Mr. Balfour's speech was remarkable for the allowance he made
for the Parnellite Party:—" When I recollect that a
large number of those gentlemen are not by tradition accus- tomed to the methods of the House of Commons ; that they do not feel themselves bound to defend the dignity of the
Assembly in the same way that other Members, perhaps, feel themselves bound ; and when I recollect that they belong to an excitable nation, and that they conceive themselves to be deeply aggrieved by many of the things that are done by that assembly, I am, at all events, glad to take this opportunity of publicly saying that I make no complaint of the action they, as a whole, have ever taken with regard to myself." It is on the regular Opposition that Mr. Balfour places the blame of wasting the time of Parliament. "An organised Opposition," he said, " is almost as essential to the proper working of free institutions as an organised Govern- ment. But the Opposition is not an organised Opposition. The architects of chaos who lead it, find that the principles which they introduced into the government of the Empire have returned upon them in the government of their own party. They find that Separation and Home-rule are principles not applicable alone within the United Kingdom, but also in its united Opposition ; and at the present moment we find that while the occupants of the front bench are practically prepared at any moment to pay a barren tribute to those Parliamentary traditions to which I believe they are sincerely attached, they are absolutely impotent when it comes to controlling the action of their friends, Irish and English, below the gangway." That is a true apercu of the situation. An Opposition that is bent on resolving the nation into its elements, cannot, with good result, even affect indignation when it finds its own looser structure so dissolved.