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of 1880, he was returned to power seemed to the party at large to promise for the country such an era of peace abroad and steady progress at home as had rendered his first ministry for ever famous. It was not long before troubles and difficulties arose—some inevitable, others clearly attributable to weakness and vacillation in high places. As regards Ireland, legislation not merely of a far-reaching character, but founded on entirely novel principles, was passed. Free trade in land’ had been a Liberal principle, if ever there was one; specially favoured, moreover, by Radical reformers and eminent members and writers of the Cobden Club. State regulation of the land was the panacea of Mr. Gladstone's government for Ireland. Mr. Gladstone's vehement advocacy of the new policy differed very considerably from the weighty reasons alleged in its support by Lord Hartington. By the former the old teachings and tried principles of political economy were lightly dismissed. Only establish the new system, he declared, and the secular wrangling between landlords and tenants in Ireland would for ever cease. By the Whig leader it was urged with much truth that, as a mere matter of fact, a deadlock existed between rent-receivers and rent-payers; for the time, free contract was at an end, and some system of compulsory arbitration must take place in the interest of both, so as to provide a modus vivendi, till natural forces again came into play. Even more responsible than his Land Bill for alienating moderate men from Mr. Gladstone's following was the weakness of his administration in Ireland. The events of 1881-1882, the tyranny established by the Land League, the inability of the constituted authorities to defend the rights of law-abiding men, caused the deepest dissatisfaction amongst a large number of Liberals, who were beginning to fear that Mr. Gladstone, in accordance with the specious phrase-conciliation before coercion—was neglecting the first duty of all civilised government—the maintenance of the law. Men who knew anything of the feeling of the Liberal side of the House of Commons during the years 1881-1884 fully realised the danger to the party, as well as to the country at large, which a surrender on the part of Liberal statesmanship to Irish disaffection was bound to produce.
The Review from early days had shared these fears. It would tolerate no combination with those who were avowedly aiming at the disintegration of the kingdom, and who, in the meantime, were arrogating to themselves in Ireland
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an authority superior to the law. In 1886 the final crisis came. The General Election was no sooner over than Mr. Gladstone made known his conversion to the project long advocated by Mr. Parnell of establishing a separate Parliament and Government in Ireland. This policy, which he had hitherto denounced, he now declared to be the fundamental principle of the Liberal party; and he called upon all Liberals, notwithstanding their recent utterances to the contrary at the General Election, to declare for Home Rule! A new position was thus created, which those who had long advocated the cause of Liberalism had to face. Lord Hartington was a Liberal, so were John Bright, Sir Henry James, Lord Selborne, Mr. Peter Rylands, and many others in both Houses of Parliament and in the country, who had spent their energies for many years in the service of the party. The Review was the oldest and most constant Liberal of them all; but it had always maintained in political controversy that party should be based on fundamental principles, not on mere personal allegiance to leaders, however eminent. In former days its relations had become strained with a far truer exponent of Liberalism than Mr. Gladstone-viz., with Lord John Russell, who in 1857 had thought it his duty to combine with the Conservative party against the Liberal ministry of Lord Palmerston. An article in the Review, written by Mr. Lowe, then Vice-President of the Board of Trade, far too much, it must be owned, in the spirit of an official subordinate, whose place had been in danger, savagely attacked Lord John. The latter's friends brought the matter before Mr. Thomas Longman, the son and successor of the original publisher of the Review, complaining that the article was inconsistent with its Whig character. He thought it right to intimate to Lord John his regret for the personal attack that had been made upon him; for great had been the wrath of the Whig statesman that he, the embodiment of true Whiggism, should have been censured by a Review which wore
the uniform of Charles James Fox.'* And we may add this little incident shows that the publisher of a political periodical is at times called upon to exercise both tact and judgement.
In January, 1886, in the opinion of those who guided the Review, the party, headed by Lord Hartington and Mr. Goschen, joined a few months later by Mr. Chamberlain,
* Letter from Lord John Russell to Mr. Longman,
represented far more truly than the Home Rule Alliance, that was now formed between Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Parnell, the principles dear to the Whig party. In article after article, for more than eighty years, the duty of moderate reform had been urged-of resistance to obstructive Toryism on the one hand, and, if need be, to reckless Radicalism on the other. The time foreseen had arrived. The moderating influence was withdrawn from what still called itself the Liberal party; but its centre of gravity had changed, with the natural consequence that since then it has not been able to stand upright!
History will never forget the great services rendered to the State by Mr. Gladstone; though it is natural that for a time the fatal error of his declining years should obscure in men's eyes the high qualities of his earlier statesmanship. As an ardent free-trader his name will live with that of Sir Robert Peel as the founder of the commercial system under which the country has for the last half-century grown and prospered to an extent without precedent in our history. To a journal of which in their day Francis Horner and McCulloch were pillars, it was inevitable that the transcendant financial genius of Mr. Gladstone, his sound economic doctrines, his firm faith in the merits—commercial and political-of free trade, would strongly appeal. And when, after much consideration, Mr. Gladstone, in 1859, enlisted under the Whig banner of Lord Palmerston, and became Chancellor of the Exchequer, there was every reason to hope that the Liberal party had received an accession of strength which would be beneficial both to themselves and the country. And for many a long year these hopes were fulfilled.
