Imatges de pÓgina

haphazard about it may be gathered from the fact that several prominent Labour leaders were made members of this Council. It is, perhaps, worthy of note that, when the proceedings had terminated, one of the Labour representatives gave expression, in rough but nevertheless convincing language, to a splendid eulogy of the Kaiser's fairness, sympathy, mental energy, and intimate acquaintance with things in general which one would have expected to lie outside the sphere of his interest altogether. Even here, however, the Kaiser did not stop; for it was he who was chiefly instrumental in bringing about the International Labour Conference which, after prolonged and laborious preliminaries of a general and an international character, was held, as it will be remembered, in Berlin in 1890, and at which nearly every country in Europe was represented. It is true that, in accordance with strict etiquette, the Kaiser himself did not take part in the deliberations of this International Conference on technical labour questions; but it was on all hands admitted that he displayed the utmost interest in its proceedings, invited the delegates to his Palace, heard their views, and gave them every encouragement. Consequently, when soon afterwards (on the 20th of June, 1890) he visited Krupp's works and said to the employees, 'You know that my house has ever shown the greatest care for the working classes,' his hearers gave an enthusiastic response.

And, further, that the Kaiser has since fully adhered to these views may be gathered from the fact that a certain speech which he delivered on some social subjects as recently as towards the end of August last strongly resembled, as regards both tone and substance, the one which he made on the occasion of his Imperial Majesty opening the first Reichstag of his reign. But the best illustration of the Emperor's attitude towards social reform, as understood in its real interpretation, is contained in a speech which the German Imperial Chancellor delivered in the Reichstag a little while ago. Speaking of a series of legislative measures which were intended for the purpose of making the position of the workers more tolerable and more satisfactory, Prince Bülow said:

It is the duty of the State and the duty of the monarchy to intervene in a conciliatory manner, to warn the workers against demanding things which tend to reduce the general capacity of competing with nations in the world market or which are apt to undermine our social order. But at the same time the duty devolves upon the Government to request and exhort employers, and those engaged in various enterprises on a large scale, to work earnestly in order that class differences may gradually fade away, in order that the poorer classes may become better off, and in order that more and more of the lower classes may work their way up into the richer and higher classes of the community. That is the view of his Majesty the Emperor. That is the opinion held by the allied Sovereigns. That is, in fact, my social-political confession.

Again, in so far as another and indeed no less important aspect of domestic politics is concerned, there is a further point with which

the name of the Emperor William the Second will for many years to come be indelibly associated, and this is his influence in checking the great tide of emigration. It will be remembered that until quite recently, and especially during the last decade of the nineteenth century, considerable numbers of people left the Fatherland every year and made new homes in some other land, the United States of America in particular. But German emigration has now fallen off, as the general statistics which have recently been issued from the New York office with this object in view clearly show, to quite small proportions; and though this is doubtless due in a certain measure to the great prosperity of the country, the Kaiser himself has had a large share in bringing it about, for he has consistently opposed emigration on a large scale in every possible way. And there is another form of shifting of population which he has strongly objected to, and that is the removal of families from one part of the country to some other in which life can be lived more pleasantly. In this way the eastern provinces have suffered, and the more beautiful and more fertile western provinces have gained. In discussing this matter during a tour through these particular districts, the Emperor William on one occasion said: ' When a man has at last made sufficient money to bring him in a good income, his heart may say to him, "Now that you are in a position to retire, go further west, where the country ' is so beautiful"; but here reason should step in and say, "Duty first, pleasure afterwards."


That the Kaiser, strenuous soldier though he is, is an earnest advocate and preserver of peace is now more and more universally acknowledged, and therefore nothing more need be said on this point than to quote the Emperor's own words, namely: 'Since my accession to the throne I have often meditated on the consequences of war, and I know that the best use I can make of the position which I hold is to do all the good I can for the general welfare of mankind.' Again, on another occasion-that is, in the course of an interview with an eminent French politician, when, as was by no means unnatural, especially in view of all that had been said and written in reference to the great Moroccan question, the conversation turned on the future possibilities of a Franco-German war-the Emperor said : The man who tries to bring about a war is either a fool or a criminal.'


It is, perhaps, quite to be expected that a man who is so anxious to preserve peace should exhibit both tolerance and breadth of view in a very marked and conspicuous degree, and, though a staunch Protestant himself, he has the complete confidence of the Roman Catholics. That this is not surprising an utterance such as the following will show :

Those of you, whether Poles or Germans, who are Catholics, there is something which I wish to impress upon you. When I last visited the

Vatican, the venerable Pope Leo the Thirteenth, in taking leave of me grasped me by both hands, gave me his blessing, and said: 'I vow and promise to your Majesty, in the name of the entire Catholic section in the Fatherland, that they will always be the loyal and devoted subjects of the German Emperor and the King of Prussia.' Upon you, reverend fathers of the Chapter, devolves the duty of putting into practice the noble promise of the aged Pontiff, so that it shall not be said that after his death the vow he made to the Emperor was broken.

