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wave of wealth as we had in England during the decade preceding 1874, nor does money command so much power and worship, because there are comparatively few poor.
Not only is the House of Commons being monopolized by wealth, it is being monopolized by local wealth ; it is rapidly falling a prey in fact to the localism which, even without plutocracy, fatally lowers the character of the House of Representatives in the United States, and renders it very inferior to the Senate, the members of which are elected from the area of a whole State. A borough which had two seats used to give one at least to a national politician ; now local millionaires take both. Commercial magnates desire seats in Parliament on social if not on political grounds. Still more, perhaps, do their families. The writer was once present when the representation of a certain borough was under discussion. One of the party said that the seat was already bespoken by a local millionaire whom he named. “But does he know anything about politics ?” “No.” “Does he care anything about politics ?
« No." “ Then why does he want the seat?” “ He does not want it." " Then why does he take it?" "Because his wife does." “
The result is not only the limitation of the House to a class, but the decadence of the House itself. Nobody now reads the debates. The popular newspapers care to report them only in the most condensed form. In truth few of the speeches rise above the level of the editorials in a local journal. Even in the conduct of ordinary business, for which the chairmen of quarter sessions and the leaders of commerce might be supposed to be well trained, everybody notes a decline; and the present session is running almost to waste. A mere lieutenant is thought eminent enough to lead the once august senate of Pitt, Canning, and Peel. Speaker Denison, who witnessed the beginning of this change, and saw the dearth of rising statesmanship which it created, mournfully declared that he did not know who was to govern the country in the next generation. The person to whom he spoke suggested that when the need called the men would appear. “You remind me,” said the Speaker, " of Palmerston's answer when he was told that there was no occasion for a large standing army to resist French invasion, because if the French landed the people would rise as
• Yes,' was Palmerston's reply, and they would be knocked down again as one man.” Unless you have statesmen trained in the lower places, the Speaker proceeded to say, you will have none fit to take the higher places: statesmanship cannot be improvised. To the Liberal party this localism is especially injurious; not only because the Liberal party depends more on personal talent and less on social influence than its opponents, but because the aristocracy have a sufficient sense of their corporate interest to provide their abler men with seats. The
localising tendency is apparently on the increase, and on the Liberal side of the House of Commons it seems likely to close every door against political ability and knowledge, however great, if they are unsupported by wealth and local connection.
In commerce there is a sort of double tendency. Commercial cities are active-minded, and therefore usually Liberal ; witness Florence, Ghent, Manchester, Birmingham, Marseilles.
But commercial men are politically timid because they fear the effect of political change in disturbing trade. The latter tendency certainly predominated in 1874..
No one, however anti-theological in his speculations for the future, can doubt with regard to the past that, as a matter of historic fact, political effort in this country has been closely connected with a religious desire for the improvement of society; and that this desire has manifested itself in a marked degree among the Protestant Nonconformists and the section of the Established Church most nearly identified with them in doctrine and religious character. Puritanism, in short, has, under a succession of phases, been the mainspring of political progress since the Reformation, as the purer and stricter Catholicism which animated the party of Grosteste and Simon de Montfort was in the political era which gave birth to the Great Charter and to the House of Commons. Of late, from a mixture of causes, intellectual and material, the religious sentiment has been losing ground, and its decay tells specially against the Nonconformist Churches, which, having no State support, are sustained solely by popular conviction. The Established Church, on the other hand, has for the time actually gained strength by the decline of religion : because it has received, as a political institution
a Conservative in tendency and opposed to religious enthusiasm, the support of the section, now a large one, of the wealthy and educated class, which is at once Conservative and sceptical. This fact is being constantly brought in the most forcible way under the notice of readers of such Conservative journals as the Pall Mall Gazette. New bishoprics are even being created under the auspices of ministers about whose personal relations to Christianity their writings leave no room for doubt; and churches are being built and endowed in all directions by donors whose motives, if they could be analysed, would probably be found in many cases to be rather social and political than religious. Lord Beaconsfield prides himself on having, by the help of his residuum, destroyed the political influence of the Nonconformists. The implied compliment to the Nonconformists is deserved ; but the effect is due mainly to causes independent of the strategy of Lord Beaconsfield.
Science, there can be no doubt, is essentially on the Liberal side; but ultra-physical theories have produced for the moment a sort of
fatalism, which extends to the political sphere, and damps effort by suggesting that everything must be left to evolution. This spirit is subtle, but its presence is clearly descernible, especially in what used to be the literary organs of the Liberal party.
Again, the political union which had long been in progress between the territorial aristocracy and the aristocracy of commerce, had before the last general election become complete. For a long time the two aristocracies had been held apart, not only by the pride of the territorial aristocrats, but by the material question of the Corn Laws. Protection is now a jest to those who made a stalkinghorse of it in 1846, and the pride of the territorial aristocracy has stooped to the necessary alliance with wealth, even the wealth of the cotton-spinner; while the cotton-spinner, unless he be a very true nobleman of labour, has succumbed to the fascinations of titular rank, and aspires to a place in its social circle. The combination produces a tremendous money power, with a close social organization, and the influence of rank and title superadded; and the wonder is not that everything has for the moment given way before such a force, but that anything makes a stand against it.
