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Parliament, even with powers more limited than those I have suggested, I would ask of him to contrast the mode in which any question of practical Irish administration is now disposed of with that in which it would be if the department to which it belonged were under the control of an Irish minister responsible to an Irish Parliament, and exposed to its questionings and its comments, exactly as an English minister is now subject to the criticism of an English House of Commons. It needs, perhaps, a little experience of the working of the system thoroughly to appreciate the incapacity of an English House of Commons to exercise over the administration of Irish affairs the real constitutional control of the opinions of the representatives of the people.
A great deal of government rests in those little things English government is kept in sympathy with the popular sentiment, not because the House of Commons possesses the power of impeachment, or of stopping the supplies—not even because it might pass a vote of censure upon an unpopular official—but because every English minister goes down from his office to an assembly in unison with the sentiments of the English people, and in which popular feeling and popular sentiment prevail. He knows that upon the smallest matter in which any number of the people take an interest he is liable to be questioned and worried and tormented if he runs adverse to popular feeling. In the administration of Irish affairs there is nothing like this. The last thing that is thought of is the necessity of conciliating popular sentiment, or meeting the opinion of any class of Irishmen. Our system of a united Parliament supplies no Parliamentary means of keeping the Irish administration either attentive to Irish interests or in harmony with Irish feeling.
Let me say, however, once for all, that the value of free parliamentary institutions is not to be measured even by the amount of good government which they may directly
produce. Their highest and their noblest function is to be found in their encouragement of public spirit, in their training of the sentiments of independence, of self-reliance, and of national pride, which are the only real preparations for good government, and which insure it. Let us have a National Parliament, in which Irishmen will learn to manage their own affairs—in which national sentiment will find its expression and in which Irishmen, when they differ, will be forced to discuss their differences with the consciousness that it is only Ireland, their common country, that must arbitrate between them. In the teachings of such a Parliament we would learn the lessons of national dignity and mutual selfrespect. The very sense of national freedom would do for Ireland now what it did for Ireland in the years that followed 1782;* what it did for the Italian republics in the middle ages; what it did for Belgium since 1831; what it has done in every age and in every clime for every country that has been raised from a state of dependence to selfgovernment t-it would stimulate all enterprise, nerve every industry, and give impetus to every improvement. It would elevate every man in the community, and, in giving him a pride in his country, it would give him a new power to serve his country and himself. Give to Ireland free parliamentary institutions, and whatever be deficient in our constitution, a public opinion enlightened, and a public
* Lord Clare, in 1798, declared, speaking of Ireland between 1782 and the period when he wrote:
“No nation on the habitable globe advanced in cultivation, in commerce, in agriculture, in manufactures, so rapidly, in the same period.”
† All history confirms, by innumerable examples, the truth of a sentence which might be written at the head of any chapter which recorded the story of any land to which the right of self-government has been, after an interval, restored.
The narrative of all might be written in the words.—“Mirum quan cito libertate recuperatâ respublica crevit."
sentiment kindled by these institutions, will soon learn to supply.
In legislation, of course, every measure should pass both Houses of Parliament, and finally receive the royal assent, before it became law. These requirements of the constitution would surely be a sufficient guarantee, if it were needed, against any attempt to do injustice to any class of Irishmen. I should be very sorry to suppose that the Irish House of Lords would ever set itself against the deliberate opinion of the Irish nation. I do not believe it ever could. But in checking a measure of injustice—if any one should ever unhappily pass the House of Commons—I believe the veto of the Lords could never be overcome.
But these imaginations of democratic violence from an Irish House of Commons are visionary in the extreme. There is no people on earth less disposed to democracy than the Irish. The real danger of democratic or revolutionary violence is far more with the English people. The time may not be far distant when a separate Irish Parliament might be, in the best sense of the word, the Conservative element in the British Confederation. Without entering on these speculations, it is enough to say that it would most assuredly be able to guard Ireland from revolutionary perils, which, I believe in my conscience, nothing but an Irish Parliament can very long avert.
I ought not to close this chapter without adverting to a question which is naturally suggested by the view we have taken of the position of Ireland before the Union. I have observed that no Act of the Irish Parliament could then become law until the royal assent had been signified, under the great seal of Great Britain. If our position is to be the same, this same assent might still be required under the Imperial great seal. If any one sees any security in retaining such a provision, I, for myself, would have no objection to its being retained.
I am not sure that one of the effects of a Federal Constitution would not be, in many respects, to strengthen the royal prerogatives, or rather, to call some of these prerogatives out of the abeyance in which the system of governing by party has placed them. For myself, I would not regret this. I am not sure that public liberty has gained anything by the establishment of a mode of government in which the powers of the Crown have been too often held in trust, first for the great houses of the revolution, and then for the party that could by any means gain a majority in the House of Commons. I have reverence enough for the old forms, as well as the old principles, of the constitution, to lament the remarkable change which has taken place in the public documents of late years. In many of our official despatches, even those on foreign affairs, we miss the reference to the Sovereign's commands which once was the invariable formula. In many of them the name of the minister occupies the place which was once filled by that of the King, as if the fiction of our living under a monarchy might as well be quietly ignored. It is in England, and not in Ireland, that the elements which threaten danger to our monarchical institutions are to be found.
A GENERAL VIEW OF A FEDERAL CONSTITUTION. '
In the preceding chapters I have endeavoured to draw, it may be with too much particularity, the outline of a Federal arrangement such as, I believe, might fairly be accepted both by the Irish and English nations. It may be well to bring together into one view the leading features of that plan.
The Imperial Parliament would meet exactly as it does now. Its business would be confined to the regulation of Indian and Colonial affairs, to voting the men for the army and navy, and the supplies for the Imperial expenditure, and to interference in foreign affairs, where such interference would be called for, and generally to such supervision of Imperial concerns as circumstances might make necessary.
In ordinary times the business of the Imperial Parliament would be light. A session of two months in the year, or two sessions of one month each, would, in general, be sufficient to enable it to “despatch," as the official phrase is, the business which it had to discharge.
But it must be said that there would be one great advantage over the present system. All that business would receive full and deliberate attention. The Indian budget would not be postponed to a hurried statement on one of the last days of the session, to be discussed in an assembly of 20