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is of all men the man to lead the Liberals in a right and hopeful course during the coming generation.
Mr. Forster is fifteen years older, and this of itself is a great make-weight in the political race. Our respect for Mr. Forster is great, nor do his recent errors, as they must be called, affect this respect. His hitherto unlucky career as Irish Chief Secretary has shown, no doubt, unexpected weakness. This must be admitted even by those who have defended his proposed Irish legislation. The manner of it was bad, even if the legislation itself had been less doubtful than it was. It was born of haste and inconsideration. Quite plainly, even if it had been successful, it would not have staunched, nor probably helped to staunch, the miseries of that unhappy country. His words about the House of Lords, too, although they were mischievously misconstrued, were not words of wisdom. If there is anything a statesman of the higher type is bound to avoid in times like this, it is the slightest encouragement to what may be called the professional Radicalism abroad-the Radicalism which trades on agitation, and from the bosom of unknown clubs whose folly is only equalled by their insignificance-when their members at any time emerge into public notice-send forth manifestos of the 'Rowdy Journal' kind, ablaze with homage to a national patriotism, the very idea of which they do not understand. It was a real offence on the part of a politician of such standing as Mr. Forster to seem for a moment to encourage the flagrant nonsense of Mr. T. P. O'Connor and men of his class. No momentary irritation can be held to excuse such an offence, however it may explain it. But even this unlucky utterance, as well as all Mr. Forster's tactics as Chief Secretary of Ireland, have, we believe, proceeded from the very excess of honesty and plain dealing for which he has always been characterised. He was disposed, on his accession to office, to credit others, even the Irish, with the same downright and direct intentions as himself, and he could see no reason why Irish questions should not yield to the same honest treatment as he had found serviceable in other cases. But this merely showed that he did not fully understand the Irish or Irish questions either. The last thing an Irishman, or a Celt anywhere, thinks of is the direct settlement of a difficulty on any terms of reason such as would satisfy other mortals. All his grievances are masked grievances. They mean something else than they appear to mean, and before Mr. Forster is done with Ireland he will have learned this to his heart's content. We still cherish good hopes of him as the responsible Minister for Ireland, but he has still a great deal to learn, and his colleagues too, before they can touch its miseries with any happy legislation. In the first instance, it is hoped that he will learn that, whether or not he is destined to contribute by further legislation to a pacific settlement of a country always, it may be said, 'within measurable distance of civil war,' he and his colleagues are bound, as an absolute condition of doing any good, to enforce the law, and, if necessary,
with this view to lay an arrest on the leaders of an agitation which is both mad in itself and too plainly the cause of murderous outrage.. A Government that is not able to secure life or property in Ireland is not likely, with the best intentions, to secure any other good to it.
Of the remaining Liberal leaders there are at least three in the House of Commons and two in the Lords that deserve notice. We may begin with the Peers, as standing both officially and personally in advance of the others. Both Lord Granville and the Duke of Argyll must be pronounced in the front rank of statesmen, although the latter occupies a comparatively unimportant position in the present Cabinet. Lord Granville reached the maturity of his political fame and ability years ago; and it is only those who fail to recognise the firm determination-the steel glove, polished it may be-beneath the persuasive pat of his eloquence, who would be disposed to doubt his power as a leader. Like most men of his class, his power has been so mellowed both by natural bonhomie and ripened experience, that it is no longer obtrusive. He may give the impression of a courtly and refined gentleman of the old school, rather than of one fitted to represent the modern democracy. But English statesmanship owes much even to the school to which Lord Granville belongs-a school in which all the best traditions of Liberalism were combined with large knowledge of the world as well as the mere data of political science, and the eloquence of which was always touched with dignity and ease, never with violence. But Lord Granville himself is more than the mere product of any school. He is not only a persuasive speaker, who can on a fitting occasion unsheathe a barbed sarcasm from the most velvety sentence, but to far-ranging and most genuine Liberal instincts he unites a rare knowledge of foreign affairs, and the most righteous and noble impulses in their guidance. There can be no doubt that the country has perfect confidence in his motives and judgment, and that whatever may be the solution of the present complications, it will not be from any lack of wisdom on his part if the issue is not both wise and right.
