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calls for more than corporate remorse. For my own part, I believe there is no more effective cause of the misconduct of vicious women in this country than the misconduct of virtuous ones. For one thing, English ladies are conspicuous over all the world for the sour, merciless, and indiscriminating austerity with which they repulse the efforts of a woman who has once gone wrong to set herself socially right again. In the second place, English households of the middle and upper classes, and for this the mistresses are mainly responsible, are conspicuous for the barrier of cold, harsh, and emphatically inhuman reserve which cuts off anything like that friendly, considerate, sympathetic intercourse which ought to mark every family relation. The truth is that domestic service is not counted a family relation. We are not ashamed to have human beings in the kitchen on much the same footing as the horse in the stable and the dog in the kennel, only they are as horses and dogs with cooking and other two-handed qualities. If it is demoralising to masters and mistresses, and especially to the young of a house, to have constantly by their side and under the same roof, persons to whom they recognise no obligation beyond those of payment of a small wage and the use, not by any means invariable, of a certain frigid politeness of speech, what can we say of the effect in the mind of the servant—who after all must be a human being or else she would get no wagesof a life which is physically laborious, and in which the labour is relieved by no friendly and gracious recognition ? Has no member of the Association ever seen the stout son of the house lounging over the newspaper, while the housemaid is toiling up two or three flights of stairs with heavy burdens ? And the mistress haggling over a couple of pounds increase of a servant's wages one hour, and squandering fifty in personal finery the next? So long as these things are, so long as service is interpreted in this brutal sense, and relegated to a caste, instead of being performed by the members of the family, either born or informally received in some sort into it, so long there will be many women in a dense population who will deliberately prefer prostitution as a trade, without trying domestic service whose conditions they know by hearsay, and many others who will drift into it after trying this service and finding it as cheerless a life as life can be. And how many recruits does this doleful host receive from the great band of seamstresses ? For eleven hours close work, often fourteen in spite of dressmakers and of the inspector, a girl well-paid receives eighteenpence, more or less. So long as this goes on, it is morally impossible for prostitution to be other than a necessity. And on the whole, it is perhaps not so very much more degrading and soul-destroying and fundamentally immoral, to wear away a life in pandering to the coarse appetite of one sex than in pandering to the ignoble and monstrous vanity of the other. You speak of the “practical contempt for womanhood” displayed by the legislature in these Acts. This practical contempt for womanhood may be seen every hour of every day in its supreme form in the leaden inconsiderateness of nine ladies out of ten for their dressmakers, domestic servants, nurses, and dependents generally.
It is for women, for courageous women like those of whom your Association is composed, to spread and realise such an idea of the family and of all forms of service and of the moral obligation against indifference which they instantly erect, that on this most dangerous of all sides the approach to the pit may be fenced off. This, however, and all other action dictated by the contrition of which you speak, so far as it cuts off the roots and sources of the evil, must be prospective. It cannot redeem those who are already fully committed to courses and, what is still more, to a habit of mind, which nothing short of a directly miraculous interposition of divine grace could change. For those who are not thus irretrievably committed, restoration to health is a first condition of any rise from degradation, and the influence of the Acts against which you protest is to promote this sanatory condition of the case. That influence may be nugatory. You are estopped from pleading this, because your opposition would be confessedly as strong, whatever the evidence might lead us to conclude as to the sanatory effect of the Acts. The most competent persons are of opinion that the effect of such regulations is to check disease. If this be so, I am unable to see anything in the moral and political considerations which you adduce, to make one wish well to your action; it involves a continuance of what is the worst kind of cruelty to animals, because the sufferers from that indifference of the legislature which you are agitating for are human beings, and the worst sufferers of all the absolutely innocent.
No. XL. NEW SERIES.—APRIL 1, 1870.
THE IRISH LAND BILL OF 1870.
“Ma disse: Taci e lascia volger gli anni.” — Paradiso ix. 4.
IRELAND has waited long for justice and generosity from the English people and Government; but she has not waited in vain, since waiting has brought its reward in a policy far more complete than could have been expected at an earlier period. True, timely compromise would have done something and smoothed the way for more. But the alleviation could have been but transitory, and might have encouraged that shallow philosophy and ignoble tone, even yet apparent, which have proved the bane of English statesmanship towards Ireland. In the Imperial Parliament there is little risk that extreme views on either side shall be adopted; but considerable danger that views, moderate but thorough, may not be carried out to their legitimate consequences, with that unflinching logic which, in great social exigencies, is the only practical wisdom. With some advantages an age of transition, like our own, has one grave peril, an undue leaning towards a deceptive finality. Society can, under some circumstances, afford to wait and accept very faulty measures of reform; under other circumstances to offer such is to perpetuate discontent and to encourage revolutionary schemes. The condition and attitude of the Irish people brings their land-problem under the latter and not the former head, and in the genuine acceptance of this fact by England lies the hope of its real settlement, honourable to herself, and advantageous to Ireland. That settlement can only be real which fully recognises Irish history, Irish principles, and Irish facts. It must, no less, accept the duty of embracing the true interests of all classes, and not one alone, however numerous that may be; and of future generations, as well as of the existing population. The land-law of Ireland has proved so unjust and mischievous, that VOL. VII, N.S.
the absolute reversal of claims based on it may seem justifiable. But a new injustice could only prove a new impolicy, and would be so esteemed by all who are convinced that moral influences must largely supplement legislative reform, and that both will flourish best if planted in the subsisting, though regenerated, social life of Ireland.
