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lawyers, like my right honour- in a state of things so discreditable able friend the member for Bury, to British politics, and personally go down to Manchester, and de- disgraceful to British statesmen, is nounce John Hampden for not that the signs are multiplying that paying ship-money?
even the most subservient GladWhat does this mean as applied stonians, who have for their great to the subject in hand ? It means leader's sake allowed themselves to that when Sir William Harcourt be dragged through the mire, are condemns the Plan of Campaign showing signs of a revulsion of in words, he desires all men to feeling. The session opened with know that there is one Liberal a considerable development of lawyer who, when he says,-“I buoyant hopefulness on the part think that it is an unlawful act of the Parnellite-Gladstone party. which ought to be condemned-a The signs in the political heavens most irregular and improper act, seemed to them to tell that has one eye upon the Unionists the stars in their courses were and another upon the Parnellites. propitious. The embarrassment But Sir William Harcourt never caused by the ill-considered redid state what he actually thought signation of Lord Randolph about the Plan of Campaign. He Churchill, the lamented loss of only fenced with it. He dared Lord Iddesleigh, and the defeat not openly advocate robbery, and of Mr Goschen at Liverpool, he dared not offend the Parnel- following one another in rapid lites by condemning it. The worst succession, set the Parnellite Radperiod of the days of Fox pro- ical puise to a higher and more duced nothing equal to this. To vigorous beat. The Round Table such a depth has one section of Conference, at first greeted with the once great llouse of Commons a smile, was proclaimed to have fallen, that it has leaders who can already brought about the chief so lead, because they know what elements of a modus vivendi ; and manner of their followers it was confidently believed that are; and followers who can follow the Queen's Government was swaysuch leading with their cheers, be- ing, if not tottering, to its fall. cause they believe that such un- The debate on the Address was blushing political chicanery is good opened on the part of the Naenough for the ignorance of those tionalist party, both above and whom they call their intelligent below the gangway, with some constituents. It is one of the brightness expressive of hope. The worst features of our time, that somewhat flippant, and not over the very men who most loudly well-bred sneers of the retiring proclaim their belief in the intel. Chancellor of the Exchequer, levligence of the people, and flatter elled against the Liberal Unionists, them on platforms with fulsome were hailed with acclamation by words of adulation, are the same the bonnet rouge patriots, who are men who, by their ait captandum led nominally by Mr Gladstone, arguments, used to that same but really by the firm of Parnell people, show that they have the & Labouchere. They believed most absolute faith in their gulli- that already the web of faction bility, and do not consider it worth was well driven into the Conservatheir while in any way to limit the tive party itself; and that the extravagance of their utterances. Unionists, who clung to it at first
The only consolation to be found as the only possible means of main
taining the unity of the empire, tion bench, and commended to were already beginning to face the those behind it by its most promother way, as Whiggery has so inent leaders—that is to say, by often done in the past. The news those who are there. Mr Gladfrom Ireland, though painful to stone, who is always on the spot every right-thinking man, had its when the omens of successful adbright side for party. It looked vance are seen by his augur eye, as if the declaration of the impos- is cutting down wood and writing sibility of British Government was articles at Hawarden. So the lead to receive signal confirmation, and is left to Sir William Harcourt as if the immorality of the Plan and Mr Morley. They are vigormight be condoned by the good ous, they are talkative, and they party results that might be ex- undoubtedly lead. They suggest pected from it. Accordingly, the what the Government should do, tone of Gladstonian Parnellism was and they instruct their own folon the opening nights one of ex- lowers in the way in which they uberant hopefulness, and that of should walk. But the GovernParnellite Gladstonianism of re- ment declines their advice, and invigorated truculence. In these the back benches on the left of days of rapidly shifting wind in the Speaker's chair are dull of public opinion, hope rose high of hearing to the front bench Paranother short Parliament, and an- nellite crying,
- This is the way; other election at an early date, walk ye in it." The Liberalwhen the new and fickle electorate Unionists are found at their post, might once more be cajoled into supporting the Queen's Governhanding over the reins of power ment on every question, in spite to Mr Gladstone and Mr Parnell; of the taunts and jeers of the and the Liberal Unionists be re- would-be dismemberers of the emceived back, stripped of their in- pire, knowing as they do that dependence, and bound in bonds every question raised is but a sure and fast, to swell the Dictator stalking-horse to cover the adof Mid-Lothian's procession in a vance of the one great enemy of fresh and glorious triumph.
