you can also
see various means by which it may be removed. In more than one country,
and notably in the United States and in Switzerland--states, be it
remarked, in which popular government flourishes--the executive, though
in the long run amenable to the voice of the people, and though in
Switzerland actually appointed by the legislature, is not like an
English Cabinet dependent on the fluctuating will of a legislative
assembly. If it were necessary to choose between modifications in the
relation of the executive to Parliament, and the repeal of the Act of
Union, most Englishmen would think that to increase the independence of
the executive--a change probably desirable in itself--was a less evil
than a disruption of the United Kingdom, which not only is in itself a
gigantic evil, but may well lead to others. A modification, however, in
the practice would, for the moment at least, save the real principles of
Parliamentary government. Were it once understood that a Ministry would
not retire from office except in consequence of a direct vote of want of
confidence in the House of Commons, the political power of the
Parnellite, or of any other minority, would be greatly diminished.
Meanwhile, members of Parliament may be reminded that it is on them that
the duty lies of removing the obstacles which from time to time impede
the working of Parliamentary machinery, and that the existence of
temptation to political turpitude is not an admitted excuse for yielding
to it. In one way or another a majority of 584 members must, if they
choose, be able to make head against the minority of 86. Their failure
already excites astonishment; the time is coming when it will excite
contempt. The English people, moreover, have the remedy in their own
hands. By giving to either of the great parties an absolute majority
they can terminate all the inconveniences threatened by Parnellite
obstruction. The remedy is in their hands, and recent experience
suggests that they will not be slow to use it.

       *       *       *       *       *

A survey of the arguments in favour of Home Rule suggests the following

The arguments, taken as a whole, do undoubtedly show that the present
state of things is accompanied by considerable evils or inconveniences.
They show what no one who has given a thought to the matter ever
doubted, that the relation between England and Ireland is
unsatisfactory. They are, as far as they go, objections to the
maintenance of the Union, but neither the feelings which favour Home
Rule, nor the reasons by which they are supported, tell in reality in
favour of Home Rule policy. They scarcely tend to show that Home Rule
would cure the evils complained of; they certainly do not show, they
only assume, that Home Rule in Ireland would not be injurious to
England. They are, in short, arguments in favour of Irish independence;
every one of them would be seen in its true character if the Irish
demand should take the form of a claim that Ireland should become
an independent nation. Meanwhile, even on the Home Rule view, the
case stands thus: the present condition of things excites Irish
discontent, and involves great evils. We have before us but three
courses:--Maintenance of the Union; the concession of Irish
independence; the concession of Home Rule to Ireland. The Home Ruler
urges that the last is the best course left open to us. To decide
whether this be so or not requires a fair examination of the
possibilities which each course presents to England.


[4] For the constitution of Austria-Hungary see Ulbrich's
_Oesterreich-Ungarn_ in Marquardsen's _Handbuch des Oeffentlichen
Rechts_; Francis Deák, with preface by M.E. Grant Duff; Home Rule in
Austria-Hungary, by David King, in the _Nineteenth Century_, January
1886, p. 35.

[5] Ulbrich, pp. 15, 76, 77.

[6] See Marquardsen, 28-30.

[7] This is, in my judgment, true even of such federations as the United
States or the Swiss confederacy.

[8] Froude's 'English in Ireland,' vol. 3, pp. 581, 582.

[9] See especially on this subject 1 De Beaumont, 'L'Irlande,' Partie
Historique, pp. 15-207.

[10] "On ne saurait considérer attentivement l'Irlande, étudier son
histoire et ses révolutions, observer ses moeurs et analyser ses lois,
sans reconnaître que ses malheurs, auxquels ont concouru tant
d'accidents funestes, ont eu et ont encore de nos jours, pour cause
principale, une cause _première_, radicale, permanente; et qui domine
toutes les autres; cette cause, c'est une mauvaise _aristocratie_." 1 De
Beaumont, 'L'Irlande,' deuxième partie, p. 228. The only objection which
may be fairly taken to De Beaumont's language, though not to his
essential meaning, is, that the words he uses occasionally suggest the
idea that he attributes some special vice of nature, so to speak, to the
landed classes in Ireland, whilst there is, of course, no reason to
suppose that the original Norman invaders of Ireland were a whit worse
than the Normans they left behind them in England, or that the
Cromwellian settlers did not possess the virtues which distinguished
Puritan soldiers. What De Beaumont really means is that the aristocracy,
or landed gentry, have been from first to last placed in a false
position, which has led to their exhibiting the vices, with few of the
virtues, of aristocratic government.

[11] Compare 1 De Beaumont, 'L'Irlande Sociale,' &c., pp. 253-256.

[12] See Dicey, 'Law of the Constitution' (Second Edition), pp. 181-210;
and compare 1 De Beaumont, 'L'Irlande Sociale,' &c., pp. 253-299.

[13] Cromwell's reputation as a statesman suffers even more than that of
most great men from the indiscriminating eulogy of admirers. The merit
of his Irish policy was not his severity to Catholics, but his equity to
Protestants. If he did not acknowledge the equality of man, he at any
rate acknowledged what English statesmanship before and after his time
refused to admit--the equality of Englishmen, at least when Protestants.
His policy handed down to us a legacy of justifiable hatred on the part
of Irish Catholics. But it is the fault not of the Protector, but of his
successors, that his policy did not ensure to England the loyalty of
every Protestant in Ireland.

[14] The penal laws against the Catholics in England were as severe as
those in Ireland. Their practical effect and working was however very
different in the two countries. See 1 Lecky,'History of England,' pp.

[15] See Walpole, 'Short History of the Kingdom of Ireland,' p. 176.

[16] See a speech of Lord Clare made in defence of the Bill for
Establishing the Union with England, and republished by the Irish Loyal
and Patriotic Union.

[17] 1 De Beaumont, 'L'Irlande Sociale,' p. 251. It is of primary
consequence that Englishmen should realise the undoubted fact, that
agrarian conspiracies and agrarian outrages, such as those which baffle
the English Government in Ireland, are known to foreign countries. For
centuries the question of tenant-right, in a form very like that in
which it arises in Ireland, has been known in the parts of France near
Saint-Quentin under the name of the _droit de marché_. In France, as in
Ireland, tenants have claimed a right unknown to the law, and have
enforced the right by outrage, by boycotting, by murder. The
_Dépointeur_ is the land grabber, and is treated by French peasants
precisely as the Irish land grabber is treated by Irish peasants. See
Calonne, 'La Vie Agricole, sous l'Ancien Régime,' pp. 66-69. Precisely
the same phenomena have appeared in parts of Belgium, where for
centuries there has been, in respect of land, the conflict to which we
are accustomed in Ireland, between the law of the Courts and the law of
the people. "From the commencement of the year 1836 to the end of 1842
there had been" [in consequence of this conflict] "forty-three acts of
incendiarism, eleven assassinations, and seven agrarian outrages
entailing capital punishment," all within a limited part of Belgium. See
Parliamentary Reports on Tenure of Land in Countries of Europe, 1869, p.
118-123. In Belgium decisive measures of punishment at last put an end
to agrarian outrages. What should be specially noted is that in France
and Belgium crimes in character exactly resembling the agrarian outrages
which take place in Ireland had, it is admitted, no connection whatever
with national, or even it would seem with general political feeling.

[18] See 1 De Beaumont, 'L'Irlande Sociale,' &c., p. 251.

[19] 2 De Beaumont, 'L'Irlande Sociale, Politique et Religeuse.'
Septième édition, pp. 135 and 137.

[20] A Home Ruler may in this matter take up one position which is
consistent. He may say that England can allow to be carried out through
the agency of an Irish Parliament a policy which no English Parliament
could itself adopt. To put the matter plainly, an English Parliament
which cannot for very shame rob Irish landlords of their property may,
it is suggested, create an Irish Parliament with authority to rob them.
This position is consistent, but it is disgraceful. To ascribe it to a
fair opponent would be gross controversial unfairness.

[21] A reader who wishes to see the American view put in its best and
strongest form should read Mr. E.L. Godkin's article on "American Home
Rule," _Nineteenth Century_, June, 1886, p. 793. I entirely disagree
with the general conclusion to which the article is intended to lead,
but I am anxious to acknowledge the importance of the information and
the arguments which it contains.

[22] See pp. 87-89, _ante._

[23] See 'American Home Rule,' _Nineteenth Century_, June, 1886, pp.
793, 803, 804.

[24] _Nineteenth Century_, June, 1886, p. 801.

[25] Contrast the Coercion Acts of 1881 and 1882 respectively. For list
of Coercion Acts see "Federal Union with Ireland," by R.B. O'Brian,
_Nineteenth Century_, No. 107, p. 35.

[26] In England the Courts can change the venue for the trial of a
criminal. In Scotland the Lord Advocate can always (I am told) bring any
case he chooses to trial before the High Court of Justiciary in
Edinburgh, and the same thing could be done by the Court on the
application of the prisoner. In Scotland, again, any Sheriff or Chief
Magistrate of a Burgh could prohibit a meeting, however lawful, which he
thought likely to endanger the peace. The provisions of the last Irish
Coercion Act, Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Act, 1882, 45 & 46 Vict. c.
25, s. 16, giving power to a magistrate where an offence had been
committed to summon and examine witnesses, even though no person is
charged with the offence, formed, I believe, part of the draft criminal
code for England.

[27] See for an admirable statement of this argument, "Alternative
Policies in Ireland," in the _Nineteenth Century_ for February, 1886.



[Sidenote: The failure of the Union; its nature.]

Eighty-six years have elapsed since the conclusion of the Treaty of
Union between England and Ireland. The two countries do not yet form an
united nation. The Irish people are, if not more wretched (for the whole
European world has made progress, and Ireland with it), yet more
conscious of wretchedness; and Irish disaffection to England is, if not
deeper, more wide-spread than in 1800. An Act meant by its authors to be
the source of the prosperity and concord which, though slowly, followed
upon the union with Scotland, has not made Ireland rich, has not put an
end to Irish lawlessness, has not terminated the feud between
Protestants and Catholics, has not raised the position of Irish tenants,
has not taken away the causes of Irish discontent, and has therefore not
removed Irish disloyalty. This is the indictment which can fairly be
brought against the Act of Union. It is, however, of importance to
notice that the main charges to which the Act of Union is liable are
negative. It has not removed (its foes, say that it has not mitigated)
great evils; but the mass of ills for which the Union is constantly made
chargeable were in existence before the days of Pitt or Cornwallis.
Destitution, sectarian animosities, harsh evictions, met by savage
outrages, the terror of secret societies, the stern enforcement of law
which to the people represented anything but justice, are phenomena of
Irish society, which, as they existed before the Volunteers established
the Parliamentary independence of the country, and continued to exist
when Ireland was subject to no laws but those passed by an Irish
Parliament, cannot be attributed to the Act of Union. That enactment
introduced a purely political change. It could not, except very
indirectly, either increase or remove evils which it did not affect to
touch. To two charges its authors are indeed, with more or less of
justice, liable; they committed the intellectual error of supposing that
a change or improvement in the form of the Constitution would remove
evils due to social and economical causes; they committed the moral
error of thinking that a beneficial enactment might allowably be passed
by means which outraged all the best moral feeling of Ireland. Their
mistakes are worth notice. England is again told that a Constitutional
change is the remedy for Irish misery. Ethical considerations (in this
case the moral rights of a loyal minority and the legal rights of Irish
landlords) are, it is again intimated, to be held of slight account
compared with the benefit to Ireland and to England which is to be
expected from an experiment in Constitution-making. To impartial
observers it may appear that the proposed policy of 1886 threatens to
reproduce in its essence the errors and the vices of the policy of 1800.
Be this as it may, the reflection that the ill results of the Act of
Union are mainly negative suggests the conclusion that the good results
(if any) of its repeal would probably be negative also, and clears the
way for the question with which we are immediately concerned, namely,
What are the actual and undoubted evils to England of maintaining a
legislative union with Ireland?

[Sidenote: The evils of maintaining the Union]

The nature and extent of these evils has been considered in criticising
the arguments in favour of Home Rule. A bare enumeration of them
therefore may here suffice.

[Sidenote: 1. Complication of English policy.]

_First._--The Union hampers and complicates English policy, and this
even independently of the existing agitation for Home Rule. The tenacity
of England during the war with America, her triumphant energy during the
revolutionary struggle, were due to a unity of feeling on the part, at
any rate, of her governing classes, which even under the most favourable
circumstances can hardly exist in a Parliament containing, as the
Parliament of the United Kingdom always must contain, a large body of
Irish Roman Catholics. If it be urged that the presence of Roman
Catholics is due to the Catholic Emancipation Act, and not to the Act of
Union, the remark is true but irrelevant. No maintainer or assailant of
the Union is insane enough to propose the repeal of the Emancipation

[Sidenote: 2. Obstruction]

_Secondly_.--The refusal of Home Rule involves a long, tedious, and
demoralising contest with opponents will use, and from their own point
of view have a right to use, all the arts of obstruction and of
Parliamentary intrigue. The battle of the Constitution must be fought
out in Parliament, and if it is to be won, Englishmen may be compelled
to forego for a time much useful legislation, to modify the rules of
party government, and, it is possible, even the forms of the

[Sidenote: 3. Strict government in Ireland.]

_Thirdly_.--If the Union is to be maintained with advantage to any part
of the United Kingdom, the people of the United Kingdom must make the
most strenuous, firm, and continuous effort, lasting, it may well be,
for twenty years or more, to enforce throughout every part of the United
Kingdom obedience to the law of the land. This effort can only be
justified by the equally strenuous determination (which must involve an
infinity of trouble) to give ear to every Irish complaint, and to see
that the laws which the Irish people obey are laws of justice, and (what
is much the same thing) laws which in the long run the people of Ireland
will feel to be just. To carry out this course of action is difficult
for all governments, is perhaps specially difficult for a democratic
government. To maintain the Union is no easy task, though it has yet to
be proved that any form of Home Rule will give more ease to the people
of England; nor can the difficulty be got rid of, though it may be
somewhat changed, by abolishing the Irish representation in Parliament,
or by treating Ireland as a Crown colony. Such steps, which could hardly
be termed maintenance of the Union, might, as expedients for carrying
through safely a course of reform, be morally and for a time
justifiable. Their adoption is, however, liable to an almost insuperable
objection. Democracy in Great Britain does not comport with official
autocracy in Ireland. Every government must be true to its principles,
and a democracy which played the benevolent despot would suffer

[Sidenote: Good results of the Union.]

The Act of Union has been the aim of so much random invective that its
good fruits (for it has borne good no less than evil fruits) are in
danger of being forgotten. It ended once and for all an intolerable
condition of affairs, and its scope will never be understood unless its
enactments are read in the lurid light cast upon them by the rebellion
of 1798. The hateful means used to obtain an apparently good end have
cast a slur on the reputation of more than one high-toned statesman.
Humanity, in the case of Cornwallis at least, had far more share than
ambition in his determination to abolish the Irish Parliament. His
anxiety in 1798 to save Catholics and rebels from oppression was as keen
and as noble as the anxiety of Canning in 1858 to protect the natives of
India from the resentments excited by the Mutiny. Every reason which in
our own day after the Gordon riots made it necessary to abolish the
ancient constitution of Jamaica told in 1800 in favour of abolishing the
still more ancient Parliament of Ireland. If statesmen, bent on
restoring at least the rule of law and peace in a distracted country,
fancied that the corruption of the legislature might be counted a low
price to pay for protecting the mass of the population from the rule or
the vengeance of a faction, they committed a grave moral error. But
their mistake was more pardonable than it seems to modern critics, and
the lesson which it teaches--that you cannot base a just policy upon a
foundation of iniquity--is one which the modern censors of Pitt may well
lay to heart. However this may be, the transactions which discredited
the passing of the Act of Union give no ground for repealing it, and,
except to a rhetorician in want of an _argumentum ad hominem_, it will
never appear that the philosophic historian who maintains that the
Treaty of Union was ill-conceived and premature, contradicts the
political philosopher who contends that to repeal the Union would be not
to cancel but to aggravate the evils of an historical error. The
considerations which recommend or require the maintenance of the Union
are often forgotten, but are obvious.

[Sidenote: Reasons for maintaining the Union.]

The support of the Union is, after all, let controversialists say what
they like, the policy which in fact holds the field, and it is (strange
though the assertion may appear) on the advocates of innovation, not on
the supporters of things as they are, that lies the burden of making out
their case. A fundamental alteration in the constitution of the realm is
in itself no light matter, and any man who has eyes to see or ears to
hear may easily convince himself that the creation of an Irish
Parliament must be the beginning, not the end, of a revolution. Dublin
is not the only city in the United Kingdom which has contained an
Assembly which not only occasionally denied, but during the whole of its
existence never admitted, the sovereignty of the Parliament at
Westminster; and in the present state of the world it is inconceivable
that Irish autonomy--if such be the proper term--should not excite or
justify claims for local independence which would unloose the ties which
bind together the huge fabric of the British Empire.

[Sidenote: Strengthens the English Crown.]

The Union again of England and Ireland has increased, as its relaxation
would of necessity diminish, the power of the central government. That
the Treaty of Union has, disappointing and even harmful as some of its
results have been, formed a guarantee against successful rebellion,
hardly admits of question. The difference between the abortive revolt of
1848 or the Fenian disturbances of 1866, and the desperate insurrection
of 1798, affords some measure of the strength which the legislative
unity of the kingdom has added to the English Crown. If it be suggested
that the disloyalty which has prompted sedition during this century was
less deep than the animosities which armed the insurgents of '98, the
suggestion may be true, but it incidentally shows that under the Union
some progress, however slight, has been made towards national harmony,
and recalls the important fact that at the present day the wealth and
the energy of Protestant Ireland firmly support the legislative unity of
the kingdom. Consider again what are the facilities possessed, say, by
the State of New York, by the kingdom of Bavaria, or by the Cape Colony
for interfering with or arresting the action of the central power to
which the State, kingdom, or dependency is subject, and you perceive at
once how ample must, from the very necessity of the case, be the
opportunities possessed by a semi-independent Irish executive
representing a semi-independent Irish Parliament for embarrassing the
action of the Government in London. This will appear more clearly from a
detailed examination of the different forms which may be assumed by Home
Rule. One remark, however, may with advantage be made at this point of
our argument, since it holds good of every possible scheme for repealing
or modifying the Union. Powers conferred upon an executive and a
Parliament at Dublin must from the nature of things be a deduction from
the powers which can be exercised by the Parliament and Ministry at
Westminster. This is a principle the truth of which is independent of
the wishes or fancies either of Englishmen or of Irishmen. "The more you
have of the more," runs a quaint Spanish proverb, "the less you have of
the less." The saying is of mathematical certainty, but the depth and
variety of its application are constantly forgotten in the excitement of

[Sidenote: Enables it to maintain freedom.]

To the existence of the Union and to the power which it confers upon the
executive, is due the possibility of curbing the violence of religious
and political zealots by the interposition of an authority endowed at
once with overpowering strength and obvious impartiality. In Belfast
even a Nationalist must, if he is a peaceable citizen, feel that the
withdrawal of the Queen's troops would not conduce to his comfort. Under
a system of Home Rule, it will perhaps be said, one body of fanatics or
the other would, with or without the aid of the army, gain the upper
hand and restore order. Grant the truth, which may perhaps be a little
doubtful of this suggestion, it is at best a plea not for Home Rule but
for separation, since no civilised government could, whilst England and
Ireland formed under any terms whatever parts of the same political
community, suffer Belfast to become the scene of a free fight which
should decide by the ordeal of battle whether Protestants should
tyrannise over Catholics, or Catholics coerce Protestants by a reign of
terror. A reign of order moreover is not equivalent to the reign of
justice. Still less is it equivalent to the establishment of that
personal freedom which can only exist under the equal rule of equal
law, and is the blessing which every government worthy the name is bound
to confer upon its subjects.

An impartial foreigner again would probably hold, as indeed De Beaumont
(unless I misunderstand his teaching) did to the end of his life
actually hold, that the existing connection between England and Ireland
is dictated by the state of the world, by the circumstances of the
times, by the very nature of things. We are living in 1886, not in 1782:
the nineteenth century is not the age for small States or for weak
States. Such an observer, however, would also see much that is hidden by
the dust of battle from the combatants in a desperate political conflict
What is really needed to meet the real wants of which the cry for Home
Rule is a more or less factitious expression is, he would note, much
more a change in the spirit of Englishmen than an alteration in the
constitution of England. If Englishmen could learn to speak and think of
Irishmen with the respect and consideration due to fellow-citizens, if
they could cease to jeer at Irishmen now as not much more than a century
ago they used to jeer at Scotchmen, the Union would soon become
something more than a mere work of legal ingenuity. A change of feeling
would make it easy for English politicians and English voters to
perceive that the local affairs of Ireland ought to be managed in the
Parliament of the United Kingdom in accordance with the opinion of the
Parliamentary representatives of Ireland, just as Scotch affairs are
managed at Westminster in accordance with the opinions of Parliamentary
representatives of Scotland. Towards this reform in the practice which
need not change anything in the law of our constitution, Mr. Bright has
already pointed the way, and Mr. Bright's moral intuitions have more
than once given him a power denied to our other statesmen of prophetic
insight into the future of English policy. Meanwhile those who urge the
maintenance of the Union have a right to insist upon the possibilities
which it contains of reconciling the strength of the Empire with due
regard to the local interests and local sentiment of Ireland.

[Sidenote: And carry out just reforms.]

The Union, lastly, whilst it increases the power of the whole United
Kingdom, provides the means of carrying out, and of carrying out with
due regard to justice, any reform, innovation, or if you please
revolution, required for the prosperity of the Irish people. The duty,
it has been laid down, of an English Minister is to effect by his policy
all those changes in Ireland which a revolution would effect by force.
The maxim comes from a strange quarter, but the doctrine of Disraeli
sums up on this matter the teaching of Mill and De Beaumont, and it is
absolutely sound if you add to it the implied condition that an English
Minister, whilst aiming at the ends of a wise revolutionist, must pay a
respect to the demands of justice not always evinced by the
revolutionary spirit. But to put in force a policy of just revolution,
nothing is so necessary as the combination of resistless power with
infinite wealth. This is exactly what the government of the United
Kingdom can, and no Irish government could, supply. Mr. Gladstone and
his followers fully admit this, and the Land Purchase Bill was the sign
of their conviction that the policy of Home Rule itself needs for its
success and justification the power to draw upon the wealth of the
United Kingdom. Let the United Kingdom, it is said in effect, pay fifty
millions, that without any injustice to Irish landlords Irish tenants
may be turned into landowners, and may then enjoy the blessings of Home
Rule, freed from all temptation to use legislative power for purposes of
confiscation. The advice may in one sense be sound, but prudence
suggests that if the fifty millions are to be expended, it were best
first to settle the agrarian feud, and then to see whether the demand
for Home Rule would not die a natural death. French peasants were
Jacobins until the revolution secured to them the soil of France. The
same men when transformed into landed proprietors became the staunch
opponents of Jacobinism. It is in any case the interest of England to
see whether, say in a generation, the existing or further changes in the
tenure of land may not avert all necessity or demand for changes in the
constitution. Interest here coincides with duty. No scheme whether of
Home Rule or of Irish independence has been proposed, nor, it may be
said with confidence, ever can be proposed, which, disguise the matter
as you will, does not savour of treachery to thousands of Irishmen who
have performed the duties and claim to retain the rights of citizens of
the United Kingdom. The worst delusion of the revolutionary spirit is
the notion that justice to the people may be based upon injustice to
individuals. Protestants have not more, but neither have they less,
claim to protection from the State than Catholics. Even landowners are
not of necessity wrong-doers. Rent is a debt, and it may occasionally be
the duty, even of a tenant, to pay his creditor. An insolvent debtor
has, however excusable or pitiable his position, no absolute moral right
to improve his own position by torturing or murdering any solvent
neighbour who may be inclined to pay his own debts. To maintain the
Union is to maintain the effort to perform the obligations of the
country, and to compel all citizens of the country to perform the duties
imposed by law. The effort is an arduous one, the more so since it must
be combined with the equally strenuous endeavour to see that in Ireland,
as in every part of the United Kingdom, the demands of the law be made
to coincide with the demands of morality and of humanity. Still _pactum
serva_ is a good maxim for nations no less than for individuals: there
may be a higher law than the rule of keeping one's promise, but before a
man or a government incurs even the appearance of bad faith, it were
well to see whether the so-called higher law of conscience may not in
reality be the lower dictates of indolence or cowardice. Neither nations
nor individuals are bound in duty to do impossibilities. The limit of
power is the limit of responsibility, but if England can no longer
enforce justice in Ireland, there will still be the grave question
whether this fearful result of past misdoing or error does not suggest
and justify Separation rather than Home Rule.



[Sidenote: Evils of Separation]

Englishmen are so firmly and with such good reason convinced that the
independence of Ireland would be fatal to the greatness and security of
Great Britain, that they rarely attempt to weigh accurately the grounds
of reason which may be adduced in support of a conviction which has
acquired the character of a political instinct. The evils, however, to
England which may be reasonably anticipated from the political
separation of the two countries may be summed up under three heads.

_First_.--The acquiescence by England in Irish independence would be a
deliberate and complete surrender of the objects at which English
statesmanship has, under one form or another, aimed for centuries. Such
a surrender would, in addition to its material effects, inflict an
amount of moral discredit on England which would itself be the cause of
serious dangers. That a powerful nation should (except under the force
of crushing defeat) assent to an arrangement which would decrease its
resources and authority must inevitably appear to all the world to be,
and probably would be in reality, such a sign either of declining
strength or of declining spirit as would in a short time provoke the
aggression of rivals and enemies. Abdication of royal or imperial
authority is with States no less than with individuals the precursor of
death. Loss of territory, indeed, in consequence of defeat, is in itself
only in so far damaging as defeat may imply a want of capacity to resist
attack, or as the diminution of territory may involve loss of resources.
Thus the surrender of Lombardy by Austria, of Alsace by France, of
Schleswig-Holstein by Denmark, the acquiescence of Holland in the
independence of Belgium; or, to come nearer home, the treaty by which
England acknowledged that the struggle to retain her American colonies
had ended in failure, each and all of them brought only such discredit
upon the defeated country as is the direct consequence of want of
success. None, of these transactions had anything like the disastrous
results which the concession of Irish independence would entail on
England. The Austrians, the French, the Danes, and the Dutch had, as the
whole world admitted, struggled manfully to maintain their power. They
were beaten as one party or other to a fight must be beaten, but they
did not betray any of those failings which encourage further attack. The
close of the conflict with our colonies assuredly did not leave England
disgraced before the world. The obstinacy of George III., the splendid
resistance made by a nation assailed at once by a combination of
enemies, any one of whom alone would have seemed a formidable foe, the
victories of Rodney, the defence of Gibraltar, not only saved but
increased the renown of England, and were warnings which no foreigner
could disregard, that the loss of the American colonies, though it might
diminish the Empire, had not quenched the spirit or undermined the
strength of Great Britain. No one can suppose that a peaceful retreat
from the difficulties and responsibility of providing for the Government
of Ireland would leave to England that reputation for courage and
endurance which, even in the midst of defeat, was retained by the
generation who acknowledged the independence of America. Peaceable
surrender may avert material loss; it cannot maintain moral character.
One thing only would render the concession of Irish independence
compatible with Englishmen's respect for themselves, or with the respect
of other nations for England. This condition would be the obvious, and,
so to speak, patent conviction on the part of the whole English people,
that the grant of independence to Ireland was the fulfilment of a duty
demanded by justice. No such conviction exists, nor is it ever likely to
come into existence. Even were so great a change of English sentiment to
take place that a majority of the people became ready, on grounds of
expediency, to break up the connection between Great Britain and the
neighbouring island, it would still be hard to persuade the nation that
there was not vile treachery in refusing to stand by and support that
part of the Irish people which wished to retain the connection with
England. The treachery would approach to infamy if it should appear that
England, for the sake of her own comfort, left English subjects who had
always obeyed the law and relied on the honourable protection of the
United Kingdom at the mercy of conspirators whose lawlessness had taken
the form of cruelty and tyranny, and whose vindictiveness was certain to
punish as criminality former acts of loyalty or obedience to English
sovereignty. High-toned self-sacrifice which results in breach of faith
to associates is considered by the world at large as a particularly
odious form of hypocrisy. Nothing in the treaty between England and the
American Colonies involved more just bitterness of feeling than the
partial, and probably inevitable, desertion of the Loyalists. The
national conscience would condemn rather than approve the prudential
considerations which might, under certain circumstances, induce
Englishmen to consent to see Ireland an independent nation; such consent
would imply the adoption of views of national interest fundamentally
inconsistent with the maintenance of Imperial power; the damage
resulting from loss of character is difficult to estimate, but is none
the less real because it does not admit of computation in the terms of
the multiplication table.

_Secondly_, the independence of Ireland means loss to Great Britain both
in money and in men. The pecuniary loss is, indeed, not quite so
serious as might at first sight be looked for.[28] The provisions of the
rejected Government of Ireland Bill imply, it would seem, that the
pecuniary gain of the United Kingdom from Ireland in the way of taxation
may, in Mr. Gladstone's judgment, be estimated at about three and a half
millions per annum, and this may presumably be taken as a not unfair
estimate. The sacrifice of a seventh part of the population of the
United Kingdom is no slight matter. Its importance is enhanced by the
circumstance, never to be forgotten, that Great Britain is the centre of
an Empire. The brutal and stupid jests by which respectable Englishmen
often hint that the bravery, the capacity, and the genius of Irishmen
are of little service to the Empire, and that their value is more than
counterbalanced by the ill results of Irish discontent and sedition,
conceal from unreflecting minds the extent to which every part of the
United Kingdom has severally contributed to the fortune and power of the
country. Irish labourers, Irish soldiers, Irish generals, and Irish
statesmen have assuredly rendered no trifling services to the British
Crown. There is, however, one valid ground for rating the loss in men to
England, which would result from separation from Ireland somewhat lower
than one would on first thoughts be inclined to place it. Even were
Ireland an independent country there is nothing to prevent England from
leaving all the advantages of English citizenship open to the
inhabitants of the Irish State. In this matter much is to be learnt from
Germany. Neither Stein, nor Niebuhr, nor Moltke, were by birth subjects
of Prussia, yet Prussia did not lose the inestimable gains to be derived
from their talents. A generous, a liberal, and a just extension of the
privileges of citizenship might fill the English army and the English
civil service with men drawn from a State independent of Great Britain.
If the independence of Ireland were proclaimed to-morrow, there would
not be a hundred Irish labourers the fewer in Liverpool or in London.
Connections and relations depending upon community of language,
community of interest, community of feeling, the ties of kindred, of
business, of friendship, or of affection cannot, happily, be dissolved,
or to any great extent affected, by political revolutions. In any case,
it would depend on the wisdom of Great Britain whether separation from
Ireland should or should not mean the estrangement of Irishmen.

