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The Adventure of Living : a Subjective Autobiography By John St. Loe Strachey Characters: 43873

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Though I have been engaged in politics all my life, I have deliberately left my political views, aspirations, and actions to almost the last chapter in my autobiography. That will seem strange to all except my most intimate friends, for I know well that the majority of people who know anything of me regard me as altogether given over to politics.

My reason for assigning so small a place in my memoirs to what has occupied so much of my life is a double one. In the first place, I was most anxious not be polemical. Politics are synonymous with strife, and if I had written a political biography, it would have become the record of a battle, or rather, of many battles, in which I could hardly have avoided saying hard things both of living and dead people. But that was what I most wanted to avoid. The veteran who tells of his old fights is always apt to become a bore. People who disagree with the view put forth think him prejudiced and unforgiving, while those who are with him yawn over a twice-told tale. Further, though I confess to being as deeply interested and as deeply concerned in politics as ever, I have greatly enjoyed a rest from strife. To suffer my mind to turn upon the poles of literature and the humanities is a pure delight. No doubt Marcus Aurelius in his autobiography says that life is more like a wrestling- match than a dance. That was like a Stoic. Instead, I can say ex animo with Mrs. Gamp, "Them that has other natures may think different! They was born so and can please themselves." Therefore, I have chosen the point of view of the dance rather than the dust, the oil, and the sweat of the athlete.

[Illustration: J St Loe Strachey at Newlands Corner ?tat 45]

But though I do not want to fight my political battles over again, either in regard to Home Rule or the fiscal controversy, I realise that my readers will, at any rate, expect me to say something about my political views. Further than that, there are one or two things which, if unsaid, would undoubtedly give a false impression of the writer of this book.

The pivot of my politics is a whole-hearted belief in the principles of Democracy. I mean by this, not devotion to certain abstract principles or views of communal life which have had placed upon them the label "Democratic," but a belief in the justice, the convenience, and the necessity of ascertaining and loyally abiding by the lawfully-expressed Will of the Majority of the People. By using the phrase "lawfully expressed" I do not mean to suggest any pretext for evasion. On the contrary, I use the words in order to prevent and avoid evasion. A good many people who call themselves Democrats, or believers in the Popular Will, such, for example, as the leaders of the French Revolution, the apologists for the Russian Soviet, and the men from whose lips the words "Proletariat" and "Proletarian" are constantly falling, do not, when it comes to the point, want to obey the Will of the Majority of the whole People, but only the majority of a certain arbitrarily selected section of the people. They are, in fact, willing to recognise the Will of the People only when this accords with their own will-that is, with what they believe ought to be the Will of the People. When I use the expression "the Will of the People lawfully and constitutionally expressed," I use it to avoid this false democracy.

To put it quite frankly, I am willing to bow to the maxim, "Vox populi, vox Dei" as long as the "vox populi" is the genuine thing and not obtained by falsity or fraud, by corruption or coercion.

Though I am prepared to bow loyally to the Will of the People, whether I personally agree with it or not, I, of course, have a right, nay, a duty, to do my best to bring the Will of the People in accord with what I hold to be right, just, and likely to promote the welfare of the nation. I retain, that is, the right to convert, if I can, a minority view into a majority view. If any section of the people try to prevent me from exercising this right of conversion, then I believe that the sacred right of insurrection arises.

It is possible that it arises also in the attempt to prevent me from exercising the rights of conscience, that is, the right to think and to express my views. The rights of conscience are not, in my opinion, pooled and placed at the command of the majority, as are the actions and behaviour of the units that make up the State. The Will of the People even cannot command the minds of men and women. That region is under an eternal taboo, which even the majority must not attempt to violate. If they do make the attempt, they must expect resistance. Christ taught us to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," but a man's conscience is not one of Caesar's perquisites.

So much for the abstract basis of Democracy. Of the convenience of following out and obeying the Democratic principle I have as little doubt as I have of the moral obligation involved. What, in my view, is wanted in the State is homogeneity. Such homogeneity, or, shall I call it completeness of the admixture of the elements which constitute the State, is essential. The fullest and strongest sanction for the laws is the security of a State, and where can you get a sanction fuller and stronger than the Will of the Majority?

