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MR. GOLDWIN SMITH has recently fallen into the habit of denouncing the Irish people with much energy. Almost all the misfortunes of Ireland are, he apparently thinks, ascribable to the inherent depravity of the Irish Celt and the unredeemed scoundrelism of the Irish agitator. There is but one bright spot, he says, in the vast wilderness of Irish barbarism, and that spot is in Ulster. Ulster is civilised because it is Teutonic, and the agitator has no foothold there. The other provinces are barbarous because they are Celtic, and under the influence of a "vitriol press" and a gang of sanguinary demagogues. History has really had little to do with Irish discontent and Irish hatred of England; and Mr. Smith is greatly exercised lest "in the day of battle," at the next general election, "the national conscience" should allow "a fancied burden of historical guilt" to "sit heavy on the spirit of the nation." The strained relations between England and Ireland at the present day are not, he seems to urge, so much a question of history as of race and demagogism, and what is now most wanting, in his opinion, is the suppression of the demagogue and "the working of the savage clansman out of the Irishman's character." How the demagogue is to be suppressed, or how the "savage clansman is to be worked out of the Irishman's character," Mr. Smith does not precisely tell us, but until both these ends are achieved he thinks it will be necessary to adopt what he himself once described as "the irrelevant remedy of coercion." In Land Acts or Reform Bills, in securing to the Irish tenant the fruits of his industry, in the equalisation of the franchise in both countries, or in the extension of local self-government in Ireland, he has no faith. Indeed, he seems to think that measures of this kind have a mischievous tendency, because they are calculated to "root the Celt in the soil;" and one of his chief complaints against England to-day is that she is "responsible for the preservation of the Celtic race in Ireland." It is the policy of Oliver Cromwell, and not the policy of Mr. Gladstone, that finds favour in the eyes of Mr. Goldwin Smith.


These, in brief, are, as I gather from his recent publications, the views of Mr. Smith on Ireland and the Irish. But he did not always hold these views. He did not always regard the Irish Celts as the

(1) Irish History and Irish Character, p. 184.

(2) See Mr. Smith's articles in the Nineteenth Century for July, 1882, and June, 1883, and his article in the Fortnightly Review for January, 1884, also a letter in the Pall Mall Gazette, March 23, 1882.

vile race he now depicts them. He did not always ascribe Irish discontent and Irish hatred of England to the plots and intrigues of unscrupulous agitators; and what one would like to ask (if the question be not impertinent) is when and why did Mr. Goldwin Smith change his views on Irish matters? The historical facts on which he based his old views still remain the same. What are the new facts on which he has formed his new opinions? Awaiting any answer which Mr. Smith may deem it worth while to give to this question, I shall, in the meantime, inform such persons as may not be familiar with his works upon the subject what he thought and wrote about Ireland not very many years ago.


In his interesting work, Irish History and Irish Character, published in 1861, he tells us (at page 13) that "there is no good reason for believing that the Irish Kelts are averse from labour, provided they be placed, as people of all races require to be placed, for at least two or three generations, in circumstances favourable to industry." May I here ask Mr. Smith if, in his judgment, the "Irish Kelts" have been placed "for two or three generations in circumstances favourable to industry"? And if he be of that opinion, may I take the further liberty of requesting him to fix the precise date at which they were so placed. At the same page of the same book he continues: It has been well said of their [the Irish] past industrial character and history, 'We were reckless, ignorant, improvident, drunken, and idle. We were idle, for we had. nothing to do; we were reckless, for we had no hope; we were ignorant, for learning was denied us; we were improvident, for we had no future; we were drunken, for we sought to forget our misery.' No part of this defence, probably, is more true than that which connects the drunkenness of the Irish people with their misery. Drunkenness is, generally speaking, the vice of despair; and it springs from the despair of the English peasant as rankly as from that of his Irish fellow. The sums of money which have lately been transmitted by Irish emigrants to their friends in Ireland seem a conclusive answer to much loose denunciation of the national character, both in a moral and an industrial point of view." So wrote Mr. Smith in 1861. Yet there are few men at the present day who indulge in more "loose denunciation" of the Irish "national character" than he does. He has recently described the Irish Celts as a "fatal" and "degrading element." But he said of them in 1861: "The two races [Saxon and Celt] blended together may well be expected to produce a great and gifted nation; and it would probably detract from our greatness, and from the richness of our national gifts, if the Keltic element should be too much drained away by unlimited emigration.'