the State, Mr Gladstone, with his What is the state of matters Nationalist blunderbuss. Radicals now ? Where is the wavering strong uncompromising Radicals, Liberal-Unionist to be seen ? In but who still have some regard for what is the Conservative Govern- the decencies of public life, and ment showing signs that it is los- some respect for the honour of ing the confidence of the Parlia- Parliament—are being driven to ment or of the country? In spite quit the House, or even to walk of the strong support of Mr Glad- into the Government lobby, rather stone's personal recommendation, than see Parliamentary instituin the face of the loss of prestige tions made a spectacle of shame, attaching to a double defeat at and be themselves dragged in the Edinburgh and Liverpool, the new mire at the tail of an unprincipled Chancellor of the Exchequer has faction, in which the names of been returned to Parliament by Labouchere and Tanner, of Conythe largest majority polled for any beare and Cunninghame Grahame member who sits in the present rank high. And while the counParliament. In the House itself, tenances of the mountain ” of division after division has been the new House of Parliament are taken against the Government, dull and depressed, and their backed up by the front Opposi- language and action indicative of
the sourness of disappointment, 17th of February. Being comthe ranks of the Unionists of both pelled to abandon hope, they reparties are cheerful and good-hum- solved to adopt the satanic alteroured, in the face of persistent and native of “ resolution from despair," continual provocation, for there is and plunged madly into the old consciousness that the nation and slough of deliberate and organised the House as its mouthpiece are obstruction. If they reckoned going to speak out with no uncer- upon being able to convince the tain voice.
House and the country that the Even as these words were being Radical Parnellites were so fast in written, they have been confirmed their leading-strings that they could to the very letter, beyond what exhibit a British as well as an Irish could possibly have been conceived. party of obstruction, they were The last night of the debate on the wofully disappointed, and ere the Address has presented a scene to night was over, hopelessly crestthe country which will cause much fallen. The proceedings of the feeling of shame among all honest 17th February will be memorable people not blinded by political fan- in history as a turning-point in a aticism; but the shame will be great political crisis. counterbalanced by a great sense question in the minds of many of satisfaction. What has just whether the fanaticism of Gladhappened may be summed up in stone-worship had gone so far as one sentence. Unprincipled fac- to make it possible that his foltion has once more hazarded a lowers would carry their surrender wrestle with British feeling, and to Parnellism to the extreme of has been crushingly and ignomini- supporting them in blocking Parously defeated. The Irish section liamentary Government? Was of that party, which has for its there reason to believe that they practical programme the repeal of would support Mr Labouchere in the Union, and for its tactical pro- his characteristically cynical angramme the destruction of the effi- nouncement that the very best ciency of Parliament, has become use the session could be turned so disgusted at the failure of its to was “to occupy the time of her hopes during the early nights of Majesty's Government as long as the session that it has thrown off possible by making speeches "? the mask and assumed the offen- Many shook their heads and prosive, in every sense of that word. phesied that so it would be. The Having abandoned hope of strength- İrish faction believed it, and acted ening its ranks by a simulated accordingly. The Conservatives moderation, it has once more run owe them a hearty vote of thanks, up the political death's-head and Every man in the country who cross-bones of the Parliamentary has a spark of real patriotism will pirate. The irritation caused by the rejoice that they put the matter discovery that the Government, to the test. The greatest political which they had fancied was reeling enemies of the Radical party will under the staggering blows of the do them honour that they boldly few weeks preceding the commence- shook the filth—dust would be too ment of the session, and was dis- respectable for a simile—from their credited as they thought beyond feet, and turned away. Not all recovery, has been able to com- of the party, of course. The mud mand overwhelming majorities was not too deep for two or three whenever a division was chal- English and one or two Scotch lenged, reached a climax on the members to wade through. Edinburgh will doubtless be proud that For the Government, 242 she rejected Mr Goschen in order Against,
