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want to know a little more clearly known that a bill of that magniwhat is meant by the language tude could never be carried in the which Ministers have occasionally teeth of a determined and wellmade use of during the recess. maneuvred Opposition unless a Mr Balfour in his Rochdale speech whole session were devoted to it. adverted, with justifiable pride, to They admit that they ought to the “record ” of last session, show- have known this. But we strongly ing, as it does, the utter folly or suspect that this admission is only dishonesty of stigmatising it as a made to prevent the necessity of barren one. The Ministry passed another which perhaps they are as many measures in six months scarcely prepared to make even as their predecessors passed in to themselves. However, we are twenty-two.

now informed on the highest auNevertheless, when all is said thority that the Government have and done, the fact stands out that learned their lesson, and are prethe session of 1896 was marked pared in future to cut their coat by a reverse such as hardly any according to their cloth. The same Government supported by an equal policy had been prescribed both majority has ever experienced officially and unofficially long bebefore, and of which it would be fore Mr Balfour gave it the stamp very natural that Ministers should of his authority at Rochdale; and hesitate to recognise the real cause. though we dare not impugn the We refuse to believe that it was wisdom of a decision so thoroughly impossible to pass the Education in accordance with our favourite Bill and the Agricultural Rating national virtue, we may perhaps Bill in one session, or that the be permitted to ask what it is that failure of the former was due to makes it so peculiarly appropriate its being too "ambitious.” This, to the present situation. Why however, is the excuse which should a Ministry like Lord SalisMinisters continue to make for bury's be talking—as virtually, if themselves. They confess to the not literally, they are—of cutting last infirmity of noble minds, not their coat according to their cloth, without show of

a metaphor suggestive in ordinary placency; and no doubt the sin life of straitened means by which the angels fell is a paired resources? Why should a dignified error, to which mere Government, strong, or apparently mortals may gladly plead guilty strong, in almost every element of if it saves them from any humbler political strength, be compelled to apology. We cannot say that in lower its pretensions, to contract our opinion the plea is a valid its efforts, and abandon great one. Mr Gladstone passed the measures which it believes to be Irish Land Bill and Mr Foster's for the public good ? Mr Balfour famous Education Bill in a single points, almost in a tone of envy, to session; and obstruction need not the small majority which gave Sir have wrecked Sir John Gorst's William Harcourt the complete Bill, had Government resolved to command over the House of Compress it. Why did they not?

“My strength is small beSuch, however, is the only ex cause it is so great,” he seems to cry. planation which they choose to We all know that unwieldy majorimake public. They were too ties are not always so powerful as ambitious and they were too they look, and that they are somesanguine. They ought to have times sources of embarrassment.

some

com

or im

mons.

But we never heard of a Minister should the other be? Mr Gladbeing prevented from passing his stone's majority in 1869 was a measures by the largeness of his hundred and twenty. We do not majority. The greater it is, the see, therefore, how the miscarmore liable it is to fall asunder riages of the Government are in and to cause the breakdown of the any way traceable to the largeGovernment. But while it holds ness of their majority. We have together there will always be no right to expect more from a enough Ministerial votes to carry Government with a majority of through a Cabinet measure. The a hundred and fifty, than from weakness to which overgrown ma one with a majority of eighty. jorities are always liable has This we have often admitted. But been explained by Lord Beacons we have a right to expect as much. field once and for ever in his ac Unless, then, we are prepared to count of the first Reform Ministry allow, either that no Ministry could

a locus classicus in political pass two such measures as the literature; and fifty years after- Education Bill and the Agricultuwards Mr Balfour has nothing to ral Rating Bill in a single session, add to it: in fact, he uses almost or else that an overwhelming mathe same words as are used in jority is a positive hindrance to • Coningsby.' But although the in- legislative progress, we must look firmities incidental to a majority of for some other explanation of what three hundred led to an early break certainly requires to be explained, up of Lord Grey's Cabinet, it did in order to justify the changed not prevent the Ministry from tone in which Ministerz now speak completing any one of their princi- of the future. pal measures. They abolished the Both members of the Governslave trade, they passed the Irish ment and influential members of Church Bill, they passed the new the party sometimes are heard to Poor Law, they reconstituted the say, when pressed on any given Bank of England, and they took point, “Oh yes, what you say is the Factory question out of the perfectly true ; what you suggest hands of a private member and is perfectly right; but what chance passed the first Factory Act, the would there be of carrying such a foundation of all the rest. Here

