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ART. XI.-1. England's Case against Home Rule. By A. V. DICEY, B.C.L., Vinerian Professor of English Law in the University of Oxford, &c. London: 1886.

2. The Case for the Union explained and set forth by Lord Hartington, Mr. John Bright, Mr. Goschen, Mr. Chamberlain, and others. Published for the Liberal Unionist Association. London: 1886.

3. Report from the Select Committee on Parliamentary Procedure. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed June 10, 1886. London.

4. Bill to amend the System of Private Bill Legislation in the United Kingdom. (Prepared and brought in by Mr. Sellar, Sir Lyon Playfair, Mr. Raikes, Mr. John Morley, and Mr. Robertson.) Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed January 22, 1886. London.

5. A History of Private Bill Legislation. By FREDERICK CLIFFORD, Barrister-at-Law. London: 1887.

THE

HE last quarter of the eventful year, politically speaking, which has just closed has been relieved from comparative dulness by the sensational desertion of the Government by one of its most active members. Lord Randolph Churchill produced a successful stage effect when he announced his resignation of office through the medium of a newspaper. He was the subject of a good deal of talk and of much journalistic gossip during the early days of the Christmas week, and he probably caused some embarrassment to his colleagues. If he desired to be talked about and to annoy some of the worthy gentlemen with whom he was recently associated, his desires were gratified. But a great deal too much has been made of his hasty and unexpected resignation. Political memories are proverbially short; but it requires no great stretch of memory to go back to the closing days of July. At that time all reasonable politicians were dismayed at the announcement that Lord Randolph Churchill had been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader in the House of Commons. Those who had watched his career were convinced that the appointment would never work. They predicted that he would infallibly lead the Government into trouble, and that he would not be overparticular in his methods of getting it out of trouble. They considered his presence in a highly responsible office as a source of weakness to the Government

and not of strength. It was a menace to the friendly understanding which existed between Lord Salisbury and the flower of the Liberal party led by Lord Hartington. These men have no confidence either in Lord Randolph's discretion or in his stability of purpose. There are ugly matters in his record which they can never forget, and it may be that, when the secret history of the negotiations between Lord Salisbury and Lord Hartington last July comes to be accurately known, it will appear that Lord Randolph's presence in the Administration was not the smallest barrier to a closer co-operation than that which was then established. It is true that during the short autumn session he did better than was expected of him. He was credited with ability and with diligence, and both those qualities he displayed. But he acted with self-respect which was not expected of him, and with straightforwardness. People began to think that the responsibility of high office had sobered him; that he had learned a good deal since he was the irresponsible leader of three other malcontents below the gangway, and that he had profited by his experience. These favourable estimates, however, appear to have been prematurely formed. It would be unfair to judge him unfavourably before he has had an opportunity of explaining the reasons of his action. But appearances point to the presumption that first impressions were, as usual, true, and that flightiness, petulance, and an undue share of egotism, are not incompatible with remarkable ability and praiseworthy diligence. It is only fair, however, to suspend judgement upon a man who is down until we have heard his explanation. All we know at present is that he has elected to desert his colleagues at a critical moment in their own and in the country's destinies, and that he will not have an opportunity of rejoining them. But too much must not be made of this incident. The Government will not be weakened by the loss of their late Chancellor of Exchequer; on the contrary, it is strengthened, notwithstanding the far greater loss it has sustained by the sudden and lamented death of Lord Iddesleigh, a statesman who retained to the last hours of his useful life the affection of his friends, the allegiance of his party, and the respect of the nation, and who discharged with entire fidelity all his duties to the people and to the Crown.

Lord Beaconsfield's Administration went on smoothly enough after he had lost several of his more important colleagues; and Mr. Gladstone's second Government was

not substantially weakened by the resignation of the Duke of Argyll, Mr. Forster, and Mr. Bright, much more valuable ministers than Lord Randolph Churchill. The retirement of Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Trevelyan no doubt affected the late Administration, but it was not the loss of the individuals, it was the strength of the cause which they represented, which told in the House of Commons. Lord Randolph Churchill, so far as we know at present, represents no cause, and no person but himself. He is no longer in the Government, but he has taken no one with him. He has gone, it is stated, from a freak of temper, and because he did not get his way upon some matter in the estimates. We shall hear more of this shortly, and he may have better reasons for his action than those attributed to him. A popular budget is an excellent thing whether in public or in private life. There are times and seasons in which economy may and must be exercised. But the man who, with an improving income, selected the moment when his neighbour's house was filled with inflammable material for cutting down his insurance premium would not be regarded as a prudent man, though he might save a few pounds upon his annual expenditure. The Chancellor of Exchequer who selected the moment for cutting down the estimates for our naval and military defences when all Europe is bristling with arms and waiting for the signal to commence a war of unparalleled proportions, may be regarded as an economical, but hardly as a prudent statesman.

