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by the flames of a burning church ; of the heaped-up calamities of the last days of the doomed king, of the violent and shameful dying of the chief actors in the drama of blood. All such legends may be, in part, but traditions, inventions of a day which sought to track God's judgements upon the very earth where His justice might seem to have hung in suspense ; for truly, · Dieu par sa piete souffre faire moult . de felonies. They may be but the mere hearsay of history, yet they have none the less their own significance; and De Molay, we may well believe, did not die unavenged by that spiritual vengeance which has overtaken bis wrongers in the execrations of mankind. And once again, as from many another chapter of life, we may learn that, if the vengeance of the strong is to strike, the vengeance of the weaksilent as Calvary's—is to suffer.
ART. IV.-1. Annual Reports of the Congested Districts
Board, I. to VIII. Dublin : 1892–1899. 2. Annual Reports of the Irish Agricultural Organisation
Society, I. to V. Dublin : 1895-1899. 3. Annual Reports of the Irish Industries Association. Dublin. 4. The Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act,
1899. THE As truce of parties so happily proclaimed on the occasion
of the recent visit of the Queen to Ireland, and so admirably observed by her Irish subjects during her Majesty's sojourn in Dublin, forbids any endeavour to draw from the remarkable reception accorded to the Sovereign in Ler Irish capital anything in the nature of a political moral. It is certainly not in these pages that any departure is likely to be made from the respectful reticence which, alike in recognition of the regal impartiality of the throne and in deference to the susceptibilities of the Irish people, has refused to invade the semi-private character of the royal visit, or to attribute to the calculating motives of a subtle statecraft an undertaking to which it is manifest that the Queen was prompted solely by frank, generous, and womanly impulses. Far from desiring to infringe the understanding which all political sections in Ireland have loyally respected by deducing from the warmth of the greeting accorded to her Majesty conclusions which the representatives of the majority of the Irish people have been careful to condemn by anticipation as unwarrantable, we should be much more solicitous, were discussion of the matter becoming, to deprecate the tendency (natural and inevitable on the part of those who know nothing of Ireland at first hand, but withal erroneous) to accept the recent evidences of Irish good feeling towards the throne and its illustrious occupant, as necessarily indicative of an enduring change in the attitude of the Irish people in relation to the connexion with Great Britain. Such a mistake is indeed one into which few who are really familiar with Ireland are likely to fall; and it is highly undesirable that an assumption which is certain to be falsified by experience, and which can therefore lead only to disillusion and disappointment, should be suffered to take hold of the public imagination.
For the popularity of royalty as such among Irishmen is no new discovery. If the hearty greeting of an English sovereign could be accepted as the token of satisfied acquiescence in English rule, there had been no need to wait till the closing year of the nineteenth century for a solution of the Irish difficulty so happy and so simple. It is close upon three centuries since an astute observer, Sir John Davis, noted that the people of this land, both English
and Irish, did ever love to be governed by great persons,' and insisted on the continual absence of the kings of England from their realm of Ireland as a main cause why Ireland down to his time had never been entirely brought “under the obedience of the Crown of England.' And perhaps there is no surer antidote to excessive exaggeration of the possible political results of the reception accorded to Queen Victoria in Dublin than remembrance of the fact that the outburst of personal loyalty which her Majesty's presence evoked, cordial and remarkable beyond expectation as it has undoubtedly been, cannot be said to have exceeded the enthusiasm of the welcome which, according to the wellauthenticated records of the time, was given to King George IV.