measure in the House of Comwere tive great measures of quite mons ?We want to know why. the first class carried in two years Would Peel or Palmerston, or Mr in spite of a strenuous opposition : Gladstone in his best days, or Lord 80 that although too large a ma Beaconsfield, have talked in this jority may be a source of internal manner? When Government speak disorder, and hasten the dissolu of opposition in the House of Comtion of a Ministry, it does not neces

mons, what opposition do they sarily destroy its working power mean? Not the opposition of the while it lives; just as we often Radicals, for that could easily be see men suffering from internal

overcome ; and only in part the complaints which shorten their opposition of their own supporters, lives, who retain nevertheless their for a considerable flake might be debodily or muscular powers in full tached from the Ministerial party, vigour. Besides, Lord Grey's ma

and even transferred to their opjority was twice the size of Lord ponents, without depriving them Salisbury's; and if the one was of sufficient strength to carry no bar to heroic legislation, why any measures they pleased. There

161
A Fresh Start.
1897.]
must be something further, some of the Government, and Mr Bal.
thing behind all this, to account four’s is. Yet it is impossible to
for the language of the Govern- doubt that on the question of fact
ment. Can it be -- we ask the Mr Balfour is in the right. Be
question with infinite reluctance~ this as it may, the Ministry on the
can it be that Ministers do not whole have contrived to create an
feel certain of the public? that impression on the public mind that
they doubt whether confidence in they are not sure of their ground.
theinselves extends beyond the And if the impression is correct,
question of Home Rule and that, we need not inquire any further.
if they used the means which Par. Unless a Government is sure of
liament has placed at their dis popular support, not on this or
posal for enforcing the passage of that particular measure only, but
sach measures as they believe in on the broad question of principle
their hearts to be just and neces- at issue between themselves and
sary, they doubt if they could de- their opponents, their steps must
pend on the moral support of the necessarily be few and halting,
nation? If, with their present the steps of men more concerned
majority, they fear an Opposition with what it is necessary to avoid
in the Commons, it looks very than with what it is desirable to
much as if they feared an opposi attain, regarding theirown power as
tion in the country; for nothing a house built upon the sand, and
else can make the party led by pretty certain to be overthrown
Sir William Harcourt, however by the first gust of popular caprice.
well commanded, really formidable

. Unless Conservative Governments
If on educational, ecclesiastical, believe in Conservatism in the
or agricultural questions they are abstract--and that it is what the
not sure of being in sympathy instincts of the British people nat
with the majority of the people, it prally incline to--they are in a
is

easy to understand why they false position as regards both their
should not make the most of their functions.
majority in Parliament. Yet it is Assuming, for the sake of
difficult to believe that Mr Balfour, ment, what we do not really believe,

argu-
the very Minister who tells us that that the present Government does
he has learned his lesson, can have feel doubtful of its hold upon the
any doubt of the feeling of the nation, all we hear about the
country when he sees the process swing of the pendulum” becomes
of " slow but steady conversion" at once intelligible. We have
to Conservatism going on before often regretted the frequent recur.
bis

rence of these words in Unionist
Mr Asquith’s is a more plau- and Ministerial speeches : they are
sible account of the matter, at very disheartening to the great
all events. He asserts that Lib. body of their supporters in the
eralism is still really upper country; and, what is more, they
most ; and that as soon as the certainly convey the impression
policy of the Government in that in the opinion of the speakers
regard to education was fully there is no such thing as political
realized, they were given to faith left among the body of the
understand pretty plainly that people. If every class in the
the country would none of it. country is guided only by its own
Mr Asquith's language is certainly special interests, and approves or
not inconsistent with the conduct condemns a party as it advances

eyes.

