Hon. Edward Blake's Lecture.
Mr. Blake, in speaking of the Irish question, said that any reconciliation between Ireland and Great Britain must be based on an acknowledgement of errors in the past. The Irish are now struggling for a federal government. Federalism has enabled statesmen to create out of conflicting elements, a nation with a central government to deal with common concerns, while under it each little state manages its own local affairs.
Isaac Butt, in 1870, originally started the movement, suggesting a means of reconciliation between Ireland and Great Britain, which now seems about to approach a happy consummation. His movement even then was supported by the protestants and conservatives of Ireland. In the great meeting at Dublin they said that they wished no separation from England, but they would not have their domestic affairs regulated by an English parliament. The views propounded by the meeting rapidly spread. The extremists fell in with the movement, and had it been led with sternness then, things might have been far cifferent than at present. But zeal died out, disorder reigned, and the condition of the country was one of insurrection.
The Irish peasant had not the slightest title to the land he lived on, or the things he possessed. It was a condition which parliament was unable or indifferent to refute. Attempts to remedy his condition applied only to the future rent, not to existing arrears.
The whole difficulty would seem to settle itself, if the present occupant of land could be made its proprietor. All of Ireland would be relieved, prosperity would begin, and there would slowly be brought about a restoration of a feeling of friendship between Ireland and Great Britain.