6 JANUARY 1906, Page 24


[To vas EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIB,—From the pen of a man who was a Home-ruler before Mr. Gladstone, and who hs-s recently thrown his mantle over that out-and-out Home-ruler and Fiscal Reformer Sir John Cockburn, Mr. Chamberlain's description of the alleged leaning towards Home-rule of the present Cabinet is "a con- spiracy of violence and treason" is more than a trifle overdone. As a Liberal Unionist, I have voted Conservative ever since 1886, because I believed the Conservative party were the custodians of the Union principle. I intend now to vote Liberal because I believe the present Government are the best security against any tampering with the principle. I believe the danger is not Home-rule or Protection, but Protection- cum-Home-rule. I have never been able to see any difference at all between Mr. Balfour's and Mr. Chamberlain's fiscal views beyond that (to use a commercial simile) one is looking after the wholesale and the other is looking after the retail department of the same business. We have all seen how Mr. Balfour, the avowed Free-trader, finds Free-trade quite con- sistent with Retaliation, which, as Mr. Chamberlain says, can only be made effective through a general tariff. I cannot see why the same accomplished pair should not, in some readily conceivable political exigencies, discover that Unionism can be easily and gradually merged in Home-rule. Doubtless Mr. Balfour would say, like Hamel, "Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing ?" Nevertheless, Hazael eventually did perpetrate the deeds the prediction of which filled him at first with horror ; and if it is true, as Mr. Chamberlain says, that he has nine-tenths of the party behind him, Mr. Balfour would find himself helpless. Mr. Chamberlain is prosecuting his assault on the citadel of Free-trade with all the ruthless fanaticism of a Dervish who knows that there is no line of retreat open to him. Besides, it must always be remembered that the Liberal Cabinet, without a positive mandate from the country, which they are not asking, could not hope to pass a Home-rule measure through the House of Lords, while this obstacle would not stand in the way of a Home-rule measure presented by a Conservative Government.—I am, Sir, &c.,

A. L.