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SIR THOMAS LEA, M.P.
MR. T. P. GILL, (Photograph by Russell, Baker Strect.)
(Photograph by Lawrence, Dawin.) PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE RECESS COMMITTEE.
HOMESTEAD RULE FOR IRELAND* : LORD SALISBURY'S OPPORTUNITY.
“But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land, that in the latter time hath he rade it glorious. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They Chat dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them bath the light shined.”--Isarah. .
INTRODUCTION. AT last light has risen in the darkness, and the weary A watcher on the mountain top, sick with hope
deferred and weary with waiting, may at last proclaim that day is at hand. There is some reason to believe that Ireland may celebrate the centenary of her enforced union with Great Britain by returning good for evil in an altogether unexpected manner. For many years past thick gloom has overhung the distressful land. As in ancient Israel, her people have passed through it hardly bested and hungry, and there also was the ancient prophecy fulfilled, and it was in Ireland as when it was written in Judæa: “And it shall come to pass that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves and curse their King and their God, and they shall look unto the earth and behold distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish, and into thick darkness thev shall be driven away.”
Even the heroical plunges of Mr. Gladstone in the direction of Home Rule served but to intensify the gloom, when his best efforts had failed, and a Unionist adininistration, by an unprecedented majority, was installed in office. Just as the darkest hour is before the dawn, so there is reason to believe that the General Election of 1895 may mark the turning-point in the dreary annals of the sister isle.
THE BLOT ON OUR ESCUTCHEON. It is indeed high time that light did arise from some quarter to illumine the Cimmerian darkness which has been steadily settling upon Ireland. Ireland is our great failure, the greatest and most universally conspicuous' of all the failures which we have made in the world. : Sational self-respect, to say nothing of the national conscience, demands imperatively, and has long demanded, that this blot on our escutcheon should be wiped off. This is not a question of party politics. Ever since its conquest we have been the predominant partner in the Anglo-Irish concern. For nearly one hundred years our domination, although veiled by parliamentary forms, has been not less absolute. We have taken Ireland, despite the frantic but fitful resistance of a majority of its inhabitants, to be managed according to our ideas, for our convenience and on our terms. We have resolutely acted upon the principle that, whatever may to the case in all other portions of the world's surface, the will of the local resident population should never be allowed to decide the way in which Ireland should be governed. In place of the will of the majority of the local voting population, which is supreme in all other English-speaking communities, we have imposed our will, in the belief that we were wiser, juster, and in every way better qualified to decide what is good for Ireland and the Irish than the Irish themselves. The experiment has been carried on for centuries. And the result is before us. The country is not prospering, the popula
* “ Report of the Recess Committee on the establishment of a Department of Agriculture and Industries for Ireland.” Brown and Nolan, Limited. Londoti, Fisher Unwin. ls. Pp. 419.
tion is not contented, and we stand saddled before the world with the disgrace of having made a hideous mess of the one task we insisted upon taking into our own hands. It may be that nothing better could be done. Many good, honest, patriotic Irishmen, as well as the majority of Englishmen, believe that such is the case, and that, bad though our best has been, it is better than the only possible alternative.
HOW WE HAVE FAILED IN IRELAND. Nevertheless, the fact remains as I have stated it. We have not made a success of Ireland. While every o country is increasing in population and wealth, Ireland has been going backward. Not even the intense land hunger of the native Celt has prevented a steady decline in the area of Irish soil under cultivation. This area dropped from 5,330,000 acres in 1875 to 4,930,000 in 1894. Population, the increase of which in every other part of our widely extended Empire is regarded as the surest proof of the success of our rale and the prosperity of our subjects, has steadily decreased in Ireland, and in Ireland alone, of all the countries sheltered by the Union Jack. When reading the figures revealed by the decennial censuses, one is apt to feel somewhat like the captain of a ship that has sprung a leak, when his carpenter reports every half-hour that he water is gaining in the hold. All the pumps may be manned and working to their utmost capacity, but still the leak gains over the pumps. So it is with Ireland. All our remedial legislation, all the fostering care of bene. ficent administrators fail to arrest this fatal leak. The population, which in 1841 stood at 8,000,000, shrunk in ten years, owing to the famine and the exodus to America, to 6,500,000. Thirty years later it had dropped to 5,500,000, aud in later years, after the Herculean labours of Mr. Gladstone with his Land Act, the decline in population had increased at such a rate that in 1891 the figures show a drop of 770,000. This year the population is almost exactly 2,000,000 lower than it was in 1851. There is no getting round that deadly record of accomplished failure. Ireland is bleeding to death under our feet. All these things are, however, the commonplaces of contemporary politics, and if anything could be added to this dismal array of admittet failures, we should search in vain for a single ray of light in the gloom.
