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A REVIEW OF A REVIEW.

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DR INGRAM's history of the Irish Union has filled Mr Gladstone with a vehement, if not a righteous, indignation. Twenty-five pages of the October number of the Nineteenth Century' are devoted to a denunciation rather than a review of this terrible book. Mr Gladstone asserts that "it is no history at all"; Dr Ingram is dubbed 'an easy-going fabulist," an "historiaster (as distinguished from an historian), a man of "loud and boisterous pretensions," guilty of "a want of all Irish feeling," of a "blank unacquaintance with Irish history at large," of "bold inventions" and "overmastering prejudices," whose work "remains available only to indicate ground which should be avoided by every conscientious and intelligent historian." In the teeth of this vocabulary of anathema, it would require some courage to defend either the author or his book against the vituperation with which both are assailed, if the assailant had not, in the ardour of his attack, exposed certain vulnerable points in his own armour to which the attention of all "conscientious and intelligent" people, whether "historians," "historiasters," or others, ought certainly to to be directed.

Let me in the first place quote a sentence of Mr Gladstone's which deserves special and immediate notice. After stating that he does not intend to give a history of the Union, but to prove that Dr Ingram has not done so, he goes on to say "I have for some time past done my best to form some acquaintance with the past experiences of unhappy Ireland, and I now know just enough to be aware that my know

ledge is most imperfect, and to have an inkling of the magnitude and complexity of the business." Who is it that writes these words? It is the statesman who, so long ago as twenty years, entered upon a legislative crusade against the Established Church, and immediately afterwards against the Land system of Ireland-two institutions to deal with which required, above any others which can be imagined, deep knowledge of the history and "past experiences" of the country in which they existed, and which, without such knowledge, could neither be fairly dealt with nor properly understood. Yet Mr Gladstone unhesitatingly legislated upon both these subjects in great detail; he carried through Parliament the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church, and the entire revolution of the system of Land Tenure in Ireland; and now, forsooth, in the year of grace 1887, he calmly informs us that his knowledge of the "experiences" of the country for which he thus legislated is still "most imperfect," and that he has only just arrived at an inkling of the magnitude and complexity of the business." Was ever such a confession of rashness in the past and ignorance in the present offered to the public by a responsible statesman? Was ever a better example of the same rashness afforded than in the intemperate violence with which, with this confession of "most imperfect knowledge" still in his mouth, he assails the man who has ventured to adopt a different reading from his own of the history of "the past experiences of unhappy Ireland"? But it is impossible to

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please Mr Gladstone, either by attempting to write history or by abstaining from doing so. He is angry with Dr Ingram for having written a history, and at the same time he blames his opponents "in the great Irish controversy of the day" for not having done so. He complains that, "as regards the history either of Ireland generally or of the Union," their speeches "have presented a dismal blank," and, "with exceptions altogether insignificant," they have "declined to enter the historic field." At the same time, he asserts that "much effort has been made, by the party of Home Rule in Ireland, to supply the British public with historical information."

It never seems to strike Mr Gladstone that no new historical work is necessary to contradict the various travesties of history with which he has from time to time startled the world; and that, so far as regards the "tracts and articles" in which "much has been told," if these have mainly proceeded from the "party of Home Rule," it is because it has been necessary for that party to impose a new reading of history upon mankind, and to endeavour to persuade the public that they have hitherto misread or misunderstood the records of the past, and have been deceived by all previous writers as to the real history of their country.

Unionist speakers and writers, however, have again and again contradicted some of the historical fallacies which have been so recklessly advanced by Mr Gladstone himself as well as by other HomeRulers, and it is unlikely that a new history, by whomsoever written, would carry conviction to any one in the present state of the controversy. There are already plenty of partisan writers whose views

upon the Union will be accepted or rejected according to the political inclinations of their readers. Mr Gladstone himself, whilst professing to be opposed to the " repeal of the Union," has recommended his disciples specially to study O'Connell's Memoir, which was written mainly for the purpose of advocating that "repeal"; and he has evidently schooled his mind to accept no evidence which does not tell in favour of his own views of the Irish question. This is abundantly proved in the review to which I am now calling attention; and as my time and space are limited, and I have, moreover, no doubt that Dr Ingram will himself in due course give the writer "a Roland for his Oliver," I purpose at present only to notice some special points upon which Mr Gladstone appears to me to misread history, to reiterate statements which have been already proved to be incorrect, and to press harshly and unjustly against his own country and her statesmen.

