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combine a reduced expenditure with efficiency in a much higher degree than the Liberals have done. The Liberals may have made a show of actually fewer figures, but they left to the Conservatives an army without proper equipment, a navy of experimental ships, and a war with Abyssinia, notoriously brought about by their own indifference and superciliousness. If the Conservatives were called upon to make good the things left undone by the Liberals by an increased expenditure, the Liberals had a majority by which to trammel all real progress, but they had not the courage to vote against an expenditure which had its origin in their own neglect and incapacity. There are, no doubt, many details in expenditure by which relief could be given to an overburdened people, but when the Liberals propose to effect this by the destruction of the Church, the army, and navy, and severing us from our colonies and foreign possessions, they do not propose remission of burdens so much as a general bankruptcy. If reforms are to be effected (and no ministry could exist in the present day which did not turn its attention to such), they must be carried out without involving the sacrifice of the moral, social, and political status of the country -they must, in other words, be Conservative reforms, not destructive reforms. The Conservatives, as a class, have ever been the greatest reformers in the country; the party of progress, or destruction, has not yet been able to carry any great reforms without their concurrence, whilst the Liberals, being bound by their electioneering pledges to support all and every kind of reform, they are, as it were, compelled to support any ameliorations advocated or initiated by the Conservatives.
A next claim to support advanced by the Liberals is that they do not hold the existing reforms in the constituency to be final. They would extend the franchise to an extent varying with the pressure placed upon the different representatives-even to manhood suffrage and the ballot. One philosopher-extinct for the present as a politician-would also include the fair sex. This, when the latest reforms were achieved by the Conservatives, and that the Liberals when in power effected no reform whatsoever. It has been said that every man who pays taxes should have a voice in the expenditure. This is, to a certain extent, true; but if this be granted, then there ought to be a scale of votes according to amount of taxation. As it is, the intelligence and wealth of the country are utterly swamped by the vast numerical majority of a discontented multitude. A capitalist or a landowner who employs a thousand hands has only one vote against a thousand. It may be said that the interest of the capitalist or the landowner should be the same as that of the working classes; but so long as there are trades unions and communists their interests cannot be identical. There can, indeed, be no true representation of interests without class representation, and a parliament which represents only the
interests of the lower class majority neither represents the feelings, the principles, the intelligence, or property of the country. It may represent the desires of a discontented majority, but it does not represent the loyal and religious convictions of the minority. The attempts made to obtain a representation of the minority have proved to be silly expedients to supplant the more correct system of plurality of votes.
The whole system of election needs, indeed, radical reform. It may be a time-honoured institution-if so, there never was one so much abused or that was more in want of change. In many places only two-thirds of the electors go to the poll, intimidated by the manner in which business is conducted at a place consecrated by custom to riot and violence. In other places-notoriously in Ireland-the Conservatives were not allowed to vote at all. Why could not the election of representatives be carried on like that of guardians of the poor, by written papers from house to house? The expenses would not be so great as they are under the present system, and in the election of guardians plurality of votes is admitted. The men who disgrace the hustings and the pollingbooths are mostly non-voters. We have done away with public hanging, why should we not do away with pillorying our candidates and making a pandemonium of hustings and polling-booths? The institution as it stands is a disgrace to a civilised country. It never fails to entail more or less loss of life, and it certainly does not ensure the representation of the aged, sick, or timid, however distinguished may be their social position.
The great stepping-stone to place for the Liberals has, however, as is well known, been on the present occasion the promised disestablishment of the Protestant Church of Ireland. The project is as unjust, as unfair, and as impolitic, as the motives that suggested it are discreditable. The Irish themselves were not originally attached to the Church of Rome-their own patron saint is not admitted into the Roman Calendar. Yet are there now in Ireland two races and two religions opposed to one another: the Celtic or Irish and the mixed Irish, English, and Scotch, the Roman Catholics, and those who protest against the supremacy of the Pope and who are loyal to their own country or in their allegiance to the Queen of Great Britain. The Irish Roman Catholics, who are in the majority, want Ireland to themselves, with the Pope as their spiritual head. In pursuance of this policy, their dissatisfaction ever and anon breaks out in petty grievances too numerous and too frequent to detail. As one is palliated or removed, another springs up. When Catholic emancipation was conceded, we were solemnly told there would be an end to discontent. Has such proved to be the case? The American Irish fanned a new flame of discord and inaugurated Fenianism. The Fenians had to be put down by force of arms, and were most leniently dealt with.
The few detected in open arms, and who were subjected to the last penalty of the law, are looked upon as political martyrs. The Protestant party remained loyal, and they are therefore selected for punishment. It is proposed to deprive them of their Church and confiscate their Church property! The upholding of the Protestant Church by the State is looked upon as a grievance and an insult to the Roman Catholics. The next step that logically follows is that the presence of Protestants themselves of any form or description in Ireland will also be looked upon as a grievance and an insult to the Roman Catholics; they must be converted or expelled the country, and their property confiscated for the benefit of the Celts.
We say "logically follows," for the thing is so patent that it has already been anticipated in the programme of the Liberal partyone of the wondrous projects contained in which is the buying out the Protestant Irish landlords with the public money-i.e., the hard earnings of the brain-working classes of England, in order to give up the land to the pet Celtic lambs, and make Ireland happy in an equality of beggary and ignorance.
