Lord Milner’s Irish Journal, 1886

Terence H. O'Brien describes how Alfred Milner, later the apostle of the British Empire, paid a revealing visit as a young man to Ireland, then in the throes of the Home Rule struggle.

Alfred Milner paid his first visit to Ireland in the autumn of 1886. His rise to fame as High Commissioner for South Africa, the Boer War, and a peerage still lay over ten years ahead. He was at this date thirty-two years old, and regarded as a coming man by his numerous friends and by Liberal politicians. An outstanding career at Balliol had been followed by a New College Fellowship, several years on the staff of the Pall Mall Gazette and the post of political and literary secretary to Mr. (later Viscount) Goschen, a leading Liberal statesman out of office.

The summer of 1886 had seen the end of the first round of the Home Rule struggle—the defeat in the Commons of Gladstone’s First Home Rule Bill by thirty votes. Though no one could foresee the fact, this struggle was to continue for thirty-five years, until Ireland won independence in 1922.

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