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or neglects these, regardless of one side as not "practical,” public considerations, it is only to and to give themselves up enbe expected that the Government tirely to the methods of political should change hands with every empiricism,-then those who talk fresh general election. But by of the swing of the pendulum this hypothesis we surely do great may be quite right. If governinjustice to the British nation, and ment and legislation are to conto the labouring classes in parti- sist only of a series of expericular, whom we charge with the ments, " turn and turn about” is very sin of which in former days the obvious régime to which both they were wont to accuse the parties must submit, and Conaristocracy—that is to say, of being servatives must be content to actuated solely by class interests, roll the stone of Sisyphus up the to the neglect of the general wel- hill only to see it rolled down fare.
again; for, depend upon it, the old Parties, it is true, are not now doctrine of finality will never be divided from each other, as they respected for a moment by the were seventy years ago, by defin- modern Radical. ite principles with which there
We should be extremely sorry could be no trifling. The power if we felt obliged to take this of the Crown, the position of the view of British politics. If the Church, parliamentary reform, the conflict of parties is only to be rights of corporations and other a game of seesaw, how can men vested interests, were questions of great abilities and high aspiron which men felt deeply, and ations continue to take an inwhich they never postponed to terest in it? There are Conservaclass interests. But still, both tives who think very differently; Englishmen and Scotchmen ought who have hoped, and still hope, to have certain general beliefs that the work done by the party with regard to the merits or de- during the last quarter of a merits of the political and social century has not been without its system under which they live. effect upon public opinion, and They ought to be able to make up that the popular mind is gradually their minds whether they think being brought to understand that the country is likely to be greater Conservatism is the best system and happier under a totally new for the welfare of the whole order of things than she is under people. This is what Mr Balfour the constitution which has already says. The effect, of course, would made her great and happy. This not be produced in a day, or withis a question which is totally dis- out some ebb and flow; but we tinct from all particular measures. are surely justified in hoping, with There may be many defects in Mr Balfour, that the progress has the existing edifice---some remed- been steady, and that, if only iable, others perhaps not. Do inch by inch, ground has been they think it wise, for the sake gained which will not easily be of these, to pull down the whole lost again. At all events, it fabric and begin over again ? seems a pity to talk as if there There is something to be said on were nothing whatever to be both sides. But of course, if the said for this view of the subject; nation on the whole cannot be as if both Liberal and Conservagot to look this question in the tive majorities were dictated only face; if they prefer to brush it by love of change, and were as certain to succeed each other at not only to ensure them a third stated intervals as night and day. victory, but to deter their opponIt cannot be very encouraging ents from meddling with their to the subaltern supporters who legislation when they did return work so hard in their respective to power. What we ought to constituencies to keep the party aim at is not to limit our measinterest together, to be told that ures to such as Radicals might be all they may gain in one term of willing to spare, but to ensure for years is sure to be lost in the our policy such a fair trial as shall next. And this, moreover, is one
enable the public fully to appreof those prophecies which tend to ciate it, and make it impossible fulfil themselves. If possunt quia for the Radicals to reverse it. We posse videnter is true, non pos- shall never do this if we believe in sunt quia non videnter is equally the swing of the pendulum. There true. Mr Balfour at Rochdale is no finality now but what is enenjoined upon his hearers the ne- sured by the ascendancy of one cessity for constant effort to keep party. what they had got: they must It is not surprising that the work as hard when they are in attitude of the Government has power as when they are out of it. caused some disappointment to an But what is the good of telling influential section of their supportmen this if another Cabinet Min- ers; and we have expressed plainly, ister gets up directly afterwards we hope not too plainly, the way and says practically that it is no in which it strikes ourselves. It use, and that the swing of the suggests — we hope and believe, pendulum will bring their oppon- falsely—that they are more afraid ents into power at the next elec- of their antagonists than they tion by what has now become a ought to be, and it whets our fixed law?