Then there was the Conservative working man, laboriously organized and wound up by skilful managers to marvellous enthusiasm in the Tory interest. What makes a Conservative is obvious enough. Lord Derby has told us that he "does not preach the gospel of getting on.” It is a saying worthy to be recorded with the Duke of Norfolk’s “pinch of curry-powder,” or the advice of the French Princess to her father's famishing subjects, rather than starve to live on cake. But what makes a Conservative working man seems at first sight a question not so easy to answer. Why should people belonging, for the most part, to the class to which the existing social system is least kind, desire to shut the door of hope upon themselves. Probably the main answer is that given by Dr. Johnson to the lady who asked the reason of his strange definition of pastern. "Ignorance, madam, ignorance." Ignorance with a little beer. To popular education and temperance Liberals must look for a beneficial change in the political tendencies of these masses ; though the precarious nature of the Tory hold over them, and the liability of the engineer to be hoist with his own petard, were shown in the election of Dr. Kenealy. In the meantime, the alliance with the residuum, like the alliance with beer, places the Tories morally in the most assailable position, and justly arrays against them the self-respect and enlightened patriotism in the nation. It is difficult to see how a party could commit more manifest treason against the commonweal, than by deliberately organizing ignorance to crush the intelligence and the industrial worth of the country; and this after entering every kind of protest against any extension of the franchise, on the ground that it would place political power in unfit hands. There is literally nothing in the history of American demagogism, bad as during certain periods it has been, parallel to the conduct of the Tory aristocracy respecting the franchise in 1867. Nor has any American demagogue ever reached such a pitch of cynicism as to avow that, to turn his minority into a practical majority, he was taking a leap in the dark with the most vital interests of the country. In short, it is very difficult for a privileged order, threatened as privileged orders always must be by the progress of opinion, to avoid becoming a conspiracy against the nation.
If the residuum was actuated by any intelligible motive in voting for the Tories, that motive probably was a jealousy of the superior class of artisans and of the power of the trade unions. There can indeed be little doubt that the hope of bringing this jealousy into play for their own advantage had great weight in inducing the Tory leaders to adopt both household suffrage and the ballot. When the less skilled workman goes to the poll against the more skilled, it is needless to say who profits by the quarrel. The trade unions have unquestionably been guilty of errors, and occasionally of worse than errors, in various directions ; though their blackest offences compared with such things as class wars and opium treaties, do not seem so
No doubt in their dealings with non-unionists they have often provoked just resentment. But no artisan who has eyes to see can really doubt that they have done great things for his order. Apart from the questions of which the pure economist is the judge, the effect of combinations and strikes on wages and production, it is undeniable that the unions have made labour a power. They have redeemed it from that state of semi-serfdom into which when wholly unorganized it is apt to fall, and which was the lot of the agricultural labourer till yesterday; and they now stand between it and the danger of a relapse into the same condition. For the Factory Acts and other measures protecting labour against the overweening power of capital, which might be adduced to prove the needlessness of trade unions, were carried by the landowners, then at feud with the manufacturers about the corn laws and jealous of their rising opulence. The landowner and the capitalist have now made up their quarrel, and the great fact that their interests are identical has thoroughly penetrated their minds; so that the artisan must help himself, or there will be no Providence to help him. When all due deductions have been made, no small measure of gratitude will still be due from the whole of the working classes to the humble but not ignoble statesmanship which has formed these organizations, worked out their rules and kept them, in spite of their obvious liabilities, so well on the whole within the bounds
of law through a series of conflicts the exciting character of which may be measured by the fury with which the landowners, in spite of all the restraints of education and high-breeding, assailed the repealer of the corn laws. In the hour of Liberal defeat the artisans who compose the unions have for the most part stood firm as granite; they and the political Nonconformist, the Old Guard of English liberty.
At the last election another withdrawal from the Liberal ranks took place besides that of the Whigs, though in the opposite quarter. The secession of the Roman Catholics to the side of political reaction had been long coming, and at length it came. They were fain to act with the Liberals, in spite of growing dissonances about national education and the temporal power of the Pope, so long as there were Catholic grievances to be redressed and Catholic disabilities to be repealed. But the list was closed by the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland, and Roman Catholicism then yielded to its natural bias. Of the Irish Roman Catholics the greater part were wafted by the cross currents of the Irish atmosphere into Home Rule ; and the “ Conservative Home Ruler" was added to the curiosities of the political museum. The Liberal party, while it lost the Roman Catholic votes, retained, in the minds of Protestants, the taint of the Roman Catholic alliance, which was aggravated by the Ritualistic connections of the Liberal chief. There is no use in saying hard things about the Church of mediæval Christendom, whose past services every enlightened man acknowledges, whose present position every enlightened man understands, whose approaching doom every enlightened man foresees. But throughout the world she is constrained by overwhelming necessity to cast in her lot with political reaction. All attempts to cut her loose from the past and set her afloat on the rising tide of the future, though made by men of genius, have ended in total failure. It is only wonderful that a few Montalemberts and Lacordaires should still, in the face of the Syllabus and the Encyclical, cling to the generous illusion that it is possible to reconcile political liberty with the absolute submission of the soul. Between Rome and Liberalism can be no fellowship. For the loss of the Roman Catholic vote in Ireland, some compensation may, perhaps, be found in the Protestant North, which seems inclined to draw towards the Liberal side. But of an alliance with Roman Catholicism there must be no thought among Liberals any
With Home Rule the relations of Liberalism are more complicated, because there is in Home Rule a sentiment with which all Liberals must sympathise, however firmly opposed they may be on grounds of policy to anything tending to a severance of the Union ; not to mention that the movement is entitled to their consideration as the inevitable product of ages of Tory misgovernment, the effect of which