THAT DAMNING TWO MILLIONS. But, thank heaven, that is not all! There is hope for Ireland at last, and that from quarters from which until recently no one ventured to expect it. I referred to the first new element in the situation two months ago, but the revolutionary significance of the fact has but yet been very imperfectly appreciated. The report of the influential, impartial, and predominantly British Commission upon the financial relations between Ireland and Great Britain will, when next Session opens, bring home to the knowledge of every citizen who takes an interest in politics the fict that for the last thirty years, at least, we have been taxing Ireland two millions a year in excess of what justice
demands she should be asked to contribute to the fact that in twenty years in the eighteenth centars Imperial revenue. Two millions a year extorted by the there were at least three or four of absolute famine. predominant partner from his junior by force majeure, which was not to be wondered at seeing that Mr. Lecký against his continuous protests, goes far to account for a adds “ Industrial and commercial enterprise had been drop of two millions in the population. There is indeed deliberately crushed.” We stand, therefore, convicted a coincidence between the figures which will probably first of having impoverished Ireland in order to free help to rivet them in the popular mind. Two millions a English manufacturers and English farmers from the year steadily extorted by the Imperial tax-gatherer in dread of Irish competition, and then of extorting from a excess of the sum Ireland should pay represents country so impoverished sixty millions more, in thirty as a result that there are two million fewer Irish in years, than she could in justice have been expected to Ireland than there were in 1851. When that fact is pay. And this, be it noted, is not the wild and frantic fully appreciated, the sentiment on the part of the rhetoric of excited Nationalists or fanatical Home British people that something must be done, and that Rulers, it is the deliberate finding of Unionist historians, with no niggard hand, in order to atone for this con- Unionist statesmen, British financiers, and a Committee tinual injustice, will prove to be irresistible. Ministers, presided over by a Unionist M.P. therefore, may rely upon it that when the Session opens Something, however, must be done. As long as the the first and most imperious demand which will be truth could be misrepresented or obscured, so long as addressed to them will not be as to the petty incidents any doubt existed as to the facts, so long our Governof border forays on the confines of South African ment might postpone taking any definite action in the territories, but the imperious inquiry as to what action matter; but when once the facts are written up as in they propose to take on the Finance Committee's report. letters of fire before all the nations of the world, and In face of such a finding we cannot, in common honesty, written, not by Irishmen, but by men of our own race continue to carry on as we have been carrying on for the and our own party, as the result of careful and dislifetime of a generation. We are bleeding Ireland “white passionate investigation, we can blunder on no longer as veal,” to use one of Bismarck's ghastly similes, but to in our present course without converting folly into that, at least, thank God, an effective check will have to crime. In face of such a record as this, Lord Salisbury be applied without delay in another Session.
might well shrink from lecturing the Sultan of Turkey WHAT ATONEMENT ?
as to the excessive exactions of his tax-gatherers in
Crete or Armenia. Of course, there is no analogy But merely to cease extorting two millions a year in
between the two cases so far as bloodshed and brutality excess of our legitimate claim upon our Irish partner is
are concerned, but the economic exhaustion of Ireland not sufficient. There must be some further redress, and
resulting from the deliberate civilised blood-sucking that right speedily, if we would make some atonement
of a scientific system of taxation may produce even more for our sins. And this brings me to the second
deadly results than those which have followed the roughreassuring element in the situation. If the Report of
and-ready administration of the pashas. It would be an the Finance Committee proves, even to the most high
interesting, but perhaps not altogether edifying, investihanded devotee of British ascendency, that something
gation if it could be ascertained whether in the last must be done, the Report of Mr. Horace Plunkett's
thirty years the decrease in population has been greater Recess Committee indicates not less clearly what it is
in Ireland or in the Turkish provinces, which form the that Ministers have got to do. Seldom, indeed, has there
constant pre-occupation of European diplomacy. fallen upon the ears of any administration in more clear
John Bull appears to be cornered at last. Fairly corand unmistakable accents the imperative command,“ This
nered by the facts and his own conscience. Hence is the way, walk ye in it," and woe, indeed, will be to
arises Lord Salisbury's supreme opportunity, and it is Lord Salisbury and his colleagues if they neglect so plain a
probable that in history his Cabinet will stand or fall by summons, The Recess Committee in their Report merely
the decision it arrives at in the November Cabinet allude, in passing, to the bearing of the Report of the
meetings as to the action which will be taken on the Commission on financial relations to their own recommendations.
