MR. CARDWELL AT OXFORD.
MR. CARDWELL is Mr. Gladstone's junior by four years, and has long been regarded as one of the political reserve force in case of any further devastation of the ranks of our statesmen, such as we have suffered from so severely during the last Parliament. He is Mr. Gladstone's junior, and he for a long time followed tolerably closely in Mr. Glad- one'a footsteps. Like Mr. Gladstone, he was the son of a wealthy Liverpool merchant, like him he took a double first class at Oxford, like him, too, he attached himself on enter- ing Parliament to the party of Sir Robert Peel, studying especially financial policy, and like him detached himself from the Conservatives soon after the break-up caused by the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. They both belonged to the Aberdeen Ministry which declared war against Russia, and both went into opposition during the later period of that war, and both finally joined the Liberals after the dissolution of the Conservative Government of 1858-9, Mr. Cardwell having abandoned the doubtful mediate position between Conservatism and Liberalism somewhat sooner perhaps, and more decidedly, than Mr. Gladstone. But if Mr. Cardwell's political lot has been subject to many of the same ex- ternal influences as Mr. Gladstone's, it is becoming evident that the political nature to be ripened and disci- plined by those changes was not in his case of the same rich material. Mr. Gladstone has made some serious blunders in his political life, indeed while Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Card- well have made some blunders in common, those of Mr. Glad- stone have been more numerous, serious, and conspicuous, but then the richness of his nature has shown itself in striking outbursts of his large heart and fine political sympathies that have gained for him a powerful hold on the imagina- tion and gratitude of England. While still a Conservative he published the great letters on Naples which expressed his intense, his passionate, hatred of the cruel and vindictive Government for which so many of his party apologized ; his sympathy for Italy has ever since been warm and generous, and in domestic matters his whole financial genius has been devoted to lightening the burden on the largest, neediest, and least happy, section of the English nation. Mr. Gladstone may be reproached by his critics with caring less about bare freedom than about the happiness and comfort of the masses, but in everything he has done since his political career began he has put the mark of a man of susceptible and generous humanity, of a vividness of feeling far above the standard of ordinary politicians, and of a certain nobility of spirit which raises politics out of the dust. In all these respects Mr. Cardwell has failed to follow him. During the last two years, since the retirement and death of the Duke of New- castle, he has occupied a position of some importance in the House, which, but for a certain natural frigidity of tem- perament, might have been one of more importance still. He- seems to have the slight indifference of all the Peelites proper to political freedom as such, without the warm humanity which in Mr. Gladstone takes its place. And while he has a touch of the pomposity of his first master, Sir Robert Peel, he has not the advantage of belonging now to that Conserva- tive party in defence of which this tendency to formalism can be best turned to popular account. As Mr. Gladstone has more and more emancipated himself from the formalist creed to which he once adhered, Mr. Cardwell has seemed to grow more and more inured to its empty formalism, though he has transferred it to the service of the party where it will be least useful to him. During the last two years we have watched him closely, and, comparatively little as he has spoken, there has always been something of a political Mr. Legality about him, of solemnity of manner outrunning the importance of what he said, of emptiness of idea, of officiality of thought, of disposition to judge men rather by the red-tape standard of thought than by a strong masculine grasp of the facts of each particular case. In relation to the great Canadian Confedera- tion his despatches have been feeble, and have conveyed none of that high imperial impulse which was wanted from home to- override the impediments to so new, difficult, and important an experiment. In dealing with New Zealand he has shown a singular want of appreciation of the true situation, and has -vacillated between the official view of the Governor, Sir George Grey, the view popular for financial reasons in our own Par- liament, and the view adopted by the Episcopal party in the colony, in a way that has positively added to the sufficiently complicated difficulties of a trisected authority in the colony itself. At one time he has strengthened the hands of the Governor against the local legislature by his official sup- port, at another half-reprimanded him for not sending home troops as the legislature desired, and has never seen the abso- lute necessity of getting a governor and a colony in thorough harmony with each other, and giving them sufficient power to cope with their difficulties. And now, finally, in this Jamaica business, it seems clear that Mr. Cardwell is disposed to follow the high official tradition of sustaining the authority on the spot, even to a point which makes the course of the Govern- ment in appointing a Commission of Inquiry seem unjustifil- able and unmeaning. Mr. Cardwell's New Year's speech at Oxford has all the impress of this cold, formal, slightly pompous officialism. We pass over what he said of Lord Palmerston. It is always difficult in pronouncing a tribute ' to a departed statesman not to deal a little in empty common-places, and if Mr. Card- well fell into them in saying that " his name has been added to the long and honoured roll of those who have died in the discharge of their duty,"—that " his memory still lives in the grateful recollections," &c., he did but share the common lot. But there is the true ring of empty pomp—of words rounded off in the mouth rather than in the mind—about such sentences as this :—" The new Parliament which our gracious Sovereign is about to open will, I have no doubt, yield to none of its predecessors in its efforts for the public good, and will, I have no doubt, when it comes to its termination, bequeath to the nation