29 APRIL 1899, Page 19

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who was the guest of the evening

at the Eighty Club dinner on Wednesday, devoted the main part of his speech, after a generous tribute to the character and services of the late Mr. Ellis and some effective chaff of Mr. Chaplin, to a discussion of the aims and methods of the Primrose League. He met Mr. Balfour's declaration that it was concerned with the maintenance of the constitution, of religion, and of the Empire by claiming that "we Liberals are the real constitutional party. We are the friends, not of religious ascendency, or of religious exclusiveness, but of free and unfettered and simple and genuine religion, in whatever ecclesiastical or religious organisation it may be found, and we are too proud of our Imperial greatness to shrink from bearing the burden of its duties." There is a note of Pharisaism in these complacent comparisons, but we welcome, as a much- needed indication of his intention to lead, Sir Henry's note- worthy remark, passed over in some of the reports of the pro- ceedings, that while they had had in the House of Commons "Leaders who exercised a certain authority on account of their name, long career, the offices they have held, and so forth; now we have a Leader who has a quality which none of those possessed, because he has been elected by the House of Commons to lead." This remark, according to the Daily News, was greeted with laughter as well as cheers. Why, we are at a loss to understand, for Liberals have surely not come to think it a joke that a Leader should show any back- bone. However, we have the assurance of the Daily Chronicle that "Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman is always in very grim earnest, even when he seems to be joking."