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better for him to have preserved his originality to the last. His recantations on the eve of the elections of his old principles about the extension of the franchise, and his hesitancy to say all that he really thought, and still thinks, about Ireland and the evil of weak concession to Irish clamour, became him far less than his natural fearlessness in saying what he thought, and taking his own line. A man who has not practised the graces of condescension in his vigorous prime is not likely to be an adept at them in his declining years. It was impossible for anyone who knew Mr. Lowe and his public career, what a reserve of individualism there was behind all his political adaptations, to suppose that he could be once more harnessed to the Liberal team, or act as one of a Cabinet destined to assimilate the borough and county franchise, and to bring in within two months of its accession to office the Irish Compensation Bill. There was only one fate possible for him-the House of Lords, if he cared to go there. After his special recantation about the franchise he cannot well assert his individuality on that point, even within the cover of that dignified retirement; but the old spirit asserted itself without stint in his vote against the Irish Bill. Of all the Liberal votes given against that Bill, there was probably none of them more heartily and joyously given than that of Lord Sherbrooke.
Mr. Gladstone is in the present Parliament, as he was in that elected in '69, the foremost of our contemporary statesmen. Called once more to the head of affairs by the national voice, he continues, notwithstanding his recent illness, in the possession of all his natural strength unabated. Even if his physical endurance be unequal to what it once was, his mental power and grasp, his fertility of project and mastery of details, his energy in driving the political machine, his success not only in conceiving but carrying into execution great reforms-remain all that they were. There is no name upon the whole can be placed alongside of his; and even those who hate him most truly-and there are many whose feeling towards Mr. Gladstone cannot be expressed in any milder language-do not venture to deny his greatness. They may heap opprobrium upon his political character and conduct, but his personality overshadows them. They cannot put him out of sight.
Whatever may be Mr. Gladstone's faults-and it is no part of our business as journalists to ascribe to him perfections that he does not possess, or to echo the servile adulation which is the too common response in Radical newspapers to Tory abuse--it has been one of his undeniable distinctions as a politician that he has always brought a statesmanlike range of knowledge and largeness of thought to bear upon public affairs. Even when his prejudices, or such intensities of feeling as practically amount to prejudice, have most influenced him, no one has been able to say of him that he did not really know the subject on which he ventured to speak or legislate. He has never failed to take a 'grip' of any question which has engaged him as a Minister or as a leader of Opposition, and to bring to its discussion
not merely full information, but a grasp both wide and searching. This is so notorious in the discussion of those great commercial and financial topics which he has so peculiarly made his own that it is unnecessary to do more than to allude to them. As one said of him and his late Budget speech-which showed all his great powers of inventive conception and systematic mastery of details still in their utmost vigour he spoke of the malt tax as if he had been a brewer all his life.' But the same is more or less true of all his speeches or legislative efforts. Although possibly not responsible directly for the Irish Compensation Bill, his defence of its principles was at once more largely informed and more comprehensive than that of Mr. Forster or of anyone else. He not only seemed to know more of Ireland, but far more of Irish legislation and all its special difficulties during the last forty years than any member in the Ministry or apparently in the House of Commons. The marvellous retentiveness of his political memory, and the systematic ease and fitness with which he can lay hold of the unnumbered treasures of his Parliamentary experience, constitute one of his greatest gifts, as they make one of the most powerful attributes of his success. Anything that has interested him-facts the accurate bearing of which may have quite escaped the memory of those whose special business it was, far more than his own, to remember them, are unfolded from the repositories of his thought with singular precision. It may be that the facts when looked at do not bear all the significance he is inclined to attribute to them; they may admit to the specialist, who had well-nigh forgotten them, of an explanation which destroys or qualifies the supposed value for which they have been hoarded in the statesman's memory. But this unequalled capacity of bringing forth from his treasury things new and old,' stamps not merely the largeness of his mind, but its immense utility as a practical organ in the sphere of politics. It is very difficult to encounter one who knows so much, and who can make such an effective use of his knowledge.