The point is best seen in a simple illustration. Suppose that among seven people in a railway carriage the question arises as to whether the window is to be put up or down. As it must be settled one way or the other, if order is to be preserved, the only just way is to go by the Will of the Majority. If five people want it shut and only two want it open, the will of the five must prevail. That, of course, does not prove that the five have given a sound decision from the hygienic point of view. They have, however, come to a settlement, and it is obvious that the maximum of convenience rests in respecting that settlement. It has the superior physical power behind it. If, however, any gentleman or lady in the carriage can give a discourse upon the advantage of fresh air, which will bring over three of those who originally voted in the majority, then the policy can be changed.

With these views, it is no wonder that I have always found it impossible to feel much sympathy with the people who say that Democracy is on its trial and must be judged, like any other form of government, by its results. This either means too much or too little. No doubt it may be argued that, if the Will of the People properly expressed was to elect a single man as dictator and invest him with the power of deciding in all matters of detail, you might still have a Democracy, though it looked like a Monarchy. But these are abstract points. For practical purposes in a European community there can, in my opinion, be no doubt as to the convenience of basing, in the last resort, your system of government upon the Will of the People, as it is based, in theory, at any rate, in England and in America.

I admit, however, that when you come to apply your principles in practice the problem alters. Nothing is more obvious in our great modern communities than the fact that the people cannot rule themselves directly. Though they could meet in the Agora of Athens and decide the fate of the Athenian Republic, or in the meadow of the Gemeinde at Appenzell, or any of the other small Swiss cantons, in a country with even only a couple of million of people, you must rely on the Representative System. In other words, though the many must will the direction in which the State shall move, it is only the few who can make that will executive.

Now comes the difficulty. As the advocates of Proportional Representation have been telling us for so many years, the Representative System may actually place the control of the Government in the hands of a minority. Again, though men may be elected to do one thing, they may in practice do another. Representative assemblies are often swayed, not merely by the voice of the orator, but, what is even a more serious matter, by the voice of the minority. Also, as Mill pointed out, under the party system applied to the Representative System, you are liable to be ruled not by a majority, but by a majority of a majority. Your Parliament is split up into two parties-the lefts and the rights. The lefts are not completely homogeneous. Therefore they have to decide on their course of action by a vote within their party. But if the party is nearly divided, it may well be that the majority of the majority is a small minority of the whole. But things are even worse than that when party loyalty is maintained, as is usually the case. Then, a minority within the lefts may be so powerful through its persistency, or, again, through its fanatical obsession on a particular point, that it is able to force a majority within the party to act in the particular way the minority wants. In short, there are a dozen different ways, under a Representative System, of making operative, not the Will of the Majority of the People, but the Will of a Minority.

It is because of this that since the Anglo-Saxon peoples have had representative institutions they have sought some system under which the people as a whole could exercise a veto on the legislative vagaries of their "deputies" or "select men." The people, in moments of tension, have yearned for the right to veto the work of their representatives when such work is obviously based upon the decision of a minority. The only substantial result of that yearning in Great Britain up till now has been the ad hoc General Election.

At the time of the destruction of the Monarchy of Charles I, the Army of the Commonwealth, a very democratic body, actually demanded the Referendum, or Poll of the People, for all important changes in the Constitution. Their descendants in the United States, though they did not insert the Popular Veto in the Federal Constitution, have in each State decreed that all fundamental legislation, i.e., all changes in the Constitution, shall be passed subject to the veto of the whole mass of the electors. Switzerland is generally regarded as the home of the Referendum, though in reality that honour belongs to the individual States of the American Union. In Switzerland every Federal Act is either submitted automatically or else is submittable "on demand," to the veto of the People.

Favouring, as I do, real Democracy, and so believing that the Will of the People alone should prevail, and that we should get complete and unchallengeable sanction for the laws, I have always regarded the Referendum, or Poll of the People, as an essential corrective to the inconveniences and anomalies of the Representative System. The Popular Veto is, in my view, the essential antiseptic of the Constitutional Pharmacopeia.

To put it with brutal plainness, I desire the Referendum in order to free us from the evils of log-rolling and other exigencies of the kind which Walt Whitman grouped under the general formula of "the insolence of elected persons."

