Page images

the Irish. Can there then be a greater condemna struggling for the right of self-government even by tion of the system by which the Anglo - Irish illegitimate means, than they had twelve months ago. partnership is carried on, than the fact that such a But that is only one small service that South Africa gross overcharge could be made and enforced despite has rendered to the Irish cause. The action of all protest even by Mr. Gladstone himself ! And President Krüger in releasing all the Reform leaders now that the report has been signed, and that the who had, technically at least, rendered themselves Royal Commissioners have by ten to three certified liable to punishment of death or long terms of before all men that Ireland has been ovērcharged to imprisonment, has compelled Englishmen to consider this amount, how long shall we have to wait before whether the quality of mercy is not equally blessed an English Government will attempt to readjust in England as in the Transvaal. It is true that this frightful financial inequality? No doubt thera is a set-off on the other side, in the shape of special grants from time to time, but it does not appear that the sum of these comes to anything approaching the annual drain which is now being branded a3 unjust by the Royal Commission.

No fact in my lifetime has ever been brought to light which is so certain to trouble the consciences and move the hearts of the English people.

With the burden of this certified injus-and for tice upon our shoulders we should look Amnesty.

more leniently upon the men who, ma ldened by despair and the hopelessness of appealing to our sense of justice, resorted to the use of dynamite. The crowded and enthusiastic meeting held in St. James's Hall for the purpose of demanding the liberation of the Irish political prisoners contined in Portland, appeals to us much more strongly now that we have been forced to admit that as a nation we have been mulcting unjustly the Irish all these years. No doubt 'a resort to dynamite is to violate the laws of the political gaine. No nation can admit that high explosives can be introduced into political controversy with impunity ; but when the imprisoning power is thus caught red-handed in flagrante delicto, the less we say about our right to take a high line in the administration of justice to dynamitards and others, the better. And the finding of the Royal Commission, which has this effect upon

Active promoter of the Transvaal settlement. us with regard to the Irish political prisoners, will necessarily make itself felt in other questions that President Krüger exacted fines amounting in the come up

in the future between England and Ireland. aggregate to £216,000 from his political prisoners,

The movement in favour of an amnesty but that is a mere bagatelle to the millionaires who From Pretoria

for the misguided men who have already have developed the gold fields of the Rand, and the Portland served so many years in slavery at Port- important thing is not the fine, but the fact that all land, has received an impetus from another quarter. our Unionists, who are still so keen to exact the South Africa has been a great object-lesson to our uttermost farthing of vindictive punishment from the Unionists in many ways. The Duke of Abercorn

The Duke of Abercorn dynamitards, discovered no end of cogent arguments and his friends on the Board of Directors of the to prove the impolicy of severity in dealing with the Chartered Company have probably much clearer political offenders of Johannesburg. It will be well ideas to-day as to the sacred right of insurrection if Sir Matthew White Ridley could follow the lead and the duty of assisting oppressed populations of President Krüger and open the prison doors which




[merged small][ocr errors]

Even then, if Ministers could have thrown out the clauses which attacked the School Boards, they might have escaped by the skin of their teeth, but as it was they could do nothing.

First one and then another member of The Growth of

their own party hoisted the standard of Unionist revolt, insisting upon alterations in the Disunion,

Bill as the condition of their support. Sir Albert Rollit demanded that every muni. cipal borough should be empowered to appoint-a! educational authority under the new Act, instead of limiting this privilege to boroughs of 50,000 population. Mr. Balfour, despite the warnings of Sir John Gorst, gave way so far as to lower the standard from 50,000 to 20,000, and from that moment the Bill was doomed. Ministers, summoning their followers to a party conclave, announced that they would prolong the session by a long adjournment until January, and then take up the Bill, which would be postponed until next year.

But within a week this also was discovered to be hopeless, and on Monday the 22nd Mr. Balfour came down to the House of Commons, and with a somewhat ill grace sacrificed the Bill altogether. This unprecedented fiasco has naturally led to a multitude of explanations. Mr.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Ministers are not at present in a mood The Collapse of the

likely to prompt them to do anything Education magnanimous, for they have been heavily Bill.

hit, and they are feeling sore accordingly. In the month of May they carried the second reading of their Education Bill by the almost unprecedented majority of 267. In the month of June, twelve months to the very day from the date when Lord Rosebery and his colleagues surrendered the seals of office to Her Majesty, the strongest Government of modern times had to confess to one of the most humiliating defeats that has overtaken any administration in the present reign. After struggling for eleven days to carry their Bill, Ministers discovered that the opposition which it had aroused was too great to be overcome even by a majority of 267, when the members of that majority could not agree among themselves. It is probable that if the Church party could have held together, instead of getting up an internecine war as to whether the additional aid

From the Labour Leader.] granted to the denominational schools should come from the rates or the taxes, Ministers might have

OPPOSITE PARTY: “By GOM! It looks as if he was to go a cropper." pulled through some kind of an Education Bill; but