This large and well-informed capacity distinguishes Mr. Gladstone conspicuously from his great rival, whose peculiar powers are of a quite different order. Not even the warmest admirer of Lord Beaconsfield could claim for him fulness or accuracy of political knowledge. He moves brilliantly, but he carries light weight. Sometimes he carries no weight of knowledge in his highest flights. Statements have been made by him on grave public questions which had no relation to reality, but were the mere playthings-sarcastic or otherwise of a reckless fancy. His well-known utterances about the Scotch United Presbyterians and their papal origin were of this nature; and anybody who heard the two men speak on a question which may be supposed to have been beyond the special sphere of the knowledge of either the Scotch Patronage question, which was debated in the summer of 1874-would have seen the difference between the two men brought into marked contrast. Mr. Gladstone,
as he always does on Church questions, spoke with more or less prejudice, but with the most ample knowledge and keen perception of the peculiar difficulties which had come to encircle the subject, of which probably not half a dozen members of the House of Commons had any understanding. Mr. Disraeli spoke in evident ignorance of anything but the merest commonplaces about the Scotch Church, and stumbled hither and thither in his argument, making as he always can some good personal points, but not attempting for a moment to grip the more complicated points at issue. The ecclesiastical entanglements which had grown round the question were to his mind, no doubt, mere political moonshine, not worth any effort at understanding. He could look at them afar off, at once with the disdain of a Hebrew whose race had given two revelations to the world, and the contempt of an Englishman for what he does not understand; but it never entered into his head that in carrying out what some of his party, if not himself, thought a clever stratagem for the revival of Conservatism in Scotland, it was at least necessary that he should take pains to comprehend the subject and some of the practical as well as intellectuai subtleties it involved. Neither the one leader nor the other appeared in his best attitude on this occasion; but an occasion of this kind is often more instructive as to complexion of individual character than a greater one; and the contrast which the two men then presented was highly significant-the Conservative chief studied, artificial and ill-informed amidst his brilliant sallies; the Liberal champion intelligent and powerful, and cutting to the point through all the redundancies with which ecclesiastical passion, always easily kindled in him, had overlaid the subject. Mr. Gladstone will now remain what he is and has long been in the political world. He is not likely to develop any qualities other than those by which he is now well known. He may still, however, do great things, although we do not venture to forecast any of them. Our present business is not with measures, but with men-the personal forces at work in our present Parliament. Whatever legislative reforms Mr. Gladstone may yet undertake, the country has at least this security with him, that nothing will be done in ignorance or concealment. Discussion is the breath of his nostrils as a statesman. He may concoct schemes which do not see the daylight; an imagination so vivid with political ideas as his must be constantly forecasting recombinations of our national life; but whatever he may design he will bring to the light of debate before he attempts to clothe it with any reality. He cannot help doing this any more than Lord Beaconsfield can help keeping his schemes in shadow, and walking in the higher mystery of a political craft which is natural to him, and that love of obscure effects to which everything he has ever written bears witness.
There are many who only see, or profess to see, a destructive side in Mr. Gladstone's political activity. He has no doubt the faculty of destruction as to what he considers wrong or evil strongly de
veloped. He enjoys fellingupas-trees;' and it may be doubtful if he always sufficiently considers whether the tree is really poisonous. before he begins to cut it down, and whether it might not possibly be pruned even to a healthy luxuriance. He is lacking in the love for ancient institutions which comes of a beautiful and tender as well as a strong imagination, and a certain generosity of historic insight in which so many modern politicians are deficient. But he is far more conservative in instinct than is commonly supposed. He destroys in order to save, we believe, even when he misses the mark. His Liberalism is certainly not destructive and radical in the coarser sense of the word. It is far too large-minded for this. A largeminded man capable of taking a sweep of human life and history can never be a Radical in this sense. Radicalism is the disease of political immaturity or essential narrowness of mind. There may be Radicals of this kind in the Cabinet, but Mr. Gladstone is not one. With the necessary growth of new political forces in a time like ours, and the intensities of social and moral enthusiasm working with volcanic impulse in so many directions, it is well to have a great political intelligence like his at the head of affairs. And the good result is seen in the willing homage which is paid to his power, if not always to his guidance.