(1) Article in the Nineteenth Century entitled "Why send more Irish to America?' June, 1883.

Nevertheless, Mr. Smith seems now to be the staunch advocate of (practically) unlimited emigration, provided the stream be turned away from Canada, where, he seems to think, an influx of Irish emigrants would tend to degrade the population.1

So much with reference to Mr. Smith's views-present and pastof the "Irish Kelt." Next with reference to his opinions respecting the cause of Irish discontent and hatred of England. He has recently written an article in the Fortnightly Review for the express purpose of "removing" from the "national conscience a fancied burden of historical guilt" on the subject of Ireland; and in answer to the question which he asks on p. 46, viz. "Why, then, do the Irish hate England?" he ignores the testimony of history, and throws the chief blame on the agitators. But let us see what he had to say less than twenty years ago with reference to the connection between Irish history and Irish discontent and crime.

In his Three English Statesmen, published in 1867, he says (at p. 274): "I have myself sought and found in the study of Irish history the explanation of the paradox that a people with so many gifts, so amiable, naturally so submissive to rulers, and everywhere but in their own country industrious, are in their own country bywords of idleness, disaffection, and agrarian crime." How comes it, may I ask, that Mr. Smith in 1884 thinks that Irish "disaffection" and "agrarian crime" spring from agitation, whereas in 1867 he "found in the study of Irish history" the cause of their existence? Has Mr. Smith given up the study of Irish history since 1867, or has he forgotten it, or found that he had then read it amiss? At present Mr. Smith will not make the slightest allowance for Irish misdeeds, because, apparently, he regards the Irish Celt as an inherently lawless being-the mere prey of the agitator-a creature quite impervious to the influences of civilisation. But formerly he used to be an apologist, on "historical grounds," for Irish disaffection and lawlessness. Thus in his Irish History and Character he writes (at p. 70), "Those who are disposed to regard the Irish as inherently lawless will do well to remember the historical relations between the people and the English law ;" and he adds (at p. 194), "Justice requires that allowance should be made on historical grounds for the failings of the Irish people. If they are wanting in industry, in regard for the rights of property, in reverence for the law, history furnishes a full explanation of their defects. . . . . . . . They have never had the advantage of the training through which other nations have passed in their gradual rise from barbarism to civilisation. The progress of the Irish people was arrested at an almost primitive stage, and a series of calamities, following close upon each other, have prevented it from ever fairly resuming its course." "How many cen(1) Article in the Nineteenth Century, "Why send more Irish to America?" June, 1883.

turies," he again pregnantly adds (p. 142), "of a widely different training have the English people gone through in order to acquire their boasted love of law." Indeed, Mr. Smith did not, apparently, think that the Irish could reasonably be expected to love or reverence the law at all; and he used some strong language on this subject. "A people," he said, with a fine burst of indignation, "cannot be expected to love and reverence oppression because it is consigned to the Statute Book and called law."