EDUCATION BILL: "Oh, dear! I'm a gone cooa whatever bappeus.” that was impossible with the Bishops all at sixes and sevens, while the various sections of the Liberal Balfour endeavoured to throw the blame for the loss party were welded together in a white heat of fury of the Bill upon the obstruction of the Opposition,


who multiplied amendments at such a rate as to similar agreement as to the time to be devoted to render it impossible to get the Bill through Com- the discussion of each of the contentious measures mittee, even if the whole of the session were devoted which would come on after the non-contentious proto its consideration. But the Conservative press, posals had been placed on the Statute Book. Take, with hardly an exception, astonished everybody by for instance, this Education Bill. It consists, not of repudiating Mr. Balfour's explanation and saddling one Bill, but of two, one of which is not merely inthe responsibility upon his own shoulders. There is offensive, but is urgently needed in the interests of reason to believe that neither Sir John Gorst nor his education. If, when the session commenced, the chief, the Duke of Devonshire, particularly regretted Education Bill could have been discussed privately the failure of an attempt to subordinate the interests between the representatives of both sides of the of education to the demands of clericalism. But one House, there would have been no difficulty whatever fact has not yet been adequately appreciated, viz., in passing that section of it which raised the age of the Conservative party for the first time for many compulsion by one year, and which gave effect to years feels that it is strong enough to allow its mem- the recommendations of the Royal Commission on bers and its newspapers to exercise somewhat of that secondary education. When this section of the Bill independence which has

had been passed, as it would been at once the making

have been with little or and the unmaking of the

no debate, an agreement Liberal party. Until now,

could have been arrived at Conservatives have always

as to the length of time felt as if they were more

to be devoted to the other or less living on suffer

half of the Bill. Unfortuance; hence, with the ex

nately, no such commonception of Sir John Gorst,

sense suggestions will be there is hardly a Con

listened to as yet, but it is servative in Parliament

only in this direction that who has ever dared to call

I see any hope of extrihis soul his own when the

cating legislation from the party Whip held up his

present deadlock. finger. But a majority of

Ministers have

Mr. 267 made even the most

Balfour's been

com docile partisan feel that


pelled, not he could assert his own From Picture-Politics.]

(June-July, 1896. merely to abandon

the views without jeopardising

Education Bill, but

to his Ministry “ Stick to it, my Lord, don't let it drup."

drop the Employers' LiaThe

Mr. Balfour laid great stress upon the bility Bill and the Bill dealing with the clerical beneBreakdown breakdown of Parliamentary government, fices. Three measures, therefore, have gone, and it is

of ParWiamentary and from one point of view he is right. probable that more will follow. They are forcing Government. The machinery of the House of Commons the Rating Bill through, and it is probable they will is utterly inadequate to pass any measure that is pass their Light Railway Bill. Beyond these two violently opposed by a large section of the House, measures, they will not have much to show as the and contains a mass of detail which can be debated outcome of the first session in the way of construcat any length. But the moral of this is not that the tive legislation. Unionists of all shades of opinion House of Commons should be reduced to a mere are much disgusted, while the Liberals are corremachine registering under a guillotine-like closure spondingly clated. The immediate result of the sickenthe decrees of Ministers, but rather that at the ing shock which has been administered to the colossal beginning of every session Ministers and the Oppo- majority has been the revealing of no slight dissatissition should agree upon two things. First, as to faction with the somewhat nonchalant Parliamenwhat measures in the Ministerial programme can be tary Leadership of Mr. Balfour. There are shrewd accepted as embodying the common judgment of the observers who profess to discern clear traces of an whole House, and these measures should be first of intrigue on the part of Mr. Chamberlain to supplant all passed into law. Secondly, there should be a the present leader of the House ; while others who



can see still further through a brick wall than their

Mr. Chamberlain means well, no doubt,

The fellows, profess to discern various straws which Colonial but he is a reckless plunger, and one of

Zollvei ein. show that the wind is blowing in the direction of a

these days he will plunge further than possible return of Mr. Chamberlain to the Liberal he can be pulled back by the saner guides to whom ranks. It is assumed that Joseph of Birmingham he is roped. There is far more of the schoolboy in will never rest content until he leads the House of him than of the statesman, and ho has already from Commons. His first move will be to succeed Mr. sheer heedlessness and want of circumspection imBalfour as leader of the Unionist majority ; but if it perilled his future career. This is all the more to be should turn out that the Conservatives will not have regretted because he means well and wants to move him at any price, then he will return to his first in the right direction. Take, for instance, his love, and endeavour to regain the position from which he fell when he deserted Mr. Gladstone. All these things belong to the future. What is certain is that all Unionists are very sore-headed, and that almost for the first time in the recent history of the party they are permitting public expression of sinful doubts as to the infallibility of their elected Chief.