curiosity to know the cause of We are told, on authority, such timidity. If speculations that as
a Radical Government founded on this not very un
to return to power natural feeling do them any inin another six years, we must justice, is it not their own fault? confine our legislation to such
We have said that the defenthey will be sive and constructive functions of willing to repeal. We are afraid the Government must necessarily that, as far as " rational and mo- work together, and keep step with derate” legislation is concerned, each other. But they can be septhis would leave a very small arately considered ; and whatever margin, to say nothing of the uneasiness may have arisen in undignified and even ignominious connection with the one, Ministers position to which it would reduce should command the confidence of Conservatives. It would be a the whole body of their supporters recognition of the Asquith doc- in regard to the other. Large trine without reserve or qualitica- majorities, though they have been tion. If the Conservatives could made answerable for more than win at only two elections run- can fairly be laid to their charge, ning, and have two Parliaments no doubt have this inconvenience of their own in succession, their namely, that the more supporters measures might have time to you have, the more demands you take root, and their full effect must expect, and the more you to be seen.
This would be likely are bound to disappoint. But the
defensive functions of the Govern- majority, returned in a moment of ment expose them to no such em- passing passion, would be much barrassments. Here all their fol- more difficult to reverse. We lowers are supposed to be of one believe it would be impossible. At mind, and all to be satisfied with all events, no sensible man one thing--the preservation of the wish to see the country plunged empire and the constitution. We into such struggles as these at the fully sympathise with the two imminent risk of civil war. And a great interests whose “moderate Unionist Government is the only and reasonable" claims were last thing that stands between the year set aside. But right and jus-country and a revolutionary party, tice can no more rule the roast in who certainly would not hesitate to representative and popular Govern- proceed to any extremities if they ments than they can in the concert thought they were likely to be of Europe. Nor is remedial legis- successful, and that the results lation the only thing or the prin- would be to benefit themselves. cipal thing for the sake of which The longer the present Governthe present Government exists. ment remain in office, the further If any class in the country, or will they remove from us those any party in Parliament which sources of civil danger which have now supports the Government on their origin in political ambition. Conservative principles, should “We cover,” says Mr Balfour, ever turn against them on partic- “the whole field of moderate and ular measures, or take any steps rational reforms." Therefore, those which might lead to their ultimate who would turn us out because downfall, they would repent in they have something better to sackcloth and ashes before a year propose must mean something was out.
“ neither rational nor moderate.” The defensive function of the That is so. If we turn out the Government is by far the more Unionists, we let in the Radicals; important of the two. Reforms, if and if we let in the Radicals, they not effected at one time, may be are bound to justify themselves carried at another. Mistakes in by those imperial sacrifices and legislation may be repaired. But sweeping organic changes of a great national institution once which they are already the prooverthrown can never be restored. fessed advocates. There are exceptions to the rule, But this whole field of reform, of course. The Church and the be it remembered, cannot be traMonarchy were overthrown in the versed in a day; and if at the seventeenth century, and restored expiration of the present Parliaagain in a few years. But they ment the reasonable demands of were overthrown by military vio- any section of the Unionists relence. It was one man against a main unsatisfied, ought that to nation. And the very fact that be a reason for trying to depose they were swept away so completely a Ministry representing those made the restoration of them in great architectonic principles to their original form all the easier, which all other considerations are for there was no other basis to subordinate build upon. But a revolution effec- The words of the Duke of ted by a parliamentary majority, Wellington in 1845 are well worth though it might be only a snatched referring to. In reply to the
Cabinet memorandum of 1845 he useless, therefore, at the present wrote— "My only object in public day, to suppose that we have any life is to support Sir Robert's Peel’s alternative but to harmonise conadministration of the Government stitutional principles as far as for the Queen. A good Govern- possible with the democratic spirit. ment for the country is more im- The most Conservative Governportant than Corn laws or any ment that we could imagine even other consideration." In the fol- in our dreams could do no more lowing January he writes to than this. It may be done, of Croker—“I felt that the existing course, with different degrees of Corn law was not the only interest success; nor does the situation of this great nation.” The italics in demand any servile submission to this latter sentence are the Duke's Radical dictation. A dog is never own. Much, therefore, as so likely to bite as when
show should regret any such further yourself afraid of him. The Confailure of the Government to servative instinct of the country satisfy the justifiable demands of at large would not go so far as to the most loyal and faithful section refuse all concessions to Liberalof their followers, as could only ism; but it would, we believe, be set down to causes calculated back up any Government that to damp the energies of the whole resisted virtual revolution, and party, we should still say that the covered at the same time “the paramount duty of all who respect whole field of moderate and the constitution or take a pride rational reform.” in the empire was to maintain It is important for Unionists Lord Salisbury's Administration to remember what is the only Politics ought not to be made per- alternative to the present Governsonal. To talk of “punishing" a ment. We may be excused for Minister who has offended you on referring with pardonable satisfacsome particular point, at the im- tion to the repetition by Mr Balminent risk of undermining what four of the very argument we is infinitely more important, is the employed in our November article, language of a woman or a child. entitled " The Party Future."
