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become of the late prince's magnificent donation? It would revert to the State. If an Act of Parliament should be necessary, it would readily be passed by the force of the idea that the State alone is the legitimate guardian and curator of the nation's treasures. Always the raison d'État-more powerful in France than human


Whatever may be the destiny in store for it, the Duc d'Aumale's donation is none the less a great and generous act, an act inspired by a broad and sincere liberalism. It has nothing about it which is not in complete accordance with the known character of him of whom M. Edouard Hervé, a fellow Academician of his, has said that he had that pleasingly original capacity of sharing the ideas of the new France while retaining all the courtliness of the old régime Few men (adds M. Hervé) could so well hold their own with the best authorities on the most varied topics, or discuss with such superiority any question of literature, art, or military science.' We ourselves often saw him at the Agricultural Society of France, modestly presiding over the Forest Cultivation Section, upon whose discussions he used to bring to bear his wide practical knowledge. With his great good sense he always succeeded in leading back the debaters, however divergent might be their views, to the common ground of general principles. France was not wise enough to utilize his talents, which were such as are rarely found united in one man, but the moral and intellectual inheritance left by him will not be lost as an example, and it will be more enduring than Chantilly itself.



The Government have made a great coup. The hearts of Unionists, especially in Great Britain, are glad ; Liberal-Unionists are exultant; Nationalist criticism, for the moment at any rate, is disarmed, and the approbation expressed by Irish politicians of all parties is almost unexampled. True, the enthusiasm is greater here than in Ireland, where, though County Government Reform has for years been a standing dish, it has hardly excited that interest with which the Home Rule controversy has invested it amongst English politicians. Personally I have always advocated Local Government Reform as an essential part of the political education of the people, but I have never regarded it as a substitute for Home Rule ror expected it to satisfy Nationalist aspirations. Even setting aside Home Rule and the Land, there are many other questions which interest the Irish public more and are more urgent, such as University Education, Private Bill legislation, and even the newly discovered need for a Board of Agriculture, so prematurely abandoned. The fact is, the need for Reform was much less than in England. The existing Grand Jury system, though anomalous, is simple and coherent, and its practical abuses have long passed away with the ascendency of the Grand Juror class; and the Poor Law System, of more recent growth and based on English lines, is defective not so much in its constitution as from its want of practical adaptability to the changed circumstances of the country and the time. Therefore, while of course the Grand Jury and the ex-officio element of the Board of Guardians were good enough sticks to beat the English Government with, there was never sufficient popular feeling on the subject to supply motive power for carrying a Bill through Parliament ; often, indeed, not enough to drag the matter beyond the perfunctory stage of the Queen's Speech. Motive power has now been supplied by the pecuniary relief from rates offered both to landlords and tenants, and no doubt it will be sufficient for Parliamentary purposes, and for the rest probably l'appétit viendra en mangeant ; though it may be doubted whether the joint action for the development of their own business as farmers, which the Recess Committee have preached, and which it was one main object of the

Chief Secretary's proposed Board of Agriculture to evoke, would not prove a more vital force for making Local Government march than any joint action for public purposes even in local affairs can afford, or any appetite for local influence can engender.

Let no one suppose, however, that under these circumstances the new policy will be accepted by the agricultural community in Ireland as an alternative' for the Board of Agriculture. The latter, being essentially a non-party question, attracted politicians but little, while neither they nor the farmers at first understood the full significance of the new departure involved in Mr. Gerald Balfour's Bill. One thing alone they all saw—that the financial proposals were inconsistent with the unanimous demand for the relief of agricultural rates on the English basis. But these proposals were by no means of the essence of the measure, and the


its main principles have made in Ireland during the few weeks since its introduction is astonishing, and has begun to make itself felt even amongst party politicians. Without popular support such a Bill would have no chance; but of that support Mr. Gerald Balfour may now feel assured, and of a cordial and general recognition by the farmers of his labours on their behalf in this matter; and whether the Government pledge themselves to reintroduce the Bill next Session or not, it cannot be permanently shelved. Indeed, a reform of the machinery of Local Government is so obviously and essentially different from the industrial policy of which the establishment of a Board of Agriculture and Industries is the embodiment, that we may safely assume that the word 'alternative' was used by Mr. Balfour in a parliamentary sense as betokening the altered application of this particular sum in this particular year, and not the alteration of route to attain the same end. Industrial development can do much for Local Government: Local Government can do something for industrial development. We want both, and in no sense are they mutually exclusive or inconsistent, except perhaps in the eyes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and then only, let us hope, for the present year.

The objects sought in the other Irish Bill dropped, the Poor Relief Bill, also remain as necessary as ever.

