Page images
PDF
EPUB

abandoned its policy of terrorism. One single effort, it told them, would suffice to abolish landlordism; the campaign of a single winter would strike down the ancient enemy for good. There was not one word in the document about bargaining for reductions with the landlords; not one word about yielding when the tenant was pushed to the wall; on the contrary, the manifesto distinctly advised the farmers to allow themselves to be evicted. It promised that the funds of the Land League should be poured out unstintedly

for their support What must those farmers now think who obeyed

the manifesto to the letter, and allowed themselves to be turned out of house and home? They immolated themselves and their families in the full faith that their trusted leaders believed what they were saying when they promised the abolition of landlordism in return for the acceptance of their solemnly uttered counsels. It does not need much imagination to fancy their feelings when they learned that the authors of the manifesto did not believe what they said, and did not even expect that their advice would be taken. . . . . The 'some individuals'whose sufferings and sacrifices were referred to in the Cork speech must have felt very bad indeed. It would be easy to make a parallel between the Cork speech and the Kilmainham manifesto, which would be very disagreeable reading for the authors of the latter document."

It is not surprising after this castigation of the gentlemen "who chalked up no rent and then ran away," that Mr. John Devoy spoke of a projected convention of the Land League as " the meeting of a society much thinned in numbers and prestige, and no more."

The failure of the Land League to fulfil its most confident engagements, the diminished activity of the Land League members in Parliament, even as an irritating element, the exasperation caused by coercion, the refusal of further remedial legislation to amend the acknowledged deficiencies of the Land Law Act, and perhaps above all the operation of the so-called Pinch-of-Hunger policy, have unquestionably brought violent methods of overt revolution into increased favour with numbers of Irishmen at home and abroad. I have no reason to believe that the atrocious expedient of destructive explosions in the midst of peaceful populations, whether of mixed nationality or of purely English blood, has any following except among a handful of desperadoes, whose very nature seems to have been transformed by the debasing experience of the British convict jails. But the increasing indecision which Mr. Parnell has latterly displayed, has raised doubts beyond the Atlantic as to his possession of a policy—doubts which his indisposition to meet the Philadelphia Convention has not removed. A period of unrest and passion, of menacing talk and popular perturbation has set in, and the immense number of Irish who are actuated by no grateful feelings towards the British Government will render the crisis a troublesome if not a dangerous one. I confess I see few traces as yet of any tendencies, however, which should alarm with the sense of a real peril the adherents of the existing connection between Great Britain and Ireland. The utter ignorance of the resources, the policy, the strong points and the weak points of the Imperial system, which is the most marked characteristic of American-1risli disaffection, may lead to many impossible propositions, but to no serious undertaking. In these islands there is no combination of secret conspirators which could permanently resist the dissolvent and disruptive influences of the powers of arrest on suspicion and private examination before a Juge d'instruction that are always within the reach of the authorities, ever since the Phoenix Park murders and the dynamite discoveries swept away the best prepossessions on behaK of more equitable procedure. There is and there will remain a misgoverned and discontented Irish people in Ireland. There is and there will remain a hostile and menacing Irish population in America, but there is more than "a silver streak" which separates the discontent of Ireland from the co-operation of America. At the same time, the student of Anglo-Irish history may usefully remember that the closing quarters of centuries appear to be fatal periods in the relations between the English and the Irish, ever .since the accession of the house of Tudor at any rate. At the close of the fifteenth century the native Irish had barely left the English Pale a strip on the eastern sea-coast. At the close of the sixteenth century the insurrection of O'Neill and O'Donnell had carried the red hand and the conquering cross to the shores of South Munster. The battle of the Boyne and the violated treaty of Limerick darken the closing annals of the seventeenth century. The last years of the eighteenth century are filled with the loud tramp of the volunteers and the horrid butchery of 1798. May justice and wisdom now avert the omens which were ushered in by the passing of a Coercion Act of unexampled severity —lashing a nation for James Carey's crime—in the centenary year of the British recognition of Irish legislative independence.

Frank Hugh O'donnkll.

We liave received letters from intimate friends of Professor Zollner indignantly denying Dr. de Cyon's statement that he " died mad, "and asking us to publish this contradiction. M. von Weber writes:—" I know that he was until his last hours of life in the most healthy state of mind."

The conductors of this Review cannot issue this number without expressing their deep regret at the sudden death of their valued Sub-Editor, Mr. William (JelUn. Intelligent, laborious, devoted,—he brought to his task not only the accuracy of a practised eye, but a well-cultivated critical judgment. He was connected with the Review almost from its foundation, he rendered to it faithful and important service, gaining the esteem not only of those whom he assisted, but of many of its distinguished contributors; and ho died in harness, full of zeal for the work which he loved v>& which was so suddenly taken out of his hands.

THE CONGO NEUTRALIZED.

THE Congo—named also Livingstone, in memory of that great explorer,—this splendid river, whose discovery was to have heen but the means of spreading civilization, seems likely to occasion shortly rivalries and jealousies between the States of Europe. France, after having set up her flag at Stanley Pool, has now forcibly seized upon and occupied Punta-Negra, which appears manifestly to indicate intentions of conquest and annexation. Portugal claims sovereignty over all the territory on both banks of the Congo lying between the degrees 5° 12' and 8° south latitude, and also over the interior up to beyond Stanley Pool. If this latter claim were accepted, all the stations which have been founded there by two English missionary societies, and by the International Association of which the King of the Belgians is the patron, would be impeded in their development. This would at once occasion possibilities of conflicts and disputes between France and Portugal, for it would be very hard to fix boundaries between the possessions of the two nations. An African Society, recently founded in Rotterdam, has sent in an address to the Dutch Parliament, begging that the claims of France and Portugal on the Congo may be opposed. This address claims the status quo, maintaining that the exclusive pretensions of these two Powers interfere with the prior rights of Holland, which traded on the coast of Loango a century and a half ago, and also that the Dutch factories at the mouth of the Congo may suffer in consequence of these pretensions. The address concludes byiuviting the Dutch Government to join with England, Germany, Belgium, and the United States in opposing the carrying out of Savorgnan de Brazza's treaty. This address passed the Chamber of Commerce at Rotterdam without a dissenting voice, and will, it is said, be strongly supported in ParVol. Xliii. 8 F

