Mr. Gladstone has issued his address to the electors of
Mid- lothian asking for re-election, but it does not give any clear indication of the policy of the Government. He explains his reason for turning out the late Government, which he had earnestly hoped might not be needful, as follows :—" There were three great Irish questions demanding our care,—social order, the settlement of the Land Question, and a widely prevalent desire for self-government, extending beyond what is felt in Great Britain as to local affairs, but necessarily subject in all respects to the law of Imperial unity. It was made plain last week that whilst all ideas of Local Government for Ireland receded further and further into the distance, and while on this very ground it was hardly possible to hope for any enlarged handling of the question, the one broad proposal with which Parliament was to be invited to deal was a renewal of special and restrictive provisions for the criminal law of Ireland. This was to be the queJtion of the hour,—perhaps the work of the Session." That is a guarded but explicit condemnation of the policy of restoring the authority of the law in Ireland, before trying any new concession to the wishes of the people. "It will be," he goes on, "among the very first duties of the new Government to use its official opportunities for forming such an estimate as only a Ministry can form of the social state of Ireland, especially with regard to crime, to the fulfilment of contracts, to the pressure of low prices upon agriculture, and to personal liberty of action. The course of policy, as a whole, cannot be considered without reference to this examination ; but beyond all doubt the hope and purpose of the new Government in taking office is to examine carefully whether it is not practicable to try some other method of meeting the present case of Ireland, and ministering to its wants, both social and political,—some method more safe and more effectual, going nearer to the source and the seat of the mischief, and offering more promise of stability than the method of separate and restrictive criminal legislation." That does not tell us much of the direction of Mr. Gladstone's hopes. We sincerely trust that it does not point to long delay before revealing the general policy of the new Government.