Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

was

those who order it are ludicrously indeed we doubt whether the destitute of the most elementary British Isles contain any class so knowledge of the questions in cautiously circumspect in business volved One such person

matters; but the very element in heard to promise, his audience his character which tends to make their i land at half a crown an him a keen dealer places him at acre,” while the average rental th

mercy of any scoundrel who of the property of which he spoke can persuade him that he is misis rather under 8d. an acre, --of the led or has been unjustly treated. crofter's land, under 7d.! Probably When he is offered a loan on easy this orator's conception of the cap- terms and a good farm elsewhere, ital-or its equivalent, the labour the proposal seems to him so pal

- required to reclaim. moorland pably one-sided that his suspicions was equally " fogsy," and he may are aroused, and he readily lends be interested if we attempt to clear an ear to those who tell him that his horizon.

the otser is only made to "get rid” The other day we had an oppor- of him. It is doubtful whether any tunity of half an hour's quiet con- argument, however cogent -- any versation with the son of a crofter demonstration, 'however plain in the parish of Lochs. The lad would fully convince him that none said the family—i.e. his father, him- desire his prosperity and happiness self, and three brothers-had re more earnestly than those who claimed nearly eight acres of moss make the generous offer,

that land, and he described their crop as none care less for his future than excellent ; " but,” he added, "the those who would have him remain labour was immense and extended where he is, subject to the adverse over five years : if we had spent conditions which we have endeavas much time on a farm in Canada, oured to depict, but, on the other we often think we should have hand, open to their manipulation been rich.” They had in fact, whenever his discontent can %e taking their labour at only eigh- made politically useful. teenpence a day and their year Some little daylight seems lately at six months, so as to allow for to have forced its way through the six months' fishing, expended £292, darkness; letters have been re10s. (more than £36 an acre) in ceived, in hundreds, describing the reclaiming that which, when re Government Colonisation Scheme claimed, did not feed and clothe 'as honest, and the islesman has them for more than six months, begun to ask himself whether his if so much! These four lads and sometime leader really cares their father in the Canadian north much as he pretends for the comwest would have owned absolutely fort of the people ?- whether his 800 acres of fine arable land, with ends would not perhaps be better a right of pre-emption (now, alas! served if they remained at home about to cease) over 800 acres more; in poverty and progressive degrathe reader may imagine what their dation? The ray perchance pre energy, ---they were plainly enercedes a dawn when objects, ' now getic, --- would have accomplished obscure, shall be clearly discerned in five full years on such a holding by all who have eyes to see when as that.

that time arrives, we recommend It is a pure delusion that the the agitator, as our American crofter needs, or ever needed, dry cousins say, to "git." nursing in making a bargain,

AN ISLESMAS.

SO

TIIE LIBERAL PARTY.

In studying the domestio history great a defeat as that which their of Great Britain, it is interesting opponents had experienced in as well as usoful to observe the 1832, and a majority of nearly alternating fortunes of political a hundred was returned in support parties, and their temporary gain of the second administration of Sir or loss of the public confidence. Robert Peel. It is old history It is unnecessary to go back be- to tell how that majority was yond the memory of the present broken up in 1846, and how the generation in order to exemplify repeal of the Corn Laws really the truth of this statement. After changed the nomenclature of the great wave of public opinion parties, and initiated a new order which swept away rotten boroughs, of things, and an infinite conand placed the political power for- fusion among politicians. The merly exercised by their owners terms “ Protectionist” and “Freein the hands of the middle classes, trader” for a time superseded the it ras not unnatural that the old appellations of “Conservative” party which had either opposed, and “Reformer”; and when the or had at least obtained the credit Protectionist policy had been of having opposed, the transfer, so generally discarded as to deshould meet with scant favour at prive the word of its political the hands of those who had there- value, the two parties in the by bocome the controlling power State became generally known as in the constituencies. The Tory"Derbyites" and "Liberals," and party was, accordingly, made to until the death of the late Earl sustain a severe defeat at the of Derby such was the usual dispolls of 1832, and the party tinction between the two. of Reform enjoyed a completo It must be admitted that the triamph. But the reaction set so-called Liberals gained a disin before the triumph had been tinct advantage from this nomenlong enjoyed. The discordant clature ; for whilst the name of opinions which had been brought an individual has no special sigtogether under the banner of Re- nificance of its own, there is form, soon made themselves mani. something in the word Liberal fest to such an extent as to lead which, apart from party, recomto the fall of the Reform Ministry, monds itself to men’s minds as and the premature formation of a descriptive of generous and symConservative Government. That pathetic feeling, and is likely at

