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peril of all, the peril of ignorance. We ask you to rob no class, to rob no man; but we do say that unless effective means are taken to deal with this enormous, this incalculable population which is growing up around us, half noticed, half ignored, there is a danger for England such as war has never given her, and which it is the prayer of this Government she may escape.


In the Town Hall, Birmingham, 23rd May 1894

I AM more than grateful to you for this magnificent reception. I hope that it means by its fervour that you are prepared to follow up the acclamations of this evening by serious work in the country. This district bears no very good reputation-in our party. Any man who comes down to Birmingham and calls himself a Liberal is a subject of serious and tender warning on the part of his friends. For there is a general belief, which I believe is not totally unfounded, that you live under a sort of political martial law; that you are allowed for your morning reading of the papers nothing but doctrines which suit other politicians better than they suit you; and that, as a matter of fact, a supporter of the present Government is supposed to be a marked man in Birmingham. Well, all I can say is, looking here to-night, there must be a good many marked men in Birmingham. I always reply to the warnings and apprehensions of my

friends, that I was here not two years ago, and that I escaped without any serious disaster. I really don't know, gentlemen, why they should make such a fuss about any of us coming here. I received, indeed, a somewhat cordial welcome from my principal antagonist in politics in Birmingham, for he said that my visits brought him luck, and that the last visit had brought him a very remarkable increase in his normal majority. Well, if that be so, and I don't deny for a moment that it is so, he ought to welcome my appearance in Birmingham. I trust that on the next occasion that I come I shall receive an invitation from him, because so invaluable an ally as I have proved myself to him should not be without honour in his house. But, gentlemen, there is another reason why this meeting should be considered an innocent one. I know very well that to-night I am not talking to Birmingham, but to the Midland district.

But, as far as the Birmingham Liberal Association is concerned and I take it that there are a good many of that much-decried body here in this hall-as far as that body goes, it is, if I may believe the last description given of it which I have read, so little to be feared, so little, indeed, to be dreaded, that coming to see the Birmingham Liberal Association is more a sort of harmless

tea-party than a political meeting. I read the other day with the greatest interest that, from becoming the leading organisation of this district, it had sunk to a mutual admiration society. Well, there is no harm in my coming to take my part in the converse of so innocent an Association. There is another body I see in Birmingham, sprung up on the ruins of this Association-the ruins! When I look at the faces before me, I see what a ruin it is and that body has the same name with one trifling addition, which I have never been able to understand. It is not the Birmingham Liberal Association, it is the Birmingham Liberal Unionist Association. Now the Birmingham Liberal Unionist Association was informed by its president the other day that of course you were a mutual admiration society, and I know very well, having read the proceedings with much care, that that is not a mutual admiration society. There were only three speeches reported at that meeting, and as I was coming to Birmingham I did myself the honour, and underwent the penalty, of reading them all. I remember the more striking passages. One speaker said that of all the magnificent speeches that the president had ever delivered in that hall, and they were many, the speech he had delivered that night was perhaps the finest. The second speaker who was reported said, of the

president again oddly enough,-I do not understand this general adulation of the president, it was an accident I suppose, said of the president that on no worthier brows was the wreath of political chivalry ever placed; and the president, in reference to that expression of opinion, said it was a speech which he himself in its excellence could not attempt to rival. Now, gentlemen, that is not mutual admiration. That is the fortuitous and


irrepressible enthusiasm of some great and good men happening to meet in the same room. That is a very different matter from your position. It is a very different thing from mutual admiration, and I trust that you note and you mark the difference. Well, but that is not the only difference between the new Association and the old. There is another difference between you and the Birmingham Liberal Unionist Association. You have changed your principles; but the Birmingham Liberal Unionist Association-I love that nameif it does preserve its principles, prefers to vote against them. That may be, for all I know, some subtle form of political penance and political mortification-to stultify yourselves daily, to forget your political past, to digest your political principles, to denounce your political friends, and, in doing so, to inflict three lashes on your own back for every lash you inflict on theirs. That, I

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