Mr Disraeli was severe on the When that was written there were “Venetian constitution,” but he some who thought that Lord Rosenever denied its strength and its bery's resignation might lead to stability, of which indeed Venice the formation of a third party herself was a standing illustration. standing between the ConservaWhen this was superseded in 1832, tives and the Radicals. Our reply the dormant authority which he was that there was no longer any hoped would revive to take its room for one; that the ground place did not reappear; and the was occupied ; that the fusion of Whigs, unable to control the the Liberal Unionists and Connew power which they had called servatives had used up all the into existence, were obliged to materials for such a party. Mr become its servants, and to drift Balfour says exactly the helplessly down the stream of thing. If you go outside of our democracy, too strong now for the domestic policy you at once cross aristocratic element in the consti- the line which separates reform tution, while still divided against from revolution. There may be itself, to effectually resist. It is many members of the Radical
" to many
party who do not desire revolu- blows at an ancient order of this tion. But it is the only thing realm." So would the next be: left to them—the only thing that they could not help themselves. they have to oppose to the policy And Mr Balfour is again our of the Government.
authority for what we have sug
earlier “I do not say for a moment that
gested on an page—namely, our opponents are not anxious to
that in these latter days "a slow carry out, on their own behalf, mod- but steady conversion" of the people erate and rational reforms; but I of this country has been taking say the whole field of moderate and place, and that they have come rational reforms is covered by our round to the view,
of party in the sense I have endeavoured
them a new view," that the great to indicate, and that when the other side ask you to turn us out and to
interests of the country are safest put them in, it can only be because
in the hands of the Conservative they bring before you something and Unionist party. It is not for which is neither rational nor moder- Conservatives to arrest the proate, as I think, but some violent in- gress of this conversion by preachterference with our existing Consti- ing the direct contrary-by tellrelations, let us say, between England ing the people that they have no and Ireland, or between Church and political principles at all; and State. Therefore, in the face of that that their votes are regulated by danger, it is most necessary and most an unintelligent caprice, akin to desirable that we should keep our what, rightly or wrongly, we atorganisations at the highest point of tribute to the brute creation. efficiency ; that we should not allow our zeal to cool, so that, when the by many political speakers which
A fact unaccountably overlooked day of stress and danger shall again militates strongly against this united ranks, fully equipped for the theory is that, even at the last battle before us, and, therefore and general election, there was no real consequently, with good hope of swing of the pendulum in Great bringing that battle to a successful Britain. The majority fell, but issue.”
it did not go over to the other Here, be it observed, we have side. We have therefore had a no talk about the swing of the British Unionist majority in three pendulum. Mr Balfour thinks as Parliaments running; and why we do: that to take it for granted not in a fourth? Mr Balfour does that the Conservatism of the coun- not apparently believe in the swing try must have spent its force be- of the pendulum, in the sense in fore the next general election is which the words have been used political suicide. Why should by some of his colleagues and supanother Radical Government be porters; but, as we have already different from the last, which the pointed out, he seems to have little people drove out with contempt faith in the power of the Governand indignation? That is a ques- ment to carry great measures tion which independent men may through the House of Commons very
well ask themselves. The -measures like those which were late Government was “pledged, carried by Mr Gladstone's Governhowever impotently, to break up ment from 1869-1872. We conthe Constitution ; pledged, how- fess we cannot reconcile this frame ever impotently, to disestablish of mind with his belief in the growthe Church, and deal fundamental ing Conservatism of the people,