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and Whistle' had indeed boisted the Buff flag, and, if rumour told a true tale, had sold himself (to the Liberal Committee; but every penny he possessed was already in the grasp of the omnivorous Dibbs, and it needed only a solemn and significant wink from his tyrant to recall the recreant debtor to bis allegiance. When Dibbs was asked how many I.O.U.'s he held bearing the signatures of his fellowtownsmen, he always declared that he had never counted them, warned, as he said, ' by the mess David made of it when he numbered the children of Israel.' In short, Mr. Dibbs knew that whatever boasts might be made on the other side, his seat was safe, and if he chose to make it so, that of his colleague also. He might, it was true, buy Greville's Parliamentary chances in the cheapest market, and sell them in the dearest : in other words, he might do what best suited him about the second seat; but the chances were against his throwing over Greville, simply because it was not his interest to do so, and the knowing ones in the borough laid, accordingly, long odds on carrying both the Blue candidates. In the meantime, the Barkerites were not less confident of suc
For twenty-five years a Buff had headed the poll, and there was no reason now why, with a little energy and plenty of money, they should not improve their position, and clear their opponents off the field.
Jem was therefore comforted during the week following his accident by constant telegrams from Pinchum that all was going on well,' and by notes assuring him that it did not signify whether he canvassed or not; that, if Mr. Gregory permitted it, he might as well come in for the nomination; but whether he put in an appearance or not, he would be triumphantly returned. All these sanguine anticipations were not only in flat contradiction to the impression created at the Grange by Greville's daily bulletins to Augustus, but were in themselves inexplicable to the simple-minded Jem, who could not see why in the world Liberal candidates should ever open their lips, or stir from their arm-chairs, if constituencies surrendered at discretion at the bare mention of their names. Moreover, it was scarcely soothing to Jem's self-love to be told that his laurels had been won for him by the grandson of a convict. Nevertheless, recalling his father's oft-repeated dictum that a seat was a seat,' and anticipating the sphere of action' which his admiring aunt foretold for him, Jem resolved to trouble himself as little as possible about the means by which this honour was to be secured, and to abandon himself to the grand patriotic principles which it would be the mission of the member for Shamboro' to assert when he rose to advocate the rights of the people' from his place on the Liberal benches of the House of Commons.
THE ELECTORAL CRISIS.
F the day and of the hour of a Dissolution of Parliament, followed
by a General Election, no man knew any more than is known of the crack of doom. The secret lay buried in the deep breast of the Earl of Beaconsfield, Prime Mover, Prime Manager, and Prime Minister of the affairs of this Realm. But like the crack of doom it came at last, to resolve the political world into its primitive elements, to scatter abroad the phalanx which has for more than six years given an unflinching support to the Government, and to refer the reconstitution of parties to the will of the people. But this longexpected crisis broke in at last like a thief in the night. The time was already past when an early Dissolution seemed probable to the leaders of the Opposition or to the supporters of the Government; and there is abundant evidence that the colleagues of Lord Beaconsfield were not better informed than his antagonists. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach had recently declared that the real working Session had begun at last, and that like the seventh bullet in “ Der Freischütz,' the seventh Session was infallibly to hit the mark. Sir Stafford Northcote acknowledged in his Budget speech that if he had known of the approaching Dissolution, he should have postponed his measure for the alteration of the Probate Duties until his financial statement was made; and, as it has turned out, no time was left to fill up the vacant seats before the General Election, as had been promised. Mr. Cross proceeded to redeem the pledge he had given at the close of last Session by the introduction of his famous Water Bill, the effect of which was to spread dismay among the ratepayers of the metropolis, to let loose the gamblers of Capel Court, and possibly to terminate the existence of the Parliament itself; for in the absence of any other definite and assignable cause for an immediate and inconvenient Dissolution, it is strongly suspected that the peremptory motive which decided the Premier was no other than the Water Bill itself, and that the avenger of so many crimes—the tanti sanguinis ultor—was to be found, not in Afghanistan, Constantinople, or Berlin, but in the bad bargain which the Water Companies had driven the Home Secretary to accept.