Upon one subject, indeed, the Separatist leader may be said to score a point against his opponent, who (page 55), in speaking of Grattan's Parliament and the Irish Act of 1793, which gave the franchise to the Catholics, says that the English Government "did not venture to refuse the King's assent to that Act." Mr Gladstone is perfectly right in his counterstatement that the measure in question was introduced and "pressed by the British Government on the Irish Parliament." But, in his eager anxiety to get the better of his antagonist, he does not see where this statement lands him. It goes to prove two things upon which I have laid stress in former

articles, and which Mr Gladstone would appear by his previous line

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of argument to have hitherto denied. First, that "Grattan's Parliament was, as in truth the parliament of a weak country joined to a strong one must always be, subservient to the Government and Parliament of Great Britain; and therefore Mr Gladstone's former view, that "Grattan's Parliament" was "free," and engaged in "working out the regeneration of Ireland patiently and steadily," falls to the ground. Secondly, that the Catholics had more to hope from the policy and action of the British Government than from the Irish Protestant Parliament of 1782-1800; and that the "pressure of that Government in their favour in 1793 was not unlikely to have inclined their minds to that Union, wherein and whereby they might reasonably have expected to receive still further consideration.

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Mr Gladstone, indeed, is inconsistent, even in the review before me, upon the question of the position really occupied by "Grattan's Parliament." For whilst he tells us, in the passage to which I have just alluded, that the gift of the franchise to the Catholics was extorted by the "pressure" of the British Government, he subsequently declares (p. 453) that

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the Irish Parliament gave what the British Parliament would not have given. It readily enfranchised the Roman Catholics." Both statements can hardly be correct, since what a man does "readily" cannot be said to be done "under pressure.' Mr Gladstone must stand or fall by one view or the other, and there can be little doubt as to which is most in accordance with historical truth. The Irish Parliament, since a period immediately subsequent to the Treaty of Limerick, had been of an exclusively Protestant char

acter. It has always been a marvel to me how Catholics, and especially Irish Catholics, can term that a "National" Parliament from which those who professed the religion of the great majority of the people were rigidly excluded, and the members of which, up to 1793, were returned only by electors professing the religion of the minority. The party of Protestant ascendancy had the predominant power in that Parliament, and but for British influence and British policy-to say nothing of British justice-Catholics would probably not to this day have obtained the civil and political rights of which they were so long and so unjustly deprived. It was this knowledge, and their belief that under a united Parliament their claims would receive fairer consideration than under a Parliament of Irish Protestants in Dublin, which doubtless inclined a large body of the Catholics in Ireland to support the Union. As Mr Gladstone has denied that such was the case, and has indeed stated that the Union was supported by no independent party in Ireland, it is well to go a little further into this particular question and examine the evidence on either side.

Following up his statement at Liverpool last year, that "the bribe was held out to the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy that, if only they would consent to the Union, it should be followed by full admission to civil privileges, and by endowments," &c. &c., Mr Gladstone now tells us (p. 455) that "upon many of the higher Roman Catholic clergy, and those who followed them, an impression had undoubtedly been made by the promises and inducements of the Government, and by the horror of the situation it had itself wilfully

created." The manner in which this "impression" was proved was by the presentation (which cannot be denied) of numerous addresses from Catholics in favour of the Union. I suppose that Mr Gladstone will allow the "higher Catholic clergy" to have been as "independent" as any other party in Ireland; and therefore, when he acknowledges that many of them had, somehow or other, been "impressed" by the Government, he practically abandons his original proposition that the Union was supported by "no independent party in Ireland," and falls back upon-(1) the statement that the number of this "independent party was small; and (2) that its support was obtained by "promises and inducements."

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Now, putting aside for the moment the question of bribes in the grosser form of money payments, of which I do not understand Mr Gladstone to charge the Irish Catholics or their clergy with having been the recipients, what proof does he bring to show that "promises and inducements" of an improper and dishonest nature (for this, of course, is implied in his use of the terms) were made by the British Government? Not one word. I will not venture to apply to Mr Gladstone the terms in which he speaks of Dr Ingram (p. 453), as one "to whom the gift of language seems to have been given in order to hide the truth;" but I cannot refrain from the remark that, having apparently taken very little trouble to ascertain the truth, he has employed language which would lead his readers to believe that which is in all probability the reverse and opposite of truth.