I am told by my horrified Radical friends that my proposal is politically odious-a Tory device that would stop all reforms. This I doubt. But if it is really the Will of the People that we should not have reforms, then we must do without them. Till we can convert the Will of the People, we must abide by it. Anyway, I have always thought this objection (which, by the way, is not, as Artemus Ward would say, "writ sarkastic") an exceedingly illuminating fact. It shows how skin-deep is the democratic principle in the minds of many men who think themselves strong Radicals. They do not really believe in submitting to the Will of the People. They want to do what they think is good for the People, but they have no true sense of freedom. They do not realise that if you are to give a man true freedom, you must inevitably give him the right to do wrong as well as the right to do right. If you do not do that, he is no freeman, but merely a virtuous slave-a creature, as Dryden said, "tied up from doing ill." For such compulsory freedom I have no use. I want to convert people, not to force them, or cajole them. Of course, I cannot banish force altogether, because if the Will of the Majority is not obeyed, we shall never arrive anywhere. We shall spend our time in fruitless and so futile discussions. What we can avoid by the Poll of the People is coercion by the minority. Curiously enough, the minority, teste Lenin, seem to have no sentimental objection to coercion. They fly to it at once. As a rule, however, the show of power is quite enough when the will of the majority is expressed. So great is the impact of its declaration that men will not fight against it.

Having got so far, a great many of my readers will, no doubt, rub their eyes and say, "Why on earth is this man letting forth this torrent of rather obvious, well-known, elementary, political stuff? It might do for a Fourth Form in a public school, or for a lecture on the duties of persons on the new Register of Electors, but one really thought that the adult citizen had got beyond this sort of thing."

I apologise humbly for being so elementary; but, after all, I have an excuse. It seems to me that the real danger of the moment is minority rule. Therefore, though all I have said may be condemned as unoriginal, I hold it worthwhile to bring people's minds back to the fact that they are in danger of minority rule, in spite of the fact that they have the very strongest moral reasons for refusing to be ruled by a minority.

Perhaps some of us have not yet observed that in almost all countries the so-called Labour Parties are copying the brutal frankness of Lenin and Trotsky and saying openly that it is only the Proletariat, or, as the wiser of them put it, the manual workers who have the right to decide in what direction the Ship of State shall be steered, and how she shall be worked on the voyage. Now, though I have no desire to substitute any other section of the community for the manual workers, and hold most strongly that such workers have as great a right as University professors, or members of the Stock Exchange, or even members of the bureaucracy, to say how we are to be governed, I will never admit that they have a prerogative right to rule, and that I and other non- manual workers have only the right to obey. That is, however, the Proletarian claim. The so-called capitalist or bourgeois is, in effect, to be outlawed.

In such a context I cannot help thinking of the carman and Uncle Joseph in The Wrong Box. Uncle Joseph makes a remark about the lower classes, to which the carman replies, "Who are the lower classes? You are the lower classes yourself!" I claim an inalienable right to be regarded as one of the people, and I do not mean, if I can help it, to have that right taken away from me, either by a C?sarian Dictator, an Oligarchy of manual workers, a Federation of Trade Unions, Combined Guild Socialists, or a Soviet of Proletarians.

I will yield anything to the members of these Societies in their capacity of citizens possessing each the same rights as mine, but I will yield nothing to them as the possessors of privilege. I hope I shall not be considered arrogant when I say that I am sure that in the maintenance of this view I shall find myself with the majority both in England and in America. But, of course, the rub is, shall we be able to awaken the Will of the Majority? May not a group of subtle and skilful demagogues, acting with the manual workers' Oligarchy or the Soviet of Proletarians, contrive to prevent me and my fellows in the majority coming together? That, I admit, is a real danger, and that is why I want to amend our Constitution in such a way as to place in the hands of the People themselves a right of veto over the work of the House of Commons. I want legislation of a vital description referred to a Poll of the People. Needless to say, I do not want to see every petty Bill referred to the people, but I do want all laws affecting great issues to obtain the popular sanction. Let Bills be discussed and threshed out in Parliament, and then put to the people with this question, "Do you or do you not desire that this Act shall come into operation? Those in favour of the Act will mark their papers 'Yes'; those against it will mark their papers 'No.'" In my opinion, we shall not be safe from minority rule until we get this acknowledgment of the right of the people to say the final word. Let us loyally obey the will of the majority, but let us be sure that it is the majority.

