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NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND POPULAR DEMANDS.
On the eve of the fifth session kind of discontent more deeply of the present Parliament, with seated than either of these, important domestic legislation and resting on
solid immediately before us, and re- grounds. And truth compels cent events which we need not us to acknowledge that the particularise too closely but a disapproval of the present
may Government which lurks in the be well to consider under what Unionist ranks at this moment auspices Ministers enter on their is not without some element task, and what prospect they of this description, and that it have of bringing it to a suc is exclusively due neither to cessful issue. It is not to be transient peevishness on the denied that some dissatisfac
to sectional tion exists among their own disappointments on the other. followers; and perhaps the Our readers well know the same might have been said of sentiments of 'Maga' on the every Government that has foreign policy of the Ministry; lived into its fifth session for and when we advise both Conthe last seventy years.
But servatives and Liberal Unionit must not on that account be ists, on the announcement of the supposed that this discontent is Government measures, to judge always of the same kind and can them entirely on their merits, always be summarily dismissed and not to allow themselves to with the consoling reflection be influenced by any external that it is only what is common considerations, we shall not be to all Governments. There are misunderstood. It should be several forms of this complaint, left to the Opposition to use to which all parties in turn mistakes in one department of are liable.
Sometimes it arises administration for the purpose from pure satiety, mere weari- of discrediting others which are ness of Aristides, and corre- totally
totally unconnected with it. sponds with the proverb that we can hardly doubt that Conyou may have too much even servatives in general will reof a good thing. Sometimes cognise the truth that a Minit is only the querulous murmur ister who is unsuccessful in of men who must be finding diplomacy may nevertheless be fault with something, and can the most trustworthy guardian never restrain this propensity of the Constitution, and of the for more than a very brief rights and liberties of all classes period. Sometimes, since in of her Majesty's subjects. parties composed of hetero But the discontent referred geneous materials it is im- to is not entirely confined to possible to please everybody, the foreign policy of the Govthe rebellious feeling is sec ernment. Some there are who tarian. But there is also object to the whole tenor of
their recent domestic legisla- ioned Conservatives, that whattion, on the ground that it is ever democratic changes may practical socialism; others think have been rendered inevitable that members of the Govern by the course of events it is ment have shown too much for the democratic party to indifference to the growth of effect; that these changes can Ritualism in the Church, and be made more safely through that there is a danger that the the agency of a Liberal GovGovernment may be pressed to ernment controlled by a Contake the matter into their own servative Opposition, than by hands and pass a second Public Conservative Government Worship Regulation Act. It is controlled by a Liberal Opposdifficult to say whether their ition; that the Conservatives, refusal or their consent would by allowing the Liberals be the more disastrous. The monopoly of office, could make one would add fuel to the much better terms with them flame; the other would alienate than by keeping up a rivalry thousands of the clergy, who in which their opponents would have no sympathy whatever be always bidding over their with Ritualism, but dislike heads for Radical support, and Government interference still could prevent the necessary
A third charge against changes from going further the Government is their weak- than they themselves would ness in yielding to the clamour have been obliged to carry of a noisy minority on the ques- them had they held the reins tion of vaccination—an error of Government; and that in this no doubt to be regretted, but position they would be at least scarcely sufficient to outweigh equally useful to the constituthe claims of a Conservative tion, and preserve more Government to the confidence pletely at the same cime their of a Conservative people. own dignity and consistency.
Of these three troubles ahead There is something attractive in of us,—the fear of socialism, the this conception of a great defenimpatience of Ritualism, and sive party treating the usual the irritation created by com- rewards of public life as dirt pliance with an ignorant pre- beneath their feet in judice, — we propose on the parison with their duty to the present occasion to deal only constitution, wielding power with the first, as that has the without place, and exercising widest scope, and will probably an influence out of all procontinue to operate as long as portion to their number, bethe Administration lasts. To cause known to be disinterested. those honest Conservatives, then, It is a very pretty theory; and to whom socialism is a bugbear, if we do not accept it, it is not we would offer, with all respect because we do not understand for their principles, the follow or appreciate it, but because the ing considerations.
only conditions which made such It may be, and often is, an arrangement either possible urged by a class of old - fash or desirable have ceased to exist.
Whether it could ever have regulated Conservatism the best been realised at any time, – guarantee for both our moral whether a powerful political and material greatness. They party could ever have been see that the interests of the kept together on such terms,- Unionist party and the interests is
than doubtful. A of the country are identical : party which abjured office, and that Radicalism would destroy could offer no rewards to its public credit, and dry up the adherents beyond the satisfac- springs of commercial entertion of their own consciences, prise; would curtail our emwould find, we are afraid, that pire, and thereby contract our this inducement was not suffi- markets; would degrade or anciently powerful to bring many nihilate aristocracy, and with recruits to their colours—or, at it a great school of culture, all events, that class of recruits manners, and refinement; would of which both parties stand overthrow a Church which is most in need. Young men of
Young men of our best security for religious ability, with their way to make toleration; and through these in the world, however warm various attacks all that their sympathies with the stimulates invention, energy, Conservative cause, could not and adventure, on all that afford to labour where they keeps alive our traditional recould only reap barren honour. spect for authority and order, But it is waste of time to on all that places a check on pursue the inquiry any further. fanaticism or bigotry, would in The division of parties which time destroy our most precious the aforesaid theory presupposes and priceless heritage, the nasurvives only in name. During tional character. the last quarter of a century
The Unionists have so comwe have been passing through pletely identified themselves with a transition period, from which a policy of constructive progress
are only now emerging, that the better part of the popwith new political combina- ulation is now thoroughly on tions, new conceptions of social their side. And it is for our duty and of the relations be- rulers to say whether they will tween class and class, and an keep them so or not. awakened popular intelligence will, there is only one policy no longer to be satisfied with for the Government to pursue. the Radical shibboleths which They must not be frightened deceived a less instructed gen- by hard words, or by the groans eration. The people begin to of political nightmare. The understand that the so-called only sure foundation on which Liberalism of Mr Gladstone our institutions can repose is was fast endangering the em a contented people.