There are doubtless to be found, in the exaggerated harangues of Irish orators and the reckless as

sertions of partisan writers, imputations to the effect that Mr Pitt gave pledges to the Catholics which he afterwards failed to redeem. But these assertions rest upon no reliable evidence, and are apparently based solely upon the fact that Mr Pitt did not carry Catholic emancipation after the Act of Union had become law. In alluding to Mr Pitt's action in 1793, Mr Gladstone remarks (p. 449) that "he wisely determined to draw the Irish people more closely to the Government" by introducing the Bill which gave the franchise to the Catholics. It is beyond question that Mr Pitt desired to go still further, and that, if he could have had his way, Catholic emancipation and the endowment of the Catholic clergy would have speedily followed the passing of the Act of Union. The knowledge on the part of the Catholics that such were the views of Mr Pitt, doubtless exercised no inconsiderable effect in securing their support to his policy-especially after their past experiences of Protestant ascendancy and a Protestant Parliament. It was natural and probable that such should have been their inclination; and in dealing with historical facts, it is well to remember that where there is doubt, that which is natural and probable is most likely to be true. It can scarcely, however, be seriously contended that there is any real doubt as to the facts, first, that without "bribes" or "inducements" there was ample reason why Irish Catholics should have supported the Act of Union; second, that they did so to a very considerable extent.

To support a policy because you believe that it will benefit you in its results, is quite a different thing from taking the same course in consequence of a direct promise of benefit from the propounders of

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the policy. Yet Mr Gladstone unhesitatingly adopts the latter as the true narration of that which occurred, preferring the explanation which alike insults the Catholic clergy and the Government to that which is honourable to both. That the latter is the true explanation will be apparent to any one who reads, with an impartial mind, the Cornwallis Correspondence, to which both Dr Ingram and his merciless assailant make such frequent references. On Nov. 15, 1798, Lord Cornwallis writes: "On my pressing the matter strongly, Mr Pitt has promised that there shall be no clause in the Act of Union which shall prevent the Catholic question from being hereafter taken up, and we must therefore only look forward to the wisdom and liberality of the United Parliament." Mr Ross, whom Mr Gladstone justly describes as "the accurate and indefatigable editor of the Cornwallis Correspondence," declares that "neither Mr Pitt, Lord Cornwallis, nor Lord Castlereagh, though all considering the removal of the Catholic disabilities very necessary, ever pledged themselves to any particular line of conduct should such a measure not be carried;"1 and Lord Castlereagh, writing to Mr Pitt under date January 1, 1801, and with the

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The opinion of the Cabinet being in favour of the Catholic claims, Lord Castlereagh tells us that he was instructed to inform Lord Cornwallis that he was "fully warranted in soliciting every support which the Catholics could afford," but that "it was not thought necessary to give any direct assurances to the Catholics." Lord Castlereagh alludes to the efforts of the Government to call forth Catholic support as having been "very generally successful"; and adds that "his Excellency was enabled to accomplish his purpose without giving the Catholics any direct assurance of being gratified, and throughout the contest earnestly avoided being driven to such an expedient, as he considered a gratuitous concession after the measure as infinitely more consistent with the character of Government." Proofs might be multiplied to show that the charge against Mr Pitt of having "bribed" the Catholics and their clergy is unfounded and untrue, although the "higher clergy" of the Catholics were doubtless made aware of the good intentions of the Government towards their Church. What,

2 Ibid., pp. 328, 329.

1 Cornwallis Correspondence, vol. iii. p. 326. 3 In his 'Peel and O'Connell,' Mr Lefevre quotes Lord Castlereagh's speech in the House of Commons in 1810, to show that the Catholic bishops of Ireland were consulted at the time of the Union on the subject of the endowment of their Church. That which Mr Lefevre calls "the proposal," which was signed by the bishops, including the four metropolitans, will be found, on reference to the speech, to relate entirely to the control over the election of bishops which the British Government was to exercise if any arrangement were made for securing a provision for the clergy. But Mr Lefevre omits to tell us that Lord Castlereagh emphatically disclaimed that any pledge had been given; and, distinguishing the expediency of making some provision for the Catholic clergy from the political part of the question, declared that "it was distinctly understood that the consideration of the political claims of the Catholics must remain for the consideration of the Imperial Parliament."

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