Government, because it was prein- once to gain approval from those i ature, failed to secure a majority who are captivated by words

at the general election of 1835; without pausing to consider their but its failure never for one full sense and meaning. For of moment stayed the reaction which course, the truth is, that the had commenced, and the Parlia- word Liberal, as applied to a ment of 1837 was distinctly more political party, cannot and does Conservative than either of its not mean that within the ranks predecessors. Then came the dis- of that party alone are to be solution of 1841, when the Reform found men who are Liberal in Government and party suffered as the best and non-political meaning

be

&

of the word. There are Liberal by Tory Governments; and almen- in the sense in which the though it is a favourite taunt on word signifies generosity of feel the part of their opponents that ing, largeness of ideas, and sym- in all these cases public opinion pathy with fellow-creatures - in had been "educated by themevery religious creed and in every selves, yet they are at once conpolitical party. I have indeed fronted with the rejoinder that, if heard the expression of opinion by their statement be true, it only a highly respected clergyman- goes to show that the Tory himself a leading Liberal—that Government chose the right moevery Christian should

ment to introduce and pass meaLiberal; but this is nothing more sures which it would have been than a confusion of terms, most premature to propose before the “illiberal” in itself, and abso- necessary

"education of public lutely absurd in its application. opinion had been completed. It The terms Whig and Tory have is, indeed, beyond controversy that been often defined, and are, of the term Liberal is a misnomer course, in their original signifi- at this moment as applied to any cation, quite inapplicable to the special party or the followers of political parties of today. The any particular leader. Within term Reformer signified a sup- very wide limits, all parties in the porter of the "great Reform Bill,” State are prepared to give the and that of Conservative indicat- fullest and fairest consideration to ed the man who desired to keep any amendment in the constituthings as much as possible as he tion which may be proposed; and had found them. In this relation, the question is rapidly becoming the word Liberal was properly one between those who are in this used to denote the man who was reasonable frame of mind, and ready to regard in a broad and those who, secretly or openly, de“ liberal” spirit any proposals for sire to go outside those limits, and reform or amendment in the con to attack the very spirit and esstitution; but inasmuch as there sence of the constitution itself. no longer exists any party who That such men as the latter should would avow a different policy, the monopolise, or in fact lay any word has ceased to be a correct claim at all to, the term Liberal, definition or a true description of is in itself an absurdity at which any one particular and distinct we could afford to laugh, if it were school of thought.

not that by so doing they conceal If this view be disputed, we their own ends and objects, and, have only to look back to the fighting under a name which by legislation of the last thirty years no means conveys to the public in order to see that the monopoly their true sontiments and ideas, of the initiation and passing obtain an influence and importthrough Parliament of large con ance far greater than is warranted stitutional reforms cannot be by their character and talents. claimed by one political party A fair way of stating the truth alone. Household suffrage, the would be to say that the name alteration of the Land Laws, the Liberal is in reality generally development of Local Govern applicable to the policy which ment in England and Scotland, must nowadays be pursued by these are among the recent con all British statesmen and Britstitutional changes inaugurated ish political parties; that Liberal

