30 DECEMBER 1882, Page 4



WHEN, in 1866, Sir Charles Dilke was scudding across the great plains of the American continent between Kansas and Colorado, having, as he humorously tells us, paid, with his companion, $500 for the privilege of guarding from the Red Indians " the United States Californian mail, with the compensation of the chance of being ourselves able to rob it with impunity," and was weighing their driver's cheer- ful remark, as they passed a probable Indian ambush, "It's 'bout an even chance we'll be scalp [scalped] there," he pro- bably did not suspect that he was laying the foundation of his capacity to conduct a County Government Bill through the House of Commons, and to become one of the most popular members of the Cabinet of 1883. Yet it is pretty certain that he was training himself even more effectually for the task which is now to be imposed upon him, by that rapid and keenly ob- servant journey, than even Mr. Chamberlain,—who was at that time studying to good effect the principles of municipal government in Birmingham, and both the general and specially local laws of commerce,—was qualifying himself for his not very dissimilar duties. What Sir Charles Dilke gained by his early study of Law, by the rapid and generalising observations of his swoop round the world, and his years of studious leisure, is a stamp of statesmanship on all he says and does which it is almost impossible for any man, however able, to gain, if he is too early immersed in the cares of responsible life. Sir Charles Dilke is not abler, possibly even in many ways less able, than Mr. Chamberlain, but he is more interesting. He freshens up dull subjects with the fixed air of thoughtful criticism, instead of merely making them lively with the flash of a joke or a repartee. He is always instructive, with- out being didactic. He seizes the main issues of even local politics, and helps to make them vivid and rememberable. When in 1875 he set before the House of Commons the state of the unreformed Corporations, he left a picture on the political mind, of the stupid and brazen selfishness to which such close corporations descend, such as it is impossible for any one who heard him to forget. The Mayor of Queenborough, who still received 10s. a year to find him in breeches, because Queen Philippa, in the reign of Edward III., had seen the Mayor of that time thatching a house with his breeches slit up behind ; the Mayor of Woodstock, who still kept an inn, let to him by the corporation at a nominal rent, in which police regulations were calmly disregarded ; the Town Clerk of New Romney, who, after account- ing for X200 out of i800 of the revenues of the borough, when asked what was done with the rest, calmly replied, " I shan't tell you were painted-in so as to strike the mind, and we may hope, too, the conscience, of the English people, by Sir Charles Dilke. No man knows better what local government may come to in narrow and selfish hands, and no man knows better how large are the interests really involved in good local government,—how entirely, good national govern- ment depends on good local government,—than Sir Charles Dilke. There is the air of wide and varied observation as well as of earnest and sagacious reflection in all his political work.

Indeed, Sir Charles Dilke has studied popular life and popular government in so many different forms, and watched so keenly the larger aspects of those differences, that he never under- rates significant local facts. Probably no statesman of the present day ever put a common enough truth, but one the vast importance of which no one has yet sufficiently worked out, in a more instructive form than Sir Charles Dilke, when he remarked that the dearer peoples, the peoples who cannot live on less than 4e. a day per man, so far from being at a disadvantage in consequence, always obtain the victory over the cheaper peoples, the peoples who live on 4d. a day per man. Again, it is impossible to throw more weight into the attack on the present state of our Representative insti- tutions than Sir Charles Dilke has thrown in the pithy remark, " While you proclaim the sovereignty of the people, you make one portion of the people, in small and corrupt boroughs, 250 times as sovereign as another portion in large, wealthy, and intelligent towns." The man who sees these things with this vivacity is clearly a man who will not give us local-government Bills for counties or for any other areas, that do not rest on a principle, that do not command a certain breadth of popular support which measures of this kind too often miss through the depressing effect of detail.