But who is to come after him? For, whatever may be Mr. Gladstone's powers, a statesman of seventy is after all a statesman of the past rather than of the present. When Mr. Gladstone in 1874 abdicated the Liberal throne, there were two names for a time placed in supposed competition for the Liberal leadership. Many people thought then that an unhappy selection was made when Lord Hartington came to the front, and Mr. Forster with the simplicity and right feeling which have always characterised him retired in his favour. None were less satisfied than a certain class of Radical newspapers which have greatly grown in recent years, and whose password is that the bourgeois element which they themselves represent should become the governing power in the country. We do not suppose that there are any now who doubt the wisdom of the choice that was then made. If there is any politician can be called the Minister of the future, it is Lord Hartington. It is not that he is distinguished above his fellows by political knowledge or insight --although of both we believe he has a larger share than he has often been credited with-but that he has shown a capacity of political sense and growth-and of that wisdom which only comes. from growth-in which no prominent member of the Liberal party can be said to have equalled him. He has unrivalled patience, tenacity and determination, without the slightest approach to bluster, violence or ill-nature. He has made mistakes--in one instance, at least, a great mistake-through ignorance and the bad advice of those who ought to have known better than to advise what they did; but he has never shown weakness; and he is incapable, as we honestly believe, of being moved save by public considerations.
This is the very highest merit we could accord to him, as it is unhappily far from being a conspicuous merit of certain members of the extreme Liberal party. In old days it was the Tories who never hesitated to make themselves the organs of sectarian interests and passions, if only they could make them subservient to their political ends. There are no doubt those among them capable of such a line again if they thought they could play it successfully. But there are certain modern Liberals' who are well disposed to take up the same rôle and play it with more or less effect. Apparently they have no idea that Liberalism in the genuine sense is not necessarily attached to any interest,' however popular it may claim to be, or whatever number of votes it may help to secure at a general election. To follow blindly the impulses of any democratic or sectarian movement is just as essentially Tory in spirit as to follow in the same manner the impulses of any aristocratic or ecclesiastical movement. Men of this stamp do not understand the meaning of Liberalism. It is mere accident that they are where they are. A turn of the wheel would place them in the opposite scale. All genuine Liberalism implies the handling of public questions in a Liberal spirit with no arrière pensée of serving, behind the cloak of political profession, the interests of a sect or the designs of any clique clamorous for domination. There is no worthy guide in public life save a public spirit which is at once enlightened and courageous, and which will not bend to base or interested passions working behind the scenes.
It is because we believe that Lord Hartington has more of this public spirit probably than any Liberal leader that we look to him above all as the coming statesman of the time. Removed by birth, education and breeding above the clash of lower interests, and untainted by the passions which fester at the roots of all sects—we use the word in the most general sense, as applying to all sectional organisations—he is naturally fitted to look calmly on this baser atmosphere of political contention; and not only to look calmly on it, but to judge clearly and advise righteously. These are the higher qualities of statesmanship which secure confidence as they give strength; and it is a good account of the Liberal party that they have known how to honour these qualities and place them in the front. Important as are the gifts of public speech and the fire of enthusiasm that is needed at times to kindle the public heart, such gifts are really inferior to the clear vision, the manly and upright thought, and the tenacious if unspoken earnestness which at once understands its way and holds it undeterred by restlessness on the one hand or jibes on the other. Lord Hartington may never be a great speaker; but he has all the makings in him of a great statesman, which is of far more importance to the country at present; while the chastisement, both lively and powerful, which he administered towards the close of the Session to Sir H. D. Wolff, Mr. Balfour, and others, is enough to show that he has undeveloped powers as a speaker no less than as a Minister. At the age of forty-seven he