107 to be represented by the first member, for a constituency on this side
135 of the Irish Channel, who has so
-being a desertion of 51 Liberals lent himself to Irish obstruction as to be ordered by the Speaker Next came
from those of the previous division. to resume his seat for persistent Dillon to make a speech about his
an attempt by Mr irrelevancy, and who was one of a faithful band of four or five own trial, at the time actually in which did all in its power to lower progress; and when this was most the dignity and sully the fame of properly prevented, a motion to adthe House of Commons. But he journ the debate came from the
Irish benches. The number were: and his handful of confederates serve only to emphasise the revolt For the Government, 261 of the Liberal party from a de- Against,
119 grading bondage. And, fortunately, the scandalous tactics pur
Majority, . 142 sued brought with them their own
Then came a bogus amendment most telling exposure. Thousands throughout the country have no
concocted on the spot by another
Irish member, time to read long debates; and
about distress often if they do, their slight ac- among the working-classes; and quaintance with public affairs and the Speaker, after a discussion, put
it to the House that “the questhe character of public men, leads them to believe that those who tion be now put." The numbers
wereare attacked with persistency and virulence must be worthy of cen- For the Government,
291 sure, and those who attack with
81 words of righteousness on their tongues must be just and the true
Majority, . friends of the people. But the division-lists of 17th February —the Opposition having thus dwinwill tell their own tale. They dled by no less than 77 out of 158. are like a series of observations, Then came a refusal, in face of this, reduced to a simple diagram, which to allow the substantive motion to all, however uncultivated, can un- pass. The numbers werederstand by ordinary intelligence.
For the Government, 283 The evening began with an effort
84 to save Mr Dillwyn's motion for Disestablishment in Wales from
Majority, .. 199 losing its place by the bringing forward of the Rules of Procedure. Then the Speaker took the sense The figures were
of the House that a motion for an
address be now put. The numbers For the Government, 261 Against,
For the Government, 289 Majority, . 103
74 This was followed up by a motion
215 about Ireland by Mr Parnell, a subject already discussed for a Then the Parnellites again refused whole week. The figures were to accept the majority, and forced
a division on the main question. the session have been, in one The numbers were
But in another
they have been crowned by conseFor the Government, 283
quences most precious and most Against,
enheartening to all lovers of their Majority, . 213
country. They have brought shame,
but they have brought success. Thus Liberal minority had The hopeless disintegration of the dwindled from 158 to 70, being 16 Separatist party is manifest. The less than the Irish Parnellite vote. firmness and loyalty of the Liberal Radicalism was unable for very Unionists to the cause for which shame to acknowledge any longer both the parties which value the such allies.
old traditions of politics are banded The gain of all this to the cause together, has been tested and conof the Constitution and the coun- firmed. The conspirators against try is incalculable. If the enemies the efficiency of Parliament and of the Union had allowed the the Union of the empire have Government to arrange all the been baffled and put to rout, and cards before dealing them, they their most respectable friends have could not have more effectually been driven to desert them. They thrown the game into their hands. have taken pains to justify the Throughout the country these fig- proposals of the Government for ures will tell their own tale. The control of Procedure. And last, first great battle of the session and not least, they have been, conhas been fought, and the tactics trary to their intention, the means of the Opposition have been char- for bringing out with unmistakable acterised by bluster, by bullying, clearness the strength of the Govand by blundering. They have suf- ernment position, and have confered crushing defeat, and defeat firmed those who give it an indeupon defeat; but, what is more pendent support in the conviction important, they have driven their that thereby, at the present juncown allies to desertion by their ture, they can best uphold what is dishonest and shameless departure a precious heritage to Whig and from the rules of honourable con- Radical, to Conservative and Tory test. Three weeks and more of alike.