_Thirdly_, the independence of Ireland would give England a foreign, and
possibly a hostile, neighbour along the western coast of Great Britain.
We should, for the first time since the accession of the Stuarts, occupy
a position something like that of a Continental nation, and know what it
was to have a foe, or at best a very cold friend, upon our borders. In
time of war Ireland would be the abettor or the open ally of, say, the
United States, or of France; Dublin would, unless reconquered, be the
outpost of the French Republic or of the American Union. In times of
peace things would not stand much better; our diplomacy would be
constantly occupied with the intrigues carried on in Dublin; the
possibility of attack from Ireland would necessitate the increase of our
forces; increased taxation would be drawn from a diminished population;
we should be compelled to double our army when we had lost that part of
the kingdom which used to form our best recruiting-ground. Sooner or
later England would be driven, like every Continental State, to accept
the burden of conscription, and with conscription would come essential
changes in the whole habits of English life. Nor can we count upon this
being the end of our calamities. The burden of conscription would
deprive us of our one great advantage over competitors in the struggle
for trade; an overtaxed and overburdened people could not long maintain
their mercantile pre-eminence. This is the picture which is constantly
drawn, in one shape or another, of the ruinous results to England of the
free development of Irish nationality. No one can undertake to say that
its main features are false. Still, it must be admitted that the
prophets of evil neglect to notice several facts which ought not to be
overlooked. Ireland is a poor country of about the population of
Belgium; it is occupied by a people far less wealthy than the
inhabitants of England; and, moreover, by a people divided among
themselves by marked differences of race, religion, and historical
tradition. Is it really to be feared that such a neighbour could, even
if both independent and hostile, be half the peril to England that
Germany is to France, or France to Italy? Money constitutes now more
truly than ever the sinews of war, and it will be a long time before
Ireland is a country abounding in money. There is, to say the least,
something ignominious in the dread that Englishmen could not hold their
own in the face of an Irish Republic, which would certainly be poor, and
would probably be a prey to violent factions. Grant again--and this is
granting a good deal--that Ireland might become a province of France,
there is still some difficulty in seeing why Englishmen can live without
fear within sight of Boulogne, and yet must tremble at the thought of
French regiments assembling in Dublin. The command of the sea moreover
would, whether Ireland were or were not aided by foreign allies, be a
complete protection for England against invasion. If England's naval
supremacy were lost, the power of the British Empire would in any case
be gone. The vital matter for us is to retain command of the seas. Our
capacity for doing this would not be greatly affected by Irish
independence. America, further, and France are the only allies to whom
Ireland could look for aid. The notion that the United States would
consent to receive Ireland under any terms into the Union must appear to
any one who has studied American politics the wildest of dreams. It
supposes that the Americans would, without any gain to themselves,
disarrange the whole balance of their constitution, and by involving
themselves in all the complexities of European politics depart from the
path which they have continuously pursued, and which is marked out to
them by the plainest rules of common sense, and, it is hardly an
exaggeration to say, by the laws of nature. A people who decline to
annex Cuba, and are fully willing to wait till circumstances bring
Canada into the Union and give America possession of Mexico, are not
likely to incorporate Ireland. The alliance of France is a different
matter. Reflection, however, mitigates the dread of its occurrence.
Active alliance with Ireland would mean war with England, and now for
seventy years France and England have been at peace. This state of
things is the more remarkable because there have during that period
arisen occasions for discord, and because no feeling of sentimental
friendship forbids warfare. The true guarantee for peace between nations
which were long deemed hereditary foes is the immense interest which
each has in abstaining from war. Could the state of things which existed
at the beginning of the century be revived, thousands of Englishmen and
Frenchmen would be ruined. The security for peace depending upon
national interest would not be diminished were Ireland to-morrow
proclaimed an independent republic. That this independence would
facilitate French attack is undeniable, but attack would not be the more
likely to occur. Add to all this that Irish discontent or sedition
would, during a war, help France as much as Irish independence. Ireland
is no doubt the weak point in the defences of Great Britain. This no
one denies. The only question is whether and to what extent the
independence of that country would widen the breach in England's
defensive system.

[Sidenote: Possible advantages of Separation]

Any one who attempts to forecast the probable evils to England of Irish
independence should keep one recollection constantly before his mind.
The wisest thinkers of the eighteenth century (including Burke) held
that the independence of the American Colonies meant the irreparable
ruin of Great Britain. There were apparently solid grounds for this
belief; experience has proved it to be without foundation.

A calm observer can even now see that the complete dissolution of the
connection between Great Britain and Ireland, disastrous as in many
respects such an event would undoubtedly be, holds out to the larger
country the possibility of two advantages.

Loss of territory might be equivalent in some aspects to increase of

There exists in Europe no country so completely at unity with itself as
Great Britain. Fifty years of reform have done their work, and have
removed the discontents, the divisions, the disaffection, and the
conspiracies which marked the first quarter or the first half of this
century. Great Britain, if left to herself, could act with all the
force, consistency, and energy given by unity of sentiment and community
of interests. The distraction and the uncertainty of our political
aims, the feebleness and inconsistency with which they are pursued,
arise, in part at least, from the connection with Ireland. Neither
Englishmen nor Irishmen are to blame for the fact that it is difficult
for communities differing in historical associations and in political
conceptions to keep step together in the path of progress. For other
evils arising from the connection the blame must rest on English
Statesmen. All the inherent vices of party government, all the
weaknesses of the Parliamentary system, all the evils arising from the
perverse notion that reform ought always to be preceded by a period of
lengthy and more than half-factitious agitation met by equally
factitious resistance, have been fostered and increased by the
inter-action of Irish and English politics. No one can believe that the
inveterate habit of ruling one part of the United Kingdom on principles
which no one would venture to apply to the government of any other part
of it, can have produced anything but the most injurious effect on the
stability of our Government and the character of our public men. The
advocates of Home Rule find by far their strongest arguments for
influencing English opinion, in the proofs which they produce that
England, no less than Ireland, has suffered from a political arrangement
under which legal union has failed to secure moral unity; these
arguments, whatever their strength, are, however, it must be noted, far
more available to a Nationalist than to an advocate of Federalism.
English authority in Ireland would be increased by the possession of
that freedom of action which every powerful State exercises in its
dealings with a weaker though an independent nation. There is something
so repulsive to the best feelings of citizenship in even the
hypothetical contemplation of the advantages (such as they are) which
would accrue to Great Britain from the transformation of thousands of
our fellow-countrymen into aliens, that it is painful to trace out in
clear language the strength of the position which England would occupy
towards the Irish Republic. But in argument the strict following out of
the conclusions flowing from facts is a form of honesty, and however
repulsive these conclusions may be, their statement is a matter of duty.
Were Ireland independent, England would possess three means far more
effective for enforcing her will upon her weaker neighbour than are
coercion acts, courts, or constables. England could deal not with
individuals, but with the State, and she could compel respect for
treaties or due regard to English interests by invasion, by a pacific
blockade, or by a hostile tariff. There is a special reason for dwelling
on the facility with which England could compel the observance of
engagements. Morally the most serious of all the objections to England's
conceding Irish independence is the indelible disgrace which would
rightly fall upon any country which did not provide for the protection
of men who had been loyal and faithful citizens. Now the point to be
noted is that England's authority, resulting not from law but from
power in an independent Ireland, would greatly enhance her capacity for
ensuring the fair treatment of Irish Protestants. The treaty of
independence would provide guarantees for their rights, and any breach
of these guarantees would be a _casus belli_. The mere threat of a
hostile tariff would of itself be a stronger sanction than the most
strenuous provisions of an Act of Parliament backed only by the very
hypothetical power of compelling a half-independent executive to obey
the judgments of, say, the Privy Council The guarantees of a treaty are,
it may be said, often worthless. This is so; but their worthlessness
arises from the weakness of the country in whose favour they are made.
In any event they may be worth a good deal more than provisions of an
Act of Parliament. The deriders of a paper Union which has lasted for a
century have no right to count on the validity of a paper Federation
which still awaits creation.

It is, again, possible that the severance of all political connection
might open the way to friendship or alliance.

This assertion is no unmeaning paradox. If one could anticipate with any
confidence that the acknowledgment of Irish nationality would bring to
Ireland happiness and prosperity, it would not be a very bold conjecture
that as Ireland flourished and prospered, ill-will to England might
rapidly decrease. With nations, as with individuals, to remove all
causes of mutual irritation is much the same thing as removing the
disposition to quarrel. Not twelve years have passed since the last
Austrian soldier marched out of Italy, yet Austria is at this moment
less unpopular with the Italians than France, and Garibaldi's death
evoked tributes of respect at Vienna. For fifteen years the whole force
of European law was employed to keep Belgium united to Holland; the
obvious interests, moreover, of all the inhabitants of the kingdom of
the Netherlands told in favour of union. Yet year by year the two
divisions of one country became more and more hostile to each other.
Fifty years of separation have, as far as appearances go, restored, or
for the first time created, feelings of friendliness between the
Belgians and the Dutch. There are to be found Belgian statesmen who
regret the proclamation of Belgian independence. When in 1881 the
Americans celebrated at Yorktown the centenary of British defeat, they
went out of their way to display their goodwill towards Great Britain.
Plaudits and toasts, it may be said, prove nothing except the existence
of a sentiment which, even if it be genuine, is certain to be
evanescent. This is true; but the matter for consideration is not
whether the feeling of friendliness towards Great Britain which found
expression daring the festivities at Yorktown would survive a conflict
of interest between England and America, but whether a condition of
feeling which allows the two nations to look calmly after their own
interests, unblinded by passion or animosity, could possibly have been
produced by the continuance of that connection between England and
America which was terminated by the surrender of Cornwallis. There is at
least no absurdity in the supposition that this question ought to be
answered in the negative, and that Americans and Englishmen are at any
rate not enemies just because a hundred years ago they ceased to be

Let not, however, the gist of my argument be misunderstood. The possible
increase of English power, and the possible growth of goodwill between
England and Ireland, are not used as anything like reasons in favour of
Separation. They are set down simply as deductions from the immense
evils of a policy which no Englishman can regard as other than most
injurious to the whole United Kingdom. The reason why it is wise to
dwell on this kind of set-off against the ill effects of Separation is
that Home Rule, while involving almost all the evils of Separation, will
be found on examination not to hold out anything like the same hopes of
compensating advantages.


[28] See 'Economic Value of Ireland to Great Britain,' by Robert Giffen,
_The Nineteenth Century_, March, 1886, p. 229.



[Sidenote: Forms of Home Rule.]

The proposals for giving Ireland Home Rule, in so far as they have taken
any definite shape whatever, have assumed four forms:--

I. Home Rule as Federalism.

II. Home Rule as Colonial Independence.

III. Home Rule as the revival of Grattan's Constitution.

IV. Home Rule under the proposed Gladstonian Constitution.

[Sidenote: Conditions to be satisfied by plan of Home Rule.]

How far Home Rule under these forms, or any one of them, is compatible
with the interests of the English people must be determined by
considering what are the conditions which an acceptable plan of Home
Rule must fulfil, and by then examining how far any given form of Home
Rule satisfies them.

Any scheme of Home Rule which can conceivably be accepted by England
must, it is admitted, satisfy the following conditions.[29]

It must in the first place be consistent with the ultimate supremacy of
the British Parliament.[30]

It must in the second place be just; it must provide that each part of
the United Kingdom take a fair share of Imperial burdens; that the
citizens of each part have equality of rights; that the rights both of
individuals and of minorities be safely guarded.[31]

It must in the third place promise finality; it must be in the nature of
a final settlement of the demands made on behalf of Ireland, and not be
a mere provocation to the revival of fresh demands.

It must, in short, to sum up the whole matter, be, as already insisted
upon, a scheme which promises to England at least not greater evils than
the maintenance of the Union or than Irish independence.

These conditions constitute the touchstone by which any given plan of
Home Rule must be tested. No scheme, however ingenious, can be accepted
which lacks any of these characteristics, namely, the maintenance of
Parliamentary sovereignty--justice--finality.

[Sidenote: General character of Federalism.]

I. _Home Rule as Federalism._--Federal government is the latest
invention of constitutional science. Several circumstances confer upon
it at the present moment extraordinary prestige. It is a piece of
political mechanism which has been found to work with success in three
notorious instances. In its favour is engaged the pride--may we not say
vanity?--of one of the leading nations of the earth. Americans regard
Federalism with pardonable partiality. They are the original inventors
of the best Federal system in the world, and Federalism has made them
the greatest of all free communities. A polity under which the United
States has grown up and flourished, and fought the biggest war which has
been fought during the century, and come out of it victorious, and with
renewed strength, must, it is felt, be a constitution suited for all
nations who aspire to freedom. There is nothing therefore surprising in
the fact that Federalism is supposed to be the panacea for all social
evils, and all political perplexities, or that it should be thrust upon
our attention as the device for bringing England and her colonies into
closer connection, and (not perhaps quite consistently) for relaxing the
connection and terminating the feud between England and Ireland. We
should do well, therefore, to recollect what is the true nature of
Federalism. Federal government, whatever be its merits, is a mere
arrangement for the distribution of political power. It is an
arrangement which requires for its application certain well-defined

There must, in the first place, exist a body of countries; such, for
example, as the cantons of Switzerland, or the colonies of America, or
the provinces of Canada, so closely connected by locality, by history,
by race, or the like, as to be capable of bearing in the eyes of their
inhabitants an impress of common nationality. There must, in the second
place, be found among the people of the countries which it is proposed
to unite in Federal union, a very peculiar state of sentiment. They must
desire union; they must not desire unity. Federalism, in short, is in
its nature a scheme for bringing together into closer connection a set
of states, each of which desires, whilst retaining its individuality, to
form together with its neighbours one nation. It is not, at any rate as
it has hitherto been applied, a plan for disuniting the parts of a
united state. It may possibly be capable of this application;
experience, however, gives no guidance on this point,[33] and loyalty to
the central government is to the working of a Federal system as
necessary as loyalty on the part of individual citizens to their own
separate State. When, therefore, it is suggested that Federalism may
establish a satisfactory relation between England and Ireland, a doubt
naturally suggests itself whether the United Kingdom presents the
conditions necessary for the success of the Federal experiment. Whether
in the case of two countries, of which the one has no desire for State
rights and the other has no desire for union, the bases of a Federal
scheme are not wanting, is an inquiry which deserves consideration.
Politicians, however, may reject references to abstract theory, and the
best way of testing the application of Federalism to the relations
between England and Ireland, is to make clear to ourselves what are the
aims proposed to himself by a genuine Home Ruler, and then trace in
outline the characteristics of Federalism, and consider how the Federal
system would work in reference to the interests of England.

[Sidenote: Aim of Home Rule.]

"My plan of Home Rule for Ireland," writes an eminent Home Ruler, "would
establish between Ireland and the Imperial Parliament the same relations
in principle that exist between a State of the American Union and the
Federal Government, or between any State of the Dominion of Canada and
that Central Canadian Parliament which meets in Ottawa."

This statement exhibits both laxity of language and laxity of thought,
but it gives a definition of the objects proposed to himself by a
genuine Home Ruler which is sufficiently definite, for the ends of my
argument. Home Rule is, for our present purpose, Federalism. We may
therefore, assume that it involves the adoption throughout the present
United Kingdom of a constitution in principle, though not in detail,
like that of the United States. The United Kingdom would, if Mr.
McCarthy's proposals were adopted, be transformed into a confederacy;
the different States, say Great Britain and Ireland, or England,
Scotland, and Ireland, would bear to the whole union the same relation
which Virginia and New York bear to the United States; they would bear
towards each other the same relation which Virginia bears to New York,
or which they both bear towards Massachusetts. Such a constitution has,
it must be at once admitted, no necessary connection with Republicanism.
The King or Queen of England for the time being would occupy the
position of a hereditary president; this arrangement would, as Mr. Butt
seems to have perceived, increase rather than diminish the authority of
the Crown. It must, on the other hand, be noted that Federalism
necessarily involves the formation of a new constitution, not for
Ireland only, but for the whole of the United Kingdom. It is necessary
to insist upon this point. For half the fallacies of the arguments for
Home Rule rest upon the idea that Home Rule is a matter affecting
Ireland alone. 'Irish Federalism,' the title of a pamphlet by Mr. Butt,
is a term involving something like self-contradiction. The misnomer is
curious and full of instruction.

Whoever wishes to understand the relation of Federalism to the English
Constitution and to English interests must give some attention to the
nature of a Federal Union.

[Sidenote: Characteristics of Federalism.]

A Federal constitution must, from its very nature, be marked by the
following characteristics.

It must, at any rate in modern days, be a written constitution, for its
very foundation is the "Federal pact" or contract; the constitution must
define with more or less precision the respective powers of the central
government, and of the State governments of the central legislature and
of the local legislatures; it must provide some means (e.g., reference
to a popular vote) for bringing into play that ultimate sovereign power
which is able to modify or reform the constitution itself; it must
provide some arbiter, be it Council, Court, or Crown, with authority to
decide whether the Federal pact has been observed; it must institute
some means by which the principles of the constitution may be upheld,
and the decrees of the arbiter or Court be enforced against the
resistance (if need be) of one or more of the separate States. These are
not the accidents but the essential features of any Federal
constitution; and are found under the constitution of the Canadian
Dominion and of the Swiss Confederacy, no less than under the
constitution of the United States. They all depend on the simple, but
often neglected fact, that a Federal constitution implies an elaborate
distribution and definition of political powers; that it is from its
very nature a compromise between the claims of rival authorities, the
Confederacy and the States, and that behind all the mechanism and
artifices of the constitution there lies, however artfully concealed,
some sovereign power which must have the means both to support the
principles of the constitution and, when occasion requires, to modify
its terms. Hence almost of necessity flow some further results. Under a
federation the law of the land must be divided into constitutional laws
(or, in other words, articles of the constitution), which can be
changed, if at all, only with special difficulty, say by an appeal to
the popular vote or by a constituent assembly, and ordinary laws which
may be changed by the central Congress or by the separate assemblies of
the States. The powers both of the central Parliament and of the local
parliaments, depending as they do upon the constitutional compact, must
be limited. Neither the National Assembly of Switzerland nor the
Congress of the United States have anything like the sovereign power of
the British Parliament: the same thing is obviously true of the Cantonal
or State Assemblies. Such are, under one form or another, the essential
characteristics of a Federal Government. A confederation of which
England and Ireland formed a part would further of necessity exhibit a
feature not to be found in the United States. The authority of the
Confederacy would in reality mean the power of one State--namely, Great
Britain. No artificial distribution of the whole country into separate
States would get rid of a fact depending upon laws or facts of nature
beyond the reach of constitutional arrangements.

[Sidenote: Advantages of Federalism to England.]

It is now possible to perceive pretty clearly the relation of Federalism
to British or English interests. It would, as compared with the
independence of Ireland, present three advantages. There would not be
the same obvious and patent failure in the efforts of British
statesmanship to unite all the British isles into one country; the
continuity of English history would be to a certain extent preserved;
the break with the past would be lessened. The Federal Union might, in
the eyes of foreign powers, be simply the United Kingdom under another
form. The loss, again, to England in material resources would be
somewhat less than that involved in separation. Ireland might possibly
continue to contribute her share to the Federal Exchequer, though a
critic who reflects upon the expectations expressed by Home Rulers of
benefit to Ireland from the expenditure of Irish taxes on Irish objects,
will wonder how, unless the taxation of a poverty-stricken country is to
be greatly increased, the Irish people could support the expense both of
the central and of the local governments. American experience hardly
justifies the notion that Federalism is an economical form of
Government. It would, and this is no small advantage, make it possible
to guarantee, at any-rate in appearance, that the executive and
legislative authority of the Irish Government should be exercised with
due regard to justice. The Federal compact might, and probably would,
contain articles which forbade any State Government or legislature to
suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, to bestow political privileges upon any
church, to pass laws which infringe the obligation of contracts, to
deprive any man of his property without due compensation. The Ten
Commandments, in short, and the obvious applications thereof, might be
embodied in the fundamental law of the land. Federalism would at lowest
preserve a formal respect for justice, and if the system worked
efficiently, would protect individuals and minorities from gross
oppression at the hands of the Irish State Government.

These are the benefits of Home Rule to Great Britain. Let us now examine
what are the evils to Great Britain of the proposed constitutional
revolution. For whoever either will meditate for a short time on the
nature of Federalism, or will examine the mode in which the constitution
of the United States--the most successful federation which the world has
seen--actually works, will soon perceive that what is miscalled "Irish
Federalism" is in reality "British Federalism," and amounts, as I am
forced to reiterate again and again, to a proposal for changing the
whole constitution of the United Kingdom It is, in fact, the most
"revolutionary" proposal, if the word "revolutionary" be used in its
strict sense, which has ever been submitted to an English Parliament,
the abolition of the House of Lords, the disestablishment of the
Church, the abolition of the monarchy, might leave the English
constitution far less essentially changed than would the adoption of
Federalism even in that apparently moderate form in which it was
presented by Mr. Butt to the consideration of the English public.

[Sidenote: Disadvantages of Federalism to England.]

The definite disadvantages to England of the proposed revolution may be
summed up under three heads:--First, the sovereignty of the Imperial
Parliament would be destroyed and all English constitutional
arrangements would be dislocated; secondly, the power of Great Britain
would be diminished; thirdly, the chance of further disagreement with
Ireland would certainly not be diminished, and would probably be

_First._--Under all the formality, the antiquarianism, the shams of the
British constitution, there lies latent an element of power which has
been the true source of its life and growth. This secret source of
strength is the absolute omnipotence,[34] the sovereignty, of
Parliament. As to the mode in which King, Lords, and Commons were to
divide the sovereign power between themselves there have been at
different times disputes leading to civil war; but that Parliament--that
is, the Crown, the Peers, and the Commons acting together--is absolutely
supreme, has never been doubted. Here constitutional theory and
constitutional practice are for once at one. Hence, it has been well
said by the acutest of foreign critics that the merit of the English
constitution is that it is no constitution at all. The distinction
between fundamental articles of the constitution and laws, between
statutes which can only be touched (if at all) by a constituent
assembly, and statutes which can be repealed by an ordinary
Parliament--the whole apparatus, in short, of artificial
constitutionalism--is utterly unknown to Englishmen. Thus freedom has in
England been found compatible at crises of danger with an energy of
action generally supposed to be peculiar to despotism. The source of
strength is, in fact, in each case the same. The sovereignty of
Parliament is like the sovereignty of the Czar. It is like all
sovereignty at bottom, nothing else but unlimited power; and, unlike
some other forms of sovereignty, can be at once put in force by the
ordinary means of law. This is the one great advantage of our
constitution over that of the United States. In America, every ordinary
authority throughout the Union is hampered by constitutional
restrictions; legislation must be slow, because the change of any
constitutional rule is impeded by endless difficulties. The vigour which
is wanting to Congress, is indeed to a certain extent to be found in the
extensive executive power left in the hands of the President; but it
takes little acuteness to perceive that in point of pliability, power of
development, freedom of action, English constitutionalism far excels
the Federalism of the United States. Nor is it less obvious that the
very qualities in which the English constitution excels that of the
United States are essential to the maintenance by England of the British
Empire. Home Rulers, whether they know it or not, touch the mainspring
of the British constitution. For from the moment that Great Britain
becomes part of a federation, the omnipotence of Parliament is gone. The
Federal Congress might be called by the name of the Imperial Parliament.
It might possibly be made up of the same elements, be elected by the
same electors, and even in the main consist of the very same persons as
the existing Parliament of the United Kingdom; but its nature would be
changed, and its power would be limited on all sides. It might deal with
Imperial expenditure, with foreign affairs, with peace and war, with
other matters placed within its competence; on every other point the
British Congress would, like the American Congress, be powerless. Nor
would all the powers taken from the Congress be necessarily given to the
local assemblies. Every analogy points the other way. If the example of
the United States is to be followed, articles of the constitution would
limit the power both of the Imperial Congress and of the local
representative assemblies. This limitation of authority could not be
measured by what appears on the face of the constitution. Some council,
tribunal, or other arbiter--let us, for the sake of simplicity, call it
the Federal Court--would have authority to determine whether a law was
or was not constitutional, or, in other words, whether it was or was
not a law. Let no one fancy that the restraint placed on the power of
ordinary legislation by the authority of a Federal Court; which alone
can interpret the constitution, is a mere form which has no practical
effect. The history of the United States is on this point decisive. De
Tocqueville, Story, and Kent are far safer and better instructed guides
than authors who "cannot conceive how any conflict of authority could
arise which could not be easily settled by argument, by conference, by
gradual experience;" and who seem to hold that to deny the existence of
a difficulty is the same thing as providing for its removal The
following are a few of the instances in which the American judiciary
have in fact determined the limits which bound the powers, either of
Congress or of the State legislatures. The judiciary have ruled that a
State is liable to be sued in the Federal Courts; that Congress has
authority to incorporate a bank; that a tax imposed by Congress was an
indirect tax, and therefore valid; that the control of the militia
really and truly belongs to Congress, and not, as in effect contended by
Connecticut and Massachusetts, to the governors of the separate States.
The Federal judiciary have determined the limits to their own
jurisdiction and to that of the State Courts. The judiciary have
pronounced one law after another invalid, as contrary to some article of
the constitution--e.g., either by being tainted with the vice of _ex
post facto_ legislation, or by impairing the obligation of contracts.
These are a few samples of the mode in which a Federal Court limits all
legislative authority. If any one wishes to see the extent to which the
power of such a Court has gone in fact, he should study the decisions on
the Legal Tender Act, which all but overset or nullified the financial
legislation of Congress during the War of Secession. If he wishes to see
the effect of applying the constitution of the United States, or
anything like that constitution, to Great Britain and Ireland, he should
consider what is implied in the undoubted fact that the Land Act of 1870
and the Land Act of 1881 would, whether passed by the central or by any
local legislature under such a constitution, be at once treated as void,
as impairing the obligation of contracts. If I am told that we might
adopt Federalism without adopting the details of the American
constitution, my reply is, not only that the remark comes awkwardly from
innovators who wish to place Ireland in the position of Massachusetts,
but that the very gist of my argument is that the existence of some
arbiter (whether it be named Crown, Council, or Court), who may decide
whether the constitution has or has not been violated, is of the essence
of Federalism, while the existence of such an arbiter absolutely
destroys the sovereignty of Parliament. Nor do the inferences to be
drawn from the action of the Federal Court, and a study of the American
constitution as it actually exists, end here. In the decisions of the
Court we may trace the rise of question after question--that is, of
conflict after conflict--as to the respective rights of the Federation
and the individual States. From the history and from the immobility of
the constitution, we may perceive the extent to which the existence of a
Federal pact checks change, or, in other words, reform. Every
institution which can lay claim to be based upon an organic law acquires
a sort of sacredness. Under a system of Federalism, the Crown, the House
of Peers, the Imperial Parliament itself, when transformed into a
Federal Assembly, would be almost beyond the reach of change, reform, or
abolition. Nor is it the Legislature of Great Britain alone which would
suffer a fundamental change. The relations between the Executive and the
country would undergo immense modification. The authority of the Crown
might be enhanced by the establishment of a Federal Union. The King
would become, in a very special sense, the representative of national or
Imperial unity, and the weakening of Parliament might lead to the
strengthening of the monarch. However this might be, it has, it is
submitted, been now shown that Federalism would dislocate every English
constitutional arrangement.

_Secondly._--The changes necessitated by Federalism would all tend to
weaken the power of Great Britain. That this is so has been already to a
great degree established, in considering the mode in which Federalism
destroys the sovereignty of Parliament. But a system of Federalism would
assuredly weaken the Government quite as much as the Legislature. The
Executive, as the organ of the Federal Union, would be hampered by new
conditions utterly unknown to an English Ministry. The language of
Federalists exhibits a curious and ominous silence or ambiguity as to
the disposal of the armed forces. Is the army to be a British army, with
authority at the will of the Federal Government to enter every part of
the new Union, or is Ireland to have an independent force of her own?
This, again--and every specific criticism is open to the same
retort--may be called a detail, but it is a detail which touches the
root of the whole matter. If the Federal, that is in effect the English,
Government is to retain the same control over the whole army as at
present--if Ireland is not to have a local force under the control of
local authorities--then the language as to Irish independence used by
Irish Nationalists is singularly misleading. If, on the other hand,
order is to be maintained, or not maintained, by a native army under the
guidance of Irish commanders, then it passes the wit of man to see by
what means the rights of the central government are to be enforced in
any case of disagreement between the Imperial and the Irish Parliament.
With the memory of the Irish volunteers before his mind, an historian,
such, for example, as Mr. McCarthy, will hardly assert that the
difficulty raised is one of which he cannot conceive the existence. For
my part, I heartily join in the admiration he, no doubt, feels for the
patriots of 1782, but no man in his senses will maintain that the moral
of that year is that a local Irish army can, under no circumstances,
prove an embarrassment to the central Government. The general tone,
even more than the precise language of Irish Federalists, all but
forbids the supposition that they are prepared to secure the supremacy
of the Federal Government by giving it the sole control of the only
armed force which is to exist in any part of the Union. They probably
hope that some sort of compromise may be found with regard to a matter
in which, as theory and experience alike prove, compromise is all but
impossible. Under certain circumstances, and in certain cases, and
subject to certain conditions, the use of the armed force throughout
Great Britain and Ireland is, we may suppose, to be left in the hands of
the Federal Executive; under other circumstances, and under other
conditions, the local forces are probably to be controlled by the local
or State Government. Whether such an arrangement would continue in
working order for a year, is more than doubtful. Assume, however, that
somehow it could be got to work, the fact still remains that a scheme,
intended to secure local liberty, would certainly ensure Imperial
weakness. The need, moreover, for bestowing some element of strength on
a Federal Executive as a counterpoise to its many elements of weakness
leads almost of necessity to a result which has scarcely received due
notice. The executive authority must be placed beyond the control of a
representative assembly. Neither in the United States, nor in
Switzerland, nor in the German Empire, can the Federal administration be
displaced by the vote of an assembly. Federalism is in effect
incompatible with Parliamentary government as practised in England. The
Canadian Ministry, it may be urged, can be changed at the will of the
Dominion Parliament, and the common Ministry of Austria-Hungary is
responsible to the Delegations. This is true; but these exceptions are
precisely of the class which prove the rule which they are cited to
invalidate. The Cabinet system of the Dominion is a defect in the
Canadian Constitution, and could not work were not Canada, by its
position as a dependency, under the guidance of a power beyond the reach
of the Dominion Parliament. What may be the real responsibility to the
Delegations of the common ministry of Austria-Hungary, admits of a good
deal of doubt. No one, who will not be deceived by words, believes the
responsibility to be at all like the liability of Mr. Gladstone or Lord
Salisbury to be dismissed from office by a vote of the House of Commons.
The Emperor-King is, as regards the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the
permanent and unchangeable head of the State. Turn the United Kingdom
into a Federal State, and Parliamentary Government, as Englishmen now
know it, is at an end. This may or may not be an evil, but it is a
revolution which ought to give pause to innovators who deem it a
slighter danger to innovate on the Act of Union than to remodel the
procedure of the House of Commons.