If the cautious observer refuses to accept the gratifying cordiality of the proceedings in Dublin last April as affording a valid proof of any fundamental change in Irish political sentiment, he will equally decline to be betrayed into premature optimism by the enthusiasm which the valour of the Irish regiments in South Africa has evoked in every part of the three kingdoms. The gallantry of her sons in the battlefield is no new laurel in the wreath of Erin's merit; nor have the stricken fields of the Transvaal campaign been the first in which Celt and Saxon have together found a soldier's grave in the cause of England. It needed not the clarion cry that stormed Talana Hill, nor the harder heroism that endured alike the helpless slaughter of Colenso and the long agony of Ladysmith, to supply the answer that Waterloo and the Peninsula furnished long ago to Sheil's impassioned question, ' Did the alien blench?' The fighting qualities of the Irish soldier, and the devotion of which he is capable, have never had any serious relation to the causes in which they have been exerted; and no inferences as to his political sentiments can safely be drawn from his military conduct. It is unfortunately true, but it is a truth which no prudent estimate of the facts of the case will be tempted to ignore, that, when all due allowance has been made for Hibernian extravagance of phrase, the political sentiments of the average Irish elector, in regard to a war which has added so much to the laurels already won by Irish valour, are more accurately represented by the language of those leaders who have publicly prayed that God might strengthen the arm of the Boer than by the actions of those whose prowess has contributed so largely to the vindication of the supremacy of the Queen in South Africa. Nay, so far are we from finding in the readiness of an Irishman to die in England's battles the symptoms of a closer approximation of Irish to English feeling, and so much does atmosphere count for in colouring Irish sentiment, that we are satisfied that many of those Irish soldiers who have fought for the Queen in Natal, would still give their votes at a general election to Home Rule and anti-English candidates.
But while thus careful to avoid the error of an ill-founded optimism and refusing to adventure upon forecasts which, always hazardous, are in the case of Ireland more than ordinarily liable to be confounded by the event, we cannot resist the temptation which is suggested by the fourth visit of the Queen to Ireland to indulge in a retrospect of the past and a survey of the present. The long interval of forty years—that is, of considerably more than a generation has elapsed since her Majesty last came among her Irish subjects, and it is impossible not to be struck by the suggestive contrast between 1861 and 1900. Such a space represents a very large part of even the longest life. For the Queen herself the changes have indeed been vast. The interval has been marked by the gradual but decisive changes which such a period must witness in the most fortunate of human existences, and by those heavy strokes of mortal fate from which the most ilustrious are not exempt. The prime of womanhood has slowly given way to the infirmities of advanced years, and the domestic circle, which in the summer of 1861 was still unbroken, has had to endure other and serious losses besides the grievous one which befell so soon after the last royal visit. For the Queen as sovereign the changes have been happier, but not less conspicuous. She has witnessed a vast expansion of the bounds of her Empire, a vast increase in the number of her subjects, and a vast addition both to the aggregate and the average wealth of the people of the three kingdoms.
But large as have been the changes in the personal outlook and environment of the Queen, and in the condition of her Empire as a whole, they can scarcely be said to be more far-reaching than those which have effected a silent revolution in the condition of Ireland and the outlook of the Irish people. To hark back from 1900 to 1861 is to contemplate a state of things, political, social, and economic, which has absolutely passed away, and of which the working generation of Irishmen are fast forgetting even the tradition. At the time of the Queen's last visit the Church of Ireland was still by law established. Of the long sequence of Acts of Parliament by which the tenure of land in Ireland has been so profoundly modified—to use no stronger termonly the first and least remarkable, that known as Deasy's Act, had received the sanction of the Legislature. In the sphere of political agitation the term “Fenian' had not yet been invented; ‘Home Rule' as a party catchword was still unknown; Isaac Butt was still the Conservative member for Youghal; and the parliamentary representation of the country was still predominantly in the hands of the Irish gentry. The entirely fresh conditions which have been substituted for those which subsisted in 1861 are best indicated to readers of the Edinburgh Review' by the recollection that the principal preoccupation in that year of one who knew Ireland as intimately as did the late Mr. Nassau Senior, was the question of the partial endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood. More than a generation has passed since any practical statesman has seriously considered the possibility of solving the Irish problem by any such measure as this.
We have already disavowed any intention of discussing the political aspects of the Queen's visit. As little do we intend to dilate in the present article on the existing state of Irish parties, however fruitful that topic may appear. Speculation upon the probable developements of political parties is always attractive and not without its value upon fit occasion; but never, perhaps, was any effort to forecast the political future more hopelessly foredoomed to failure than the attempt to cast the political horoscopes of Mr. Redmond, Mr. Dillon, and Mr. Healy. For the moment we are concerned with the consideration of factors in the Irish problem more potent and more abiding than the most prominent and most piquant of political personalities, and admitting to the full that, under whatever leadership, the Irish electorate has no present intention of marching under any but a Home Rule banner, we proceed to consider the outlook of the Irish people from the point of view of their social and economic environment. It is in this sphere that we shall find the most striking evidences of the changes silently wrought in the face of Ireland during the past forty years.