This is fairly typical of the spirit in which the great number of the Kaiser's utterances on religious matters have been made. Had his political speeches been equally temperate, and just to the point, as it were, there would have been far less controversy concerning his personality and alleged ambitions.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

I BELIEVE it to be true that the British Governments of the past
half-century will be judged at the bar of history, not by the number
of treaties they have made with Foreign Powers, nor by the number
of battle-ships they have built, nor yet by the amount of territory
they have conquered or annexed, but by the result of their efforts
to govern Ireland.
Such a criterion would be both reasonable and
just, for no more difficult or delicate task faces any British
Administration; and the Government which lays down the reins of
office, knowing that it has led Ireland along the paths of prosperity
and internal peace, leaves behind it a record for capacity that will
stand the brunt of searching investigation into the other branches of
its statesmanship and will emerge triumphant from the ordeal.

No doubt some will say, 'But wherein lies the difficulty of Irish administration? Surely an Imperial Government that is charged with the ultimate governance of four hundred million persons, of every race, colour, and creed, ought to be able to cope with three million Irishmen.' To my mind the difficulty is not a numerical one; were it so the solution would have been found long ago. It is, rather, a natural difficulty upon which a political one has been superimposed. It is the problem of governing, within a small area, two races so wholly alien the one from the other; of governing sentimental Celts who love to be a law unto themselves and yet lack the grit to raise a nation as the term is now understood, and of ruling under the same system the 'men of the North,' whose practical character for tireless industry of hand and head has little in common with the young men south of the Boyne, who dream dreams but can only think of turbulence as the proper method of realising them. The political difficulty has, recently, been well stated by Mr. Birrell: Ireland has been 'the shuttlecock of British parties' for the past century; and as the distance between these parties has widened so have the competing Irish policies of Unionist and Home Rule Cabinets become more antagonistic the one to the other. It may be impossible so to rule Ireland as to please all of her inhabitants; but the difficulties would be infinitely less

if there were continuity instead of competition in our respective Irish policies. One might think for instance that, now that Ireland has the same local self-Government, the same religious liberty, the same civil laws as Great Britain, a basis for a continuous policy had been found; and that, if exceptional treatment were necessary to heal old wounds, the obvious preference which Ireland has secured in her Parliamentary Representation and in her Land Laws might be guaranteed to her by both parties. Such a system would, of necessity, include the educational and social reforms which Ireland would in the future enjoy pari passu with Great Britain; equally it would depend upon the previous guarantee of Nationalist public opinion— whether formed by the priesthood or politicians or both-that the domestic affairs of that country should be conducted hereafter with the same respect for law, for liberty of opinion and security of personal property, as now obtains on this side of St. George's Channel. Given these premisses-it must be admitted that they will be difficult to obtain, but they are worth working for-what a prosperous country might Ireland become! Surely it would be worth a conference between the two British parties, even though it lasted five years, to find some via media on which all might agree to save Ireland from the fate that is always ultimately in store for the shuttlecock.

Meanwhile, judging the present Government by its methods of administration in the sister-island, what verdict can be passed upon it hereafter by those who will write and read its history?

The purpose of this paper is to deal with the Government of Ireland during the past twelve months only, and to bring home to all who are not hopeless party politicians the alarming recrudescence of danger, not so much really to Great Britain as to Ireland herself, which is now apparent. Radicals with any pretence to an open mind must admit the horrors of the present situation, which opposes in reality all the theories of Liberalism in which they have been trained; Unionists must in their hearts confess to the humiliation imposed upon the Empire by such a state of affairs in our midst, even though they fail to betray the smallest interest in the condition of Ireland at the present time. Nothing, to my mind, has been more amazing during the past year, whilst Ireland has drifted from mild disorder to downright anarchy, than the complacency with which the Unionist party-especially the British branch of it has accepted the situation without a murmur. Until Mr. Balfour spoke upon the question the other day at Birmingham, our leaders (with the single exception of Mr. Walter Long) have not devoted five minutes of their orations to Irish affairs; when it is suggested to the rank and file of the Unionist party that they should instruct their constituents on the condition of Ireland, the usual answer is that 'Home Rule is not practical Politics'; when party agents are invited-at the earnest instance of our fellow-loyalists in Ireland-to hold meetings,

VOL. LXIII-No. 371


« AnteriorContinua »