9 FEBRUARY 1867, Page 6


speeches on the first night of debate presented a curious contrast. Lord Russell recurred to the past only for opportunities of party acrimony, Mr. Gladstone only to find reasons for con- ciliation and forbearance. Lord Russell, like Mr. Gladstone, went to Rome and Florence, but Rome and Florence did not apparently interrupt even for a year the iron chain of Whig associations which rivets his mind to the last political genera- tion. He has come back stronger and more elastic far than last session. His voice was never before heard so well in the House of Lords as in the somewhat unpleasant criticism which he tacked on to the Address in answer to the Queen's Speech. He seems haler and keener by five years, than he seemed when he defended the proposition to get a separate Franchise Bill through Parliament a year ago. It is clear that he intends to sit in the seat of leader of opposition a good bit longer yet, and it is clear that he has, for the present, the physical strength to keep his place. But with this new tonic to his health and spirits, Lord Russell seems to have added even an additional Whig crustiness to his thought. The political click with which the spring of his mind fastened once more on that tiresome Chandos Clause, and traced up the wish of the artisans to be represented in the boroughs, to that very extraordinary source—the proposal of the Marquis of Chandos to get the 50/. tenant farmers into the representation of the counties in 1832,—was a moral shock to all the Liberals who heard him, so ominous was it of the absurd tyranny of old associations over his imagination. We have a sincere respect for Lord Russell. We doubt if any other Liberal of the present day has done so much for freedom, or values it, apart from the prosperity which it is supposed to confer, so sincerely. There is no statesman whom we honour more heartily, or whose memory England will cherish more cordially when he leaves us, than Lord Russell. Still, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that Lord Russell is no longer pliant to the ideas of his time. He is not only a party man moulded in a time when party feelings were much more violent than they are now,—but he is a party man with the wrong class of party ideas,—the class which have had their day,--and without those party ideas which have still their work to do in this world. What could show this more remarkably than the impression he avowed on Tuesday night, that if a depen- dent farmer class had not been qualified to vote by the Bill of 1832, an independent artisan class would not now be claiming the franchise ? That is only a Whig version of the old woman's superstition that because she saw one black crow at the beginning of her journey, she was upset by the driver's turning her into the ditch at the end of it. Can anything better show how little Lord Russell really understands the objects of the present Reform agitation, than this theory of evil, referring a conspicuous imperfec- tion in the original Reform Act, which has been growing more and more conspicuous ever since, to another feature of it which, even if once an imperfection, has been growing less and less of an imperfection, more and more politi- cally useful, ever since? If Lord Russell really holds that the working men grew discontented only because the tenant farmers have all along had votes, how very poorly he must think of the agitation which he has taken so much trouble to promote. Lord Russell was not only unfortunate on Tuesday night in taking up at once so hostile a tone to Lord Derby's Government in respect to Reform,—a party error which will predispose all Lord Grosvenor's friends against him,—but he was unfortunate in the cast and type of his party ideas. While he is inflexible to his adversaries, he shows no sympathy with his friends. To urge a new idea on Lord Russell is like "powdering any with an iron bar on a nutmeg-grater." You only get grit and a scraping noise out of the process,— a waste of the materials both of Lord Russell's and of his monitor's mind. He is not the man at the present time either to conciliate half-enemies or to attach hearty friends. His ties are to the past. The Chandos Clause is a living adversary to him stilL He fights over in his -mind the battles of the past. He belongs to a period which may be greater than our own, but which has passed away. He is like one of the wingless birds,—or birds which had the germs of wings indeed, but used them only to aid themselves in run- ning, not for ffight,—competing with a race which can soar, and pounce, and give way at pleasure. The ornithorhynchus would not be less at home amidst our modern birds than Lord Russell is, if he knew it, with modern politicians. Mr. Gladstone's speech on Tuesday night was curiously dif- ferent from Lord Russell's. He was courteous and conciliatory to his foes, and yet knew exactly, by the sure modern instinct, that is in him, where he must strike in with. a weighty word for the pressing and immediate causes of to-day. He spoke cor- dially of the Government's proposals on the American question, threw no cold water on the Irish measure which is promised, even describing the terms of the promise as what no candid man would find fault with ; he congratulated the Ministry on being- able to dispense with the suspension of Habeas Corpus ; and though he declined to be " cheerfiil " with regard to the pro-- posed increase of expenditure on the Army, he promised to con- sider it readily and candidly, if not cheerfully ; he was quite- willing to approve the Commission to inquire into the practi- cal relations between capital and labour, but he was not will- ing,—and here he was very wise, considering the tone taken' in the Upper House by the mover and seconder of the Address, —to prejudge the inquiry, and speak as if it were intended to be a heavy blow for Trades' Unions, instead of a dispassionate- investigation into them. "I think there have been exaggerated: statements made,—and to a certain extent they may have' acted on the public mind,—in order to propagate the idea either that the differences between employers and workmen are now of a more aggravated character than in former times, or that the effect of these differences is to menace the commercial and trading p osition of this country.' And Mr. Gladstone stated that either impression weer incorrect. He pressed on the Government with real earnest- ness the growing evil of corrupt elections, and on the sub- ject of Parliamentary Reform he spoke with a candour and a statesmanlike forbearance which showed how sincerely anxious he was to support the opposite party, if by any chance they can propose anything which eau combine Con- servative and Liberal votes. On the whole, Mr. Gladstone- showed himself the statesman we really need,—the man who is of our own time, and not only of our own time, but. who has in him all that gradual growth, that moral develop- ment, which shows him to have grown up with his time, and. to remember both its present needs and the needs it has just escaped. He is, as it were, the historical development of the period which began just when Lord Russell stoppect growing altogether,—in 1832. In Mr. Gladstone the- fault is rather that the transitions are so gradual, the- shelving away from one stage of thought to another so little marked, the complexity so nicely shaded, the- variety of elements so remarkable, that it is difficult to know what he will or will not think on any specific- question. Instead of being all in one groove, and that a groove which is wearing out, like Lord Russell, his mind runs in a multitude of different lines so fine and so- curiously woven,—or "shot," as they say of silk,—with un- expected threads of sympathy, that there is much difficulty in, telling which will be the leading or predominant element. Still, possessing the natural gift of an orator, he may always. be trusted not to under-rate those influences which are at the- moment dominant in the whole nation, and hence, while Mr. Gladstone has the gift for fairly appreciating all parties in the State, he has also the popular impulses which prevent him from resting in any unmeaning equilibrium. Certainly, his- superiority to Lord Russell in adaptation for the wants of to- day could not have been more strikingly proved than in the speeches of Tuesday,—the carping, acrid Whig utterance- of the elder statesman,—and the dignified forbearance, the- large sympathy, the ready insight, the firm reserves of the younger. If Lord Russell does not feel that the struggle of parties for existence necessitates the abdication of his type of" statesmanship in favour of a newer if not higher type, the- Liberal party should give some practical intimation of the- mode in which the Darwinian law will be brought to bear.