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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 maneuvring, 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 maneuvring 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. That 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 Militarism, or whether it is to make the best of the wild work of the last five years, and revert to that career of Industrialism which, with very few breaks, it had followed consistently and evenly for upwards of half a century, until the present Government came into power. Is it to be Militarisin and Toryism, or Industrialism and Liberalism, for the next five years? That is the plain issue, if only it can be made plain enough for the constituencies to apprehend, which will be submitted and decided at the General Election. Has there ever been a graver or more pregnant question placed before the country ? For what do these two terms imply when used in reference to this country? If the judgment of the constituencies should be given in favour of Militarism, and should result in the renewal of the lease of power to the present Ministers, this would mean that the policy of Empiring' (to use an expressive phrase recently applied to the Ministerial actions by a distinguished American) had received the sanction and the approbation of the country; that the country took upon itself tbe responsibility of all the wild and extravagant things that have been done of late, that it encouraged the Ministers who have done these wild and extravagant things to continue in their career. The whole policy of the Anglo-Turkish convention, and all the responsibilities which it entails, will be accepted and incorporated as part and parcel of the engagements of the country. We shall be bound to defend the Turkish possessions in Asia Minor against Russia, not less strictly than we are now bound to defend Canada against America, or Gibraltar against Spain.

We shall be bound-unless recent statements as to our relations with Persia at the present moment admit of a different explanationto defend Persia in the event of any Russian aggressions on the borders of the Caspian, and even in time of peace we shall have to keep an army of 40,000 men among the mountains of a hostile country hundreds of miles beyond our present frontier and away from our base of operations. It is absurd, on the face of it, to dream of performing such feats of arms as these with our present military strength. Just consider what the proposition is. It is this: that we, with an army of British troops numbering something like 120,000 men all told, and an army of native mercenaries who can ill stand the strain of foreign service, have, in addition to our regular work all over the world, guaranteed the defence of several thousand miles of inland frontier hundreds of miles away from the sea against the forces of Russia massed upon that frontier, wbich number 1,700,000 armed men. We undertake to do this with the approbation of the country at a time when all the armies of the Great Powers are on a war footing, when these Powers are increasing their armaments, and when there are upwards of three million trained soldiers in Europe. We propose to do this, and the country approves of our proposals, in the face of the fact that our small voluntary army cannot be kept up to anything like its full strength except by the profuse and profligate expenditure of money in the back alleys and purlieus of to undertake such obligations, we must be prepared for a conscription which will withdraw all the bone and sinew of the country from agricultural and industrial pursuits. We must be prepared for the re-institution of that most barbarous expedient which was prevalent during one period of Militarism—the pressgang.

Our naval and military expenditure is even now—in the transition stage between our two careers-much higher than it is in any other civilised country. It absorbs nearly a half of our revenue every year. It must be doubled if we pursue our warlike course ; and the country must be prepared for this. Anything short of compulsory conscription, the pressgang, and doubled military and naval expenditure will land us in difficulties, it may be in disaster. Is the country prepared for these contingencies? If it accepts the responsibility at the General Election we fold our hands and say amen.

But we cannot believe it, if only the country can be got to comprehend the gravity of the situation. England has grown great and powerful since the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, because she has abjured the sword and turned the energy of her people from war and aggression to the cultivation of the arts of peace. The terrible trials of the beginning of the century have passed, leaving nothing behind them but the legacy of some eight hundred millions of national debt, the only abiding outcome of that dread period of Militarism in this country. Are we going back to this, or are we going more wisely to regard the last six years as a period of storm and wintry weather interpolated by accident into the summer sunshine of industrialism and contentment? If the constituencies can be brought to understand something of the gravity and solemnity of the decision which they are about to take, we feel certain that there is no danger of the return of another Tory Parliament. But will the reality be made plain to the constituencies? A general election is a short, sharp period of excitement, when people can with difficulty be brought to regard things with sobriety and calmness. Some constituencies will of necessity be moved by special considerations. In one the Irish question will come to the front, and may turn the constituencies in favour of or against a particular candidate. In another the priests and publicans will combine, as they did in 1874, and let in the sinners. In a third the licensed victuallers will be all powerful, and will throw in their influence against the Liberals, not as Liberals, but as Reformers, whose pruning knife has always been applied to excrescences on the body politic when they become abuses. In a fourth the Liberation Society will demand the lion's share of the representation, and, as in 1874, defeat its own object. In a fifth, where parties are evenly balanced, the real issue will be obscured, and the constituency will be swayed on this side or that by the fanatical adherents of some social or some hygienic question. Party organisations again are now brought to considerable perfection. They have been used for municipal and school-board elections, and have taught people to shut their eyes to

