On Wednesday the Duke of Devonshire delivered a presidential address
at the North Midland Poor-law Con- ference assembled at Derby, in the course of which he touched on the question of old-age pensions. After declaring that the matter was a very difficult one, and noting that anything which was proposed in that direction must be at first of an extremely tentative character, and will not, at first, at all events, be very widely made use of, he went on to point out that, in spite of that, we are not absolved from the duty of seeing " whether it may not be possible, by State assistance, to create such a system of State-aided insurance as many of us so desire to see." Still, for a long time to come, a great proportion of even the industrious aged poor must be dependent for their support upon the Poor-law. The Gladstonian Press has tried to represent these words as. aimed at Mr. Chamberlain. They must understand the Duke of Devonshire very little. He is by nature the most "mini- mistic" of men, and the language we have just quoted means. not that he is opposed to Mr. Chamberlain's line of policy, but that he has come to the conclusion that something ought to be done in regard to old-age pauperism, and, if possible, on the lines of State-insurance. It is a curious proof of the growth of over-emphasis, that nowadays, unless a man expresses boundless enthusiasm for a scheme, he is at once, written down as "bitterly hostile."