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Liberal party mean to retain such a leader they must show themselves worthy of him. The time is come when their mutual relations must be placed on a more satisfactory basis; and the sooner this is done the better, 'for the interests not only of their own cause but of the country at large.
We had written thus far before Mr. Gladstone's letter to the senior Member for the City revealed the true gravity of the crisis. We do not for a moment doubt that he has acted wisely, and if we had any misgiving the manner in which the Times writes on the subject would be sufficient to remove it. It is quite clear that the move has interfered with the “ little game which that journal has recently been playing. It would have exactly suited its purpose for Mr. Gladstone to take his part in the discussions in Committee, to throw out suggestions in a candid and friendly spirit, which might be accepted if they were of little significance, and which, if they really struck at the restrictive policy might be rejected by the aid of the trimmers who carried the last vote with contemptuous insult to their mover.
It would then have been said that the Bill had been passed with the concurrence of the different sections of the House; and any subsequent attempts to amend its obnoxious provisions would have been denounced as a breach of faith in those who were seeking to disturb a settlement to which they had been parties. But however this might please the Times and the large class of political nondescripts whom it represents, it is not surprising that it does not commend itself to the judgment of Mr. Gladstone, and hence he has taken a manly, honest, straightforward course, for the purpose of making his own position clear. It is absurd to suppose that he intends to abandon active political life, or resign that leadership for which he is so eminently qualified; but he is wisely determined to end the present anomalous state of things in which he appears as the nominal head of a party, a large number of whom do not follow. If another man can unite their scattered forces we doubt not that he will, with his unselfish patriotism, gladly lend him the help of his unrivalled abilities; but if it be that the two sections are so hopelessly divided that their paths henceforth must lie apart, then we have equally little doubt that he is ready still to lead the true Liberals, numerically reduced, it may be even to a minority, but still really the stronger for the loss of those who, though nominally with them, were never of them. The present difficulties have arisen, to a considerable extent, from the fact that the Parliament was elected on a false issue. The question raised was one of confidence in the Government, but that Government included Lord Palmerston as well as Mr. Gladstone, and those who supported it mainly be
cause of their faith in the Premier cannot fairly be reckoned Liberals. To us it seems that the time has come when the party must choose once for all what complexion it will wear for the future. If it chooses to take a deep Whig hue, to become what, in the current slang, is called “Constitutional Liberal,” to be a formidable organization for giving power to the Grosvenors, Somersets, and a few other Whig houses, and at the same time to delude the democracy with a show of liberty, it can find a much fitter man to lead it than Mr. Gladstone. But if, with all its shortcomings, it is still really intent on asserting true Liberal principles, it must rally round its true leader, close its ranks, and take a very different course from that which it has pursued during the present session.
That this is the issue now raised is clearly seen by the “ Constitutional Liberals” themselves. If Mr. Gladstone will adopt their views they will be proud to serve under him, if not they will throw their weight into the Tory scale. Their new organ, the Day, intimates this in no obscure terms :- -“ Cannot Mr. Gladstone be a man? Cannot he shake off the thraldom of Mr. Bright and the Radicals, and announce himself as the leader of the Liberal-Conservative party? We ask this question without much hope of its being answered in the affirmative, and can only fall back upon the hope that Mr. Disraeli and his supporters of all shades will occupy the position which Mr. Gladstone might have commanded, but now never will."
We confess, and we are not sorry, it has come to this. Purged of the leaven of Palmerstonianism, the Liberal party will have a decision and strength it has not manifested for years. It may possibly have to content itself with the Opposition benches for some time, but in the present state of public opinion, even this cannot be for long. The Tories and their quasi-Liberal friends have taken advantage of the selfish feeling of a large number of the middle class on the subject of the suffrage, and secured from them a temporary amount of favour, but on all questions of ecclesiastical reform, of education, of foreign policy -the questions which must become prominent as soon as the Reform Bill is settled—they are in a hopeless minority. Dilettante politicians, the men who accept their
who accept their opinions from the fashionable journals and retail them with a confidence proportionate to their utter ignorance, in metropolitan trains and omnibuses, think it a fine thing to chatter about Mr. Gladstone's bad temper and the administrative powers of the new Ministry, but the country knows better. It fully trusts the one, and it has not a particle of faith in the other, and the public opinion which marks out Mr. Gladstone as the true Minister must be reflected in the House of Commons.
