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The new head of the French Ministry was a very different man from the Clémenceau of 1876, whom I have attempted to describe. The black moustache had grown white, the forehead was bare, and the slim elegant figure had turned massive and somewhat heavy. But the characteristics of the face still remained ; quickness of conception and indomitable energy. He reminds some of his friends of the Iron Chancellor. I remember Bismarck very distinctly, and, beyond that mixture of irony and strength which is common to both, I cannot recognise the physical likeness to Bismarck any better than the literary likeness to Diderot.
It must be confessed that the first eighteen months of Clémenceau's administration have been a signal success. He owes that success in a great measure to his luck, but we are all aware that luck serves only those who know how to use it, and that the best opportunities are wasted on the slow and the timid. He owes also much to his colleagues, particularly to M. Pichon, who has proved a valuable foreign Minister, and to M. Briand, whose liberal and temperate, yet firm and practical, mind has done much to bring to an end the great crisis brought about by the Disestablishment Laws. The new relations between Church and State have been placed on a more peaceful and more normal footing. The south, which for a few weeks threatened open rebellion against the central Government, has quieted down. In Morocco the Ministry has acted with prudence and decision and steered clear of the innumerable dangers which beset its way. Chiefly owing to his visits to Marienbad, Clémenceau is now a European personality, and, since 1870, how many French statesmen have risen to the same position?
The session of 1908 marks, if I am not mistaken, the turning of the tide. The Ministry was pledged to certain financial innovations which savoured strongly of Socialism. These were the purchase of the railways by the State and the progressive income tax. The strong conservative spirit which is the soul of the French nation, whatever may be said to the contrary, and however bad our name in the matter of revolutions, was stirred to its depths when the first real attempt was made to pass the initial measures in that direction. It has become apparent that parties are undergoing a radical transformation. Old political labels have no meaning for the new generation. Dreyfusism and antiDreyfusism have lived their day. Religious enmities are passing out of the sphere of actual politics. Two powers remain face to face : Capital and Labour. The labour men themselves have formulated the antagonism in these terms. The challenge has been taken up, and conservative forces are bracing themselves for a desperate struggle. This means the disruption of the famous
Bloc, including, as it did, men who differed widely on social questions. What, then, will become of Clémenceau, who was, if anything, the man of the Bloc, who had invented the name, and who had made the thing a living and active reality? At present his majority is going, and he is standing in wonderful equilibrium over two parties which are beginning to distrust him. A strange cry, which had not been heard in a French Chamber since Thermidor and Brumaire, was uttered one stormy afternoon at the Palais-Bourbon : “Down with the tyrant!” and the curious fact about the situation is precisely that a tyrant, I mean a strong man, is needed at the present moment. Clémenceau is the only strong man available. Can he then be dispensed with? If so, who is to replace him? One thing alone can be safely predicted : his strength is his raison d'être. At the first sign of weakness he is done for, like the lion-tamer who stumbles and falls in the cage.
GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNISM
The present condition of the South and West of Ireland under the rule of the United Irish League is a noteworthy example of the result of the application, actual or promised, of Socialistic ideals in a modern community. In Ireland we do not talk about Socialism. We call it Home Rule. But it is only necessary to compare the report of the auditor of the Local Government Board on the conduct of a typical Urban Council in Ireland with the disclosures of the official inquiry into the municipal affairs of East Ham or Poplar, to be compelled to realise that in spite of all the obscuring cloud of political rhetoric the same ideals are being applied in both cases and with exactly the same results. Home Rule and Socialism are both vague and indefinite theories, and are based on the supposition of a complete and fundamental change in human nature without which the Socialist's ideals must always remain unrealisable. As Mr. W. H. Mallock has pointed out, Socialism appeals to two of the strongest instincts in human nature, one bad and the other good : to our cupidity, and to our sense of justice and impatience at the unequal distribution of good fortune and opportunities in an apparently ill-assorted world. The latter feeling in Ireland has appeared rather in the guise of historic grievances than in unthinking and open discontent at the existing state of affairs per se, without reference to a real or imaginary sequence of happenings in the past. The Socialist, when asked to formulate a practical scheme for carrying out his ideals, always maintains that given the necessary upheaval of the existing social fabric, his ideals will automatically emerge from the chaos, the complete change in human nature taking place certainly and spontaneously. He has no words bad enough to describe the blindness or self-interest of those who are sceptical about this miracle taking place. Similarly, the rage of the Nationalists knew no bounds when Mr. Birrell lately asked them to formulate a detailed scheme of Home Rule with a view to inducing the English constituencies to vote for it. In addition to a complete regeneration of Irish nature in order to make Home Rule ideals realisable it would be necessary to change the soil and the climate, as without this the man cannot successfully compete with the bullock. Tillage cannot with profit replace the grass to any con
siderable extent. The clauses enacting a complete change in the Irish character and climate would severely tax the skill and ingenuity of the most proficient parliamentary draughtsman. The discontent, divine or otherwise, which is working uneasily in the minds of the masses of humanity all the world over finds curiously similar expression. The cries of the demagogues in East and West are practically the same. Babu Bannerjee and Tilak Ram shout “ Bande Mataram” and “ Swadheshi." Mr. Keir Hardie's watchword is “each for all, and all for each ; the land and all other forms of capital for the people.” Our Nationalists fiercely and with “boycott” demand Home Rule. Persia attempts a Constitution on Western lines. There is a
There is a “national ” movement in Egypt. The Far East is awakening. The restlessness of democracy is international, and, allowing for the differences in race, religion, and climate the manifestations of its activity are identical.
