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A REVIEW OF A REVIEW.
DR INGRAM's history of the Irish ledge is most imperfect, and to have Union has filled Mr Gladstone an inkling of the magnitude and with a vehement, if not a right- complexity of the business.” Who eous, indignation. Twenty - five is it that writes these words ? It pages of the October number of is the statesman who, so long ago the ‘Nineteenth Century' are de- as twenty years, entered upon a voted to a denunciation rather legislative crusade against the than a review of this terrible Established Church, and immedibook. Mr Gladstone asserts that ately afterwards against the Land “it is no history, at all”; Dr system of Ireland—two institutions Ingram is dubbed an easy-going to deal with which required, above fabulist," an “ historiaster” (as any others which can be imagined, distinguished from an historian), deep knowledge of the history and a man of “loud and boisterous “past experiences ” of the country pretensions," guilty of “a want of in which they existed, and which, all Irish feeling," of a “blank un- without such knowledge, could acquaintance with Irish history at neither be fairly dealt with nor large,” of “bold inventions” and properly understood. Yet Mr “overmastering prejudices,” whose Gladstone unhesitatingly legiswork “remains available only to lated upon both these subjects in indicate ground which should be great detail; he carried through avoided by every conscientious and Parliament the disestablishment intelligent historian.” In the teeth and disendowment of the Church, of this vocabulary of anathema, it and the entire revolution of the would require some courage to de- system of Land Tenure in Irefend either the author or his book land; and now, forsooth, in the against the vituperation with which year of grace 1887, he calmly both are assailed, if the assailant informs us that his knowledge had not, in the ardour of his at- of the “experiences” of the countack, exposed certain vulnerable try for which he thus legislatpoints in his own armour to which ed is still “most imperfect," and the attention of all “conscientious that he has only just arrived at and intelligent” people, whether "an inkling of the magnitude and
" “historians," “historiasters," or complexity of the business." Was
” others, ought certainly to be ever such a confession of rashness directed.
in the past and ignorance in the Let me in the first place quote present offered to the public by a a sentence of Mr Gladstone's which responsible statesman? Was ever deserves special and immediate a better example of the same rashnotice. After stating that he does ness afforded than in the intemnot intend to give a history of the perate violence with which, with Union, but to prove that Dr Ingram this confession of “most imperfect has not done so, he goes on to say knowledge” still in his mouth, he
“I have for some time past done assails the man who has ventured my best to form some acquaintance to adopt a different reading from with the past experiences of un- his own of the history of “the happy Ireland, and I now know just past experiences of unhappy Ireenough to be aware that my know- land” ? But it is impossible to
please Mr Gladstone, either by upon the Union will be accepted attempting to write history or or rejected according to the politiby abstaining from doing so. He cal inclinations of their readers. is angry with Dr Ingram for Mr Gladstone himself, whilst prohaving written a history, and at fessing to be opposed to the "rethe same time he blames his op- peal of the Union,” has recomponents “in the great Irish con- mended his disciples specially to troversy of the day” for not study O'Connell's Memoir, which having done so. He complains was written mainly for the purthat, as regards the history pose of advocating that "repeal”; either of Ireland generally or of and he has evidently schooled his the Union,” their speeches “have mind to accept no evidence which presented a dismal blank,” and, does not tell in favour of his own “ with exceptions altogether in- views of the Irish question. This significant,” they have “declined is abundantly proved in the reto enter the historic field.” At view to which I am now calling the same time, he asserts that attention; and as my time and o much effort has been made, by space are limited, and I have, the party of Home Rule in Ire- moreover, no doubt that Dr Inland, to supply the British public gram will himself in due course with historical information." give the writer “a Roland for his
It never seems to strike Mr Oliver," I purpose at present only Gladstone that no new historical to notice some special points upon work is necessary to contradict the which Mr Gladstone appears to various travesties of history with me to misread history, to reiterate which he has from time to time statements which have been alstartled the world; and that, so far ready proved to be incorrect, and as regards the “tracts and articles" to press harshly and unjustly in which “much has been told,” if against his own country and her these have mainly proceeded from statesmen. the "party of Home Rule,” it is Upon one subject, indeed, the because it has been necessary for Separatist leader may be said to that party to impose a new reading score a point against his opponent, of history upon mankind, and to who (page 55), in speaking of endeavour to persuade the public Grattan's Parliament and the Irish that they have hitherto misread or Act of 1793, which gave the franmisunderstood the records of the chise to the Catholics, says that past, and have been deceived by the English Government “did not all previous writers as to the real venture to refuse the King's assent history of their country.