The strong sympathy for freedom abroad shown by Lord Palmerston, Lord John Russell, and Mr. Gladstone, and the services they were able to render to Italian nationality, received the warm approval of everything that was best in the Liberal party. As regards domestic affairs, after Lord Palmerston’s death, the younger and more energetic members of that party, who had borne with some impatience the postponement of reform during the Palmerstonian régime, welcomed Mr. Gladstone's succession to the lead of the House of Commons, and the formation of a more advanced ministry by Lord Russell. The Reform Bill of 1866 was the result. In no period of our parliamentary history have speeches more eloquent, more worthy of a great subject and of a great statesman, been delivered than those of Mr. Gladstone in 1866 and 1867. They roused to a high pitch the enthusiasm of the country, which at the General Election at the end of 1868 gave him overwhelming support. To Mr. Gladstone's first ministry we have already referred. The many reforms it carried were thought out, and thorough, and their merits are now recognised by many of those who at the time opposed them. Amongst the greatest of the measures of that time was Mr. Forster's Education Act, the great foundation of our system of national education. It is sad to call to mind that amongst the bitterest opponents of Mr. Forster were Liberals who attached more importance to sectarian controversy than to the promotion of national education. Their attention was solely concentrated upon the famous 25th clause; and when the dissolution came the discontent of a large portion of the Nonconformist wing, always, and most deservedly, an important section of the Liberal party, was one of the principal causes of what was called the Conservative reaction of 1874.
It must be admitted, however, that the close of the career of Mr. Gladstone's first ministry was marked by unfortunate occurrences. And the suddenness and manner of the dissolution itself, now known to be largely due to circumstances connected with Mr. Gladstone's peculiar position in regard to his own seat in the House of Commons, were almost an outrage on decent constitutional usage. The principal
plank in his platform,' to use an American expression, was the abolition of the income tax-a proposal about which he had not even consulted his colleagues in the Cabinet. This was not the way in which hitherto great political changes had been introduced to the British people. The electorate apparently resented electioneering tactics over which no veil of decency had been thrown. Mr. Gladstone received an overwhelming defeat at the polls, threw up the leadership of the Opposition in the House of Commons, and left it to Lord Hartington to hold together the Liberal party in the time of its adversity, and to repair its strength. Patriotically, ably, and wisely this duty was performed; but it was recognised on all hands that the great majority of 1880 was due principally to the vehemence and burning zeal of Mr. Gladstone, who, after some two years of retreat, bad again thrown himself into the political fray.
Mr. Gladstone once said, with a smile, that in the course of his life he had been called many names, but no one had ever ventured to call him a Whig. And there was in his
conduct throughout, even when he was doing excellent work in the eyes of good Liberals, something that jarred with Whig instincts. As Lord Justice Bowen, as long ago as 1878, said to Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff, 'opinion with • Mr. Gladstone was a zymotic disease.' There was something unhealthy-almost feverish-in the way in which he treated great political subjects: such, for instance, as incometax repeal, Bulgarian atrocities, and Home Rule, to mention three only out of many examples that might be given. Where, again, on the many occasions when the politics of the day seem to trench more or less on matters arousing religious controversy, he might always be trusted to sympathise with the ecclesiastical view of the situation. In this also he was no Whig. Great leader of the Liberal party as he was, these things raised in the mind of no small number of the thinking men amongst his followers a doubt whether they and he would always be able to work together.
In 1886, as we have said, the final crash came. The Liberal party-Whig and Radical—at the dissolution in the winter of 1885 stood together under Mr. Gladstone's leadership for the last time. Mr. Parnell ordered the Irish vote in England to be thrown on the side of the Conservatives. But the Liberal leader had, nevertheless, the support of a large majority of the constituencies of Great Britain. In the House of Commons the Liberal members were now equal to Conservatives and Nationalists together. In these circumstances Mr. Gladstone, without thinking it necessary to gain the approval of his colleagues, embraced Home Rule, and declared it to be the central doctrine of the Liberal creed.
It was no light matter to break with such a leader as Mr. Gladstone. Those who knew him recognised the absolute sincerity of his conviction that the policy he was pursuing was for the good of his country. But what responsible men had to ask themselves was no question as to Mr. Gladstone's motives, but simply whether they could any longer look upon him as a safe guide. The greatness of his qualities, his ascendency over lesser men, his deep earnestness, only rendered him the more dangerous. If Mr. Parnell's policy was a wise and sound one, Mr. Gladstone's whole political career, so far as it concerned Ireland, down to January, 1886, was a mistake. In the most dangerous crisis of recent times Lord Hartington's action saved the State. With Mr. Bright and Mr. Goschen he stood firm against all solicitations to join Mr. Gladstone in preparing a measure for the establishment of an Irish Parliament and executive