report of those two Committees. They prefer to rest the justice of their. case on the admitted and indisputable facts as to the
PART 1.—THE RECESS COMMITTEE. deadly and deliberate policy pursued by England in the past in paralyzing Irish industry. The Committee quote
Readers of the REVIEW will understand better what the Mr. Balfour himself as their authority for asserting that Recess Committee is by the brief remark that it is the nearest many of the ills of Ireland arise from its poverty, and approximation that has been made to the ideal of the Civic that this poverty is in part the work of England and Scotland. They add :
secure the co-operation of representatives of all sections of Not only is the poverty thus accounted for, but in a large
Irish opinion in the formulation of proposals to which measure also, it seems to us, the temper and habits of the no good man can take exception, and on which, therefore, people in respect of industry.
all good citizens may be regarded as agreed. OUR CRIME IN IRELAND.
THE CIVIC CHURCH AND ITS ONE DOGMA. It would be difficult to frame a more damaging indict. The principle of the Civic Church, I need hardly remind ment than that which Mr. Plunkett's Committee have our readers, is in its essence nothing more than this, viz., found themselves compelled to draw up against Great. Get the best men on both sides together, and let them draw Britain. British legislation left Ireland no chance-?' up a programme which may be regarded as the irreduit struck at all her industries, not excepting agricul- cible minimum of what ought to be done. That there is ture. It
such a consensus of opinion upon almost all questions forced the population into entire dependence on the land, and that agitate the nations is a faith that has nowhere been reduced the country to that economic condition in which preached more sedulously than in these pages. It is the famines became chronic.
only true way in which we can arrive at the Catholic Mr. Lecky himself is quoted as the authority for the faith, it is the modern variant of the old ecclesias
tical saving which defined the true creed of the Church as that which was held everywhere in all time by all believers. If there was one country in the world where it might indeed have been thought the principle of the Ciric Church would have no chance at all, Ireland was the land. For more than any other Christian land its population has been torn by faction, until hatred has heen almost elevated to the dignity of a supreme virtue. The proposal was brought forward at a time when the minority was exultant at the victory which it had achieved by the aid of its British allies, the majority was smarting with the pain of a defeat inflicted at the very moment when it had most hoped for victory. Yet in this land of faction there was formed, in the autumn of last year, a committee which, although unfortunately deprived of the presence of the representatives of the Irish Parliamentary party, would nevertheless be accepted, even by the leaders of that party, as in the best sense representative of all shades of Irish opinion.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMITTEE. Mr.Plunkett's original suggestion was that the committee should contain four Nationalists, two Parnellites, and two Cpionists. This suggestion was modified, partly owing to the refusal of Mr. McCarthy to take part in a proposal which he feared, from a phrase in Mr. Plunkett's letter, might have as its object the seeking of a substitute for Home Rule. Thus the committee had to be constituted on a broader basis and in a less formal fashion than was originally suggested. The following is a list of the members of the committee, all of whom signed the report:
Chairman.-HON. HORACE PLUNKETT, M.P. THE EARL OF Mayo.
WILLIAM FIELD, M.P.
VALENTINE B. Dillon.
Rev. T. A. FIXLAY, S.J., Rt. Hon. Thomas SINCLAIR. F.R.U.I. Sir JOHN ARNOTT, Bart., D.L. Thomas P. GILL. Sir Thomas LEA, Bart., M.P. Joseph M. Kenny, M.D. Jong REDMOND, M.P.
H. BroughAY LEACH, LL.D. John H. PARNELL, M.P. Count MOORE, D.L. RICHARD M. DANE, Q.C., M.P.
It will be seen that extreme Nationalists and thoroughgoing Unionists sit side by side. Belfast and Dublin are represented by picked men, the Presbyterian and the Catholics have their spokesmen on the Committee, and although, owing to the unfortunate misunderstanding which led the Irish Parliamentary Party to stand aloof when the Committee was constituted, Mr. Dillon himself would probably find nothing to object to in the recommendations of the report.
