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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 54

Held by Force, not Love

Held by Force, not Love.

I propose that you should look at the state of Ireland as it is at the moment. I shall trace it not very far back, as it is utterly needless to weary you with a long inquiry into the past, but shall trace a little way back the causes which seem to me to compel the state of things which is now existing—a very strange state. We hold Ireland not in any sort or fashion at the present moment by our love or by our affection. We hold her as a garrisoned country. Any one who will travel through Ireland and see our barracks; any one who will go into a great portion of Ireland, unless the telegraphic report has represented correctly a modification, will see a coercive law as onerous as the Curfew law prevailing at the present moment in that land. If you regard the fact that there are now in the gaols of Great Britain a number of men—I am not about to quarrel with page 26 their condemnation; they offended against the law and were committed to prison for it—when you know that Lord Granville in the House of Lords, and Mr. Gladstone in and out of the House of Commons, admitted that the acts of those men in gaol were the cause that led our Government to begin the reforms which should have been taken in hand some 30 or 40 years ago; when you have heard that Lord Granville, not a rabid speaker, not a hasty utterer of unweighed words, told his peers, sitting around him in the House of Lords, that they had been induced by the very movement for which these men have gone to gaol to take into consideration the grievances which otherwise would not have been dealt with at all; then I say that the strict letter of the law fairly closed the gaols on these men, and that the consciousness of the Government that it had done wrong to these men should have looked towards it for remedy and have opened the doors to them, at least as a testimony of its own shame and neglect in the matter. (Great applause.) There are some who say that Irishmen always will be dissatisfied; that whatever we may do for them we cannot satisfy them. Perhaps that might arise from our having done too much for them (laughter and applause) and they would have been better satisfied if we had done a little less (laughter). It is said, "You have got rid of the Irish Church now. The Irish Land Law was done away with by the Land Act of 1870; and what more do you want?" I propose with regard to the second point to urge upon you that, glorious as the land measure was on the part of Mr. Gladstone, it is yet incomplete and insufficient; that it does not remedy the real evil in the case that they want removed. I shall urge upon you further thoughts with reference to the movement now prevailing in Ireland—the movement known as "Home Rule"—the movement of to-day, which is a real movement there. Real? You may see that manifested by the enormous meetings held, not in Ireland alone, but in Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, and London itself. (Applause.) It is not an invention of to-day, but the very movement which Daniel O'Connell advocated in words from one end of Ireland to the other, until the Government stopped their meetings and drove the people into a conspiracy. It is the same movement as then. I propose to deal with that, this evening, and to express my own views upon that point fully.

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I feel that I may on this point have a double difficulty. There are Irishmen here present who may think I do not go far enough, and there are Englishmen here who think I may go too far; and there may be Americans who may doubt the wisdom of my intruding this matter upon them at all. I believe that I shall be able to satisfy the whole of you; I believe that, with reference to the Irishmen, if they will listen to my expression from an Englishman's point of view, I shall show them opinions worthy of consideration. With reference to the Englishman, I can have no hope for him unless already he has a consciousness of the wrong we have done to Ireland, which compels him to hear this subject honestly while he deals with it. (Applause.) And for Americans, I think I shall be able to justify my dealing on the subject before them now. I cannot pretend to have the scholarly attributes of Mr. Froude, and I dare not pretend to the fiery eloquence of Father Burke, but I may pretend to tell Irishmen that this voice which I have raised for them has been laughed at in England, and it would not have been silent even if my views of the question had been against them, if the need of the political condition required that I should utter them. (Applause.)