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a match for English fortitude ? Because England has always, sooner or later, been compelled to recognise that Irish grievances rested on a real foundation of substantial abuses and chronic misery. The abuses have been slowly, hesitatingly, and reluctantly removed one by one. The misery has always remained. A foreign observer could see at a glance that the secret of Irish misgovernment lay in une mauvaise aristocratie-in an upper class estranged

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which has issued in perennial hunger of potatoes to the third man extant, ought to drop a veil over its face and walk out of court under conduct of proper officers, saying no word, expecting now of a surety sentence either to change or die. All men, we must repeat, were made by God, and have immortal souls in them. The sans-potato is of the selfsame stuff as the superfinest Lord-Lieutenant. Not an individual sans-potato human scarecrow but had a life given him out of heaven, with eternities depending on it, for once, and no second time; with immensities in him, over him, and round him ; with feelings which a Shakespeare's speech would not utter; with desires as illimitable as the autocrats of all the Russias. Him various thrice-honoured persons, things, and institutions have long been teaching, long been guiding, governing; and it is to perpetual scarcity of third-rate potatoes, and to what depends thereon, that he has been taught and guided. Figure thyself, O high-minded, clear-headed, clean-burnished reader, clapt by enchantment into the torn coat and waste hunger-lair of that same rootdevouring brother-man !” And this is Cornewall Lewis's account of the relation between distress and crime (“Irish Disturbances," p. 98): “It has been already explained how the Irish peasant, constantly living in extreme poverty, is liable, by the pressure of certain charges or by ejectment from his holding, to be driven to utter destitution—to a state in which himself and family can only rely on a most precarious charity to save them from exposure to the elements, from nakedness, and from starvation. It is natural that the most improvident persons should seek to struggle against such fearful consequences as these; that they should try to use some means of quieting apprehensions which (even if never realised) would themselves be sufficient to embitter the life of the most thoughtless; and it is to afford this security that the Whiteboy combinations are formed. The Whiteboy Association may be considered as a vast trades union for the protection of the Irish peasantry, the object being, not to regulate the rate of wages or the hours of work, but to keep the actual occupant in possession of his land, and in general to regulate the relation of landlord and tenant for the benefit of the latter. Certain other objects are added, the chief of which is to prevent the employment of a stranger, the quantity of work being, in the opinion of the labourers, already insufficient for the natives. At times, moreover, the Whiteboys have sought to reduce the rate of tithe, or to prevent its collection, or to lower the priests' dues. These combinations being constantly in existence, and working with weapons which may be turned to any purpose, the objects have, perhaps, somewhat varied; but in general they have been restricted simply to the occupation of land and the several payments immediately connected with it.”

1834)

DISCONTENT AND REPEAL

345

from the people and neglecting its duties. Yet for seventy years at least after the passing of the Act of Union, the constant endeavour of the imperial Parliament was to govern Ireland through the influence and according to the ideas of this estranged aristocracy. The pity of it is that the evil was wrought less by intention than by inattention. England strove to do her duty by Ireland, but she knew not how. She would not stoop to listen to those whom she accusedcertainly not without reason of encouraging disaffection and taking advantage of crime. She would not recognise that she had repeatedly taught Ireland the lesson that concession was the reward of violence, and that justice itself was only done when Ireland had to be appeased. The warnings of those members of the dominant order whose integrity and clear-sightedness compelled them to take the popular side were unheeded, and their pleadings were despised. 1 Parliament persisted in doing what Englishmen thought good for Ireland, not what Irishmen thought good for themselves. It is quite possible that Englishmen were right and Irishmen wrong. But the whole action of the former was inconsistent with the theory of an incorporating union, and an illustration of the pregnant maxim enunciated by Swift, that “government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery." The demand for repeal was at first feeble and might have been transient, though O'Connell himself was always its ardent supporter. It afterwards became the more serious, but still premature and impatient, expression of O'Connell's mistrust of the capacity and goodwill of the imperial Parliament to do for Ireland what Irishmen wanted done. In this its earlier form, however, it was temporarily placed in abeyance by O'Connell himself, when the advent of Lord Melbourne's Government to power in 1835 seemed to afford a hope that Ireland was at last