The central Government would again, merely from that division of powers
which is of the essence of Federalism, be as feeble against foreign
aggression as against local resistance. Home Rule, it is constantly
said, has at least this advantage, as compared with Irish independence,
that it prevents any alliance between Ireland and a foreign enemy. This
gain might turn out rather nominal than real. Neither the United States
nor France could, of course, send an Embassy to any State comprised
within the British Union; but, if war impended, they might and would
attempt to gain the favour of the Irish Ministry, or the Irish party who
controlled the Irish Parliament, or exercised the authority of the local
Government of Ireland. Suppose that when war was about to be proclaimed
between the British Federation and France, the Irish Parliament objected
to hostilities with the French Republic. Can it be denied that the local
Parliament and the local executive could, by protests, by action, or
even by inaction, give aid or comfort to the foreign enemy? The local
legislature would, in the supposed case, be aided by a minority of the
central Parliament or Congress. Obstruction would go hand in hand with
sedition. Loyalty to the Union was strong throughout the Northern States
during the War of Secession; but the tale used certainly to be told that
had Meade been defeated at Gettysburg, the leaders of the New York
democracy would have attempted "to carry the State out of the Union."
Moreover, Great Britain would perhaps find it easier to control the
action of an independent than of a confederated Ireland. Blockades and
embargoes are, as already pointed out, modes of persuasion applicable
to foreigners, but inapplicable to citizens; the Government of the Union
found it harder to check the latent disloyalty of South Carolina than it
would have found it to deal with the open enmity of Canada. This topic
is too odious and too far removed from the realm of practical politics,
to need more than the allusion required for the completeness of my

Federalism, in short, would mean the weakness of Great Britain, both at
home and abroad. As the head of a Confederacy, England, as the head also
of the British Empire, would meet undiminished responsibilities with
greatly diminished power.

_Thirdly._--Federalism is at least as likely to stereotype and increase
the causes of division between England and Ireland as to remove them.

A Federal Government is, of all constitutions, the most artificial. If
such a government is to be worked with anything like success, there must
exist among the citizens of the confederacy a spirit of genuine loyalty
to the Union. The "Unitarian" feeling of the people must distinctly
predominate over the sentiment in favour of "State rights." To require
this is to require a good deal more than the mere general submission to
the Government which is requisite for the prosperity of every State,
whatever be the nature of its polity. In a Federation every citizen is
influenced by a double allegiance. He owes fealty to the central
Government; he owes fealty also to his Canton or State. National
allegiance and local allegiance divide and perplex the feelings even of
loyal citizens. Unless the national sentiment predominate, the
Federation will go to pieces at any of those crises when the interest or
wishes of any of the States conflict with the interest or wishes of the
Union. So keen an observer and profound a critic as De Tocqueville
believed that both the American and the Swiss Federations would make
shipwreck on this rock. He was mistaken; he did not allow for the rapid
development of national sentiment. But his error was pardonable. The
leaders of the Sonderbund did prefer the interest of Lucerne to the
unity of Switzerland. Lee and Jackson were disloyal to the Union,
because they were loyal to Virginia. Leading officers of the United
States army, soldiers educated at Westpoint, trained the armies of the
Confederates. They were men of unblemished honour; they were, some of
them, not originally zealous in the cause of secession, but they
believed that their duty to their State--to Virginia, to South Carolina,
or to Georgia--was paramount over their duty to the Government at
Washington. If Virginia had stood by the Union, General Lee might, in
all probability, have been the conqueror of the Confederate States, of
which he was the hero. Ireland has had far graver causes for
disaffection towards the English Government than any of the reasons
alleged for the secession of Virginia; but Irish officers and Irish
soldiers have always been perfectly loyal to England. The reason of the
difference is obvious; the officers of the English army have never been
distracted by the difficulties of divided allegiance. Make Ireland one
of the States of a Confederacy, and these difficulties will at once
arise. Irish officers and Irish soldiers, members of the Irish
State--paid by and to a certain extent under the command of the Irish
Government--can hardly be blamed if in times of civil differences,
leading it may be to civil war, they should feel more loyalty to their
State than to the Union. This Union, be it remembered, would in such a
case be nothing but Great Britain under a new and less impressive title.

The existence and nature of the Federal bond is calculated to supply
both the causes and occasions of such differences.

Home Rulers, it is clear, form already most exaggerated hopes of the
benefits to be conferred on Ireland by Home Rule; and, further, in their
own minds (naturally enough) confound Federalism with national

"Give Ireland," writes Mr. Finch,[35] "the management of her own
affairs, and you will see called into her service the ablest and most
capable of her sons; while, as things now stand, the intellect of
Ireland is shut out from all share in the administration. With careers
at home worthy of the best and ablest of the people, much of the wealth
which is now drained off from Ireland without any return, will be
expended in developing the industrial resources of the country;
industry will revive, and with the revival of industry will come
employment for the people. 'It is the difficulty of living by wages in
Ireland,' says Sir G.C. Lewis, 'which makes every man look to the land
for maintenance.' With employment for the people, half the difficulty of
the land question will be solved. If, then, we wish to promote the moral
and material welfare of the Irish people, let us make them masters of
their own affairs."

"I have indicated what I believe," writes Mr. O'Neill Daunt,[36] "to be
the radical disease of Ireland: the want of a domestic legislature racy
of the soil, and acting in harmony with the national sentiment. God has
created Ireland with the needs of a separate nation, and with the needs
are associated the rights. 'Our patent to be a State, not a shire,' said
Goold in 1799, 'comes direct from Heaven. The Almighty has in majestic
characters signed the great charter of our independence. The great
Creator of the world has given our beloved country the gigantic outlines
of a kingdom.'

"If Ireland had been left the unfettered use of the natural materials of
wealth in her soil and in her people, and of the facilities of internal
and external commerce supplied by her physical configuration and her
geographical position--if her interests were protected by a Parliament
sitting in her capital, securing the expenditure at home of her annual
revenue, both public and private, rendering impossible that destructive
hæmorrhage of her income by which she is impoverished, aiding the
development of her industries, and resisting all aggression on her
commercial and political rights--in a word, if the Irish Constitution
had not been treacherously undermined and overthrown, we should now have
been the best support of the Empire, instead of being its scandal and
its weakness."

Politicians who write thus expect far more from national independence
than nationality itself can give. More than fifty years have elapsed
since Spain expelled the foreign invader; but Spain has not yet
succeeded in expelling ignorance, prejudice, superstition, or
oppression. But whatever be the miracles of nationality, Ireland would
not, under Federalism, be a nation. Rhode Island has all the freedom
demanded for his country by an eminent Home Ruler, whose expressions I
have cited. He surely does not consider the inhabitants of Rhode Island
to be a nation.

Whatever else Home Rule might give to Ireland, one gift it assuredly
would not bring with it. It would not endow the country with wealth. To
Irish enthusiasm and patriotism illusions on this matter are pardonable.
In the English advocate of Home Rule they are unpardonable. Ireland is,
and must, under any form of government conceivable, for a length of time
remain a poor country. Capital knows nothing of patriotism or sentiment.
Commerce has no partiality for the masses. Credit cherishes no trust
towards the people. The one prediction which we may make with confidence
is that a measure of Home Rule would not increase Irish capital, and
would shake Irish credit. The rumour of Home Rule has already, it is
said, disturbed the course of business in Ireland. From the nature of
things, then, the establishment of Federalism would lead to bitter
disappointment. The country would not enjoy the dignity of independence;
it would not enjoy the comfort of wealth. Every Irishman would feel that
he had been cheated of his hopes, and this not because he is an
Irishman, but because he is a man. It is human to expect far more from
even the most beneficial of revolutions than any political change can
bring. The unity of Italy was well worth all the price it cost. The
unity of Germany gave intense gratification to natural feelings of
national pride. Yet there are probably many even in the Italian Kingdom
who sigh for the light taxes of the Bourbon or Papal rule, and Germans
who glory in the greatness of the Empire flee by thousands to the United
States that they may escape the burden of conscription. The
disappointment which naturally attends a great change would in the case
of Ireland be specially bitter. To what cause would the disappointment
be attributed? The answer is easy to find. If taxation increased--as it
probably would; if wealth did not increase--as it certainly would not;
if the sense of semi-independence did not produce the hope, the energy,
the new life, the regeneration which enthusiasts consider to be the
natural result of nationality--if anything, in short, failed to go
according to the hopes of men who had formed hopes which a miracle
itself could hardly satisfy--the blame for the non-fulfilment of
groundless anticipations would rest upon the Confederacy--that is in
other words, upon England. To suppose this, is not to attribute special
unreasonableness to Irishmen. If Italy had been forced to accept,
instead of her longed-for independence, the local self-government which
might be conceded to the State of an Austrian Federation, we may be
quite sure that the Grist Tax, the Sicilian Banditti, the intrigues of
France in Tunis, the perversity of the Pope, the poverty of Italian
workmen, the factiousness of Italian politicians, every evil, in short,
real or imaginary, under which Italy now suffers, or has suffered since
1870--would have been attributed to her connection with a Union presided
over by the Austrian Emperor. National independence, like every other
form of independence, has at least this merit, that it compels men to
take their fate into their own hands, and to feel that they themselves
or the circumstances of the world are the causes of their misfortunes.
Semi-independence makes it easy for men to attribute every mishap to the
absence of absolute freedom.

If the existence of a Federal constitution would of itself supply the
cause for discontent, it is of the very nature of such a constitution to
supply the occasions of dispute. Nothing can prevent the rise of burning
questions about Federal and State rights. Is nullification or secession,
or the refusal to pay Federal taxes a State right? If these questions
arise, by whom are they to be settled? Suppose they are referred to a
Federal Court, say the Privy Council, is it reasonable to fancy that
Irishmen or Englishmen, for that matter, will acquiesce in the decision
of grave political issues (say the right of the Federal Government to
proclaim martial law at Dublin, or the validity of the Land Act) by any
tribunal? For when political issues are referred to the decision of a
Court the difficulty is great of enlisting public opinion in favour of
its decrees. The theory of the constitution and the expectation of the
people is that references to the judges will be events of rare
occurrence, and that the Bench, when it acts at all, will act only as
interpreter of the constitutional pact. Things are certain to turn out
far otherwise. The intervention of the tribunals will in one form or
another be constantly evoked, and will be evoked to determine the most
burning questions of the day. The Constitution of the United States
would be unintelligible without reference to a long line of determined
cases; its principles are to be found quite as much in the decisions of
the Supreme Court as in its Articles. Swiss Constitutionalists have
greatly increased as years have gone on the originally limited powers of
the Federal tribunal. The statesmen who drafted the Act constituting the
Canadian Dominion fancied they could in effect avoid the necessity for
judicial interpretation, but a long series of reports proves the
futility of their expectation. Each day increases the mass, and it must
be added the importance, of the judgments by which the Privy Council
determines questions of constitutional law for the Colonies. Moreover,
even laymen soon perceive that interpretation means legislation. It is
technically correct to say that the Supreme Court of the United States
acts only as interpreter of the Constitution, but we must not be
deceived by fictions. The Supreme Court has legislated as truly, and
perhaps more effectively than Congress. It has achieved, and from the
nature of things was compelled to achieve, a feat forbidden to Congress;
it has added to or enlarged the Articles of the Constitution. The good
fortune of the United States gave to them in Judge Marshall a profound
and statesmanlike lawyer, and the judgments of the great Chief Justice
have built up the existing Constitution. He may be counted, if not among
its founders, at any rate as its main architect. In this instance
judicial authority was combined with political wisdom, and Marshall's
opinion was, it is said, rejected by the Court in but two cases, and had
it in these instances been followed, would have improved the
Constitution. Unfortunately, while one may often secure the fairness one
cannot ensure the wisdom of the Bench. Judges err; a final Court of
Appeal must often give decisions which are or are supposed to be
erroneous, i.e., not a just deduction from the facts and principles
which the Court is called upon to consider. No historian will, it is
likely, now defend the doctrine of the House of Lords about marriage
laid down in _Reg._ v. _Millis_. Competent authorities question some of
the most important ecclesiastical judgments given by the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council. The decision in the _Dred Scott Case_,
whether right or wrong, did not approve itself to eminent lawyers in the
United States. One of the decisions of the Supreme Court in the _Legal
Tender Cases_ must have been wrong; whether the last was sound is open
to debate. It is when a Court gives what is thought to be an erroneous
decision on matters exciting the feelings of large classes that the
difficulty of obtaining acquiescence in its judgments is palpable. The
judges decided, and it is quite possible decided rightly, that Ship
Money was a legal exaction, and that the Crown's dispensing power was
authorized by law. Popular opinion branded the judges as sycophants and
traitors. Chief Justice Taney and his colleagues decided in effect, and
from a legal point of view may have been right in deciding, that slavery
was recognised by the Constitution of the United States. Their decision
was denounced by the best men in the Union as infamous. The Privy
Council have laid down doctrines on matters of ritual which are held to
be erroneous by a large body of the clergy, and Ritualists have gone to
prison rather than treat the judgment of the Privy Council as of moral
validity. Clergymen are not perhaps the most reasonable of mankind, but
they are not more unreasonable than political enthusiasts. How then is
it possible to expect that a Federal tribunal would command an obedience
not yielded willingly to the laws of the Imperial Parliament?
Englishmen, indeed, might, it is possible, acquiesce in the ruling of
Federal judges, and this for two reasons: they are a legally-minded
nation; and (what is of far more consequence) a Federal Court must
represent in the main the opinions of the Federal Government--that is,
of Great Britain. But it is idle to suppose that Mr. Parnell and Mr.
Parnell's followers would find it easier to respect an Imperial or
Federal tribunal than to bow to the will of the Imperial Parliament.

Home Rulers would, moreover, soon discover a reason for resistance to
the Federal Court or the Federal Government, which from their point of
view would be a perfectly valid reason. The Federal Government would, in
effect, be the Government of England; the Federal Court would in effect
be a Court appointed by the English Government. In a Confederacy where
there are many States, the Government of the Federation cannot be
identified with even the most powerful of the States; it were ridiculous
to assert that the Government at Washington is only the Government of
New York under another name. Where a Confederacy consists in reality, if
not in name, of two States only, of which the one has at least four or
five times the power of the other, the authority of the Confederacy
means the authority of the powerful State. "Irish Federalism," if in
reality established, would soon generate a demand from Ireland, not
unreasonable in itself, under the circumstances of the case, that the
whole British Empire should be turned into a Confederacy, under the
guidance of a general Congress. Thus alone could Ireland become a real
State, the member of a genuine Confederation. Hence arises a new danger.
Apply Federalism to Ireland and you immediately provoke demands for
autonomy in other parts of the United Kingdom, and for constitutional
changes in other parts of the British Empire. Federalism, which in other
lands has been a step towards Union, would, it is likely enough, be in
our case the first stage towards a dissolution of the United Kingdom
into separate States, and hence towards the breaking-up of the British
Empire. This is no future or imaginary peril; the mere proposal of Home
Rule, under something like a Federal form, has already made it an
immediate and pressing danger. Sir Gavan Duffy, by far the ablest among
the Irish advocates of Home Rule, predicts that before ten years have
elapsed there will be a Federation of the Empire.[37] A majority of
Scotch electors support the policy of Mr. Gladstone, and forthwith a
most respectable Scotch periodical puts forward a plan of Home Rule for
Scotland. Canon MacColl already suggests that we should make tentatively
an experiment capable of development into a permanent system on the
lines of the American Constitution, and make it not only in Ireland, but
also perhaps gradually in Scotland, and even in Wales.[38] It is
unnecessary to discuss Canon MacColl's argument at length. When he
tells his readers that "the Constitution which Mr. Gladstone desires to
create in Ireland is modelled on the system existing in the great
colonies of the Empire; there are certain variations and some novelties
in the Irish scheme, but these are the lines on which it is drawn;" he
ventures a statement on which, as a lawyer, I need make but one comment.
It is a statement as erroneous and misleading as can be any assertion
made in good faith by a writer who must be presumed to have studied the
measure of which he is speaking. When the same authority asks why should
a system which imparts strength to America, to Austria, and to Germany,
disintegrate and ruin the British Empire, he raises an inquiry which
does not admit of an answer, since it assumes the identity of things
which are radically different. The system which may or may not impart
strength to Austria is no more the system which imparts strength to
America, than the system which imparts strength to England is the same
as the system which does or does not impart strength to Russia. To lump
under one head every policy which can by any straining of the terms be
brought under the heads of "Federalism" or "Home Rule," is neither more
nor less absurd than to classify together every Constitution which can
be called a monarchy.

But while I write these pages a more significant indication of this
danger has appeared. Mr. Gladstone's own method of interpreting his own
past utterances makes it the duty of his critics to weigh well not only
his direct statements, but his suggestions; and there is, I think, no
possible unfairness in construing the language of his pamphlet on the
Irish Question as an intimation that he already entertains, if he does
not favour, the idea of applying the Federal principle to Scotland and
to Wales.[39] Federalism is the solvent which, if applied to one part of
the United Kingdom, will undo the work not only of Pitt, but of Somers,
of Henry VIII., and of Edward I. Meanwhile, the one prediction which may
be made with absolute confidence is that Federalism would not generate
that goodwill between England and Ireland which, could it be produced,
would, in my judgment at least, be an adequate compensation even for the
evils and the inconveniences of the Federal system.

To the view of Federalism here maintained there exist one or two
objections, so obvious that without some reference to them my argument
would lack completeness.

Federalism, it is urged, has succeeded in Switzerland and in America; it
may, therefore, succeed in the United Kingdom.

If the general drift of my argument does not sufficiently answer this
objection, two special replies lie near at hand. In the case both of
Switzerland and of America, a Federal Constitution supplied the means by
which States, conscious of a common national feeling, have approached to
political unity. It were a rash inference from this fact, that when two
parts of one nation are found (as must be asserted by any Home Ruler)
not to be animated by a common feeling of nationality, a Federal
Constitution is the proper means by which to keep them in union. The
more natural deduction from the general history of Federalism is, that a
confederation is an imperfect political union, transitory in its nature,
and tending either to pass into one really united State, or to break up
into the different States which compose the Federation.

If, again, the example either of America or of Switzerland is to teach
us anything worth knowing, the history of those countries must be read
as a whole. It will then be seen that the two most successful
confederacies in the world have been kept together only by the decisive
triumph through force of arms of the central power over real or alleged
State rights. General Dufour in Switzerland, General Grant and General
Sherman in America, were the true interpreters and preservers of the
constitutional pact. This undoubted fact hardly suits the theories of
Irish Federalists.

Nor ought we to stop at this point. Citizens of the Union filled with
justifiable pride at the success of the American Constitution assume
that a Federal Government is in itself absolutely the best form of
government, that in any country where it can be adopted it must be an
improvement on the existing institutions of the land, and that as
compared with the constitutional monarchy of England federalism
exhibits no special faults from which English constitutionalism is free.
This assumption is perfectly natural; it resembles that absolute faith
in the virtues of the British Constitution which reached its culminating
point when Burke's intimate friend and pupil, Gilbert Elliott, himself
no mean statesman, went to Corsica to establish a miniature copy of
English Parliamentary institutions. But in each case a faith which is
natural will also be pronounced by any candid judge to be unfounded.
Federalism has in its very essence, and even as it exists in America, at
least two special faults. It distracts the allegiance of citizens, and
what is even more to the present point, it does not provide sufficient
protection for the legal rights of unpopular minorities. There is not,
and never was, a word in the Articles of the Constitution forbidding
American citizens to criticise the institutions of the State. An
American Abolitionist had as much right to denounce slavery at Boston,
or for that matter at Charlestown, as an English Abolitionist had to
denounce slavery in London or Liverpool. It were ridiculous to maintain
that the right was one which either Lloyd Garrison or his disciples were
able to exercise. Mr. Godkin[40] has repeated with perfect fairness the
tale of the persecutions suffered by Prudence Crandall in Connecticut
because she chose in exercise of her legal and moral rights to educate
young women of colour. Mr. Godkin apparently draws, as I have already
pointed out, from the fact an inference--which I confess myself not well
able to follow--against all attempts to enforce an unpopular law. The
more natural conclusion is that the Federal Government was not able to
protect the rights of individuals against strong local sentiment. This
moral at any rate has an obvious application to any scheme of Federalism
for Ireland.

The experience of Canada, again, is adduced to prove that a Federal
constitution is compatible with loyalty to the British Crown. Why should
an arrangement which produces peace, prosperity, and loyalty across the
Atlantic not be applied to Ireland?

The answer is, that the case of Canada is as regards Federalism
irrelevant. Canada is not part of a British Federation. The Dominion as
a whole is simply a colony, standing essentially in the same relation to
England as Victoria or New South Wales. The laws of the Parliament that
meets at Ottawa need the Royal sanction, or, in other words, may be
vetoed, or rather not approved, by the English Ministry of the day. The
Act itself on which the existence of the Canadian constitution depends
is an Act of the British Parliament, and cannot be modified by any other
authority. The British Parliament is supreme in Canada as throughout the
British dominions; and Canada sends no representatives to the British
Parliament. The provinces, no doubt, which compose the Dominion are
under an Act of Parliament a Federation; but the dangers and
difficulties of Federalism are to a great extent avoided by the
supremacy of the British Crown. These difficulties, however, do arise.
If any one will study the "Letellier case," he will soon perceive that
Canada has exhibited the germ of the conflict between the central
authority of the Dominion and the "State right" of the provinces; he
will also perceive that the conflict was determined by a reference to
the English Ministry, who in effect gave judgment in favour of the
Dominion. The example of Canada suggests, if anything, that Irish
difficulties might be solved by turning Ireland into a colony without
representatives in the Imperial Parliament.

We have now the materials for comparing, as regards the interests of
England, the effects of Irish independence with the effects of Home Rule
as Federalism. The case as between the two stands thus:--

The national independence of Ireland entails on England three great
evils--the deliberate surrender of the main object at which English
statesmanship has aimed for centuries, together with all the moral loss
and disgrace which such surrender entails; the loss of considerable
material resources in money, and still more in men; the incalculable
evil of the existence in the neighbourhood of Great Britain of a new, a
foreign, and, possibly, a hostile State. For these evils there are,
indeed, to be found two real though inadequate compensations--namely,
the probability that loss of territory might restore to England a unity
and consistency of action equivalent to an increase of strength, and the
possibility that separation might be the first step towards gaining the
goodwill, and ultimately the alliance of Ireland. It is, however, hardly
worth while to calculate what might be the extent of the possible
deductions from evils which no English statesman would knowingly bring
on Great Britain. By men of all parties and of all views it is
practically conceded that England neither will nor can, except under
compulsion, assent to Irish independence.

Federalism, on the other hand, has the appearance of a compromise. It
does not avowedly break up the unity of Great Britain and Ireland; it
does not wholly deprive England of Irish resources; it does not,
directly at least, lay Great Britain open to foreign attack. Federalism
has, however, special evils of its own. It revolutionizes the whole
Constitution of the United Kingdom; by undermining the sovereignty of
Parliament, it deprives English institutions of their elasticity, their
strength, and their life; it weakens the Executive at home, and lessens
the power of the country to resist foreign attack. The revolution which
works these changes holds out no hope of reconciliation with Ireland. An
attempt, in short, to impose on England and Scotland a constitution
which they do not want, and which is quite unsuited to the historical
traditions and to the genius of Great Britain, offers to Ireland a
constitution which Ireland is certain to dislike, which has none of the
real or imaginary charms of independence, and ensures none of the solid
benefits to be hoped for from a genuine union with England.

If this be the true state of the case, thus much at least is
argumentatively made out: Federalism offers to England not a
constitutional compromise, but a fundamental revolution, and this
revolution, however moderate in its form or in the intention of its
advocates, does not offer that reasonable chance of reconciliation with
the mass of the Irish people which might be a compensation for a repeal
of the Union, and is as much opposed to the interests of Great Britain
as would be the national independence of Ireland. This conclusion is a
purely negative one, but it is, as far as English statesmen are
concerned, the _reductio ad impossibile_ of the case in favour of Home
Rule in so far as Home Rule takes the form of Federalism.

       *       *       *       *       *

II. _Home Rule as Colonial Independence._--The modern Colonial policy of
England has, or is thought to have, achieved two results which impress
popular imagination:--it has relieved English statesmanship from an
unbearable burden of worry and anxiety; it has (as most people believe)
changed Colonial unfriendliness or discontent into enthusiastic or
ostentatious loyalty. Some politicians, therefore, who are anxious to
terminate the secular feud between England and Ireland, and to free
Parliament from the presence, and therefore from the obstructiveness, of
the Home Rulers, readily assume that the formula of "Colonial
independence" contains the solution of the problem how to satisfy at
once the demand of Ireland for independence and the resolution of Great
Britain to maintain the integrity of the Empire. This assumption rests
on no sure foundation, but derives such plausibility as it possesses
from the gross ignorance of the public as to the principles and habits
which govern the English State system. A mere account of the
constitutional relations existing between England and a self-governed
colony is almost equivalent to a suggestion of the reasons which forbid
the hope that the true answer to the agitation for Home Rule is to be
found in conceding to Ireland institutions like those which satisfy the
inhabitants of New South Wales or Victoria. To render such a statement
at once brief and intelligible is no easy matter, for, among all the
political arrangements devised by the ingenuity of statesmen, none can
be found more singular, more complicated, or more anomalous than the
position of combined independence and subordination occupied by the
large number of self-governing colonies which are scattered throughout
the British Empire. Victoria, which may be taken as a type of the whole
class, is, for most purposes of local and internal administration, and
for some purposes which go beyond the sphere usually assigned to local
government, an independent, self-governing community. Victoria is at the
same time, for all purposes in theory and for many purposes in fact, a
merely subordinate portion of the British Empire, and as truly subject
to the British Parliament as is Middlesex or the Isle of Wight.

Let us try in the first place to realize--for this is the essential
matter as regards my present argument--the full extent of Victorian

Victoria enjoys a Constitution after the British model. The Governor,
the two Houses, the Ministry, reproduce the well-known features of our
limited monarchy. The Victorian Parliament further possesses in Victoria
that character of sovereignty which the British Parliament possesses
throughout the dominions of the Crown, and is (subject, of course, to
the authority of the British Parliament itself) as supreme at Melbourne
as are Queen, Lords, and Commons at Westminster. It makes and unmakes
Cabinets; it controls the executive action of the Ministry; who, in
their turn, are the authorized advisers of that sham constitutional
monarch, the Colonial Governor. The Parliament, moreover, recognizes no
restrictions on its legislative powers; it is not, as is the Congress of
the United States, restrained within a very limited sphere of action; it
is not, as are both the Congress and the State Legislatures of the
Union, bound hand and foot by the articles of a rigid Constitution; it
is not compelled to respect any immutable maxims of legislation. Hence
the Victorian Parliament--in this resembling its creator, the British
Parliament--exercises an amount of legislative freedom unknown to most
foreign representative assemblies. It can, and does, legislate on
education, on ecclesiastical topics, on the tenure of land, on finance,
on every subject, in short, which can interest the Colony. It provides
for the raising of Colonial forces; it may levy taxes or impose duties
for the support of the Victorian administration, or for the protection
of Colonial manufactures. It is not forbidden to tax goods imported from
other parts of the Empire; it is not bound to abstain from passing _ex
post facto_ laws, to respect the sanctity of contracts, or to pay any
regard to the commercial interests of the United Kingdom. It may alter
the Constitution on which its own powers depend, and, for example,
extend the franchise or remodel the Upper House. To understand the full
extent of the authority possessed by the Victorian Parliament and the
Victorian Ministry--which is, in fact, appointed by the Parliament--it
should be noted that, while every branch of the administration (the
courts, the police, and the Colonial forces) is, as in England, more or
less directly under the influence or the control of the Cabinet, the
Colonies have, since 1862, provided for their own defence, and, except
in time of war, or peril of war, are not garrisoned by British
troops.[41] It is, therefore, no practical exaggeration to assert that
Victoria is governed by its own Executive, which is appointed by its own
Parliament, and which maintains order by means of the Victorian police,
supported, in case of need, by Victorian soldiers. An intelligent
foreigner, therefore, might reside for years in Melbourne, and conceive
that the supremacy of the British Government was little more than
nominal. In this he would be mistaken. But should he assert that, as to
all merely Colonial matters, Victoria was in practice a self-governed
and independent country, his language would not be accurate, yet his
assertion would not go very wide of the truth.

The local independence, however, of an English colony is hardly more
noteworthy than are the devices by which a colony is retained in its
place as a subordinate portion of the British Empire, and anyone who
would understand the English Colonial system must pay hardly less
attention to the subordination than to the independence of a country
like Victoria.

