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those who know as much about education or game as they do. Even Mr. Gladstone must listen to lectures on his own Budget from 'able' members, who can hardly have recovered their amazement at finding themselves under the eye of the Speaker. This legislative impatience. may be said to be particularly characteristic of a certain class of Liberal members. It is even said to be one of the blessings of the Liberal party. There is such an exuberance of vitality, and such a diffusion of political intellect, in its ranks, that it can never be brought into the strict subordination of the Conservative party. If this be so, we must not grumble. It is better to have vitality with diversity than unity with stupidity. But there are, possibly, other explanations of so much restiveness; and, at any rate, there can be no doubt that such sallies of independent legislative ambition do not contribute to progress in legislation. Certain young lions of the Conservative party have been very active in obstruction. Lord Hartington has summed up their offences in a trenchant and amusing manner, which we hope may do them good; but it is absurd to attribute the delays in the political machine entirely to them. There are those on the Liberal side who must share the responsibility; and it may be questioned whether what is called, with an approving complacency, thedefiant' tone of certain ministerial speeches, has not borne its part in clogging, rather than expediting, the wheels of political progress. Defiance' is no doubt a potent attribute of oratory; but when we wish to gain an object, it is better not to assume too much the aspect of a pugilist.
The Irish Disturbance Bill, whose fate we deprecated in our last number, was speedily dismissed by the House of Lords. The extraordinary majority against it remains to witness to the strong feelings which it had excited not only in the Conservative, but no less in the upper ranks of the Liberal party. The Bill could have been thrown out by the votes of the Whig Peers alone. Before such a majority we of course bow respectfully. There is nothing more to be said in the meantime. We have seen no reason, however, to change our opinion as to the Bill, viewed as a measure of State exigency apart from which Government professed there would be difficulty in preserving the peace of Ireland. The event must show whether they were right or not. The condition of Ireland seems far from hopeful as we write, notwithstanding the prospect of a good harvest; and speeches like Mr. Dillon's indicate an audacious spirit of discontent, and even of sedition, in the country. The House of Lords would have acted more wisely in our opinion if it had acted with more hesitation, and recognised the true aspect of the measure. We are bound to believe that it was the offspring of grave political necessity. This was its professed justification in the mouths both of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster-and they were the best judges of all the circumstances of the case. The members of the House of Lords should have acknowledged with more faith than they did the honesty of the Government. They virtually cast discredit on this honesty by
their vote, and this, whatever may be said to the contrary, is something of a disaster both to the Government and to the House of Lords.
At the same time we do not feel called upon to indulge in any abuse of the House of Lords. It was the business of the Government to see to their better support there, and to make a more vigorous defence of the measure than they can be said to have done. A powerful Government is not defeated, even in the House of Lords by a majority of 282 to 51, without some mismanagement. Talk of landlordism and trades-unionism is very poor talk, unworthy of the intelligence of some who make use of it. It should be left to the refuse of Irish meetings. No politician worthy of the name can believe such an explanation to be satisfactory. Not a few of the Liberal Peers who voted in the majority-men like Lord Airlie, and others whose Liberalism is of a thoroughly genuine type-have explained the difficulties they felt as to the measure, and the seeds of political danger that seemed to them to lie in it. We believe them to have been mistaken, but we should never dream of accusing them of selfishness. It is a poor argument to call your adversary bad names because you have failed to convince him. Imagine the scorn of a man like Lord Sherbrooke, in whom the landlord instinct must be as yet in a very budding state, in being supposed to have acted like a trades-unionist in opposing the Bill. He and many other Peers were no doubt left unconvinced by the Government that so grave a measure was really called for; and the measure therefore may be said to have fallen as much from the want of due justification for it on the part of the Government, as from any unreasonable hostility on the part of the House of Lords.
It is consistent with this view to remember that the Irish Disturbance Bill formed no part of the original programme of the Government. As the Duke of Argyll candidly admitted, its introduction was undoubtedly sudden and without previous warning.' Its defeat, therefore, leaves that programme untouched. The Bill for the protection of the occupiers of land against injury from ground game -commonly known as the Hares and Rabbits Bill, the Employers' Liability Bill, and the Burials Bill already alluded to, apart from the Budget, and the more formal measures for the Census, and the continuance of the Ballot Bill, sum up the work of the Session as planned in May. The results of the Session will certainly not extend beyond these measures.
The two former may be already regarded as safe, and after all the criticism to which they have been subjected we certainly do not intend to weary our readers further regarding them. Both measures are of the nature of Protective legislation, and the justification for both is to be found in the existence of great and undeniable grievances, which for years have been calling for redress. But legislation of this kind does not excite enthusiasm, and is always perilously near to over-legislation. No one could have indicated this more
distinctly than Mr. Bright himself in his spirited defence of the rights of the farmer to be protected from ground game. Not only ground game, but all game, is the property of the occupier of land according to the common law of the country, said Mr. Bright. And it remains his property. He has a right to kill it in any mode he chooses, unless he consents that during the period of his occupancy it should be in the hands of the landlord.' But if this be the case, as we do not doubt it is,' is it not of the nature of over-legislation to pass a measure to protect the farmer from himself and the undue facility with which he yields to landlord-pressure in the matter of game? No doubt he is very much at the mercy of the landlord, who has only to refuse him occupancy unless he yields to the customary usages about game. There are others ready to take the land under the usual conditions. But if the present relations of landlord and tenant are outside the law, how is this to be effectually cured by additional law-making? The truth is that no law in the world can secure to people rights that they are willing to abandon; and no one can doubt that it will still be possible for landlords and tenants by private arrangement to evade the terms of the Hares and Rabbits' Bill. We do not object to the Bill because it interferes with freedom of contract. There are hundreds of cases in which it may be necessary for the Legislature to prevent people contracting to do what is injurious to the public good. The real objection to the Bill is that it interferes with freedom of contract without necessarily securing the object for which it interferes. It aims to protect interests which after all it does not effectually protect.