Let the pire. The scales are drop- people of this country see that ping from their
and their rulers are alive to their large majority of the nation — real wants, and ready to satisfy not a mere party majority all their reasonable and natural recognise in a wise and well aspirations, and we need have
no fear of either a bloodless tion for the greater part of the Jacquerie or a tyrannical com- century, and long before. The munism which is wholly alien poor law, the repeal of the corn to the national feeling, the laws, the substitution of direct national traditions, and nation- for indirect taxation, the succesal love of independence. Lord sive extensions of the franchise, Salisbury and his colleagues have all been, under different have adopted the only Conser- names, forms of the same policy. vative method now open to That it has been sometimes them. They take their stand pushed too far, we should be on the only ground which can the last to deny. What have make and keep the Unionist been represented as popular party the national party in the demands have sometimes been country. Their only possible unreal, serving only to cover policy is to ensure constitutional the gratification of class jealstability by the satisfaction of ousies and party animosities. popular demands.
But the principle has been recThere is no reason why these ognised by both parties; and demands should not be met it is too late to protest against by a Conservative Administra- it now, even were there any tion in a generous and sym- wisdom in doing so. The people, pathetic spirit, without either we repeat, are in no sense hostile weakening the machinery of to existing institutions, to rank, government or violating any of property, and privilege. If they the fundamental laws by which can get what they want withsociety is held together. If this
If this out disturbing them, they will is socialism, then socialism is be perfectly contented. If they the truest Conservatism - the can obtain through Conservaonly Conservatism possible. tive channels those material But it is NOT socialism. What comforts to which they consider is really meant by the term themselves entitled, Chatsworth is as likely to find support and Drumlanrig, Blair and Belfrom the present Government voir, Lambeth and Bishopas Plato's Republic. Socialism thorpe may go on for ever, means that all is for society for all the trouble they would and nothing for the individual. take to overthrow them. How can State assistance to What we would insist upon old age and poverty be so de- is, that this outcry against scribed ? If it can, then the socialism is a
false alarm; greatest socialist who has ever that the legislation which has figured among English states- provoked it has no affinity men was Pitt himself.
whatever to socialism properMany years ago, when Mr ly understood; and that the Chamberlain spoke of “ransom,
material comforts, self-respect, he made choice of an unlucky and independence of the workword to express an unquestion- ing - classes may be promoted able truth. What he really by State assistance, without meant was nothing but what deviating one hair's - breadth has been practically in opera- from the truest Conservative
principles. The more contented Conservatives have learned the people are, the more secure their lesson, and understand at are the Crown, the Church, the last that if the constitution, aristocracy, and the whole social the Empire,
the Empire, and the social system under which we live: organisation of Great Britain the more the working-classes are to be handed down to posbecome owners of property, terity uninjured, we must make the more will they respect its the people their protectors. It rights: and the more they are is this conviction by which the protected from the tyranny of Conservative and Unionist party employers, the less will they is now animated. All other disrelish the tyranny of Trades tinctions are obsolete, except Unions. Will any one affirm that between a party which that the Conservative majori- represents great national and ties at the last three general popular interests, and
and that elections, combined with the which is made up of cliques more Conservative tone of all and coteries, each in pursuit sections of the labouring popu- of special objects of its own, lation, is not largely due to the and inspired by no common attitude taken up by the Con- purpose, unless the gratification servative and Unionist leaders? of some of the meanest passions Why do the Liberals and Radi- of human nature may be called cals find that the weapon from which they had hoped so much The chairman of Mr Morley's has lost its edge, and that to meeting at Brechin said they get up any popular agitation met "under a sense of re-estabagainst the House of Lords is lished prestige abroad.” That, a hopeless task? Why cannot at all events, said the Chancellor they find men of property and of the Exchequer, must be Lord position to contest vacant seats ? Salisbury's doing; and that it Is it not because of a general would not have been done by belief that the ascendancy of the Liberals, we know on Mr the united party which now Asquith's own testimony. Mr supports Lord Salisbury is for Chamberlain's weighty arguthe best interests of the country? ment at Wolverhampton, to Is it not in great measure be- show that trade follows the cause the people begin to see flag, was a fitting pendant to that Conservatism is on their Captain Sinclair's admission. own side, and that by supporting With regard to the work of the institutions which they were next session, we must look to once taught to revile they may Mr Chamberlain's speech on the gain all they desire more readily 8th of December last for the than by pulling them down? fullest account of it,—though we The party now led by Lord do not know whether it is exSalisbury has become really haustive, --which has, of course, and truly a national party, brought down the old accusaand as such must of course tion of socialism on his head. take cognisance of what all He is naturally most interested classes in the nation want. in that class of reforms with