Militarism, or whether it is to make the best of the wild work of the last five years, and revert to that career of Industrialism which, with very few breaks, it had followed consistently and evenly for upwards of half a century, until the present Government came into power. Is it to be Militarisin and Toryism, or Industrialism and Liberalism, for the next five years ? That is the plain issue, if only it can be made plain enough for the constituencies toapprehend, which will be submitted and decided at the General Election. Has there ever been a graver or more pregnant question placed before the country ? For what do these two terms imply when used in reference to this country? If the judgment of the constituencies should be given in favour of Militarism, and should result in the renewal of the lease of power to the present Ministers, this would mean that the policy of . Empiring '(to use an expressive phrase recently applied to the Ministerial actions by a distinguished American) had received the sanction and the approbation of the country; that the country took upon itself the responsibility of all the wild and extravagant things that have been done of late, that it encouraged the Ministers who have done these wild and extravagant things to continue in their career. The whole policy of the Anglo-Turkish convention, and all the responsibilities which it entails, will be accepted and incorporated as part and parcel of the engagements of the country. We shall be bound to defend the Turkish possessions in Asia Minor against Russia, not less strictly than we are now bound to defend Canada against America, or Gibraltar against Spain.

We shall be bound-unless recent statements as to our relations with Persia at the present moment admit of a different explanationto defend Persia in the event of any Russian aggressions on the borders of the Caspian, and even in time of peace we shall have to keep an army of 40,000 men among the mountains of a hostile country hundreds of miles beyond our present frontier and away from our base of operations. It is absurd, on the face of it, to dream of performing such feats of arms as these with our present military strength. Just consider what the proposition is. It is this: that we, with an army of British troops numbering something like 120,000 men all told, and an army of native mercenaries who can ill stand the strain of foreign service, have, in addition to our regular work all over the world, guaranteed the defence of several thousand miles of inland frontier hundreds of miles away from the sea against the forces of Russia massed upon that frontier, wbich number 1,700,000 armed men. We undertake to do this with the approbation of the country at a time when all the armies of the Great Powers are on a war footing, when these Powers are increasing their armaments, and when there are upwards of three million trained soldiers in Europe. We propose to do this, and the country approves of our proposals, in the face of the fact that our small voluntary army cannot be kept up to anything like its full strength except by the profuse and profligate expenditure of money in the back alleys and purlieus of

But we

to undertake such obligations, we must be prepared for a conscription which will withdraw all the bone and sinew of the country from agricultural and industrial pursuits. We must be prepared for the re-institution of that most barbarous expedient which was prevalent during one period of Militarism—the pressgang. Our naval and military expenditure is even now-in the transition stage between our two careers—much higher than it is in any other civilised country. It absorbs nearly a half of our revenue every year. It must be doubled if we pursue our warlike course ; and the country must be prepared for this. Anything short of compulsory conscription, the pressgang, and doubled military and naval expenditure will land us in difficulties, it may be in disaster. Is the country prepared for these contingencies? If it accepts the responsibility at the General Election we fold our hands and say amen. cannot believe it, if only the country can be got to comprehend the gravity of the situation. England has grown great and powerful since the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, because she has abjured the sword and turned the energy of her people from war and aggression to the cultivation of the arts of peace. The terrible trials of the beginning of the century have passed, leaving nothing behind them but the legacy of some eight hundred millions of national debt, the only abiding outcome of that dread period of Militarism in this country. Are we going back to this, or are we going more wisely to regard the last six years as a period of storm and wintry weather interpolated by accident into the summer sunshine of industrialism and contentment? If the constituencies can be brought to understand something of the gravity and solemnity of the decision which they are about to take, we feel certain that there is no danger of the return of another Tory Parliament. But will the reality be made plain to the constituencies? A general election is a short, sharp period of excitement, when people can with difficulty be brought to regard things with sobriety and calmness. Some constituencies will of necessity be moved by special considerations. In one the Irish question will come to the front, and may turn the constituencies in favour of or against a particular candidate. In another the priests and publicans will combine, as they did in 1874, and let in the sinners. In a third the licensed victuallers will be all powerful, and will throw in their influence against the Liberals, not as Liberals, but as Reformers, whose pruning knife has always been applied to excrescences on the body politic when they become abuses. In a fourth the Liberation Society will demand the lion's share of the representation, and, as in 1874, defeat its own object. In a fifth, where parties are evenly balanced, the real issue will be obscured, and the constituency will be swayed on this side or that by the fanatical adherents of some social or some hygienic question. Party organisations again are now brought to considerable perfection. They have been used for municipal and school-board elections, and have taught people to shut their eyes to

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