I have been at pains to make my position clear on the point of Democracy, but being a whole-hearted believer in the Democratic principle does not, of course, prevent one having strong views on specific and particular points of policy, or having affinities with particular schools of political thought. By inclination and conviction I belong to the Moderates. Whether they are called Independents, or Whigs, or men of the Left Centre, or Anti-revolutionaries, does not greatly matter. I prefer the Whig variety when the Whigs were at their best, that is, in the days of the Revolution of 1688, the days of Halifax and Somers. No doubt the Whigs, like every other party, became corrupted by too easy and too prolonged possession of power, for power, when it is too easily attained and too securely held, is a great corrupter. Lord Halifax gives a description of The Trimmer, by which term he meant, of course, not a man of vacillation or timidity, but the man who deliberately "trims" the boat of State and endeavours to keep her on an even keel. When he sees that there are too many people, or too much cargo, on one side, with the result that the boat is heeling over, he trims her by throwing his weight, or his portmanteaus, to the other side. The trimmer does not want to stop the progress of the boat, but he wants her progress to be safe and not risky. He does not object to things being done, but he does object to them being done in a wrong way, or in an ineffective way. But, though the true Whig is a man of compromise, he is not afraid of working for specific objects of which he approves, in company with people who perhaps disagree with him on fundamentals. He makes no lepers in politics, except of those who favour corruption and demoralisation; but will work honestly for a good cause with any honest man, no matter what his abstract opinions. For example, I have always loved the old saying about the Whigs and the Republicans. The Whig leader says to the Radical extremist, "You want to go the whole way to Windsor. We want to go only half-way; but, at any rate, we can keep together as far as Hounslow."

The mention of Monarchy suggests a word or two about my own personal position on a point which, though not now of practical importance, may conceivably become so in the near future. I am one of those people who might without error be described as a theoretical Republican and a practical Constitutional Monarchist. I feel that in theory nobody could in these days set up an hereditary Constitutional Monarchy. At the same time, there are a great number of practical advantages in a limited and Constitutional Monarchy, and when it exists only fools and pedants would get rid of it. We possess, in fact, all the advantages of a Republic and also all the advantages of a Monarchy, and these are by no means small.

In a word, I have always agreed with Burke on this matter. Burke, quoting from Bolingbroke, says somewhere-I forget where for the moment, but I think in one of his Speeches in the House of Commons-that he prefers a Monarchy to a Republic for the following reason: "It is much easier to engraft the advantages of a Republic upon a Monarchy than it is to engraft the advantages of a Monarchy upon a Republic." That is obviously true, though I admit that the drafters of the American Constitution made an attempt-in some ways very successful-to implant some of the advantages of a Monarchy upon their Republic. The reason behind the aphorism of "Burke out of Bolingbroke" is obvious. The stock on which the graft is made is not the thing which you wish to fructify. It is the inactive base. Constitutional Monarchy is just the stock you want. In the first place, it is permanent-that is, its roots are in the ground. But though the stock does not need to be changed, you can change and renew your graft as much and as often as you like. You get through the Monarchy stability and continuity, and you can make as much or as little of your Monarch as occasion requires. If he is a specially vicious or untrustworthy man, you can get rid of him. If he is an imbecile, you can, have a Regency. If he is a nonentity, you can, through the Constitutional principle that the King reigns but does not govern, see that your system is not interfered with. If, on the other hand, the King is a sensible man with a high sense of public duty and of fine personal character, as, for example, the present occupant of the Throne, there gradually grows up a power and influence in the State which is of the very greatest use. The King gets for the whole nation a position analogous to that which the permanent official gets in a great Department of State. He has not the power of the Secretary of State, but his knowledge and experience give him immense weight. In a word, a monarch, after fifteen or twenty years of experience, in which he had seen Ministries go up and down, parties blossom and wither, develops an instinct for government which is very valuable. He becomes an ideal adviser for his advisers.

