The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 1880.
It will be remembered that some time ago a short cablegram from London was published in the New Zealand papers in which it was stated that Earl Beaconsfield had sent a manifesto to the Viceroy of Ireland in which the Premier invited the opionion of the Irish people on the question of maintaining the unity of the British Empire, and asked Ireland to exI ress itself as to the necessity or otherwise for the predominance of English influence in the Councils of Europe. To most readers this short summary would be enigmatical, while even to those au fait fn British politics there would be great haziness and uncertainty. To the latter, the cablegram of March 0, for that was the date, would only serve to arouse curiosity without in any way affording the means of satisfying it, and, considering that the Earl Beaconsfield is the greatest master of finesse of the present day, they would look with some eagerness for a full explanation of the wary old politician’s meaning. The cablegram was meagre in the extreme, but by a recent mail from Sydney we obtain an extension of the cablegram which runs as follows : Earl Beaconsfield has addressed an important communication to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, which has been published, and is regarded as a manifesto of Government. In this the Premier treats chiefly of the relations between England and Ireland, and the policy and tactics of the Home Rule party. Ho claims that the action of Government has had the effect of defeating the aims of the Irish agitators both in out of Parliament. He lays stress on the promptitude with which Government took steps to afford relief to the sufferers by the famine in Ireland, and insists that the interests of England and Ireland are inseparably connected with each other, and that any disunion must be calamitous to both. He also expressed a hope that the leaders of both of the great parties will repudiate the vicious and absurd claims put forth by Home Rulers, against whom he would warn the people of Great Britain and Ireland, as being actuated by a desire to destroy the essential bond of unity that should exist in a great nations like ours. The Premier also challenges the opinion of the country on the policy and administration of his Government. He holds that the presence and perhaps the ascendancy of England in the great Councils of Europe is essential to the preservation of peace, and this ascendancy, he points out, can only be acquired by unity amongst her own people. This throws some light on the matter, and enables us, to some extent, to see what the Tory leader would be at. It is not difficult to gather from the summary of the manifesto that, for the time being at least, the Tory Government is adverse to the Home Rule Party, and is not likely to show any favor to their designs. But further information is necessary to show us the reason why Earl Beaconsfield should address the Irish people on the subject just at this time. That information is supplied by the fact that, after Easter, Parliament will be dissolved, and of course an election cry is wanted to glamour the constituencies with. In Great Britain, Homo Rule for Ireland, or in fact any movement tending to disintegrate the governing power of the country, meets with no favor whatever from the populace. The two countries are quite prepared to do all they can for their sister on the other side of the Channel, but they never will allow her to obtain what certain of her “ patriots” so ardently desire. The experiences of recent Parliamentary sessions, in which the Homo Rulers have developed such powers of obstruction in order to place their one idea before the country, have not tended to make them popular with the English and Scotch people, and now that a general election is about to eventuate, the Tory leader marches out, parading a banner inscribed with opposition to the policy of the Home Rule agitators. There can be no doubt that the Liberal side would certainly have adopted the same cry, and declared bitter war against the Home Rule notion, but Disraeli has been beforehand with them, and utters no uncertain sound upon the subject—a sound that was to be looked for from a Conservative Government under any circumstances, but since Benjamin Disraeli has been the Conservative leader the party has been so often “educated” that it is exceedingly difficult to tell what principles may not be adopted under the name of Conservatism. Earl Beaconsfield “holds that the presence and perhaps the ascendancy of England in the great councils of Europe is essential to the preservation of peace,” and this ascendancy, he points out, can only be acquired by unity amongst her own people.” Earl Beaconsfield believes in a “ spirited foreign policy,” and in this he has the warm support of his party, whereas the foreign policy of the Liberals is altogether of a milder tone that favors peace. It is upon this question of holding aloof from the embroilments of their foreign neighbors that the problem of which party will rule in the next Parliament will be settled. Conservatism has now two little wars upon its hands—one of which appeared, until a few days ago, to be assuming alarming dimensions, but recent telegrams are of a more hopefully pacific tone —and these little strifes are the costly things against which Liberalism kicks, and which, should it come once more into office, it will do its best to stop. Liberalism has all along set its face against assuming continually a warlike attitude in Europe, whereas Conservatism, according to Lord Beaconsfield, looks upon England as a sort of arbitrator to the whole Continent, and never loses an opportunity to maintain its prestige in the “ Councils of Europe. ” To maintain this prestige it is essential that England should be strong, and the admission of Home Rule, the thin edge of the wedge of disintegration, would be admitting an element of weakness. This both sides admit, and doubtless the party that gains power will be one pledged to the maintenance of the country’s unity, but in the present state of the country’s affairs we are inclined to think the constituencies will favor a foreign policy less “ spirited ” than has obtained during the past few years, and that counsels a quiescent attitude for the British lion. If the Liberals return to power the milder policy will be adopted without doubt, for Mr. Gladstone has a horror of spilling his countrymen’s blood, and would rather purchase peace at a pound, shillings, and pence pries, as ho has done before, than procure it at the cost of warfare. His control of the State at this moment, when the Afghan chiefs are softening towards peace, would be a certain guarantee for the close of the campaign.