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guidance and leadership, have in- waste of the public time under dulged in. unrestrained loquacity, which we have recently suffered. and lengthened every debate to an The confession was scarcely needed, enormous and indefinite extent. for Mr Gladstone has not concealed
Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione his approval of the tactics of his querentes?"
can tolerate unscrupulous allies, without which such a complaint coming from Mr approval it is difficult to believe Gladstone, who, in the course of that even the Gladstonian Liberals this very speech, practically avows on this side of the Channel would his complicity in obstruction, and have made themselves parties to his responsibility for the abuse of the degradation of our Parliamentthe liberty of the House of Com ary system which those tactics inmons which must of necessity lead, volve, and which, ere long, will in the final result, either to the have to be put down with a strong abridgment of that liberty or the hand. The spirited speech of Lord downfall of Parliamentary govern- Salisbury at the Merchant Taylor's mént? For what does the leader Hall on the 20th May shows us of the Opposition tell us ? After that the Government are alive to alluding to the length of the de- the exigencies of the moment, and bates upon the Crimes Bill, he goes in whatever action they may take on to say:
to relieve Parliament from the
tyranny of Mr Gladstone and his “I will supply you with a method allies, they may be assured of the of shortening the discussion. Let the support of the public opinion of Government do two things. I do not Great Britain. say withdraw the Bill; let them keep
But it is worth while to examine their unnecessary and therefore wanton Coercion Bill against crime if they the conditions upon which Mr Gladwill, but first say frankly, · We will stone may be graciously willing to make it a Bill against crime, and crime allow a further trial to Parliamentonly, and not against combination and ary Government, and permit the exclusive dealing. Let them go fur- House of Commons to transact its ther, and say, "We will make it what business.
In the first place, Govevery other Coercion Bill has been, for one, or two, or three years, or for ernment is to restrict its Bill to a limited time. Let it last so long as “crime," and to omit from its prothere is an exceptional state of things.' visions any restraint upon Then, if they do that, I will answer bination and exclusive dealing.' that the debates upon it will be short What is the " combination” which enough."
Government desires to prevent,
and which Mr Gladstone seeks to That is to say, that Mr Gladstone protect? It is combination to hin(owning in the same breath the der men from paying their just existence of “an exceptional state debts, even when they are willing of things”) tells us in so many to do so—combination to prevent words that if the Government will men whose sole desire is to obey obey his commands, he has the the law and discharge the ordinary power to shorten the debates, and duties of citizenship, from any such s ready to undertake that " they peaceful and harmless action; com;hall be shortened." This, of bination to debar honest and loyal course, is a confession that, having men from buying and selling, if he power to shorten, he is respon- they have dared to hold aloof from ible for the prolongation of the the unlawful “ combination” which lebates, and for the disgraceful calls itself the “ National League”;
combination to prevent the sick provisions, and it will fall out of from obtaining relief, the dying sight and its very existence be from receiving consolation, the forgotten. dead from being decently buried, Mr Gladstone's proposals, then, if offence has been given to the are clearly inadmissible, and are self-constituted tribunal which as- only valuable as a public confession sumes to govern Ireland in defi- of his own responsibility for the ance of the Queen's authority. evils under which we are suffering This is the sort of combination at the present moment. The truth which Government, in the interest is as clear as daylight to any one of law and order—nay, of civilisa- who can and will regard the pretion itself—seeks to overcome; sent position of affairs with an and this is what Mr Gladstone de- impartial eye. It is an absolute fends and supports. Nonconform- impossibility to transact any busiity is indeed “ a powerful element ness in an assembly of 670 memwhich permeates English society"; bers, if every one of those members but the better part of Nonconform- is to possess and to exercise an ity throughout the whole country unlimited power of speech. In will revolt against the demand made theory that power may be pos: upon it to muster its forces in de- sessed by all, but if it is attempted fence of that latitude to crime- to put it into practice, it must that toleration of illegal practices, inevitably be checked. Now the that concession to an organisation House of Commons has always opposed alike to religion and to been most tolerant of bores and humanity — which Mr Gladstone chatterers: it submits to listen to makes on behalf of his new Par- its self-sufficient and loquacious nellite allies, for whose support Laboucheres, its empty - headed he has paid so heavy a price. Conybeares, and other politicians And what is the other condition of little weight or account, with upon which this magnanimous a patience which is beyond praise, statesman will stay the avalanche and a toleration which sometimes of words in which our constitution astonishes those who regard its is being day by day overwhelmed ? proceedings from outside. But The Crimes Bill is to be enacted the chatter of these irresponsible for only a limited time—say one, nonentities has, up to recent times, two, or three years. We hope been thoroughly understood to be the Government will listen to no merely the vapid outpourings of such deceitful proposal. What is men to whom notoriety, however its purport and intention? That, attained, is as the breath of their at the expiration of the period nostrils, and has never grown into which