I well remember being immensely struck by the emergence of this point of view in the speech which Lord Salisbury made in the House of Lords on the death of Queen Victoria. Without exactly using the phrase, he described how the Queen advised her advisers. He spoke

of the occasions on which the Queen had tendered her admonitions to the Cabinet, and went on to say that the Queen knew the English people so thoroughly and so sympathetically, and had such an instinct for interpreting their wishes, that it was always with grave anxiety and doubt that her Ministers refrained from taking her advice or finally decided to disregard her warnings on some specific matter of policy, which involved possibilities of a clash with public opinion.

No one who has studied the law of the Constitution and the history of its growth can but feel a kind of instinctive awe for the happy series of accidents, tempered by human wisdom, which has given us the Constitution we possess. Under the Act of Settlement and the various Declaratory Statutes regulating the powers of the Monarch and promulgated at the time of the Revolution of 1688, for example, "The Bill of Rights," we have a crowned Republic with a royal and hereditary President. We talk about the King being Sovereign "by Divine Right" and "by the Grace of God," but, of course, in fact, the King's title is a purely Parliamentary one, and is derived from an Act of Parliament-an Act of Parliament which settles the Throne upon "the heirs of the body of the Electress Sophia," who shall join in communion with the Church of England and who shall not be a member of the Roman Catholic Church or intermarry with a Roman Catholic.

Therefore, when the Sovereign dies and a new Sovereign succeeds, he succeeds in virtue of an Act of Parliament, and in no other way. He is the choice of the people. The repeal of the Act of Settlement would put another man in his place, and, again, an amendment of the Act of Settlement might secure the selection of some other member of the Royal Family, instead of the person previously designated to succeed by the Act of Settlement.

But these, of course, are legal technicalities. The British Monarchy is an early example of Whiggism. The theory may be pedantic, or, if you will, ridiculous, but the result is excellent. It is a practical working-out of the national determination, partly conscious and partly subconscious, to obtain for our use the best features of a Monarchy and of a Republic. This, no doubt, would horrify the acute, analytical minds of the Latin races. Again, the philosophic Teuton would despise it as incomprehensible. Only those possessed of the Anglo-Saxon temperament by birth or training-that is, only English-speaking persons, whether British or American, can appreciate fully the British political and constitutional system. Indeed, it sometimes has the effect of producing in foreigners a sense of desperation. Old Mirabeau, surnamed "The Friend of Man," the father of the great Mirabeau, and a political philosopher of no mean order, was reduced to a paroxysm of incoherent rage by the mere contemplation of our Constitution. "Those miserable islanders do not know, and will not know until their whole wretched system comes to its inevitable destruction, whether they are living under a Monarchy or a Republic, a Democracy or an Oligarchy." A wit with a penchant for the vernacular might well reply, "That's the spirit!" It is this that will last, while what delights and soothes the well-balanced mind of the clear-thinking Academicians of the Constitutional Law flaunts and goes down an unregarded thing. As Sir Thomas Browne said long ago, nations are not governed by ergotisms (or as we should say syllogisms) but by instinct and common sense.

Natural parts and good judgments rule the world. States are not governed by ergotisms. Many have ruled well, who could not, perhaps, define a commonwealth; and they who understand not the globe of the earth command a great part of it. Where natural logick prevails not, artificial too often faileth. Where nature fills the sails, the vessel goes smoothly on; and when judgment is the pilot, the insurance need not be high.

Though one may be both a Democrat and a Whig, and yet think there is no better function for the good citizen than to trim the boat, this does not necessarily mean that one cannot be a party politician. Party, in spite of all the very obvious objections that can be raised against it, is, it seems to me, absolutely necessary to representative government. If you choose out of the body of the population a certain number of men to rule, those men are sure to have divergent views and aims. As Stevenson said about our railway system, "Wherever there is competition there can also be combination." The first instinct of a body of men with number of divergent opinions is for those who have similar or allied aims to get together and take combined action. But the moment that has happened you have got a party system. The party system is, indeed, first a plain recognition of these facts, and then an organization of the common will.