Such a spirit, thorough, just, and conciliating, retrospective and prospective, pervades the recent settlement of the first branch of the Irish problem. The Act which, last Session, disestablished and disendowed the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches in Ireland, is already thus regarded by not a few within their precincts, and will be so more and more. Besides its special value, that settlement has greatly facilitated the treatment of the residuary problem. The British public evinced by it their clear determination to institute a searching reform conceived from the Irish point of view, and their confidence in a government that added to the will the capacity to act justly and wisely. The passage of the Irish Church Act through the legislature, proved that party interests, mere parliamentary tactics, and partial views, must yield to a nation's demand for justice and wise government. That measure also inspired confidence that the statesmanlike genius and courage which gave it birth, would not be found wanting for the second great reform. In my judgment this expectation has been largely fulfilled by the Irish Land Bill. The inherent difficulties of the land question are, probably, not greater than those of the church question were. But the facts of the former are less familiar to the British public, its principles less readily apprehensible by them; while, even in Ireland, the views of those most competent and best disposed, are often marked by prejudice, and differ greatly among themselves. It ought not, therefore, to create wonder, if the first draft of the Land Bill should, more than the earlier measure, stand in need of careful revision. In a spirit, then, of sincere respect and grateful admiration, but by no means of indiscriminate panegyric, I would endeavour, on one hand, to examine the principles on which the Irish land question can be settled ; on the other, to consider how far the proposed settlement recognises, how far it falls short of these.
The Irish land question pre-eminently involves the three requisites of every political problem of the first order: a noble destination, a grave situation, and a great constructive effort. To understand and weigh them is essential for the real solution of that problem. A few words may therefore be fitly devoted to each.
Until quite recently the essentially social character of the land reforms needed in Ireland have not been appreciated, and is, even yet, imperfectly comprehended. How else interpret the incessant
repetition of well-worn economic notions—population in excess, unrestrained competition, free bargaining, and so forth-still paraded as furnishing the only reasons why a problem exists, and the only measures for solving it? From such superficial notions proceed halting and pretended solutions, incapable of destroying existing evils, since they ignore their character and sources. The difficulty ought not to be great of discerning the unsoundness, as applied to Irish facts, of purely economic doctrines drawn from the English type, perhaps the offspring of metaphysical abstraction, and so unreal even for England. Yet the controversy on that head, ably maintained during an entire generation by Mr. Joseph Kay, Mr. J. S. Mill and others, was notoriously powerless to alter the English land policy in Ireland. This was only accomplished when continued and increasing disturbance of public tranquillity aroused the British public to the hollowness of current theories. The situation dethroned economic philosophy—at least, what passed for such—and opened the door to convictions based on respect for social tradition and the study of social fact. I think this view cannot be too strongly insisted upon, as affording the surest guarantee against a twofold pressing dangerthat of making insufficient provision to meet the deepest mischiefs of the social situation in Ireland; that, again, of anticipating their sudden disappearance. The best corrective for such mistakes lies in the conviction that inherited social tendencies long survive the special causes which produced them, accompanied by an intelligent study of the contrasts between Irish and British history. Although such a review cannot be attempted here, some of the chief conclusions which it enforces must be briefly noticed, since they are essential for the appreciation of the Irish Land Bill.
Law, institutions, public opinion, not things of yesterday, but the growth of ages, have all combined to place the English tenantfarmer in a position the very opposite of that of the Irish agricultural occupier. This observation can be verified even by comparing the last three centuries, but much more decisively when the history of remoter ages is studied as it deserves. To speak in the way even well-informed writers speak of English agricultural tenure as resting simply on contract, is wholly incorrect and misleading. Adam Smith truly described that tenure as being unique in kind; characterised, that is, by a high degree of practical stability, the result of public opinion supplying the place of formal agreement. In his view, the yearly tenancy, prevalent as now in England, was
(1) The writer may be allowed to refer to a publication where he has attempted such a review, entitled “History, Principle, and Fact in relation to the Irish Question." 1870. William Ridgway, Piccadilly, London.
(2) Mr. Finlason's valuable “ History of the Law of Tenures of Land in England and Ireland,” 1870, exhibits this contrast, from the historico-legal point of view, more completely than any other book with which I am acquainted.
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