29 JULY 1905, Page 4

speak, strangled the crisis at its birth. This could easily

The Westminster Gazette, always happy in quotation, have been done by announcing immediately after the pointed out on Wednesday how exactly Mr. Balfour's hostile vote that he should consider it as a mere accident, position resembles that assumed by Mr. Gregsbury, M.P., and shonld next day ask the House of Commons to rescind as recorded in the pages of " Nicholas Nickleby." A their action. Instead of this, he protracted the crisis deputation from his constituency waited on Mr. Gregsbury, which has been occupying Parliament during the week it will be remembered, and asked him to resign. The by stating that he would take no controversial business result of the request was as follows :— the next day, and would not announce his decision till "'I am requested, sir, to express a hope,' said Mr. Pugstyles, the Monday. As a result, immense gravity was at once with a distant bow, ' that on receiving a requisition to that effect given to the situation. Very naturally, nobody believed from a great majority of your constituents you will not object at that Mr. Balfour intended to do nothing on Monday but once to resign your seat in favour of some candidate whom they think they can better trust.' announce in a fifty minutes' speech that everything was To this Mr. Gregsbury read the following reply, which, antici- to go on as usual,—an announcement which could just pating the request, he had composed in the form of a letter, as well have been made in a dozen words ten minutes whereof copies had been made to send round to the newspapers. after the catastrophe. The result of the delay was 'MY DEAR PIIGSTTLES,—Next to the welfare of our beloved to afford occasion for a hundred rumours as to the island—this great and free and happy country, whose powers and course of events, and greatly to elate the Opposition. independence which is an Englishman's proudest boast, and In a word, Mr. Balfour's action caused the maximum of which I fondly hope to bequeath to my children, untarnished disrepute to fall on the Government owing to their defeat, and unsullied. Actuated by no personal motives, but moved and also bestowed a maximum of éclat on the Opposition only by high and great constitutional considerations, which I for their victory. No doubt Mr. Balfour was deeply chagrined at the way in which he was treated by his as I have, of the intricate and arduous study of politics—I would followers. To make an appeal on Tuesday for confidence rather keep my seat, and intend doing so. and more loyal support, and on Thursday to be placed 'Will you do me the favour to present my compliments to the in a minority, puts a Prime Minister in as uncomfortable constituent body, and acquaint them with this circumstance ? and undignified a position as it is possible to imagine. With great esteem, If, however, Mr. Balfour had determined to ignore the Etc., etc.' snub inflicted upon him by his party, it was surely unwise 'Then you will not resign, under any circumstances ? ' asked to parade his humiliation before the country instead, of the spokesman. • instantly throwing a veil over it. We can only dimly Mr. Gregsbury smiled, and shook his head." guess that Mr. Balfour's reason for his extraordinary action It is impossible not to feel that the present situation has was that he could not on Thursday night, and immediately been exactly anticipated by Dickens. Mr. Balfour, like after his defeat, count upon his colleagues agreeing to Mr. Gregsbury, makes very fine excuses for not resigning; accept his view that nothing had happened which need but the long and the short of it all is,—" I would rather make any difference to the Ministry. He wanted a keep my seat, and intend doing so." couple of days in which to talk his colleagues round, Possibly the Unionist Whips will be able to keep their and convince them that the proper thing to do was to followers in the House in sufficient numbers after the end ignore the hostile vote. Possibly the Cabinet may have of the first week in August, but it is, we venture to decided at the beginning of the Session that they would say, far more likely that they will fail to do so. When only continue in office provided that there was no defeat all is said, the fact remains that the Opposition are full in the House of Commons. In that case, until he could of energy and enthusiasm, while the so-called supporters persuade them to change their minds this decision was of the Cabinet are tired and disappointed, and in some binding on the Government. In other words, though Mr. cases mutinous men. They have seen question after ques- Balfour was determined to have his own way, he could tion mismanaged, and interest after interest harassed; only get it , by postponing a definite decision till the and those who are thinking most of saving their seats Monday. But so determined was he to secure this and realise that they are less likely to do so by remaining to carry out his own plan that he was willing to ignore in London in August, and very possibly being asked the injury done to his party, the loss of personal dignity, to commit themselves still deeper to some unpopular and. the possibility of yet another Parliamentary defeat a policy. Mr. Blank, M.P., for example, has many few days hence. prominent Volunteers among his chief supporters, and not, we admit, trouble the Prime Minister very greatly.

_________ cannot be carried on without a loss of personal dignity, and where personal disconsideration becomes an admitted

resources are, I sincerely believe, illimitable—I value that noble will not attempt to explain —for they are really beyond the comprehension of those who have not made themselves masters, My dear Pugstyles,

hothouse till the middle of August. If, then, the Oppo- sition show real determination, and are willing to sacrifice their own holidays to the work of forcing a Dissolution by another defeat of the Government, we should be by no means surprised if they succeeded. Of course, in spite of all this, the Government may survive, but we think it more likely that they will either be beaten in another im- portant division, in which case resignation will be es.sential, or else they may come so near defeat as to be forced to make an agreement with the Opposition in regard to an October Dissolution. It is well known that at any moment the Government can get peace and quiet and pleasant holidays for their supporters by agreeing to an October Dissolution. In these circumstances, is it not likely that great pressure will be put upon them by their tired-out followers to force them to do what is, after all, a very reasonable thing,—i.e., come to a compromise such as all Englishmen love and regard with satisfaction ? No doubt Mr. Balfour is determined and obstinate in a high degree, and has made up his mind to resist the notion of Dissolution by agreement in October. Facts, however, may prove too strong for him. If they do, he will have to admit that he has done the worst, not the best, for himself and his party by attempting to cling to office. And even if he succeeds, and does not dissolve till this time next year, he, or at any rate the party, will be in no better but rather in a worse case. Every day that the Dissolution is postponed increases the magnitude of the defeat of the Chamberlain-Balfour policy.