VOL, CLXI.NO. DCCCCLXXV.

L

must be something further, some of the Government, and Mr Balthing behind all this, to account four's is.

four's is. Yet it is impossible to for the language of the Govern- doubt that on the question of fact ment. Can it be — we ask the Mr Balfour is in the right. Be question with infinite reluctance— this as it may, the Ministry on the can it be that Ministers do not whole have contrived to create an feel certain of the public? that impression on the public mind that they doubt whether confidence in they are not sure of their ground. themselves extends beyond the And if the impression is correct, question of Home Rule ? and that, we need not inquire any further. if they used the means which Par- Unless a Government is sure of liament has placed at their dis- popular support, not on this or posal for enforcing the passage of that particular measure only, but such measures as they believe in on the broad question of principle their hearts to be just and neces at issue between themselves and sary, they doubt if they could de- their opponents, their steps must pend on the moral support of the necessarily be few and halting, pation ? If, with their present the steps of men more concerned majority, they fear an Opposition with what it is necessary to avoid in the Commons, it looks very than with what it is desirable to much as if they feared an opposi attain, regarding theirown power as tion in the country; for nothing a house built upon the sand, and else can make the party led by pretty certain to be overthrown Sir William Harcourt, however by the first gust of popular caprice. well commanded, really formidable. Unless Conservative Governments If on educational, ecclesiastical, believe in Conservatism in the or agricultural questions they are abstract-and that it is what the not sure of being in sympathy instincts of the British people natwith the majority of the people, it urally incline to—they are in a is easy to understand why they false position as regards both their should not make the most of their functions. majority in Parliament. Yet it is Assuming, for the sake of argudifficult to believe that Mr Balfour, ment, what we do not really believe, the very Minister who tells us that that the present Government does he has learned his lesson, can have feel doubtful of its hold upon the any doubt of the feeling of the nation, all we hear about the country when he sees the process "swing of the pendulum” becomes of "slow but steady conversion” at once intelligible. We have to Conservatism going on before often regretted the frequent recur

rence of these words in Unionist Mr Asquith's is a more plau- and Ministerial speeches : they are sible account of the matter, at very disheartening to the great all events. He asserts that Lib. body of their supporters in the eralism is still really upper- country; and, what is more, they most; and that as soon as the certainly convey the impression policy of the

of the Government in that in the opinion of the speakers regard to education was fully there is no such thing as political realised, they were given to faith left among the body of the understand pretty plainly that people. If every class in the the country would none of it. country is guided only by its own Mr Asquith's language is certainly special interests, and approves or not inconsistent with the conduct condemns a party as it advances VOL. CLXI.-NO. DCCCCLXXV.

L

his eyes.

But we never heard of a Minister should the other be? Mr Gladbeing prevented from passing his stone's majority in 1869 was a measures by the largeness of his hundred and twenty. We do not majority. The greater it is, the see, therefore, how the miscarmore liable it is to fall asunder riages of the Government. are in and to cause the breakdown of the

any way traceable to the largeGovernment. But while it holds ness of their majority. We have together there will always be no right to expect more from a enough Ministerial votes to carry Government with a majority of through a Cabinet measure. The a hundred and fifty, than from weakness to which overgrown ma one with a majority of eighty. jorities are always liable has This we have often admitted. But been explained by Lord Beacons we have a right to expect as much. field once and for ever in his ac Unless, then, we are prepared to count of the first Reform Ministry allow, either that no Ministry could - a locus classicus in political pass two such measures as the literature; and fifty years after- Education Bill and the Agricultuwards Mr Balfour has nothing to ral Rating Bill in a single session, add to it: in fact, he uses almost or else that an overwhelming mathe same words as are used in jority is a positive hindrance to Coningsby.' But although the in- legislative progress, we must look firmities incidental to a majority of for some other explanation of what three hundred led to an early break certainly requires to be explained, up of Lord Grey's Cabinet, it did in order to justify the changed not prevent the Ministry from tone in which Ministers now speak completing any one of their princi- of the future. . pal measures. They abolished the Both members of the Governslave trade, they passed the Irishment and influential members of Church Bill, they passed the new the party sometimes are heard to Poor Law, they reconstituted the say, when pressed on any given Bank of England, and they took point, “Oh yes, what you say is the Factory question out of the perfectly true; what you suggest hands of a private member and is perfectly right; but what chance passed the first Factory Act, the would there be of carrying such a foundation of all the rest. Here measure in the House of Oomwere five great measures of quite

mons ?

