12 JULY 1890, Page 3

Sir William Harcourt made a great speech at the National

Liberal Club on Wednesday, in the highest possible spirits. Many of the listeners must have recalled Ariel's song, "Hark, hark! I hear the strain of strutting Chanticleer," for Sir William Harcourt both strutted and crowed. He piqued himself much on what he and his colleagues had done for Mr. Duncan at Barrow It was utterly impossible that we could abandon a man like Mr. Duncan, who in the hour of danger and difficulty stood by our side in that con- stituency; honour and interest alike forbade it." When Sir William Harcourt gets upon the subject of honour, he always struts. But he crowed also, and in his shrillest tones :—" I may give you the melancholy yet comfortable assurance that the present possessor of the [political] estate is in artieulo mortis. I have the misfortune to be an old practitioner, and I know the symptoms. I have made a diagnosis of the patient. I have examined his tongue. Well, it is not clean. I have felt his pulse ; it is weak and fluttering. I have tried his temperature ; it is decidedly high ; and, on the whole, I fear that his condition is critical, and the bulletin I have to issue is that the patient is sinking fast." As in many other bulletins, it is the voice of hope rather than of evidence that speaks. The whole speech, however, was in that vein,—clever as chaff, almost silly if taken as an expression of serious conviction. The most harsh, and perhaps the most biting thing in the speech, was his epigram on the Liberal Unionist alliance --" I know something, unfortunately, of house-building, and there is nothing less conducive to the solidity of an edifice than to introduce in its foundations a colony of rats." That was meant, of course, for the Liberal Unionists, who have adhered steadily to their principles, though their old leader deserted them. But it applies much more pertinently to the Glad- stonians, who have deserted their principles in order to give solidity to the edifice of Irish Home-rule. As yet, the colony of rats have done nothing but gnaw at the foundations of the Home-rule proposals.