Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the men of the countryside needed more solid bait, which was presently provided. Mr. Arthur Griffith's paper 'Nationality' for June 9, 1917, contained this significant piece of news:

The Club lately formed at Castlemahon, Newcastlewest, is urging the local farmers to consider the present taxation, and the trend of future taxation. Other districts, please copy this headline.

The other districts did copy it, and soon the most popular item in the otherwise meagre Sinn Fein programme was that which promised that Ireland, her independence secured by international action at the Peace Conference, would not only escape all taxation necessitated by the war, but would unload all her other obligations on to Great Britain and become at a stroke' the only nation in Europe free of a national debt.'* It is easy to understand the force of this appeal to the pockets of people too ignorant to understand the silliness of the assumption that underlies it. But this was not all. The insatiable land-hunger of the peasants was to be satisfied, and as an earnest of the intentions of the triumphant Republic the local Sinn Fein organizations entered forcibly on the lands of 'ranchers,' 'drove' the offending cattle, and ploughed up grass-lands, in defiance of the law and regardless of the economy of the farms thus outraged.

But men, and especially perhaps Irishmen, are governed by fear even more than by desire; and the Sinn Feiners have not shrunk from applying the element of fear. In Ireland coercion' by the legal Government has always been one thing, coercion by organized terrorist groups quite another; and has not Irish civilization enriched the political armoury of the world with a new weapon and the vocabularies of all nations with a new word-the boycott? The Sinn Feiners have faithfully reproduced this, and all other methods of intimidation employed in earlier agitations, their object being-as Judge Wakely pointed out at the Roscommon Quarter Sessions in May-to terrorize people into thinking that they are the rulers of Ireland and that the Government Departments are of no consequence.

This was precisely the result aimed at by the policy advocated

* Mr. Darrell Figgis at Ennis, July 4, 1917.

by Mr. Arthur Griffith in his 'Resurrection of Hungary,' published in 1904; and the infinite tolerance of the Government during the session of the Convention enabled it to achieve a large measure of success. That success acted rapidly on the trend of opinion in the Convention itself. Successive Sinn Fein victories at the polls forced the Nationalists to show their hand more completely in demanding at least 'dominion 'self-government.' The southern Unionists, resentful of their desertion by the Ulster Protestants under the 'partition' scheme, despairing of any adequate protection for their lives and property by the Imperial Government, believed that their only chance of safety lay in coming to terms with the Nationalists. But this ill-assorted and short-lived alliance was far from being a victory for the British policy of conciliation. It was the outcome, so far as the Unionists were concerned, partly of the instinct of self-preservation, partly of bitter resentment at the constant betrayal by the Government at Westminster of the interests of those Irishmen who have been consistently loyal to the British connection: a resentment which has done much towards uniting the Irish people on the only principle which could unite them-common hatred of the British Government. Let there be no mistake about this. The resistance of the Protestant democracy of Ulster to Home Rule is not dependent upon affection for Great Britain; it is due to a fundamental instinct of self-preservation, to the determination of a highly efficient community not to be placed at the mercy of a majority less efficient-and wholly alien. Ulster sentiment towards Great Britain, based partly on community of race, but far more on community of interests, might easily be turned into hate, as it has been before. 'In 'Ireland it does not pay to be loyal ' is a refrain which has been heard too often of late. Before the change of system introduced with the viceroyalty of Field-Marshal Lord French there was a rapidly growing tendency among the Southern Unionists to use language not differing greatly from that of the more moderate Sinn Feiners. The present writer has talked with Tory country gentlemen, lifelong Unionists, who maintained that if the Union was to be dissolved, the more complete the dissolution the better, as they had lost all faith in the power or will of the Government to protect their friends, and any perpetuation even of a shadow of authority over Ireland VOL. 228. NO. 465.

L

at Westminster would merely serve as an excuse for the misrule of the Irish Parliament and expose them, in their isolation, to attack as an alien garrison.

Recent events have, indeed, changed this temper. The anti-conscription campaign, by its revelation of the spirit in which the Roman Church is prepared to use its inordinate political power, and of the unwillingness or powerlessness of the Nationalists to pursue a moderate policy, has killed any disposition of the Southern Unionists to compromise with their principles. The process has been helped by recent objectlessons in the probable fate of unpopular minorities under a nationalist regime. The boycotting of the six Protestant members of the Wicklow Urban Council who had the temerity to vote against an anti-conscription motion attracted special attention because the victims were comparatively conspicuous. But it was only a sample of the system everywhere applied; for everywhere men who refused to sign the pledge or to contribute to the anti-conscription fund have been made outcasts among their neighbours and have lost their means of livelihood. What hope will there be for the Protestant minority in the south of Ireland if subjected to a majority which knows only two principles of government—ecclesiastical authority and organized terrorism? Their hope at present lies in the maintenance of the Union. But if they are abandoned by the British people, and possibly also cut off from their co-religionists of the north, their only chance of survival will be to accommodate themselves to the prevailing sentiment, which will certainly not be love of England or enthusiastic loyalty to the Empire.

