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wull o' them there wadna be.mony sic cattle stravaguing aboot the kintraside disheminating their abominable diseases.
NORTH. I own I have no more conception of the meaning of the word in that connection than of the meaning of a “conscientious objector to the multiplication-table. I cannot, however, absolve the medical profession of all blame in the matter, and I am sure our dear Delta would be with me there. Had they uttered a louder and more certain sound, I believe the House of Lords at least might have treated the bill as it deserved. altogether from the merits of the question, the measure objectionable, because it encouraged the belief that Ministers were squeezable by any noisy and obstreperous clique of nuisances. When will politicians learn that the country values firmness in its rulers more than any other quality, and that to know your own mind pays best in the long-run?
TICKLER There is another danger for the party in the present condition of the Liberals, and that is that we may be lulled into a false sense of security. In every Conservative newspaper I read confident predictions that the other side is doomed to be out for the next twenty years.
Such talk is rank nonsense.
SHEPHERD. Jist havers.
NORTH. Moonshine, pure and undiluted. Rem acu tetigisti, most sagacious Southside.
SHEPHERD. Whisht, Mr North; for ony sake keep awa’ frae the Lait'n, or I doot Maister Bir'l, Q.C., 'll be sair displeased. Div ye no' ken ’at he's sworn to tak oot a decreet interdicting, prohibiting, an' dischairging the first man wha daurs to intromit wi' the Delectus ?
TICKLER. You, my dear North, and you too, my dear James, are well aware how ill-founded any such confidence on the part of the Unionists must be. When the Whigs came back from the country in 1832 with the largest majority of the century, it looked as though they were good for a fifty years' spell of office. The Tories, on the other hand, were numerically feeble, and had not recovered that confidence in their leader which he had already betrayed once and was destined to betray again. Yet the process of disintegration in the Ministerial ranks went on
SHEPHERD. Wi' Hairy Brumm aye ready to gie't a helpin' haun' frae within
TICKLER. That in less than three years the Whigs were out for a few
months, and in 1841 Sir Robert Peel returned to power with the handsome majority which he wantonly dissipated five years later. To-day the pendulum swings quicker. Three monthsone month—one week—may so alter the complexion of affairs that the Ministry of the day, instead of basking in the sunshine of public favour, is battered with the winds and rains of unpopularity. No one can foresee what a year may bring forth, and the prospects of any Government are less dependent upon its conduct viewed as a whole than upon the events which happen immediately to precede the natural termination of the Parliament.
A most timely word of warning, my dear Tickler, which I trust all Unionists will take to heart. Yet we who have seen so much may perhaps contemplate the near future of the country at all events with tolerable equanimity. Common-sense political views are now unquestionably held by large classes in the community who were formerly steeped in ignorance and prejudice. There are few localities, I am told, in which a Unionist speaker who knows his business will not meet with a civil and attentive, if not a sympathetic, hearing. Even in Scotland it is not regarded (except by old-fashioned or very youthful Radicals) as a conclusive argument to call your opponent a “Tory” and “boo” him.
SHEPHERD. Ay, conspewy the Tories, as the Monseers wad say, was the auld Radical watchword. Ye mind yon awfu' tale about “Burke Sir Walter”? The Scorpion tells it in his great byuck wi' mair even than his us’al impressiveness an' dignity. Sic things are barely possible noo. We'se hope sae, ony w'y. An' surely we canna be owre gratefu’ to the brave men wha, wi' Maga to encourage an’ inspire, kept aye batterin' awa' in the dark an' dreary days at the dense mass o' poleetical supersteetion. Thankless wark it seemed to try an' stem the tide. Mistress Pairtington wi' her besom had an easier job a’maist than the gallant band wha but the Duke was at their heid? that manfully led a forlorn-hope in auchteen hunder an' auchty.
NORTH. Your metaphors are mixed, James, but your sense is admirable.
SHEPHERD. Toots! wha cares gin the metaphors are a wee confizzed or no'? Weel, to proceed, the flames o bigotry an' prejudice reached their hicht
NORTH. Yet another metaphor !
SHEPHERD. Hoot fie, Mr North, it's no' like you to interrupt. Here's a caulker to ye, to drink the Duke's health in. [Mixes three caulkers, one of which he hands to TICKLER, another to NORTH, while he engulphs the third himself at one draught.] Aweel, to
reshoom. Maitters culdna 'been waur than in the first MidLothian campaign, when “auld Wullie" played on the vanity an’ weaknesses o' the mob like a fiddler on his enstrument. But things hae mended steadily sin syne. When Glesca sends five Unionist members oot o' seeven to Parliament, ye canna weel doot that a better day has dawned for sound prenciples an' generous pawtriotism. An' l’se warrant I needna tell ye that the Shepherd wis a prood man when he hard that the coonty o' Roxburgh was represented in the twinty-saxt Parliament o the United Kingdom by the Yearl o’ Dalkeith, the Duke's son—an' a fine lad he is, sae they tell me. May the Shepherd's tongue cleave to the roof o' his mooth, and his right hand loss its cunning, when he forgets the benefits shoo’red upon him by the hoose an' faim'ly o’ Buccleuch—a hoose that has aye shown to the haill o' Scotland a true example o' public speerit, private virtue, an' true nobeelity!
