30 DECEMBER 1882, Page 8


THERE is certainly no reason to fear the Revolutionary tendencies of the present Cabinet. We have often expressed our opinion that Mr. Gladstone's strongest and most statesmanlike acts have really been attributable to a far- sighted Conservatism, instead of to any revolutionary im- patience. He first saw that Protection was undermining the influence of all who defended it, with the people, and it was his sense of the danger of that course, almost as much as his sense of the injustice of Protection, which turned

him against it. Again, he saw that the Union with Ireland would soon become impossible, if we did not govern Ireland more nearly as the Irish people would govern themselves, and it was this wish to save the Union, almost as much as his sense of the positive duty of justice to Ireland, which led him to his great Irish reforms. In Lord Derby's case, a similar motive,—the belief that the Liberal can do more by proposing all necessary reforms to prevent the in- justice of unnecessary and cruel confiscations,—has avowedly actuated him in joining the Liberal ranks. Lord Carlingford, who is himself a great Irish landlord, can hardly be conceived as impelled by any revolutionary feeling in his support of the Irish land measures. Lord Granville, who is obviously full of the consciousness of aristocratic influence, and uses it with more adroitness, because he uses it with less regard for the exclusive interests of the aristocratic order than any other Peer, is not a man to endanger the influence of rank, while he can main- tain it. And Lord Spencer, who has worked like ,a horse and lived habitually with the sense that his own assassination was always on the cards, to save Ireland from revolutionists and assassins, is certainly the last man in the world to whom we could reasonably attribute the least shade of sympathy with the assailants of the Constitution. Lord Northbrook, who com- bines with the natural Conservatism of a great ruler, of one who has felt what it is to be responsible for the fate of India, the natural Conservatism of a family by whom some of the largest pecuniary transactions in the world are controlled, will hardly be supposed to be more willing than any of the statesmen we have mentioned to risk the insidious introduction of socialistic principles into the policy of the Empire. And as for Lord Kimberley, the wildest of Tories will assuredly not attribute to that incarnation of clear sense any vestige of secret sympathy with subversive schemes ; while Lord Selborne, the seventh Minister who belongs to the House of Peers, possesses unques- tionably one of the most genuinely Conservative temperaments that ever belonged to one among the small class of eminently able men. If Lord Selborne sees a reason for change, you may always be sure that it is because he fears that a much greater and worse change will result from resisting change.

So much for the Prime Minister and his seven colleagues in the Peers. What shall we say of his six colleagues in the Commons ? Why, that the Democrat amongst them who is most dreaded,—Mr. Chamberlain,—has made his own fortune by his ability as a manufacturer and an inventor ; and that if Socialistic ideas are dreaded anywhere, it is amongst the master manufacturers who have proved their own ability to distin- guish themselves from the crowd, and are, as a class, profoundly determined not to permit their individual powers, and the fair earnings of those powers, to be lost in the scramble of the million for more comfortable conditions of life. Sir Charles Dilke, it will be said, has indicated his preference for a Republic. For a Republic in the abstract, yes,—for a Republic in any case where you had to begin de novo, and had nothing to lose by losing the Monarchy. But not for a Republic in England at the present time ;—only for that steady assertion of the Sovereignty of the people which will longest defer any radical change of the form of Government, and enable the English people to enjoy, what they do enjoy to the full,—that strange blending of aristocratic influence with democratic policy which is the cherished anomaly of English public life. Sir Charles Dilke has never stirred a revolutionary question in Parliament, unless grumbling at the amount of the Civil List and of the allowances made to the cadet branches of the Royal Family is stirring a revolutionary question. In reality, his influence has always been exerted in the sense of completing the Democratic development of our aristocratic institutions, of ex- tending the power and influence of England abroad, and of improving those relations with the Colonies and with the United States of America which promise most for the future greatness of the Anglo-Saxon race. But if you go beyond Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Charles Dilke, where is revolutionary tendency to be found ? In Lord Hartington, with his future rent-roll of .Q200,000 a year ? In Sir William Harcourt, with the Archiepiscopal traditions of his family and his own hopes for the Woolsack ? In Mr. Dodson, with his quiet prudence and broad acres ? Or in Mr. Childers, with his reputation for administrative capacity and political moderation ? In truth, it would be hard to find anywhere fourteen able men less reckless in spirit, more determined to prevent needless and dangerous change, than the fourteen Cabinet Ministers of the United Kingdom.