Edward Raymond Turner.

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which the government would have lost the right to create
new peers. Had this taken place, neither the Reform Law
of 1832 nor the Parliament Act of 1911 could have been
enacted without a revolution, since it was only upon the
threat of creating new peers that the House of Lords had
yielded and surrendered its power. It is probable that



The Irish

of Ireland
by the

the Upper House of the English parhament will presently
be reconstituted on a more modern basis. At present its
power is far less than that of the American Senate, which,
since 1913, has been made directly dependent on the
people. In 1911, also, by this same law, the maximum
duration of a parhament was fixed at five years, instead
of seven years, as previously since 1716. In the same
year also tlie Commons voted to pay their members,
something once done, but not done for a long while.

The struggle over the power of the House of Lords was
intimately connected with the long contest for Irish Home
Rule; and when the veto was taken from the Lords it
seemed for the moment that the Irish Question was
nearer settlement than it had ever been in the past. In
the midst of the great success that had come to England
and the British Empire in the nineteenth century Ireland
was the principal failure. Its story was an old story of
tragedy and misfortune and woe. The errors of times past
had been so great, and the enmities which had resulted were
so lasting, that the settlement of the Irish Question had
baffled generations of statesmen and was now one of the
most difficult of all the problems for which Britain must
find a solution.

Ireland in the early ages was inhabited by Celtic people
much hke those in Britain. As a result of the Anglo-Saxon
conquest the Brythonic Celts disappeared from most of
what then became England, but across in Erin, the other
island, the Goidelic Celts kept possession of the country
and developed in some places considerable culture. Like
the Anglo-Saxons in England, the Celts in Ireland failed
to develop a nation and remained divided in tribes or
small kingdoms; and they continued thus disunited long
after the conquest of England by the Normans had made
the English a nation and given to England a strong central
government. Thus they fell an easy prey to invaders,
first the Danes, then Norman adventurers from England,



and finally the English Government itself; but for a long
time they were never completely conf(iierefl. The in-
vaders held the east coast and llie natives held the rest of
the country. The Celts could iiol drive llic intruders
out; the invaders could not make a complete con((uest,
but were able to prevent the better development of Irish
civilization and the establishment of an Irish nation. In
the sixteenth century, at a time when Englishmen were
becoming Protestants and Irishmen were clinging to the
old Catholic faith, the English began a systematic reduc-
tion of the country, and in the course of long and terribly
destructive wars, during which a great many of the Irish
perished by starvation and the sword, the country was
completely conquered and reduced to a state of subjection.

By the end of the seventeenth century this process was
complete. Ireland was now treated as a conc[uest of the
British crown, much as a dependent colony. Most of the
land was taken from the Irish proprietors and given to
English landlords. All the privileges and power were
restricted to members of the Anglican Church of Ire-
land, and the native Irish were kept under penal laws
because of their Catholic faith. In a few generations
most of the Irish natives, many of whom continued to
speak their Celtic tongue and love the old Celtic tribal
law, were reduced virtually to the position of serfs. And
even the English and Scottish colonists in the country,
a great many of whom were in the northern part, in the
province of Ulster, were not allowed to develop much
industry or commerce, but were put under the same sort of
economic restrictions as those which later on contributed
to cause the American colonies to rebel and fight for in-

In the latter part of the eighteenth century the Thirteen
Colonies of Britain in America did win their independence;
but Ireland was too close to Great Britain to break away.
Nevertheless, the British Government made some con-