The resignation of the leader of the Lower House within a few weeks of the assembling of Parliament of necessity created confusion, and, in the present anomalous condition of the House of Commons, produced something very like a panic. The case, however, has been met. The Prime Minister had four courses open to him. He might have advised the Queen to dissolve Parliament; he and his Government might have resigned office, and recommended that Lord Hartington should be sent for and entrusted with the formation of a coalition ministry; he might have appointed one of his colleagues in the Lower House to the vacant post and carried on the administration as well as he could with the support of the Unionist Liberals; he might have gone outside the ranks of the Ministry, or even of his own party, and brought in fresh blood, and appointed new men altogether to the office of Chancellor of Exchequer, and to any other offices which might be vacated.

The objections to the first course were overwhelming. The country would most justly have resented the inconvenience and worry of a third dissolution within thirteen months. It would have been unprecedented; it would have amounted to a public scandal; and it would have seriously discredited the principle of representative government. More than that, so far as one can judge by public appearances, it would have resulted in nothing. A House of Commons not dissimilar to the present House would in all probability have been returned. The Irish party might gain a seat or two; the Liberal Unionist party might, at present, lose a seat or two, though that is by no means certain; and the Gladstonians and Conservatives would remain very much as they are. Surely that result would have been a heavy price to pay for the abdication of a Chancellor of Exchequer! If the idea of a dissolution was ever entertained (which we do not believe), it must have been immediately dismissed.

There is much more to be said for the formation of a real coalition ministry under Lord Hartington; but Lord Salisbury appears to have acted with precipitation when he summoned Lord Hartington from Rome. No one can doubt that the offer made to the Liberal leader was genuine, so far as the Prime Minister's inclination and judgement were concerned. He does not particularly care to hold the Premiership. He would be happier in the Foreign Office if Lord Hartington were Prime Minister and leading the Lower House. But putting his personal inclination aside, he presumably considers that the Queen's Government would be better carried on if a genuine coalition and a stable administration were formed under Lord Hartington, and if he and his followers took their full share of the responsibilities of office. No one doubts that Lord Salisbury acted an honest and a patriotic part; and it may be that his colleagues in the Cabinet were not less disinterested. But this is not so certain.

On the other hand there is no reason to suppose that Lord Hartington was obstinately opposed to giving a favourable consideration to the proposals of the Prime Minister, or that he would have found any insurmountable difficulty in persuading the leading men of those with whom he is associated to take office with him, and the bulk of the Unionist Liberals would have loyally supported him. The great obstacle to a coalition in July had removed itself; Lord Randolph Churchill had gone; and without any sacrifice of self-respect Lord Hartington and his leading associates could have

acted in concert with the other members of Lord Salisbury's Cabinet.

Why then was Lord Salisbury precipitate, and how came it about that the negotiations broke down, and that Lord Hartington's hurried return from Rome was rendered futile? The Prime Minister had reckoned without his host. His rank and file in Parliament and his leading election managers. in the country showed signs of mutiny. They felt that the sacrifices they were asked to make were greater than the emergency demanded. We do not blame them for this feeling. In 1853 there were symptoms of a similiar mutiny in part of the Whigs when places were found in the coalition government of the time for what the rank and file of the Whig party considered a disproportionate number of Peelites. That mutiny soon died down, and so probably would this one had a genuine coalition government been formed. The failure, however, of the negotiations has, by the action and the attitude of Lord Salisbury's followers, been complete for the present, and it is only fair that the responsibility should be brought home to them. From the mere party point of view there is a plausible case in favour of their action. Lord Hartington has but a slender following in point of numbers, though it is a stalwart following in point of influence and ability. But the humbler race of party men think of quantity rather than of quality. No one, looking from the outside, knows how rapidly a ministry becomes discredited in the House of Commons when it is badly led in that assembly, and when it lacks the debating talent and the readiness that are begotten of intellectual capacity. When night after night a ministry is hustled and jostled in argument; when its members are unable to hold their own in the fiery ordeal of House of Commons interrogation; when they show feebleness in improvised discussion on the arrangement of business, or on questions of procedure, or on the thousand troublesome points which are raised by the ingenuity of private members; and when they exhibit a marked inferiority in the great debates of the session—when all these things happen, as they must happen when a ministry of mediocrities occupies the Treasury bench, their end is not far off. Election managers in the provinces, or even in the metropolis, and members recently elected to the House of Commons, cannot understand how these things can be. Their minds are fixed on votes, and if they see a large number of votes on one side, and a small number on the other, they very naturally think that the smaller must

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