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of the government will weaken the empire. Their scheme, they maintain, makes it possible to satisfy the national aspirations of the inhabitants of the different parts of the kingdom, to secure for each part a better local administration than it has at present, and yet to preserve the unity of the empire and the supremacy of the imperial government.

But, after all, the most interesting question at present concerning the Government of Ireland Bill is whether it has any chance of becoming a law in the near future. As regards this question, any prophecy at the present juncture would be rash. Nevertheless, there are some facts which can be stated with reasonable certainty and which are worthy of the attention of students of current politics. One of the most evident of these facts is that the majority of Englishmen no longer get excited about the question. True enough a certain class of Unionist leaders are using strong, not to say violent and discourteous, language in the newspapers, on the platform, and even on the floor of the House of Commons. But as far as the results have been expressed in votes they cannot be said to tell very strongly against Home Rule. The administration has lost several seats at recent by-elections and has held others by decreased majorities, as the administration of the day usually does. But in none of these contests have the Unionists shown a disposition to feature Home Rule as an issue, except perhaps in Manchester. But since 1903 the voters of that city have developed the habit of returning Liberal members in general elections, when there is a possibility that the election of a Unionist member might mean the success of the policy of protective tariffs, and Unionists in by-elections, when "free trade” is not in danger. Much water has passed under the bridges since 1886, even since 1893, and there is every indication that in the meantime the view that some measure of Home Rule is the only possible solution of the Irish question has gained ground in Great Britain until it now commands the approval of a majority of the voters. The most rabid Unionist leaders themselves complain of the apathy of their followers. An examination of the arguments used by the leaders of the parties that

support the rival policies will make clearer the reasons for the existence of this apathy.

Since they are proposing a change from the present system, we naturally consider first the arguments of those who favor Home Rule as an imperial policy. Before entering upon that subject, however, perhaps it would be well to remark that a great many Unionists appear to be perfectly serious in their belief that the Liberal party is not at present influenced in its action by these arguments. The Asquith administration could certainly not command a majority in the House of Commons without the support of the Irish Nationalists. Unionists, therefore, say, and apparently believe, that the prime minister and his colleagues have "sold themselves for place,” and that they do not really believe in the measures they are supporting. It would be a mistake, however, to take this view too seriously. Even though we could believe the ministers, who are admitted by many Unionists to be a more able group of men than those who occupy the front opposition bench, to be so entirely devoid of political scruples, it is impossible to conclude that all their eminent supporters out of office, publicists, journalists, and the like, are also of that character. We are obliged to believe, therefore, that the arguments used by the advocates of Home Rule represent the actual opinions of a considerable number of English people.

We need not consider the historic grievances of the Irish. They are admitted by both parties. The difference of opinion concerns the character of the remedy that ought to be adopted. Those who favor the policy of Home Rule maintain that the last century and a half, and particularly the last half-century, has for various reasons seen the rise of a national spirit in Ireland which cannot be ignored and ought not to be suppressed if such a thing were possible. They argue that the obvious course to pursue is to recognize this nationalism as a fact and to grant to the Irish a large measure of autonomy, though at the same time preserving the supremacy of the imperial parliament. Those who hold this view believe, moreover, that this policy will serve to bring the English and Irish peoples closer

together, and that the empire would gain a more loyal support from Ireland with Home Rule than it ever can from an Ireland governed by coercion and held by force to an unpopular union. Those who favor the policy of Home Rule say, in the third place, that social conditions in Ireland are different in many respects . from those in England and, therefore, that the two countries require a correspondingly different legislative and executive treatment. Manifestly, in that case, natives of Ireland, inheriting the traditions of the country and conversant with its peculiar problems, would be more likely to deal wisely with these questions than statesmen who regard them rather as pestiferous incidents to a larger task than as matters of prime importance. Finally, those who favor the policy of Home Rule argue, and bring facts to support their contention, that the imperial legislature is at present overworked and that if the general problems of the empire are to receive the attention they deserve, questions of a local character will have, in the course of time, to be delegated to local legislatures created for that purpose. In view of the widespread demand for such a legislature in Ireland, they argue that the present is an auspicious time and Ireland an eminently proper place to begin the inevitable process of devolution.

Now these are arguments of undeniable weight, and we naturally expect to find those who favor the maintenance of the union offering arguments equally worthy of consideration in support of their view. In 1886 or in 1893 we should not have been disappointed in that expectation. Those who took their cue from Dicey's "England's Case Against Home Rule” and “A Leap in the Dark," and similar works may not in every case have been justified in their inferences or correct in their theories; but they at least had the merit of approaching a difficult question in a sane and dignified manner. Only the blindest partizan can say as much for the leaders of the present opposition to Home Rule. Of course there are still many Unionists whose convictions are based on considerations that have to do with the larger interests of the empire. But arguments of this character seldom or never come from those who sit on the pres

ent opposition front bench in the House of Commons or from those who are responsible for the recent tactics of the Unionist party. Mr. Bonar Law and his colleagues seem to have decided to rest their case in opposing Home Rule entirely on the likelihood that Ulster will resist, an argument that was used in turn against Catholic emancipation and the disestablishment of the Irish church. Ulster, it seems, is always going to fight, and Ulster will in every case be right, to paraphrase Lord Randolph Churchill. It cannot be denied that a part of the population of a portion of Ulster retains more of seventeenth century fanaticism than is probably to be found in any other district in the British empire. Even the English friends of Ulster say that. Nevertheless, Nationalists have the consolation of remembering that none of Ulster's recent fights have reached serious proportions and that her contentions have hitherto proved to be far from right in the result.

Since present-day Unionists base their opposition to the policy of Home Rule almost entirely on the probability that Ulster will resist, it is necessary to examine Ulster's position more closely. The obvious retort that Liberals use, namely, that the Nationalists, who constitute a large majority of the population, have fought in the past and may very likely fight again if denied Home Rule, does not go to the root of the matter. Perhaps the religious question is the most vital part of Ulster's

Her friends deny absolutely any possibility that a Catholic Nationalist parliament would do her justice. They scorn, therefore, the proposals of the ministers to incorporate in their scheme any reasonable safeguards against injustice that the friends of Ulster may suggest. Indeed, the present leaders of the Unionist party, apparently forgetting that the Home Rule bill, should it pass into law, will have the whole power of the empire to enforce it, have formed the habit of speaking in disparaging terms of the provisions of a prospective law of the land as "paper safeguards,” intimating that they will scarcely be worth the paper on which they will be recorded. Unionists, however, do not usually justify all the prejudices of Ulster.


They merely cite them as facts and as in themselves a sufficient reason for withholding the demands of the Nationalists.

This view might deserve more consideration had not the Unionist leaders, apparently despairing of arousing much hostility to Home Rule in England, spent the past few months in frantic efforts to stir up those very passions in Ulster, the existence of which they assign as the reason for their opposition to the Nationalist policy. There has been much loose talk about breaking laws and lynching ministers, which might be dismissed as unworthy of consideration had not Mr. Bonar Law himself said-as he tells us, with a full realization of his responsibility as leader of his party-first at Blenheim and later on the floor of the House of Commons, that should the proposed Home Rule bill be passed under the existing circumstances there is no length which Ulster might go in resisting the measure which would not be justifiable and which he would not support. In other words, should the Home Rule bill be passed into law against their wishes the faction at present in control of the Unionist party profess that they are ready to support Ulster in raising rebellion and offering forcible resistance to its enforcement. Much was said early in the summer of collecting arms and drilling men. The natural result was disorder among the laborers of Belfast around July 12, when the Unionist workmen undertook to drive all Catholics and Nationalists out of their employment in the ship-yards. One of the largest firms in Belfast was obliged to suspend temporarily the operation of a large part of its plant on account of these disorders. The Unionist leaders, however, made haste to disavow these riots. The resistance they have in mind, they say, will be something more "dignified.”

After many councils a program has been made public, which is to be carried into effect the latter part of September. Religious exercises are to be held on an appointed day, which all faithful Ulstermen are expected to attend. Later they are to sign a solemn league and covenant in imitation of their Scotch forefathers in the seventeenth century. The purport of this covenant is that the signers will not submit to a Dublin parlia

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