Home Rule is just as great a menace to society in Ireland as Socialism is in England, and for the same fundamental reasons, a fact which doctrinaire Liberals who most vehemently oppose Socialism in England would do well to remember when they dilate upon the merits of a "larger measure of self-government for Ireland. Let them begin at home and give a larger measure of self-government to East Ham and kindred communities. Home Rule and Socialism are both theories the only application of which has so far been singularly disastrous. The contemporary brand of Home Rule offered for the consumption of the moderate stayat-home Englishman consists of a picture of Ireland, “ England's oldest colony,” as
a daughter in her Mother's house and mistress in her own." How entirely Utopian this ideal is the patriots are sparing no pains to prove, and the present state of their country is an eloquent testimony to the complete success of their efforts.
Ireland is and must always remain chiefly an agricultural country. The national wealth consists of the land and what it grows. The democratic movement in Ireland, as in other countries, has developed into a struggle for a division of the national wealth. The agrarian legislation for Ireland has been incessant and the list of Acts of Parliament passed to regulate the possession and tenure of our land is a very long one. In the struggle for ownership, democracy first obtained fixity of tenure, then fixture of fair rent, then State-aid to purchase with the certainty of absolute ownership after paying interest for a certain number of years on the capital advanced. The purpose of the writer is to examine the attitude and temper of the people towards the latest phase of the political situation brought about by recent legisla
tion and the expectation of what the future has in store. It is most dangerous to dogmatise on any subject in connection with Ireland, where things are rarely what they seem. “Facts” have not that stability in Ireland which they have elsewhere. There are prophets in Ireland whose prophecies come true, but when analysed these prophecies generally turn out to be threats which the prophet has the power of carrying out. Nobody but the greenest Padgett, M.P., a type of visitor from which Ireland suffers, perhaps, more acutely than other countries, would venture to prophesy about even the most immediate future, for anything may happen. I will endeavour to avoid both dogmatism and prophecy, and to analyse the present situation in connection with my text.
It is an undisputed fact-rara aois--that under the present Government the law of the United Irish League is the law of the land. The League is supreme in the south and west, and under its auspices cattle-driving has been carried on with impunity within fifteen miles of Dublin. Outside Ulster the cattle-driving area has coincided with the limestone formation of the geological map of the country, the obvious reason for which is that the limestone stratum carries the best grazing land, comprising the coveted ranches which the League has decided to split up among the people. The owners are to be compelled to “sell” to the tenants, the British taxpayer finding the money. Lately I attended a typical Nationalist meeting convened to declare the boycott of some ranches. I was a stranger in the locality, and was able to observe all the proceedings unmolested. I was within a few feet of the speakers and could hear every word. I will try to describe what took place. I may remark that a description of such a scene by an impartial eye-witness is rather rare. The accounts of such meetings in the local Press are in the main imaginary, and are, of course, doctored for American and Australian consumption.
The two local M.P.'s were due to speak, and the local Press had urged all the neighbouring branches of the League to attend in force with their bands and banners. On arriving at the appointed place, I found a considerable force of police and about a hundred people lounging about in expectation of the advent of the bands and main procession. The wind was cold, and they were rather impatient for some rhetoric to warm them. After some delay, a cyclist constable brought word that the speakers were coming. The officer in command of the police moved bis men about half a mile in the direction from which the procession would arrive, and drew them up two-deep across the road by which it must approach the rendezvous, where refreshments were