26 AUGUST 1876, Page 8


THERE is, then, to be an interesting county election— almost a forgotten occurrence in English politics. It was supposed that Mr. Disraeli's seat was safe for Mr. Fre- mantle, son of an old official and Buckinghamshire squire, to whom in 1874 Mr. Disraeli gave the barony of Cottesloe, as he gave another great Buckinghamshire squire a post in the Household, but it is to be fought ; and fought, if all the omens are not false, with heart and energy. If Mr. Rupert Carington wrote his own address—which we see no reason to doubt, for there is youthfulness in every line of it, even in its occasional eager contempt of the formalities of grammar—he will be heard of again in politics, even if he should not wrest from the Tories the seat which was once occupied by John Hampden. Mr. Carington, though heir to a peer- age, and representative of a family which has represented Bucks for years, fights without gloves. He does not come forward with mincing phrases intended to mean any- thing or nothing, according to the reader's bias, and attract votes by suggesting that the candidate has no opinions which could not be changed at pleasure, but boldly announces, in epigram's sometimes as biting as those of Mr. Disraeli, his conviction that this Government is a bad one, which has failed in every department of administration, and is now intent mainly on enabling Mahommedans to slaughter Christians. Mr. Caring- ton recognises the "great ability of Lord Beaconsfield and his Par- liamentary distinction," and his "long services to the electors of Bucks," but cannot agree with Mr. Fremantle in the confidence which he professes in her Majesty's Government. " Whether that Government has increased the efficiency of the Army and Navy remains to be seen ; that they have largely increased the ex- penditure on them is certain." "From the Foreign Office two Fugitive Slave Circulars were issued, and excited the universal indignation of the country. A third has just been published, which leaves a Naval captain exactly in that position of doubt in which her Majesty's Government solemnly declared it was unfair and impossible to leave him." The "British Empire and the United States have become the refuge of each other's criminals, in consequence of the Foreign and Home Offices." "Mr. Cave's Mission, unasked for by the Khedive, has communicated his financial difficulties [to the world], has given him just cause of complaint against this country, and has increased the influences in Egypt of foreign capitalists." In the "Eastern Question the policy of the Government probably accelerated the outbreak of the war, and has certainly not succeeded in restraining its horrors. The long suppression of the real reason of the movement of the Fleet to Besika Bay not only deceived this country, but has encouraged the Porte to think themselves supported by Eng- land in whatever means they might adopt for the suppression, if not the extermination, of the Christian insurgents." The "discordant language of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on important foreign questions is without precedent, and throws difficulty in the way of those who feel it their duty, whatever their party feeling may be, to support the Government of the day in their dealings with foreign nations." A few, very few, good measures have been passed at home, and of them many have been per- missive, like "that mockery of relief to the agricultural community, the Agricultural Holdings Act, which has been rejected alike by landlords and tenants, and under which even Cabinet Ministers and Government Departments have refused to place themselves." The Government, "beyond proposing and immediately abandoning a crude measure respecting prisons," has made no effort to deal with local taxation, and in fact is an Administration "based on Tory principles, tempered with occasional conces- sions to extreme Radical opinions." This is hard hit- ting, by a man who at all events understands what he is saying, if he is sometimes too eager to be elegant ; and the election, if fought out in this style, will be a real test of the estimate formed by country electors of Mr. Disraeli's Admin- istration. Of course such outspokenness would in most counties be fatal, but Buckinghamshire electors have been educated by Mr. Disraeli to enjoy epigram, they live too near London to be genuinely Tory—indeed, Tories of the true bovine stamp could scarcely have elected Mr. Disraeli seven times— and they have traditions lingering among them which may dispose them to doubt whether England should, as Mr. Disraeli desires, actively support a foreign Power which sanctions the subjugation of Christians, for the offence of being Christians, by unlimited murder. There are Liberals enough in Bucking- hamshire to give Liberalism a fair chance on purely party grounds, and with a divided constituency, a boldly outspoken candidate on the Liberal side, and time to organise the party, the contest should be at least a close one.