ITS METHODS. If the Recess Committee was constituted on exactly the same lines as the proposed organisation of the Civic Church, its modus operandi was not less identical with that which had always been put forward as the true line of action. Instead of endeavouring to evolve schemes of reform from our own inner consciousness, the first thing always is to ascertain that which has been done already with success elsewhere, then, having ascertained that, to bring our best judgment to bear as to how much of it can be adopted for use at home. This is precisely what the Recess Committee did. They tell us in the report
We first devoted our attention to the present economic con
dition of Ireland, and sought to trace our industrial shortcomings and commercial disadvantages to their more direct causes. Then we sent Special Commissioners to the following countries :-France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Bavaria, Würtemburg, Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland. They were asked to inquire into the development, in each country, of its industrial resources through the agency of State aid and the active co-operation of the inhabitants.
Having obtained these Reports, which are published in full, and which form a valuable section of the book under notice, they proceeded to evolve from a careful study of them all a scheme upon which they could agree as embodying that which was most likely to heal the ills of which Ireland complains. It is significant that all the members of this Committee-Tory, Liberal, Nationalist, Parnellite, Catholic, and Presbyterian-have found no difficulty in agreeing as to what ought to be done, as to what can be done, and in formulating their proposals in such terms as to make them perfectly clear to every one who pays any attention to the subject in both countries.
PART II.—WHAT THEY RECOMMEND. The recommendations of the Committee as to what should be done in Ireland is, in brief, that the people should be encouraged and stimulated to help themselves, and that the best means to do this in Ireland is to adopt the systems which have been found the most efficacious for promoting local effort in countries which most nearly correspond to the social and economic conditions of Ireland.
The one supreme object which they have put before them is to create in every Irish parish a centre of life for purposes of co-operation, of education, and of social and industrial amelioration.
A PERSONAL REMINISCENCE. I remember discussing the Irish question with Lorit Monteagie ten years ago in the West of Ireland. It was my first visit to the country, in which I had spent two months, going backwards and forwards endeavouring to ascertain as best I could where lay the vitals of the question. When Lord Monteagle asked me what conclusion I had come to, I explained that everything seemed to hinge upon the creation of an organised germ of lite in every locality, round which the whole social and economic activity of the people could develop--an agricultural commune, in short. Some kind of beginning, or what seemed to me to be beginning to exist in the local branches of the Land League, lay at the root of everything. “For Ireland," I said, “is a great farm, and under any rational system of government the Minister of Agriculture would be the most important man in the country.” Lord Monteagle remarked somewhat sarcastically that he had never expected to find an English Radical recommending the Russian Mir as the one remedy for the ills of Ireland. But the idea has never left me, and I am rejoiced to perceive in every lino of this Recess Report the same conclusion, set forth with an amplitude of knowledge on what has been done elsewhere to which I could lay no claim.
IRELAND A FARM. Without in any way expressing an opinion upon the vexed question as to what should be done for Ireland as a nation, the Recess Committee have confined themselves to the much more practicable and immediate question of what should be done to Ireland as a farm, and Ireland solely as a population of human beings who stand in need of more money in their pockets, more food in their stomachs, and more clothes on their backs. Their recommendations are all governed by these strictly practical, material considerations :-How can we choke ile leak? How can we arrest that perpetual decrease in tie population which threatens, unless something can be done, to convert Ireland into à cattle ranch, in which great herds may be tended by a few cowboys, who would alone remain to represent the nation which through the centuries has played so pathetic and tragic a part in tbe affairs of the world?
ITS BEARING ON HOME RULE. The Home Ruler, indeed, may well consent to lay aside every prejudice and, for this occasion only, the advocacy of the measure which he regards as the only specific for Ireland's ills. For nothing is more certain than the fact that any attempt to deal practically with any Irish question on the lines of the Recess Committee will inevitably reinforce, and strongly reinforce, the movement in favour of Home Rule. The Committee lay down as the essential principle of the new departure which they recommend that those persons charged with its execution should be in touch with the public opinion of the classes whom their work concerns, and to rely largely for its success upon their active assistance and co-operation. Now every Home Ruler knows that the active assistance and cooperation of the classes with whose interest the Recess Committee deal can only be commanded by an administration that is in close and living contact with the Irish nation. Every step which they recommend is a step in the direction of giving the Irish people, each in their own locality, moro of that cohesiveness which will enable them to act effectively in political matters, and is calcu• lated also to increase their strength, both by developing their resources and accustoming them to the habit of concerted action in all business affairs.
