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treating Parliament as in the character of the proposals themselves. The tangible propositions they have made, indeed, are very few; for vague resolutions, affirming some points on which everybody, and others on which nobody is agreed, cannot be treated as real suggestions for the settlement of a great question. It is not so much what they have said, as what they have left unsaid, the mystery in which they have shrouded their intentions, the time they have wasted in needless talk, the want of any evidence of distinct purpose, except the purpose of mystifying the House of Commons, and retaining their own places, which has disappointed and irritated both sides of the House. Mr. Milner Gibson's prophecy as to the formation of a Tory “ Cave ” may not be literally fulfilled, but it is manifest that they have already caused great discontent among their own party without doing anything to break down the strength of the Opposition. The member for Ashton, indeed, did not give them credit for so much stupidity as they have shown. He supposed that the Tory secession would be the result of some action that might at least conciliate some now hostile. He could hardly have expected that they would so conduct themselves as to annoy all parties and place themselves in a position where they must have met with immediate and fatal disasters, but for the singular forbearance of rivals to whom they had shown so little, yet from whom they asked so much.
Mr. Disraeli has been severely blamed for the unfortunate position of the ministry, and no doubt with justice. It is but fair, however, to remember the difficulties of his position. It is impossible to believe that had he wielded the absolute power in the Cabinet, or even enjoyed that influence to which the leader of the House of Commons is fairly entitled, that he would have treated Parliament and the country as he has done. It is, of course, easy to see how he might have proposed a good measure, but it is forgotten that in order to do it he must overcome the opposition of his own political associates. Lord Cranborne and General Peel may be very stupid, but they are sincere Tories, who are indisposed to any popular concessions, and their influence it is not easy to overcome. They did not fight the battle of last year merely to have the opportunity of passing a Reform Bill of their own, and are not ready therefore to acquiesce in all the schemes of their leader. They believe, and we are disposed to think rightly, that the Tories had better have left the work of Reform to their opponents; and though they must have acquiesced in the celebrated resolutions, we doubt whether they have yet made up their minds to consent to any substantial extension of the franchise. Such being the circumstances, it would have been infinitely better for the government to have taken up a position
of inaction. It is evident they cannot agree as to the measure they ought to propose, and it would have been more dignified and less perilous for them to have done nothing than to have committed the fiasco into which they have been betrayed.
But Mr. Disraeli could not thus readily accept the mortification of defeat. After seven years of long and wearisome opposition, he was not prepared to resign the prize without a struggle. There was no hope of doing anything by bold and straightforward movement, but he has infinite faith-a faith which many cruel disappointments have been unable to shakem in his own powers of management. He believed it possible to cajole the House of Commons, and by using moderate Liberals against the extreme men of his own side, to repeat Lord Palmerston's tactics. He forgot that he had neither Lord Palmerston's temper, his marvellous power of dealing with men, his keen perception of what was suited to the English habit of mind, nor his great influence with all parties. He expected to secure success by stratagem, but he has succeeded only in exposing himself to ridicule, and his party to humiliation. His three hours speech on the introduction of his resolutions, which appears so marvellously to have pleased himself, displeased everybody else, and proved, if proof were wanting, his utter unfitness to lead the House of Commons. To talk endless platitudes, to employ all his art to conceal what ought to have been made perfectly clear, to excite hopes only to mock them, to propound new theories of ministerial responsibility in order to hide his own weakness, may seem very clever, but is about the last thing which a man should attempt with an intelligent body of Englishmen. If he has not yet perceived his error, he is about the only person who has not, and if he cannot devise some way of retreat from an untenable position, his eyes will be opened by a fall as ignominious as ever overtook an English minister. We do not care to analyze his resolutions here, for it is simply impossible that they can ever stand the test of the discussion to which they will be submitted. He might by a wise and moderate and conciliatory policy, have secured for himself a solid reputation. But a policy of tricks is one on which no English statesman can safely venture, and if anything could aggravate the folly of such an attempt, it would be the manner in which Mr. Disraeli has made it. His foolish and reckless attack on Mr. Goldwin Smith, a man infinitely his superior in all high intellectual qualities, was only one of the many offences against good taste into which he has been betrayed, and which show how unable he is to rise to that high level on which our leading politicians ought always to be found. His novel idea of ministerial responsibility, or rather nonresponsibility, provoked pity and contempt. His foolish concealment from the House of resolutions sent to the T'imes, was felt to be an insult and is resented as such by many on the seats behind as well as on those opposite him. In short his case was bad and he made the worst of it.
