« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
cause until quite recently he was entirely at the mercy of a grasping, avaricious landlord, who, knowing that his victim could not, in the absence of alternative means of livelihood, abandon his farm with the readiness of an English or Scotch tenant, fleeced him mercilessly. The Irish tenant has learned now to put bis "shrewdness” and his “cleverness” to better use, and he has found that a landlord, after all, is a very impotent personage, if only all his tenants combine and act for defensive purposes as one man. That they should do this is, no doubt, a very grave offense in the eyes of the landlords and their auxiliaries; but it does not justify Mr. Sturgis in making the statement that the Irish tenant-farmer wishes to get his land for nothing. Mr. Sturgis has given us, in a very off-hand style, what he conceives to be the desire of the Irish farmer; but he has probably abstained from any description of the Irish landlord, for the reason that the slightest approximation to the truth in such a description would completely discredit his portraiture of the Irish farmer. Now, after the little that has been said of the character of the Irish landlord, I will even venture to ask, Would it be in any way remarkable if the Irish farmer did desire to be rid of his landlord without buying him out? I think it would not. The Irish landlord stands convicted, on the testimony of courts of his own nominating, of having for years taken from his tenants rents which were monstrously unjust; and he must not be surprised now if, in the squaring of accounts, that circumstance is taken into consideration.
There are, of course, many other points in Mr. Sturgis's paper that might be dealt with ; but the public, I imagine, will not place much reliance upon his diagnosis of the Irish trouble, or much confidence in his proposed remedies, when they discover that it can hardly have been by accident that the character of the Irish landlord was entirely left out of view in his article.
But I may be permitted, perhaps, to add a few observations upon the questions of home rule and emigration, upon which Mr. Sturgis has written so dogmatically. It is a grave fault, in the eyes of Mr. Sturgis, that the Irish farmer should desire home rule as a means to an end, and a still graver fault that that end should be the getting rid of the landlords without compensation. Now, it is perfectly true that the Irish farmer desires home rule as a means to an end, and I never heard of any people in the world who regarded self-government in any other way. But it is not true that home rule is desired as a means of getting rid of the landlords without paying them what is strictly just for whatever is properly theirs. If the Irish landlords had strict justice meted out to them, it is my belief that they would not be entitled to their fares from Dublin to Holy. head. But no one recognizes more clearly than myself that strict justice in this case is impracticable, and I have not met with any representative home-ruler or any tenant-farmer who is not prepared to face the question of buying out the landlords in a reasonable spirit of compromise. The basis of such a compromise has been more than once formulated and practically accepted by the Irish people. The landlords have rejected the proposal so far. However, there is abundant evidence that even they begin to recognize that the sands are fast running out.
Home rule is desired as a means to an end, and the end which the Irish people have in view is the good government of their country. As to whether their demand in this respect is reasonable or not, or likely to be beneficial or not, two things may be said which ought to have weight with candid minds. The first is, that the present state of things is certainly neither good for Ireland nor for England. The second is, that all Liberal states. men of cabinet rank who have had any official experience of Ireland—with the single exception of Lord Hartington-together with more than one Tory statesman of equal rank and of similar experience, are in favor of home rule.
Against the restoration of an Irish legislature we have, as a matter of course, the landlord class, which sold Grattan's parliament in 1801, while the English Tory party must also, for the present, be reckoned with as the chief obstacle to home rule. This opposition, however, is but a matter of policy. Tory opposition to Irish national self-government is no stronger than was the hostility of that party to the Liberal programme of an extended borough franchise in 1866; yet in 1867 Mr. Disraeli succeeded in persuading his followers to pass the Household-suffrage Act, which conceded more to popular demand than the proposals which the Tories rejected the previous year would have done had they become law.
