Sivut kuvina

and thrive on its soil, to protect the life, liberty, and property of every Irishman, whether he be rich or poor, Saxon or Celt, and whether he loves his own land better than her foreign ruler or not, this is the essential condition to any reconciliation of the Irish race to the connection with England. Such a result can only be brought about by an Irish Legislature vested with the full and untrammelled control of Irish affairs within the bounds of Ireland.

Though it may cost a sacrifice to English pride, and still more to English race prejudice, thus to renounce all interference with the domestic policy of Ireland, it is not, in truth, a very serious material sacrifice. The money squandered on the official supporters of the government in Ireland is a burthen to the resources of Ireland, but it adds little to the comfort or prosperity of the English people. A contented and prosperous Ireland connected with the Empire by a common government for foreign affairs, for military and diplomatic service, and for the central executive presiding over these branches, would be an important addition to the strength of the empire in the complications which are sure to arise in the troubled political atmosphere of Europe. The transfer of Irish governmental business from the Parliament in Westminster to one in Dublin, would enormously increase the utility of that body for the home administration of England and the management of foreign affairs. The want of time to attend to the general concerns of the empire has become a constant complaint against Parliament, and several of the costly mistakes of recent years might have been avoided if the attention of Ministers had been free from the cares of the Irish question. The annexation of the Transvaal and the Zulu war, with its cost of thirty million dollars, and its series of ignominious disasters, the still more costly and unsuccessful campaigns in Afghanistan, with their outlay of over a hundred millions, and the dishonor and expense of the Soudan expedition, are a few specimens of the dangers which may any day follow from mistakes in policy in an empire like that of Great Britain. The closest attention is needed for the administration of a dominion extending to every quarter of the globe, and defended by a force which is insignificant beside the armies of every great European power. Yet, year after year, the greater part of the time of both ministers and Parliament is consumed in the ungrateful and hopeless task of misgoverning Ireland. The administrative power of the empire is wasted in the effort, as was the strength of Napoleon in the Spanish invasion. To stop that waste and increase the active work of the executive and legislature would be an enormous practical gain for England; but that can only be done by such a concession of self-government to Ireland as we have already indicated. As to the connection with the Empire which Ireland would

VOL. XI.-7

accept, and which might satisfy all reasonable wishes of the English people for maintaining the integrity of the empire, it does not seem that any insurmountable difficulty need occur. The precedents of Canada and Australia prove that English public opinion can be brought to relinquish administrative control over parts of her dominion under pressure of necessity. The national prejudices are, no doubt, more strongly opposed now to Irish selfgovernment than they were to self-government in Australia or Canada; but then, too, the motives which suggest its concession are much stronger. The details would necessarily be different. Ireland now bears a share in the burdens of the empire which was never borne by the colonies, and she will be doubtless required to bear it still. If skilfully adjusted, we do not believe that the burden would be too great, but, on this point, we are not perfectly certain. At the date of the Union, the resources of Ireland were estimated as bearing the relation of between one-eighth and oneninth to those of England. At present, judging by the incometax returns, the amount of the public debt held in the two countries, and the value of railroads in each, the wealth of Ireland is about one-twentieth that of England, while her contributions to the imperial taxation are about one-tenth of the whole. There is little doubt but the large relative increase in Irish taxation (sixtyeight per cent. in Ireland as against seventeen in England since the Russian war) has been one of the causes of the unexampled national decay alluded to already. With an intelligent government and a complete reform of the present administration, she might bear the load; but, on that point, we are by no means certain. One thing is sure, and that is, that the Irish taxpayers should reap the benefit of any economies that can be effected in their own administration; such, for instance, as in the constabulary expenditure, the vice-regal court, and the overpaid legal officials. The question of separate custom-houses, and the establishment of an Irish protective tariff, is one which, in the present free-trade policy of England, will excite considerable opposition; but, for ourselves, we are not inclined to believe it essential that such a right should be granted, though it would be highly desirable, as removing unnecessary interference of English or Imperial officials in the Irish government. Internal licenses might furnish protection, if needed, to Irish products, without interfering with the customs. Perhaps the most feasible solution of the question of imperial taxation would be a separate budget for the expenses connected with the central government, such as the army, navy, foreign and diplomatic service, the public debt, and the civil-list of the sovereign. The taxes necessary to meet these expenditures might be levied on particular branches of the revenue, either internal or external, applied uni

formly to both countries, which would thus share in the common burdens in proportion to their respective wealth. The special expenditures of both England and Ireland might then be met at the judgment of their own representatives by additional imposts in any form they might deem most suitable. The taxes on certain articles might thus be exclusively reserved for Imperial purposes, leaving both England and Ireland, through their respective representatives, free to tax themselves in any way they pleased for their own domestic expenditure.

