Home Rule and Philately
The editor of the Philatelic Journal of Great Britain was wise in his generation when he addressed a polite query to the Premier as to the bearing of Home Rule on the future of stamps. Mr. Gladstone’s reply was not very precise, to be sure, inasmuch as he confined himself to the statement that the question “will be one for the consideration of the Irish Government.” Still, when once it is clear that the matter is within the competence of the proposed Parliament on College Green, it follows, as the night the day, that the passage of the Home Rule Bill would inevitably lead to the issue of a new and distinct series of postage stamps. The patriotic Irishman is a great fellow for signs and emblems, legends and mottoes, and we may rest assured that if there is an Irish postage stamp it will be something rich and strange.
The Premier’s announcement, we fear, cannot but lead to a serious conflict in the bosoms of all stamp collectors. From the evidence which their hobby affords them of the greatness of the British dominions, they can hardly fail as a class to be imbued with the Imperialist ideal. But, qua collectors they will probably welcome the possible issue of a new series of stamps, irrespectively of the disastrous events of which that issue is the visible emblem. The philatelist whose Unionism triumphs over his collecting mania really deserves to have ten votes at an election.
It is worth noting, in conclusion, that the ability to establish a separate postage which is to be conferred on the Irish Government might, under certain circumstances, prove a most lucrative source of revenue. When an Irish Republic takes the place of the nondescript regime which Mr. Gladstone hopes to introduce, apart from the national love of change there will be a strong monetary inducement to replace President Justin by President Tim, and to keep ringing the changes as rapidly as possible, for as one head succeeds another on the Irish stamp, it will always be possible to sell the disused remainders at a good price to wealthy philatelists. This, at least, is said to be the case in the Republics of South America, and Ireland could hardly fail to profit by so instructive and congenial an example.