It is somewhat amusing to see the strain in which some of the journals which have contributed most to bring about the present political deadlock indulge. They see, although they are unwilling to confess, the fatal error which they committed, when they secured the defeat of the moderate measure of last year. They dread the effect of further delay, leading to still fiercer agitation, and to the ultimate adoption of far more advanced reforms. They are irritated at the singular wisdom which has marked Mr. Gladstone's conduct of the opposition, presenting as it does so marked a contrast to that of his opponent. They are for ever insisting upon the claims of the ministry to forbearance, and yet are angry that the very exhibition of the virtue for which they plead, only serves to render the course of the government more indefensible. They talk loudly about the necessity for the manifestation of high patrotic virtue in this difficult crisis, but it is always to the Liberal party that their exhortations are addressed and they never think it necessary to show why patriotism demands the perpetuation of the present anomalous and unsatisfactory state of public affairs. They seek to sow dissension in the Liberal ranks and then point to that dissension as a reason why the party should not seek to take that position to which their numbers entitle them. Having mainly contributed to the rejection of Mr. Gladstone's scheme they would now have us believe that the Tories only can pass a satisfactory Reform Bill, and urge us to hope all things and endure all things, to suffer long and be kind, rather than lose the chance of having the question settled by Lord Derby. At heart they want no Reform at all, and, compelled to accept it as an inevitable necessity, they desire only to patch up a scheme which, while seeming to do something, shall be little more than a mere mockery. They protest as does one of Mr. Disraeli's resolutions, against the predominance of a class, and all the time their great desire is to perpetuate the rule of that class which has so long and in many respects so unfortunately ruled the destinies of the nation. As Mr. Goldwin Smith says “ The balance of political power means the supremacy of a single class—the landed aristocracy, and the wealthy commercial men, whose great object is to identify themselves with the landed aristocracy, and to decorate themselves with a leaf of its tinsel.”
The people are sick of such shams, and are not in a mood to be trifled with much longer. Middle class jealousies and sus
ceptibilities have hitherto been played upon with considerable effect, and the unfortunate controversies between the employers and employed have contributed to increase them. But thoughtful men are beginning to perceive that there must be extensive changes, that necessary reforms are hindered and gross abuses perpetuated by the power of class interests, and that if this selfishness is to be overcome, it must be by a greater infusion of the popular element into our legislature. Much has been done since 1832, but there is enough remaining to be done to call for strenuous and energetic efforts on the part of the people, Mr. Goldwin Smith has drawn a dark, but not exaggerated picture of the results of our class legislation :
“The effects of class rule are such as they must always be, even when the ruling class is least desirous of ruling tyrannically, even when the feelings of its individual members are most benevolent towards the individual members of the classes over whom they rule. They are a pauperism unparalleled in the world, square miles of misery and barbarism in the immediate neighbourhood of streets of palaces ; education paralyzed by sectarian interests which are bound up with those of the doininant class; religion in the same case, and its organizing and conservative influence on society to a great extent suspended in consequence; heavy taxation imposed for the maintenance of establishments which are kept up, not so much to protect the nation against foreign enemies as to protect the dominant class against the nation ; a foreign policy with nothing in it of national spirit, or sometimes, as in the case of our relations with America, positively running counter to the national interest; Ireland in a state of hopeless disaffection; the nation divided against itself, and the loyalty of Englishmen to their country growing cold; America becoming almost more the country of large masses of Englishmen than England herself; social perils accumulating, while no serious effort is made to avert them.”
Is it because Toryism, whether in its more pronounced form, or in the milder character of Adullamite Whiggism is the champion of this class legislation that we offer it an uncompromising opposition. It may sometimes use very dulcet tones, it may show administrative vigour, and may introduce some practical reforms, but it seeks the interest of a class, not the good of the whole commonwealth. What true Liberals desire and should seek, is not the triumph of any class, but the rule of the nation for the good of the people as a whole, and not merely of any of its sections.
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66 THANK YOU:' A WORD FROM THOSE WHO READ TO THOSE WHO WRITE.
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THERE are but few people who have not often felt distinctly thankful to some particular writer, known or unknown, for some special benefit received from him. So strong and personal has been this feeling that not unfrequently, as we laid down the written words, the “ Thank you” has “passed the breastwork of our teeth.” The words as a form of thanksgiving are simple enough—so simple that they might serve as a model in a child's spelling-book for “A child's first grace after meat,”—but they are none the less truly an honest expression of much grateful feeling entertained by those of us who read towards those who write.
But for what are we thankful, for it is well to be definite in our thanksgiving, as in everything else.
Of course it is not for the invention of printing, nor for having been taught to read, nor exactly for books in general that we are just now saying “ Thank you." We do not belong to the genus student or bookworm, to whom a lengthy lexicon is as a booncompanion, and a dusty folio sweet as honey from Hymettus. We belong to the ordinary men and women of this everyday world— men who at the end of the day find that heart and brain are the worse for the toil and dirt of the counting-house, manufactory, and ledger-and women who feel by evening-time that the minute and unceasing cares of a house and family have not failed to weary their nerves and strain and fret the temper. It is for small benefits that we often say this “Thank you," and wish to say it now.
It is for the quiet half-hour of light, pleasant reading that turns, the thoughts away for the time from minor worries, and allows nerves and muscles of both mind and body to relax from their tension. It is for the hearty laugh provoked by the clever repartee, that of itself does much towards sweeping away mental and moral cobwebs and unclogging the fettered brain. It is for the refreshment and stimulus that genuine amusement, when sparingly indulged in, ever assuredly brings. It is for the pithy saying, the pleasant analogy that lays hold upon the memory—it is for the graphic picture, the vivid representation that delights the fancy and makes it realize the scene.
It is for the suggestive thought that awakens answering