may be chosen, another ses- such an abuse as to render necession may be wasted in talk, if it sary any alteration of Parliamentshould be deemed necessary to re- ary procedure or infringement new the Act. On the other hand, of individual liberty of speech. should the present Bill be passed Lately, however, and more especiwithout limit, it will be all the ally during the present session, more effectual for the attainment the frivolous chatter of such small of the objects for which it has fry as those we have mentioned been introduced ; and when tran, has swollen into systematic quillity once more prevails in Ire- nuisance, the small fry have inland, no one will suffer from its creased in number, have settled in
their own minds that they are trivial-moved to any Bill before really fish of size and of import- the House. The same arguments ance, and have received the sup- have been reiterated usque ad port and countenance of those who nauseam, irrelevant matter has might have been expected to look been introduced, Mr Gladstone with displeasure upon the breach of himself has been called to order parliamentary etiquette involved by the chairman of committees in their absorption of time which twice in one night (May 13th), the general sense of the House and everything has been done to would desire to see occupied by tempt the Government into some its more useful and experienced action to curtail the debates and members.
stay this waste of time, in the Unfortunately, at the present hope that thus another cry might moment, the Opposition is led by be given to the faction which has an “old Parliamentary hand," for so nearly worn out the patience of whom parliamentary traditions the public. It may be that the have no value if they clash with leaders of the Gladstonian section the course which seems most likely of the unholy alliance which conat the moment to forward his own stitutes the Opposition may recoginterests and those of his adherents. nise the unpopularity of their proHere is a Bill upon which her Ma- ceedings in sufficient time to prejesty's Government set great value, vent the necessity of such action. and the principle of which is sup- They may persuade the Parnellite ported by a very large majority of section that, however desirable it the House of Commons. The fair may be, from their point of view, and constitutional course for an Op- to damage the Government, disposition to take would be to divide credit the House of Commons, and (as, indeed, was done after a pro- render legislation impossible, these tracted discussion) upon the second advantages may be purchased at reading, to take divisions in com- too high a price, if the result be to mittee upon substantial points of excite the public mind to a degree difference, and, if necessary, to which would render their success at enter a final protest by a decision the next general election even less upon the third reading. But be- probable than it is at the present cause, forsooth, Mr Gladstone finds moment. On these grounds they it necessary to cement his new may possibly prevail upon their political alliance with the Parnel- allies to be somewhat less factious lites by denouncing as “coercive" in their opposition, to moderate a measure similar to those which the prolixity of their speeches, and he has himself passed in former submit to the inevitable passing of years, although of less stringency the Crimes Bill into law. The in several respects, the opposition country, however, will not forget to this measure is to be conducted what has already happened, nor in a spirit and after fashion will the machinery of Parliament which, if habitually adopted, would readily work as well and easily as render it impossible to pass any heretofore, after the strain put measure without a suspension of upon it by the unconstitutional the ordinary rights and privileges action of Mr Gladstone and his of members of the House of Com- allies. mons. Never were so many amend- Time and space forbid our dealments—most of them verbal and ing more fully with the speech which Mr Gladstone delivered to Scotland," and to have pointed out his Nonconformist admirers; but to us in glowing terms the “hard we observe with regret that in his case” of Ireland and “poor little allusion to “the important ques- Wales " being tyrannised over by a tion of Disestablishment,” he was majority composed of Scotch and unable to restrain his anti-Unionist English members. According to sympathies, or to forbear from an- the doctrine now laid down, the other attack upon the integrity of value to be attached to a majority the Empire. Once more declaring depends upon its inclination or disthat the question of Disestablish- inclination towards Mr Gladstone's ment ought to be decided, in Scot- own views and opinions. If the land, according to the wishes of majority of English members hapthe Scotch, and, in Wales, accord- pened to be Gladstonian, whilst ing to the wishes of the Welsh Scotland and Wales had returned people, he went on to ask, “What a large Unionist majority, does is the use of our saying that, as anybody suppose that we should long as England returns to the have heard such denunciations of House of Commons a majority the preponderating power of Engsufficiently strong to prevent dis- land? The truth is that such talk cussion on any subject whatever, in the mouth of any other man except such as the Government of would be condemned as childish the day, by the help of the dis- nonsense ; and it is utterly unsentient Liberals, choose to place worthy of Mr Gladstone, unless before it. This is a hard case.” and until he openly declares himMr Gladstone's ideas upon the self in favour of a divided kingsubject of parliamentary and re- dom, the abolition of the Imperial presentative government