However, from whatever cause, the Dissolution has now taken place; to the satisfaction of all parties, and most of all of the Liberal Opposition. At the moment when these pages meet the eyes
of our readers, the contest will be raging in every borough of the kingdom, to be followed in a few days by a similar struggle in the counties. We confess our inability to predict either the particular results of
parties, seen as it is at this moment through the din and smoke of the battle; and perhaps there never was a crisis of equal gravity the result of which it was more difficult to foresee with confidence. But in the last number of this Magazine we had the good fortune to publish an article on The Coming Election,' derived from the most authentic and accurate sources, in which were stated the grounds of our belief that a large number of seats in England, Wales, and Scotland would be gained by the Liberal candidates, and that the Conservative majority will be considerably shaken, if not entirely dispersed. To that article we may still refer our readers, for we believe it to be the only contribution to the periodical literature of last month which contemplated the near approach of the crisis, and stated on tangible grounds the views of the Liberal party as to its result.
Within the last few days all literature has been submerged by electioneering addresses-the most ephemeral, yet for a moment the most exciting, of political compositions. We know not if the zeal of any collector of the curiosities of the age has ever prompted him to preserve these fugitive memorials of a great struggle; but a nice observer of the characters of public men might derive instruction and amusement from a comparison of these hasty and unpremeditated effusions. Struck off on the spur of the moment they are singularly characteristic of their authors. The game was opened by Lord Beaconsfield's strange letter to the Viceroy of Ireland, soon to be followed by the judicious and able address of the Marquis of Hartington to the electors of North Lancashire. We had then the plausible and decorous paragraphs of Sir Stafford Northcote, and the business-like assurances of the Home Secretary and the First Lord of the Admiralty, to be contrasted with the ardent invective of Mr. Gladstone who arraigns the Government with his usual eloquence, or with the sarcastic shafts of Mr. Lowe which leave their poisoned mark upon the flank of the enemy. Of the vast multitude of addresses poured forth like a feu de peloton by the rank and file of both armies it is needless to speak ; both sides affect a confidence they may not always feel, but both sides are animated by a sincere conviction that the question at stake is one of no ordinary importance. It is shortly this: whether the adventurous and costly policy which has been pursued by the British Government for the last six years is to be maintained? or whether the destinies of the Empire are to be placed in wiser and in more prudent hands?
Of all these addresses, we say without hesitation that Lord Beaconsfield's is the worst, and Lord Hartington's the best. Even the acknowledged literary skill of the Premier appears to have deserted him on the present occasion. His language is careless and confused, although he has had the assurance to declare in the House of Lords that every word in it was duly weighed and considered. What is meant by the constitutional tie' which unites Ireland to Great Britain in a bond'? How can an English Minister, or any one else,
leading,' unless it be an idle jingle to match in the same paragraph the love of liberty and law'? Not even alliteration's artful aid' can give sense to such a paragraph. Weaker and wilder still is that which follows, directed against those whoever they may be)
who challenge the expediency of the Imperial character of this realm,' and who are supposed to have attempted and failed to enfeeble our colonies by their policy of decomposition, but who now recognise in the disintegration of the United Kingdom a mode which will not only accomplish but precipitate their purpose.' Language so loose and inaccurate apparently does not even express the meaning of the writer; but the objections to the substance of these paragraphs are infinitely more important than any mere criticism of their literary defects. It is an attempt to place an entirely false issue before the electors of the United Kingdom. It is untrue that the Liberal Opposition has ever challenged the expediency of the Imperial character of this realm ;' we should blush to think that any Englishman would entertain or avow so foolish or contemptible a policy. It is untrue that any party in the State has sought to enfeeble our colonies by a policy of decomposition ;' on the contrary, the native vigour of our colonies has been enormously increased by the Liberal institutions which have taught them to rely more on their own resources, whilst their loyalty to the Crown has been strengthened by the acknowledgment of their rights of self-government. The case of Ireland, which is an essential part of the United Kingdom itself, has no analogy with that of the outlying dependencies of the Empire. It is absolutely untrue that the Liberal party in Great Britain have ever recognised, or do now recognise, the possibility of the disintegration of the United Kingdom ; and nothing can be more unfair than to impute to the Liberal opponents of the Government designs which are strictly confined to the faction of Irish Home Rulers, equally hostile to both parties in the State.