The foundation of the whole scheme is the admission of the complete and
unquestioned supremacy of the British Parliament throughout every
portion of the royal dominions. No Colonial statesman, judge, or lawyer
ever dreams of denying that Crown, Lords, and Commons can legislate for
Victoria, and that a statute of the Imperial Parliament overrides every
law or custom repugnant thereto, by whomsoever enacted, in every part of
the Crown dominions. The right, moreover, of Imperial legislation has
not fallen into disuse. Mr. Tarring[42] enumerates from sixty to seventy
Imperial statutes, extending from 7 Geo. III. c. 50 to 44 & 45 Vict. c.
69, which apply to the Colonies generally, and to this list, which might
now be lengthened, must be added a large number of statutes applying to
particular colonies. The sovereignty of Parliament, moreover, is
formally recorded in the Colonial Laws Act, 1865 (28 & 29 Vict. cap.
63), which itself may well be termed the charter of Colonial legislative
authority. This essential dogma of parliamentary sovereignty, moreover,
is not proclaimed as a merely abstract principle--it is enforced by two
different methods. Every court, in the first place, as well in Victoria
as elsewhere throughout the British dominions, is bound to hold void,
and in fact does hold void, enactments which contravene an Imperial
statute, and from Colonial courts there is an appeal to the Privy
Council. The Colonial Governor, in the second place, though from one
point of view he is a constitutional monarch acting under the advice
given him by his Ministers, bears also another and a different
character. He is an Imperial official appointed by the Crown--that is,
by the English Cabinet, which represents the wishes of the Imperial
Parliament--and he is, as such representative of the Imperial power,
bound if possible to avert the passing of any Bill, and when he cannot
avert the passing, then to veto any Act of the Colonial Legislature,
which is disapproved of by the Home Government as opposed either to
Imperial law or to Imperial policy. Thus, a Victorian Act, even when
sanctioned by the Governor, must pass through another stage before it
finally becomes law. It must receive the assent of the Crown, or, in
other words, the assent of the English Secretary of State for the
Colonies, and unless this assent be either actually or constructively
given it does not come into force.[43] The matter to be carefully noted
is that the Crown, or in other words the English Ministry, which
represents the House of Commons, has, as far as law goes, complete
power of controlling the legislation even of colonies like Victoria.
This power is both positive and negative. If the Victorian Parliament
fails to pass some enactment necessary in the opinion of the British
Parliament for the safety of the Empire, then the Parliament at
Westminster can pass an Act for Victoria supplying the needful
provisions. If on the other hand the Victorian Legislature passes a
bill, (e.g. expelling Chinese from the Colony,) which the Home
Government representing the British Parliament deems opposed to Imperial
interests, then the Government can either direct the Governor to refuse
his assent to the law, or cause the Crown to disallow it, and thus in
any case make it void. When we add to all this that there are many
occasions, which we can here only allude to, on which a Colonial
Governor can, and does, act so as to hinder courses of action which
conflict with English interests or policy, it becomes clear enough that,
as far as constitutional arrangements can secure the reality of
sovereignty, the Imperial Parliament maintains its supremacy throughout
the length and breadth of the British Empire. It is of course perfectly
true that Parliament having once given representative institutions to a
colony, does not dream of habitually overriding or thwarting Colonial
legislation. But it were a gross error to suppose that Colonial
recognition of British sovereignty is a mere form. It is in the main
cheerfully acquiesced in by the people of Victoria, because they gain
considerable prestige and no small material advantage from forming part
of the Empire. They have no traditional hostility with the mother
country; they have every reason to deprecate separation, and--a matter
of equal consequence--they believe that if they wished for independence
it would not be refused them. England stands, in short, as regards
Victoria, in a position of singular advantage. She could suppress local
riot, or cause it to be suppressed, and she would not try to oppose a
national demand for separation. Hence a complicated political
arrangement is kept in tolerable working order by a series of
understandings and of mutual concessions. If either England or Victoria
were not willing to give and take, the connection between England and
the Colony could not last a month. The policy, in short, of Colonial
independence is, like most of our constitutional arrangements, based on
the assumption that the parties to it are willing to act towards one
another in a spirit of compromise and good-will, and though at the
present moment the pride of England in her Colonial empire, and the
appreciation on the part of our colonies of the benefits, moral and
material, of the supremacy of Great Britain, keep our scheme of Colonial
government in working order, it is well to realize that this system is
not so invariably successful as might be inferred from the optimism
which naturally colours official utterances. The names of Sir Charles
Darling and Sir George Bowen recall transactions which show that a
community as loyal as Victoria may adopt a course of policy which meets
with the disapproval of English statesmen. The recent and deliberate
refusal of the citizens of Melbourne to endure the landing on their
shores of informers whose evidence had procured the punishment of an
outrageous crime, combined with the fact that the populace of Melbourne
were abetted in a gross, indubitable, patent breach of law by Colonial
Ministers who were after all, technically speaking, servants of the
Crown, gives rise to serious reflection, and suggests that, even under
favourable circumstances, Colonial independence is hardly consistent
with that enforcement throughout the Crown's dominions of due respect
for law which is the main justification for the existence of the British
Empire.[44] A student, moreover, who turns his eyes towards dependencies
less favourably situated than Victoria soon perceives how great may at
any moment become the difficulty of working an artificial and
complicated system of double sovereignty. In Jamaica the hostility of
the whites and blacks led to riot on the part of the blacks, followed by
lawless suppression of riot on the part of the Governor, who represented
the feelings of the whites, and the restoration of peace and order
ultimately entailed the abolition of representative government. At the
Cape the pressure of war at once exposed the weak part of the
constitutional machine. The pretensions of the Cape Ministry to snatch
from the hands of the Governor the control of the armed forces met with
successful resistance; but the question then raised as to the proper
relation between the Colonial Ministry and the army, though for a time
evaded, is certain sooner or later to re-appear, and will not always
admit of an easy or peaceable answer.[45]

Any reader interested in my argument should supplement this brief
statement of the relation actually existing between England and her
self-governing colonies by a perusal of Mr. Todd's most instructive
'Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies.' But the statement,
brief and colourless though it be, is sufficient for its purpose; it
shows that the proposal to give to Ireland the institutions of a colony
is open to two fatal objections.

1st.--The concession to Ireland of Colonial independence would entail
upon England probable peril and certain disgrace.

The peril is obvious. An Irish Cabinet armed with the authority
possessed by a Victorian Ministry would at once provide for the
self-defence of Ireland, and an Irish army, obeying an Irish Executive
and commanded by Irish officers, would be none the less formidable
because it might in name be identified with an armed police, or, like
the troops raised at the Cape or in Victoria, enjoy the ominous title of
Volunteers. If the Colonial precedent were strictly carried out, British
troops ought, from the time Ireland obtained an independent Parliament,
to be withdrawn from the country. The acknowledged danger of foreign
invasion, and the unavowed probability of Irish insurrection, would make
the retirement of the English army impossible. But the presence of
British forces--and forces, be it remarked, intended in reality as a
check on the action of the local Government--would of itself place
Ireland in a position utterly unlike the situation of Victoria, and
would also involve both the Imperial and the local Government in endless
difficulties and controversies. If any one doubts this, let him read the
correspondence between Mr. Molteno[46] and Sir Bartle Frere, and
substitute for the Premier of the Cape Colony the name of Mr. Parnell,
and for Sir Bartle Frere the name of any Lord-Lieutenant who might be
unfortunate enough to hold office in Ireland after Mr. Parnell became
Premier of an Irish Cabinet. Suppose, however, that by some miracle of
management or good luck the Irish and English forces acted well
together, and that the satisfaction given by a state of things
approaching to independence prevented for the moment all attempts at
separation, England might escape peril, but she would assuredly not
avoid deserved disgrace. An Irish Parliament, returned in the main by
the very men who support the National League, would assuredly pass laws
which every man in England, and many men throughout Ireland, would hold
to be unjust, and which, whether in themselves unjust or not, would
certainly set aside Imperial legislation, which England is bound by
every consideration of honour and justice to uphold. There is no need to
demonstrate here what has been demonstrated by one writer after another,
and, indeed, hardly needs proof, that at the present day an Irish
Parliament would certainly deprive Irish landlords, and possibly deprive
Irish Protestants, of rights which the Imperial Parliament would never
take away, and which the Imperial Government is absolutely bound to
protect.[47] If the English Government were to be base enough to
acquiesce in legislation which the Imperial Parliament would never
itself have countenanced, then England would be dishonoured; if Bill
after Bill passed by the Irish Legislature were prevented from becoming
law by veto after veto, then English honour might be saved, but the
self-government of Ireland would be at an end, nor would England gain
much in credit. The English Ministry can, as long as the connection with
a colony endures, arrest Colonial legislation. But the Home Government
cannot for any effective purpose interfere with the administrative
action of a Colonial Executive. Given courts, an army, and a police
controlled by the leaders of the Land League, and it is easy to see how
rents might be abolished and landlords driven into exile without the
passing by the Irish Parliament of a single Act which a Colonial
Secretary could reasonably veto, or which even an English court could
hold void under the provisions of the Colonial Laws Act. It is indeed
probable that wild legislation at Dublin might provoke armed resistance
in Ulster. But a movement which, were Ireland an independent nation,
might ensure just government for all classes of Irishmen would, if
Ireland were a colony, only add a new element of confusion to an already
intolerable state of affairs. Imagine for a moment what would have been
the position of England if Englishmen had been convinced that Riel,
though technically a rebel, was in reality a patriot, resisting the
intolerable oppression of the Dominion Parliament, and you may form some
slight idea of the feeling of shame and disgrace with which Englishmen
would see British soldiers employed to suppress the revolt of Ulster
against a Government which, without English aid, would find it difficult
to resist or punish the insurgents. The most painful and least
creditable feature in the history of the United States is the apathy
with which for thirty years the Northern States tolerated Southern
lawlessness, and even now indirectly support Southern oppression.

2nd.--If Colonial independence would be found in Ireland inconsistent
with the protection of England's interests and with the discharge of
England's duties, it would also fail to produce the one result which
would be an adequate compensation for many probable or certain
evils--namely, the extinction of Irish discontent.

It is by no means certain, indeed, that Colonial independence would be
accepted with genuine acquiescence by any class of Irishmen. Certainly
the demand for Grattan's Parliament lends no countenance to the
supposition that the people of Ireland would accept with satisfaction a
political arrangement which is absolutely opposed in its character to
the Constitution of 1782.[48] Suppose, however, for the sake of
argument, that the Irish leaders and the Irish people accepted the offer
of Colonial independence; we may be well assured that this acceptance
would not produce good-will towards England, and this not from the
perversity of the Irish nature, of which we hear a great deal too much,
but from difficulties in the nature of things, of which we hear a great
deal too little. The restrictions on the authority of the Irish
Parliament would, one cannot doubt, be, as safeguards for the authority
of the Imperial Government, absolutely illusory. But they would be
intensely irritating. Irish leaders would wish, and from their own point
of view rightly wish, to carry through a revolutionary policy. The
Imperial Government would attempt, and from an English point of view
rightly attempt, to arrest revolution. Every considerable legislative
measure would give ground for negotiation and for understandings--that
is, for dissatisfaction and for misunderstanding. There would be
disputes about the land laws, disputes about the army, disputes about
the police, disputes about the authority of Imperial legislation,
disputes about the validity of Irish enactments, disputes about appeals
to the Privy Council. To say that all these sources of irritation might
embitter the relation between England and Victoria, and that, as they do
not habitually do so, one may infer that they will not embitter the
relation between England and Ireland, is to argue that institutions
nominally the same will work in the same way when applied to totally
different circumstances. Victoria is prosperous; Ireland is in distress.
Victoria takes pride in the Imperial connection; the difficulty in
dealing with Ireland consists in the fact that large bodies of Irishmen
detest the British Empire. Victoria has never aspired to be a nation;
the best side of Irish discontent consists in enthusiasm for Irish
nationality. Above all this, there has never been any lasting feud
between England and her Australian dependencies; the main ground in
favour of a fundamental change in the constitutional relations of
Ireland and England is the necessity of putting an end at almost any
cost to traditional hatred and misunderstanding generated by centuries
of misgovernment and misery. If, as already pointed out, the source of
this misery, so far as it can be touched by law at all, is a vicious
system of land tenure, it is in vain to imagine that the misfortunes of
Ireland can be cured by any mere change of constitutional forms. Grant,
however, for the sake of argument, that the passion of nationality is
the true ground of the demand for Home Rule; grant, also, in defiance of
patent facts, that the autonomy of a dependency satisfies the
sensibilities of a nation; still it is idle to fancy that a system
based, like our scheme of Colonial government, on friendly
understandings and the habitual practice of compromise, can regulate the
relations of two countries which are kept apart mainly because they
cannot understand one another, and can neither of them admit the
necessity of mutual concessions. Moreover, a scheme of nominal
subjection combined with real independence has the one great defect that
it does not teach the lessons which men and nations learn by depending
on their own unassisted and uncontrolled efforts. No one learns
self-control who fancies he is controlled by a master.[49]

The scheme, in short, of Colonial independence, though less absolutely
impracticable than any form of Federalism,[50] has, as a solution of our
Irish difficulties, two fatal defects: it gives Ireland a degree of
independence more dangerous to England than would be the existence of
Ireland as a separate nation; it bestows on Ireland a kind of
self-government which presents neither the material advantages derived
from the Union, nor the possible, though hypothetical, gains which might
accrue to her from the self-control and energy supposed to flow from the
inspiring sentiment of nationality. Still the Colonial system is, in
spite of its immense defects as a scheme of Home Rule for Ireland, out
and out the least objectionable of the models which have been proposed
to us for our imitation, and this for several reasons. To grant to
Ireland, if she be prepared to accept it, the position of Victoria is
not to impair the supremacy of Parliament; if we copied faithfully the
Victorian polity, every Irish member of Parliament would permanently
depart from Westminster; there would be no more need for having at
Westminster a representative of Dublin than there is for having a
representative of Melbourne; the Irish Parliament would depend for its
very existence on an Act of the Imperial Parliament, and the British
Parliament would be able without consulting any Irish representative to
modify, override, or abolish all or any part of the Act constituting the
Irish Parliament. In this there would be no breach of faith, for the
Constitution would bear on its face that the Act of Parliament on which
it depended could be changed by the British Parliament as lawfully as
can the Act 18 & 19 Vict. c. 55, which calls into existence the
Victorian legislature. The undoubted legal authority and ease with which
the British Parliament could suspend or abolish the Irish Constitution
would have two good results: the one that Great Britain would have a
sanction by which to enforce the adherence of the Irish government to
just principles of legislation and of administration; the other that the
readiness with which this sanction could be applied would, it is not
unlikely, make its application needless. England, again, would not by
the concession of Colonial independence dislocate her own Constitution:
she would only be extending to Ireland a scheme of government already
existing in other parts of the Empire, and would find herself possessed
of officials accustomed to make a Colonial Constitution work. Nothing
would be changed: there would only be one Colony the more, and the
Colonial Office would find no insuperable difficulty in undertaking the
government of Ireland in the same sense in which the Office undertakes
the government of Victoria. The position, it may be objected, would be a
very poor one for Ireland. With this objection I entirely agree: my very
contention is that for Ireland, no less than for England, it is best
that Ireland shall form part of the United Kingdom. Home Rulers think
otherwise: they prefer the local autonomy of Victoria to a share in the
United Kingdom. They may probably, however, say that taxation involves
representation, and that if Ireland is to take the disadvantages she
must also have the immunities of a colony. Here fair-minded men will
hold that the Home Rulers are right. The maxim, indeed, that taxation
involves representation need not deeply impress any one who remembers
that throughout the United Kingdom the property of every woman is taxed,
and that no woman has a share in Parliamentary representation. But a
formula which is not logically defensible may yet be the embodiment of a
just claim. If the very hazardous experiment of placing Ireland in the
position of Victoria is to be tried, it must be tried fairly and with
every circumstance which may increase its chances of success. Ireland on
assuming the position of a colony should, like other colonies, be freed
from Imperial taxation. England can afford the sacrifice of three or
four millions a year, and she would obtain a valuable _quid pro quo_ in
the increased homogeneity of the British Parliament. Ireland too would
gain something. A country impoverished, in part at least through bad
government, might think it no hard bargain to gain at once local
independence and exemption from a heavy weight of taxation. The absence
of anything like a tribute to Great Britain would be an immense
advantage, for it would remove one cause of certain discontent, and
would for once place England before the Irish people at any rate in the
light of a liberal ally. Let me not be misunderstood. I do not recommend
Home Rule under any form whatever: what I do assert is that of all its
forms the Colonial form is the least injurious to British interests, and
that the experiment of placing Ireland in the situation of Victoria can
be carried out neither with fairness nor with any chance of success,
unless Englishmen let Ireland, like Victoria, be exempt from Imperial
taxation. If any English taxpayer says that the price is too high to pay
for the success of an experiment of which I do not myself recommend the
trial, I am not concerned to consider whether he is right. My only
concern is to insist that the sacrifice of three or four millions per
annum is an essential feature of this particular scheme of Home Rule,
and that persons who say the sacrifice is too great have only added one
to the many arguments which lead to the conclusion that under no form
whatever can Irish Home Rule be accepted by England.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Objection to Constitution of 1782, not faults of Irish

III. _Home Rule as the revival of Grattan's Constitution._--The cry for
Home Rule sometimes takes the form of a demand that Ireland should
reacquire the Constitution of 1782. The true answer to this demand is
not to be found where Englishmen often seek for it, in attacks on
Grattan's Parliament. That body exhibited some grave defects common to
the English Parliament of the day; it had also many faults of its own to
answer for; but it had with all its demerits virtues which still cast a
halo round its memory in the eyes of Irish patriotism, and which serve
to redeem many of its admitted faults in the judgment of impartial
history. It produced great men. Flood, Grattan, Curran, and Fitzgibbon
were none of them faultless statesmen, but they were leaders of whom any
people have a right to be proud. Grattan's Parliament, moreover, though
it represented a class, represented a class of Irishmen, and we may even
say the best class of Irishmen. It was lastly, with all its defects, a
Parliament of men who knew and belonged to Ireland, and after its
lights cared for the country. It was in a true sense a national
Parliament. When we consider further that the Parliament was abolished
against the wish of the best men in Ireland, that it was abolished by
arts which have brought lasting and just discredit on the men who
carried through the Act of Union, we can well understand why as calm and
as well-informed judges as Mr. Lecky hold to the belief--certainly in
nowise in itself unreasonable--that the Treaty of Union was, to say the
least, premature, and that England and Ireland would have gained much if
for a generation or two more the interest and repute of Ireland had been
guarded by an Irish Parliament. The argument that the Irish Parliament
because it was corrupt, or because it represented a class, was rightly
abolished, proves too much. The English Parliament under Walpole was at
least as open as the Irish Parliament in the time of Grattan to each of
these charges, yet long before legislation had removed the flagrant
anomalies of the unreformed House of Commons the English Parliament had
cast off its worst vices, and few persons will maintain that England
would have gained if during the time of Walpole Parliamentary government
had been abolished. Be this as it may, vituperation of Grattan's
Parliament is for our present purpose as irrelevant as it is unjust and

[Sidenote: True objection, restoration impossible.]

The true reason for declining to consider the demand for the
Constitution of 1782 is, that to concede it is in the strictest sense of
the word an impossibility. Grattan's Constitution not only is dead, but
can look for no resurrection. The social, the political, the religious,
we might almost say the physical conditions under which Grattan's
Parliament existed have vanished, never to return. "It cannot be too
clearly understood," writes Mr. Lecky, "that the real meaning of the
separate Irish Parliament of the eighteenth century was that the
efficient government of the country was placed in the hands of its
Protestant gentry, qualified by the fact that the English Government
possessed a sufficient number of nomination boroughs to exercise a
constant controlling influence over their proceedings. The existing
Grand Juries and the Synod of the disestablished Church are the bodies
which now represent most faithfully the independent elements in
Grattan's Parliament. That Parliament consisted exclusively of men who
were bound to the English connection by the closest ties of interest and
sentiment [and] who were pre-eminently the representatives of
property."[51] We may deplore that such a Parliament was doomed to
destruction when it might possibly have been saved by reform. But to any
one who has eyes to see it is as clear as day that with Protestant
ascendancy, with the prestige of the Established Church, with the
leading position of Irish landlords, with the submission of Irish
tenants, with the power of control exercised by the English Government,
with the necessary dependence of the English Colony upon the connection
with England, Grattan's Constitution with all its possibilities or
impossibilities has vanished for ever. You can no more restore the
Parliament of 1782 in Ireland than you can restore the unreformed
Parliament of 1832 in England. In either case to reproduce the form
would not renew the spirit, and the attempted revival of an anomaly
would turn out the creation of a monstrosity.

One consideration suggested by the memory of Grattan's Parliament is
well worth attention. With the curious laxity of thought about
constitutional changes which marks modern British statesmanship,
language is often used which implies that to ask for Grattan's
Parliament is equivalent to asking for Colonial self-government as in
Victoria. No two things are in reality more different. It is no
exaggeration to say that the Constitution of 1782 presented in its
principles the exact antithesis to the modern Constitution of Victoria.
Grattan's Constitution rested on the absolute denial of British
Parliamentary sovereignty. The keynote of his policy was the
Parliamentary independence of Ireland; its aim was to make Ireland an
independent nation connected with England only by goodwill, by common
interest, and by what has been called the "golden link" of the Crown.
The statement indeed that between the date of Irish Parliamentary
independence and the date of the Union England and Ireland were governed
under two crowns, is not much better than a piece of rhetorical
antiquarianism.[52] It is, however, undoubtedly true that from 1782 to
1800 the British Parliament had no more right to legislate for Ireland
than at the present day it has to legislate for New York, and no appeal
lay from any Irish Court to any English tribunal. But if under the
Constitution of 1782 Ireland was in one sense an independent nation, she
could not under that Constitution be called a self-governed country. The
Irish Executive was controlled by George the Third and his English
Ministers, and the passing of the Act of Union was proof, if evidence
were needed, that England possessed potent though unavowed means for
controlling the decision of the Irish Legislature. The Constitution, it
may be added, bore exactly the fruit to be expected from its anomalous
character. It stimulated national feeling; this was its saving merit. It
did not secure supremacy to the will of the Irish nation; this, as
appeared in 1800, was its fatal flaw. Compare with this the
Constitution of Victoria. The Victorian Constitution is based on
complete acknowledgment of English Parliamentary sovereignty. But the
amplest recognition of British authority is balanced by the unrestricted
enjoyment of local self-government. Hence Victoria manages her own
affairs, but Victorians are not inspired with the sense of constituting
a nation.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Gladstonian Constitution--its character.]

IV. _Home Rule under the Gladstonian Constitution_[53]--No legislative
proposal submitted to Parliament has ever received harder measure than
the Government of Ireland Bill. Its introduction aroused the keenest
political battle which during half a century has been fought in England.
The Bill therefore became at once the mark of hostile and (what is
nearly the same thing) of unfair criticism at the hands of opponents.
This was to be expected; it is the necessary result of the system which
makes tenure of office depend on success in carrying through or
resisting proposed legislation. What did take place but was not to be
expected was, that the Government of Ireland Bill met with harsh
criticism at the hands of its friends. The Opposition wished to prove
that the principle of the Bill was bad, by showing that it led to
disastrous and absurd results. They therefore directed their assaults
upon the details of a measure which they disliked in reality not because
of the special provisions which they attacked, but because of the
principle to which these provisions gave effect. Ministeralists on the
other hand were only too ready to surrender any clause in the Bill as a
matter of detail, provided only they could persuade Parliament to
sanction the principle of the measure, and thereby affirm the policy of
giving Ireland an Irish Executive and an Irish Parliament. Nor was this
course of action dictated solely by the exigencies of Parliamentary
strategy. Ministerialists saw the flaws in the Bill as plainly as did
the Opposition, and no man (it may be conjectured), from the Premier who
devised, down to the draughtsman who drew, the Government of Ireland
Bill, would have wished it to become an Act in the form in which it
stood on the 7th day of June, 1886. The supporters, moreover, of the
Government emphasized their dislike to the details of the particular
measure, because to attack a detail of the machinery by which it was
proposed to give Ireland Home Rule countenanced in the critic's own mind
the assumption that some mechanism could be invented which might carry
out the principle of creating an Irish Parliament without violating the
conditions on which alone the idea of any such measure could be
entertained by any English statesman. Opponents, in short, of the
Government of Ireland Bill attacked its details out of hostility to its
principle; its defenders tried to win approval for its principle by
conceding or insisting upon the defects of its details.[54] The result
was unfortunate. The Bill was never either by its opponents or its
friends regarded in the light in which it ought to be viewed by a
constitutional lawyer. It was never criticised as a whole; it never
therefore received full justice. Whoever examines the now celebrated
Bill in the spirit of a jurist will see that it constitutes, in spite of
many obvious blots both in its special provisions and in its language, a
most ingenious attempt to solve the problem of giving to Ireland a
legislature which shall be at once practically independent, and
theoretically dependent, upon the Parliament of Great Britain; which
shall have full power to make laws and appoint an executive for Ireland,
and yet shall not use that power in a way opposed to English interests
or sense of justice. The problem (it may be said) admits of no solution.
This may be so, and is indeed my own conviction. But this conviction
ought not to prevent the acknowledgment that the Bill is the rough
outline of an ingeniously attempted solution. If the Bill fails in
achieving its object, the failure arises not from mistakes of detail,
but from the unsoundness of the principle on which the Bill rests, and
shows that the conditions on which Englishmen can wisely give Home Rule
to Ireland are conditions which no scheme of Home Rule can satisfy. The
idea which lies at the basis of the plan sketched out in the Government
of Ireland Bill is the combination of the Federal system and the
Colonial system of Home Rule. The right mode of criticising this
combination is first to trace in the barest outline the leading features
of the Bill, treating it much as if it had become an Act, and had given
to Ireland an actual Constitution; and next to examine how far this
Constitution, which may with no unfairness be called the "Gladstonian
Constitution," satisfies the conditions which a scheme of Home Rule is
bound to fulfil.

The Gladstonian Constitution establishes a new form of government in
Ireland; it also modifies, or, to use plain and accurate language,
repeals the main provisions of the Act of Union, and thus introduces a
fundamental change into the existing Constitution of England.[55]

The following are for our present purpose its principal features.

[Sidenote: Its features as regards government of Ireland.]

As regards the government of Ireland--

The Executive Government of Ireland is vested in the Queen, but is
carried on by the Lord-Lieutenant and a Council.[56] Though the
formation and powers of the Executive are under the Constitution left
very much at large, we may fairly assume that the authors of the
Constitution intend that the Lord-Lieutenant should occupy the position
in substance of Colonial Governor, and rule Ireland through a ministry
appointed nominally by the Lord-Lieutenant, but in reality selected by
the Irish legislative body. In this manner the Irish Constitution is,
like that of Victoria, a copy of the English original.

There is created--and this, of course, is the vital provision of the
Constitution--an Irish legislature, which I shall take leave hereafter
to call by its proper name, the "Irish Parliament," consisting of the
Queen and an Irish legislative body, which we may call a House of
Parliament or a Chamber, made up itself of two orders.[57]

The Irish Parliament, subject to certain restrictions, has authority to
make or repeal any laws for the peace, order, and good government of
Ireland; it is in fact in the strictest sense what I have termed it, an
Irish Parliament. It is the body which indirectly appoints and controls
the Executive, and directly legislates for Ireland. It can repeal laws
which have been passed by the existing Parliament of the United Kingdom
in so far as they are in force in Ireland.

The powers of the Irish Parliament are, it should be noted, indefinite.
The Parliament, that is to say, may pass any law which it is not, under
the Constitution, forbidden to pass. In this respect it stands in the
position not like that of the American Congress, which can legislate
only on certain topics, which are expressly placed within the competence
of Congress, but in a position like that occupied by the Parliament of
the Canadian 1 Dominion, which can legislate on all topics not expressly
excepted from its competence. The difference between a legislature of
definite and a legislature of indefinite powers is important. In the one
case changes of circumstances may diminish but cannot increase the
authority of the legislature; in the other case changes of circumstances
may increase but cannot diminish that authority. The Irish Parliament is
a body whose authority will, from the necessity of things, tend
constantly to increase.

If the authority given to the Irish Parliament is indefinite, it is not
unlimited. A large number of exceptions and restrictions are imposed
upon its freedom of action. It is hard to point to any clear principle
on which they rest. Their object undoubtedly is to guard against
legislation about subjects such as the armed forces, the coinage, and
the like, which are of Imperial rather than of local concern. But we
can hardly say that the line between the things which the Irish
Parliament can do, and the things which it cannot do, exactly coincides
with the line which divides Imperial from local legislation. The Irish
Parliament might lawfully pass laws opposed to the whole tenour of
British legislation, such, for instance, as an Act preventing particular
classes of foreigners, or even of Englishmen, from settling in Ireland.
The Irish Parliament could not, on the other hand, pass any law for the
establishment or the endowment of religion. Hence Ireland could not, in
imitation of England and Scotland, provide herself with an established
Church, nor could she again pass any law relating to volunteers. She
could not therefore take steps for the defence of the country, which are
permissible to Victoria or Canada.

The observance of these limitations on the Parliament's power of
legislation is enforced by a twofold method: first, by the veto of the
Lord-Lieutenant;[58] secondly, by the special authority given to the
Judicial Committee of the English Privy Council.[59]

The Lord-Lieutenant can, after the manner of a Colonial Governor, refuse
the Royal assent to any bill passed by the Irish House of
Parliament.[60] It would rather appear (though this is by no means
certain) that a Bill passed by the Irish Parliament might, even though
the Lord-Lieutenant assented thereto, be like the Bill of a Colonial
legislature, disallowed by the Crown, or in effect by the English

The Judicial Committee of the English Privy Council, with the addition
of certain members, who must be, or have been, Irish Judges, exercises
under the Gladstonian Constitution a very peculiar authority in respect
of Irish legislation. It becomes both an administrative and a judicial

As an administrative body it can give a decision as to the
constitutional validity of any Bill brought before or Act passed by, the
Irish Parliament. In its judicial character it is a court of final
appeal, with exclusive power to pronounce a decision upon the validity
of an Act of the Irish Parliament whenever the validity thereof comes in
question in the course of an action.[62] The decisions of the Privy
Council are final; their twofold character as opinions and judgments
deserve special attention. The result is that the Judicial Committee of
the English Privy Council can always in one way or another pronounce
void the proposed or actual legislation of the Irish Parliament if it is
in the judgment of the Privy Council unconstitutional.

Ireland in return for the advantages gained by her under the Gladstonian
Constitution gives up the representation which she now has in each of
the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. No Irish
representative, either Peer or Commoner, sits under that Constitution at
Westminster.[63] The present Parliament of the United Kingdom under
whatever name it be described, and whatever be its powers, becomes
therefore on the withdrawal of the Irish representatives a British
Parliament, and is hereinafter termed by me, for the sake of
distinction, the British Parliament. Ireland also contributes annually
to the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom a sum of over four
millions. The Irish customs and excise are made the security for the
payment of this contribution; they are, if I understand the Government
of Ireland Bill rightly, to be collected by British officials and paid
into the British Treasury, but the details of the financial arrangements
intended to exist under the Gladstonian Constitution are not within the
scope of this work.

The Irish Parliament has no power to modify or alter the provisions of
the Constitution under which it exists,[64] except in one or two cases
provided for by the Constitution itself. The Constitution is alterable
in a particular manner therein pointed out, namely by the co-operation
of the British Parliament and the Irish Parliament. If we omit certain
complications of detail, this co-operation takes place by the Irish
representatives being summoned back, and thus added to the British
Parliament. The body thus constituted for the alteration of the
Gladstonian Constitution is formed of much the same elements as the
existing Parliament of the United Kingdom, and is hereinafter called the
Imperial Parliament.[65]

[Sidenote: As regards the English Constitution.]

As regards the Constitution of England--

The Gladstonian Constitution, as it will now be seen, does, whatever the
intention of its authors, as a matter of fact seriously affect the
Constitution of England, and this in more points than one.

