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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, had 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 Hartingtou'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 Government in Dublin. From January to April Mr. Gladstone's assurances that Home Rule meant true union drew over to his support many weak-kneed men. But the situation hardened on the introduction of the Home Rule Bill, which made it necessary for members, with their eyes opened to Mr. Gladstone's real policy, to take sides definitely for or against it. Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Trevelyan now joined Lord Hartington. The Bill was rejected, nearly a hundred Liberals voting against it. The country supported the House of Commons, and the 'Dissentient Liberals' rapidly contituted themselves into a powerful 'Liberal Unionist party.'
These events of half a generation ago have decided the subsequent course of English politics. The Liberal Unionist action of 1886 has been completely justified. It has been proved that the Union can be maintained, that law and order can be upheld in Ireland, that the British House of Commons is not at the mercy of the Irish Nationalist members, and bound for the sake of its own peace and efficiency to accept the disintegrating policy which Mr. Parnell or his successors would force upon it. Events have also shown that the rejection of Home Rule, and the defeat of the Home Rule alliance, have not condemned the country to a period of ' Tory stagnation.' The Unionist administrations that since the General Election of 1886 have been in power have carried measures of wide reform which would have brought no little credit to any purely Liberal ministry. The statutes establishing representative local government in counties, and in London, and for providing free education, have taken away all reality from the taunt that Unionist is a new word signifying Old Tory. In simple truth the Liberal Unionist party has accomplished almost to the letter the arduous task which in 1886 Lord Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain advised it to undertake. Thus 'plain 'Whig principles' are still in the ascendant, denounced, no doubt, as heretofore by extremists of both the great parties, but forming nevertheless the ground-work of English political feeling amongst the large majority of educated, responsible men.
The triumph of the Unionist party, Conservative and Liberal, has in truth been so complete that their adversaries now hardly venture to keep the Home Rule flag flying. What, then, is to divide parties, if, by general consent of English politicians, the policy for which Mr. Gladstone fought is abandoned? For our part we should gladly see the Opposition rid itself of the millstone that has so long hung round its neck. As yet it remains to be proved that it has so freed itself or can so free itself; and till this is shown, the country can put no confidence in the unionism of the Liberal party. No statesmen will get the support of the country, however they may label themselves or their followers, who cannot be trusted to maintain the parliamentary union of England and Ireland. Lord Rosebery is not the only leading Liberal who has come to recognise that with the electorate of Great Britain unionism is a sine qua non.
Circumstances and conditions have greatly changed with the political, literary, and scientific world since first
....'" The Review" Spread its light wings of saffron and of blue.'
The functions of a quarterly critical journal in 1902 are not precisely those which it was the mission of the ' Edinburgh' to perform a hundred years ago. There is certainly to-day no lack in quantity of criticism. Journalism has become the profession of a very large number of highly cultivated men and women, who justly pride themselves on their marvellous literary facility, and their readiness to turn to account the results of their own extensive reading. There probably never was a time when there was more ability of this kind available. Reviewing has, in recent years, become one of the regular functions of the daily press, and it is even the fashion for newspapers to publish reviews of books likely to interest the public on the very day that they appear! The monthly reviews, whatever the reason, do not concern themselves very largely with the discussion of general literature, and the weekly papers, which, as a matter of course, notice all the new books of any importance, though they often contain conspicuously able reviews, yet, from the necessary limitations of space, leave a wide field of usefulness open to quarterly critics. Books that have taken able and learned men years to write deserve to be pondered, not merely to be read, by those who would give a really adequate account of them, and would criticise them in the old and true sense of the word. It is one great advantage of the quarterlies, that even in these days of electricity they have time to think!
In the regions of science, and in the study of Nature, it is needless to refer to the gigantic strides that have been made. In a later article we discuss at length some of the results that have flowed from the life-long researches and patient investigations of Darwin. It is not without interest that in one of the very earliest numbers of the Review * we comment in the following words upon the theories of his father, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, as disclosed in his poem the 'Temple of Nature.' 'Darwin seems to think himself 'warranted in concluding that there are no fixed or in'surmountable barriers between the different species of 'animals.' Half a century later came the epoch-making 'Origin of Species'; and now after another fifty years we are able to take stock of the manifold results, direct or indirect, that have followed from the developement of the Darwinian theory. A third generation of Darwins has now made its mark in the study of natural phenomena, and already takes a front rank amongst those who are driving back the limitations of human knowledge.
Still, when all is said and done, no approach has been made to laying bare the great secrets of Nature. The heavens are not rendered less mysterious by the discovery that the heavenly bodies conform to rigid laws; nor is humanity more intelligible because in the animal and vegetable world fixed rules appear to regulate the variation of species. In the great controversies of the century both sides—the men of science and the men of religion—have learned something. The former have begun modestly to admit that their knowledge only carries them a certain way, and that beyond the large area in which they operate, they are no better qualified than others to lay down the law. 'They didn't know everything down in Judee.' On the other hand, if we may say so with all respect, the protagonists of supernaturalism have in these same controversies learned to lay greater store by common sense. They are learning to regard as friends the reasoning faculties of the human brain. They are ceasing to be afraid of every increase to our stock of demonstrated truth, and even to find in the highest exercise of ' the reasoning powers divine,' additional cause for their belief in a region above and beyond this material world.
For the greater part of the first half of last century several of the great Whig magnates took an interest in literature and the arts, second only to their interest in politics. The names of Holland House, Lansdowne House, and Bowood, recall to every one a time when Whiggism and literature went hand in hand, and a society where Edinburgh reviewers were as much in their element as when enjoying
* Edinburgh Review, July, 1803.