In the meantime it is essential that Mr. Gladstone be left in no doubt by the sincere Reformers, as to his possessing their confidence. We cannot believe that all of those who voted with the man who, half-an-hour before, had in the most taunting style, told their leader, “It is my duty to distinguish between the House generally and the right honourable gentleman," meant to discredit one whom they should delight to honour. But they have done it, and the excuses for their treachery are among the most petty and puerile things we have seen for a long time. The question is now how the mischief can be undone. The people undoubtedly, as many of these deserters have already found, resent the wrong done to one who has shown himself their true friend, and they will resent it all the more, when they find the mischief it has wrought. Mr. Bright's masterly speech has scattered to the winds the sophistries of those who have sought to persuade themselves and their constituents, that in voting in favour of the personal payment of rates, as an essential to the enjoyment of the franchise, they were showing their pure and unadulterated Liberalism. He shows that Mr. Gladstone's proposal would, even if the whole of it had been adopted, have added 284,000 to the borough constituency—that the Government plan will, on their own calculation, not admit more than 118,000, but as he maintains little more than 100,000, and, what is of equal importance, that in the former case the increased numbers would be fairly distributed, while in the latter there would be such glaring inequalities as largely to neutralize the benefit. Of the whole 103,000 to be enfranchised, 82,000 would be divided among eight boroughs, Sheffield alone having 28,000, or “ more than a ninth of all the voters introduced under the Bill.” How any Liberal could prefer the latter scheme to the former, is more than we are able to comprehend, and more than the constituencies, except those who occupy the favoured position, will understand either. It is nonsense for any man to say that he was voting in favour of Household Suffrage, because though the Bill certainly professes to give it, the proposition he supported was one for putting the most invidious restriction on its exercise. The truth is, Household Suffrage will not be granted by the House of Commons, as at present constituted, and they who in pursuit of this mere Will-o'-the-Wisp, are content to follow Mr. Disraeli's lead, are traitors to the cause of Reform, whose treason is not the less hateful because it is gilded with fair professions.
We trust, however, that many of them have already seen their error, and will seek to repair it in the future. Even those who desire to have the question settled should seek to amend the Bill; for though it should pass into law in its present shape, settlement it cannot be. The Liberal party can, if they will, either make it what it ought to be, or reject it, and this they should be prepared to do. But there must be an end of the waywardness, the crotchetiness, the extravagant ideas of independence, which led to the meeting of political nobodies in the tea-room, or there can be not only no success but no Liberal party at all. “What can be done" (says Mr. Bright), “in Parliamentary parties, if every man is to pursue his own little game? A costermonger and donkey, although it would take a week to travel from here to London, yet running athwart the London and North-Western train might bring to total destruction a great express train ; and so very small men, who during their whole political lives have not advanced the question of Reform by one hair-breadth, or by one moment in time, can, at a critical hour like this, throw themselves athwart the objects of a great party.” We commend these words to such “very small men as the members for Marylebone, Derby, and Dublin, assuming that if they play their small game there will be a time when the constituencies will have their turn, and will be very apt also to play their little game, part of which may consist in stumping out those who have chosen to run away from their wickets. There is, we know, a prevalent notion as to the political apathy of the people, and it is fostered in the minds of members of Parliament by the prevailing tone of London society, formed, as it is, to so large an extent, by the Times. But the experience of last autumn ought to have corrected such a delusion, and if the influence of the quasi-Liberals should prevail, and Mr. Gladstone be suffered to retire, we predict the earnestness of popular feeling will make itself felt in a way that will be more forcible than pleasant to the gentlemen who have been the means of inflicting on Liberalism so grave a calamity.
THOMAS, CALLED DIDYMUS.
SOME men are apparently born to be misunderstood. It is from no fault of their own that all they do is sure to be twisted. But so it is. They are transparent, consistent, and honest in all they do. But from some unfounded prejudice, everything they do or say, that can by any possibility be turned against them, is invariably distorted, and made to bear some false construction. This is certainly the case with the Apostle Thomas. The little that we know of him shows him to have been a man of singular thoughtfulness and consistency, a man sure to leave his mark upon the Christianity of his times, a man without whom “the twelve" would have been very incomplete. Yet he has been treated as the sceptic of the early church. “Unbelieving Thomas” has passed into a proverb. And when not coming out with bold scepticism, he is supposed to have been only forward in making foolish suggestions, or asking trivial questions.
The materials are very scanty upon which either these or any other conclusions can be founded. Tradition, indeed, has been very busy with his name. He is said to have been born at Antioch, to have had a twin sister named Lydia, or to have been a twin brother of Christ; whilst, according to Eusebius, his real name was Judas. He is also said to have carried the Gospel into Parthia or Persia, and, according to other traditions, to have preached in India, and founded the Christian church in Malabar. He met, like most of the other Apostles, with a martyr's death, and was buried at Edessa, where Chrysostom says that his tomb was still to be seen. In the New Testament we have no information as to either his antecedents or the circumstances of his first call. His name merely occurs in the lists of the Apostles called by Christ; among those who went to fish in the lake of Galilee; also among the eleven who continued in the upper room; and on three separate occasions, when we have a distinct account of something that he said.
These three passages form the only reliable materials that we possess, upon which to found a true estimate of his character. Unless, indeed, we include his name; for, although it may appear far-fetched, there is something to be said in favour of the conclusion that his name is the real key to his character.
The name Thomas, as everybody knows, signifies a twin, the Greek for which is Didymus. But as twins are not very rare in the world, it seems strange that his parents should have fixed upon this as his name, as though there never had been another. Moreover there must have been a second; was he also named Thomas or twin? And, if so, how were they distinguished from one another; or, if not, why should the one be called twin more than the other ? But if there is something strange in this, the fact that John thinks it so important to tell us again and again that Thomas means twin is stranger still. He is not in the habit of giving the meanings of names, though every name had its own meaning; but he either saw so much reason for making it clear that Thomas means twin, or dwelt upon the fact with so much pleasure, that whereas he only mentions Thomas four times, he tells us no less than three times that Thomas was