The same thing is more or less true of the Employers' Liability Bill; while this Bill is further open to the objection of raising by its terms many legal questions which it may take years and no end of money to settle definitely. Mr. Howard, in a letter to the Times,' calls attention to the extremely ambiguous wording of the Bill, so far as such terms as 'plant,' and 'stock,' or 'stock-in-trade' are concerned. Are these terms meant to include live stock? and is the farmer in this way to be made liable on injury to the servant not merely from defect' in the machinery or implements with which he works, which, of course, it is the farmer's duty to make or keep secure, but from any vice of temper or accidental irritability in a horse which no care on his part can possibly avoid, or which may be even directly provoked by the carelessness or cruelty of the servant himself? No amount of legislation can settle satisfactorily matters of this kind; and the more minute and abundant the legislation, often the less satisfactory will be the results. In any case all such legislation is of a very unheroic no less than of a doubtful character. It comes of the pressure of interests from below, just as much as our past legislation unhappily came of
'This is only, we understand, the law of England-not of Scotland.-ED.
the pressure of interests' from above. The landlord and the employer have had their day. It is now the day of the farmer and the workman-and we are glad of the change; and glad moreover that we have a Government that is able to face the change. But the higher mode of doing this would undoubtedly be to remove all restrictions which prevent separate classes or interests from adjusting their own differences, and to leave them to settle their respective rights in the face of public opinion. Women and children need the special protection of the law, and deservedly receive it; but in the end the farmer and the workman will find that their only effectual protection is to be got in the strength of their own intelligence and independence, and, if necessary, their free combination to secure their own interests against all selfish or wanton injury.
The Burials Bill strikes a higher note in legislation, and seems us, if not to some of our contemporaries, by far the most important Bill of the Session. It deserved its prominence in the Queen's speech, and after the prominence thus given to it, it would have been unworthy of the Government not to have urged it forward. It may be assumed that after the division on the second reading in the House of Commons, and the conciliatory and noble speech of Mr. Bright, that there is no doubt it will become law about the time these pages reach our readers. We still hope indeed that it may assume a more liberal shape, and not only be freed from the amendments introduced by the Archbishop of York in the House of Lords, but from the truly illiberal limit as to the character of the funeral services permitted by it, to which the Government is understood to cling, in the face of Mr. Illingworth's amendment. We can understand their reluctance to yield on this point; and Mr. Bright is to be honoured for the moderation and good feeling, if not for the logic and consistency, which he showed in his speech on this point. We echo most heartily his opinion that we are bound sometimes to pay respect to the past opinion of the country, and not to insist upon an extreme principle.' There can be no safer basis for ripe and welltimed Liberal legislation than the political canon thus simply and happily expressed; and we trust it may have its due effect not only on Mr. Bright, but on many of those who look to him for political guidance. But the application of such a rule in any case must be judged strictly according to the circumstances. If we reach an equitable and fairly lasting conclusion in falling short of an 'extreme principle,' then we are right in stopping short. No one deserves less consideration in politics than the mere theorist who will have all or nothing. But no one who is fully abreast of modern thought and feeling can believe that the professed limit as to funeral services in the Bill as it stands is either equitable according to the essential idea of the Bill, or likely to be lasting. The idea of the Bill must be held to be-it has no other adequate raison d'être-to give the right of burial in our churchyards to all who have the right of citi
zenship. If our churchyards are not national, then the Bill has no justification. If they are national, as we believe they are, then all citizens have an equal right to burial. On any other principle the Church of England has an exclusive right to use them. For the only form of religion known to English law is that of the Church of England; and if there are to be limits at all in the character of the funeral services, the limits must be drawn at the Church of England service. This is the intelligible standing-ground of the Church party in the matter, and it appears to us, upon these principles, irrefragable in logic. According to these principles the churchyards are theirs, and do not belong to the nation. None therefore have right of burial except through them. But once take away that ground by declaring the right of burial a right of citizenship, and not of religion, and there is no room left for the restriction of the services by the terms Christian and orderly.' It is enough if they are required to be 'orderly,' without religious service at all at the grave-as is still the common custom in Scotland; or with such service as, being orderly,' has no right to offend anyone. The word Christian,' in the loose sense in which it is used in the Bill, is unknown to the law; and while the Nonconformist may be satisfied with it as meeting his own case, he ought not to be satisfied with it as an advocate of religious liberty. If the existing law which identifies Christianity and the Church of England is broken down, it is clear as day that there is no stopping short at absolute religious freedom, and allowing all citizens to bury their dead as they think fit, provided only they do it, as the law is bound to secure, in an orderly and inoffensive manner. This is the only equitable conclusion, and because it is so, every other conclusion must in the sure course of things prove temporary. The question, if not settled on this final basis now, is certain to be reopened, and the old battle fought over again, when everybody is tired of the subject, and would gladly have done with it. This consideration alone, in a political point of view, ought to make the Government seriously consider whether they cannot consistently with their promises make the Burials Bill a really liberal and permanent settlement of a question which in its nature is odious, and necessarily rouses in its discussion odious feelings.
In summing up the results of the Session, there is one special cause of regret in the abandonment of the Endowed Schools Bill for Scotland, which passed through the House of Lords weeks ago, and has waited in vain the consideration of the Commons. Notwithstanding the remonstrances of many Scotch members it has at length been withdrawn. This misfortune is directly attributed to the threatened opposition of the senior member for Edinburgh, who had intimated that he would have recourse to all the arts of obstruction in opposing the Bill of which his physical strength would admit. The withdrawal of the Bill, therefore, is not only a disappointment