24 APRIL 1886, Page 1


MR. GLADSTONE on Friday week explained his Land- purchase scheme, in a speech which must have been curiously unlike his usual speeches. Read carefully, it is lucid enough ; but it fairly bothered the reporters. We defy any living being to make sense of the reports published the same evening, though one at least was two columns long, and intended to be careful; and the sum- marists shirk difficulties in every third line. The Premier himself was aware of a certain obscurity, and apologised for it ; yet he is not, in the main, obscure. His thought is that the position of Irish landlords, and the bitter hatred with which they are regarded, are historically the fault of England—not Scotland, he was careful to say that—and therefore Great Britain, before surrendering them to their enemies, ought to make them an offer of compensation. He commenced his speech with a historical disquisition on this subject, which, if nations owe compensation 'for acts done with a view to benefit their subjects, was unanswerable, and was so felt in the House; but he evidently felt very keenly the want of logic in his position. He was creating a Parliament with the certainty that, as regards a class, that Parliament would be unfair; and he was obliged to argue that the unfairness did not arise from the character of the people, but from special circumstances. Upon these circumstances he dwelt, till it almost seemed that his plan of compensation would be neglected by himself as a detail; but it came at last, though not till he had explained that its cost, which originally he had fixed at 113 millions, had after Mr. Chamberlain's remonstrance shrunk in his mind to fifty millions sterling.