liament by the members for that town. A society similar to tbc one just mentioned has been founded in Germany; and two German travellers, Pogge and Wissmann, are exploring the Con^o. In England also several Chambers of Commerce, together with the Anti-Slavery Association and many missionary societies—in other words, those portions of the population representing essentially the interests of trade, of humanity, and of Christianity—have sent in an address to the Foreign Office, requesting the English Government to maintain the liberty of the Congo; and when Mr. Forster put his question in the House, Mr. Gladstone had already most absolutely declared that the Queen's Government would come to no decision respecting this important matter without first consulting Parliament. An English Company is now being formed in London for trade on the Upper Congo; the Germans are entering the country, and a Russian expedition is also contemplated. Finally, M. de Brazza is en route for the Stanley Pool, no longer as an isolated explorei, but as the representative of the French nation, empowered to dispose as he will of gunboats, of artillery, and of some hundreds of soldiers. We see then what divers interests are at stake, what rival claims and pretensions have already surged up, what elements of hostility have sprung into existence; and we are but at the outset of the underr taking, for three years ago the Congo was scarcely thought of. I should like to show in what manner all such unfortunate difficulties could be avoided, leaving these regions quietly to enjoy the benefits of peaceful competition, of free trade, of scientific explorations, and of Christian and humane missions.

The course, I think, to be pursued, would be to declare the neutrality of the Congo, entrusting the legislation of everything connected with this great river to an International Commission, as for the Danube. At all events, all the stations already founded, or hereafter to be founded, on the Congo, for the purpose of affording hospitality to travellers, or with any such humane view, should be unhesitatingly declared neutral. If I hazard this suggestion, which may at first appear chimerical, I do so because I feel assured it would be well received both in Germany and England, and because, even in France, jt would have its adherents among far-seeing men, chief among whom would be the highest possible authority on such a subject—M. de Lesseps.* When the Congo question was under discussion in the House of Commons, we excited no little indignation on the part of some of our French contemporaries by proposing to place the great African waterway under the regulation of an International Commission; but the suggestion has been better appreciated in Germany. Herr Gerhard Rohlfs, the well-known German traveller, has published recently in the Allgemeine Zeitung (April 22, 1883), an earnest appeal to the Government at Berlin to unite with England in internationalizing the Congo. He says :—

* M. de Lesseps, who devotes his prodigious energy to all works calculated to advance the progress of humanity, wrote to me as follows :—" The idea of neutralising the Congo seems to me excellent. The realization of such a project would be worthy of our age, and would be a noble reward to the heroic men who have thrown open this portion of Africa to civilized Europe. I sincerely wish you every success in your undertaking, in which the King of the Belgians has no generously taken the initiative. I should be glad to see your scheme answer." Eminent Italian statesmen, such as M. Mancini, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minghetti, Luzzatti, Pierantoni, were very well disposed towards the project, and in France several newspapers have already approved of the idea. M. Aurelien Scholl wrote of it as follows:—" That any nation should think of confiscating the Congo for its personal profit, to the exclusion of other nations, would be an act of folly verging on impudence. Between Stanley and Brazza there is an individual rivalry, but the question is far above the personal disputes of these gentlemen. After an international congress of geographers, held at the palace in Brussels, at which were present learned men and great travellers of all nationalities, the International African Association was founded, with a view to establish hospitable and scientific stations in Central Africa from one coast to the other in the direction of the Kquator. It was agreed, that in order to effect this there should be an understanding among European nations in general. The great things to be avoided were petty rivalries and jealousies, and rapacity (said to be national) which must fatally lead to disagreement, and these collisions very naturally would take all confidence from the native population. What can be their opinion of a civilization heralded by disputes and conflicts? What must they think of peacemakers who commence by firing at each other J"

"To internationalize the Congo would perhaps present more difficulties than to subject the mouths of the Danube to common control; but it ought to prove feasible were England and Germany to throw their whole influence into the scale. If Germany join England, France, Italy, and Portugal can but follow their example, and the Congo will be saved. Let liberty for every one, under the protection of laws settled by international agreement, be our watchword. Some French papers may object, but the motive that underlies this objection—the desire of conquest—is a very cogent reason why the other Powers who do not desire annexation should insist on applying the precedent of the Danube to the regulation of the Congo."

But before discussing the feasibility of this scheme it would be well to examine what has been already done in Central Africa, what is the present condition of the country, and, more especially, what may be looked for in the future, if free course be allowed to the enterprise of science, trade, and humanity, unimpeded by any ambitious schemes of conquest or annexation.

When, in August, 1877, the King of the Belgians graciously invited the most eminent geographers of Europe, together with all who by their studies or philanthropy had • identified themselves with schemes for the civilization of Central Africa, to partake of Royal hospitality and to attend a conference to be held in his palace in. Brussels, the letters of invitation clearly explained the end for which this conference was assembled. Previous to that date there had been many heroic expeditions to the interior of Africa, the expenses of which had been defrayed by private subscriptions. The King approved of these strongly, as emanating from Christian feeling and from a desire to spread civilization. To abolish the slave trade in Africa, to pierce through the darkness which now clouds it over, and throw opeu to the world its resources, which are apparently enormous, is, said

« EelmineJätka »