The Unionist, on the other hand, may well be content to leave all these considerations to the future. What he has to do, if the Union is not to continue to be the reproach of the Empire, is to stop the leak and do some thing that will really secure the prosperity of Ireland.
THE UTILISATION OF THE STATE. But, although the sheet-anchor of the whole scheme of the Recess Committee is the development of local centres of co-operation, they recognise, as fully as any Imperialist could desire, the imperative need of utilising what mir be regarded as the Imperial resources of a financial and central administration. Some English critics who have hastily skimmed through the Report have fallen into . the egregious blunder of imagining that the Committee proposes that the State should become a Universal Providence for the improvident peasant, and they have condemned the scheme accordingly. But that is not what the Recess Committee have recommended. They have demanded assistance from the State, both financial and administrative; but this has not been an end in itself: it has only been the instrument and means by which they propose to attain its chief end, viz., the creation of selfhelping, co-operative, self-governing, agricultural and industrial communities in every part of the land. In this they have demanded nothing more than what has been found to be indispensable by every other country which has found itself in the same position as Ireland.
THE PROBLEM STATED. The problem which confronted them they state without exaggeration in the following paragraph:
We have in Ireland a poor country, practically without manufactures-except for the linen and ship-builling of the North, and the brewing and distilling of Dublin-dependent
upon agriculture, with its soil imperfectly tilled, its ares under cultivation decreasing, and a diminishing popalation who are without industrial habits or technical skill. Ours is by common consent one of the simplest and most barbarous systems of agriculture of Western Europe, both us regards the want of variety in the crops and the scantiness of the produce.
They founl that, according to the opinion of the most competent authorities, it only requires the appli'ation of more brains and more common sense to the cultivation of the soil to produce for the Irish people & revenue enormously greater than the maximum saved and secured to the Irish tenant by the reductions of rent under the Land Act.
A POSSIBLE MILLION A WEEK. The Committee report that if they take a middle figure between the calculations of the best authorities, such as Sir Robert Kane and the Congested Districts Board, they would be under the mark in asserting thatby mixed husbandry, by the feeding of stock on cultiratel crops, and by more scientific tillage generally, the agricultural produce of Ireland is capable of being doubled. The value of the principal crops in Ireland in 1891 was £31,425,021 ; of the live stock, 180,931,815; total, £112,359,866. If by any means Ireland ever succeeds in doubling that figure, tha comfort of the greater portion of her population muy be regarded as secured.
Even if we reduce it by one-half of the figures statel by the Committee, and estimate the possible increase in the produce of this Irish farm, we have a sum of fifty millions a year, or a million sterling a week, which might be secured for Ireland if only the Governinent would consent to apply to the country the principles of social and industrial development which hava revolutionised Würtemburg and Denmark.
A MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE. But what is this method ?
It is that the administration of State aid to agriculture and industries in Ireland on the principles to be described can be most effectively carried out by including the two branches of agriculture and industries, anl the technical instruction relating thereto, under the care of one Department of Govern. ment, which should be specially created for the purpose, which should consist of a Bɔard with a Minister of Agriculture and Industries responsible to Parliament at its heal, and which should be assisted by a Consultative Council representative of the agricultural and industrial interests of the country.
This Department, besides undertaking certain new duties hitherto left undischarged, should, save as particularly mentioned below, take over the functions of the following existing Departments of Irish government :- The Congested Districts Board, the Inspectors of Irish Fisheries, the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council, part of the functions of the Board of Works, the Agricultural Department of the Land Commission, thy Agricultural Department of the Board of National Education, the function of the Science and Art Department in Ireland.
At the head of this Department they w
At the head of this Department they would place a Minister responsible to Parliament; but if this were objected to, they would add all the new functions with which they propose to entrust the Department to the Chief Secretary, who is already overworked. They would, however, assist the Minister by the appointment of a Cabinet or a Board, and also a Consultative Council, which would resemble the Russian Zemskie Sobor, in that it would be consultative and not legislative.
AN EXECUTIVE BOARD. Speaking of the Board, they say :Speaking of th
We recommend the appointment of a Board to act with the Minister, consisting of not less than five members, chosen as