The con-
quest long

of the

The Act of
Union, 1800



joined to
Great Brit-
ain: the


The Great
and emigra-

cessions. During the period 1782-1800 Ireland was
permitted to have a separate parhament, and during this
era considerable prosperity came to some of the people.
It was not long, however, before trouble developed.
Catholics and Protestants quarreled; and some of the
Irish, desiring to separate completely from Great Brit-
ain, sought the aid of the French. This was in the
midst of the great struggle with Napoleon, and so grave
was the situation that Pitt, the British prime minister,
resolved to end the danger by binding Ireland to Britain
more closely than ever before. Accordingly, in 1800,
an Act of Union was passed which joined Ireland to
Great Britain in the United Kingdom in much the same
way that Scotland and England had been united to form
Great Britain in 1707. There was now to be one parlia-
ment for the United Kingdom, in which the Irish were
to have representatives just as were the English and the
Scots. This had worked very well for the Scots; but
it failed to satisfy the Irish, who after a while began
to try to undo it. The failure was owing to the fact that
most of the Irish were still obliged to make their living by
working on some plot of ground for which they paid high
rent to an English landlord, and because the Catholics of
Ireland, who were three fourths of the population, were
still partly disfranchised and subjected to discrimination
because of their faith. Nothing would have done more to
content them than complete Catholic emancipation, but
largely owing to the obstinacy of George III this was not
given until 1829, by which time it was too late to make
Irishmen feel any gratitude for it.

Throughout all this time population was increasing
rapidly, and as these people could only be supported by
agriculture, the struggle for existence on the limited
amount of cultivable land became more and more terrible,
and the danger from starvation always greater. The
main support of the people was the potato, but in 1846



the potato crop Wcis a total failure, and for three years
afterward there were famine and pestilence and appalling
misery in the land. A half million or more people perished
of starvation, and a million and a half others were stricken
with the fever that followed. From this disaster Ireland
never recovered. When the famine was past, those who
could began leaving the country, most of them to settle
in the United States, where they lauglit to their children
and their children's children hatred of the England
which, they said, had caused their ruin. The popula-
tion of Ireland was about 5,000,000 in 1801. By 1841 it
was more than 8,000,000. After 1846 it rapidly declined,
and at the beginning of the twxmtieth century it had
fallen to little more than 4,000,000. The best people
had gone to America, as in the eighteenth century they
had gone away to France. Those who remained in Ire-
land, assisted often by their brethren in the United States,
continued to hate England and hope for the day of her
destruction, which would, they thought, be the day of
deliverance for them.

Bad as these conditions were, they had arisen not from
any special wickedness of Englishmen, but as a result of
methods that were everywhere applied in times past,
and because of circumstances particularly unhappy.
These conditions were changed all too slowly. But in the
latter part of the nineteenth century a great alteration
came to pass. The Irish were able to make their protests
and resistance more troublesome and much more effective.
Steadily the people of Britain had been becoming more
humane and more sensitive to wrong and the suffering
about them. Moreover, Britain was slowly being trans-
formed into a democracy, with the power of the govern-
ment increasingly in the hands of the people. And just
as in the nineteenth century a great series of reforms had
been carried out for the betterment of the lot of the mass
of the people in Britain, so, after a while, as the people of

Failure of
the potato

England and



Reforms in

The Land

Britain and their leaders understood more clearly the con-
ditions in Ireland, they turned themselves to the long and
difficult task of improving them and undoing the wrongs
which had once been committed.

Roman Catholics had been emancipated in 1829, but
the work of completing the removal of religious dis-
crimination was effected in 1869 by the disestablish-
ment of the Church of Ireland, the Protestant Church
which the British Government had long before established
and endowed with property, and which had until recently
been supported with tithes paid by the Catholic Irish.
Next, urged on by violent agitation and the savage law-
lessness of some of the Irish, the government gave its
attention to the question of the land. Beginning with
1870 a series of acts was passed by which Irish tenants
were protected in their tenures, and assured some compen-
sation for their improvements made on land while it
had been in their possession; and presently the govern-
ment itself took measures to see that they were not made
to pay excessive rents. More important still, another
series of laws, passed in the last quarter of the century,
gave government assistance to the peasants so that they
might buy their lands and become owners themselves.
They were to repay the government, with moderate in-
terest, in small payments over a long period of time, the
terms being so generously arranged that presently it was
cheaper for an Irishman to buy his land than it was to
pay rent. By 1910 half of the island was in possession of
small holders, who were slowly paying the government;
and it was evident that in the course of time Ireland would
be owned by peasant proprietors more than almost
any other country. Slowly but surely now the people
were laying the foundation for considerable prosperity.
Further progress would lie in setting up again, if modern
conditions made that possible, the old commerce and in-
dustry of the island.