As the party system grows and intensifies, it alters its phenomena, but its essentials are always the same. The main objection to the party system lies in the closeness and strictness of its organisation. The best party system is one in which the organisation is not too perfect, and from which it is comparatively easy to break away. The really bad party system is that in which a man is caught so tightly and becomes so deeply involved in party loyalty, or what may be called the freemasonry side of politics, that he grows into feeling a kind of moral obligation to stick to his party, right or wrong. Party tends, that is, to become a kind of horrible parody of patriotism. Oddly enough, the less clear are the dividing-lines between parties and the less real the distinctions between the views that they wish to carry out, the more intense the party spirit seems to become, and the more impossible it is for the members to break away. Though they disagree at heart with the proceedings of their leaders and disapprove of the party's action as a whole, they seem condemned to adhere to the platform.

I remember a luciferous story which was told to me by Colonel John Hay to illustrate the frenzy of party. A murderer was supposed to have entered the house of a great Republican politician and, holding a dagger over him, to have told him that his hour was come and that he must die. The politician tried every appeal he could think of. "Consider," he said, "my poor wife and the misery she will feel at my death." "I am sorry for her, but it cannot be helped. You must die." "But think of my poor innocent children who will be left helpless orphans." "I am sorry for them too, but you must die." "Think of the evil effect on the country at this moment of crisis." "Yes, I know, and I am sorry; but that cannot move me. You must die." And then came the final appeal, "But think of the effect on the Republican Party!" Across the would-be murderer's face came a quiver of irresolution. The dagger dropped from his hands, and with the cry, "Good heavens! I never thought of that," he rushed from the room.

But though this is the danger, there is, happily, no need for us to carry the party system quite so far as that. Party discipline there must be, but it can be kept well within bounds. Nothing is more wholesome than for party leaders to know that if they push things too far and too often ask their followers to condone doubtful acts, their followers will leave them. Clearly, as the Irishman said of the truth, this spirit of independence must not be dragged out on every paltry occasion. It must, however, always remain in the background as a possibility, and, what is more even those who do not themselves revolt would be well advised to prevent extreme penal measures being applied within the party to a man who breaks away on a particular point.

For myself, curiously enough, I never felt any dislike of party, and was, indeed, I fondly believe, designed by Providence for a good and loyal party man, with no inconvenient desire to assert my own views. A perverse fate, however, has forced me twice in my life to break with my party, or, to put it more correctly, it has twice happened to me that the party to which I belonged adopted the policy that I had always deemed it essential to oppose. To begin with, I left the Liberal Party, to which my family had always belonged ever since the time of the Commonwealth, over Mr. Gladstone's sudden conversion to Home Rule and the abandonment of the Legislative Union. Whether I was right or wrong I am not going to discuss here. At any rate I followed Lord Hartington, Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. John Bright, the Duke of Argyll, and a host of other good Liberals and Whigs and became, first a Liberal-Unionist, and then an unhyphenated Unionist, and a loyal supporter of Lord Salisbury, Mr. Balfour, and their administration.

In the Unionist Party, which has become quite as thoroughly Democratic as its opponent, I had hoped to live and die, but unfortunately, there came the one other question upon which I felt it my duty to take as strong a line as I did in opposing the very injurious and unjust form of Home Rule which first Mr. Gladstone, and then Mr. Asquith, advocated.

People who have forgotten, or who are not aware of the actual conditions, may think it strange that I, who proclaim myself so strongly in favour of obeying the Will of the Majority, should have become so strong a Unionist. A little reflection will show, however, that not only was there nothing contradictory in my attitude, but that it was natural and inevitable from my democratic premises. I held the Union with Ireland to be as much an incorporating union as the union between the several States of the American Republic. I held that the Will of the Majority must prevail within the United Kingdom. The area in which the votes were to be counted was, in a word, to be the whole national area, and not a small portion of it. As I have argued for the last thirty-five years, in public and in private, and as I still feel, the Home Rule Question is and always must be a question of area.

The area which I took for the decision, and which I still think was the right area to give the decision, was the United Kingdom. If any other were adopted, you might very soon fritter away the whole United Kingdom. Again, if we are to make a great financial present, as the Irish claim we must do, from the taxpayer of the centre to the detached fragments of the circumference, the process becomes a tragedy. If Ireland may go at the wish of her electors, so, of course, may Scotland, and so may Wales, each with their subsidy from England. Next, outlying portions of England may want to break away. The result would be a veritable apotheosis of political fissiparousness.

