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The Irish Question and British Politics, 1868–1996 by D. G. Boyce (auth.)

By D. G. Boyce (auth.)

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8 All this is hardly surprising when it is acknowledged that Gladstone was anxious not to destroy the power of the landlords, but rather to give it a more certain base; and that his cabinet consisted, as did all nineteenth-century cabinets, of men drawn from the ranks of the aristocracy and gentry. Nevertheless, Gladstone had mapped out two lines of approach to the Irish Question, and lumped them under the broad headings of 1ustice for Ireland', and 'the government of Ireland according to Irish ideas'.

38 A narrow victory for Home Rule in the Commons would not give the Liberals the moral majority that they needed if they were to try to launch an attack on the House of Lords in the event of their (inevitable) rejection of the Home Rule bill. Nevertheless, Gladstone at first 39 The Irish Question contemplated another attempt in the near future should the Lords reject his bill; but, in the event, the low majority of 34 following the third reading of his bill on 1 September 1893 after 82 sittings and an extended session, made such a return to the fray impracticable.

19 The fermentation of these ideas, necessarily vague and ill thought out, was a slow process; but by 1885 they were ripening. In August 1885, Gladstone read a memorandum to Lord Hartington in which he stated his belief that in Ireland there was: An epoch: possibly a crisis. Grievance in the main gone, but administrative development remains. Considerable changes may be desired; & may be desirable if effected with due regard to the unity of the Empire. K. Those are my opinions. 20 Now Gladstone believed that British public opinion was ready to take up this great political cause, if it was properly educated into acknowledging its importance.

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