18 MARCH 1899, Page 15


"SPECTATOR."] St,—Your correspondent, "A Whig" (Spectator, March 11th), with all that fine sense of lofty moral superiority and sublime contempt for, and suspicion of, those who disagree with him that characterise his species, falls foul of the leader of our party because, while insisting that Home-rule is a plank in the Liberal platform, he declines to pledge himself under all circumstances and in every contingency to put it in the fore- front of the Liberal programme. We are accused of "pro- fessing," which, I suppose, means "simulating," indignation "when the sincerity of our attachment to Home-rule is questioned ; " we are not obscurely told that we are all quite as bad as Mr. Gladstone, who it seems was a mere office- seeker; and in an irrepressible outburst of fiery indigna- tion "A Whig" exclaims: "Is it possible to make a more miserable confession of opportunism F" All this because the aforesaid leader declines to label our pro- gramme in the precise order that "A Whig" considers most desirable in the interest of the coalition of all the talents to which he belongs. That coalition may, as Mr. Goschen claims, "contain all that is best and wisest and most ex- perienced in the Liberal party," and by the success with which the Liberal Unionists have appropriated a share of the spoils of office out of all proportion to their following in Parliament or the country, that claim would seem to have been, however grudgingly and of necessity, acquiesced in by the poor stupid Tories. Still, even the despised remnant of the Liberals, who after all have a large and largely increasing following in the country, are entitled under the ordinary con- ditions of political warfare, to conduct the advance in any order they may deem best, and may I add that the party whose leader cadged for votes at the General Election by representing that the solution of the question of old-age pensions was the simplest thing in the world, is hardly en- titled to set up an heroic standard of political morality entirely independent of practical considerations F "A Whig" may perhaps remember that when schines insisted upon Demosthenes answering his attack in a particular sequence, the great orator had no difficulty in persuading the audience to allow him to choose his own method of reply, and the Liberals can hardly be expected to place their forces and conduct their campaign in the position and according to the plan laid down by their political opponents.—I am, Sir, &c.,