With respect to the kind of "law" which "a people" could not be "expected to love and reverence," here is what Mr. Smith says, (after referring1 to the "high-handed violence," "the mean and most infamous chicane," by which the ancient race "was disinherited"): "It is safe to observe that no want of respect for property is shown by the Irish people if a proprietorship which had its origin, within historical memory, in flagrant wrong is less sacred in their eyes than it would be if it had its origin in immemorial right." He then lets the Irish Teutonic landlords "have it " pretty much as he is now letting the Irish Celtic tenants "have it." "The habits of the Irish gentry," he says, "grew beyond measure brutal and reckless, and the coarseness of their debaucheries would have disgusted the crew of Comus. Their drunkenness, their blasphemy, their ferocious duelling left the squires of England far behind. If there was a grotesque side to their vices which mingles laughter with reprobation, this did not render their influence less pestilent to the community of which the malice of destiny had made them the social chiefs. Fortunately their recklessness was sure, in the end, to work to a certain extent its own cure, and in the background of their swinish and uproarious drinking bouts the Encumbered Estates Act rises to our view." I shall quote one more extract illustrative of Mr. Smith's views as to the causes of Irish disaffection, misery, and crime, and then pass to the consideration of the remedies which he proposed for their removal. Referring to "modern Irish agrarianism," he says: "Has property in land, according to the English system, presented itself [to the Irish peasants] in the form of security, independence, domestic happiness, dignity, and hope? Has it not rather presented itself to him in the form of insecurity, degradation, and despair? It would be too much to say that modern Irish agrarianism is the direct. offspring of primitive Irish institutions; but it is not too much to say that even modern Irish agrarianism is rather the offspring of a barbarism prolonged by unhappy circumstances and bad government than by anything more deserving of unqualified indignation.


As Mr. Smith had decisive views respecting the causes of Irish disaffection, he had also decisive views respecting the remedies which ought to be used for their removal. He thought that up to 1829 the (1) Irish History and Character, p. 101. (2) Ibid. pp. 20, 21.

government of Ireland had been miserably bad; but he considered that, between '29 and '68 something had been done-though not enough, nor nearly enough—to ameliorate the condition of the people, and he wisely warned impatient and ignorant politicians not to indulge in the illusion that "the accumulated effects of so many unhappy centuries" could "be removed at once by a wave of the legislator's wand." He also pointed out that the legislation which had taken place between '29 and '68 "had failed through the indifference of Parliament to the sentiments of Irishmen," 2 and he urged that before Ireland could be tranquillised these sentiments should be respected and recognised. "The chief malady of Ireland," he said, "is the void created in the national heart by the want of any institutions commanding the reverence, love, or confidence of the nation, and the only cure for the malady, I repeat, is such a measure of decentralization as will satisfy the national aspirations.' He then proposed, as the "measure of decentralization" which would "satisfy the national aspirations"-(having premised that the Church "must go" and the Land Laws be reformed)—


"1. The residence of the Court in Dublin."

"2. An occasional session (say once in every three years) of the Imperial Parliament in Dublin."

"3. A liberal measure of local self-government."

Such was Mr. Goldwin Smith's plan in 1868 for the regeneration of Ireland.


Assuredly it may be suggested, that, Mr. Smith might have awaited the trial of his own "cure" before "rounding on a people with whom he once sympathized, and whose misfortunes and misdeeds he ascribed to the "accumulated effects" of "centuries" of "unhappy circumstances" and "bad government"? He is scarcely just to himself in ascribing Irish disaffection to Irish agitation, when the remedies which he proposed as the "only cure" for that disaffection have not yet been tried.

It would seem that Mr. Smith is no longer a "liberal local selfgovernment" reformer nor a "bit" of a Home Ruler. "Emigration," he now says, "is the true remedy," as he formerly said that "institutions commanding the confidence of the [Irish] nation" were "the only cure." What guarantee have we, may I ask, that he will not change his opinions again to-morrow, and tell us that the one remedy for Irish discontent is the restoration of the Heptarchy or the crowning of Mr. Biggar as King of Ireland on the Hill of Tara ?

Let me end as I began by asking, What are the new facts on (1) Irish History and Character.

(2) The Irish Question (published in 1868), Preface, p. 1.

(3) Ibid.

(4) "Why send more Irish to America ?" Nineteenth Century, June, 1883, p. 915.

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