Certain it is that an Irish parliament could not do much worse for Ireland than the English Parliament is now doing. Equally certain it is that, notwithstanding Mr. Sturgis's inability to see it, there is much that an Irish parliament could do for Ireland more effectually than the best-intentioned English legislature. In the first place, an Irish parliament would bring the people and the law into sympathetic, instead of, as now, bitterly hostile, relations. An Irish parliament could carry out extensive schemes of arterial drainage, one of the most pressing needs of Ireland. It could facilitate the reclamation of several million acres of land now waste. It could open up the remoter parts of the country by light railways, develop the coast and deep-sea fisheries, encourage the many industries which once flourished under the fostering care of a native legislature, and many more which spring directly out of the tilling of the soil; and do all these things, as well as carry on the ordinary business of the country, much more effectively than an English parliament, simply because an Irish parliament would be composed of men who, knowing their country's needs, and being above all things solicitous for its welfare, would not find themselves hampered at every turn by being compelled to obtain the approval, for their proposals, of men unfamiliar with the country and not particua larly concerned for its welfare, who are at the same time absorbed, as British members of Parliament, in the concerns of England, Scotland, and Wales, and in various imperial matters.
The Irish farmer desires home rule, then, because he believes that it would mean the development of the natural and manufacturing resources of the country, and the consequent prosperity of agriculture. And with that prosperity he believes the population of the country would cease to decline. Emigration from a country like Ireland, in which, under a sympathetic government, there would be ample room and resources for treble the present population, is a remedy worse than the disease it is designed to cure. Not of productive laborers does Ireland need to be relieved, but of unproductive monopolists and consumers. Once get rid of Irish landlordism and the wretched misgovernment with which it is inextricably bound up, and the prosperity of Ireland is assured.
In criticising Mr. Sturgis's various assertions and arguments, I have not felt it necessary to travel beyond the lines which he has followed in his article. I might have added, to the reasons already given why the Irish farmers are favorable to home rule, such influences, natural and national, as impel every civilized people, whether agricultural or not, to give a decided preference to a rule of their own choice over one that is imposed upon
them by another nation, no matter how much more prosperous or pow. erful. I could also bave adduced the universal testimony of history as to the comparative prosperity and contentment which follow the substitution of national self-government for the domination of a subjugating power. Instances such as those of modern Greece when freed from Turkish rule, of Belgium and Holland when separated, of Norway and Sweden when a federal tie succeeded a system of centralization, and of Hungary when granted a legislature at Buda-Pesth, could have been added to the number that are found in the twenty-four home-ruled colonies lying under the political eye of Mr. Sturgis within the organization of the British Empire. But reasoning by analogy, even though supported by unquestioned facts, is not admitted into this home-rule controversy by opponents such as Mr. Sturgis. We are “Irish, you know," and the fate that has made us a race so dissimilar in many respects from that of our present rulers, would seem to have limited the extent of their good will toward us to a brace of “ remedies ”_Westminster and emigration—to which we owe not only the loss of four millions of our population within the last forty years, but every other evil and humiliation of which the world has cognizance in the present poverty and discontent of our country.
STEAM AND ITS RIVALS.
FROM the time of Hero, twenty centuries or more ago, steam has held its own as the agent and vehicle of all motive energy in all the complex operations of developing civilization. First known at the very dawn of the historical period as a mere toy, or possibly as one of the means employed by the priesthood for deluding the vulgar herd and impressing them with the power of the deities, the steam-engine has taken a more and more important place in the economy of the nations, until now, still unrivaled, it does the work of the civilized world. To the layman, unfamiliar with the nature of thermodynamic transformations and their limitations, wondering at the tremendous power exhibited by the machinery of the transatlantic steamer as it drives ten thousand tons of ship and cargo across the ocean at the rate of twenty miles an hour, exerts the strength of fifteen thousand horses continually, does, in fact, what it would require the power of fifty or sixty thousand horses to do, working in gangs eight hours each, the question must often present itself: Can it be possible that human genius, searching the hidden secrets of nature, will ever find a mightier force? Is it possible that steam can ever have a rival ? On the other hand, the professional engineer, familiar with the work of steam in marine engine, in locomotive, and in mill, from whom that familiarity has taken away something of the feeling of awe which comes partly of novelty of impressions, and aware of the fact that of all the
energy set free, in the form of heat-motion of molecules, in the - furnace of the boiler, nearly nine-tenths is lost in the best of
engines, mainly through causes which science indicates to be beyond control by any device known to man, wonders if this enormous waste must go on indefinitely, and whether it is not within the bounds of possibility that some coming inventor may, after a time, find a way to utilize the full measure of stored