to that Act.” Mr Gladstone is Unionist speakers and writers, perfectly right in his counterhowever, have again and again statement that the measure in contradicted some of the historical question
introduced and fallacies which have been so reck- pressed by the British Governlessly advanced by Mr Gladstone ment on the Irish Parliament.” himself as well as by other Home- But, in his eager anxiety to get the Rulers, and it is unlikely that a better of his antagonist, he does not
a new history, by whomsoever writ- see where this statement lands him. ten, would carry conviction to any It goes to prove two things upon one in the present state of the con- which I have laid stress in former troversy. There are already plenty articles, and which Mr Gladstone of partisan writers whose views would appear by his previous line
of argument to have hitherto acter. It has always been a mardenied. First, that “Grattan's vel to me how Catholics, and esParliament” was, as in truth the pecially Irish Catholics, can term parliament of a weak country
weak country that a “National” Parliament joined to a strong one must always from which those who professed be, subservient to the Government the religion of the great majority and Parliament of Great Britain; of the people were rigidly excludand therefore Mr Gladstone's for- ed, and the members of which, up mer view, that “Grattan's Parlia- to 1793, were returned only by ment” was “free,” and engaged in electors professing the religion of working out the regeneration of the minority. The party of ProIreland patiently and steadily,"
steadily," testant ascendancy had the prefalls to the ground. Secondly, dominant power in that Parliathat the Catholics had more to ment, and but for British influence hope from the policy and action of and British policy—to say noththe British Government than from ing of British justice—Catholics the Irish Protestant Parliament of would probably not to this day 1782-1800; and that the “pres- have obtained the civil and posure of that Government in litical rights of which they were their favour in 1793 was not un- so long and so unjustly deprived. likely to have inclined their minds It was this knowledge, and their to that Union, wherein and where- belief that under a united Parby they might reasonably have liament their claims would receive expected to receive still further fairer consideration than under a consideration.
Parliament of Irish Protestants Mr Gladstone, indeed, is incon- in Dublin, which doubtless insistent, even in the review before clined a large body of the Cathme, upon the question of the posi- olics in Ireland to support the tion really occupied by “Grattan's Union. As Mr Gladstone has Parliament." For whilst he tells denied that such was the case, us, in the passage to which I have and has indeed stated that the just alluded, that the gift of the Union was supported by no indefranchise to the Catholics was ex- pendent party in Ireland, it is torted by the “pressure” of the well to go a little further into British Government, he subse- this particular question and exquently declares (p. 453) that amine the evidence on either side. " the Irish Parliament gave what Following up his statement at the British Parliament would Liverpool last year, that “the not have given. It readily en- bribe was held out to the Roman franchised the Roman Catholics." Catholic bishops and clergy that, Both statements can hardly be if only they would consent to the correct, since what a man does Union, it should be followed by
readily” cannot be said to be full admission to civil privileges, done 66 "under
Mr Glad- and by endowments,” &c. &c., Mr stone must stand or fall by one Gladstone now tells us (p. 455) that view or the other, and there can "upon many of the higher Roman be little doubt as to which is most Catholic clergy, and those who in accordance with historical truth. followed them, an impression had
The Irish Parliament, since a undoubtedly been made by the period immediately subsequent to promises and inducements of the the Treaty of Limerick, had been Government, and by the horror of of an exclusively Protestant char- the situation it had itself wilfully
created.” The manner in which sertions of partisan writers, imputhis "impression " was proved was tations to the effect that Mr Pitt by the presentation (which cannot gave pledges to the Catholics which be denied) of numerous addresses he afterwards failed to redeem. from Catholics in favour of the But these assertions rest upon no Union. I suppose that Mr Glad- reliable evidence, and are apparstone will allow the “higher Catho- ently based solely upon the fact lic clergy” to have been as “inde- that Mr Pitt did not carry Catholic pendent" as any other party in emancipation after the Act of Ireland; and therefore, when he Union had become law. In alludacknowledges that many of them ing to Mr Pitt's action in 1793, had, somehow or other, been "im- Mr Gladstone remarks (p. 449) pressed” by the Government, he that “he wisely determined to practically abandons his original draw the Irish people more closely proposition that the Union was to the Government” by introducsupported by "no independent ing the Bill which gave the franparty in Ireland," and falls back chise to the Catholics. It is beupon-(1) the statement that the yond question that Mr Pitt desired number of this “independent to go still further, and that, if he party was small; and (2) that could have had his way,
Catholic its support was obtained by "pro- emancipation and the endowment mises and inducements.”
