W E must begin the remarks which we have to make
on the Prime Minister's speech at the Albert Hall by expressing our warmest gratitude as Imperialists to Mr. Morley, the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet for the decision which they have come to on the problem of the Indian Army. We ventured to say last week that we could not believe that Mr. Morley would take upon himself without proper inquiry the terrible load of responsibility which would inevitably fall upon him if he endorsed the policy of Mr. Brodrick and the late Prime Minister in regard to the position of the Indian Commander-in- Chief. Mr. Morley has not accepted that responsibility, but, as the Prime Minister declared, has determined to abide by the sound and well-tried principle that the military shall be subordinated to the civil power in India as in the rest of the Empire. In other words, Mr. Morley will not allow the new system to come into operation, but will retain in principle the old policy. This is a thrice happy conclusion of a matter which promised to raise dangers in India of the most serious kind, and we can assure Mr. Morley that in India, and wherever throughout the British Empire there are men who understand Indian affairs, his wise and prompt determination will be hailed with a sigh of relief. It is no exaggeration to say that practically the whole body of retired Indian administrators view with feelings of alarm the prospect of an imperious and self-confident soldier, totally ignorant of Indian opinion and conditions, handling so delicate an instrument as the native Army with no more criticism and control than are pro- vided by hesitating observations of military subordinates.
History, perhaps, records no stranger example of the irony of destiny than that afforded by the decision of the new Government. Who, two years ago, would have believed it possible that the first decision come to by a Government presided over by Sir Henry Campbell- Bannerman, and the first act of government publicly announced by him, would be one welcomed by every true Imperialist with the utmost satisfaction, and that it should consist in the total reversal of a policy adopted by a Ministry who professed to be in a special sense the guardians of the Empire ? We have always held that the policy of the late Government in regard to the problem of military administration in India, and their treatment of so great a servant of the Empire as Lord Curzon, showed an astonishing blindness to their Imperial duties. The fact that the new Govern- ment have proved themselves so much more conscious of what. was required of them in the interests of the Empire is of the happiest omen. If it is in this spirit that they will treat the problems of Empire, and if this is to be a sample of their acts, we shall not trouble how foolish or indiscreet have been their words in the past. We are tired of the cant of Imperialism. We want the vital interests of the Empire treated with a sense of seriousness and responsibility, and to have no more such episodes as the virtual sending home in disgrace of one of the ablest of Imperial statesmen because he could not acquiesce without protest in what was in fact the revolutionising—probably the illegal revolutionising—of the Indian Constitution. One word more. We presume that Mr. Morley's decision will involve the resignation of Lord Kitchener. If it does, we shall all desire that so capable a soldier shall be , given employment at home suitable to his great abilities and distinguished service. We shall not, however, pretend to think that our Imperial interests in India will suffer from the change. On the contrary, they must benefit. The position has become so inflamed that it is very difficult to believe that Lord Kitchener would be able to carry out the work of reassuring and calming native opinion which is eminently needed. It is not given to many men to still storms in the creation of which, however unconsciously, they have played a chief part. We do not doubt, however, that there are soldiers of Indian experience who would show themselves fit for the post. We suppose the suggestion would not be capable of being carried out, but we ourselves should like to see Lord Roberts asked to return to India for a vear—for no one better than he could calm native and British opinion—and after that year succeeded by some soldier of Indian experience. In any case, there need be no fear that the resignation of Lord Kitchener, if it does take place, would cause any embarrassment or anxiety to the Government either in India or here. Lord Kitchener is a General who has won, and from many points of view deservedly won, the approval of the public, but he is not in any sense l'hontme necessaire.
What Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman had to say in regard to our Agreement with France was in every way satisfactory. His words gave warning to the world, as loudly and clearly as diplomatic usage allows, that we are bound to France by special ties, and that the Liberal Government mean to maintain those ties as strongly as their predecessors. After thus making it clear that no Govern- ment must imagine that they can promote good relations with us by any means which will imperil the entente cordials with France, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman most properly, and we are sure most sincerely, went on. to express his desire for good relations with Germany. All sensible men will echo his words. The general tone of his remarks will, we hope, however, dispel the notion, said to be entertained in very high quarters in Berlin, that the Liberal party would prove " very sound and reasonable," and show much better sense in foreign affairs than their predecessors. We know from the recent French Yellow-book what the German official view is as to the proper conduct of international relations. The Prime Minister's announce- ment that the Cabinet have ordered that no more Chinese coolies are to be imported into South Africa is, we believe, a thoroughly wise decision. Though we hold that we could not forbid a self-governing Colony to legislate in favour of the importation of coolies, provided that the decision had a true popular sanction. and was not obtained under conditions which prevented the people of the Colony from exercising their free choice, we are clear that it is not merely the right, but the duty, of the Home Government while it is responsible for the Transvaal to put an end to the system. The im- portation of Asiatic coolies under semi-servile conditions should not be imposed on any Colony by the Imperial Government, be the demand of a section of the population never so vehement and so angry.
We must turn to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's declaration on the Home-rule question. To speak plainly, it was just what we expected from a statesman who, what- ever else he is, cannot by any stretch of rhetoric be described as a master of tactics. As we have already stated would be the case, he not only gave no pledge to bring in a Home-rule Bill of any sort or kind, but used no language which could by any possibility be twisted into such a declaration. Further, he accepted by his silence the asser- tion that the co-operation of Sir Edward Grey, Mr. Asquith, and Mr. Haldane was only secured by an agreement that there should be no Home-rule legislation. Again, there was no repudiation of Mr Asquith's declaration of Tuesday,—a declaration which was perfectly satisfactory to all Unionists who are not searching for an excuse to raise the bugbear of Home-rule. We have always declared that Mr. Balfour's refusal to repudiate Mr. Chamberlain's policy, or to negative his assertions that they are in agreement, is a proof that they are in agree- ment. We hold that the same test must be applied to Mr. Asquith and Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. The fact that Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman does not repu- diate Mr. Asquith's outspoken words in regard to Home- rule, but instead shows him the most flattering signs of his confidence, and entrusts him with the office of second-in-command in the Cabinet, is to us the most convincing proof that Mr. Asquith did not speak as he did on Tuesday without the full approval of the Prime Minister and his colleagues. With Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's general expressions in regard to Irish affairs we have no great quarrel. They were not very felicitously expressed, considering how ready his rivals are to twist and turn and exaggerate them; fairly interpreted, it is clear that they meant little more than that the new Cabinet intend to carry out the policy inaugurated by Mr. Balfour's confidential friend and colleague, Mr. Wyndham, in conjunction with Sir Antony MacDonnell. That the Irish passage in the least alters the position, or should prove of anxiety to Unionist Free- traders, we cannot believe. There will be no Home-rule legislation; and as for the Government encouraging sedition, or allowine. Ireland to get out of hand and become disturbed, the notion is absurd. The Government do not wish to commit suicide ; but assuredly such would be the result of allowing crime to go unchecked in Ireland. The Cabinet are not so foolish as to want to show that the things said about them by their enemies are true. On the contrary, they are determined to show that they are Untrue,—and chief among them, that they are unfit to be trusted with the work of keeping order in Ireland.
As we have ventured to point out to Professor Dicey in another portion of our issue of to-day, those who dwell upon the dangers of a, close alliance between the Irish and the Liberals are living in an unreal world, and refusing to face the facts of the present situation. What is far more likely to happen than subservience to the Irish on the part of the Liberals is a working alliance over the amend- ment of the Education Act between the Irish and the Fiscal Reformers. The first charge on the next Session is the amendment of the Education .Act ; but who imagines that the Irish will there be found working for the Liberals? To us the alienation of the Liberals from the Irish, and the drawing together of the Irish and the Protectionists, seem far more likely, for at heart almost all the Irish are opposed to Free-trade. If this happens, the Liberals, disgusted with the Irish, may come to be a powerful obstacle to Home-rule. Stranger things have happened in politics than that. The cause of the Union is in any case secure, though had Mr. Balfour done his duty, and reduced the representation of Ireland, there need not have been even the shade of a shadow of anxiety.