_First._--The withdrawal of the Irish representation from the Parliament
of the United Kingdom constitutes in effect a new body, which in its
composition is different from the present Parliament of the United
Kingdom, and which since (allowing for changes introduced by the
different Reform Acts which have been passed during the century) it
corresponds with the Parliament of Great Britain as it existed before
the Union with Ireland, may be rightly described by the name I have
applied to it, of the British Parliament. This British Parliament has
admittedly authority to legislate on every matter which comes within the
competence neither of the Irish Parliament, nor of the body which I have
distinguished as the Imperial Parliament, which, it will be remembered,
consists of the British Parliament with the Irish representatives
summoned thereto. Whether the British Parliament has or has not any
further powers is a moot question which I purposely leave for the moment
untouched. What is admitted on all hands is that a Parliament in which
Irish representatives have no voice whatever can legislate on every
matter affecting England, Scotland, or the British Empire, and also on
the topics specially excluded from the competence of the Irish
Parliament unless they belong to the one topic, namely, the alteration
of the Gladstonian Constitution, reserved for the Imperial Parliament.

_Secondly._--The British Parliament, whatever be its theoretical
authority, will cease under the Gladstonian Constitution to pass laws
for Ireland, and will not impose any taxation on Ireland in addition to
the contribution which Ireland is compelled to pay under the

Hence, _Thirdly_,--and as a result of the various features in the
Gladstonian Constitution which have been already noted, there exist
under it three bodies with different functions which, by whatever name
they may be each called, ought to be carefully distinguished. They are--

(i.) The British Parliament at Westminster, in which sit no Irish
members, which legislates for Great Britain, and for the whole of the
British Empire, except Ireland, but which does not in general at any
rate legislate for Ireland.

(ii.) The Irish Parliament at Dublin, in which sit no British
representatives, which legislates for Ireland, but does not legislate
for England, Scotland, or for any other part of the British Empire, and
does not have any voice whatever in the general policy of the Empire.

(iii.) The Imperial Parliament also sitting at Westminster, and
comprising both the British and the Irish Parliament. This body, which
in composition corresponds nearly if not exactly with the existing
Parliament of the United Kingdom, comes together only on special
occasions and only for a special purpose, namely the revision or
alteration of the Gladstonian Constitution.

That the existence of these three bodies, each normally exercising the
different functions or powers I have attributed to them, constitutes an
unmistakable, and I should myself say a fundamental, change in the
existing English Constitution with its one sovereign Parliament of the
United Kingdom, hardly in my judgment requires or admits of proof. If
the change be denied, I have no course but to leave the decision of the
question whether such a change can be fairly ignored to the intelligence
of my readers.[66]

The Gladstonian Constitution, if it worked in the way contemplated by
its authors--if everything, that is to say, went exactly as it was
wished, and everybody acted exactly in the manner in which
constitutionally they ought to act--would provide a complicated but, as
I have already said, most ingenious solution of the problem before us.
The British Parliament would sit at Westminster undisturbed by any Irish
obstructives, and legislate for Great Britain and the whole British
Empire in accordance with the wishes of the people of England and
Scotland. Not only would Irish obstruction vanish, but what is even
better, the necessity of considering Irish questions at all would
disappear. English legislators would not be called upon to pay more
attention to the affairs of Ireland than to the affairs of Canada or of
New Zealand. The Irish Parliament would take the whole burden of
legislation for Ireland off our hands, and Irishmen if they did not like
Irish laws would have nobody to complain of but Irish legislators. But
the Irish Parliament whilst it saved England from all trouble would, if
the Constitution worked properly, give England no trouble whatever. If
Bills were proposed or Acts passed at Dublin in violation of the
Constitution they would be pronounced void by the Privy Council, and all
Ireland would at once acquiesce in the final decisions of that exalted
tribunal. If on the other hand the Irish House of Parliament were to
pass enactments which though not unconstitutional were inexpedient, then
foolish proposals would be nullified by the veto of the Lord-Lieutenant.
The contribution from Ireland would be duly collected and be paid up to
the day, since its collection would lie in the hands of British
officials; and should any difficulty arise, the collectors would be
aided by the Irish Court of Exchequer, the Judges of which would be
appointed by the English Government, and the judgments of the Court of
Exchequer could, if need were, be enforced by the British Army. This
paper federation, in short, looks as promising as paper Constitutions
generally do. It appears at first sight to combine the merits of
American Federalism and of Colonial independence. To see, however,
whether the Gladstonian Constitution gives any real promise of
fulfilling the hopes which it seems to hold out, let us examine how far
it really fulfils the conditions on which alone, as we have already
pointed out, Home Rule can possibly be accepted by the people of Great

[Sidenote: 1st Question.--Is sovereignty of Parliament preserved?]

_1st Question._--Is the Gladstonian Constitution consistent with the
sovereignty or ultimate legislative supremacy of the British

It is well to make clear to ourselves the precise meaning of this
enquiry. It is nothing else than this: Do or do not the provisions of
the Gladstonian Constitution either legally or morally impair the right
of the British Parliament when sitting at Westminster without having
summoned a single representative from Ireland to legislate (e.g. pass a
Coercion Act) for Ireland, and if need be to repeal of its own authority
all or any of the provisions of the Gladstonian Constitution, including
the very provision under which it is declared in substance that the
Constitution shall not be alterable except by the Imperial Parliament,
which consists, as already noted, of the British Parliament and the
Irish Parliament? To put the same matter in another shape, the enquiry
is whether, under the Gladstonian Constitution, the British Parliament
does or does not retain the sovereignty now admittedly possessed by the
Parliament of the United Kingdom.[68]

Let us first consider the matter as a pure question of constitutional

[Sidenote: As a question of constitutional law.]

The inquiry then is whether a Judge in England or Ireland resolved to do
his duty would or would not be bound to treat as invalid an Act passed
by the British Parliament either inconsistent with or, to put the matter
more strongly, actually repealing of such Parliament's own authority the
provisions of the Gladstonian Constitution, or in other words of the
Government of Ireland Bill, which would then, as we are assuming the
Gladstonian Constitution to be in existence, have become the Irish
Government Act.

Such a Judge would have to consider a question to which English Courts
are now quite unaccustomed as regards Acts passed by the Parliament of
the United Kingdom. The reason why they are unused to solve the
particular kind of question supposed to arise under the new Irish
Constitution is, that as the Parliament of the United Kingdom is
undoubtedly a sovereign body, the validity of its enactments is in any
British Court beyond dispute. The reason why the problem might under the
Gladstonian Constitution require an answer is, that the question might
arise whether the British Parliament were or were not a sovereign body.

Our Judge would find the question more difficult to answer than is
readily admitted by English lawyers not versed in any constitution
except their own. He would have to consider the language and effect of
the Irish Government Act in the light of certain propositions which are
now, and at the supposed passing of that Act must have been, true of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom.

These propositions may be thus stated, roughly indeed, but with
sufficient accuracy for our purpose:--

The Parliament of the United Kingdom is admittedly the sovereign of the
whole British Empire.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom because it is a sovereign body can
make laws for every part of the British Empire, and can legally make or
unmake any law, and establish, alter, or abolish any institution
(including in that term the Constitution of the Canadian Dominion or of
Victoria) existing within the limits of any country subject to the
British Crown.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom just because it is a sovereign body
cannot, whilst retaining its position as sovereign of the British
Empire, be itself bound by any Act of Parliament whatever.

To recur to an instance which is pre-eminently instructive, Parliament
conferred in 1867 upon the Dominion of Canada as large a measure of
independence as is compatible with a colony's maintaining its position
as part of the British Empire. Yet the Parliament of the United Kingdom
retains now, as ever, the indisputable legal power to change or abolish
the Constitution of the Dominion.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom, just because it is a sovereign
body, though it cannot remain a sovereign and place a legal limit on its
own powers, can, like any other sovereign, e.g. the Czar of Russia,
abdicate its sovereignty in reference to the whole, or it may be to
part of the Crown's dominions; and the Parliament of the United Kingdom
can, just because it is a sovereign body, do what is at bottom the same
thing as abdicate, namely, merge its own powers in those of another
sovereign body, or, in other words, form, or aid in forming, a new
sovereign for the British Empire.

This proposition has during the Home Rule controversy been occasionally,
in words at least, disputed or questioned by the supporters of Mr.
Gladstone's policy, and language has been used which seems to imply that
a sovereign power such as the Parliament of the United Kingdom can never
by its own act divest itself of sovereignty. I can hardly think that the
able controversialists who seem to maintain this doctrine really meant
to contend for more than the admitted principle that a sovereign cannot
while remaining a sovereign limit his sovereign powers. If, however, it
be seriously suggested that the Parliament of the United Kingdom cannot
divest itself of sovereignty, the suggestion is as a matter of argument
untenable, and this for more than one reason.

An autocrat, such as the Russian Czar, can undoubtedly abdicate; but
sovereignty, whether it be the sovereignty of the Czar or of Parliament,
is always one and the same quality. If the Czar can abdicate, so can
Parliament. The Czar again could, instead of abdicating in the ordinary
sense of the term, constitute a new sovereign body for the government of
Russia, of which he might himself be a part. Thus he may undoubtedly
give Russia a constitution like that of England, under which the Czar
and two Houses of Parliament might together become the sovereign of the
Russian State, and no constitutionalist would dream of maintaining that
the new power thus constituted was the less supreme owing to the fact
that one of its members, namely the Czar, had at one time been himself
the real sovereign of Russia. Here again what is true of the Czar is
true of Parliament. The Parliament of the United Kingdom certainly might
become a part of another sovereign body, or might join in constituting a
sovereign power supreme throughout the British Empire of which
Parliament itself did not form a part. There is nothing in the theory of
sovereignty to prevent the Parliament of the United Kingdom from forming
a constitution for the whole British Empire under which the Parliament
of the United Kingdom, the Victorian Parliament, the Parliament of the
Canadian Dominion and so forth should become simply State Parliaments,
whilst the whole British Empire was ruled by some Imperial Congress
sitting, say, either in London or in Victoria. Nor need we in this
matter have recourse to theory. The present Parliament of the United
Kingdom is itself a monument of the historical fact that sovereign
Parliaments can divest themselves of sovereignty. For the Parliament of
the United Kingdom is itself the result of the abdication of supreme
power by sovereign Parliaments. The Union with Scotland was not, as
Englishmen often, I suspect, fancy, the absorption of the Parliament of
Scotland in the Parliament of England. The transaction bears, when
carefully looked at, a quite different character. Up to the year 1707
there existed an English Parliament sovereign in England, and there
existed a Scotch Parliament sovereign in Scotland. These two sovereign
bodies in negotiating the Treaty of Union acted with scrupulous, and on
the Scotch side with punctilious, independence. Neither sovereign body
would consent to be absorbed in the other. What they did agree to was to
constitute a new State, namely, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and
each to surrender their separate sovereignty in favour of a new
sovereign, namely, the sovereign Parliament of the United Kingdom. The
English Parliament no more became supreme in Scotland than the Scotch
Parliament became supreme in England. The old Parliament of each country
abdicated and lost its identity in the New Parliament of Great Britain.
In theory the Treaty of Union between Great Britain and Ireland bore
exactly the same character as the Treaty of Union between England and
Scotland. But on this point I do not care strongly to insist, because at
the present moment every part of Irish history excites controversy.
When, however, the excitement of the day has passed by, no one will
dispute that 22 Geo. III. c. 53 and 23 Geo. III. c. 28 constituted the
renunciation by the British Parliament of sovereignty over Ireland. The
difference between the limitation of sovereignty and the surrender of
sovereignty has been pressed far enough for my present purpose; no
principle of jurisprudence is more certain than that sovereignty
implies the power of abdication, and no fact of history is more certain
than that a sovereign Parliament has more than once abdicated or shared
its powers. To argue or imply that because sovereignty is not limitable
(which is true), it cannot be surrendered (which is palpably untrue) is
to confuse together two distinct ideas, and is like arguing that because
no man can while he lives give up, do what he will, his freedom of
volition, therefore no man can commit suicide.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom, further, whilst because it is a
sovereign body it cannot impose any legal limit to the exercise of its
own power, may so express an intention to use or not to use its power in
a particular way as to excite expectations which it will be extremely
difficult or hazardous to disappoint, and so may find itself morally
fettered as to its subsequent legislative action.

A notorious instance, taken from our constitutional history, illustrates
this proposition. The statute 18 Geo. III. c. 12 declares in substance
that Parliament will not impose any tax on any colony in North America
or in the West Indies. The history of the statute is told by its
date--1778. Now no constitutional lawyer will contend that the
Parliament of the United Kingdom is legally bound by this Act. If
Parliament were to impose an income tax on Jamaica to-morrow the impost
would be legal, and could, no doubt, be enforced. But the Declaratory
Act of 1778 makes it morally impossible for Parliament to tax any
colony. That the impossibility does not arise from a law is clear,
because it applies with as much strength to colonies which do not fall
as to colonies which do fall within the terms of 18 Geo. III. c. 12.
Victoria is not a colony in North America or in the West Indies, but
Victoria is at least as well protected from Imperial taxation as is
Barbadoes. The so-called Act establishes not a rule of law, but a
precept of constitutional morality. It does not theoretically limit, but
it practically impedes and interferes with the legislative sovereignty
of Parliament.

Our Judge with these propositions fully before his mind would scan the
terms of the Gladstonian Constitution, or in other words of the Irish
Government Act. He would certainly come to the conclusion that the point
for his decision was one of great nicety. Against the validity of any
Act passed by the British Parliament in contravention of the provisions
of the Constitution could be adduced the precise and formal enactment,
passed, be it noted, by the undoubtedly sovereign Parliament of the
United Kingdom, that the Constitution should be alterable in one way,
and in one way only;[69] and if it were said that the body which passed
this enactment could also repeal it, then the Judge might consider that
that body, namely the Parliament of the United Kingdom, had in effect
ceased to exist, and that the successor to its sovereign powers, if any,
was not the British Parliament, but the Imperial Parliament, the body
which, under any view, had legal authority to alter the Constitution.
No doubt there would be a great deal to be urged on the other side. The
attention of the Judge would be called to the singular and ambiguous use
throughout the Constitution of the term Imperial Parliament, which it
might be argued was meant to show that what I have called the British
Parliament was to be identified with the Parliament of the United
Kingdom. Reference would also be made to the ambiguous saving of powers
contained in the 37th section of the Irish Government Act. The high and
all-important enquiry as to the authority of the British Parliament
sitting at Westminster would come to turn upon the studied ambiguities
of one ill-drawn section of an Act of Parliament. There the legal
question of the sovereignty of the British Parliament under the
Gladstonian Constitution may well be left. It is not within the scope of
this work to deal with the draughtsmanship of the Government of Ireland
Bill. It is easy to anticipate what would be the practical result of
that Bill's ambiguities if it passed into an Act. Irish Judges would
honestly take one view, English Judges would as honestly take another.
The Courts of Ireland would maintain that the Constitution could be
altered only in the method provided by the Constitution, namely, by the
Imperial Parliament. The English Courts would maintain that the
Constitution could also be altered by the British Parliament, which was
itself the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and possessed the
sovereignty inherent in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. No Court
in either country could satisfactorily terminate the dispute. Force
would no doubt settle what law had left undecided, but to interpret a
Constitution by power of arms is in reality to substitute revolutionary
violence for constitutional discussion.[70]

Let us next consider the matter before us, not as a question of
constitutional law, but as a question of public morality.

[Sidenote: As question of public morality.]

The enquiry then is whether under the Gladstonian Constitution the
legislative supremacy of the British Parliament is or is not morally and
in fact impaired? It is extremely difficult to see how any candid person
can answer this question except by the admission that for all practical
purposes, and except on possible but very extreme occasions, the right
of the British Parliament to legislate for Ireland is morally not only
impaired but destroyed. The supporters of the Government of Ireland Bill
have admitted again and again that it constitutes what they term a
Parliamentary compact; it embodies, in other words, a solemn contract
between Great Britain and the people of Ireland that the British
Parliament, whatever be its legal power, shall not legislate about Irish
affairs without summoning Irish representatives to share in its
deliberations. This covenant is made for great and valuable
consideration, namely, the withdrawal of the Irish representatives from
the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and the consequent acquisition by
the British Parliament of power to legislate not only on every British
but on every Imperial concern without consulting the wishes of the Irish
people. This is in a moral point of view little less than a treaty; it
is an engagement which England could not break, or incur the imputation
of breaking, without dishonour. With all this every man of sense and of
honour agrees; but if this be so, it is impossible to see how any one
can maintain that this Parliamentary compact does not morally impair, as
far as Ireland is concerned, the sovereignty or legislative supremacy of
the British Parliament. It may be doubted whether the most earnest
Gladstonian really and seriously maintains that under the Gladstonian
Constitution the British Parliament sitting at Westminster could or ever
would legislate for Ireland in contravention at any rate of the patent
and apparent meaning of the Constitution. All that is really maintained
is that the British Parliament would retain a legal power of doing that
which would never be done by it. There is, however, it is suggested,
convenience in retaining a nominal sovereignty which is not intended for
real use. Convenience there may be, but there is also immense danger.
The Irish Parliament we will suppose acts in a way which is most
annoying to England, but the Irish Parliament at the same time takes
care not to violate a line of the Constitution. The temptation to use
our sovereign authority is great, and likely enough may prove
irresistible; yet if we use it every Irishman, and many Englishmen for
that matter, will accuse England of bad faith. No doubt a breach of the
Constitution by the Irish Parliament might be remedied by the use of the
sovereignty reserved to the British Parliament. But it is difficult even
then to see the great advantage of this reservation. In any case in
which England would be morally justified in setting aside the terms of
the high Parliamentary contract, she would be equally justified in
suspending the Constitution by the use of force. The employment of power
becomes the more not the less odious because it is allied, or seems to
be allied, with fraud. The miserable tale of the transactions which
carried the Treaty of Union teaches at least one indisputable
lesson--the due observance of legal formalities will not induce a people
to pardon what they deem to be acts of tyranny, made all the more
hateful by their combination with deceit. For the British Parliament to
renounce the exercise whilst retaining the name of sovereignty is the
very course by which to run a great risk of damaging the character
without any certainty of increasing the power of Parliament.

The plain answer then to the enquiry on which we have been engaged is

Under the Gladstonian Constitution, as foreshadowed in the Government of
Ireland Bill, the sovereignty of the British Parliament is legally
rendered doubtful, and is morally reduced to nothing.

[Sidenote: Does Constitution secure justice?]

_2nd Question._--Does the Gladstonian Constitution secure justice?

The justice which the Constitution ought to secure is twofold--justice
to Great Britain, and justice to all classes, including minorities, of

The just claims of Great Britain may roughly be summed up under the one
claim, that Ireland should contribute her fair share to Imperial

The Gladstonian Constitution, nominally at least, makes fair provision
that this claim should be satisfied. But any one who looks into the
matter with care will find reason to think that as regards the exaction
of payments from Ireland, which are already known by the hateful name of
"tribute," Great Britain will find herself involved in this dilemma.
Either she must surrender the tribute, or else surrender all hope of
attaining the main object for the sake of which it is proposed to grant
Home Rule to Ireland. If the tribute is exacted, we may be sure that it
will have to be exacted in the long run by British officials supported
by a British army. Laws, we are told, which are otherwise just are hated
in Ireland because they bear a foreign aspect, and come before the Irish
people in a foreign garb. If this assertion be not true, then the whole
case for Home Rule falls to the ground. If this assertion possess even
partial truth, then it applies with far greater force to tribute than
to law. It is almost an absurdity to suppose that people who hate good
laws because they may be termed English will not detest a heavy tax
which not only may be called, but in reality is, a tribute to England.
It is well to remember that a "publican" was a tax-gatherer, and that
Roman publicans were far more hated than Roman Judges or Roman law. If
England gives Ireland semi-independence, and at the same time makes
Ireland pay tribute, all the conciliatory effects of Home Rule will be
lost. If Home Rule is to have even a bare chance of producing in Ireland
the contentment of Victoria, Ireland, the poorest of all civilized
countries, must be freed from Imperial taxation, which would not be
tolerated by the richest of our colonies. To this conclusion the
advocates and the opponents of Home Rule may, I think, both come without
grave dissatisfaction. Of all the sacrifices by which Ireland might be
benefited, that sacrifice which England should make with the least
regret is sacrifice of revenue. If, however, it be assumed, as the
supporters of the Government of Ireland Bill must assume, that justice
requires the contribution by Ireland of three or four millions annually
to Imperial expenditure, then the Gladstonian Constitution, if it
provides for the satisfaction of the claims of Great Britain, does so at
the cost of keeping alive Irish discontent. Nor is it at all certain
that the payment of the tribute could in effect be easily secured. The
practical working of the Constitution might well be that Great Britain
were impoverished and Ireland were angered.

Justice to individuals and to unpopular minorities is a matter of far
greater importance and far more difficult to secure than the regular
payment of Ireland's contribution to Imperial expenditure.

The Gladstonian Constitution ought to provide securities against
executive and legislative oppression.

To provide however against the possible oppression of classes or
individuals by an Irish Ministry and Irish officials is all but an
impossibility, though, as every one knows, the grossest oppression may
in any country arise from the wrongful action or inaction of the
executive power. The assumption, indeed, is constantly made, though its
truth is very hard to prove, that if Ireland were self-governed the law
of the land would be enforced. In one sense this assumption may perhaps
be well founded. A strong government, or, to put matters plainly, a
popular despotism when installed in office at Dublin would, it may be
suspected, stringently compel obedience to such laws as the Government
approved. The Jacobin Club was no friend to anarchy when anarchy meant
defiance of the mandates issued by the Club. But the energy of a strong
Government in carrying out laws which it approves is a different matter
from the zealous maintenance of even-handed justice. An Irish executive
will immediately on coming into existence be called upon to deal with
cases which will severely test its sense of justice. Landlords cannot
at once be banished like vermin from Ireland; landlords, as long as
they exist, must, I presume, have some rights. Is there any security
under the Gladstonian Constitution, that the rights--rights, be it
remembered, of British subjects, which ought to be neither more nor less
sacred than the rights of a British subject in London or Calcutta--will
be protected by an executive of Land Leaguers? There is, I answer, none
whatever. To distrust the justice of an Irish Government is not, be it
remarked, to show any special distrust of Irish nature. The Irish
leaders are of necessity revolutionists, and, it must be added,
revolutionists of no high character. Revolutionists on accession to
power do not lay aside the revolutionary temperament, and this
temperament may have every other virtue, but it knows nothing of the
virtue of justice. The Gladstonian Constitution withdraws Ireland from
the control of the Government of the United Kingdom, which with all its
faults must of necessity possess more impartiality than can a Ministry
formed out of the leaders of any Irish faction. The Gladstonian
Constitution therefore does leave unpopular classes or individuals
exposed to considerable risks of injustice at the hands of the Irish

[Sidenote: Methods for securing just government.]

Though it is from the nature of things almost impossible to take
effective steps for ensuring that an Irish executive shall make a right
use of its powers, it is an essential feature of the Gladstonian
Constitution that the Irish Parliament shall so far at least use its
authority justly as to keep within the limits placed upon its
competence. Whether these limitations have been wisely drawn, and
whether they may not be in some respects too wide and in others too
narrow, are inquiries which, though important in themselves, need hardly
detain us. The question in comparison with which all matters of detail
sink into insignificance is not what are the limitations which the
Constitution imposes on the competence of the Irish Parliament, but what
is the efficacity of the means provided by the Constitution for
compelling the Irish Parliament to respect these limitations? This is
the one vital inquiry, for upon the answer to it depends the reality of
the constitutional provisions for the maintenance of just legislation.
These methods are, as already pointed out, twofold.

[Sidenote: 1. Veto of Lord-Lieutenant.]

The first is the veto of the Lord-Lieutenant. Let us assume, though the
truth of the assumption is not quite clear, that this veto is combined,
as in the case of the colonies, with a further power of disallowance on
the part of the Crown, or in effect of the British Ministry. The result
is that the British Ministry, or, to put the thing plainly, the British
House of Commons, can put a check on such Irish legislation as may be
opposed to the letter or to the spirit of the Constitution. The check is
in one sense real, but it must, as in the case of the colonies, be but
rarely employed. Its constant use, or its use on occasions of great
importance, would seem to Irishmen, and with good reason, to nullify
the concession of Home Rule. Suppose, for example, the Irish Ministry
carry a measure for artificially stimulating Irish commerce, and the
Crown disallows it on the ground that it is contrary to the provision of
the Constitution forbidding the Irish Parliament to make any law
relating to trade. The Irish Cabinet thereupon resigns. What course is
the Lord-Lieutenant to take? If he uses the veto he reintroduces in the
most awkward form the interference of the British Parliament with Irish
legislation. If he does not use the veto, or, what is in its effect the
same thing, if the Act is not disallowed, then the right of veto comes
to little or nothing. We may be quite sure that in general neither the
Lord-Lieutenant nor the Crown will refuse assent to Bills approved of by
the Irish Parliament. The veto in its different forms will, in short, be
but a very slight check on unconstitutional or unjust legislation.

[Sidenote: 2. Action of Privy Council.]

The second method by which it is endeavoured to check unconstitutional
legislation is the use of the authority vested in the English Privy
Council. Privy This method is borrowed from Federalism, as the
Lord-Lieutenant's veto is borrowed from the Colonial system. The Privy
Council, it should be remembered, may nullify the effect of Irish
legislation in two ways:--It may as an administrative body give a
decision that a Bill or Act is void. It must, however, be hoped and
expected that the Privy Council will rarely adopt this mode of
exercising its powers, for such exercise would at once give rise to a
direct conflict between the Irish Parliament and the English Privy
Council. That body may, however, act simply as a Court of final appeal,
and as a tribunal decide whether an enactment Of the Irish Parliament is
or is not void. This, we may suppose, is the mode in which the Privy
Council will usually put forth its authority. It is easy, bearing the
experience of America and Canada in mind, to see how the whole
arrangement will, in theory at least, work. _A._ sues _X._ in an Irish
Court, _X._ bases his defence on some Act passed by the Irish
Parliament. The Privy Council pronounce the Act void, as being opposed
to some provision of the Constitution, and give a judgment in favour of
_A._, under which he has a right to recover £10,000 against _X._ Here it
will be said the whole matter is settled. The law was unconstitutional;
the law has been treated as void; _A._ has obtained judgment; _A.'s_
rights are secured. This would be all that was required, but for one
consideration. The object of the plaintiff in an action is to obtain not
judgment, but payment or execution. What are the means by which
judgments of the Privy Council may be put in force where they happen not
to be supported by Irish opinion, and are opposed, it may be, to the
decisions of the Irish Courts? The answer is simple: the Constitution
provides no means whatever. The Federal tribunals of America possess in
every State officials of their own, and are supported in the main by
American opinion. The Americans are, moreover, to use their own
expression, "a law-abiding people." Yet for all this the judgment of
the Supreme Court may be worth little if it runs across State sentiment,
and if the President should happen to sympathise with State rights. A
citizen of colour was unlawfully imprisoned in Georgia; he applied for a
habeas corpus. The application ultimately came before Chief Justice
Marshall, and the writ was granted. The traditional comment of President
Jackson is noteworthy: "John Marshall has given his judgment, let him
enforce it if he can." The Executive would not assist the Court, and the
Supreme Court was powerless. Switzerland, again, has a Federal tribunal:
it is a Court, as would be the Privy Council, which cannot command
officials of its own to execute its process; it depends for aid on the
Cantonal authorities. This state of things, I am told on good authority,
produces its natural result. The judgments of the Federal tribunal can
be rendered almost ineffective by the opposition of a Canton.

At this moment the statutes of the Imperial Parliament bind every man
throughout the United Kingdom. The Courts in Ireland are bound to give
effect to every statute, and the Irish Courts are supported by the
Sheriff and his officers, and in the last resort by the power of the
United Kingdom. Yet the very difficulty of the day is enforcing
judgments which run against Irish popular opinion. Is it common sense to
imagine that opposition which defies, often with success, the authority
of the Irish Queen's Bench Division, or ultimately of the House of
Lords, would not easily nullify the judgments of the Privy Council when
not only unpopular in Ireland, but in contradiction to a law devised by
the Irish Executive, passed by the Irish Parliament, supported by the
Irish Judges? The truth must be spoken: the Gladstonian Constitution
will, as regards the restrictions placed under it on the powers of the
Irish Parliament, inevitably turn out a mere paper Constitution. The
methods for compelling the observance of these limitations have neither
of them any real efficacity. The veto can with difficulty and but rarely
be used; the judgments or opinions of the Privy Council may have a
speculative interest, but will possess no coercive power.

If this be so the guarantees afforded by the Constitution for just
legislation are nugatory; they are worth neither more nor less than the
pompous securities for every kind of inalienable right which have
adorned the most splendid and the most transitory among the
Constitutions which have during a century been in turn created and
destroyed in France--that is, they are worth nothing; nor is it unfair
to conjecture that on this point my opinion agrees with the opinion of
many English Home Rulers. They think the limitations on the independence
of the Irish Parliament useless and destined to disappear; for their
avowed belief is that legislation by an Irish Parliament will in the
main be just, and that the laws of the Irish Parliament, because they
represent the wishes of the Irish people, will obtain easy obedience in
Ireland. If this conviction be sound--and it is the almost necessary
basis for a policy of Home Rule--let us act upon it, and not impose
restrictions which, if needless, must certainly be noxious. Meanwhile in
any case let us dismiss the delusion that restrictions which cannot be
enforced are any guarantee for justice. The Gladstonian Constitution
admits on the face of it that guarantees are wanted. Most Englishmen
agree in the opinion implied in this admission. But if I am right in
asserting that the guarantees for justice are illusory, then the
Gladstonian Constitution does not secure justice, and is therefore not

[Sidenote: Does Constitution possess finality?]

_3rd Question_.--Does the Gladstonian Constitution hold out fair hopes
of finality?

This is an enquiry which may be answered with some confidence.

To any one who surveys the Constitution, not as a politician, but as a
legist; to any one moderately versed in the study of comparative
constitutionalism, few statements which savour of prediction will appear
more certain than the assertion that the Gladstonian Constitution cannot
be a final or even a lasting settlement of the constitutional relations
between England and Ireland.

The grounds of this opinion are, briefly, that the proposed Constitution
will, while leaving alive elements of discord, cause disappointment and
inconvenience to both countries, and that the mechanism of the
Constitution, framed as it is upon a combination of Federalism and of
Colonialism, has some of the defects of each system, and promises in
its working to produce something like the maximum of irritation and

The two grounds for believing that the Gladstonian Constitution bears no
promise of finality run into one another, but they admit of separate
examination, and each requires explanation or justification.

[Sidenote: Constitution will cause disappointment to England.]