of the Catholic clergy would have Now, putting aside for the speedily followed the passing of moment the question of bribes in the Act of Union. The knowledge the grosser form of money pay- on the part of the Catholics that ments, of which I do not under- such were the views of Mr Pitt, stand Mr Gladstone to charge the doubtless exercised no inconsiderIrish Catholics or their clergy with able effect in securing their suphaving been the recipients, what port to his policy—especially after proof does he bring to show that their past experiences of Protes"promises and inducements" of an tant ascendancy and a Protestant improper and dishonest nature (for Parliament. It was natural and this, of course, is implied in his use probable that such should have of the terms) were made by the been their inclination; and British Government? Not one dealing with historical facts, it is word. I will not venture to ap- well to remember that where there ply to Mr Gladstone the terms in is doubt, that which is natural and which he speaks of Dr Ingram probable is most likely to be true. (p. 453), as one “to whom the gift It can scarcely, however, be seriof language seems to have been ously contended that there is any given in order to hide the truth ;' real doubt as to the facts, fäst, that but I cannot refrain from the without “bribes”or "inducements" remark that, having apparently there was ample reason why Irish taken very
little trouble to ascer- Catholics should have supported the tain the truth, he has employed Act of Union; second, that they did language which would lead his so to a very considerable extent. readers to believe that which is in To support a policy because you all probability the reverse and op- believe that it will benefit you posite of truth.
in its results, is quite a different There are doubtless to be found, thing from taking the same course in the exaggerated harangues of in consequence of a direct promise Irish orators and the reckless as- of benefit from the propounders of
the policy. Yet Mr Gladstone heading “Most private," enters unhesitatingly adopts the latter as fully into this question, and the true narration of that which explains the course which had occurred, preferring the explan- been adopted towards the Cathoation which alike insults the lics during the passage of the Act Catholic clergy and the Govern- of Union. ment to that which is honourable The opinion of the Cabinet to both. That the latter is the being in favour of the Catholic true explanation will be apparent claims, Lord Castlereagh tells us to any one who reads, with an that he was instructed to inform impartial mind, the Cornwallis Lord Cornwallis that he was "fully Correspondence, to which both Dr warranted in soliciting every supIngram and his merciless assailant port which the Catholics could make such frequent references. afford,” but that "it was not On Nov. 15, 1798, Lord Corn- thought necessary to give any wallis writes: “On my pressing direct assurances to the Catholics.” the matter strongly, Mr Pitt has Lord Castlereagh alludes to the promised that there shall be no efforts of the Government to call clause in the Act of Union which forth Catholic support as having shall prevent the Catholic ques- been “very generally successful”; tion from being hereafter taken and adds that “his Excellency up, and we must therefore only was enabled to accomplish his purlook forward to the wisdom and pose without giving the Catholics liberality of the United Parlia- any direct assurance of being gratment.” Mr Ross, whom Mrified, and throughout the contest Gladstone justly describes as earnestly avoided being driven to “the accurate and indefatigable such an expedient, as he considered editor of the Cornwallis Corres- a gratuitous concession after the pondence," declares that “neither measure as infinitely more Mr Pitt, Lord Cornwallis, nor sistent with the character of GovLord Castlereagh, though all con- ernment.” Proofs might be mulsidering the removal of the tiplied to show that the charge Catholic disabilities very neces- against Mr Pitt of having “bribed” sary, ever pledged themselves to the Catholics and their clergy is any particular line of conduct unfounded and untrue, although should such measure not be the “higher clergy” of the Cathocarried ; "l and Lord Castlereagh, lics were doubtless made aware of writing to Mr Pitt under date the good intentions of the GovernJanuary 1, 1801, and with the ment towards their Church.3 What,
1 Cornwallis Correspondence, vol. iii. p. 326. 2 Ibid., pp. 328, 329.
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."