OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Redress of Wrongs. II page 3

Pages: 1 2 <3>

Mr. Gladstone undertook to reduce to order the chaos of centuries. The customs which had grown up to shield the tenant were now converted into law. The landlord might exempt himself from their dominion by giving a lease of thirty-one years. If he did not choose that course, and wished to be rid of his tenant, he must pay him a sum which ranged from two up to seven years' rental. He must also pay for improvements effected by the tenant. Loans of public money were offered to the occupier who desired to purchase his farm, and to the owner who desired to reclaim waste lands, or to make roads and erect buildings.

[If Great Britain expected that Ireland would at once become a contented country, it was very much mistaken. The wrongs and the hatred bequeathed by many generations of sufferers cannot pass so quickly. The Land Act did not remove the Irish grievance. Despairing of obtaining satisfaction from the British Parliament, the Irish leaders demanded Home Rule, which meant the restoration of the Irish Parliament in Dublin. The Irish members of Parliament, led by Mr. C. S. Parnell, made their power felt by an organized system of "obstruction" in the House of Commons, which necessitated by-and-by changes in the rules of procedure. A succession of bad harvests, accompanied with a fall in the prices of agricultural produce, caused much suffering among the tenants of small farms, and discontent again became widespread. A Land League was formed, which advised tenants not to pay rents. Landlords and their agents were shot. The cattle and the goods of those who obeyed the law were destroyed. The system of social persecution called "boycotting" became fearfully common. The law was defied, and the country seemed to be on the brink of civil war.

In the belief that the evils of Ireland were chiefly agrarian, Mr. Gladstone's government carried a new Land Act. It granted to tenants fair rents, fixity of tenure, and freedom of sale. But the outrages continued, and the Land League was forcibly suppressed. Secret societies then took the place of open agitation. The murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish, the newly-appointed Chief Secretary, along with the permanent Under-Secretary, Mr. Burke, in Phoenix Park, Dublin, showed how desperate the agitators had become. A strong Crimes Act was passed, and it was firmly administered by the viceroy, Earl Spencer. Under this treatment the country was quiet for the next two years.

Mr. Gladstone had now become convinced, however, that the method of governing Ireland by coercive measures was a mistake. The first general election under the extended franchise gave him a large majority; and he became prime minister for the third time. He produced two bills dealing with Ireland. The one bill was essentially a Home Rule Bill. It proposed the erection of a legislative body and an executive body in Dublin for the management of Irish affairs. The other bill proposed the advance of at least fifty million sterling by the British Government to enable tenants to buy their holdings. These bills caused dissensions in the Liberal party. Lord Hartington and Mr. John Bright had declined to join the ministry. Mr. Chamberlain and Sir George Trevelyan (Sir George afterwards returned to Mr. Gladstone's party.) now withdrew from it. The Government of Ireland Bill was defeated on the second reading in the Commons by a combination of Conservatives and dissident Liberals. Mr. Gladstone once more appealed to the country. He was in a minority, and resigned. The Marquis of Salisbury formed a Conservative government, which relied on the support of Lord Hartington, Mr. Chamberlain, and their followers. A few months later, Mr. G. J. Goschen joined the cabinet as a representative of the Liberal Unionists. The Liberal party was rent asunder. For the time the distinction, between Liberal and Conservative was almost lost in that between Home Ruler and Unionist.

<<< Previous page <<<
Pages: 1 2 <3>

Pictures for The Redress of Wrongs. II page 3

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About