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dinary demonstration, and the assistance of the public thereby obtained for the passing of a strong measure. “Even if one does call them names," said Mrs. Gamp, vindicating her treatment of her patients, “it's only done to rouse them."
The measure did not prove to be a very strong one, but it did something toward Mr. Plimsoll's object. The Government afterward promised to supplement it by legislation regulating in some way the system of maritine insurances, which they justly declared to be essential to any satisfactory and final settlement of the question. It is clear that so long as the existing system of maritime insurance was allowed to prevail, the temptation to unscrupulous ship-owners would continue to be almost irresistible, and that no legislation merely applying to the fabric of the ship could properly secure the lives of the seamen. Other things, however, interfered with the carrying out of the Government proposals, such as they were. The regulation of maritime insurance was forgotten. Mr. Disraeli's colleagues soon had too many questions of imperial interest on their hands in all parts of the world to have time or inclination for business of so homely a nature as a measure for the protection of the lives of English merchant seamen. Nothing further was done during the reign of the Conservative Ministry to complete the scheme which they had promised in the beginning, and many sessions after the House saw another outburst of passion on the part of Mr. Plimsoll, another attempt of the Government to put him to censure, and another distinct declaration on the part of the country, that however Mr. Plimsoll might have offended against the rules of the House, his spirit and purpose were thoroughly in unison with the feelings of the public.
The Government seemed for a while, however, inclined to keep plodding steadily on with quiet schemes of domestic legislation. These were not usually very comprehensive or
drastic schemes. They were rather of the kind which illnatured critics would describe as tinkering. The Govern. ment tinkered at a measure for the security of improvements made by agricultural tenants. They made it purely permissive and therefore thoroughly worthless. This one defect tainted many of their schemes of domestic reform--this inclination to make every reform permissive. It seemed to be thought a clever stroke of management to introduce a measure professedly for the removal of some inequality or other grievances, and then to make it permissive and allow all parties concerned to contract themselves out of it. Thus it was said in effect to the agricultural tenant: “Behold, here is a bill to enable you to hold fast the fruits of your expendiand your labor;" and to the landlord:
“ You have no cause to be alarmed; for you see this is only a permissive bill, and you can contract yourself out of it if your tenants agree, and of course they must agree.” Mr. Cross, the Home Secretary, however, proved a very efficient minister, and introduced many useful schemes of legislation, among the rest an Artisans' Dweiling Bill, the object of which was to enable local authorities to pull down houses unfit for human habitation and rebuild on the sites. The Government made experiments in reaction here and there. They restored the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, which had seemed actually doomed. They got into some trouble by issuing a circular to captains of war vessels on the subject of the reception of slaves on board their ships. The principle which the circular laid down was in substances a full recognition of the rights of a slave-owner over a fugitive slave. The country rose in indignation against this monstrous reversal of England's time-honored policy; and the circular was withdrawn and a new one issued. This too proved unsatisfactory. The Government made excuse by pleading that something of the same kind had been done before under a Liberal administration, and attempted to
satisfy public feeling by declaring that a slave was not to be handed back if the slave's life would be endangered by the withdrawal of the shelter of the English flag. Thereupon it was at once asked, is a woman slave to be handed back to a ravisher? The Government became entangled in a whole network of contradictions and difficulties, and after having tried various expedients, appointed commissions, and made other futile efforts to get out of the trouble, they had at length to allow the old principle to reassert itself, and the flag of England, whether it floats on sea or land, to be a protection and a shelter for the slave. Of course it is not intended that Enhlish vessels of war shall hold out invitations to fugitive slaves or act as the propagandist agents of the principles of personal freedom. But the broad plain principle long established was, that when a slave does get on board an English vessel, just as when he touches British soil, he is free and is not to be restored to slavery ; and that principle the Government saw themselves at last compelled to reaffirm. It was impossible for them to resist the popular demand; some of their own men in the House of Commons fell away from them and insisted that the old principle must be kept up, and that the slave-owner shall not take his slave from under the shadow of the English flag.
All this time what was Mr. Gladstone doing? He appeared to have withdrawn from the paths of parliamentary life and almost from the political world. He was very busy, indeed, in another way., He had taken to polemical literature. He was writing a series of essays to prove that the doctrine of papal infallibility, if strictly acknowledged by Catholics, would place their allegiance to whatever sovereign entirely at the disposal of the pope. He was stirring up a heated controversy by endeavoring to prove that absolute obedience to the Catholic Church was henceforward inconsistent with the principles of freedom, and that the papal
doctrine was everywhere the enemy of liberty. Cardinal Manning, Dr. Newman, and other great controversialists had taken the field against Mr. Gladstone, and the argument went on for a considerable time without abatement of eagerness. Grave politicians were not a little scandalized at the position taken by a statesman who only the other day was prime minister. There seemed something curiously undignified and unseemly in Mr. Gladstone's leading a theological controversy. A speaker at an evangelical meeting in Exeter Hall would have been quite in his place when using such arguments as those employed by Mr. Gladstone; but a sharp polemical controversy provoked by a great statesman was something new in the modern world. One conclusion was adopted everywhere. It seemed clear that Mr. Gladstone never meant to take any leading part in politics again. Surely, it was said, if he had the remotest idea of entering the political field anew, he never would have thus gratuitously assailed the religious belief of the Rome an Catholic subjects of the queen. Nor, indeed, did it appear as it it would be very suitable for England to have a statesman in office again who must have given offence to all the Catholic sovereigns and ministers of Europe. Unfriendly critics hinted that Mr. Gladstone was writing against the Pope and the Vatican in order to wreak his grudge because of the condemnation of his Irish University Bill by the heads of the Catholic Church in Ireland. It is not probable that any personal motive influenced Mr. Gladstone in a course which all his true admirers of whatever political party must have been sorry to see him follow. He had always a keen relish for theological disputation. He had in him much of the taste and the temper of the ecclesiastic. A religious controversy came to him as the most natural sort of recreation after the fatigue and disappointments of the political arena. Carteret, driven from office, " retired laughing," says Macaulay, "to his books and his bottle.''
Fox found relief from political work in his loved Greek anthors. Talleyrand played whist. Mr. Gladstone sought relaxation in religious controversy. He was as eager about it as ever he had been about a Budget or a Reform Bill. He assailed the Pope as if he were attacking Mr. Disraeli. He declared against the Vatican as if he were overwhelming the Tory opposition with his rhetoric. There was an earhestness about him which made some men anile and others feel sad. Most of his friends shook their heads; most of his enemies were delighted. Out of this depth it seemed impossible that he could ever rise. Mr. Disraeli had once said, “there was a Palmerston." Did he feel tempted now to say “there was a Gladstone"?
in the beginning of 1875, Mr. Gladstone had formally retired from the office of leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons. There was some difficulty at first about the choice of his successor. Two men stood intellectually high above all other possible competitors-Mr. Bright and Mr. Lowe. But it was well known that Mr. Bright's health would not allow him to undertake such laborious duties, and Mr. Lowe was quietly assumed to have none of the leader's qualities. Sir William Harcourt had not weight enough ; neither had Mr. Goschen; the time of these two men had apparently not yet come. The real choice was between Mr. Forster and Lord Hartington. Mr. Forster, however, knew that he had estranged the Nonconformists from him by the course he had taken in his education measures, and he withdrew from what he felt to be an untenable position. Lord Hartington was therefore arrived at by a sort of process of exhaustion. It is not too much to say that had he not been the son of a g!eat Whig duke nu human being would ever have thought of him as leader of the Liberal Party. But it is only right to add that lie proved much better than his promise. He had a robust, straightforward nature, and by constant practice he made