Indeed here, as I hope to show by-and-bye, Local Government Reform-financial questions apart-far from being an alternative,' will actually facilitate the improvements desired. While, therefore, declining to treat this new departure as an alternative policy or as exhausting the generous intentions of the Imperial Parliament towards Ireland, all true friends of their country will recognise that generosity and be grateful for it. In return they will expect Parliament and the Government to recognise not only the gratitude evoked for the pecuniary boon conferred, but also the satisfaction displayed for the unreserved adoption of their views where all Irishmen are substantially agreed. Of course, some will say the pecuniary concession now made is only bare justice, and that there is no question of generosity or gratitude; but the political satisfaction at the deference to Irish opinion will be almost universal, and in such circumstances Irishmen will not calculate too closely either the money or the good will offered. Doubtless English statesmen on their side will lay these things to heart and find in them principles for future action.

But not only have the Government achieved a brilliant party coup. . Mr. Balfour's announcement also shows real statesmanship and breadth of view; and as one who has long advocated these reforms, I welcome most heartily the discernment and ingenuity which have seized on this unique opportunity' for giving effect to them under the most favourable possible circumstances. Indeed the possibilities opened up are almost bewildering, and in this brief sketch all that is attempted is to show the general character of the change proposed, and by way of illustration to note some of the less obvious, though far from unimportant, advantages secured; to point out certain drawbacks and risks, to indicate certain other advantages which seem likely to flow from the principles Mr. Balfour has laid down, and finally to suggest the lines of ulterior changes which the new system may render possible, and which reformers should keep in view.


Apart from the broad outline sketched -(1) relief of the tenants from half the County Cess or rate now paid entirely by them, (2) relief of the landlords from the half Poor Rate now paid by them on lands let to tenants, and (3) a democratic reform both of County and Poor Law administration on English lines—the most notable, though not perhaps the most obvious, feature of the scheme will be its social effect. Mr. Matthew Arnold used never to be tired of reminding us in connection with Irish affairs of Burke's guiding principle, “Sir, your measures must be healing. Few indeed of the measures passed for Ireland during the last twenty or thirty years have been 'healing,' though I have supported most of them as necessary. Mr. Balfour's Local Government Bill of 1892 would certainly not have been so; the old class divisions ran through it from top to bottom, and its irritating but illusory safeguards would only have kept social sores open.

Will it be different now? Before answering this question, it will be well to dispel one misapprehension which has already obtained some currency, and has an intimate connection with this point. It has been said that the landlords would henceforth have no direct interest in Local Government or local taxation. As regards their liability, quâ landlords, for half the tenants' Poor Rate this is true ; but they will still remain almost everywhere the largest payers of Poor Rate for land in their own occupation, as they now are of County Cess, though they pay no share of the latter for land let to tenants. As landlords they would no longer pay Poor Rates, and thus the only excuse for the ex-officio element on Boards of Guardians, with all its traditions of the land war, would be gone. But they, in common with the larger tenant-farmers, would be completely swamped by the smaller ratepayers, unless other and better social influences were at work than have prevailed until quite recently for many years. The really crucial question not only or even chiefly for the landlords themselves, but in the interests of all classes in local matters, is, Will they have any chance of election under the new system? Will it be possible for them, as in England and Scotland, to gain that influence in local affairs to which their education, capacity, and attention to business would entitle them? If so, the measure will be really · healing,' and we shall at last secure that inestimable blessing of joint action of all classes in Local Government. Five years ago, even if the pecuniary facilities now offered had been possible, class feeling still ran too high and no landlord would have had a chance. But I believe things have so materially changed since that time, that both on Boards of Guardians and County Councils the experience and business capacity of the landlords will be generally welcomed and even solicited by their fellow-ratepayers, instead of their being regarded with jealousy and suspicion as a privileged caste and a hostile interest.

Another certain advantage may be mentioned, viz. the settlement of the Municipal Franchise question, which was incidentally dealt with in the Bill of 1892, and no doubt will be again. Thus a grievance universally admitted for years would be removed, and the inconvenient and mischievous practice of dealing with a broad question of public policy in Private Water Bills and the like would come to

an end.

One other provision of the Bill of 1892 which is sure to find a place in that of 1898 must be alluded to, because it has an important bearing on one of the further advantages which will be dealt with below as likely to follow the larger reform. This is the introduction of an elective element, through the County Councils, into the governing bodies of lunatic asylums. There is no need, however, to discuss the provision itself, which is in accordance with the recommendation of the most recent and authoritative Report on the subject, that of the Lord-Lieutenant's Committee on Irish Lunacy Administration, 1891.


The most fundamental of these has been touched on above, viz. the danger of the larger ratepayers who pay the greater part of the rates (including the landlords) being swamped by the smaller

[c-6434] 2nd Report $4(b).


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