In spite of this, I admit that you cannot fight a political battle on the principle of the reductio ad absurdum. The people of England might hold that for special reasons Ireland would have a right to separate, but that this must not be a precedent to be applied to the rest of Britain. Assuming, however, that Ireland shall have exceptional treatment, I saw, as of course, did many other people, for I am not so foolish as to make any claim to seeing further than my neighbours, that the question of area again controlled the event. Ireland was not a homogeneous country. There were two Irelands-the Ireland of the North and the Ireland of the South, the Ireland of the Celt and of the Teuton, and, above all, the Ireland in which Roman Catholics formed a large majority of the population, and the Ireland in which the Protestants formed the local majority. In a word, the twenty-six counties of the South and the six counties of the North differed in every respect. Neither could justly be put in control of the other; though both might be united through a Union with England, Scotland, and Wales.

From these premises I drew certain inferences, which I believe to be entirely sound. One was that you could not say that Ireland, as a whole, might claim to break away from the United Kingdom, and then refuse the claim of the Six-County Area to break away from the rest of Ireland. Arguments against the diversion and disruption of Ireland would be exactly the same as those used by the Unionists to forbid the destruction of the United Kingdom. Feeling this, as I did, when Mr. Gladstone introduced his second Home Rule Bill, I took an early opportunity of going over to Belfast and ascertaining the facts on the spot. I was confirmed in my view that there could be no solution of the Irish Question which would be either just, or reasonable, or efficient, that did not recognise the existence of the two Irelands-which did not, in effect, say to the Nationalists, "If you insist on your pound of flesh and break up an arrangement which has done so much for Ireland as a whole, that is, the Legislative Union, you must also yield the pound of flesh to the people of North-East Ulster, a community which does not want the United Kingdom to be partitioned, any more than you want Ireland to be partitioned." In this faith I have remained. I believe that the breaking-up of the Legislative Union with Ireland was bad for England, bad for Ireland, and bad for the Empire; but if it should be the Will of the People of the United Kingdom, then that Will could only be equitably applied by a recognition of the existence of the two Irelands. Yet this simple fact Liberal party politicians like Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Asquith, and their followers either absolutely ignored, or else sapiently admitted that it was a serious difficulty and then passed on to the purchase of the Southern Irish vote for other purposes!

Perhaps it will be said, "But you are getting away from your main premise-the Will of the Majority. If it should be the will of the Majority of the United Kingdom not to recognise the existence of the two Irelands, you are bound, according to your theory, to submit to that view." I admit that I may be bound, but I do not believe, and never have believed, that the people of North-East Ulster are bound. You can turn Northern Ireland out of the Union if you will, but you have no moral right to place them under the dominance to which they object-the dominance of a Dublin Parliament. To do that is to call into existence that rare but inalienable, right, "the sacred right of insurrection" against intolerable injustice.

As far as I know, no State has ever yet seriously claimed the right to deprive any portion of itself of the political status belonging to its inhabitants, except when compelled to do so by foreign conquerors. That is why I, though a Majority Democrat, have always felt that the people of Belfast and of North-East Ulster were loyal, and not disloyal, citizens, when they declared that if they were to be turned out of the United Kingdom they had an inalienable right to declare that they would not be placed under a Dublin Parliament. The Parliament of the United Kingdom, of which their representative formed an integral part, though it had a right to make laws for them, had no right to hand them over to the untender mercies of the Southern Irish. Delegatus non potest delegare-the delegate cannot delegate. But the representatives of the United Kingdom are delegates for the people of the United Kingdom. They have a right to govern it, but they cannot hand over their power of government to some other body. My contention is triumphantly supported by what happened during the attempt, happily unsuccessful, to break up the United States of America. When Virginia seceded from the Union, the people of what might be called the Ulster Virginia, a group of counties in the west of Virginia, declared that the Richmond Legislature had no right to deprive them of their inalienable right of citizenship in the American Republic. Therefore they not only refused to secede, but, as they were physically unable to control Virginia as a whole, they formed themselves into the Loyal State of West Virginia, just as the Ulster people were prepared, if they had been forced out of the Union by Mr. Asquith's Bill, to set up a State for themselves.