But Irishmen were not yet .sali.sfi(«(l. They remained The strug-
discontented with the government that made them part gle for Home
of the United Kingdom. Some of tliem wished complete
independence and separation, like the adherents of Young
Ireland who arose about 1840, and like the Fenians who
were active after 1860. But most of the people followed
more conservative leaders. About 1870 the Home Rule
movement began under Isaac Butt, and was soon carried
forward by Parnell. This was designed to secure Irish
self-government for an Ireland which would nevertheless
continue in the United Kingdom, joined with Great
Britain. INIost of the people in Britain, however, were
opposed even to this partial separation. Home Rule was
advocated by the Liberal Party under Gladstone in 1886
and in 1893; but both times the })ill that was introduced
into parliament failed to be enacted as a law. For some
years nothing further was accomplished, but the Irish
under their new leader, John Redmond, continued their
efforts. The great opportunity came when the Lib-
eral Party under Asquith and Lloyd George were try-
ing to bring about their social reforms. They soon
needed all the support in parliament that they could
get. The Irish Nationalist members were willing to vote
with them on condition that, in return, a Home Rule
bill should be passed. The Liberals were the more
willing to do this since many of them favored Irish self-
government. Thus it was by Irish support that the Par-
liament Act of 1911 was finally put through; and in the
following year a third Home Rule Bill was brought into

A memorable struggle followed. It was known that The Third
the House of Lords would refuse to sanction such a meas- Home Rule
ure, but no longer could the Lords do more than delay ^^^' passed
the passage of any measure. The Home Rule Bill of 191'-2,
which satisfied many of the Irish people, was passed
again by the Commons in 1913 and 1914, in spite of the


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E23 NATIONALIST a^JM ■ /'•}^v;^Sx^ntlonde

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Scale of Miles
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veto of the Lords, and was on the point of becoming law
when the Great AVar broke out.

Meanwhile, however, very serious opposition had Ulster
developed from a large part of the inhabitants of Ulster,
the northern province, partly peopled by Protestant im-
migrants from England and Scotland, who declared that
they would under no circumstances permit themselves to
be separated from the government of the United King-
dom. They said that they feared religious and economic
oppression from the Catholic majority in Ireland if Home
Rule were established over them ; and they proclaimed that
they would resist such separation by force. The Great
War put an end to the question for a while, the Home
Rule Bill being passed, but the law suspended for the
duration of the conflict.

It was most unfortunate that this question had not been Sinn Fein
completely settled long before, since events were now
to show that it was almost too late to undertake any settle-
ment at all. For some time there had been coming into
greater prominence a group of Irishmen who desired to
revive the Celtic literature and character of the past. In
1893 they had founded the Gaelic League. From this
had come a great deal of excellent writing in the so-called
Irish Literary Revival, and also some attempt to revive
the use of the Celtic tongue, which by the beginning of
the twentieth century had almost come to an end in the
island. This movement went further under the guid-
ance of men whose motto was Sinn Fein (We ourselves),
who wished to get complete political independence for
Ireland. In 1904, under the leadership of Arthur Griffith
and others, they established the Society of Sinn Fein.
They endeavored to teach the Irish people to have nothing
to do with the British government in Ireland.

The spirit of these people and of other radicals in Ire- Ireland and
land was greatly stirred by the mighty changes of the Britain
war. In April, 1916, some of them suddenly rose in re-




of 1916

An Irish Re-
public pro-

bellion in Dublin. The insurrection was quickly crushed
and the rebels sternly punished, but large results followed.
The Irish people had not yet received the Home Rule
and self-government they had so long sought for, and
they felt now little disposed to make allowance for the dif-
culties in which the British Government found itself during
the struggle of the nations. When the government ruled
with firmness it alienated most of the people; when it tried
leniency they merely turned to the leadership of Sinn Fein.
Many of them now lost their desire for Home Rule, and
hoped that soon under Sinn Fein they would get complete
independence. This the people of Britain would in no wise
consider, since for hundreds of years rulers and statesmen
had been trying to bring about the union of the British
Isles, and also because the geographical position of Ireland
was such that she could control the principal lines of com-
munication from Great Britain over the seas to the sources
of her raw materials and her food. If an independent
Ireland were ever hostile to Great Britain in war, or if she
got into the enemy's hands, then the British might be
starved into surrender and their empire destroyed.

