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gleaming through the spring greenery of the woodland, the low backs of the bushless downs crowned with shining crests of purple heather, the white swans upon the lake ruffling their snowy plumage, or dipping their long necks into the clammy weeds, I do not wonder that the Peelboro poets of the year One should have waxed eloquent in praise of the fair Pitfairlie domain.

They drew up their panting horses in the middle of the encrimsoned downs, and turned their faces homeward. A gorcock crowed lustily, startling the gathering shadows of the night. There was no sound or trace of man; the wild highland cattle that fed upon the scrubby herbage were the only denizens of these dreary flats. Obstinate, mouse-coloured, picturesque little brutes, with shaggy manes and shaggy heads crowned with long branching horns, who looked at the riders with brown, tranquil, meditative eyes as they went past. The ox-eyed Juno !

O dear me, how delightful it is!' sighed Eppie to herself. And then as they rode home in the dark--if it is ever dark in these high northern latitudes—Harry made her understand at last that he loved her as such men love. Eppie was in a dream; dreaming was a new sensation to her; for Eppie as a rule slept the sleep of the just, or at least of a perfectly healthy young animal. Two voices sounded in her ears—the voice of the man beside her, and the voice of another who had been her playfellow in the old days; and while she listened in an unfamiliar reverie to Harry's story, she thought of Alister. But all the time she knew, or fancied she knew, that she had made her choice; for her own self-love was deeper and more vital than any other. Ambition had the whole, or well-nigh the whole, of her heart ; Love only an obscure corner. And for his part, Harry, even in that gust of passion, felt that he was a fool; was even then mentally calculating how he could win her on the easiest available terms.

But the upshot was that in the meantime Eppie had two lovers in hand, to neither of whom, however, had it been finally and irretrievably pledged.

So the months passed, Eppie still on her guard, and hedging as they say on the turf; grave and silent with Uncle Ned, mocking and masterful with Harry Hacket, but watchful always; until on an August evening of the year One, Alister Ross, looking remarkably handsome in his new uniform, returned to Peelboro'.

The • Jan Mayen' entered the harbour at Port Henry on the 1st day of October, 1800, the day before Laird Hacket died; and the reader will be kind enough to understand, that while I have been chatting with him about old times and old stories three weeks have passed. The stooks at Fontainbleau have been gathered into the farm-yard, and the Achnagatt .clyack’ is to take place to-morrow.

The ComixG ELECTION.

LIVE weeks ago the Secretary of State for the Colonies attended a

Conservative meeting in the Music Hall at Tewkesbury, and there he volunteered the statement that it was the intention of Ministers that this coming session shall be a real working session.' An unfriendly critic might suggest that this statement, made by a Cabinet Minister, implied that the previous six sessions of this long Parliament have not been 'real working sessions,' and he would not be far wrong. The Government came into office pledged to nothing at home except a policy of masterly inactivity. That pledge even their bitterest opponents must admit has been sacredly kept. But it would appear, as Lord Granville so happily put it in his speech on the Address, tbat, like the Irish post boy, they were reserving their trot for the avenue.

Certainly after Sir Michael Hicks Beach's statement it was currently believed that at last the country was to see some real work. But now that Parliament has come together for the seventh time, and the Government have shown their hand in the usual and official way at the opening of Parliament, is there any prospect of improvement? Parliament met on the 5th of February. The Queen's Speeches of the last six sessions have not been lavish in promises of legislation, and such promises as have been given have not been kept. But the Speech which ushered in the present session—this real working session'-is even more meagre in its promises than any of those which have preceded it; only five measures are mentioned, and of these there is but one-the Criminal Code Bill—which can be deemed as of firstrate importance, and it has been referred without discussion to a Select Committee. One or two other Bills of a technical nature, such as the extension of the Ballot Act for one more year, the Corrupt Practices Bill, and the Census Bill, have been mentioned. But these can hardly be the measures which Sir Michael Hicks Beach had in view when he spoke of a real working session. There is again the usual number of notices of motion standing in the names of private members, the usual number of abstract resolutions, and our old familiar friends Local Option, Burials, County Franchise, Game Laws, and the rest of the well-worn catalogue all awaiting the annual discussion and the annual consumption of public time, with the annual condemnation by the present Parliament. The Secretary for the Colonies could not have had these sterile matters in his mind when he made his statement at Tewkesbury, and there is nothing else in sight so far as we have advanced into the session which could have afforded Sir Michael Hicks Beach any ground for his assertion. Must it then be regarded in the same light as so many other Ministerial statements

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Ministerial fables? Five weeks ago, when the Secretary for the Colonies hurried in hot haste from Downing Street to an election platform in the West of England, it may have been in his mind and in that of his colleagues that they would make a genuine attempt to do some work for their own country at home and redeem their character in history before the Parliament died a natural death. But if this was their intention, it is merely another paving-stone in the proverbial causeway that leads below. The session has opened in unreality, and unreality is the characteristic of the whole proceedings of the dying Parliament. Inside the House there is hardly an attempt to make believe that any real work is being carried on. Consider what took place within the last few days in an important period of this real working session. On Friday, February 20, the Chancellor of the Exchequer consumed a whole night by forcing on a meaningless resolution against the member for Derby after the latter had apologised for a breach of privilege and his apology had been frankly accepted, and the previous question was defeated by the Tory majority on a party division. On Monday, February 23, another breach of privilege of a similar kind was brought before the House, committed on this occasion by a noble lord, a member of the Government, in conjunction with a platform orator. How did the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his party conduct themselves in this case? There was no real difference between the two cases. But on Friday the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his party negatived the