measures calculated to increase the prosperity of our country, and contribute to the welfare and happi- ness of the people." There is a great deal too much of the " Sir Joshua Windbag" style about that, but the bad sign is that even when Mr. Cardwell gets to a real subject, and has finished the common-form " recitals," his style is the same. He is in favour of reform, for he remembered " the time when in the centres of industry in which my lot was cast, distress and discontent were almost as remarkable as prosperity and content and cheerfulness are now. If you ask me to what I attribute the happy difference, I say I attribute it mainly to that course of temperate and progressive improve- ment in the institutions of the country which followed on the enactment of the great Reform Bill ;" and so on, and so on. It is not that there is any harm in this sort of platitude, but that throughout his speech, except in one instance, with regard to Jamaica, there is nothing else, not a sign of strong poli- tical individuality even,—not a characteristic note of vivid personal convictions about anything. It is all in the large, weighty, platitudinal style, which the late Sir Robert Peel used to adopt so happily when he wanted to gain time and to deaden by a sort of feather bed of words the attacks of his opponents. We do not expect even Liberal ministers to say very original things, but we do look for some sign from them of personal interest and conviction in the unoriginal things they say. Mr. Cardwell never gives us any. The revenue returns, he tells us, are good, because all the recent financial changes have been " calculated for the good of the whole com- munity." He hopes that other countries,—especially "the great regions watered by the Danube "—which is Cardwellese for Austria, and was a phrase that at once elicited warm cheers, —will follow our example. The only exception to this strain of rather emphatic platitude was on the subject of Jamaica. And on that Mr. Cardwell said one thing which strikes us as a very singular indication that the Colonial Minister has adopted the kind of foregone conclusion from which he dissuades his audience, and that he must have concurred in the Commission of Inquiry rather as a Parliamentary necessity than from any personal sense of duty. " Now among all the controversies on the subject, one thing," said Mr. Cardwell, " has never been disputed, and that is, that by great promptitude on the part of the authorities, and by the skilful dis- position of the troops, comparative safety was speedily restored to all persons, of whatever race or colour, who desired to live in peace and orderly submission to the law. But serious questions have arisen as to the measures which were taken in the course of that repression, and after that com- parative safety had been effected.' Now we do not know what Mr. Cardwell may mean by comparative safety. Does he think having fifty lashes merely "as a precautionary measure" com- parative safety ? Or is he not aware that the Jamaica accounts have registered some scores, if not hundreds of cases, of such precautionary measures taken expressly because there was no evidence even to bring before a court-martial? Does he think being shot only because you run away from a regiment armed with loaded rifles "comparative safety ?" Or does he perhaps think that all persons who ran away from advancing regi- ments were ipso facto proved not "to desire to live in peace and orderly submission to the law ?" The charge reiterated by those who were living on the spot and in the midst of the disturbance is, that some two thousand and upwards of persons who did desire " to live peaceably and according to the law " have suffered either torture and shame, or death, at the hands of the authorities. A member of the House of Assembly of Jamaica, and recently of the Privy Council, writes to a friend in a letter that has been published in the Daily Hews, to say that, living as he does in the midst of the disturbed districts, he believes the whole affair to have been in origin a local riot, and not an insurrection, but that in sup- pressing it " over three thousand of the deluded negroes, innocent and guilty, had been sacrificed. Of this number, 547, I am told, have been hanged by sentence of drum-head court-martial, 500 shot in the woods by the Maroons, and nearly 2,000 shot by the combined forces, to say nothing of the quantity whipped." Of course no impartial critic adopts this statement, or can do so till after the inquiry ; but when Mr. Cardwell says that " it has never been disputed that comparative safety was speedily restored to all persons, of whatever race or colour, who desired to live in peace and orderly submission to the law," we assert that this is precisely the only thing which is disputed, and the dispute is the only but sufficient justification for the Commission of Inquiry which the Colonial Secretary has himself sanctioned. If his statement were correct, the Commission would be a needless insult to Governor Eyre, and would never have been demanded by the English people. How the Colonial Secretary can prejudge so flagrantly in one direction the result of an inquiry on which he deprecates prejudgment in another, can only be explained by Mr. Cardwell's official formalism. He has evidently taken up Mr. Eyre's case in the official manner, but has yielded to inquiry as a measure of Parliamentary tactics. We should have been very sorry to see him guilty of any injustice to Governor Eyre, but we certainly should have desired from our Colonial Secretary an emphatic assurance that the negroes would be treated in every way as British subjects by the Government, and their wrongs, if' proved, visited on the wrong-doers with a justice as severe as would have been exacted in a colony inhabited by Anglo-Saxons only. That, and nothing less than that, is what we looked for from our Colonial Secretary whenever he might deign to speak on the subject of Jamaica. And the fact that Mr. Cardwell did not say this, but by what he did say conveyed an impression quite the reverse in effeet,—confirms us in an impression which has long been growing upon us, that he is not a statesman to whom the Liberal party can look with any confidence in future,— that his sympathies are narrow and his sense of justice of the dim official type,—that he cares more for "order," in the Warsaw sense, than humanity, and more for authority than freedom.