There is one text that may be recom“Touch and Go " for Mr. mended with advantage to the attention Chamberlain. of those persons who day by day are singing the praises of Mr. Chamberlain. It is that which warns him who is putting on his armour not to boast as one who is putting it off. Mr. Chamberlain is “ dreffle smart man,” but his twelve months of office have not increased his reputation for sanity and lucidity of judgment. When the secret history of the South African trouble comes to be written, the chief advantage that will accrue to Mr, Chamberlain will be that which is enjoyed by persons who appear to be perpetually screened from the consequences of their blunders. Miss Kingsley, in her entertaining article upon “ Black Ghosts" in the Cornhill, says that the natives of the western coast pay great regard to old people, no matter how wicked they may be, because they hold that the mere fact of their surviving so many dangers proves that they have a very powerful “ bush soul,” whom they From the Birmingham Dart.]

(June 19, 1896. conceive as a wild animal who lives in the forest and

THE NEW LIBERAL (UNIONIST) FLAG. whom it would be dangerous to offend. When we think of the blind plunge after plunge that Mr. speeches last month in favour of an Imperial Customs Chamberlain has made in the South African policy, Union in order to promote the establishment of and the reckless manner in which he risked every closer commercial relations between Great and thing on the chance of something turning up trumps, Greater Britain. The Associated Chambers of Comit is difficult to avoid the belief that he has

6 bush

merce of the Empire listened to what he had to say, soul ” somewhere, who shields him from the con and then passed a very non-committal resolution sequences of his own blunders. But had it not been declaring that the subject deserved prompt and carefor Sir Hercules Robinson at the Cape, Barney ful consideration, and urged upon the Government to Barnato at Pretoria, and Mr. Edward Garrett at the summon an Imperial Conference to consider such a. Cape Times, Mr. Chamberlain would have come as scheme and forniulate some practical plan, if such a bad a cropper in South Africa as the Ministry has suggestion should be made on behalf of any of the experienced in the Education Bill.

Colonial Governments. The initiative, therefore, is



shifted from Downing

road is patrolled and Street to any Colonial

policed. By this means Government which may

a door would be held choose to take the first

open to the United States step. If Mr. Rhodes had

to enter into an alliance still been Prime Minister

with the mother country, of the Cape, there would

and at the same time we have been no tarrying for

should avoid the odium : lack of a suggestion from

of levying differential a self-governing colony,

duties. but at present Mr.

While these

The Chamberlain pauses for

Question in discussions a reply.


have been The only Mr. Chamber

going on in London, a Practical lain's sugges

very startling, and in Scheme. tion has been

many quarters totally met with scoffing and

unexpected, revolution contumely by Mr. As

has been wrought in the quith and Mr. Courtney.

position of parties in the Speaking at the Cobden

Canadian dominion. Sir Club dinner, Mr. Court

Charles Tupper, the Conney disposed of of Mr.

servative Prime Minister, Chamberlain's suggestion

who was the chief advoin the following down

cate of the Imperial thump fashion :

Zollverein, has been What did it mean to the

hurled from power, and prople of Great Britain ? That they were to have ad


Mr. Laurier, the brilliant ditional duties on their meat, From the portrait by Lowes Dickinson, in the Jubilee edition of leader of the French corn, sugar and timber, so

Mr. John Morley’s “Life of Cobien." that those articles might only

Canadian Liberals, has come from the Colonies. Every man, woman, and child in the been installed in his place. The Liberals of United Kingdom would at once feel a burden in the increased cost of life and production. And what for? In order to

Canada have always leaned more in the direction augment a fourth of our trade at the cost of diminishing three- of Free Trade with the United States than with fourths. The proposal had already received its answer. No sooner was it mooted than it was repudiated by the greatest

the mother country. There is a great deal to Chambers of Commerce in the kingdom, and it was repudiated be said in favour of this policy, and if Mr. from the Antipodes. Neither Free Trader nor Protectionist would have it.

Laurier adopts it, it is not very likely that the

initiative which Mr. Chamberlain has suggested And Mr. Asquith spoke in much the same sense.

should be taken by some Colonial Government will It will probably be found when the subject is closely be taken by the new Canadian Ministry. Of one examined that there is no other way by which the thing, however, we may be quite sure, and that is that desired end can be obtained, save that of clapping a while it may be possible to arrive at an agreement, duty, which could be described as a navy due, upon based upon clapping extra duties on foreign goods, all goods coming over sea excepting when they come no agreement is possible which will provide for the from States which are within the offensive and repeal or reduction of Colonial duties on British defensive alliance which exists between Great goods. The industries fostered into artificial life by Britain and all her Colonies for the maintenance the Protective tariffs of our Colonies have far too of the police of the seas. If other states such as strong a hold on Colonial sentiment for us to hope, the United States, Argentine Republic or Chili, for some time at least, for anything more than chose to enter into that league, then imports from this. these republics would be equally free from the navy

The election in Canada has been received

Mr. dues which would be collected on all goods crossing Laurier's with considerable satisfaction throughout the seas from States which did not contribute to the Premiership. the Empire. It is probably the first maintenance of the force by which the ocean high occasion on record in which Orangemen were

« PreviousContinue »