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adopted by the Irish cow which in a famine subsisted on her own tail, and who pursue the distinctively Christian practice of ‘lending, hoping for nothing again '—are at last in a state of despair. There is no hope of foreign loans. Home revenues are mortgaged over and over again. Honest public servants have disappeared. A greedy and voracious ring of pashas remain gathered round the Commander of the Faithful-what a mockery in the name !-ready to intercept the last morsel of help, and to swallow the last fragments of plunder. If these are not the signs and symptoms of imminent political death, experience teaches nothing, and bistory is a profitless fable.
From the weak and vacillating indecision which the late Government displayed for months past in its dealings with Turkey, it is pretty evident that Lord Salisbury had given up all hope of revival there. The Turk, too, by his behaviour in the matter of the missionary and the interpreter, showed clearly that he looked upon his English friends as squeezed lemons. Under these circumstances it is not to be regretted that new forces have developed themselves in Downing Street, and we see already that these forces are making themselves felt at the Golden Horn.
There was no act of the foreign policy of the late Government which did them more harm in the constituencies than their conduct towards Greece. Advised on the one hand not to interfere at a time when interference might have secured the object they had in view; deluded with half promises that if they would remain quiet their claims should not be forgotten; the Greeks found in the general arrangement which took place at Berlin, that they were practically left out in the cold, and from that time to this they have been ineffectually urging their claims with these masters of procrastination with whom they have had to deal. But the change in the balance of party in England has not been without its effect, and one result of Lord Beaconsfield's retirement bids fair to be a settlement of the question of the Greek frontier. Is it too much to hope that this settlement may be accompanied by some arrangement by which Albania might become to a great extent independent, and eventually take a place among a group of small but not unimportant states, arising out of the disintegration of Turkey in Europe ?
There are many political conjunctures at which the one out of three courses ' method may be put in practice. Among these conjunctures is that of a rectification of frontier. This rectification may be attained by the old beroic method of forcible occupation, a method of which history furnishes a thousand examples; or by the wolf-andlamb process, of which a notable modern illustration is supplied by the present Afghan war; or by the prosaic and not unjustifiable way of bargain and sale. It is to be hoped that this last course may be adopted by Greece, under European sanction, and that by some process of this nature Crete and other islands may peacefully pass out of the hands of the Turk, and, subject to some annuity or payment when islands are changing hands, our Government may devise some plan for handing Cyprus over to Greece—Cyprus, that invaluable place of arms,' the peculiarity of which seems to be, that the only parts of it where we could post our garrison under conditions of ordinary salubrity are the tops of the mountains in the interior; just the places where it would be absolutely and inevitably useless.
In entering upon office at this moment the Liberal party has undertaken a great and onerous charge. There are difficulties in Europe, difficulties in Asia, difficulties in Africa. How is the Afghan business to be settled? We have extinguished the old life of the nation, and chopped to pieces the body politic, and now we have to seek for a Medea's caldron, out of which to extract a national life, younger and better than its predecessor. It is a hard task to reconstruct a nation even under favourable circumstances; harder still, nay, wellnigh impracticable, when the components are hill-tribes, in whom, as was the case with the Irish septs and the Scottish clans, the elements of attraction are hardly so strong as the elements of repulsion.
Next door to the question of the reconstruction of Afghanistan stands the question of Indian Finance. We all remember the sort of incredulous satisfaction with which the roseate tidings of solvency in India was received less than three months since. It was so opportune for a Government which had just challenged a general election! Might it not be a mistake? Impossible! But it was a mistake, and a mistake the consequences of which will have to be grappled with, and which will be another thorn in the couch of the Indian Minister.
So long as it appeared probable that India could pay her way, there was plausibility in the arguments advanced by those who wished to place to her debit all the charges of the Afghan war. The war might be a piece of high Imperial policy '-let us hope that grandisonant adjective will not in future be in such general use as it has been during the last six years—but it was somehow or other for the good of India. So it was India that must pay. We hope not. In spite of the unpopularity of taxation, we trust that the present Government will do justly and fear not, and that one use of their great Parliamentary majority may be to strengthen their hands in this most important matter, and to enable them, while they do all in their power to lighten the burden of home charges, to do so not at the expense of equity and the duty we owe to our Indian fellow-subjects.
The question “Who is to pay ?' is more easily answered in the case of the Zulu than in the case of the Afghan war.
The great principle of cantabit vacuus is eminently applicable to the South African colonist; and he has the additional satisfaction of knowing that Mistress Mother-Country has already found the money. India has a vast population and a revenue counted by tens of millions. It is possible by great efforts of taxation, involving serious political risks, to screw a few millions more by annas at a time from people and tobacco. But from the sparse and needy colonists of the Cape of Good Hope and the neighbouring settlements no money can be extracted except on the principles recognised by his Satanic Majesty in the great case of .much cry and little wool.'
It is of course premature to attempt to calculate the amount of pecuniary burden which these two wars will bring upon the shoulders of the British taxpayer. But whether greater or smaller, we have the consolation of knowing that, with Mr. Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer, this burden will be promptly dealt with. Making things pleasant all round never answers in the long run; and we believe that, after all, it is not a popular policy. The householder, happily for him, and thanks to previous Liberal legislation, has but a small, and in most cases a self-imposed, burden of taxation to bear. But he has given no sign, and those who speak for him have given no sign, of desiring to repudiate. He has confidence in the present administrators of public affairs, and we do not believe that he will attempt to thwart them in their honest endeavour to pay the bill which their predecessors have left behind. It is true that we are in a very different financial position from that which we occupied in the spring of 1874. Then we were somewhere near the top of the Hill Difficulty. Now we find ourselves at the bottom. Then Sisyphus had almost succeeded in his task. Now
The huge round stone, resulting with a bound,
But one thing at all events we know, and this is, that whatever can be done in the skilful and honest management of the Exchequer will be done.