government appear Parliament, and the establishment to be confused and contradictory. of separate assemblies for each If there is to be a United King- nationality (why not for each dom and a National Parliament, it county ?) in the united-or disappears preposterous to question united-countries. and cavil at the component parts
Mr Gladstone's object, however, of the majority which, after an in the delivery of this particular appeal to the country, sways that speech, must not be forgotten, Parliament and supports the Gov- though it cannot excuse his line ernment of its choice. Mr Glad- of argument. His one thonght at stone's anti-English predilections the moment was to induce Nonare painfully, evident, and have conformity to range itself as one arisen and increased in strength in man under his banners; hence he proportion to the decline of his came as near as he dared come influence and prestige among Eng- to the open advocacy of Disestablish constituencies. Should the lishment, and hence he more than growing strength of the Constitu- hinted that in those parts of the tional and Unionist party in Scot- kingdom where Noncomformists are land result in the return at the in the majority, he would allow the next election of a majority opposed advocates of Disestablishment to to the Separatist followers of Mr have their way. Certainly he Gladstone, we are quite prepared made somewhat large demands to see a melancholy diminution in upon the credulity of his hearers the affection which that eminent when, in the repetition of those misstatesman entertains for “dear old representations of Irish history of which he never wearies, he magni. interference with exultation, and fied the clemency and forbearance in uses it as another argument to the past of Irish Catholics towards show that the Unionists can only the Protestants, absolutely ignored count upon England, and that in the massacre of 1641, and ridiculed doing so they are ignoring the the idea of the persecution of Pro- opinion of every other part of the testants by a Catholic Irish Parlia- empire. ment. Nonconformists, however, When, in addition to the points are people who can read and think in this remarkable speech to which for themselves, and those who have we have called attention, we concarefully studied Irish history will sider the strange misrepresentasmile at the gloss which Mr Glad- tions in which Mr Gladstone instone throws over the deeds of dulged with respect to the recent those whom it is his cue to favour controversies, in and out of Parto-day, and, if they have anything liament, respecting the connection of the spirit of their forefathers, between “Parnellism and crime,” will protest against that shameful and the still more extraordinary disparagement of England, and manner in which he attempted to exaltation of the Irish, in which Mr explain away his former utterGladstone so recklessly indulges, in ances with regard to “crime dogutter defiance alike of patriotic ging the footsteps of the Land feeling and of historical accuracy. League,” and Mr Parnell's party Equally disgraceful is the manner “marching through rapine to the in which Mr Gladstone refers to dismemberment of the empire,” the recent action of the Canadian we cannot help coming to the conParliament, in passing a resolution clusion that in this exhibition at in favour of Home Rule being Dr Parker's, Mr Gladstone has granted to Ireland. Everybody really surpassed himself in his knows that resolutions of this kind, efforts to mislead public opinion, whether passed in Canada or Ame- and must have enormously lowered rica, must be taken with a large the opinion entertained of him by discount, by reason of the value his old supporters. For indeed, of the Irish vote in American and many of these have only left him Canadian elections. It was, how- gradually and with great relucever, an impertinent and improper tance; they have long cherished the action on the part of the Canadian highest admiration of his talents Parliament, and one which was and character, and have scarcely taken in opposition to the opinion trusted their own judgment when of Canada's best and ablest states- they found themselves unable to men. Had it been so taken in agree with and follow his views condemnation of any measure of upon particular questions. But
. Mr Gladstone's, we can conceive their alienation, though gradual, the eloquent burst of indignation has been sure. Common consistwith which he would have de. ency—or, if consistency be a thing nounced it, and the scathing terms of the past, common honesty-has in which he would have read the been unable to keep pace with the Canadian Parliament a lesson upon turnings and twistings of Mr the impropriety of its interference Gladstone's teachings; and some with the legislature of the United of those who have trusted him the Kingdom. Under existing circum- most, and have brought themselves stances, however, he quotes this to believe that, at all events in