The pamphlet was not popular, except in Ireland, as I did not expect it to be. But, if no measure short of that which I proposed would do full justice to Ireland, or afford a prospect of conciliating the mass of the Irish people, the duty of proposing it was imperative; while if, on the other hand, there was any intermediate course which had a claim to a trial, I well knew that to propose something which would be called extreme, was the true way not to impede but to facilitate a more moderate experiment. It is most improbable that a measure conceding so much to the tenantry as Mr Gladstone's Irish Land Bill, would have been proposed by a Government, or could have been carried through Parliament, unless the British public had been led to perceive that a case might be made, and perhaps a party formed, for a measure considerably stronger. It is the character of the British people, or at least of the higher and middle classes who pass muster for the British people, that to induce them to approve of any change, it is necessary that they should look upon it as a middle course: they think every proposal extreme and violent unless they hear of some other proposal going still farther, upon which their antipathy to extreme views may discharge itself. So it proved in the present instance; my proposal was condemned, but any scheme of Irish Land reform, short of mine, came to be thought moderate by comparison. I may observe that the attacks made on my plan usually gave a very incorrect idea of its nature. It was usually discussed as a proposal that the State should buy up the land and become the universal landlord; though in fact it only offered to each individual landlord this as an alternative, if he liked better to sell his estate than to retain it on the new conditions; and I fully anticipated that most landlords would continue to prefer the position of landowners to that of Government annuitants, and would retain their existing relation to their tenants, often on more indulgent terms than the full rents on which the compensation to be given them by Government would have been based. This and many other explanations I gave in a speech on Ireland, in the debate on Mr Maguire's Resolution, early in the session of 1868. A corrected report of this speech, together with my speech on Mr Fortescue's Bill, has been published (not by me, but with my permission) in Ireland.
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Under the stress of violent warfare social conditions throughout the two empires inevitably grew worse. On the plea of military necessity legislation to protect labour was repealed, hours were lengthened, wages reduced, food adulterated, and rationed in such a way as to leave the rich the chance of buying substitutes which the poor could not afford. In China, for instance, rice was rationed to a bare subsistence minimum, but a new and more nutritious grain, which was rapidly supplanting rice, was left unrationed. Its price mounted far beyond the poor man’s means. The whole crop was available for the rich. Personal liberty was of course, so far as possible, destroyed. The military could move anyone to any part of the empire, could imprison, kill, or torture at their own pleasure. They did not hesitate to do so. Education was wholly concerned with producing efficient machine-tenders who could be trusted to carry out orders without question. The synthetic faith was inculcated from childhood onwards. Nearly all accepted it outwardly; most people thoughtlessly believed it; a few secretly doubted while they outwardly conformed; still fewer tried to rally the forces of light, and were promptly destroyed; a fairly large minority believed the faith with some degree of conviction; and of these a small number practised it with passion.