The Duke of Argyll is beyond question one of the ablest men in the present Cabinet. In mere penetration and power of brain we do not know that there is any before him, even Mr. Gladstone himself. It is impossible to read what the Duke has written, or to listen to his speeches in the House of Lords, without recognising how strong and clear an intellect lies behind all his speech and writing. He has also the special virtue of being true to his convictions in circumstances which must have greatly tried them, and in the face of adverse influences fashionable both in the world of science and politics. He is in short, both as a politician and a writer, of a sturdy and independent type by no means common, and his sturdiness is never, as some incline to think, mere brusquerie. It has an element of brusquerie, as his manner notoriously has; but his independence as a politician is always more than mere self-assertion or a disinclination to fall in with the opinions of others. It has a true vein of
manliness, and it is always marked by broad sense and intelligence. His Presbyterianism, resting, as he has shown so repeatedly, on a basis of enlightened as well as traditionary thought, is an evidence of steady loyalty to principle. Within his own religious sphere he is quite as great an enthusiast as Mr. Gladstone; he is equally faithful to an inherited system, differing as it greatly does from that of his political master; but he moves in a higher rational light on religious questions, and is less weighted by a mass of mere tradition. He carries into political discussion the same rational and luminous intellect which he shows in handling the problems of science or theology, and adds to a masterly comprehension the fire of political passion. There is no speaker in the House of Lords that can be said now to equal him, or who is capable of rising to the same heights of sweeping yet dignified eloquence. It may be asked, then, Why is the Duke of Argyll not a greater figure in contemporary politics, and why should he have been relegated to a comparatively unimportant post in the new Cabinet, especially after holding a foremost post in the former Liberal Administration? These are questions that would occupy us needlessly, and on which we are probably not competent to throw any satisfactory light. It is understood that the state of the Duke's health rendered harder work than what is attached to the office of Lord Privy Seal undesirable to him on the formation of the present Cabinet. Such things can never be but partially known to outsiders, and are often least of all accurately known to those who pretend to know most about them. But the Duke of Argyll's political career has no doubt suffered from special causes that lie upon the surface, and which are just as patent as his great abilities-nay, to a large proportion of the political world far more patent. He has still, and has had from the first, an unhappily didactic manner-the manner of a Scotch professor or lecturer rather than of a man of the world. He lacks cordiality, ease, and apparent kindliness. He is a man to do his duty in all things according his light, but not more. The spontaneity, effusiveness, or generous amplitude of courtesy which have often marked our great public men are not his; and he has probably never realised the lack of them. But these are far more telling qualities with the mass of English people, and English society, than any measure of talent or devotion to duty. From the lack of them in some degree the Prince Consort, with all his truly noble gifts, never was a popular man, and hardly is so even now when all his patiently heroic virtues are so well known. There is something no doubt that is right in the popular instinct, and we do not challenge its verdict. We offer it only in explanation.
Of the remaining Ministers in the House of Lords there are the Lord Chancellor and the head of the Admiralty who may both claim also to stand in the front rank as statesmen. But neither of them can be said to be popular leaders. The clear, incisive, orderly intellect of Lord Selborne, and the sterling candour, knowledge,
and calm unaffected sense of Lord Northbrook are both invaluable adjuncts in the Liberal Cabinet. No one probably knows India and all the difficulties of its administration so well as the latter; and there was no clearer evidence of the folly of the late Viceroyship, and the bad principles which guided it, than the decided if unostentatious disapproval of Lord Northbrook. The deliberations of the present Cabinet would lose greatly if it lost the presence of either him or the Lord Chancellor, whose Conservative interests, both in reference to Church and land, are not at all incompatible with the most genuine and enlightened Liberalism. In the best sense of the word there is no greater Gladstonian in the Government than Lord Selborne. Both men are therefore true elements of Liberal strength, although neither will ever probably become distinct powers in the Constitution.