NORTH. Spoken like a leal and true man, James. Would that Sir Walter had been present to hear you; but Gurney shall send him a certified extract from your speech. To return to our Liberal mutton, it is an evil thing for a party when it voluntarily pursues a course which robs it of the support of a nobleman like Lord Stair. And they are even in worse case now than they were twelve years since. For does it not occur to you, Tickler, that in all their squabbling something of more moment is involved than mere personal differences—though these are acute enough in all conscience ?
You mean a serious difference in political opinion ?
NORTH. Certainly. I regard the breaking out of Sir William Harcourt and Mr John Morley as the dying wriggle of the bad old Liberal view of foreign policy, which has gradually been displaced by the Imperial instinct. Evil notions die hard, and doubtless there are many hardened sinners in the Radical clanjamfrey who are genuinely attached to the policy of cowardice and scuttle, and who think our surrender to the Boers after Majuba Hill a master-stroke. See how eager they are to-day to slander and revile our troops, and to believe the very worst of their own countrymen! Now, such gentry will not resign their opinions without a struggle, and for many years to come they may be strong enough to make their influence felt in the party. But, heaven be praised ! their day of triumph is over, and the spirit of the age will be too strong for them. I give Lord Rosebery infinite credit for diffusing the new spirit among his followers, and for supporting the Government so heartily against France; but I cannot forget that the one man to whom the revival of patriotic sentiment is primarily due was Lord Beaconsfield. We are all Jingoes now, thanks to him.
TICKLER AND SHEPHERD. Hear, hear, hear!
NORTH. No man saw deeper into the future than he; none so abounded in fertile ideas. He would ever have had England bear in mind her glorious past, and let the recollection animate her conduct in the present.
SHEPHERD. He aye lippened to "the shooblime instinc's o' an awncient people.
NORTH. That he did, James. And what thoughtful man but must feel that his Eastern policy was the sound one, had he been able to carry it out? As it was, he snatched from Russia the fruits of her victory, and gave us “peace with honour.” Think again how he brought the Indian troops to Malta. We all remember how, when told there was no precedent for such a course, he calmly replied, “So much the worse for precedent." That master-stroke for the first time awoke the average man to the conception of the greatness and oneness of the Empire.
TICKLER. And the Colonies, sir, what of them? Is any Briton so infatuated as to propose to cut the painter and set them adrift ?
SHEPHERD. Na, na, sir; gif ony yin propozzes that, he suld be cavied in an assylum for the rest o's days wi's brither lunattics.
TICKLER. It is good to think how the ties which unite us to our colonies are ever being drawn closer. This Imperial Penny Postagewhat does it not mean for those whose sons or brothers are fighting the battle of life in Canada, or Australia, or the East Indies, or the West ? But come, as Mr North has obliged, I'll e'en follow his good example and tune up. The words are from the pen of our friend Neil Munro, whose John Splendid, excellent as it is, marks but the beginning, I am sure, of a great career.
Are you not weary in your distant places,
Far far from Scotland of the mist and storm,
The days so long and warm?
The ghastly woods where no dear memories roam,
To the highlands and the lowlands of your Home?
Wild cries the Winter, loud through all our valleys
The midnights roar, the grey noons echo back;
Beat for kind harbours from horizons black;
We are the men, we battle, we endure !
Of swooning winds, calm seas, and skies demure !
Wild cries the Winter, and we walk song-haunted
Over the hills and by the thundering falls,
In dolorous dusks by immemorial walls.
And lightning rend the pine-tree on the hill,
Children of tempest all unshaken still.
We wander where the little grey towns cluster
Deep in the hills or selvedging the sea,
To shelter from the day's inclemency;
A light will shine out in the sounding glen, And it will mind us of some fond eye's sparkling,
And we'll be happy then.
Let torrents pour, then, let the great winds rally,
Snow-silence fall or lightning blast the pine, That light of Home shines warmly in the valley,
And, exiled son of Scotland, it is thine. Far have you wandered over seas of longing,
And now you drowse, and now you well may weep, When all the recollections come a-thronging,
Of this rude country where your fathers sleep.
They sleep, but still the hearth is warmly glowing
While the wild Winter blusters round their land ; That light of Home, the wind so bitter blowing
Look, look and listen, do you understand ?
Here is the cottage, here the open door ;
They're yours, and you are ours for evermore,
NORTH. Bravo! Bravo!
SHEPHERD. Brawvo! Brawvo! There's an eerie sough aboot thae lines, a