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most earnest Catholic supporters by the energy of his attacks upon the political influence of their Church. There can be no doubt that, although in neither house of Parlia. ment could any expression of censure be obtained, the “Colliery explosion," as it was called, and the “Ewelme scandal" gave a downward push to the declining popularity of Mr. Gladstone's administration,
The “liquor interest," too, was soon in arms against him. The United Kingdom Alliance" for the suppression of the liquor traffic" had of late years been growing so strong as to become a positive influence in politics. Its object was to bring about the adoption of legislation which should leave it in the power of a two-thirds majority in each locality to stop altogether, if it were so thought fit, the public sale of intoxicating drinks. The parliamentary leader of the agitation was Sir Wilfrid Lawson, a man of position, of great energy, and of thorough earnestness. Sir Wilfrid Lawson was not, however, merely energetic and earnest. He had a peculiarly effective style of speaking, curiously unlike that which might be expected from the advocate of austere and somewhat fanatical sort of legislation. He was a humorist of a fresh and vigorous order, and he always took care to amuse his listeners and never allowed his speeches to bore them. The Alliance was always urging on the Government and public opinion against the drink traffic, and it became clear that something must be done to regulate the trade. Mr. Bruce, the Home Secretary, brought in a bill which the Alliance condemned as teebleness, and which the publicans resented as oppression. The bill increased the penalties for drunkenness, and shortened the hours during which public-houses might be kept open on Sundays, and on week days as well. The effect of the passing of this nieasure was to throw the publicans into open hostility to the Govern. ment. The publicans had an old grudge against Mr. Giau. stone himself. In former days he had been guiity of passing
a measure which allowed the light wines of France to be sold in bottles by the grocers, and drank in pastry-cook shops and refreshment-houses ; and the publicans highly disapproved of such innovations on the traditional ways of the British Constitution. Some of their advocates, indeed had denounced with a generous ardor the policy which would promote intemperance by allowing any one but a public-house keeper to sell a glass of wine. The debaucheries of the pastry-cook shops were described in language that recalled the days of Colonel Sibthorp's prognostications as to the corrupting influence of French wines and French morals. Mr. Bruce's Licensing Act was a new wrong charged at the door of Mr. Gladstone. Gin Lane and Beer Street rose in rebellion against him. The publicans were a numerous body; they were well organized; the network of their trade and their association spread all over the king. dam. The hostile feelings of some were perhaps not unnat. urally embittered by the fact that many speakers and writers treated all publicans alike, made no distinction between the reputable and the disreputable, and involved in a common condemnation honest “ Mine Host of the Garter" and roguish Boniface of “ The Beaus' Stratagem." It was well known that a large proportion of the publicans carried on a respectable trade, and were losers rather than gainers by drunkenness. Yet in many instances these men found themselves classed with the owners of the most disreputable gin-places, with persons who flourished on the viciousness and the degradation of their fellow-creatures. The natural result of indiscriminate attack was to cause an indiscriminate alliance for the purposes of defence.
These were difficulties thickening across the path of Mr. Gladstone's Government. All the time, too, a sullen suspicion prevailed among many classes that there had been a lowering of the national pride. Many men regarded the reopening of the Treaty of Paris as a triumph for Russia at
the expense of England, and the Washington Treaty as a submission of this country to the arrogance of the United States. No one undertook to say that there was anything the Government could have done other than what they did ; but the world must have changed indeed when m
men will cease to associate a government with the untoward events that occur during its time, or to hold the minister who has to make the apology responsible for the humiliation which a moralist would see in the original fault, and not in the atonement.
The establishment of a republic in France could not be without its influence on English politics. A certain amount of more or less vague republican sentiment is always afloat on the surface of English radicalism. For some time before the founding of the French Republic, this vague sentiment had been undergoing a crystallizing and strengthening process under the influence of two causes : the success of the North in America, and the gradual degradation of the French Empire under Napoleon III. De Tocqueville had observed long before that the great doubt he felt as to the stability of American Republic was on the question whether it could stand the stress of a great war.
Now it had stood the stress of a great war and had come out all th, stronger for the trial. Imperial France, i rather the empire imposed on France, had come for a moment into peril of collision with the American Republic, and had gone down before it without even making an effort to maintain its arrogant attitude. Facts like these naturally produced a distinct impression upon certain classes in England. The establishment of the French Republic now came as a climax. We have already spoken of the great meetings which were held in London, and in most of the English cities, to express sympathy with the struggling republic; and at some of these meetings a good deal of very outspoken republicanism made itself heard. There could be no doubt that a considerable proportion of
the working-men in the cities were republicans in sentiment. English writers who were not by any means of the sentimental school, but, on the contrary, were somewhat hard and cold in their dogmatism, began to publish articles in “advanced" reviews and magazines, distinctly pointing out the logical superiority of the republican theory. Men were already discussing the possibility of a declared republican party being formed both in and out of Parliament. Not, indeed, a party clamoring for the instant pulling down of the monarchy; no one thought of that; but a party which would avow itself republican in principle, and acknowledge that its object was to bring about such a change in public sentiment as might prepare the way for a republic in the time to come. Mr. Frederick Harrison, a writer of ability and reputation, declared in one of the reviews that the adop. tion of the republican form of government by the English people at some time or other was as certain as “the rising of tomorrow's sun." Of course there have always been republican sentiments among certain classes of Englishmen; and any breath of change on the Continent is sure to fan them into a little flame that flickers for a while. This time, however, many people thought that the sentiment was really going to convert itself into a principle, and that' the principle might see itself represented by a political party.
France, which had given the impulse, gave also the shock that brought reaction. The wild theories, the monstrous excesses, the preposterous theatricism of the Paris Commune had a very chilling effect on the ardor of English republicans. The movement in England, had, however,
or two curious episodes before it sank into quiescence.
In March, 1872, Sir Charles Dilke brought on a motion, in the House of Commons, for inquiring into the manner in which the income and allowances of the Crown are expend. ed. Sir Charles Dilke had been for some months of the pre
ceding autumn the best-abused man in Great Britain. His name appeared over and over again in the daily papers. He monopolized for weeks the first leading article in every journal. The comic papers caricatured “Citizen Dilke" every week. In the theatrical burlesques his name was the signal for all manner of drolleries and buffooneries. The telegraph-wires carried his doings and speeches everywhere. American correspondents “interviewed” him, and pictured him as the future President of England. He went round the towns of the North of England, delivering a lecture on the expenses of royalty, and his progress was marked by more or less serious riots everywhere. Life was sacrificed in more than one of these tumults. A Paris journal described his progress as a sort of civil war. The working men of London and of the North held great meetings to express their approval of his principles and conduct, and to pass resolutions in support of the young baronet who had dared to condemn the expenses of royalty and to avow him. self a republican. Many people really thought that for good or evil the vague, fluent, incoherent movement toward republicanism in England had found its leader at last-that the hour had come and the man. To increase and perplex the excitement, the Prince of Wales fell ill, and if Sir Charles Dilke had personally caused his illness he could not have been more bitterly denounced by some speakers and writers. He was represented as a monster of disloyalty, who had chosen to assail the Queen (against whom it is only tair to say he had never uttered a disparaging word) while her eldest son lay struggling with death. The Prince of Wales, given over by all the doctors, recovered ; and in the outburst of public gladness and loyalty that followed his restoration to health, Sir Charles Dilke was almost forgotten. But he had been challenged to repeat in the House of Commons the sta tements that he had made in the country. He answered the challenge by bringing forward the motion to