Indeed, it may be a victorious one, if only the Liberal chiefs could be induced to see the grave duty which has fallen upon them, and to do it during the Recess with heartiness and zeal. The time for passive opposition is passed, and that attitude now makes them sharers in the immoralities of the Government. They are becoming responsible for the fate of the Bulgarians. Till lately the Government, though very feeble and rather expensive, with no particular programme except .to keep in power, and no particular policy except to rein in Mr. Disraeli's showy little stretchings towards large plans, has not hitherto been of a kind to call out any enthusiasm among its adversaries. It could be tolerated, at all events without moral offence. People were finding out Mr. Disraeli slowly, and slowly beginning to see that Lord Derby's notion of policy was comprised in the words "least done, soonest mended," and were doubting whether Government was quite honest about education, and were smiling rather sourly to see how the Premier attracted the Catholics, and how he " kept " his promises to the agricultural interest ; but the discontent was not sufficient to compel resistance, when sud- denly the Premier committed one of those blunders which reveal unexpected sides in a man's moral character. By a series of acts, speeches, jokes, and assertions he convinced all who were watching him that in the great quarrel which had once more burst out in Europe between Turks and Christians, he was definitely on the Mahommedan side ; that he cared nothing about the way in which Christian insurgents were put down, provided only that they were suppressed ; and that he intended, whatever Liberals like Mr. Gladstone, or humanitarians like Lord Shaftesbury, or sentimental persons like Sir W. Har- court might say, to support and to make England sup- port the oppressors against the oppressed. He would agree to any peace by which the Christians got nothing, and resist any peace by which Russia might secure to them liberation from their oppressors. He denied the plainest facts on the plea of ignorance, and then defended the Am- bassador whose negligence or wilfulness had left him ignorant. The moment this was perceived, a doubt whether a Govern- ment with Mr. Disraeli at its head could be tolerated much longer, whether it was decent for this country to be so ruled, ran through that mass of Englishmen, far the majority, who believe there is a right and a wrong in politics as in social life, who detest high-handed iniquity, and who think that England should be, at least in feeling and in Europe, always on the side of the oppressed. Steady Conservative Mem- bers broke loose from their party. Old squires whose Toryism is in their blood rather than their heads openly denounced the Foreign Office. The very clergy, who had endured the cry of "Beer and Bible" with only a few winces, felt their consciences stung by such an outrage on every prin- ciple of their creed, and were almost ready to preach resistance from the pulpit—when Parliament broke up, leaving it still uncertain whether the Liberals as a party had made up their minds to reverse the iniquitous policy of their adversaries, and incur some risk of seeing Russia gain rather than universal humanity should lose. Earl Russell had spoken indeed as became his history, but Earl Russell is old and feeble. Mr. Gladstone had spoken as became his reputation as a friend to the oppressed, but he had not explained his actual policy to the country. Mr. Forster had spoken man- fully and clearly as to what ought to be done, but Mr. Forster, who can be as hard as iron on occasion, is suspected by the people of being over-humanitarian. Lord Hartington had uttered a very uncertain sound as to policy. Lord Gran- ville had appeared to endorse much of what the Government had done, and no other Liberal leader had uttered a clear word. Englishmen never move till their leaders do, and until they have spoken it will be impossible to fight even an electoral battle like that of Buckinghamshire with full heart and hope. Their clear duty is to announce, if they believe it—as we do not doubt they do—that the conduct of the Government in protecting Turkey is an infamy for which it is imperative that they should be ejected from power. There should be neither com- promise nor hesitation, but a distinct appeal to the electors to expel this Cabinet from power at once, upon the ground of its refusal to reverse its Turkish policy. The issue will then be clear before the people, and we can trust in their decision. Until this issue is clearly placed before them, nothing is accom- plished towards the end for which every decent man in England ought to be now struggling,—the replacing of a Government which could joke over the massacre of Christians as a sort of national habit of Turks, like smoking or coffee-drinking, by a Government which, in concert with Germany and Russia, would settle the Eastern Question once for all, by replacing the Turkish Empire in Europe by a federation of Christian States, presided over by a Christian Emperor reigning at Constantinople.