Similar remarks might be made on the concluding paragraph which relates to the Foreign Policy of the Ministry. • Peace, he says, 'rests on the presence, not to say the ascendancy, of England in the councils of Europe ; and this,' he adds significantly, 'is a main reason for not delaying an appeal to the national voice. We know not what effect this arrogant language may bave on the electors of Great Britain; but to the other members of the councils of Europe such a claim to ascendancy, based on a General Election, must appear offensive, if it were not ludicrous.
| This peculiar expression 'men of light and leading,' which has been much canvassed, has not even the merit of originality, for our Premier does not disdain on great occasions to borrow his rhetoric from other sources. Mr. Burke, in his Reflections on the Rerolution in France, wrote as follows :- The men of England.- the men, I mean, of light and leading in England--whose wisdom (if they have any) is open and direct, would be ashamed, as of a silly, deceitful trick, to profess any religion in name which, by their proceedings, they appear to contemn.' Lord Beaconsfield has, therefore, the high authority of Mr. Burke for the use of this stilted phraseology, but he does not appear to have been equally happy in the
No language could offer a more striking contrast to this mystical jargon than the clear, practical, and manly declarations of the Marquis of Hartington, to which it suffices to refer our readers. We could desire no better test of the spirit and character of the two leaders now contending for supreme power than the tone and purport of these two addresses; and we can only say that if the policy of Lord Hartington's address be strictly adhered to, in the event of the return of the Liberal Party to power, it deserves the cordial support of the intelligent and patriotic classes throughout the country.
The charges of the Opposition against the Government resolve themselves into a general accusation of a pernicious activity abroad and a lethargic inactivity at home. The charges of the Government against the Opposition are founded on a supposed neglect of our interests abroad and an excessive zeal in promoting reform at home. But there is this material difference between one mode of attack and the other. The strictures of the Opposition are directed against a series of positive and indubitable facts, such as the rejection of the Berlin Note, the conduct of Lord Salisbury at the Conference, the transport of Indian troops into Europe, the Anglo-Turkish Convention, the acquisition of Cyprus, the change of policy which led to the wars in Afghanistan, the invasion of Zululand, and the large expenditure caused by these measures, for which no provision has yet been made. The retort of the Government on the alleged policy of the Liberal Party rests on no substantial foundation at all; it is directed against a purely hypothetical and imaginary system of government. It is utterly untrue that the Liberal Party has sought, whether in or out of office, to lower the influence of this country in the councils of Europe, to weaken our national defences, to estrange the Colonies, to propose the Disestablishment of the Church in England or Scotland, or to submit to the pretensions of the Home Rulers in Ireland. It may be that extreme sections have spoken rash and ill-advised words on one or other of these subjects; but the real attitude of the Party is to be interpreted by the voice of its responsible leaders, and in no other way. This voice—the voice of Lord Hartington and Lord Granville—is one of studied moderation and sound patriotism. Yet, by a disingenuous use of fabulous pretexts, an attempt is made to shake the confidence of the people in a Party which carried on the government of the Empire for forty years with signal success, and with a steady adherence to the old watchwords of Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform.
Sir Stafford Northcote's budget, born before its time, and hastily announced to Parliament after the fiat of dissolution had gone forth, is an additional proof that the Government has never had the courage to bring home the consequences of its own policy to the pocket of the taxpayer. The twelve millions of extraordinary expenses caused by the military and naval operations in the East of Europe and in South Africa, but not including any part of the cost of the Afghan wars,