The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
The Irish Question for Australasian Readers. — I
The Irish Question for Australasian Readers.
Some four years ago Mr. Archibald Forbes, the well-known war correspondent, found it necessary to write in one of our leading English magazines, what might be termed "Australia's Apologia" in the matter of its sympathy and support to the Parnellite movement in Ireland. And Mr. Forbes by no means outstepped the bounds of discretion in taking this action. He rather adopted the course which was at once desirable and called-for. Public opinion in the mother country had been very much exercised by the reports and indications which reached the British shores, of an active and progressive sympathy,—as unaccountable as it was pronounced,—on the part of one of the most loyal of colonies, with the misdeeds and Disruptionist tendencies of a party of unscrupulous agitators, who, no matter how mildly they were represented in distant lands, shocked humanity and paralysed national progress at home.
Mr. Forbes did good service by the facts he disclosed and the evidence he brought to light regarding the true condition of affairs in Australia; and it was with a feeling of deep satisfaction that the discovery was made, that Australian loyalty was as strong as ever: and that those symptoms which had provoked uneasiness, were but the natural outcome of strong appeals, made to a generous and manly race; based on pleas which proved effective, because uncontradicted, and acceptable because accompanied by distinct indica- page 6 tions of respect for Imperial instincts. With the air thus cleared, and the battle's fiercest energies brought to the very heart of the Empire itself, but little time was allowed those who were engaged in the fight for considering the feelings and the ideas of those of their fellow-countrymen whose destinies were being wrought out in far-off lands.
However, the defeat of what is termed the "Home Rule" (but what is in reality the "Disruptionist") Policy in the British constituencies, allows of a little time being given to the consideration of the wants—in the way of information—of communities other than those who inhabit the British Isles; and the preparation of some accurate, if brief, representation of what has really been occurring at home within the last six or seven years. The necessity for such a short history as this will have been fully demonstrated by past occurrences in Australia and elsewhere; if, indeed, future misrepresentation does not place it beyond all cavil. There is no use in indulging in vain regrets for what has unfortunately occurred in the past, but there is every reason and every kind of necessity for profiting by the lessons it supplies; and making it impossible for the policy of "suggestio falsi and suppressio veri" to triumph, through lack of information or absence of accuracy.
The foregoing sentences will supply the raison d'être of this little book, which is at once a history and a plea. A history it is of events connected with British interests and Irish affairs from 1879 to 1886; and a plea for the fair consideration of the truths it supplies, and for sympathy and support for the loyal side of the light of which it speaks. On the cover of the book the statement appears that its publication is the work of the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union; and the name leaves no doubt as to the position which the organisation occupies, and the standpoint from which the appeal is made.
But the facts detailed receive no warping or misconstruction because of the source of their supply. They are full and free, un-tramelled by party exigency, and undistorted by malice. For the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union owns no party, and declares no allegiance save to the State. Unique in its formation, it is, in a political sense, cosmopolitan in its membership, having drawn together persons of different sexes, creeds, (lasses, professions, politics and opinions, in one united association; the basework and page 7 foundation of which is the preservation of the integrity of the British Empire. As a chain is only strongest in its weakest link, so our Empire is only strongest at its weakest point. The most systematic and most successful of the attacks hitherto made on Imperial unity, seeks at this time to place Ireland, separated from Great Britain, as a vantage ground for the foreign enemy on England's lee. And recognising the fact that, despite the gravest of foreign complications, the point of weakness is found, not abroad, but at home, patriotic statesmen of different parties, and representative men of every class and of the three different countries which form the British Isles, have not hesitated to fall into line with the movement originated by the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union, and to stand together in the fight for Imperial interests.
It has been necessary to say this much by way of introduction, in order to clearly indicate the character of this work and the locus standi of the association by which it is issued. The story of the Separatist movement in Ireland will now be dealt with without further preface.