In short, Home Rule, whether under a federal scheme or any other, will not conciliate the disloyal elements in Ireland; it will merely tend to alienate the loyal. Sir Edward Carson said in the House of Commons on the 25th of last month, There is no use in having the whole of Ireland against you.' The remark was greeted with laughter and cheers, which seemed to indicate a dawning appreciation of realities in the House. But the reiteration by the Chief Secretary of his Home Rule faith proved that the principles of political gnosticism still rule in high places, and that the efficacy of formulæ has ever now not been wholly discredited.

INDIA IN TRAVAIL

1. India in Transition. By H. H. The AGA KHAN. The Medici Society. 1918.

2. Letters to the People of India on Responsible Government. By LIONEL CURTIS. Macmillan. 1918.

FOR

OR the first time since the old East India Company disappeared and the government of India was transferred to the Crown, the purpose of British policy in India was clearly defined last year in the Pronouncement made on August 20th in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for India, Mr. Montagu. It was, he stated,' the gradual 'development of self-governing institutions with a view to 'the progressive realization of responsible government in 'India, as an integral part of the British Empire.'

There can be no mistake as to the constitutional significance of that Pronouncement. For sixty years since the Mutiny, British policy in India has been framed in the spirit of Queen Victoria's Proclamation of 1858. Whilst it promised complete religious toleration and the admission, 'as far as may be,' of Indians of whatsoever race or creed 'freely and impartially' to the Indian public services, it contemplated India merely as a great trust to be administered at the direction of the British trustees in the interests of those committed to their charge.

It is to that interpretation of our duties towards India that we have hitherto held fast. We have abstained even more rigidly than in the days of the East India Company from any interference with Indian religious, social or domestic institutions, however repugnant to our own ideals. We have concentrated our energies on promoting mainly the material welfare of the people, and the intellectual side of education, rather than its moral side, lest on the latter we should be suspected of trenching on the domain of religion. The number of Indians admitted to the higher ranks of the public services has been steadily, if slowly, increased. The creation of urban municipalities and rural boards has offered Indians an opportunity, of which they have been slow to avail themselves

effectively, of taking part in local government, and in 1892 they were given substantial representation in the Legislative Councils of the Viceroy and of the Provincial Governments. A slightly new note was, it is true, sounded in the Proclamation issued by King Edward VII. on November 2, 1908, the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Victoria's Proclamation. Stress was laid on 'British guidance and control'; but it announced that the time had come 'prudently to extend the principle ' of representative institutions' and to give 'politic satis'faction' to the aspirations of important classes' representing 'ideas that have been fostered and encouraged by British rule.' The reforms thus foreshadowed took effect in the Councils Act of 1909, with which the names of Lord Morley, who was then Secretary of State, and of Lord Minto, who was then Viceroy, will always remain closely associated. It considerably increased Indian representation, basing it largely on election, and conferred on Indian members substantial powers to criticize the action of the executive, to elicit information by means of questions, and to make their views known by way of resolutions. Indians were also for the first time introduced into the Executive Councils of the Viceroy and of Provincial Governors-in-Council, i.e. into the very mainsprings of government, as well as into the Secretary of State's Council at Whitehall. But the object of all these measures, however liberal and far-reaching, was avowedly only to give the Indians a larger consultative voice in Indian affairs, and to bring Government into more direct and regular contact with Indian public opinion as voiced by representative Indians. It was never intended to give Indians any real control over the Executive through the legislative councils, or even to prepare the way for any such transfer of powers to them. The principal author of the Act of 1909, Lord Morley, to whom none can impute reactionary or even conservative tendencies, used the very plainest language in Parliament :

'If I were attempting to set up a parliamentary system in India, or if it could be said that this chapter of reforms led directly or indirectly to the establishment of a parliamentary system in India, I for one would have nothing at all to do with it... If my existence, either officially or corporeally, were to be prolonged twenty times longer than either is likely to be, a parliamentary system in India is not at all the goal to which I would for a moment aspire.'

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »