The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas, Et Prevalebit. WEDNESDAY. DECEMBER 8, 1882. The Success of the New Liberal Policy of England.
TOWN EDITION. I Issued at 5.10 p.m. ■
Mr Gladstone, very able statesman as he unquestionably is, has only of late learned the important practical lesson both in Egypt and in Ireland that the peace at any price policy does not answer, but that firmness and justice combined do. His enemies who trusted in the effects of his special weakness have been put to confusion. Only a month before the bombardment of Alexandria the prospects of his Ministry seemed so black that even the Saturday Review could afford to pity him for being singularly unlucky. His critics can scarcely commiserate him about Egyptian affairs now. An offer was made then for any nation in Europe which felt inclined to join with Great Britain in the enterprise to do so, but all held back. Now that Alexandria has been laid in ruins in a few hours; and Egypt conquered within a month, there are probably several powers which are sorry that they were so reticent. The Sultan of Turkey, who was begged to join in order to see fair play, and shuffled and at last refused, is now abjectly snivelling for a return to the status quo ante beUum. Russia talks of getting corresponding advantages for herself in America ; and France, which at the last moment backed out of her engagement to pay her share of the cost of maintaining order in Egypt, now asks to take a half-share in the division of the spoil. The prestige of England in Egypt itself has been wonderfully improved. That officer of the Khedive who watched the British troops parading through the streets of Cairo only expressed the general sentiment when he exclaimed sarcastically, “ And the dog Arabi thinks he can fight these men !” A combination of firmness with justice has done wonders for the English reputation in Egypt. And perhaps this combination will be seen in the long run to have been almost equally successful under the far more difficult circumstances which surround the new Liberal policy in Ireland. The great event may be adroitly hushed up by the party of disorder and rebellion in Ireland, but it is a fact that the great Land League, which was to abolish rent, keep the whole population in subjection to Parnell, Davitt and Co., organise a Murder Department under their Government, summon an exclusively Irish parliament to Dublin, and expel the Lord Lieutenant and every other representative of the Queen, has ignominiously burst up. First of all we learnt in so many words by cable message that that wonderful organisation the hands of the shrieking sisterhood, Anna and Fanny Parnell, the Irish Ladies Land League, had been disbanded, but would be re-organised on a new basis, and it has not been reorganised. Then in a few days the Fenian paper, the Irish Woild, announced at New York that the American branch of the League was defunct : and on September 17th the old triumvirate of conspirators, Parnell, Davitt, and Dillon summoned a conference to assemble in Dublin to “ establish a national agitation within the limit of law, and entirely devoid of criminal intent, for the redress of Irish grievances.” Of course these judicious words implied that the old agitation was outside the limit of law and entirely full of criminal intent; and so it was. The Kentuckian rifle had been exchanged for one exactly similar, only with a new lock, stock, and barrel on a different principle from the old ones. The new League vice the old one for promoting robbery, murder, and rebellion appears not only harmless but in the main useful. It aims at an extension of the Parliamentary franchise by peaceable means, the building of better cottages, the improvement of education, and the encouragement of Irish enterprise, particularly of the fisheries. We congratulate Messrs Parnell, Davitt, and Dillon on their return to common sense, and being at last on the right track for the prosperity of Ireland. That the detestable Saxon anticipated them in their new discoveries does not matter much. Major Cartwright at the beginning of this century was certainly their forerunner in the universal suffrage direction, Mr Edwin Chadwick preceded them in their second step forward, and Mr Forster in their third. Indeed, strange to say, we find the most English of Englishmen, the Rev. Sydney Smith, first in the field, but entirely in accordance with the most Irish of Irishmen, Mr Michael Davitt, as to the remedial measures required in Ireland. The
genial humorist expressed himself to the following effect more than a generation back:—“ What nonsense it is for crowds of Irishmen to meet together, throw up their hats in the air, bawl out for ‘repale’ of the Union and ‘ Erin-go-bragh !’ If they were to cry out for Erin go bread and cheese, Erin go trousers with no holes in them, Erin go cottages that will keep the smoke and rain out, there might be some sense in it.” Still, most Englishmen will agree with Mr Davitt that it is better to be last at a feast of common sense than first at a fray against it; and so we can only wish the new League good luck so long as it sticks to its programme. At last there seem some blue rifts in the dark clouds which have hung over Ireland’s destiny. In this century all those evils which the ablest continental observers, Favour, Lismondi, De Beaumont, De Reamur, and others noticed and deplored have been remedied. The Commutation of Tithes Act, Irish Poor Law, Education and Colleges Acts, Disestablishment of the Church of England, all have become law. The last and greatest of all, the Land Act of 1880, has been passed and removed every lawful complaint which Irish reformers' themselves preferred. And when after these reforms were granted, the law was put in force and brutal criminals arrested and hanged for their intimidations and murders, crime has gradually begun to lessen and peace to return to the unhappy country. Even Messrs Parnell, Davitt. and Dillon have begun to be reasonable and patriotic. Firmness combined with justice seems to be triumphing at last.