It should not be anticipated, however, even though the material difficulties in the way be not insurmountable, that they will be speedily disposed of. First in the House of Commons, and again in the House of Lords, we may expect to hear the time-worn charges against the whole Irish people repeated again and again during the coming session of the British Parliament. It is more than likely, indeed, that most of its time will be consumed, as that of many former sessions has already been, in endless debates on the Irish difficulty, in its new form of a powerful third party holding the balance between the two, which look on the government of the Empire as their own property. The Irish race must be prepared for a long-enduring struggle before it can hope for final success. It may be better that it should be so. In political life, as in war, real success is only to be won at the cost of sacrifice and by the practice of patient discipline. A vigorous campaign in a hostile assembly will be an invaluable training-school for the future statesmen of Ireland, if they are faithful to their task and fearless in its execution. It is better that every objection to Home Rule in its true sense should be threshed out in the British Parliament beforehand, than that that body should concede the boon in hot haste, only to seek to minimize it by subsequent interference with the action of the Irish Parliament in its own affairs. If the contest be carried on vigorously and wisely, every day of it will be an additional argument with thinking Englishmen against future interference in the affairs of Ireland. It is the nature of such a struggle to weary out and disgust the side which has nothing to gain, and that side is not assuredly the Irish one. The Irish people and their leader have already experienced the worst of English animosity, and, short of utter extermination, they have little more to fear. A sudden move of Russian forces on the Himalayas may any day remind England by how slender a thread her empire hangs together, and cause a revulsion of feeling in favor of securing an Irish alliance, such as is now being experienced on a smaller scale by the leaders of her great parties. "We bring two mighty deities with us," said the Athenian commander of old, when he sought to extort tribute from a Grecian island, "Force and Argument, and you will do well to

pay heed to them." "We admit their might," replied the beleaguered garrison, "but we too have two awkward protectors, Necessity and Poverty, and with their aid we will bide your attack." The Irish people to-day have the same allies as the Naxian islanders had against the power of Athens. They cannot abandon the fight, and they have no spoils to reward their conquerors, while England, with the power, has also the weakness of overgrown and worshipped wealth. The contest will be a long and stubborn one, and it would be premature to chant victory before the battle is fought; but if the Irish people and their representatives continue the struggle as they have maintained it during the last five years, sooner or later we may fairly hope for full success, and that Ireland shall be

"A nation once again."


NOT many years ago, a whistorian, stated in one of the leading

writer of no mean acquirements, as a

English Reviews that the result of religious belief on mankind, wherever that belief had had any influence whatever, had been "to sap the foundations of patriotism, to eradicate the moral instincts, and to stunt intellectual growth and development"—and for proof of his statements he appealed to history. The matter, he seemed to think, was one of most profound simplicity, and he made very short work of it. The details of this singular account have naturally no need of criticism; nor would it be consistent with our purpose to examine their value here. If we mention them at all, it is only because they constitute the opinion generally of the modern school of progress. And not only is this opinion one among their many dogmatically expressed judgments, but is really implied in all of them; and it is being accepted on all sides more or less consciously, and being repeated on all sides with more or less emphasis.

As long as such vulgar confusion on such an important point continues, as long as the mind of the age remains blind to one of the most fundamental and, one would think, one of the most obvious truths that history can furnish, so long will a true calculation

It may be well to remind the reader that the term supernatural in the following paper is used not in the old Scholastic, but in the modern Agnostic sense.

be impossible of the prospects before humanity. The scope of the present paper will be to point and to direct, by a necessarily rapid and superficial historical review, the attention of thinking men to what was once considered a truism, to what is now complacently set down as a lie, and to what will, we hope, in a more lively way than ever, be by and by rediscovered as a truth. We will attempt to indicate that religious belief, so far from having had no influence, or an evil one, has really moulded all intellect and shaped all conduct that is distinctly human or distinctly civilized. And it would be no difficult task to show that religious belief is essential to all the hopes of those who are loudest in their outcry against it; that it is comprised not only in our conceptions of private character, but in the most advanced and liberal views of political and social progress. Of this assertion the annals of art, and of science, and of literature, afford the most complete confirmation. Nor can any one be deceived in this matter by an appeal to isolated historical facts, selected with no other aim, either in the choice or in the interpretation, than to support a forefixed bias or a foregone conclusion. For what we would wish to insist on here is not that our scientific sociological theorists are ignorant of history in the sense of being little acquainted with historical literature, though this too of many of them might, we conceive, be said with truth; the failure we attribute to them is something more serious. It is not that they have not advanced far enough in one field of inquiry, but that they have advanced no way at all in another; they may be foremost among those who know, or the most ignorant of all, with regard to what has happened in the history of the world, but in no fruitful way have they ever questioned why?

But, first, let us state more distinctly the exact bearing of our argument, the precise positions we desire to prove and disprove, and the definite schools or parties against whom what we shall have to urge shall be directed. These last, to designate them broadly, may be termed, in inconvenient if not new language, the school of Agnosticism: and the term will include more than it at first sight seems

For an Agnostic is not only one who denies simply that the supernatural has exerted any influence on the intellect of man, but who besides asserts that, supposing it to have exerted an influence, that influence has been evil. The Lucretian doctrine that religion is the "chief curse and prime affliction of the world," is asserted in positive terms by the doctors of Agnosticism.

And this brings us naturally to the matter now in hand. As the Agnostic school have treated philosophy, so have they treated the use of the supernatural. Let us take an instance. Let us take the doctrine which they claim as peculiarly their own, and which is so essential to their prophetic progress, and apply to it the tests

« EdellinenJatka »