Sir Charles Dilke, moreover, has grown in power and prud- ence with his experience, as every young statesman ought tcr grow. In his Under-Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs, he has been badgered beyond even the experience of former Under- Secretaries ; but he has shown great coolness, tact, and reti- cence in the front which he has opposed to that badgering. We rejoice in his joining the Cabinet at the moment when Lord. Derby, with his confessed desire to get quit of all our engagements in Egypt at the earliest possible moment, is- joining it also, on the ground that we may safely regard' Sir Charles Dilke's vote as a weight added to the scale in which the reasons for not hastily cutting ourselves adrift of our obligations to Egypt will be weighed. In the first book he ever wrote, Sir Charles Dilke insisted on the artificial character of the French jealousy of our influence in Egypt, and expressed his belief that whenever the moment came for measuring the claims of the two countries to predominating counsels there, the French influence there would be proved to be both less potent and less serious than that of England. Observing with a keen eye the various French dependencies in the East, Sir Charles Dilke noted that in none of them did the French nation ever seem to enter into the life of a great native race fully enough, to make the local influence of France wise, beneficent, and dis- interested. Doubtless since the French people threw off the Empire and adopted a Republic, Sir Charles, Dilke's prepossessions on this head may have been modified,—modified more perhaps than the actual change in French policy has justified, for he is somewhat sanguine in his democracy, and can hardly persuade himself to feel the same kind of indignation against even transparent acts of popular selfishness, which he feels against the selfishness of despotisms, though, indeed, as • it seems to us, selfish democracies, whether it be our own or any other, are the victims of a disease' more deeply rooted than even selfish despotisms. " If the English race has a mission in the world," he once said, "it is making it impossible that the peace of mankind on earth should depend on the will of a single ruler." That is a noble enough principle for the guidance of English foreign policy,—and far enough from achievement, as the events of 1870 and all the years which have followed 1870 apparently show,—but there are, we think, instances in which the will of millions acts in a manner no less mischievous, and much more dangerous, than the will of a single ruler. Still, while it is quite certain that Sir Charles Dilke will do all that in him lies to prevent the peace of the world from being disturbed by the act of any single ruler, be he Czar, Caliph, or Emperor, no one who has studied his recent speeches can doubt that he will not be at all disposed to cower even before democratic France, so far as he thinks that we owe to Egypt, and to ourselves, obligations from the discharge of which democratic France would willingly scare us. If he is a little too much given to Russophobia, if he is a little too much given to an almost super- stitious belief in the " manifest destiny " of the Anglo- Saxon race, he is, perhaps, saved by those preposses- sions from any tendency to ascribe too much importance to Panslavic conspiracies, however democratic, on the one hand, or the republican arrogance of any Latin race, on the other. If " the Greater Britain," as Sir Charles Dilke calls Anglo-Saxondom, be a little bit of an idol to him, it is almost the only idol he has. And even that idolatry of his is by no moans blind. He sees many of the Anglo-Saxon limitations with as vivid a sense of their narrowness and dangerousness as any of us. No doubt, he said too much, when he asserted that "no possible series of events can prevent the English race in 1070 from numbering 300 millions of beings, of one national character and one tongue ; Italy, Spain, France, Russia, become pigmies by the side of such a people ;" for the unity of the national character, be it what you please (and we think Sir Charles Dilke exaggerates it), never yet prevented internal conflict, even when that internal conflict meant civil war, and it is obvious enough that there is no security at all, as yet, for the co-operation of the various branches of the Anglo-Saxon race, nay, worse still, no security against something like a stronger mutual repulsion, under certain conditions, than any one of those branches would feel towards a totally distinct race. Indeed, Sir Charles Dilke is obviously too sanguine, as all strong democrats always appear to be too sanguine, when once they fancy they are, as Carlyle used to say, horsed upon a popular idea." Just after Sir Charles Dilke entered Parliament, in seconding the Address in 1870, he ventured to say, somewhat inopportunely, considering the terrible events of the summer of that year, "There is nothing in the

speech to which we have this day listened which is fuller of the hopes that reach all hearts, than the simple words in which we are told that the nations have decided that in future they will refer their differences to friends." That hope was destined to an early and cruel disappointment, but it was the sort of hope which did Sir Charles Dilke credit, and for which, in the then recent history of his own race at least, he had great excuse. Experience of life will lower his sanguine expectations of rich fruit even from the most just of the various democratic ideas. But even while lowering his expectations of great results, ex- perience will, we believe, increase his power—which, speaking relatively, and without attributing too much to any one man, is certainly great—to bring a high and just policy to its proper consummation.