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FOR THE YEAR
CHAPTER 1. Changes in the Cabinet --Mr. Goschen's Candidature at Liverpool –Irish Difficul.
ties-- The Attitude of the Unionists-Sir George Trevelyan at Hawick-The Round Table Conference-The Unionist Campaign-Lord Hartington at New. castle--Sir Henry James at Manchester—Mr. Chamberlain at BirminghamSir George Trevelyan and Mr. Courtney at Liskeard.
The perplexities into which Lord Salisbury had been thrown by the abrupt withdrawal of Lord Randolph Churchill were not lessened by Lord Hartington's refusal to take office, although the arguments by which the latter supported his determination were irrefutable. The formal coalition of the Unionist Liberals with the Conservatives would, in all probability, have brought about an immediate disruption of the former party. The Radical section, under Mr. Chamberlain, would hesitate to pledge its support of a Ministry in which the Conservatives must of necessity predominate, and in the policy of which they could have no deciding voice. On the other hand, so long as Lord Hartington remained untrammelled by official pledges he would be the recognised leader of the Unionists, and by the weight of his following might hope to exercise a sensible influence over the legislation of the session. Moreover, the defeat of the Salisbury Cabinet, whenever it happened, could, in the existing state of parties, only be followed by a Coalition Cabinet, of which it was useless to stake the existence prematurely.
Mr. Goschen, to whom Lord Salisbury next turned, was alto. gether in a different position. He had no seat in the House of Commons; he had on many important occasions in the past few years separated himself from the Liberal party, especially when it supported proposals he regarded as visionary or unsound. His reputation as a financier, moreover, would give to the Conservative policy the qualities it had lacked since Sir Stafford Northcote's elevation to the peerage; and, above all, the entry of Mr. Goschen into the Cabinet would definitively bar the way to the return of Lord R. Churchill, and the subsequent disruption of the Conservative party.
Mr. Goschen, however, was by no means eager to entertain the overtures that were made to him by Lord Salisbury. He in- șisted upon certain conditions, of which, probably, the most im.: portant was the maintenance of his existing relations with Lord ::. Hartington.
The introduction of two other Unionists into the Cabinet, although readily agreed to by Lord Salisbury, was found to be less easy of arrangement. Lord Northbrook and Lord Lansdowne were offered seats in the Cabinet, but to the satisfaction of all parties, especially to the Tories, they declined, and Mr. Goschen, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, was the only representative of the Unionist Whigs in the remodelled Cabinet. The other changes following upon Lord R. Churchill's resignation were chiefly departmental. Mr. W. H. Smith resigned the Secretaryship of War for the post of First Lord of the Treasury, coupled with the leadership of the House of Commons, the Hon. E. Stanhope succeeding to the vacancy thus created. Lord Iddesleigh, ever ready to stand aside when the public interest was at stake, resigned the Foreign Office to Lord Salisbury, and Sir Henry Holland, the Vice-President of the Council, was promoted to the Secretaryship for the Colonies with a seat in the Cabinet. How far Lord Iddesleigh felt that a slight had been put upon him will probably never be known; but his sudden death, almost at the moment that his successor was entering upon his new duties, cast a cloud over the prospects of the Cabinet, which subsequent events deepened.
Lord Hartington's anticipation that a closer understanding between the Unionists and the Conservatives would lead to something like uneasiness, if not revolt, on the part of the Radicals, was speedily justified by the result. The negotiations between Lord Salisbury and Lord Hartington had scarcely commenced before Mr. Chamberlain had raised the question why, if the Unionists and Gladstonians thought alike upon every point outside Ireland, and upon three points out of four in Ireland, they could not agree to a line of policy in which all were agreed, and then consider whether the point on which they differed was still required. Mr. Gladstone at once saw the chance thus offered for composing the differences among his followers, and cordially supported the idea of a conference between the principal leaders of the two sections. Mr. John Morley and Sir William Harcourt representing the Home Rule party, Mr. Chamberlain and Sir George Trevelyan on behalf of the Unionists, and Lord Herschell, the ex-Chancellor, acting as president, were selected to meet and in