By 1917 the people of Britain were quite willing
to have Irishmen govern themselves in domestic matters,
but they insisted that Ireland should continue to be
united with Great Britain and under the control of a
central government in the matters which affected them all.
Mr. Lloyd George, who had become the prime minister,
called an Irish Convention to settle a scheme of Irish self-
government, but no agreement could be reached that
was satisfactory to either of the extreme parties, the
Ulster Unionists or Sinn Fein. Most of the Protestants
of Ulster wanted no Home Rule, and the adherents of Sinn
Fein sought independence. At the end of the war, when
a general election was held in the United Kingdom, Sinn
Fein won a sweeping victory in Ireland, electing three
fourths of the representatives chosen. They announced



that they would not sit in the parh'ament at Westminster,
and early in 1919 proclaimed a republic, appealing to
America and the Peace Conference at Paris to gi\'e them
assistance. At first the resistance to British authority
was passive, but soon an active rebellion was raging, car-
ried on by guerilla methods. After the extreme passions
of the period have subsided it is probable that the Irish
will have self-government satisfactory to them, yet, in out-
side affairs, retaining their union with Great Britain.

The foreign relations of Great Britain during this period
are best related in other connections. Down to about
1900 she strove to stand aloof as much as possible from
continental affairs. Her interests were principally im-
perial and colonial: the protection of the colonies which
she had already acquired, and, from time to time, the
acquiring of new ones. For this a strong navy rather
than a strong army was necessary, and so Britain did not
come into rivalry with great military powers like Austria-
Hungary and the German Empire, but with those, like
France and Russia, whose interests were also colonial and
naval, and whose ambition it was to extend territorial
possessions. All through the nineteenth century there
was fear that Russia might expand down through the
Balkans and along the Black Sea until Constantinople
was obtained, or that she might push southward from
Turkestan until British control of India was endangered.
So it was that in 1878, during the Russo-Turkish War,
Britain made ready to oppose Russia as she had done
before in the Crimean War; and at the Congress of Berlin,
as before at the Congress of Paris, she succeeded in hold-
ing Russia back. ]\Iore acute was the rivalry with France,
the old enemy with whom in the past England had carried
on so many wars. With France there had been good re-
lations after the overthrow of Napoleon I. But follow-
ing the establishment of the Third Republic, when French-
men turned from Europe to build up a great colonial


Rivalry with
Russia and
with France


empire again, and when in furthering this they developed
strong naval power, Britain became cold and suspicious.
Fashoda The rivalry culminated in 1898, when British moving

southward from Egj'pt met Frenchmen moving eastward
in the Sudan, at Fashoda. The two nations came to the
very brink of war, which was only avoided through sur-
render by France. Thereafter conditions became better
and 1898 was seen to have been a great turning-point.
Hitherto Germany and England had had few conflicting
interests. While the most dangerous opponents of Britain
seemed to be Russia and France, the partners in the Dual
Alliance, there w^ere many ties between Germany and
England. England had been friendly to the Triple Alli-
ance. In 1887 she had made with Austria-Hungary and
Italy an agreement concerning the Mediterranean. In
1898 it seemed for a moment that Germany and Britain
might come together in a common agreement. But a
great revolution in diplomatic affairs now took place.
In less than a decade Britain regarded the German Empire
as her most formidable and dangerous rival, and helped
to form the Triple Entente with Russia and France.


General: R. H. Gretton, A Modern History of the English
People, 1880-1910, 2 vols. (2d ed. 1913), liberal; Sir Spencer
'SJVa\po\e,History of Twenty-Five Years, 1856-1880, 4 vols. (1904-
8), moderate Liberal; Paul Mantoux, A travers V Angleterre
Contemporaine (1909).