principles have been accepted as against the adoption of Home Rule those upon

which our Government and in favour of one united Paris to be conducted; and that it is liament. Facts, however, are in the application of those prin- stronger than arguments, and the ciples that differences exist among fact of the secession of Lord Hartvarious combinations of politicians. ington, Mr Bright, Mr ChamberIt must, however, be confessed, lain, and the great bulk of the inthat great difficulties lie in the tellectual portion of the so-called way of such a recognition of this Liberal party, from the leaderfact as would lead men to adopt ship of Mr Gladstone, sufficiently other names than those which prove that the Home Rule prohave been hitherto employed to posals of that statesman were % describe the great parties in the departure from the Liberal prinState. The term Liberal has ciples which had hitherto been supbeen too useful, and remains too posed to hold that party together. attractive, to be lightly abandoned Whether the term Liberal Unionby those who find their advantage ists or Dissentient Liberals be the in its use; and it will probably be more appropriate one by which some time longer employed to des to describe the followers of Lord ignate all those multitudinous sec- Hartington, it is absurd to deny to tions of a party which has little or them as full a claim to the title no cohesion upon any definite prin of Liberal as any which can be ciple, and certainly no monopoly advanced by their opponents. We of really Liberal principles. If have therefore at least three, and this ba contradicted, let us go no probably it would be more correct further back for our justification to say four, if not five, different than the last general election, when sections upon the Opposition side the party led by Mr Gladstone of the House of Commons, all of went to the country upon the whom claim to belong to the question of Home Rule for Ire- Liberal party, but among whom land. It cannot with any justice there exist the widest differences be contended that Liberal prin- upon many political questions, of ciples, as they have been always which the solution will have to be understood in this country, have sought within a “measurable disanything to say to the question tance” of time. Lord Hartington whether the imperial Parliament and his friends, indeed, represent is to continue in its present posi the Liberals who have abandoned tion, or, as far as regards a large nothing of their old creed, but who portion of the duties which it now have placed their country before discharges, is to be broken up into their party, and have determined, separate and fragmentary Legisla- even at the risk of the postponetures. If it is said that it is in ment of favourite reforms, and the accordance with Liberal traditions accusation of being indifferent to and Liberal policy to give to those reforms, to preserve at all the Irish people that for which hazards the unity of the imperial they are supposed to ask, it may Parliament. Mr Gladstone and with equal justice be retorted that his immediate entourage represent it is entirely opposed to such a those who, doubtless in all honesty, policy and such traditions to re believe that the aforesaid unity fuse to bow to the emphatic deci- will be best preserved by breaking sion of the majority of the united it up, but who, apart from this people of Great Britain and Ireland particular question, are by, no

[ocr errors]

means more “liberal," and upon which they now give with evident some points less so, than many of reluctance. There can be no doubt those who follow Lord Hartington. that this "advanced” section of They may be termed the “official the Gladstonian party is at this Liberal,” or, more properly, the moment the strongest; and the “ Gladstonian” party; and it is fact that it has no leader of suffi. difficult to predicate where and cient character, position, and ability under what leader some of them to conimand public confidence, does will be found ranged when Mr not to any great extent diminish Gladstone shall have quitted the its powers for evil whilst in oppoThe third distinct party sition.

Mr Gladstone and the is the Nationalist contingent of “official Liberals” are obliged to 85 which follows Mr Parnell, who conciliate this “irrepressible” secare entirely bound together by the tion; and after the lesson of the common tie of Nationalist poli- Royal grants, and the practical tics, and many of whom have repudiation of Mr Gladstone's nothing in common with Liberał leadership upon that question, we principles at all, and who, especi- may expect more conciliation, or ally upon certain matters connected in other words, more abandonment with foreign policy, would have of old-fashioned Liberal principles, been violently opposed to Liberal and a greater amount of truckling proclivities and Liberal aspira- to the Radicalism which reigns tions at any time during the last below the gangway. fifty years. The fourth party is A curious commentary upon that of the Radicals, English and these remarks will be found in an Scotch, who, nominally following article, entitled “The New LiberMr Gladstone, do not scruple to alism,” which appeared in the disregard his leadership and advice August number of the 'Ninewhenever it suits them so to do. teenth Century,' and which emanThese men have apparently placed ated from the pen of Mr Atherthemselves under the guidance of ley-Jones, the member for NorthMr Labouchere; and for the pre- west Durham, who is described sent the fifth party, by which I as a Gladstonian, but who appamean the Socialists proper, feel it rently has considerable sympathy prudent and desirable to “ lie low," with the Radical section of his and to range themselves under the party. This gentleman fully same banner. It is this last party, admits that " the Home Rule or the two last parties combined, movement does not arouse enthuwho are apparently the most pow. siasm among the masses ;" he erful at the present moment. It laments the fact that “the new is with them that the Gladstonian Liberalism has alienated the lieutenants on the front bench middle class,” and “is in a decoquet; it is with them that any plorable state of disorganisation, organised attempt to delay public scarcely removed from anarchy." business generally originates; it He allows that “the most effective is their influence which palpably and zealous opposition to military affects the tactics of the Opposition and naval expenditure, and departas a party, and not unfrequently mental extravagance, has been drags through Radical mud several found recently on the Conservative respectable occupants of the front benches under the leadership of bench who but a few years ago Lord Randolph Churchill ;” and would have shrunk from the votes he fears that, "apart from the

scene,

"

« НазадПродовжити »