The three statesmen in the House of Commons who still claim prominent mention are of course Mr. Bright, the Home Secretary, and the head of the War Office: men so unlike each other, and the possibilities of whose influence and career are to be measured so differently, that it is hardly possible to speak of them together. Mr. Bright stands apart from the other two not merely on account of his exceptional powers as an orator, but because his age places him in advance of the others. He may be said to be a generation older in political life. There is no man deserves better of his country than John Bright. If others did more to guide and direct the great agitation associated with his name and that of his friend Mr. Cobden, no one did so much to give it motive power, and by the kindling life of a rarely felicitous and effective eloquence, to bring triumph to a beneficent cause. He has hardly lost any of his power as an orator. He has no living match as a speaker in his happier moments, as in the discussion on the Burials Bill in last Parliament, when he rose above all the miserable entanglements of the question, and by the simplicity of his language, the pathos and beauty of his allusions, and the sweet yet manly tenderness of his tone, touched every heart that heard him. But undoubtedly Mr. Bright's political thought moves now more in the past than in the present or future world of politics. We do not mean that his political interests are of the past. On the contrary, he is warmly interested in all present questions, and no man probably anticipates the political future with a more glowing faith and enthusiasm. It is, nevertheless, true that his modes of thought belong to the past. He has never forgotten or quite outlived the comparatively narrow range of ideas which were a gospel and all the gospel of politics to him from 1840 to 1850. He has never left the things that are behind that he might reach forth unto those that are before. It is impossible not to notice the narrow sharpness with which he still often draws distinctions as to classes and interests which may have had force then, but which have largely lost all meaning or, at least, the same meaning, since. Not only so, but his career as an agitator-it is the penalty
of every career of agitation-has left with him a certain tinge of asperity and exaggeration in speaking of classes of his countrymen, opposed to him in politics, which is not only at times painful, but which always marks a note of descent in the political scale. The highest political intelligence may yield to this class-tone in moments of political passion, but never without regret, and it instinctively rises above it in all better moments. It would seem sometimes as if Mr. Bright nursed the tone and rejoiced in it rather than repelled it; and it breeds that air of defiance of saying by his looks as well as by his words, if you don't take that, you will by-and-by get something worse,' which is so very offensive to classes of his countrymen. It may be said that Mr. Bright knows, if possible, less of these classes than they know of him. His heart is large and his sympathies are not confined, but the country gentlemen of England do not come within the embrace of either. He will never be anything to them but a somewhat coarse agitator, and they are to him creatures of political imagination rather than the manly and reasonable creatures they often are. Mr. Bright, with all his powers and that charm of noble speech which still is his in all better moods, is no longer a political leader towards the gates of the future. Even as to Ireland he has declared all his mind long ago; and whatever solution may await the difficulties of that country, it will hardly be found within the compass of the well-known Bright clauses. He is a dogmatist-and has always been one--on all questions of Church and State, and there is no kind of political mind from which less can be hoped in the future than that which is represented by the dogmatic Dissenter. The whole struggles of the seventeenth century are a still living commentary upon the wisdom of their political designs and accomplishments. They may be destined to triumph once again as they did then, but their triumph, should it come, will not be that of enlightened statesmanship.
Mr. Childers as a statesman can hardly be said to have made his yet; but he has shown great administrative aptitude, and a wisdom of reticence as well as of speech which betokens latent capacity. With no mean gifts as a speaker, he has never been forward in political utterance-speaking, as is the habit of some, in season and out of season, and necessarily saying much that had better have been left unsaid. While a strong Liberal, Mr. Childers is neither on the one hand a Whig of an old school, nor a Neo-Liberal with extreme tendencies in one direction nor another. He has identified himself with no social or political nostrums, and plainly does not believe in advancing the well-being of the country by any ready-made legislative panaceas. He is, in short, a man of good sense, of large intelligence, and of ripened knowledge on many important questions; a man of business, yet with a special political education and the instincts of statesmanship guiding all his commercial experience. He is far more than the mere bureaucrate, and knows well that no amount of mere business aptitude or departmental