Biographies and memoirs: Sir Sidney Lee, Queen Victoria:
a Biography (1903); Edward Legge, King Edward in His True
Colors (1913), More about King Edward (1913); Alexander
Mackintosh, Joseph Chamberlain (ed. 1914); Winston Churchill,
Lord Randolph Churchill, 2 vols. (1906); Stephen Gwynn and
Gertrude M. Tuckwell, The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W.
Dilke, 2 vols. (1917); W. F. Monypenny, Life of Benjamin Dis-
raeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, 2 vols. (1910-12), continued by
G. E. Buckle, 4 vols. (1914-20); Harold Spender, The Prime
Minister [Mr. Lloyd George], (1920); John (Viscount) Morley,


The Life nf William Eirart Gladstone, 'i vols. (1903), acliniraljle;
Sir George Arthur, Life of Lord Kitchener, 3 vols. (1920; ; John
(Viscount) Morley, Recollections, 2 vols. (1917); R. B. O'Brien,
Life of Charles- Stewart Parnell, 3 vols. (1898) ; TI. D. Traill, Mar-
quis of SalLsbnnj (1891); Mrs. IIunii)hry Ward, A Writer's
Recollections, 2 vols, (1918), and Lytton Strachey, Eminent
Victorians (1919), brilliant and striking studies.

Social and economic: C. J. H. Hayes, British Social Politics
(1913), documents; Graham Balfour, The Educational System of
Great Britain and Ireland (2d ed. 1903); W. L. Blease, The
Emancipation of English Women (ed. 1913); Charles Booth,
editor. Life and Labour of the People in London, 17 vols. (1892-
1903), containing a vast amount of information about poverty
and the condition of the working class; Frederic Keeling,
Child Labour in the United Kingdom (1914); R. E. Prothero,
English Farming Past and Present (1912) ; The Report of the Land
Enquiry Committee, A. H. Dyke Acland (chairman), 2 vols.
(1914); A. R. Wallace, Land Nationalization (1882); Sidney
and Beatrice W^ebb, A Constitution for the Socialist Common-
wealth of Great Britain (1920).

The Irish Question: for a general account, E. R. Turner,
Ireland and England, in the Past and at Present (1919); P. W.
Joyce, A Concise History of Ireland from the Earliest Times to
1908 (20th ed. 1914) ; W. O'C. Morris, Ireland, U94-1905 (ed.
1909); Ernest Barker, Ireland in the Last Fifty Years {1806-
1916) (1917); Sir Horace Plunkett, Ireland in the New Century
(1904); for critical and hostile accounts, T. D. Ingram, A His-
tory of the Legislative Union of Great Britain and Ireland (1887),
A Critical Examination of Irish History, 2 vols. (1900), from the
Elizabethan conquest to 1800; on Irish conditions, Adolphe
Perraud, Etudes sur VIrlande Ccnitemporaine, 2 vols. (1862);
Louis Paul-Dubois, Ulrlande Contemporaine et la Question
Irlandaise {1907); Francis Hackett, Ireland: a Study in Na-
tionalism (1918).

Home Rule: The A B C Home Rule Handbook, ed. by C. R.
Buxton (1912); S. G. Hobson, Irish Home Rule (1912); P. Kerr-
Smiley, The Peril of Home Rule (1911); Against Home Rule:
the Case for the Union, edited by S. Rosenbaum (1912).

The Rebellion of 1916: The Irish Rebellion of 1916, edited by
Maurice Joy (1916); L. G. Redmond-Howard, Six Days of the
Irish Republic (1916); W. B. Wells and N. Marlowe, .1 History
of the Irish Rebellion of 1916 (1917).


Siim Fein: R. M. Henry, The Evolution of Sinn Fein (1919);
P. S. O'Hegarty, Sinn Fein, an Illumination (1919).

Recent Aspects: Stephen Gwynn, The Last Years of John
Redmond (1919); W. B. Wells and N. Marlowe, The Irish Con-
vention and Si7i}i Fein (1918).

For the student who cares to go further afield in his studies
there is an immense body of important and interesting informa-
tion concerning a vast variety of matters about Great Britain
and the United Kingdom in the Parliamentary History, the
Parliamentary Debates, and the numerous Parliamentary Papers.

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 22 of 49)