I See Lord Cloncurry's “Recollections,” passim, and the remarkable speech delivered by Smith O'Brien on “ The Causes of Discontent in Ireland," in the House of Commons, on July 4, 1843. When this speech was delivered, Smith O'Brien was not a repealer, but on October 20 he forwarded a subscrip. tion to the “ Loyal National Repeal Association.”

about to be governed in accordance with the wishes and necessities of the Irish people. It was only when this hope was frustrated by the action of the House of Lords in England and of the Ascendency party in Ireland, and when the Whig Government of Lord Melbourne had given place, in 1841, to the Tory Government of Sir Robert Peel, O'Connell's lifelong antagonist, that repeal was again taken up in earnest. It was not, indeed, until two years later that Smith O'Brien and others of his class joined the ranks of the repealers.

THE PEEL INTERREGNUM AND THE MELBOURNE

RÉGIME

THE short interregnum of Tory government under Sir Robert Peel in 1834-5, is only of importance to the history of Ireland in the illustration it offers of the controlling influence exercised by Ireland on the course of English politics. In the general election, which took place in the winter, O'Connell and his followers vehemently opposed the Tory candidates. Their language was so unmeasured and their action so violent that they alienated much sympathy in England, and contributed to the overthrow of Liberal candidates throughout the United Kingdom. The result of the elections was to throw the balance of power into the hands of O'Connell and his followers. Peel had a majority in England, but in the United Kingdom a majority, albeit a diminished one, was returned against him. He endeavoured for some months to govern without a majority in the House of Commons; but at last, after a series of defeats, he was forced to give way to his adversaries. He retired from office, and left the whole Irish question very much as he had found it. His chief secretary, Sir Henry Hardinge, introduced a Tithe Bill, framed very much on the same lines as that which had been rejected by the House of Lords in 1834; but the progress of the measure was cut short by the famous resolution on appropriation, which finally overthrew his ministry. The country was willing to give Peel a fair trial; but the Whigs were exasperated at the treatment which Lord Melbourne had received from the king in 1834, and they were determined, if possible, to make Peel the scapegoat of their resentment. It was necessary, in order to obtain a majority, to select some question which would combine Whigs and Radicals, and both with the followers of O'Connell. The question of appropriation was selected for this purpose, because it had been made a point of honour by Lord John Russell and the Whigs, was a point of principle with the Radicals, and a point of conscience with O'Connell. It is certain, however, that in respect of this question, and indeed of the whole question of the political and social equality of Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, the Liberal majority of 1835 was far in advance of the public opinion of Great Britain. The Protestantism of the Protestant religion was, in all religious matters, the characteristic note of the classes represented in the Reformed Parliament. Dissent was barely tolerated by them, and Popery was an abomination. The alliance with O'Connell was never popular in England, and the appropriation clause hung like a millstone round the neck of the Melbourne administration. Yet it is easy to see why it was that this question was chosen by Lord John Russell as the battle-ground on which to join issue with Peel. “As leader of the Liberal party in the House of Commons," says Lord John Russell himself, “I had no smooth path before me. To turn the majority into a minority by a direct vote of want of confidence would have been easy. But my object was to keep the majority together; and in the whole twenty years during which I led the Liberal party in the House of Commons, I never had so difficult a task. The plain and obvious plan of voting the supplies for three months being given up, the question naturally occurred, in what manner could Sir Robert Peel obtain that fair trial which his own partisans and many independent Whigs called for on his behalf ? There appeared no question so well fitted for an experimentum crucis as the question of the Irish Church. The proposal for a commission, made by Lord Grey's Government, had been considered by four of the leading members of the Cabinet as a test of principle, and the Liberal

a members of the first Reformed House of Commons had

1 “Recollections and Suggestions," p. 134.

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