At the end of the Civil War, the legal pedants of Washington were inclined to say that, right or wrong on the merits, the people of West Virginia had not acted legally in setting up their State, and that therefore, when the Peace came, they must be put back into Virginia and under the Richmond Government. The self-made State of West Virginia naturally objected at this intolerable and unjust decision. When the matter came before Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet, that great and wise man acted with a firmness not outdone even in the list of his magnificent achievements. He would hear nothing of the technical pedantries and legal sophistries submitted to him. West Virginia, he declared, must remain detached from Virginia, and it remains to this day a State of the Union. Here are the concluding words of the memorandum which Mr. Lincoln circulated to his Cabinet:-

Can this Government stand, if it indulges constitutional constructions by which men in open rebellion against it are to be accounted, man for man, the equals of those who maintain their loyalty to it?… If so, their treason against the Constitution enhances their constitutional value…. It is said, the devil takes care of his own. Much more should a good spirit-the spirit of the Constitution and the Union-take care of its own. I think it cannot do less and live…. We can scarcely dispense with the aid of West Virginia in this struggle; much less can we afford to have her against us, in Congress and in the field. Her brave and good men regard her admission into the Union as a matter of life and death. They have been true to the Union under very severe trials. We have so acted as to justify their hopes, and we cannot fully retain their confidence and co-operation if we seem to break faith with them. The division of a State is dreaded as a precedent. But a measure made expedient by a war is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession against the Constitution and secession in favour of the Constitution.

I shall never forget the profound impression made upon me when I first read those words. They gave what to me was the support of the highest moral and political authority to the view at which I had arrived instinctively. I had, as was natural, some doubts about my position, for I saw that my theories might lead to encouraging resistance to the apparent Will of the Majority. But after finding a supporter in Lincoln, I had no more doubts or fears.

I have dwelt so long on this matter because I want to show what, rightly or wrongly, was my guiding principle:-I objected to Home Rule as bad for the Empire, bad for the United Kingdom, and bad in an even extremer degree for Ireland herself. If, however, it should be determined that some measure of Home Rule must be passed, then the existence of the two Irelands must be recognised in any action which should be determined upon. Therefore, when the support which the Unionist Party determined on giving to Mr. Lloyd George at the end of the War made some form of Home Rule seem almost inevitable, I strongly advocated the division of Ireland as the only way of avoiding a civil war in which the merits would be with Northern Ireland. I would personally have preferred to see the Six-County Area incorporated with England and become one or two English counties. As that seemed for various reasons unobtainable, the setting up of the Northern Legislature and the Northern State became the inevitable compromise.

That accomplished, I should have preferred to see Southern Ireland detached from the Empire. I have no desire to be a fellow-citizen with Mr. de Valera, Mr. Michael Collins, or even Mr. Griffiths, or, again, with the hierarchy of the Roman Church in Ireland. They have perfectly different views of the crime of murder from mine. I believe murder to be the greatest of crimes against the community, and, granted that we should give up any attempt to teach Ireland better, I would rather detach her altogether from the Empire. I hold that to be included in the British Empire is one of the highest and greatest privileges obtainable by any community, and I am not going down on my knees to beg an unwilling Southern Ireland to enjoy this privilege.

Further, I hold that if we let the Southern Irish go, we have a duty to the Protestants and Roman Catholic loyalists, of whom, of course, there are a very great many in the South. We have no right to force them to forfeit their citizenship of the British Empire. They must be allowed to come away from the South with full compensation for their disturbance if they so desire. If circumstances force you to denationalise a certain part of your country, you must give the loyal inhabitants an opportunity to leave, and as far as possible must not allow their material interests to suffer. It would be perfectly easy to have exempted all persons in the South who were loyal to Britain and to have put the burden of their migration where it ought to have fallen-that is, on the Southern enemies of England and Scotland who, by their policy, had made human life for the Protestants and Loyalists a veritable hell.

If the South had refused to pay, we should ourselves have taken on the burden, and imposed a duty on agricultural produce coming from the South of Ireland into England sufficient to find the interest on a loan raised to compensate the Southern refugees. That would be a perfectly possible way, a very easy fiscal transaction.

I am not going to argue further whether these views on the Irish problem are per se right or wrong. I can only adopt with variation the party-politician's peroration: "These, gentlemen, are my principles; if they don't suit, they can't be altered."

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