Whilst certain Irish traitors were hissing the toast of the Queen in the capital of the island, John O'Neill, president of the Fenian Brotherhood, was challenging his countrymen to organise their strength, and bidding them not to be deceived by the cry of "justice to Ireland" which is now raised. "In this cry," he says, your interests, your rights, your very lives, are to be gambled away at English polling-booths." Any man who asks to sit in an English parliament in the name of Ireland should be spurned. The Fenian chief continues: "Mr. Gladstone said, 'England and Scotland could not be well if Ireland were sick.' Language more coldblooded in its hypocrisy has never been pronounced by a public man. Ireland has been sick to death for seven hundred years without any detriment to England." Does England promise now the restoration of the Irish parliament, or any "substantial redress" of Irish grievances? No; "we know from her past promises in similar emergencies that her cry for justice to Ireland is the cry of the heartless and cowardly hypocrite." In conclusion, Mr. O'Neill impresses upon his countrymen the "truth" that God has conferred upon them the right to govern themselves. They have only to use their strength properly to possess themselves of their rights.
From all this, it has been justly remarked, it seems clear that the Fenians, at least, are not prepared to look upon the disendowment of the Irish Church as a "panacea" for the wrongs of Ireland. Mr. Bright declares that the measure will be the means of building up a true "United Kingdom." Irishmen think differently; but Irishmen cannot know their own wishes or plans so well as the English radical party.
The tendency of the English to attach more importance to men
than to measures is a weak point in their mental constitution. A stranger reading for the first time our public papers, or gazing at our multitudinous caricatures, would think that the country was shaken to its very foundations by a few prominent names as if by Atlantian earthquakes. This is a reprehensible sacrifice of their own intelligence and independence of spirit made at the altar of egotism. It is not always the most fluent haranguer, the boldest denunciator, or the most necessitous claimant for office who makes the best administrator or the truest friend to the people. The avowed duplicity of Mr. Gladstone, for example, in allowing himself to be elected for Oxford at the very time that he was, by his own account, meditating the destruction of the Irish Protestant Church, takes away from any possible respect that can be entertained for in many respects a very clever man, but who does not possess that high sense of principle which is expected from a leading statesman. The men of Lancashire rejected the so-called honourable gentleman as their representative because the majority happened to be not only sound Protestants, but also because in every one of their large towns they are brought face to face with an Irish colony, which exhibits to them, in its social and religious characteristics, the fruits of a system which is dominated by Roman Catholicism. It is more than passing strange; it is humiliating to all true Englishmen, to see their country, at a time when the last strongholds of a medieval and barbarous dominion-Italy, Austria, and Spain-are throwing off the shackles and superstitions of a system that is destructive of all social, political, and religious freedom, vexed and torn by sentimental enthusiasts in its own bosom, sapped in its dearest rights by a foreign hierarchy, and threatened with spoliation to pacify a hostile and degenerate population. Luckily the triumph of the anti-English party is not yet insured, and they may depend upon it that there will be a stout resistance on the part of all true Protestants, whether of the Established Church, or the Presbyterian Church, or among the Dissenters, ere liberties won on the field of battle are handed over to the tender mercies of a foreign dominion. The spirit of our ancestors is not extinct if it is dormant. The upper classes have to a certain extent been carried away for the moment by church and collegiate seductions; the middle classes have in a similar way been to a certain extent indolent or indifferent; Presbyterians and Dissenters-but also only to a certain extent-have been won over to the injury of their cause by the charms of the voluntary system, and by their envy or hatred of an Established Church; whilst the lower classes understand little of what is going on, or, if they do, rejoice in the prospects of a general discomfiture of all Church parties. It is the fashion to veil the future by denouncing all who expose the logical sequence of events as alarmists; but such a proceeding does not take away from the fact that such a state of the
public mind bodes graver evils, if statesmen abet the mischief by aiding in its progress, and that sad for Old England will be the day when the real tendency of events becomes patent to all.
A church may exist without a state, as is exemplified by Romanism itself; but a state cannot thrive without a church. If, as a result of success in procuring the disestablishment or disendowment of the Protestant Church of Ireland, an attempt were made to separate Church and State in England, or to disendow the English Protestant Church, the landed interest, the aristocracy and the monarchy, might follow in the wake, for they have no stronger claims upon the people than has the national church. Dissent would also soon give way before a wealthy, organised, and ambitious foreign hierarchy, and it would have the satisfaction of knowing that it had laboured in its own destruction. Everything that has tended and contributed to make Great Britain what it is, a great, free, and powerful nation, the envy and admiration of the world, would be exchanged for popular anarchy or a demoralising superstition, which all experience has shown to be utterly incompatible with freedom of thought or action, or with national power and prosperity.
The Conservative party has, after an appeal made to the country, under a new constituency, gone out of power, and the initiative and executive government of the country has passed into the hands of a Liberal majority-a majority furnished chiefly from Scotland and Ireland. But considering that the policy of the new ministry has not found acceptance with either the great bulk or the better informed among the people of England, and that a considerable number of so-called Liberals will probably be really Conservative, in the sense of proceeding only with such moderate reforms as the Conservatives themselves would hail with rejoicing, and will be opposed to all revolutionary changes, there is every likelihood of a real working constitutional majority in the new house, and of a tenure of power on the part of the new ministry, which can only be extended by avoiding the main issues.
Should, however, such issues be pressed, a still further result is probable, to which affairs have for some time past been tending, and that is, that the old historical parties of Whig and Tory will become obsolete, and a new class of politicians will spring up, who will be at once Liberal and Conservative. There is every evidence, amidst shades of opinion as diversified as the foliage of the forest, that this is an epoch when a crisis may be expected in the history of England, and the best thing that can happen will be the formation of a moderate and constitutional party of politicians, by the union of Liberal-Conservatives with Conservative-Liberals, who will carry out all necessary reforms, but will at the same time do battle in the cause of the Queen, and Church and State, and exert itself to the utmost in preserving the ancient constitution of the realm from rack and ruin.