previous question.' On Monday they affirmed it. Thus wiping out in one night the entire work of the previous night. When one valuable evening is thus consumed by the leader of the House in slaying a dead man with a blunt weapon, and the following evening in bringing him to life again, on both occasions to the extinction of a really important resolution which was on the paper for the purpose of expediting the business of the House, it is obvious that the despatch of business is not of real importance in the eyes of the Government. And when the Government is not thus occupying itself and the House in wasting time, what is the spectacle which meets the eye of a stranger when he is within the House ? He has no difficulty in securing a place either in the galleries or even in the much coveted corner under the gallery. But when he gets there he looks on empty benches, and, at the best, upon the spectacle of an Irish member discoursing to an audience consisting of two or three of his compatriots, the Speaker, and the clerks at the table. Outside the House, in the lobby, there is some show of animation. Men are standing about in corners and in groups talking eagerly and listening attentively. But what is all the talking about ? Not certainly the work before the House, and assuredly not the well-being of the country. The one topic, the one interest, which occupies all who frequent the lobbies is the bye-elections which have just occurred, the General Election which is impending, and the chances of this or that candidate in this or that constituency. As was said recently by one not

the Lobbies'! The present Parliament is demoralised. It is incapable of applying itself to any work. If any speeches are made, or are in contemplation, they will be addressed, not to the House, but to the constituencies. There

may

be

some clever manoeuvring, as there has been lately in the matter of Home Rule, on one side or the other with a view to gain favour in the eyes

of electors for this party or for that, or to disparage opponents. And in such manæuvring a Government, and especially a Conservative Government, generally speaking, has advantages. But as for the possibility of any real legislative work being accomplished, it is useless to speak of it. It is impossible to fix the attention of members upon anything but their constituents, and if any measures should be carried through and become law, the work must inevitably be scamped.

If these things are so—and no one who has watched the moods of the House of Commons can doubt it-why should the existence of the Parliament be prolonged ? Members' minds are in their counties or their boroughs. Their thoughts are directed towards the solution not of the problem as to what is best for the country, but as to what is the best way of conciliating this or that troublesome section of their constituency. Their addresses are ready written in their pockets. The daily post brings them reports from their agents and their paid canvassers and their committees. Their local organisations are in working order, ready to commence their labours the instant the sign is given. The whole country is in a state of tension. But still this useless Parliamentary session drags on: and, to all appearance, may drag on to its weary end. And, if so, we shall have four, or six, or, it may be, eight long months of canvassing and electioneering before the country settles down to the natural state of repose out of which it has been thus leisurely but teasingly awakened. Nothing could be worse for the convenience of individuals, and, what is more important, for the commercial and industrial well-being of the country, than this protracted worry.

The General Election, unnecessarily postponed as it has been, must come on within twelve months from now. hat is the one fact that is ascertained with any certainty concerning it. Some minor issues may rise to the surface between now and then, and there is some indication that the Government are attempting to make Home Rule one of the most prominent of them. But the main question on which the country will be called upon to pronounce a verdict is pretty clearly defined, and it is hardly probable that any collateral matter will seriously affect the result. That question is one of the most serious, one even of the most vital, questions which could be put before a self-governing people. It is no question of the present time alone. It is no question of confidence or want of confidence in the present Government. It is no question of condemning their activity in this or that part of the globe, or their inaction at home.

It is no question of an ephemeral policy. It is the grave and serious issue

case ?

Ministerial fables? Five weeks ago, when the Secretary for the Colonies hurried in hot haste from Downing Street to an election platform in the West of England, it may have been in his mind and in that of his colleagues that they would make a genuine attempt to do some work for their own country at home and redeem their character in history before the Parliament died a natural death. But if this was their intention, it is merely another paving-stone in the proverbial causeway that leads below. The session has opened in unreality, and unreality is the characteristic of the whole proceedings of the dying Parliament. Inside the House there is hardly an attempt to make believe that any real work is being carried on. Consider what took place within the last few days in an important period of this real working session. On Friday, February 20, the Chancellor of the Exchequer consumed a whole night by forcing on a meaningless resolution against the member for Derby after the latter had apologised for a breach of privilege and his apology had been frankly accepted, and the previous question was defeated by the Tory majority on a party division. On Monday, February 23, another breach of privilege of a similar kind was brought before the House, committed on this occasion by a noble lord, a member of the Government, in conjunction with a platform orator. How did the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his party conduct themselves in this

There was no real difference between the two cases. But on Friday the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his party negatived the

previous question.' On Monday they affirmed it. Thus wiping out in one night the entire work of the previous night. When one valuable evening is thus consumed by the leader of the House in slaying a dead man with a blunt weapon, and the following evening in bringing him to life again, on both occasions to the extinction of a really important resolution which was on the paper for the purpose of expediting the business of the House, it is obvious that the despatch of business is not of real importance in the eyes of the Government. And when the Government is not thus occupying itself and the House in wasting time, what is the spectacle which meets the eye of a stranger when he is within the House ? He has no difficulty in securing a place either in the galleries or even in the much coveted corner under the gallery. But when he gets there he looks on empty benches, and, at the best, upon the spectacle of an Irish member discoursing to an audience consisting of two or three of his compatriots, the Speaker, and the clerks at the table. Outside the House, in the lobby, there is some show of animation. Men are standing about in corners and in groups talking eagerly and listening attentively. But what is all the talking about? Not certainly the work before the House, and assuredly not the well-being of the country. The one topic, the one interest, which occupies all who frequent the lobbies is the bye-elections which have just occurred, the General Election which is impending, and the chances of this or that candidate in this or that constituency. As was said recently by one not

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