29 JULY 1893, Page 15


[To THAI EDITOR OF THI " BEZOTATOR.1 Six,—In your most powerful article, headed "The Excuse for Gloom," in the Spectator of July 22nd, you lament the loss of political instinct on the part of the democracy, which accepts with a light heart the provision for giving to the eighty Irish Members the determining power in matters of purely English concern, in addition to the independent management of Irish affairs. No doubt this is in part the result of a blind, un- reasoning faith in Mr. Gladstone's sagacity. Like Captain Bourke, the people, when they see their• trusted leader giving a startling order, say to themselves, He is going to change ; he is going to do something ; he knows how to get out of it.' I am not blaming their confidence, though I think it is perilously misplaced. But is there not another very intelli- gible ground for the acquiescence which we lament ? The democracy, not caring much about the Irish question, and believing that Mr. Gladstone must know what he is about, are conscious that the Irish Members generally vote for Radical measures, and will certainly do so while in alliance with the present Government. This is to them a far more important concern than any constitutional principles or theories of government. The Irish Members would, for example, help them in the questions of Disestablishment, of manhood suffrage, of the payment of Members, &o. They know that the exclusion of the Irish Members would push the Newcastle programme a much longer way off. Is it not expecting rather much of a shrewd but only half-educated electorate to expect that it would sacrifice the near prospect of very tangible things for large conceptions of justice and right, which would bring to it no appreciable present advantage ? I am sorry it should be so, but surely " instinct " is not, as a rule, associated with disregard of self-interest. Then, again, has the same consideration no influence in higher regions ? If. Mr. Glad- stone is capable of political suicide for the sake of justice and right, can the party rise to this height of self-sacrifice, knowing that the exclusion of the Irish " eighty " would mean putting the Unionists in power? No doubt a great many Members of Parliament are willing to swallow the " eighty" for the sake of the measures they expect them to help in carrying. Shall we blame overmuch the " instinct " of the people who only do the same P—I am, Sir, &c., Bishopgarth, Wakefield. W. WA.LSKAM WAKEFIELD.

[It is Mr. Gladstone himself who has taught us to expect more from the instinct of the masses than from the education of the classes, Here, at any rate, the masses have shown no such instinct.—En. Spectator.]