15 OCTOBER 1887, Page 2

A Unionist conference was held at Bristol on Wednesday, remarkable

for the great cheerfulness and confidence of the speakers, the most conspicuous of whom were Lord Selborne and Mr. Courtney. A letter was read from Lord Hartington, in which be said that the recent action of the Home-rule Party in regard to the enforcement of the law demanded more immediate attention than any other subject, and this was, to a large extent, the text of the speeches. Lord Selborne, for example, after a most clear statement of the Unionist case, made the Gladstonian attack on law his main text. He maintained that a meeting called in order to overawe the Government, Magistrates, and witnesses was "plainly an illegal meeting," and that if the police in regard to it were obstructed in the performance of their duty, they might use force. To make political capital out of such use of force would, if he could bring himself to use the word, be a crime. The Gladetonians said everything which could extenuate crime in Ireland, but nothing on the other side, and Englishmen even visited Ireland to excite resistance to the law. The attitude assumed in speeches and in Parliament looked like this,—that having said the Crimes Act would fail, the Opposition were doing their very best to snake it fail. Men talked of the im- possibility of dragooning people into obedience to the law ; but did they mean that whenever resistance rose to violence, the law was to be defeated P Suppose the Home-rule Act had passed as proposed, and the Irish resisted the collection of Custom.cluties, would Mr. Gladstone have given them up P To call the use of State force to support law dragooning, is simply to say there is to be no law at all. Lord Selborne concluded a speech as grave as a charge, and wonder- fully convincing, by pointing out that Mr. Gladstone, if made disinterested by his great age, was also made irre- sponsible. He might call into action the forces of disorder, but not on him would fall the burden of controlling them. Will he be able to direct the whirlwind, or will that task fall upon us and on our children P