The Constitution will cause disappointment and inconvenience both to
England and to Ireland, Englishmen will on the Gladstonian Constitution
coming into operation find to their great disappointment that they have
not attained the object which from an English point of view was the
principal inducement to grant Home Rule to the Irish people, that is,
freedom from the difficulty of governing Ireland. The difficulty no
doubt will be diminished, or rather shifted; but the dream is vain that
under the new Constitution Englishmen would be able to trouble
themselves no more about the concerns of Ireland than they do about the
affairs of Canada. Ireland would still be our immediate neighbour.
Irishmen would still be divided by differences of class and religion,
and England would still, disguise the fact as you may, be ultimately
responsible for good government in Ireland. Home Rule is not Separation,
and nothing short of Irish independence would greatly lessen English
responsibility. This would be true under whatever form Home Rule were
established, but it is emphatically true of Home Rule under the
particular form contemplated by the Gladstonian Constitution. The army
in Ireland--and no one supposes that England can withdraw her soldiers
from the country--will be the British Army under the control of the
British Government. But the power of the sword is, though we often
forget the fact, the sanction by which law is maintained. Hence it
follows that the British Ministry remains at bottom responsible for the
maintenance of peace and order throughout Ireland. Note the results. If
there are riots at Belfast; if unpopular officials are assassinated in
Dublin; if evictions give rise to murder in Kerry, the British Army must
in the last resort be called in to restore peace or punish crime. If the
army are not under the control of the Irish Executive, then the English
Cabinet become directly responsible for the government of Ireland. If
British soldiers are placed at the disposal of the Irish Ministry, still
the English Government must, shift the thing as you will, share the
responsibility of the Irish Cabinet. During a riot at Belfast a hundred
Protestants or Catholics are shot by British soldiers whilst restoring
order. If any one fancies that such slaughter can take place without the
English Ministry being called upon in the British Parliament for
explanation and defence, he shows utter ignorance of English, or indeed
of human nature. Nor is it for the action only of the troops that the
English Executive will incur liability. If British subjects are killed
by a mob in Belfast or in Dublin whilst British troops stand quietly by
and under the direction of an Irish Home Secretary take no steps to
prevent murder, we may rest assured that the Queen's Government in
England will be asked whether it is decent that the Queen's forces
should be trained to stand as indifferent spectators of outrageous
breaches of the Queen's peace.

Take again the question of pardoning crime. Suppose that the first Irish
Ministry on their accession to power propose to inaugurate the new era
by a free pardon of all the political offenders, dynamiters and others,
whose misguided zeal placed them within the gripe of the law, but also
in no small measure contributed to achieve the Parliamentary
independence of Ireland. If the request is not granted, then the Irish
Administration are refused the means of carrying on the government of
the country after their own notions of sound polity. If the request is
granted, can the English Government be held entirely irresponsible for
the mode in which the Crown exercises its prerogative? Let it be settled
that the prerogative of mercy must in Ireland be exercised in accordance
with the wishes of the Irish Ministry. Even then the English Government
will not really escape responsibility. British soldiers put down a riot
at Belfast; they are indicted for the murder of a Catholic rioter,
before a Catholic grand jury, convicted by a Catholic jury under the
direction of a Catholic judge who has just been appointed by the new
Irish Ministry. Popular opinion demands the execution of the convicted
murderers, the Irish Ministry advise that the law should take its
course. The general belief in England, shared we will suppose by the
English Home Office, is that the convicted soldiers are about to be
capitally punished for having simply discharged their duty. Is an
English Minister to abstain from advising a pardon? The dilemma is
difficult. If he recommends a pardon, the Irish Government are prevented
by England from governing Ireland. If the soldiers are hanged, the
English Ministry will not keep long in office, the British Army will
hardly maintain its habit of absolute obedience to the civil power.

Englishmen, in the next place, will soon discover that the creation of a
statutory constitution for Ireland curiously hampers the working of our
own institutions. Questions must arise whether Acts of the British
Parliament do or do not trench upon the provisions of the Irish
Constitution. Few persons are aware of the number of Imperial Acts which
touch the Colonies. To such statutes there is no legal or moral
objection, because the principle embodied in the Colonial Laws Act,
1865, that enactments passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom
override any Colonial law with which they conflict, is universally
admitted; but, as already pointed out, it is questionable as a matter of
law whether the statutes of the British Parliament can repeal Acts duly
passed by the Irish Parliament, and it is quite beyond question that for
the British Parliament to infringe upon the province of the Irish
legislature would involve a breach of good faith. Changes again in the
formation of the British Parliament might under the Gladstonian
Constitution become difficult. The abolition of the House of Lords would
be hard to reconcile with the right of the Irish Peers to be summoned on
occasion to the Imperial Parliament. An increase in the number of
British representatives in the House of Commons would be objected to by
Irishmen because it diminished the relative importance of the members
from Ireland when recalled to take part in the deliberations of the
Imperial Parliament. The reduction of the number of members of the House
of Commons, though one of the most salutary reforms which could be
carried out, would be opposed by every person interested in maintaining
the present excessive number of the Lower House, on the ground that to
reduce the numbers of the House of Commons, to say 400, would involve an
increase in the authority of the Irish members whenever they reappeared
on the scene. The moot question whether the British Parliament could on
an emergency repeal of its own authority the articles of the Irish
Constitution; the extent to which Ireland should be represented on the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; above all, the vital question
whether the reassembled Imperial Parliament were not the true
representative of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and the ultimate
sovereign power in the State, would in periods of excitement give rise
to disputes hitherto quite alien to English politics, and involving
elements of unknown danger.

Ambiguity and obscurity, since they help to pass Bills, are in the
judgment of Parliamentary draughtsmen and Parliamentary statesmen
characteristics which promote the easy working of Acts. Knives which are
made to sell are not knives which are made to cut. No delusion is more
dangerous. The founders of the American Union knew their own minds, and
were not well acquainted with the advantages to be derived from the
obscurities of modern draughtsmanship. But on two points they tried the
experiment of keeping real perils out of sight by omitting to refer to
them. "Slave" and "slavery" are words not to be found in the
Constitution of the United States. What (if any) was the right of a
State to retire from the Union, was a matter purposely left open for the
interpretation of future generations. The Abolition movement, the
Fugitive Slave Law, the War of Secession tell the result of trying to
ignore perils or problems which it is not easy to face or to solve.

[Sidenote: And to Ireland.]

The last disappointment of Englishmen would be to find that Home Rule
had not satisfied Ireland. For to Irishmen no less than to Englishmen
the Constitution must bring disappointment and inconvenience.

That the Gladstonian Constitution cannot satisfy Ireland is all but

To say this is not to imply that its acceptance by Irish Home Rulers is
dishonest. In their eyes it is a move in the right direction; they
exaggerate, as their English allies underrate, the freedom of action
which the Constitution offers to Ireland. It cannot, as already pointed
out, by any possibility remove the admitted causes of Irish discontent.
It cannot tempt capital towards Ireland, but it may easily drive capital
away from her shores; it cannot diminish poverty; it cannot in its
direct effect assuage religious bigotry; it cannot of itself remove
agrarian discontent. The Land Purchase Bill, even when discarded,
remains an involuntary exposure of the futility of the Gladstonian
Constitution, and of the unsoundness of the principle on which the
demand for Home Rule rests. No friend of Italy ever suggested that
Italian independence should be accompanied by a loan from Austria to the
Italian Kingdom. For the principle of nationality was the true source of
Italian disaffection. If in dealing with Ireland we must calm agrarian
misery before satisfying national aspirations, this necessity is all but
a confession that Irish unrest is due far more to desire for a change in
the land laws than to passionate longing for national independence. I do
not doubt that the spirit of nationality has some, though probably a
small, part in the production of Irish discontent. But the Gladstonian
Constitution is unfortunately so devised as to outrage quite as much as
it soothes national sentiment. The tribute will affect every Irishman in
his pride no less than in his purse. Can any one suppose that
Northerners indignant at recent treachery, and Catholics mindful of
ancient oppression, will not join, and justly join, in denouncing as at
once ignominious and ruinous the payment of a tribute raised for
Imperial purposes at the moment when Ireland ceases to have any voice in
the direction of Imperial policy? Irishmen again will find to their
surprise that the Constitution intended to give them independence
imposes annoying fetters on their freedom of action. They wish for a
protective tariff, and they come across the prohibition to make laws
affecting trade; they desire that the country shall defend herself, and
they discover that they cannot raise even a body of volunteers; they
wish to try the plan of concurrent endowment, and they are thwarted by
the article of the Constitution prohibiting the endowment of religion.
These restrictions are the more annoying because none of them are
imposed upon the Colonies. Irishmen will further discover that great
achievements of constructive legislation require for their success the
command of large pecuniary resources, and that exemption from British
control involves the withdrawal of all assistance from the British

[Sidenote: Constitution will cause friction.]

The Constitution will produce irritation and friction.

Every scheme for uniting into a political whole States which are
intended to retain, even when connected together, a certain amount of
independence, aims at minimising the opportunities for constitutional
collision, or for friction between the different States which are
connected together, and also between any State and the Central power.
If we compare the mode in which this end is attained, either under the
Federal system or under the Colonial system, with the arrangements of
the Gladstonian Constitution, we shall easily see how little its authors
have attended to the necessity for avoiding occasions of constitutional

Where Federalism, as in America, appears in its best form, the skill
with which opportunities for collision or friction have been minimised
is almost above praise. The Federal or Central power is so constructed
as to represent the whole nation; its authority cannot by any
misrepresentation be identified with the power of one State more than
another. The Federal Government acts through its own officers, is
represented by its own Judiciary, and levies its own taxes without
recourse to State authorities. Every device which could be thought of
has been taken to make it unnecessary for the National Government to
come into direct collision with any State. It deals in general with the
individual citizens of the United States; it does not deal with the
particular States. The result is that on the one hand, whatever may be
said against the taxes imposed by Congress, they cannot by any stretch
of imagination be looked upon as tribute paid by one State to another,
say by Massachusetts to New York, or by New York to Massachusetts. It is
again unnecessary for the Federal Government to issue commands to a
State. There is, therefore, little opportunity for a contest between a
State and the National Executive. Whoever wishes to understand the
elaborate devices necessary to make Federalism work smoothly should
compare the clumsiness of the arrangements by which the Swiss
Confederacy has at times been compelled to enforce obedience of the
Cantons to the will of the Confederation, with the ingenuity of the
methods by which the Federal authorities of the United States exert
their authority over American citizens.

The English Colonial system on the other hand, though far less elaborate
than any form of Federalism, does, as a matter of fact, reduce within
very narrow limits the chances of collision between England and her
colonies. The system, however, succeeds, not because it is a model of
constructive art, but because it attempts very little, and can, owing to
favourable circumstances, leave to nominal dependencies something little
short of complete self-government. Where collisions do arise they are
disposed of by the habit of the Imperial Government always to give way.

The Gladstonian Constitution is, as we have already pointed out, a
combination between Federalism and Colonialism; it may possess some of
the merits, but it much more certainly displays some of the demerits of
each system. From Federalism is borrowed the idea of leaving the
settlement of constitutional questions to a Court. But the conception is
spoilt in the borrowing. All the difficulties which under a Federal
system beset the enforcement of judgments pronounced by a Federal Court
affect in an aggravated form the attempt to enforce in Ireland
judgments affecting the validity of Irish Acts, which judgments are
pronounced by a Committee of the English Privy Council sitting in
England. The Privy Council, moreover, while it has every weakness of the
Supreme Court of America, has more than one special weakness of its own.
It lacks moral authority, for it is an English Court sitting in England
and representing English opinion; it lacks jurisdiction, because while
it can pronounce on the validity of Irish, it cannot pronounce on the
validity of British Acts of Parliament; it does not possess a strictly
judicial character, because it is not only a Court called upon to give
judgments, but is also an administrative body called upon to deliver
opinions upon the validity of Irish Bills and of Irish Acts. Hence its
decrees come into direct collision with the proposals or enactments of
the Irish Parliament, and the Privy Council is made to appear not as a
body of Judges deciding cases between man and man, but as a body of
officials whose duty it is to oppose any unconstitutional action on the
part of the Irish Parliament. From Federalism again is borrowed the
contribution by Ireland towards meeting the expenses of the Empire. But
imposts which under a Federal system are a tax towards the payment of
common expenditure are under the Gladstonian Constitution a tribute to a
foreign power. From the Federal system again is taken that restriction
of legislative authority which hardly affects Parliaments such as that
of Victoria, and which under any circumstances is a source of
irritation. From the Colonial system, on the other hand, is derived the
theoretical supremacy of the British Parliament, the right of veto, and
the fatal dependence of the Irish executive on every vote of the Irish
legislature. From the colonies we therefore bring to Ireland sources of
dispute, of friction, and of irritation, which are unknown to a true
system of Federalism, whilst we do not give Ireland that practical
independence, and that immunity from taxation, which prevent our
ill-arranged connection with the colonies from causing real
dissatisfaction. Federalism has its merits and its defects; English
Colonialism works well enough; the sham Federalism and the sham
Colonialism of the Gladstonian Constitution must create between Great
Britain and Ireland all the causes of discontent which have from time to
time tried the strength of the American Union, and all the causes of
disturbance which from time to time reveal the weakness of the tie which
binds together our Colonial Empire.

Among the hypothetical virtues of the Gladstonian Constitution cannot
assuredly be numbered the merit of finality.

The Gladstonian Constitution therefore fails entirely to fulfil for any
practical purpose the conditions it is meant to satisfy. It neither
maintains the sovereignty of Parliament, nor makes adequate securities
for justice, nor offers a prospect of finality.

A criticism of Home Rule in its four forms gives then this result:--

[Sidenote: Result of criticism. 1. Home Rule as Federalism.]

Home Rule as Federalism means the immediate dislocation and the ultimate
rebuilding of the whole English Constitution; it involves the
transformation of an old and tried polity which centuries of experience
have admirably adapted to the wants of the English people, and which has
fostered the growth of the British Empire, into a form of government in
itself not free from defects, and successful where it has succeeded only
under conditions which the United Kingdom does not present.

[Sidenote: 2. Home Rule as Colonial independence.]

Home Rule in the form of Colonial independence involves far less change
in the institutions of Great Britain or in the complex arrangements of
the British Empire than does Federalism. It appears at first sight to be
an application to Ireland of institutions which, as they have been found
to answer their purpose in such countries as Canada and Victoria, may
also prove successful in Ireland. The appearance is delusive. The true
reasons why the Colonial system, self-contradictory as it is in theory
and unsatisfactory as it sometimes is in practice, has produced harmony
between England and her dependencies, are that the colonies are far
distant and are prosperous, that they feel pride in their relation to
the mother-country, that whilst contributing not a penny towards meeting
Imperial burdens they derive valuable and valued benefits from the
connection with the Empire, and lastly that they are not in reality
dependencies; the colonies willingly acquiesce in the supremacy of
England, because England protects them gratis and does not govern them
at all. It is not the Colonial system, but the conditions which make
that system succeed, which ought to engross our attention. These
conditions will not be found in any arrangement whatever between England
and Ireland. It is in the strictest sense impossible that Ireland whilst
forming part of the United Kingdom, or even of the British Empire,
should enjoy or endure the independence of Victoria. If the Act which
gives Victoria her constitution were reenacted with the necessary verbal
changes for Ireland, the constitution which satisfies the Victorians
would not satisfy the Irish, and for a good reason: the form would be
the same, but the effect would be different. A suffering and
discontented people will not accept words for facts.

One condition indeed, which more perhaps than any other ensures the
success of our Colonial system, Great Britain has in the case of Ireland
the power to reproduce. Immunity from Imperial taxation is one source of
Colonial loyalty to the Empire. If Ireland is to accept or to receive
the mixed independence and subordination of a colony, she ought to enjoy
the substantial advantage of a theoretically inferior position. The
Colonial system, as I have already insisted, involves the renunciation
of Imperial taxation.

[Sidenote: 3. Home Rule as Constitution of 1782.]

Home Rule as the revival of Grattan's Constitution is an impossibility.
The Constitution of 1782 belongs to a past age, and cannot by any
miracle of political art be at the present day restored to life.

[Sidenote: 4. Home Rule as Gladstonian Constitution.]

Home Rule under the Gladstonian Constitution means an artificial
combination of Federalism and Colonialism. Its aim is to secure the
advantages of two opposite systems; its result is to combine and
intensify the disadvantages of both systems. It inevitably tends towards
the dissolution of the United Kingdom into a Federation; it immediately
disturbs the bases of the Constitution by creating the artificial bond
of something like a Federal legislature between England and Ireland; it
introduces into the relations between each of the different divisions of
the United Kingdom elements of conflict which are all but inherent in
Federalism; it requires that absolute deference for the judicial
decisions of a Federal Court which if it exist anywhere can exist only
among a people like the Americans, imbued with legal notions, and as it
were born with innate respect for law. That this sentiment cannot exist
in Ireland is certain; whether it exist in the required intensity even
in England is problematical. The Gladstonian Constitution, again,
because it contains some institutions borrowed from the Colonial system
without the conditions requisite for their proper working so to speak
falsifies them. The Imperial supremacy of Great Britain, the Imperial
control over the army, the occasional interference with the Irish
executive and the veto of the Crown on Irish legislation, are each and
all of them under the Gladstonian Constitution certain to be the source
of justifiable dissatisfaction. To the ingenuity of the plan proposed by
Mr. Gladstone's Ministry hostile critics have given insufficient praise.
But the essential unreality which this ingenuity has concealed has not
even yet met with due condemnation. Since the day when the National
Assembly of France presented the brand-new French Constitution to the
acceptance of Louis XVI. no form of government has ever been seriously
proposed for adoption by an intelligent people so radically unworkable
as that Gladstonian Constitution which has been instinctively rejected
by the good sense of the British Parliament. The Constitution of France
lasted out two years; to a jurist it may appear conceivable, though
hardly probable, that by the vigorous aid of the British Parliament the
new Constitution for the United Kingdom might have lasted for as long a


[29] Compare Mr. Gladstone's speech of 8th April, 1886, '_The Times_
Parliamentary Debates,' pp. 130, 131; and Mr. Gladstone's speech of 13th
April, _ibid._, pp. 255, 256.

[30] Compare _ibid._, pp. 130, 132.

[31] Compare the following expressions in Mr. Gladstone's
speeches:--"The essential conditions of any plan that Parliament can be
asked or could be expected to entertain are, in my opinion, these:--The
unity of the Empire must not be placed in jeopardy; the safety and
welfare of the whole--if there is an unfortunate conflict, which I do
not believe--the welfare and security of the whole must be preferred to
the security and advantage of the part. The political equality of the
three countries must be maintained. They stand by statute on a footing
of absolute equality, and that footing ought not to be altered or
brought into question. There should be what I will at present term an
equitable distribution of Imperial burdens. Next I introduce a provision
which may seem to be exceptional, but which in the peculiar
circumstances of Ireland, whose history unhappily has been one long
chain of internal controversies as well as of difficulties external, is
necessary in order that there may be reasonable safeguards for the
minority. I am asked why there should be safeguards for the minority.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I have spoken now of the essential conditions of a good plan for
Ireland, and I add only this--that in order to be a good plan it must be
a plan promising to be a real settlement of Ireland. (Speech of Mr.
Gladstone, 8th April, 1886, '_The Times_ Parliamentary Debates,' pp.
130, 131.)

"I laid down, I say, five essential conditions, from which it appeared
to me we could under no circumstances depart. These were the essential
conditions under which in our opinion the granting of a domestic
Legislature to Ireland would be justifiable and wise--first, that it
must be consistent with Imperial unity; secondly, that it must be
founded upon the political equality of the three nations; thirdly, that
there must be an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens; fourthly,
that there should be safeguards for the minority; and, fifthly, that it
should be in the nature of a settlement, and not of a mere provocation
to the revival of fresh demands, which, according to the right hon.
gentleman, exceeded all reasonable expectation and calculation." (Speech
of Mr. Gladstone, 13th April, 1886, '_The Times_ Parliamentary Debates,'
p. 256.) Let it be observed that when Mr. Gladstone speaks of the unity
of the Empire he means the sovereignty of Parliament, for in the same
speech from which these extracts are taken he says, "The unity of the
Empire rests upon the supremacy of Parliament and on considerations much
higher than considerations merely fiscal." ('_The Times_ Parliamentary
Debates,' p. 132.)

[32] Dicey, 'Law of the Constitution,' lecture iv. Parliamentary
Sovereignty and Federalism.

[33] A singular instance of the attempt to dissolve a country into
States deserves notice. In 1852 a constitution was devised for New
Zealand, under which the country was to be governed by a central
legislature and subordinate provincial governments and councils. This
artificial federation was of short duration; the provincial governments
were in 1875 abolished by an Act of the General Assembly.--Todd,
'Parliamentary Government,' pp. 320-322.

[34] See Dicey, 'Law of the Constitution,' 2nd ed., pp. 35-79.

[35] _Contemporary Review_, vol. xii., p. 908.

[36] _Contemporary Review_, vol. xli., p. 921.

[37] 'Mr. Gladstone's Irish Constitution,' _Contemporary Review_, May,
1886, p. 616.

[38] 'Arguments for and against Home Rule,' by the Rev. Malcolm MacColl,
M.A., p. 71.

[39] 'The Irish Question,' by the Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone, pp. 36, 37.

[40] 'American Home Rule,' by E.L. Godkin, _Nineteenth Century_, June,
1886, pp. 793, 802.

[41] See Todd, 'Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies,' pp.
274-303, and especially p. 281, as to the position of the colonial
troops in Victoria.

[42] See Tarring, 'Chapters on the Law relating to the Colonies,' pp.

[43] See Dicey, 'Law of the Constitution,' pp. 105, 106.

The somewhat complicated principles which govern what is popularly
called the right of veto on Bills passed by Colonial Legislatures, are
thus stated in the 'Rules and Regulations' published for the use of the
Colonial Office, Chapter III., Legislative Councils and Assemblies,
Rules 48-55:--

"48. In every Colony the Governor has authority either to give or to
withhold his assent to laws passed by the other branches or members of
the Legislature, and until that assent is given no such law is valid or

"49. Laws are in some cases passed with suspending clauses; that is,
although assented to by the Governor they do not come into operation or
take effect in the Colony until they shall have been specially confirmed
by Her Majesty, and in other cases Parliament has for the same purpose
empowered the Governor to reserve Laws for the Crown's assent, instead
of himself assenting or refusing his assent to them.

"50. Every Law which has received the Governor's assent (unless it
contains a suspending clause) comes into operation immediately or at the
time specified in the Law itself. But the Crown retains power to
disallow the Law; and if such power be exercised at any time afterwards,
the Law ceases to have operation from the date at which such
disallowance is published in the Colony.

"51. In Colonies having Representative Assemblies the disallowance of
any Law, or the Crown's assent to a reserved Bill, is signified by Order
in Council. The confirmation of an Act passed with a suspending clause
is not signified by Order in Council unless this mode of confirmation is
required by the terms of the suspending clause itself, or by some
special provision in the constitution of the Colony.

"52. In Crown Colonies the allowance or disallowance of any Law is
generally signified by despatch.

"53. In some cases a period is limited, after the expiration of which
Local Enactments, though not actually disallowed, cease to have the
authority of Law in the Colony, unless before the lapse of that time Her
Majesty's confirmation of them shall have been signified there; but the
general rule is otherwise.

"54. In Colonies possessing Representative Assemblies, Laws purport to
be made by the Queen or by the Governor on Her Majesty's behalf or
sometimes by the Governor alone, omitting any express reference to Her
Majesty, with the advice and consent of the Council and Assembly. They
are almost invariably designated as Acts. In Colonies not having such
Assemblies, Laws are designated as Ordinances, and purport to be made by
the Governor with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council (or
in British Guiana of the Court of Policy).

"55. In West Indian Islands or African Settlements which form part of
any general Government, every Bill or Draft Ordinance must be submitted
to the Governor-in-Chief before it receives the assent of the
Lieutenant-Governor or Administrator. If the Governor-in-Chief shall
consider any amendment indispensable, he may either require that
amendment to be made before the Law is brought into operation, or he may
authorize the officer administering to assent to the Bill or Draft on
the express engagement of the Legislature to give effect to the
Governor-in-Chief's recommendation by a supplementary Enactment."

The effect of these Regulations may be best understood by taking the
following supposed case as an example of their operation.

The Houses of the Victorian Parliament pass a Bill legalising the
marriage of a widower with his deceased wife's sister.

i. The Governor refuses his assent. The Bill is lost and never becomes

ii. The Governor assents to the Bill on the 1st of January. It thereupon
becomes an Act, and law in Victoria.

iii. The Crown disallows the Act on the 1st of April. The disallowance
is published in Victoria on the 1st of May. From the 1st of May the Act
ceases to be law in any part of the British Dominions, but marriages
made under it between the 1st of January and the 1st of May are valid.

iv. The Crown allows the Bill. It thereupon becomes an Act which
continues in force in Victoria until it be repealed either by the
British Parliament or by the Victorian Parliament.

v. The Bill contains a clause that it shall not come into force unless
and until allowed by the Crown within two years of its passing. It is
not so allowed, it never comes into force, or in other words never
becomes law.

The point to be noted is that the Crown, or in reality the Colonial
Office, has and often exercises the power of placing a veto upon any
Colonial law whatever.

[44] Compare 'Victorian Parliamentary Paper,' 1883, 2 S., No. 22, and
the _Times_ of September 27, October 2, 5, 10, 12, 15 and 18, 1883.

[45] See Todd, 'Parliamentary Government in the Colonies,' p. 283.

[46] Todd, p. 283.

[47] See, e.g., a letter by Mr. Lecky in the _Times_ of January 13,

[48] See pp. 221, 222, _post._

[49] See a letter in the _Spectator_ of January 2, 1886, on 'Home Rule
or Separation,' by Mr. J. Cotter Morison.

[50] See p. 197, _ante._

[51] _The Times_, May 5, 1886.

[52] Under the political arrangements connecting the two countries, it
was practically impossible that the two crowns could by legal means be
separated without the assent of the English Parliament. George III. was
necessarily a member both of the English and of the Irish Parliaments;
and it is inconceivable that as King of Ireland he should have assented
to a bill passed by the Irish Houses of Parliament which was strenuously
opposed by the English Houses of Parliament. The madness of the King
raised a case not provided for by the Constitution, and the accidental
difference of opinion between the English and Irish Houses of
Parliament, as to the Regency, has been treated as possessing more
importance than from a constitutional point of view belonged to it.

[53] See Appendix for the Government of Ireland Bill. It is there
printed in extenso. The clauses which mainly concern the points
discussed in the following pages are printed in italics. Readers who
wish to understand my comments on the Gladstonian Constitution, should
study the Bill itself. I am anxious to call attention to its words,
because I am quite aware that on more than one point the interpretation
put by me upon its provisions will be disputed by supporters of Mr.
Gladstone's policy. My interpretation is, I believe, sound, but it would
be unfair not to give my readers the opportunity of judging for
themselves as to its soundness.

[54] Criticism of particular provisions was made the easier by the fact
that hesitations of statesmanship betrayed themselves throughout the
Bill in blunders of draughtsmanship. The very heading of the Bill is a
misdescription, and involves confusion of ideas. The expressions "status
of the Crown," "Executive Government," "Imperial Parliament," are from a
legal point of view open to severe criticism; and the substitution of
the name "Irish legislature" or "Legislature of Ireland" for the plain
intelligible term Irish Parliament, involves something like political
cowardice. For errors of this kind, though in one sense errors of
draughtsmanship, official draughtsmen are, it must in fairness be
remembered, no more responsible than is an amanuensis for the erasures
and blots which mar a letter written or re-written to suit the
contradictory views of a writer who does not quite know his own meaning
and is not anxious to put his meaning into plain words. (See for some
excellent criticisms on the Government of Ireland Bill two letters in
the _St. James's Gazette_ of 20th and 22nd April, 1880 signed II.)

[55] My statement that the Government of Ireland Bill repeals the main
provisions of the Act of Union is made, not because I anticipate that
the Bill if passed would lead to a repeal of the Union, but because it
is my opinion that the Bill if passed would, as a matter of law, repeal
the provisions of that Act, under which the United Kingdom is
represented in one and the same Parliament to be styled the Parliament
of Great Britain and Ireland. The effect of the Bill would be in very
general terms that Ireland would be represented in a Parliament which
contained no English or Scotch representatives, and Great Britain would
be represented in a Parliament which contained no Irish representatives.
Occasionally and for one definite purpose, and no other, namely for the
purpose of modifying the terms of the Gladstonian Constitution, a
Parliament might be convened which contained representatives from
England, Scotland, and Ireland. By what name any one of these assemblies
might be called is a matter of indifference; but that either the British
Parliament which contained no Irish representatives, or the Irish
Parliament which contained no English or Scotch representatives, or the
exceptional and only occasionally convoked body whose one function is to
modify a single Act of Parliament, could be considered by any lawyer the
"one and the same Parliament" in which the United Kingdom is now
represented, is in my judgment all but incredible. If, however, the term
"repeal" causes offence or misunderstanding, let us substitute the word
"modify," which, however, I believe to be less accurate. The lay reader
ought to be reminded that "Statutes may be repealed either by express
words contained in later Acts of Parliament, or by implication," and
that "a repeal by implication is effected when the provisions of a later
enactment are so inconsistent with, or repugnant to, the provisions of
an earlier enactment that the two cannot stand together" (Wilberforce,
'Statute Law,' p. 310). My contention is that the Government of Ireland
Bill would on becoming law be so inconsistent with portions of 39 & 40
Geo. III. cap. 67, as to amount to a repeal thereof. (For a statement of
an opposite opinion, see Mr. Gladstone's pamphlet on the Irish Question
pp. 38, 39.)

[56] The Government of Ireland Bill, clause 7.

[57] See the Government of Ireland Bill, clauses 1, 9.

[58] See the Government of Ireland Bill, clause 7.

[59] _Ibid_., clause 25.

[60] _Ibid_., clause 7.

[61] As to the disallowance of Colonial bills, see pp. 202-5, _ante_.

[62] See the Government of Ireland Bill, clause 25, sub-clause (_a),
(b_) and (_c_).

[63] Government of Ireland Bill, clause 24.

[64] Government of Ireland Bill, clauses 37, 39. On the whole question
as to the mode in which the Gladstonian Constitution, or in other words
the Government of Ireland Bill, is intended to be altered, readers are
specially referred to the terms of the Bill itself. The whole matter is
involved in so much controversy that one can hardly make any statement
about it which an opponent will not question. The parts of the Bill to
be studied are clauses 37 and 39.

[65] See Government of Ireland Bill, clause 39.

[66] I am quite aware that the account I have given of the proposed
Gladstonian Constitution is likely not to be accepted as correct by some
of the supporters of the Government of Ireland Bill. That measure by
designating both what I have termed the British Parliament and the
Imperial Parliament by the one name Imperial Parliament, conceals in my
judgment the extent of the alteration which the Bill contemplates. For
the sake of clearness of thought I must request my readers to
distinguish carefully four different bodies:--

1. The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
This is the actually existing Parliament constituted by the Act of Union
with Ireland.