The weeks which remain of the Parliamentary Session are now so few that it is hopeless to expect much to be done for the present in the way of domestic legislation. There are, however, two important matters which must certainly come before Parliament. The one is the question of Burials, the other the renewal and amendment of the Ballot Act. The Speech from the Throne has already pointed to a definite settlement of the former of these questions, so often in past years discussed in both Houses of Parliament. It is hardly likely to occupy much further time, or to be seriously delayed in its passage. We hope, at all events, that we shall hear no more about sentimental as being unreal grievances. A sentimental grievance, or, in other words, a grievance which affects the feelings, not the pocket, is oftentimes the most real grievance of all. The English and Welsh Nonconformists deserve to have their strong feelings on this subject respected; and when the change of law takes place, we trust that the Bishops, who are mostly men of the world, will give the mot d'ordre to their clergy to accept the change with cheerfulness and good feeling. There ought in the new Burials property; and if the late Chancellor and the present can only get to see alike on the main principles of any scheme of land transfer, we may look for some practical results of great value.
When Lord Selborne and Mr. Chamberlain sit in the same Cabinet, it may be thought that the subject of Church Reform could not be touched with any hope of agreement. We do not think so. There is a vast field for reform outside disendowment and disestablishment. The abuses of Church patronage are becoming daily more unpopular, and it is clear that the time is at hand when they may be dealt with to good effect. And in their view of these abuses the whole Liberal party might well be united, and carry with them many of those who sit opposite. Men like Mr. Walpole know that the best way to protect any institution is to purge it of its defects.
There are two questions, not at first sight apparently connected, which still have an element in common, and which perhaps might be discussed as forming part of one scheme of local government. These questions are (1st) the claim of the ratepayers to a greater share than they at present possess in the disposal of the funds raised by rate. This is a claim urged through their advocates by the ratepayers themselves. (2nd) The claim of the ratepayers to regulate certain trades, notably the beer and spirit trade, in special localities. This is a claim urged for the ratepayers by persons outside. Both these claims affect the status of the county magistrates, and each has something to be urged in its favour. With regard to the first, however, it is to be remembered that the interest of the ratepayer as tenant is confined to the term of his bolding, and that all rates are ultimately allowed for in the rent. With regard to the second, it will have to be proved that the present licensing body is less considerate than a body of ratepayers would be, whilst care will have to be taken lest a committee of ratepayers might not turn out to be the secret agents of the publican.
Such are some of the questions which are sure to occupy the attention of the present Parliament. But there is another question, or rather group of questions, which has perhaps a stronger claim for notice than any we have enumerated. It is not likely that the question to which we refer will be taken up till towards the natural term of the life of the Parliament, as, whenever it has been settled, the Parliament must of necessity cease to exist. Our readers will see that the question we refer to is that of the suffrage, involving that of the redistribution of seats, and necessitating a Boundary Commission, which cannot well begin its labours before the completion of the next census. It seems probable that the Boundary Commission will be appointed in 1882, and not report till the next year. In this case the question of the redistribution of the seats could not well be discussed till 1884 ; nor the question of the suffrage till the following year. It is to be remembered that the suffrage question involves issues of a very complex character. What is to be done with the freeholder ? to be excluded ? It appears as if an occupation franchise would be the best solution of the difficulty. One of the best changes effected by the Reform Bill of 1831 was the striking out of all non-resident freemen in boroughs. If it had extended to non-resident freeholders in counties, all the scandal of faggot votes would have been done away with. It is to be hoped that the next opportunity of effecting this reform will not be lost. It never has been the theory of the Constitution that parliamentary votes should be proportionate to the wealth of the voter, and it is mainly in consequence of improved facilities of locomotion that faggots have multiplied. Sturges Bourne's Act may be all very well 'for ratepaying elections, but in parliamentary or even in municipal voting larger issues are involved, and the voting power of each elector is not to be measured by the amount at which his house or his factory is rated to the poor.
The fact that this paper has been devoted to a kind of vaticination of future political events has given it rather a fragmentary character. We trust, however, that our readers will observe that we have throughout endeavoured to point out those measures which may fairly be expected, not only to engage the attention of Liberal politicians, but to secure the support of the whole Liberal party. Our opponents are very fond of twitting us on our differences. We may much more fairly twit them for their unanimity. Stet pro ratione voluntas may be a very good motto for a despot, but it is a very bad one for a body of representatives, and we trust it will never be that of those who support Liberal opinions in the House of Commons. If the Liberal party loses its traditions of free discussion, founded on free thought, the sooner it surrenders its claim to guide the country the better. It is all very well for our opponents to rush violently down the steep places of household suffrage at the suggestion of a leader who has educated them out of their most cherished convictions, and landed them in a minority of a hundred. The Liberal party will not adopt measures against their convictions simply at the bidding of a leader however gifted ; and if they meet with political misfortunes, as they have done more than once, they trust to the returning good sense of the constituencies, which, sooner or later, are sure to retrieve temporary error and to show that the voice of the people, if not so inspired as the common saying would have us believe, is upon the whole a less uncertain guide than many are apt to imagine.
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