« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
House of Commons been reformed, the nation would have become contented and loyal. We shall not discuss Lord Fitzwilliam's conduct, or the circumstances connected with his recall; but ideas like these are mere delusions, and, just now especially, should not mislead us. How could the admission of a few Catholic peers and gentlemen into the assembly at College Green have checked the treason, the crime, and the anarchy which were gaining a mastery over a large part of Ireland, or have put an end to a socialistic Jacquerie? And would a reform of the Irish Parliament have had more effect on Wolfe Tone and his followers, and on the conspirators, whether in Ireland or in France, whose one aim was separation from England, than Home Rule, at the present moment, would have on the adherents of Michael Davitt or the fanatics of the Chicago Convention? Firm government, we repeat, was the great want of Ireland in 1793; and circumstances had already proved that a comprehensive change was required in the polity and institutions of the country. The Constitution of 1782 had been fairly tried; but its disintegrating tendencies had become manifest; and these might become ruinous when England was at war with a revolutionary power in close sympathy with all that was disaffected and disturbed in Ireland. The Irish Parliament remained the corrupt agency of the Government and of an exclusive caste; it had steadily refused to reform itself, and reform, indeed, would have been most perilous to the connexion with England and to its own existence; and there was no prospect that, as Grattan dreamed, it could be transformed into an enlightened assembly truly_representative of the people as a whole. Presbyterian Ireland was discontented to the core; and though many of the wrongs of the Irish Catholics had been redressed by the late measure, Protestant ascendency was still supreme in the State, retained its monopoly of power and influence, continued to weigh on the distressed peasantry, and kept its galling yoke upon Catholic Ireland, where a barbarous servile war seemed imminent.
In this position of affairs, a union with England seemed in accord with the very nature of things, and was obviously suggested by the facts of the case; for a union only could remove the mischiefs caused by a double legislature and double form of government, and give England the strength of an undivided state; and a union only could put an end to the domination of a class in Ireland, by the abolition of the assembly in College Green, and placing the
two countries under one Imperial Parliament; could obtain just rights for Presbyterian Ireland; could mitigate or extinguish the many evils that flowed from sectarian rule in the island; could, without danger, admit Catholic Ireland to the freedom of complete British citizenship; could alleviate the grievances which had for ages been inseparable from the lot of the Irish peasant. The policy, in a word, of a union had been evident for a long time; it had found more than one powerful advocate, and the eyes of Pitt had, though slowly, been opened; for he had contemplated, Mr. Lecky points out, the great change in 1792. Unfortunately for himself and for the British Empire, he waited on events and let things drift; and though the Union is associated with his name, he carried out that measure many years too late, and under conditions of the most inauspicious kind; and he carried it out without provisions which he knew were essential to its complete success, and in circumstances that do not increase his renown.
It certainly would have been more difficult to bring about the union in 1793 than it proved to be after a bloody rising, when the Irish Parliament was stricken with terror, and the mass of the people was subdued and prostrate. But Pitt could have attained his object had he boldly made use of his immense power, and success would have placed him in the foremost rank of the illustrious men who have built up the Empire. We, however, fully acquit him of a charge, made without foundation by thoughtless writers, that he was manoeuvring at this time for a union, and that he was willing to throw over Protestant Ireland, could he gain the support of the Catholic Irish in furthering a policy he deemed necessary. Not a syllable written or spoken by him shows that he entertained designs of this kind, alike inconsistent with his straightforward character and, in the existing state of affairs, inconceivable in the case of a true Englishman. No doubt the disciple of Adam Smith, when he addressed himself to the task of the union, recollected the teaching of his wise master. Pitt wished to remove from the Irish Catholics every mark of the subjection of the past, and for this purpose he desired to make Catholic emancipation a complete measure, and to endow the Irish Catholic priesthood. But he repeatedly declared that he had the interests of Protestant Ireland closely at heart; he was firmly convinced that a union would be the best and the only means to secure them; and he refused to countenance any attacks on what he called the Irish Protestant settle
ment. This has been the policy of our greatest statesmen, and history has proved in two striking instances what have been the results of a departure from it. In an endeavour to strengthen his declining power, Charles I. betrayed the Protestant colonists of Ireland to rebel Popish Celts, and his treason led to the tragedy of Whitehall and to the desolation wrought by Cromwellian conquest. James II., in order to regain his crown, walked recklessly in his father's ways, and the House of Stuart was driven from these realms, and Catholic Ireland was kept down in abject thraldom for almost a century. A feeble imitation of this wretched policy has been recently attempted by a statesman of our day, from motives we do not care to expose; but England will be untrue to herself if she does not for ever reject a project which would abandon hundreds of thousands of her own faith and blood, the loyal mainstay of her rule in Ireland, to a vindictive faction which, on all occasions, from the days of Philip II. to those of Napoleon, has proved itself to be her implacable foe, and which has recently shown by fearful examples that Jacobinism can find its most apt instruments in devotees to the superstitions of Rome.