2. The British Parliament; that is, the Parliament of the United Kingdom
with the Irish representatives removed from it. This body is called
under the Government of Ireland Bill the Imperial Parliament. It is a
distinctly different body from the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Whether it does or does not inherit the legal powers of the Parliament
of the United Kingdom is a separate question afterwards to be
considered. All that I now insist upon is that it is a different body.

3. The Irish Parliament, a body admittedly constituted or to be
constituted under the Government of Ireland Bill, and therein called the
Irish Legislature.

4. The Imperial Parliament, a body in effect consisting of the British
Parliament with the addition of the Irish representatives, or in other
words of the British Parliament combined with the Irish Parliament. This
body is convoked, as I have pointed out, only for the special purpose of
altering the Gladstonian Constitution. It is termed in the Government of
Ireland Bill the Imperial Parliament.

What I am most anxious my readers should note is that the bodies 2 and 4
are each termed in the Bill the Imperial Parliament, and thereby not
only confused together, but as far as possible each identified with the
existing Parliament of the United Kingdom, with which neither really
corresponds. The British Parliament differs from the Parliament of the
United Kingdom certainly in constitution, if not also in authority.

The so-called Imperial Parliament nearly corresponds with the Parliament
of the United Kingdom in constitution, but differs from it in function
and authority.

[67] In reference to the legal effect of the Government of Ireland Bill
on the sovereignty of Parliament, see on the one side the speeches of
Sir Henry James of 13th May, 1886, '_The Times_ Parliamentary Debates,'
p. 468; of Mr. Finlay, 21st May, 1886, '_The Times_ Parliamentary
Debates,' p. 614; and an article by Sir William Anson on the Government
of Ireland Bill and the Sovereignty of Parliament in the _Law Quarterly
Review_ for October, 1886. See on the other side Mr. Gladstone's
speeches in Parliament of 8th April, 1886, '_The Times_ Parliamentary
Debates,' p. 125; of 13th April, 1886, _ibid._ 255; of 10th May, 1886,
_ibid._ 404; and of 7th June, 1886, _ibid._ p. 861; of Mr. Parnell of
7th June, _ibid._ p. 847; and 'The Government of Ireland Bill,' being a
speech delivered by Mr. James Bryce, M.P., on 17th May, 1886, and
published as a pamphlet. My disagreement with Mr. Bryce's conclusions
makes me anxious to express my great admiration for his speech, which is
by far the best statement I have read of the view undoubtedly held by
Mr. Gladstone and his followers, that the Bill did not affect the
sovereignty of Parliament. The reader should notice that the question
throughout between the late Government and its opponents was as to the
effect of the Bill on the sovereignty of what I have called the "British
Parliament," _i.e._ the body, by whatever name it be called, which
consists of the representatives of England and Scotland only, and does
not include representatives of Ireland.

[68] As to the sovereignty of Parliament, see Dicey, 'Law of the
Constitution,' pp. 35-79.

[69] Government of Ireland Bill, clause 39.

[70] I do not, of course, deny for a moment that an Act could be so
drawn as to give Ireland an Irish Parliament, to remove the Irish
members from the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and at the same time
to reserve to the residue of the United Parliament, or Rump, the full
sovereignty now possessed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. What
I do insist upon is, that it is open to question whether the Government
of Ireland Bill was so drawn as to achieve these results. Nor is the
question unimportant. The fundamental ambiguity of the Bill obviously
arose from the fact that its authors, whilst wishing to promise in
appearance to Ireland that the new Irish constitution should not be
changed by a body in which Ireland had no representatives, also wished
to soothe the apprehensions of England by tacitly reserving to the
British Parliament the power of altering or repealing the Irish
constitution without recalling the representatives of Ireland. The
consequence is that the Bill proclaims in so many words that its
provisions shall be altered in one way only, but by implication, as its
authors suppose, provides that its provisions may be altered in another
and quite different way. If this is the intended effect of the Bill it
ought to have been made patent on its face. In constitutional matters,
as indeed in all the serious concerns of life, ambiguity and uncertainty
of expression is the source both of misunderstanding and of danger.

The question of the sovereignty of the British Parliament might, it
should be noted, arise in another and more perplexing form, which
received, unless I am mistaken, no attention during the debates on the
Irish Government Bill. Admit for the sake of argument that the British
Parliament can legislate for Ireland; is it equally certain that the
Imperial Parliament (i.e. the British Parliament with the addition of
Irish representatives) cannot claim to legislate for England or for the
whole British Empire? No doubt the Gladstonian Constitution proposes
that the Imperial Parliament should be convened only for a limited
definite purpose; but is it certain that the Imperial Parliament, which
would in its constituent parts be in effect the reunited Parliament of
the United Kingdom, might not when convened claim to reassume sovereign
power? The addition of a hundred Irish members might turn a minority in
the British Parliament into a majority in the Imperial Parliament; can
we feel sure that the English minority in the British Parliament would
resist the temptation to exalt the authority of a body in which they
would be supreme? The enquiry sounds to Englishmen a strange one; but
the annals of foreign constitutions suggest that an assembly which,
though convoked for a particular purpose, is able from any point of view
to consider itself sovereign is with difficulty restrained from
asserting supreme power. From this side the Gladstonian Constitution
might prove a menace to the supremacy of the British Parliament.



[Sidenote: Survey of argument.]

Let us here review and summarise our argument. The demand for Home Rule
is a demand for a change in the Constitution so fundamental as to amount
to a legal and pacific revolution; such a demand requires for its
support cogent, we may almost say conclusive, reasons.

The positive arguments in favour of Home Rule are not easy to grasp.
Their strength lies in their correspondence with the prevailing opinions
of the day. But though public opinion under any form of government, and
especially under the system of what is called popular government,
deserves great consideration, still the value of a prevailing belief or
conviction cannot be determined without examining the elements which
have gone to its production. The state of opinion which favours Home
Rule is found to result from various and even self-contradictory
feelings, some of which belong to the highest and some to the lowest
parts of human nature; humanity and a sense of justice are in this
instance curiously combined with indolence and impatience. The
arguments again for Home Rule rest upon one dubious assumption and one
undoubted fact. The dubious assumption is that the root of Irish
discontent is the outraged feeling of nationality. The undoubted fact is
that in Ireland, on all matters either directly or even remotely
connected with the tenure of land, the law of the Courts is opposed to
the customs, to the moral sentiment, we may say to the law of the
people; hence the Queen's tribunals are weak because they are not
supported by that popular assent whence judges derive half their
authority; the tribunals of the League are strong because their
decisions commend themselves to the traditional feeling of the people.
But the doubtful hypothesis and the undoubted fact, though one or other
of them lies at the basis of all the strongest arguments in favour of
Home Rule, each invalidate almost as much as they support the contention
that an Irish Parliament will prove the specific for the diseases (due
in the first instance to the original vice of the connection between
England and Ireland) under which Irish society now suffers. If the
passion of nationality is the cause of the malady, then the proposed
cure is useless, for Home Rule will not turn the people of Ireland into
a nation. If a vicious system of land tenure is the cause of
lawlessness, then the restoration or re-creation of an Irish Parliament
is needless, for the Parliament of the United Kingdom can reform, and
ought to reform, the land system of Ireland, and ought to be able to
carry through a final settlement of agrarian disputes with less
injustice to individuals than could any Parliament sitting at Dublin.

Reasoning, however, which fails to establish the expediency of creating
an Irish Parliament may prove, and in fact does amply prove, that the
task of maintaining peace order and freedom in Ireland is at the present
juncture a matter of supreme difficulty. Any possible course, moreover,
open to English statesmanship involves gigantic inconvenience, not to
say tremendous perils. A man involved practically in the conduct of
public affairs may easily bring himself to believe that the policy which
he recommends is not only the best possible under the circumstances, but
is also open to no serious objection. Outsiders, who in this matter are
better because more impartial judges than the ablest of politicians,
know that this is not so. We have nothing before us but a choice of
difficulties or of evils. Every course is open to valid criticism.

The maintenance of the Union must necessarily turn out as severe a task
as ever taxed a nation's energies, for to maintain the Treaty of Union
with any good effect means that while refusing to accede to the wishes
of millions of Irishmen, we must sedulously do justice to every fair
demand from Ireland, must strenuously and without either fear or favour
assert the equal rights of landlords and tenants, of Protestants and
Catholics, and must at the same time put down every outrage and reform
every abuse.

To carry out by peaceful means the political separation of countries
which for good and for evil have for centuries been bound together by
position and by history, is an operation so critical that in the
judgment of statesmen it involves dangers too vast for serious

How, lastly, to devise a scheme of Home Rule which, while giving to
Ireland as much of legislative independence as may satisfy her wants or
wishes, shall leave to England as much supremacy as may be necessary for
the prosperity of the United Kingdom, or for the continued existence of
the British Empire, is a problem which jurists would find it hard to
solve as a matter of speculative science, and which politicians may not
without reason hold to admit of no practical solution.

Yet Maintenance of the Union, Separation, Home Rule, are names which
designate the only paths open to us. To one of these three courses we
are absolutely tied down. Each path is arduous. To complain about the
nature of things is childish. The course of wisdom is obvious. We must
all of us look facts in the face. "Things and actions are what they are,
and the consequences of them will be what they will be. Why then should
we desire to be deceived?"[71] We must calmly compare the advantages of
the three steep roads which lie open to the nation, and then on the
strength of this comparison determine the course which the nation is
bound to follow by motives of expediency and of justice.

Such a comparison we have already instituted:[72] its results to any
reader who assents to my train of reasoning must be obvious.

The maintenance of the Union involves at the outset a strenuous and most
regrettable conflict with the will of the majority of the Irish people.
It necessitates at once the strict enforcement of law, combined with the
resolute effort to strip law of all injustice. It may require large
pecuniary sacrifices, and it certainly will require a constancy in just
purpose which is supposed, and not without reason, to be specially
difficult to a democracy. The difficulties on the other hand which meet
us are not unprecedented, though some of them have assumed a new form.
We have some advantages unknown to our forefathers: we can, more easily
than they could, remodel the practices of the Constitution, modify the
rules of party government, or, incredible as it may seem to members of
Parliament, touch with profane hands the venerable procedure of the
House of Commons. The English democracy, further, just because it is a
democracy, may, like the democracy of America, enforce with unflinching
firmness laws which, representing the deliberate will of the people, are
supported by the vast majority of the citizens of the United Kingdom.
The English democracy, because it is a democracy, may also with a good
conscience destroy the remnants of feudal institutions, and all systems
of land tenure found unsuitable to the wants of the Irish people. Nor,
though the crisis be difficult, are there features lacking in the
tendencies of the modern world which in the United Kingdom as in the
United States and in the Swiss Confederacy favour every effort to uphold
the political unity of the State. Whatever be the difficulties (and they
are many) of maintaining the Union, not in form only but in reality, the
policy is favoured no less by the current of English history, than by
the tendencies of modern civilization. It preserves that unity of the
State which is essential to the authority of England and to the
maintenance of the Empire. It provides, as matters now stand, the only
means of giving legal protection to a large body of loyal British
subjects. It is the refusal not only to abdicate legitimate power, but
(what is of far more consequence) to renounce the fulfilment of
imperative duties. Nor does Union imply uniformity. Unity of
Government--equality of rights--diversity of institutions,--these are
the watchwords for all Unionists. To attain these objects may be beyond
our power, and the limit to power is the limit to responsibility. Still,
whatever may be the difficulties, or even the disadvantages, of
maintaining the Union, it undoubtedly has in its favour not only all the
recommendations which must belong to a policy of rational conservatism,
but also these two decisive advantages--that it does sustain the
strength of the United Kingdom, and that it does not call for any
dereliction of duty.

Separation, or in other words the national independence of Ireland, is
an idea which has not entered into the practical consideration of
Englishmen. The evils which it threatens are patent: it at the same
moment diminishes the means of Great Britain and increases the calls
upon her resources. It lowers the fame of the country, and plants by the
side of England a foreign, it may be a hostile, neighbour; it involves
the desertion of loyal fellow-citizens who have trusted in the good
faith of England. Yet, on the other hand, the material losses and
perhaps the dangers involved in the independence of Ireland are liable
to exaggeration. Great Britain might find in her complete freedom of
action and in restored unity of national sentiment elements of power
which might balance the obvious damage resulting from Separation; she
might also find it possible to make for the protection of Loyalists
terms more efficacious than any guarantees contained in the articles of
a statutory constitution. If, further, the spirit of nationality has the
vivifying power ascribed to it by its votaries, then Ireland might gain
from it blessings which cannot be conferred by any scheme of merely
Parliamentary independence, since no form of Home Rule can transform
Ireland into a nation.

For Home Rule it may be pleaded that it offers two obvious advantages:
it satisfies the immediate wish of millions of Irishmen, and it
facilitates the adaptation of Irish institutions to Irish wants. These
advantageous results are the best that can be hoped for from Home Rule.
They are real, and to underrate them is folly; the moral gain indeed of
meeting the wishes of the body of the Irish people is so incalculable,
that did Home Rule involve no intolerable evils a rational man might
think it wise to venture on the experiment. Home Rule, it may be
suggested, has the further gain of lessening English responsibility for
the government of Ireland. What it really might effect is to lighten
England's sense of responsibility for misrule in Ireland. But this, so
far from being a blessing, would in truth be one of the greatest of
evils. The distinguished author of the Gladstonian Constitution denies
in his recent pamphlet that the Government of Ireland Bill would, if
passed, repeal the Act of Union. To follow the reasoning by which this
denial is made good is beyond my powers. But there is one aspect in
which the statement, paradoxical though it be, that the Union is not
dissolved by the existence of an Irish Parliament, has a most serious
meaning, which ought to command hearty and general assent. Under the
Gladstonian Constitution, as under any form of Home Rule, the Government
of the United Kingdom must still remain in the last resort responsible
for the administration of justice throughout the whole realm. Admit for
the sake of argument that the Act of Union, though affected in every
section, is not repealed, then assuredly if men be wrongfully deprived
of their property, if they be denied their lawful freedom, if they
suffer unlawful injury to life or limb in any part of the United
Kingdom, the responsibility for seeing that right be done falls on the
executive, and in the last resort on the Parliament, of the United
Kingdom. The delegated authority of a subordinate legislature will not
free the principal from the liability inherent in the delegation of
power; and if Home Rule in Ireland fosters, as it must foster, the
notion that the United Kingdom is not as a whole responsible for
misdeeds done in Ireland, this is one of the worst results of the
proposed constitutional change.

But putting this matter aside, an examination into the various forms
which Home Rule may assume leads to the conclusion that whatever be its
hypothetical benefits it threatens more than countervailing loss to
England. There is no need to do more than refer in most general terms to
evils which have already been set forth in detail. Home Rule under two
of its three possible forms dislocates and weakens the whole English
Constitution. Under its least objectionable form--that of Colonial
independence--it brings upon England many of the perils which would
follow upon the national independence of Ireland; it involves, if the
experiment is to have a fair chance of success, large pecuniary
sacrifice, and it does not present a reasonable hope of creating real
harmony of feeling between Great Britain and Ireland. Home Rule, lastly,
under whatever form, whilst not freeing England from moral
responsibility for protecting the rights of every British subject, does
virtually give up the attempt to ensure to these rights more than a
nominal existence, and thus gives up the endeavour to enforce legal and
equal justice between man and man. It must also be considered that an
examination into the different forms of Home Rule, while it shows that
no scheme of legislative independence for Ireland offers any promise of
finality, also suggests that the form of Home Rule least injurious to
England is the form which gives Ireland most independence. The inference
from these facts cannot be missed. Home Rule is the half-way house to
Separation. Grant it, and in a short time Irish independence will become
the wish of England. If any thorough-paced Home Ruler admit this
conclusion, and suggest that Home Rule is a desirable transition towards
Separation, the answer is that Home Rule is such a transition, but
assuredly that such a transition is not to be desired. If one country is
destined to become independent of another it is better for each not to
experience the disappointment and the heartburning which accompany a
period of unwilling connection.

This is the result of the comparison we have instituted between the
three possible courses open to England. If the comparison be just the
conclusion to which its leads is obvious. The maintenance of the Union
is at this moment to England a matter of duty even more than of
interest. If the time should come when the effort to maintain the unity
of the State is too great for the power of Great Britain, or the only
means by which it is found maintainable are measures clearly repugnant
to the humanity or the justice or the democratic principles of the
English people,--if it should turn out that after every effort to
enforce just laws by just methods our justice itself, from whatever
cause, remains hateful to the mass of the Irish people,--then it will be
clear that the Union must for the sake of England, no less than of
Ireland, come to an end. The alternative policy will then be not Home
Rule but Separation. We shall save the unity at the expense of lessening
the territory of the State; we shall escape self-reproach because having
reached the limit of our powers we shall also have filled up the measure
of our obligations. But if (as there is every reason to suppose)
agrarian misery is the source of Irish discontent, and agrarian misery
springs in part from bad administration, and in part from the law
governing the tenure of land; if, in general terms, the undoubted ills
of Ireland are curable by justice, even though justice proceed from the
Parliament of the United Kingdom--an assembly, be it noted, in which the
voice of Ireland is freely heard--then there is no need to indulge in
speculations, always dangerous, upon a possible remedy which may never
be necessary, and which, while the inhabitants of England and Ireland
are still fellow-citizens of one State, it is painful even to
contemplate. On the whole, then, it appears that whatever changes or
calamities the future may have in store, the maintenance of the Union is
at this day the one sound policy for England to pursue. It is sound
because it is expedient; it is sound because it is just.

[Sidenote: Character of England's case]

This is the case of England against Home Rule; it is a case which,
however feebly stated--and I may well have failed to state it with
force--is founded on argument. It is a case which makes and need make no
appeal to rhetoric; it is a case which indeed, like all sound views of
national policy, is grounded on the interest of the greater number of
the citizens of the State, but it is a case not grounded on any mere
pride of power, a case not based on any disregard of justice, a case
which above all involves no unfriendliness to Irishmen, and no
assumption, either tacit or express, that there has fallen to Irishmen a
greater amount of either original or acquired sin than falls to other
human beings, it is a case which does not assume that real or supposed
differences of race are a legitimate ground for inequality of rights.
Any one, indeed, after having to the best of his power tried to state
what can be said with fairness on one side of a question such as that
now at issue between the majority and the minority of the citizens of
the United Kingdom, may well call to mind the conclusion of the noblest
statement ever made by genius of a case involving momentous national

"It would be presumption in me to do more than to make a case. Many
things occur. But as they, like all political measures, depend on
dispositions, tempers, means, and external circumstances for all their
effect, not being well assured of these, I do not know how to let loose
any speculations of mine on the subject. The evil is stated in my
opinion as it exists. The remedy must be where power, wisdom, and
information, I hope, are more united with good intentions than they can
be with me. I have done with this subject, I believe for ever. It has
given me many anxious moments for the two last years. If a great change
is to be made in human affairs, the minds of men will be fitted to it;
the general opinions and feelings will draw that way. Every fear, every
hope, will forward it; and then they who persist in opposing this mighty
current in human affairs will appear rather to resist the decrees of
Providence itself, than the mere designs of men. They will not be
resolute and firm, but perverse and obstinate."[73]

The sentiment of these words is one of eternal application. Still at
this great crisis in the fortunes of our country, when every course is
involved in undeniable perplexity, and surrounded by admitted danger,
there are two principles to which we may confidently appeal; for it is
by habitual adherence to them that England has grown to greatness. These
two principles are the maintenance of the supremacy of the whole State,
and the use of that supremacy for the purpose of securing to every
citizen, whether rich or poor, the rights of liberty and of property
conferred upon him by law. To maintain that any policy, however
plausible, by which these principles are violated, must undermine the
moral basis of the Constitution, and must therefore lead the nation to
calamity and to disgrace, is at any rate to plead a cause which rests
upon a firm foundation of plain morality. The case may be ill-stated,
the arguments by which it is defended may admit of reply, but it is a
case which a just man may put forward without shame, and a humane man
may support without compunction.


[71] Butler's Sermons; vii., p. 136, ed. 1726.

[72] See Chapters V., VI., & VII., _ante._

[73] Burke's Works, vol. vii., pp. 84, 85.





_Legislative Authority_.


1. Establishment of Irish Legislature.

2. Powers of Irish Legislature.

3. Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.

4. Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature.

5. Prerogatives of Her Majesty as to Irish Legislative Body.

6. Duration of the Irish Legislative Body.

_Executive Authority_.

7. Constitution of the Executive Authority.

8. Use of Crown lands by Irish Government.

_Constitution of Legislative Body_.

9. Constitution of Irish Legislative Body.

10. First order.

11. Second order.


12. Taxes and separate Consolidated Fund.

13. Annual contributions from Ireland to Consolidated Fund of United

14. Collection and application of customs and excise duties in Ireland.

15. Charges on Irish Consolidated Fund.

16. Irish Church Fund.

17. Public loans.

18. Additional aid in case of war.

19. Money bills and votes.

20. Exchequer divisions and revenue actions.


21. Police.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Powers of Her Majesty_.

22. Powers over certain lands reserved to Her Majesty.

_Legislative Body_.

23. Veto by first order of Legislative Body, how over-ruled.

24. Cesser of power of Ireland to return members to Parliament.

_Decision of Constitutional Questions_.

25. _Constitutional questions to be submitted to Judicial Committee_.


26. Office of Lord-Lieutenant.

_Judges and Civil Servants_.

27. Judges to be removable only on address.

28. Provision as to judges and other persons having salaries charged on
the Consolidated Fund.

29. As to persons holding civil service appointments.

30. Provision for existing pensions and superannuation allowances.

_Transitory Provisions_.

31. Transitory provisions in Schedule.


32. Post Office and savings banks.

33. Audit.

34. Application of parliamentary law.

35. Regulations for carrying Act into effect.

36. Saving of powers of House of Lords.

37. Saving of Rights of Parliament.

38. Continuance of existing laws, courts, officers, &c.

39. Mode of alteration of Act.

40. Definitions.

41. Short title of Act.


       *       *       *       *       *

_A Bill to amend the provision for the future Government of Ireland_.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1886]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the
advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in
this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as


_Legislative Authority_.

[Sidenote: Establishment of Irish Legislature.]

1. _On and after the appointed day there shall be established in
Ireland a Legislature consisting of Her Majesty the Queen and an Irish
Legislative Body._

[Sidenote: Powers of Irish Legislature.]

2. _With the exceptions and subject to the restrictions in this Act
mentioned, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty the Queen, by and with the
advice of the Irish Legislative Body, to make laws for the peace, order,
and good government of Ireland, and by any such law to alter and repeal
any law in Ireland._

[Sidenote: Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.]

3. _The Legislature of Ireland shall not make laws relating to the
following matters or any of them:--_

     (1.) _The status or dignity of the Crown, or the succession to the
     Crown, or a Regency;_

     (2.) _The making of peace or war;_

     (3.) _The army, navy, militia, volunteers, or other military or
     naval forces, or the defence of the realm;_

     (4.) _Treaties and other relations with foreign States, or the
     relations between the various parts of Her Majesty's dominions;_

     (5.) _Dignities or titles of honour;_

     (6.) _Prize or booty of war;_

     (7.) _Offences against the law of nations; or offences committed in
     violation of any treaty made, or hereafter to be made, between Her
     Majesty and any foreign State; or offences committed on the high

     (8.) _Treason, alienage, or naturalization;_

     (9.) _Trade, navigation, or quarantine;_

     (10.) _The postal and telegraph service, except as hereafter in
     this Act mentioned with respect to the transmission of letters and
     telegrams in Ireland;_

     (11.) _Beacons, lighthouses, or sea marks;_

     (12.) _The coinage; the value of foreign money; legal tender; or
     weights and measures; or_

     (13.) _Copyright, patent rights, or other exclusive rights to the
     use or profits of any works or inventions._

Any law made in contravention of this section shall be void.

[Sidenote: Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature.]

4. _The Irish Legislature shall not make any law--_

     (1.) _Respecting the establishment or endowment of religion, or
     prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or_

     (2.) _Imposing any disability, or conferring any privilege, on
     account of religious belief; or_

     (3.) _Abrogating or derogating from the right to establish or
     maintain any place of denominational education or any
     denominational institution or charity; or_

     (4.) _Prejudicially affecting the right of any child to attend a
     school receiving public money without attending the religious
     instruction at that school; or_

     (5.) _Impairing, without either the leave of Her Majesty in Council
     first obtained on an address presented by the Legislative Body of
     Ireland, or the consent of the corporation interested, the rights,
     property, or privileges of any existing corporation incorporated by
     royal charter or local and general Act of Parliament; or_

     (6.) _Imposing or relating to duties of customs and duties of
     excise, as defined by this Act, or either of such duties, or
     affecting any Act relating to such duties or either of them; or_

     (7.) _Affecting this Act, except in so far as it is declared to be
     alterable by the Irish Legislature._

[Sidenote: Prerogatives of Her Majesty as to Irish Legislative Body.]

5. _Her Majesty the Queen shall have the same prerogatives with
respect to summoning, proroguing, and dissolving the Irish Legislative
Body as Her Majesty has with respect to summoning, proroguing, and
dissolving the Imperial Parliament._

[Sidenote: Duration of the Irish Legislative Body.]

6. _The Irish Legislative Body whenever summoned may have continuance
for five years and no longer, to be reckoned from the day on which any
such Legislative Body is appointed to meet._

_Executive Authority_.

[Sidenote: Constitution of the Executive Authority.]

7.--(1.) _The Executive Government of Ireland shall continue vested in
Her Majesty, and shall be carried on by the Lord-Lieutenant on behalf of
Her Majesty with the aid of such officers and such Council as to Her
Majesty may from time to time seem fit._

(2.) _Subject to any instructions which may from time to time be given
by Her Majesty, the Lord-Lieutenant shall give or withhold the assent of
Her Majesty to Bills passed by the Irish Legislative Body, and shall
exercise the prerogatives of Her Majesty in respect of the summoning,
proroguing, and dissolving of the Irish Legislative Body, and any
prerogatives the exercise of which may be delegated to him by Her

[Sidenote: Use of Crown lands by Irish Government.]

8. _Her Majesty may, by Order in Council, from time to time place
under the control of the Irish Government, for the purposes of that
Government, any such lands and buildings in Ireland as may be vested in
or held in trust for Her Majesty._

_Constitution of Legislative Body._

[Sidenote: Constitution of Irish Legislative Body.]

9.--(1.) _The Irish Legislative Body shall consist of a first and
second order._

(2.) _The two orders shall deliberate together, and shall vote together,
except that, if any question arises in relation to legislation or to the
Standing Orders or Rules of Procedure or to any other matter in that
behalf in this Act specified, and such question is to be determined by
vote, each order shall, if a majority of the members present of either
order demand a separate vote, give their votes in like manner as if they
were separate Legislative Bodies; and if the result of the voting of the
two orders does not agree the question shall be resolved in the

[Sidenote: First order.]

10.--(1.) The first order of the Irish Legislative Body shall consist
of one hundred and three members, of whom seventy-five shall be elective
members and twenty-eight peerage members.

(2.) Each elective member shall at the date of his election and during
his period of membership be bonâ fide possessed of property which--

     (_a._) if realty, or partly realty and partly personalty, yields
     two hundred pounds a year or upwards, free of all charges; or

     (_b._) if personalty yields the same income, or is of the capital
     value of four thousand pounds or upwards, free of all charges.

(2.) For the purpose of electing the elective members of the first order
of the Legislative Body, Ireland shall be divided into the electoral
districts specified in the First Schedule to this Act, and each such
district shall return the number of members in that behalf specified in
that Schedule.

(3.) The elective members shall be elected by the registered electors of
each electoral district, and for that purpose a register of electors
shall be made annually.

(4.) An elector in each electoral district shall be qualified as
follows, that is to say, he shall be of full age, and not subject to any
legal incapacity, and shall have been during the twelve months next
preceding the _twentieth day of July_ in any year the owner or occupier
of some land or tenement within the district of a net annual value of
twenty-five pounds or upwards.

(5.) The term of office of an elective member shall be _ten years_.

(6.) In every fifth year thirty-seven or thirty-eight of the elective
members, as the case requires, shall retire from office, and their
places shall be filled by election; the members to retire shall be those
who have been members for the longest time without re-election.

(7.) The offices of the peerage members shall be filled as follows; that
is to say,--

     (_a._) Each of the Irish peers who on the appointed day is one of
     the twenty-eight Irish representative peers, shall, on giving his
     written assent to the Lord-Lieutenant, become a peerage member of
     the first order of the Irish Legislative Body; and if at any time
     within _thirty years_ after the appointed day any such peer vacates
     his office by death or resignation, the vacancy shall be filled by
     the election to that office by the Irish peers of one of their
     number in manner heretofore in use respecting the election of Irish
     representative peers, subject to adaptation as provided by this
     Act, and if the vacancy is not so filled within the proper time it
     shall be filled by the election of an elective member.

     (_b._) If any of the twenty-eight peers aforesaid does not within
     _one month_ after the appointed day give such assent to be a
     peerage member of the first order, the vacancy so created shall be
     filled up as if he had assented and vacated his office by

(8.) A peerage member shall be entitled to hold office during his life,
or until the expiration of _thirty years_ from the appointed day,
whichever period is the shortest. At the expiration of such _thirty
years_ the offices of all the peerage members shall be vacated as if
they were dead, and their places shall be filled by elective members
qualified and elected in manner provided by this Act with respect to
elective members of the first order, and such elective members may be
distributed by the Irish Legislature among the electoral districts, so,
however, that care shall be taken to give additional members to the most
populous places.

(9.) The offices of members of the first order shall not be vacated by
the dissolution of the Legislative Body.

(10.) The provisions in the Second Schedule to this Act relating to
members of the first order of the Legislative Body shall be of the same
force as if they were enacted in the body of this Act.

[Sidenote: Second order.]

11.--(1.) Subject as in this section hereafter mentioned, the second
order of the Legislative body shall consist of two hundred and four

(2.) The members of the second order shall be chosen by the existing
constituencies of Ireland, two by each constituency, with the exception
of the city of Cork, which shall be divided into two divisions in manner
set forth in the Third Schedule to this Act, and two members shall be
chosen by each of such divisions.

(3.) Any person who, on the appointed day, is a member representing an
existing Irish constituency in the House of Commons shall, on giving his
written assent to the Lord-Lieutenant, become a member of the second
order of the Irish Legislative Body as if he had been elected by the
constituency which he was representing in the House of Commons. Each of
the members for the city of Cork, on the said day, may elect for which
of the divisions of that city he wishes to be deemed to have been

(4.) If any member does not give such written assent within _one month_
after the appointed day, his place shall be filled by election in the
same manner and at the same time as if he had assented and vacated his
office by death.