We want to know why. the first class carried in two years Would Peel or Palmerston, or Mr in spite of a strenuous opposition : Gladstone in his best days, or Lord so that although too large a ma- Beaconsfield, have talked in this jority may be a source of internal manner? When Government speak disorder, and hasten the dissolu- of opposition in the House of Comtion of a Ministry, it does not neces mons, what opposition do they sarily destroy its working power mean? Not the opposition of the while it lives; just as we often Radicals, for that could easily be men suffering from internal

overcome ; and only in part the complaints which shorten their opposition of their own supporters, lives, who retain nevertheless their for a considerable flake might be debodily or muscular powers in full tached from the Ministerial party, vigour. Besides, Lord Grey's ma and even transferred to their opjority was twice the size of Lord ponents, without depriving them Salisbury's; and if the one was of sufficient strength to carry no bar to heroic legislation, why any measures they pleased. There

see

must be something further, some of the Government, and Mr Balthing bebind all this, to account four's is. Yet it is impossible to for the language of the Govern- doubt that on the question of fact ment. Can it be — we ask the Mr Balfour is in the right. Be question with infinite reluctance— this as it may, the Ministry on the can it be that Ministers do not whole have contrived to create an feel certain of the public? that impression on the public mind that they doubt whether confidence in they are not sure of their ground. themselves extends beyond the And if the impression is correct, question of Home Rule? and that, we need not inquire any further. if they used the means which Par- Unless a Government is sure of liament has placed at their dis- popular support, not on this or posal for enforcing the passage of that particular measure only, but such measures as they believe in on the broad question of principle their hearts to be just and neces at issue between themselves and sary, they doubt if they could de- their opponents, their steps must pend on the moral support of the necessarily be few and halting, nation? If, with their present the steps of men more concerned majority, they fear an Opposition with what it is necessary to avoid in the Commons, it looks very than with what it is desirable to much as if they feared an opposi- attain, regarding theirown power as tion in the country; for nothing a house built upon the sand, and else can make the party led by pretty certain to be overthrown Sir William Harcourt, however by the first gust of popular caprice. well commanded, really formidable. Unless Conservative Governments If on educational, ecclesiastical, believe in Conservatism in the or agricultural questions they are abstract—and that it is what the not sure of being in sympathy instincts of the British people natwith the majority of the people, it urally incline to-they are in a is easy to understand why they false position as regards both their should not make the most of their functions. majority in Parliament. Yet it is Assuming, for the sake of argudifficult to believe that Mr Balfour, ment, what we do not really believe, the very Minister who tells us that that the present Government does he has learned his lesson, can have feel doubtful of its hold upon the any doubt of the feeling of the nation, all we hear about the country when he sees the process "swing of the pendulum” becomes of "slow but steady conversion” at once intelligible. We have to Conservatism going on before often regretted the frequent recur

rence of these words in Unionist Mr Asquith's is a more plau- and Ministerial speeches : they are sible account of the matter, at very disheartening to the great all events. He asserts that Lib. body of their supporters in the eralism is still really upper- country; and, what is more, they most; and that as soon as the certainly convey the impression policy of the Government in

in that in the opinion of the speakers regard to education was fully there is no such thing as political realised, they were given to faith left among the body of the understand pretty plainly that people. If every class in the the country would none of it. country is guided only by its own Mr Asquith's language is certainly special interests, and approves or not inconsistent with the conduct condemns a party as it advances

VOL. CLXI.—NO. DCCCCLXXV.

his eyes.

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