We had hoped to have given our readers extracts from the numerous passages of philosophic thought, expressed in classic and attractive language, which are to be found in these volumes. We would especially refer to the excellent comments made by Mr. Lecky upon the difference between the temptations which have beset statesmen in the eighteenth century and in our own time--this arrow was aimed at Mr. Gladstone, and, spite of his efforts, it clings to his sideand upon the danger of assimilating the laws and institutions of two countries in stages of progress widely apart, and without a real unity of national life a danger of which we admit the existence, and on which Mr. Lecky will perhaps enlarge in arguing, as he will, against the Irish Union. Our limits, however, have been reached, and we can only refer to pages rich in valuable and often profound reflections. We have freely criticised Mr. Lecky's work; have pointed out its defects of arrangement and form; and have dissented from some of his views and statements. But we should be unjust to ourselves and our author, if we did not place on record again our admiration of the conscientious industry, the thorough research, and the fine vein of thought, on most political and social questions, conspicuously displayed in this important book.
ART. IV.-1. Hunting. By his Grace the DUKE OF BEAUFORT, K.G., and MOWBRAY MORRIS. With Contributions by the Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire, Rev. E. W. L. Davies, &c. London: 1886.
2. Nimrod's Remarks on the Condition of Hunters, the Choice of Horses, and their Management. By C. TONGUE. Fourth Revised Edition. London: 1886.
3. Thoughts on Hunting.
By PETER BECKFORD, Esq.
By NIMROD. Edinburgh:
4. The Horse and the Hound. By NIMROD. 1842.
THE HE completion of the fiftieth year of the reign of the Queen has naturally caused many retrospects of the past half-century, many anticipations of the coming years. But this inclination to look before and after' is not necessarily confined to politics, literature, or science; it extends to other subjects ingrained deeply in the social life of this country. Among these there is not one which is more essentially a national pastime and pursuit than hunting. Its votaries are less numerous than those who are devoted to some other English pleasures, such as cricket or shooting, but what they lack in numbers they make up in enthusiasm. There is no other pastime to which men are so passionately attached as they are to the chase. In the youth and in the old man, in the man of learning and the dullard, this enthusiasm is equally visible, as it is in the descriptions of the scholarly Beckford and in the tales of Whyte-Melville. This enthusiasm of the chase may well appear a kind of mild madness to those who are not hunting men, but its existence is perfectly natural and perfectly intelligible. There is no pastime and no occupation which, while it lasts, is so absorbing and so completely breaks through the monotony of pleasure or of business. It has the excitement of gambling without its regrets. There is the pleasure of rapid motion, the excitement of danger, the interest of emulation, the friendliness of the club, the refreshment of changing scenes. The pleasures of hope, the pangs of disappointment, the satisfaction of fulfilment pass in turn through the mind of the hunter. A single day's hunting stirs the emotions, tries the courage, invigorates the body in so intense a manner that it would be impossible for human beings to pass through these series of feelings without falling victims
to this passion. For these reasons alone it is certainly a pastime which cannot easily be displaced, and which, forming an integral part of social English life, must necessarily, with the changes of time, also undergo some alterations. Those who are engaged in the pursuit of this pleasure can scarcely be expected to make a sufficiently strong effort of mental detachment to be enabled to take a critical survey of the pastime to which they are devoted. But in this year, and at the beginning of another hunting season, it is fitting that, difficult as it may be, such an attempt should be made.
Undoubtedly the main feature of this change in the character of hunting may be summarised in a single sentence. Riding, rather than hunting, is more than it was the object of those who take the field. Beckford, who may be regarded as a type of the best class of sportsmen at the end of the last century, a ripe scholar, and an accomplished fox-hunter regarded the killing of the fox as the main end and object of the day's hunting.
Sport is but a secondary consideration with a true fox-hunter. The first is the killing of the fox: hence arises the eagerness of pursuit, and the chief pleasure of the chase. I confess I esteem blood so necessary to a pack of foxhounds that I always return home better pleased with an indifferent chase, with death at the end of it, than with the best chase possible if it ends with the loss of the fox. I remember to have heard an odd anecdote of the late Duke of Rwho was very popular in his neighbourhood. A butcher at Lyndhurst, a lover of the sport, as often as he heard the hounds return from hunting, came out to meet them, and never failed to ask the duke what sport he had had. "Very good, I thank you, honest friend." "Has your Grace killed a fox? " No, we have had a good run, but we have not killed." "Pshaw!" cried the butcher with an arch look, pointing at him at the same time with his finger; and this was so constantly repeated that the duke, when he had not killed a fox, was used to say he was afraid to meet the butcher.'-Thoughts on Hunting.
Evidently Mr. Beckford regarded the butcher as the real, and the duke as but a half-hearted sportsman. At the present day, though the master and huntsman may regret for the sake of the hounds, and the huntsman also for himself, that a fox after a good run has not been killed, yet at least nineteen out of twenty of the field are wholly careless how the day ends so long as they have had a fair gallop. The modern criterion of a good run is that it should be fast, from thirty to forty minutes in time, over as much grass as possible, and with plenty of fair jumpable fences. The death of the fox, the manner in which the hounds have hunted him, is caviare to the general.' A man who from some