(5.) If the same person is elected to both orders, he shall, within
_seven days_ after the meeting of the Legislative Body, or if the Body
is sitting at the time of the election, within _seven days_ after the
election, elect in which order he will serve, and his membership of the
other order shall be void and be filled by a fresh election.

(6.) Notwithstanding anything in this Act, it shall be lawful for the
Legislature of Ireland at any time to pass an Act enabling the Royal
University of Ireland to return not more than two members to the second
order of the Irish Legislative Body in addition to the number of members
above mentioned.

(7.) Notwithstanding anything in this Act, it shall be lawful for the
Irish Legislature, after the first dissolution of the Legislative Body
which occurs, to alter the constitution or election of the second order
of that body, due regard being had in the distribution of members to the
population of the constituencies; provided that no alteration shall be
made in the number of such order.


[Sidenote: Taxes and separate Consolidated Fund.]

12.--(1.) For the purpose of providing for the public service of
Ireland the Irish Legislature may impose taxes, other than duties of
customs or excise as defined by this Act, which duties shall continue to
be imposed and levied by and under the direction of the Imperial
Parliament only.

(2.) On and after the appointed day there shall be an Irish Consolidated
Fund separate from the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

(3.) All taxes imposed by the Legislature of Ireland and all other
public revenues under the control of the Government of Ireland shall,
subject to any provisions touching the disposal thereof contained in any
Act passed in the present session respecting the sale and purchase of
land in Ireland, be paid into the Irish Consolidated Fund, and be
appropriated to the public service of Ireland according to law.

[Sidenote: Annual contributions from Ireland to Consolidated Fund of
United Kingdom.]

13.--(1.) Subject to the provisions for the reduction or cesser
thereof in this section mentioned, there shall be made on the part of
Ireland to the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom the following
annual contributions in every financial year; that is to say,--

     (_a._) The sum of _one million four hundred and sixty-six, thousand
     pounds_ on account of the interest on and management of the Irish
     share of the National Debt:

     (_b._) The sum of _one million six hundred and sixty-six thousand
     pounds_ on account of the expenditure on the army and navy of the
     United Kingdom:

     (_c._) The sum _of one hundred and ten thousand pounds_ on account
     of the Imperial civil expenditure of the United Kingdom:

     (_d._) The sum of _one million pounds_ on account of the Royal
     Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police.

(2.) During the period of _thirty_ years from this section taking;
effect the said annual contributions shall not be increased, but may be
reduced or cease as hereinafter mentioned. After the expiration of the
said _thirty years_ the said contributions shall, save as otherwise
provided by this section, continue until altered in manner provided with
respect to the alteration of this Act.

(3.) The Irish share of the National Debt shall be reckoned at
_forty-eight million pounds_ Bank annuities, and there shall be paid in
every financial year on behalf of Ireland to the Commissioners for the
Reduction of the National Debt an annual sum of _three hundred and sixty
thousand pounds_, and the permanent annual charge for the National Debt
on the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom shall be reduced by that
amount, and the said annual sum shall be applied by the said
Commissioners as a sinking fund for the redemption of the National Debt,
and the Irish share of the National Debt shall be reduced by the amount
of the National Debt so redeemed, and the said annual contribution on
account of the interest on and management of the Irish share of the
National Debt shall from time to time be reduced by a sum equal to the
interest upon the amount of the National Debt from time to time so
redeemed, but that last-mentioned sum shall be paid annually to the
Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt in addition to the
above-mentioned annual sinking fund, and shall be so paid and be applied
as if it were part of that sinking fund.

(4.) As soon as an amount of the National Debt equal to the said Irish
share thereof has been redeemed under the provisions of this section,
the said annual contribution on account of the interest on and
management of the Irish share of the National Debt, and the said annual
sum for a sinking fund shall cease.

(5.) If it appears to Her Majesty that the expenditure in respect of the
army and navy of the United Kingdom, or in respect of Imperial civil
expenditure of the United Kingdom, for any financial year has been less
than _fifteen_ times the amount of the contributions above-named on
account of the same matter, a sum equal to _one fifteenth_ part of the
diminution shall be deducted from the current annual contribution for
the same matter.

(6.) The sum paid from time to time by the Commissioners of Her
Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues to the Consolidated Fund of
the United Kingdom on account of the hereditary revenues of the Crown in
Ireland shall be credited to the Irish Government, and go in reduction
of the said annual contribution payable on account of the Imperial civil
expenditure of the United Kingdom, but shall not be taken into account
in calculating whether such diminution as above mentioned has or has not
taken place in such expenditure.

(7.) If it appears to Her Majesty that the expenditure in respect of the
Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police for any
financial year has been less than the contribution above named on
account of such constabulary and police, the current contribution shall
be diminished by the amount of such difference.

(8.) This section shall take effect from and after the _thirty-first day
of March, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven_.

[Sidenote: Collection and application of customs and excise duties in

14.--(1.) On and after such day as the Treasury may direct all moneys
from time to time collected in Ireland on account of the duties of
customs or the duties of excise as defined by this Act shall, under such
regulations as the Treasury from time to time make, be carried to a
separate account (in this Act referred to as the customs and excise
account) and applied in the payment of the following sums in priority as
mentioned in this section; that is to say,--

     First, of such sum as is from time to time directed by the Treasury
     in respect of the costs, charges, and expenses of and incident to
     the collection and management of the said duties in Ireland not
     exceeding four per cent. of the amount collected there;

     Secondly, of the annual contributions required by this Act to be
     made to the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom;

     Thirdly, of the annual sums required by this Act to be paid to the
     Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt;

     Fourthly, of all sums by this Act declared to be payable out of the
     moneys carried to the customs and excise account;

     Fifthly, of all sums due to the Consolidated Fund of the United
     Kingdom for interest or sinking fund, in respect of any loans made
     by the issue of bank annuities or otherwise to the Government of
     Ireland under any Act passed in the present session relating to the
     purchase and sale of land in Ireland, so far as such sums are not
     defrayed out of the moneys received under such Act;

(2.) So much of the moneys carried to a separate account under this
section as the Treasury consider are not, and are not likely to be,
required to meet the above-mentioned payments, shall from time to time
be paid over and applied as part of the public revenues under the
control of the Irish Government.

[Sidenote: Charges on Irish Consolidated Fund.]

15.--(1.) There shall be charged on the Irish Consolidated Fund in
priority as mentioned in this section:--

     First, such portion of the sums directed by this Act to be paid out
     of the moneys carried to the customs and excise account in priority
     to any payment for the public revenues of Ireland, as those moneys
     are insufficient to pay;

     Secondly, all sums due in respect of any debt incurred by the
     Government of Ireland, whether for interest, management, or sinking

     Thirdly, all sums which at the passing of this Act are charged on
     the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom in respect of Irish
     services other than the salary of the Lord-Lieutenant;

     Fourthly, the salaries of all judges of the Supreme Court of
     Judicature or other superior court in Ireland, or of any county or
     other like court, who are appointed after the passing of this Act,
     and the pensions of such judges;

     Fifthly, any other sums charged by this Act on the Irish
     Consolidated Fund.

(2.) It shall be the duty of the Legislature of Ireland to impose all
such taxes, duties, or imposts as will raise a sufficient revenue to
meet all sums charged for the time being on the Irish Consolidated Fund.

[Sidenote: Irish Church Fund.]

16.--(1.) Until all charges which are payable out of the Church
property in Ireland, and are guaranteed by the Treasury, have been fully
paid, the Irish Land Commission shall continue as heretofore to exist,
with such Commissioners and officers receiving such salaries as the
Treasury may from time to time appoint, and to administer the Church
property and apply the income and other moneys receivable therefrom; and
so much of the salaries of such Commissioners and officers and expenses
of the office as is not paid out of the Church property shall be paid
out of moneys carried to the customs and excise account under this Act,
and if those moneys are insufficient, out of the Consolidated Fund of
Ireland, and if not so paid, shall be paid out of moneys provided by

Provided as follows:--

     (_a._) All charges on the Church property for which a guarantee has
     been given by the Treasury before the passing of this Act shall, so
     far as they are not paid out of such property, be paid out of the
     moneys carried to the Customs and Excise account under this Act,
     and if such moneys are insufficient, the Consolidated Fund of
     Ireland, without prejudice nevertheless to the guarantee of the

     (_b._) All charges on the Church property, for which no guarantee
     has been given by the Treasury before the passing of this Act shall
     be charged on the Consolidated Fund of Ireland, but shall not be
     guaranteed by the Treasury nor charged on the Consolidated Fund of
     the United Kingdom.

(2.) Subject to any existing charges on the Church property, such
property shall belong to the Irish Government and any portion of the
annual revenue thereof which the Treasury, on the application of the
Irish Government, certify at the end of any financial year not to be
required for meeting charges, shall be paid over and applied as part of
the public revenues under the control of the Irish Government.

(3.) As soon as all charges on the Church property guaranteed by the
Treasury have been paid, such property may be managed and administered,
and subject to existing charges thereon disposed of, and the income or
proceeds thereof applied, in such manner as the Irish Legislature may
from time to time direct.

[Sidenote: 32 & 33 Vict. c. 42, 44 & 45 Vict. c. 71.]

(4.) "Church property" in this section means all property accruing under
the Irish Church Act, 1869, and transferred to the Irish Land Commission
by the Irish Church Act Amendment Act, 1881.

[Sidenote: Public loans.]

17.--(1.) All sums due for principal or interest to the Public Works
Loan Commissioners or to the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland in
respect of existing loans advanced on any security in Ireland shall on
and after the appointed day be due to the Government of Ireland instead
of the said Commissioners, and such body of persons as the Government of
Ireland may appoint for the purpose shall have all the powers of the
said Commissioners or their secretary for enforcing payment of such
sums, and all securities for such sums given to such Commissioners or
their secretary shall have effect as if the said body were therein
substituted for those Commissioners or their secretary.

(2.) For the repayment of the said loans to the Consolidated Fund of the
United Kingdom, the Irish Government shall pay annually into that fund
by half-yearly payments on the _first day of January_ and _the first day
of July_, or on such other days as may be agreed on, such instalments of
the principal of the said loans as will discharge all the loans within
_thirty years_ from the appointed day, and shall also pay interest
half-yearly on so much of the said principal as from time to time
remains unpaid at the rate of _three_ per cent. per annum, and such
instalments of principal and interest shall be paid out of the moneys
carried to the customs and excise account under this Act, and if those
are insufficient, out of the Consolidated Fund of Ireland.

[Sidenote: Additional aid in case of war.]

18. If Her Majesty declares that a state of war exists and is pleased
to signify such declaration to the Irish Legislative Body by speech or
message, it shall be lawful for the Irish Legislature to appropriate a
further sum out of the Consolidated Fund of Ireland in aid of the army
or navy, or other measures which Her Majesty may take for the
prosecution of the war and defence of the realm, and to provide and
raise money for that purpose; and all moneys so provided and raised,
whether by loan, taxation, or otherwise, shall be paid into the
Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

[Sidenote: Money bills and votes.]

19.--(1.) It shall not be lawful for the Irish Legislative Body to
adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address, or Bill for the raising or
appropriation for any purpose of any part of the public revenue of
Ireland, or of any tax, duty, or impost, except in pursuance of a
recommendation from Her Majesty signified through the Lord-Lieutenant in
the session in which such vote, resolution, address, or Bill is

(2.) Notwithstanding that the Irish Legislature is prohibited by this
Act from making laws relating to certain subjects, that Legislature may,
with the assent of Her Majesty in Council first obtained, appropriate
any part of the Irish public revenue, or any tax, duty, or impost
imposed by such Legislature, for the purpose of, or in connection with,
such subjects.

[Sidenote: Exchequer Division and revenue actions.]

20.--(1.) On and after the appointed day, the Exchequer Division of
the High Court of Justice shall continue to be a Court of Exchequer for
revenue purposes under this Act, and whenever any vacancy occurs in the
office of any judge of such Exchequer Division, his successor shall be
appointed by Her Majesty on the joint recommendation of the
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland and the Lord High Chancellor of Great

(2.) The judges of such Exchequer Division appointed after the passing
of this Act shall be removable only by Her Majesty on address from the
two Houses of the Imperial Parliament, and shall receive the same
salaries and pensions as those payable at the passing of this Act to the
existing judges of such division, unless with the assent of Her Majesty
in Council first obtained, the Irish Legislature alters such salaries or
pensions, and such salaries and pensions shall be paid out of the moneys
carried to the customs and excise account in pursuance of this Act, and
if the same are insufficient shall be paid out of the Irish Consolidated
Fund, and if not so paid shall be paid out of the Consolidated Fund of
the United Kingdom.

(3.) An alteration of any rules relating to the procedure in such legal
proceedings as are mentioned in this section shall not be made except
with the approval of the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, and the
sittings of the Exchequer division and the judges thereof shall be
regulated with the like approval.

(4.) All legal proceedings instituted in Ireland by or against the
Commissioners or any officers of customs or excise, or the Treasury,
shall, if so required by any party to such proceedings, be heard and
determined before the judges of such Exchequer division, or some or one
of them, and any appeal from the decision in any such legal proceeding,
if by a judge, shall lie to the said division, and if by the Exchequer
division, shall lie to the House of Lords, and not to any other
tribunal; and if it is made to appear to such judges, or any of them,
that any decree or judgment in any such proceeding as aforesaid, has not
been duly enforced by the sheriff or other officer whose duty it is to
enforce the same, such judges or judge shall appoint some officer to
enforce such judgment or decree; and it shall be the duty of such
officer to take proper steps to enforce the same, and for that purpose
such officer and all persons employed by him shall be entitled to the
same immunities, powers, and privileges as are by law conferred on a
sheriff and his officers.

(5.) All sums recovered in respect of duties of Customs and Excise, or
under any Act relating thereto, or by an officer of Customs or Excise,
shall, notwithstanding anything in any other Act, be paid to the
Treasury, and carried to the Customs and Excise account under this Act.


21. The following regulations shall be made with respect to Police,
police in Ireland;

(_a._) The Dublin Metropolitan Police shall continue and be subject as
heretofore to the control of the Lord-Lieutenant as representing Her
Majesty for a period of _two years_ from the passing of this Act, and
thereafter until any alteration is made by Act of the Legislature of
Ireland, but such Act shall provide for the proper saving of all then
existing interests, whether as regards pay, pensions, superannuation
allowances, or otherwise.

(_b._) The Royal Irish Constabulary shall, while that force subsists,
continue and be subject as heretofore to the control of the
Lord-Lieutenant as representing Her Majesty.

(_c._) The Irish Legislature may provide for the establishment and
maintenance of a police force in counties and boroughs in Ireland under
the control of local authorities, and arrangements may be made between
the Treasury and the Irish Government for the establishment and
maintenance of police reserves.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Powers of Her Majesty_.

[Sidenote: Power over certain lands reserved to Her Majesty.]

22. On and after the appointed day there shall be reserved to Her

(1.) The power of erecting forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and
other buildings for military or naval purposes;

(2.) The power of taking waste land, and, on making due compensation,
any other land, for the purpose of erecting such forts, magazines,
arsenals, dockyards, or other buildings as aforesaid, and for any other
military or naval purpose, or the defence of the realm.

_Legislative Body._

[Sidenote: Veto by first order of Legislative Body, how over-ruled.]

23. If a Bill or any provision of a Bill is lost by disagreement
between the two orders of the Legislative Body, and after a period
ending with a dissolution of the Legislative Body, or the period of
_three years_, whichever period is longest, such Bill, or a Bill
containing the said provision, is again considered by the Legislative
Body, and such Bill or provision is adopted by the second order and
negatived by the first order, the same shall be submitted to the whole
Legislative Body, both orders of which shall vote together on the Bill
or provision, and the same shall be adopted or rejected according to the
decision of the majority of the members so voting together.

[Sidenote: Cesser of power of Ireland to return members to Parliament.]

24. On and after the appointed day Ireland shall cease, except in the
event hereafter in this Act mentioned, to return representative peers to
the House of Lords or members to the House of Commons, and the persons
who on the said day are such representative peers and members shall
cease as such to be members of the House of Lords and House of Commons

_Decision of Constitutional Questions._

[Sidenote: Constitutional questions to be submitted to Judicial

25. _Questions arising as to the powers conferred on the Legislature
of Ireland under this Act shall be determined as follows_:--

     (a.) _If any such question arises on any Bill passed by the
     Legislative Body, the Lord-Lieutenant may refer such question to
     Her Majesty in Council;_

     (b.) _If, in the course of any action or other legal proceeding,
     such question arises on any Act of the Irish Legislature, any party
     to such action or other legal proceeding may, subject to the rules
     in this section mentioned, appeal from a decision on such question
     to Her Majesty in Council;_

     (c.) _If any such question arises otherwise than as aforesaid on
     any Act of the Irish Legislature, the Lord-Lieutenant or one of Her
     Majesty's principal Secretaries of State may refer such question to
     Her Majesty in Council;_

     (d.) _Any question referred or appeal brought under this section to
     Her Majesty in Council shall be referred for the consideration of
     the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council;_

     (e.) _The decision of Her Majesty in Council on any question
     referred or appeal brought under this section shall be final, and a
     Bill which may be so decided to be, or contain a provision, in
     excess of the powers of the Irish Legislature shall not be assented
     to by the Lord-Lieutenant; and a provision of any Act which is so
     decided to be in excess of the powers of the Irish Legislature
     shall be void;_

     (f.) _There shall be added to the Judicial Committee when sitting
     for the purpose of considering questions under this section, such
     members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, being or having been Irish
     judges, as to Her Majesty may seem, meet._

     (g.) _Her Majesty may, by Order in Council from time to time, make
     rules as to the cases and mode in which and the conditions under
     which, in pursuance of this section, questions may be referred and
     appeals brought to Her Majesty in Council, and as to the
     consideration thereof by the Judicial Committee of the Privy
     Council, and any rules so made shall be of the same force as if
     they were enacted in this Act._

     (h.) _An appeal shall not lie to the House of Lords in respect of
     any question in respect of which an appeal can be had to Her
     Majesty in Council in pursuance of this section_.


[Sidenote: Office of Lord-Lieutenant.]

26.--(1.) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any
Act of Parliament, every subject of Her Majesty shall be eligible to
hold and enjoy the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, without
reference to his religious belief.

(2.) The salary of the Lord-Lieutenant shall continue to be charged on
the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, and the expenses of his
household and establishment shall continue to be defrayed out of moneys
to be provided by Parliament.

(3.) All existing powers vested by Act of Parliament or otherwise in the
Chief Secretary for Ireland may, if no such officer is appointed, be
exercised by the Lord-Lieutenant until other provision is made by Act of
the Irish Legislature.

(4.) The Legislature of Ireland shall not pass any Act relating to the
office or functions of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

_Judges and Civil Servants_.

[Sidenote: Judges to be removable only on address.]

27. A Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature or other superior court
of Ireland, or of any county court or other court with a like
jurisdiction in Ireland, appointed after the passing of this Act, shall
not be removed from his office except in pursuance of an address to Her
Majesty from both orders of the Legislative Body voting separately, nor
shall his salary be diminished or right to pension altered during his
continuance in office.

[Sidenote: Provisions as to judges and other persons having salaries
charged on the Consolidated Fund.]

28.--(1.) All persons who at the passing of this Act are judges of the
Supreme Court of Judicature or county court judges, or hold any other
judicial position in Ireland, shall, if they are removable at present on
address to Her Majesty of both Houses of Parliament, continue to be
removable only upon such address from both Houses of the Imperial
Parliament, and if removable in any other manner shall continue to be
removable in like manner as heretofore; and such persons, and also all
persons at the passing of this Act in the permanent civil service of the
Crown in Ireland whose salaries are charged on the Consolidated Fund of
the United Kingdom, shall continue to hold office and to be entitled to
the same salaries, pensions, and superannuation allowances as
heretofore, and to be liable to perform the same or analogous duties as
heretofore; and the salaries of such persons shall be paid out of the
moneys carried to the customs and excise account under this Act, or if
these moneys are insufficient, out of the Irish Consolidated Fund, and
if the same are not so paid, shall continue charged on the Consolidated
Fund of the United Kingdom.

(2.) _If any of these said persons retires from office with the
approbation of Her Majesty before he has completed the period of service
entitling him to a pension, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, if she
thinks fit, to grant to that person such pension, not exceeding the
pension to which he would have been entitled if he had completed the
said period of service, as to Her Majesty seems meet._

[Sidenote: As to persons holding civil service appointments.]

29.--(1.) All persons not above provided for and at the passing of
this Act serving in Ireland in the permanent civil service of the Crown
shall continue to hold their offices and receive the same salaries, and
to be entitled to the same gratuities and superannuation allowances as
heretofore, and shall be liable to perform the same duties as heretofore
or duties of similar rank, but any of such persons shall be entitled at
the expiration of _two years_ after the passing of this Act to retire
from office, and at any time if required by the Irish Government shall
retire from office, and on any such retirement shall be entitled to
receive such payment as the Treasury may award to him in accordance with
the provisions contained in the Fourth Schedule to this Act.

(2.) The amount of such payment shall be paid to him out of the moneys
carried to the customs and excise account under this Act, or, if those
moneys are insufficient, out of the Irish Consolidated Fund, _and so far
as the same are not so paid shall be paid out of moneys provided by

[Sidenote: 34 & 35 Vict. c. 36.]

(3.) The Pensions Commutation Act, 1871, shall apply to all persons who,
having retired from office, are entitled to any annual payment under
this section in like manner as if they had retired in consequence of the
abolition of their offices.

(4.) This section shall not apply to persons who are retained in the
service of the Imperial Government.

[Sidenote: Provision for existing pensions and superannuation

30. Where before the passing of this Act any pension or superannuation
allowance has been granted to any person on account of service as a
judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Ireland or of any court
consolidated into that court, or as a county court judge, or in any
other judicial position, or on account of service in the permanent civil
service of the Crown in Ireland otherwise than in some office, the
holder of which is, after the passing of this Act, retained in the
service of the Imperial Government, such pension or allowance, whether
payable out of the Consolidated Fund or out of moneys provided by
Parliament, shall continue to be paid to such person, and shall be so
paid out of the moneys carried to the customs and excise account under
this Act, or, if such moneys are insufficient, out of the Irish
Consolidated Fund, and so far as the same is not so paid, shall be paid
as heretofore out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom or
moneys provided by Parliament.

_Transitory Provisions._

[Sidenote: Transitory provisions in schedule.]

31. The provisions contained in the Fifth Schedule to this Act
relating to the mode in which arrangements are to be made for setting in
motion the Irish Legislative Body and Government and for the transfer to
the Irish Government of the powers and duties to be transferred to them
under this Act, or for otherwise bringing this Act into operation, shall
be of the same effect as if they were enacted in the body of this Act.


[Sidenote: Post Office and savings banks.]

32. Whenever an Act of the Legislature of Ireland has provided for
carrying on the postal and telegraphic service with respect to the
transmission of letters and telegrams in Ireland, and the post-office
and other savings banks in Ireland, and for protecting the officers then
in such service, and the existing depositors in such post-office savings
banks, the Treasury shall make arrangements for the transfer of the said
service and banks, in accordance with the said Act, and shall give
public notice of the transfer, and shall pay all depositors in such post
office savings bank who request payment within _six months_ after the
date fixed for such transfer, and after the expiration of such _six
months_ the said depositors shall cease to have any claim against the
Postmaster-General or the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, but
shall have the like claim against the Consolidated Fund of Ireland, and
the Treasury shall cause to be transferred in accordance with the said
Act the securities representing the sums due to the said depositors in
post office savings banks and the securities held for other savings

[Sidenote: Audit.]

33. Save as otherwise provided by the Irish Legislature,--

     (_a._) The existing law relating to the Exchequer and the
     Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom shall apply to the Irish
     Exchequer and Consolidated Fund, and an officer shall from time to
     time be appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant to fill the office of the
     Comptroller General of the receipt and issue of Her Majesty's
     Exchequer and Auditor-General of public accounts so far as respects
     Ireland; and

[Sidenote: 29 & 30 Vict. c. 39.]

     (_b._) The accounts of the Irish Consolidated Fund shall be audited
     as appropriation accounts in manner provided by the Exchequer and
     Audit Departments Act, 1866, by or under the direction of the
     holder of such office.

[Sidenote: Application of parliamentary law.]

34.--(1.) The privileges, immunities, and powers to be held, enjoyed,
and exercised by the Irish Legislative Body, and the members thereof,
shall be such as are from time to time defined by Act of the Irish
Legislature, but so that the same shall never exceed those at the
passing of this Act held, enjoyed, and exercised by the House of
Commons, and by the members thereof.

(2.) Subject as in this Act mentioned, all existing laws and customs
relating to the members of the House of Commons and their election,
including the enactments respecting the questioning of elections,
corrupt and illegal practices, and registration of electors, shall, so
far as applicable, extend to elective members of the first order and to
members of the second order of the Irish Legislative Body.

Provided that--

     (_a._) The law relating to the offices of profit enumerated in
     Schedule H. to the Representation of the People Act, 1867, shall
     apply to such offices of profit in the government of Ireland not
     exceeding ten, as the Legislature of Ireland may from time to time

     (_b._) After the first dissolution of the Legislative Body, the
     Legislature of Ireland may, subject to the restrictions in this Act
     mentioned, alter the laws and customs in this section mentioned.

[Sidenote: Regulations for carrying Act into effect.]

35.--(1.) The Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland may make regulations for the
following purposes:--

     (_a._) The summoning of the Legislative Body and the election of a
     Speaker, and such adaptation to the proceedings of the Legislative
     Body of the procedure of the House of Commons as appears to him
     expedient for facilitating the conduct of business by that body on
     their first meeting;

     (_b._) The adaptation of any law relating to the election of
     representative peers;

     (_c._) The adaptation of any laws and customs relating to the House
     of Commons or the members thereof to the elective members of the
     first order and to members of the second order of the Legislative
     Body; and

     (_d._) The mode of signifying their assent or election under this
     Act by representative peers or Irish members of the House of
     Commons as regards becoming members of the Irish Legislative Body
     in pursuance of this Act.

(2.) Any regulations so made shall, in so far as they concern the
procedure of the Legislative Body, be subject to alteration by Standing
Orders of that Body, and so far as they concern other matters, be
subject to alteration by the Legislature of Ireland, but shall, until
alteration, have the same effect as if they were inserted in this Act.

[Sidenote: Saving of powers of House of Lords.]

36. Save as is in this Act provided with respect to matters to be
decided by Her Majesty in Council, nothing in this Act shall affect the
appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords in respect of actions and
suits in Ireland, or the jurisdiction of the House of Lords to determine
the claims to Irish peerages.

[Sidenote: Saving of rights of Parliament.]

37. _Save as herein expressly provided all matters in relation to
which it is not competent for the Irish Legislative Body to make or
repeal laws shall remain and be within the exclusive authority of the
Imperial Parliament, whose power and authority in relation thereto, save
as aforesaid, shall in nowise be diminished or restrained by anything
herein contained._[75]

[Sidenote: Continuance of existing laws, courts, officers, &c.]

38.--(1.) Except as otherwise provided by this Act, all existing laws
in force in Ireland, and all existing courts of civil and criminal
jurisdiction, and all existing legal commissions, powers, and
authorities, and all existing officers, judicial, administrative, and
ministerial and all existing taxes, licence, and other duties, fees, and
other receipts in Ireland shall continue as if this Act had not been
passed; subject, nevertheless, to be repealed, abolished, or altered in
manner and to the extent provided by this Act; provided that, subject to
the provisions of this Act, such taxes, duties, fees, and other receipts
shall, after the appointed day, form part of the public revenues of

(2.) The Commissioners of Inland Revenue and the Commissioners of
Customs, and the officers of such Commissioners respectively, shall have
the same powers in relation to any articles subject to any duty of
excise or customs, manufactured, imported, kept for sale, or sold, and
any premises where the same may be, and to any machinery, apparatus,
vessels, utensils, or conveyance used in connexion therewith, or the
removal thereof, and in relation to the person manufacturing, importing,
keeping for sale, selling, or having the custody or possession of the
same as they would have had if this Act had not been passed.

[Sidenote: Mode of alteration of Act.]

39.--(1.) _On and after the appointed day this Act shall not, except
such provisions thereof as are declared to be alterable by the
Legislature of Ireland, be altered except--_

     (a.) _by Act of the Imperial Parliament and with the consent of the
     Irish Legislative Body testified by an address to Her Majesty, or_

     (b.) _by an Act of the Imperial Parliament, for the passing of
     which there shall be summoned to the House of Lords the peerage
     members of the first order of the Irish Legislative Body, and if
     there are no such members then twenty-eight Irish representative
     peers elected by the Irish peers in manner heretofore in use,
     subject to adaptation as provided by this Act; and there shall be
     summoned to the House of Commons such one of the members of each
     constituency, or in the case of a constituency returning four
     members such two of those members, as the Legislative Body of
     Ireland may select, and such peers and members shall respectively
     be deemed, for the purpose of passing any such Act, to be members
     of the said Houses of Parliament respectively._

(2.) _For the purposes of this section it shall be lawful for Her
Majesty by Order in Council to make such provisions for summoning the
said peers of Ireland to the House of Lords and the said members from
Ireland to the House of Commons as to Her Majesty may seem necessary or
proper, and any provisions contained in such Order in Council shall have
the same effect as if they had been enacted by Parliament._

[Sidenote: Definitions.]

40. In this Act--

The expression "the appointed day" shall mean such day after the
_thirty-first day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and
eighty-seven_ as may be determined by order of Her Majesty in Council.

The expression "Lord-Lieutenant" includes the lords justices or any
other chief governor or governors of Ireland for the time being.

The expression "Her Majesty the Queen," or "Her Majesty" or "the Queen,"
includes the heirs and successors of Her Majesty the Queen.

The expression "Treasury," means the Commissioners of Her Majesty's

The expression "Treaty" includes any convention or arrangement.

The expression "existing" means existing at the passing of this Act.

The expression "existing constituency" means any county or borough, or
division of a county or borough, or a University returning at the
passing of this Act a member or members to serve in Parliament.

The expression "duties of excise" does not include a duty received in
respect of any license whether for the sale of intoxicating liquors or

The expression "financial year" means the twelve months ending on the
_thirty-first day of March_.

[Sidenote: Short title of Act.]

41. This Act may be cited for all purposes as the Irish Government
Act, 1886.

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Electoral Districts.  | Number of Members.  |  Rotation.
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[74] The clauses printed in italics are the clauses of the Bill which
are specially referred to in the foregoing pages.

[75] This clause is printed as I am informed that it ought to have been
originally printed in the Bill.

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