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POLITICS AFTER EASTER.
The reception of the Conservative is not difficult to understand. Their Budget by the leader of the Opposi- last hope was cut away, the one tion (if it be right so to designate hope which had cheered them a Mr Gladstone) was forbearing, cour- little through all their recent reteous, and even kind. We be- verses. When they found them. lieve that the Budget did not selves utterly shattered as a party, lie open to serious censure; but, they looked forward with good heart notwithstanding its merits, Mr to a speedy restoration to importGladstone, if he had been so minded, ance. “Their finance, their finance !" might, without seriously damaging they said as exultingly as in their it, have made it appear in the worst circumstances it was possible to possible light. He would have speak; "wait till we see their idea conformed to his own tastes and of disposing of the five millions; habits if, in a voluminous and wait till we see their project dismeaningless speech, he had-to the sected by the first financial genius satisfaction of his own friends, if of in Europe.” They were holding no one else—held the production Mr Gladstone in the slips, as it up to condemnation and contempt. were, to be let loose at the proper We are, therefore, the more indebted moment on the unlucky Budget, to him in that he not only was
which he was to rend, and trample, pleased to be gracious, but that he and shake for their delectation. put a restraint on his own disposi- After its annihilation, the people tion in order to be so. Nothing would soon repent and return. The could be gentler than his handling result cannot but have sorely disof the matter; and although it is appointed these flattering hopes. well known that personal relations The tyrant when he saw the lion between him and the Chancellor of turn and lick the condemned slave;the Exchequer are very friendly, the Moabite king, when the prophet yet we think that we detect in his whom he had engaged to curse his criticism something more than un- enemies at last declined to utter willingness to attack a friend. His the commination, and, behold, he whole speech proved that he wished “ blessed them altogether,"—must to approve wherever he could pro- have felt very much as our Radical perly do so; and that where he felt friends felt after the discussion on compelled to object, he was fain to the Budget. So utterly cast down make his protest considerately and are they that we are not aware of blandly. His behaviour deserves their having predicted evil for us to be fully acknowledged. The since that shipwreck of their hopes. attitude which he assumed must, Certainly the state of things in however, have much surprised all the political arena suggests matparties. We admit that it agreeably ter for grave contemplation to all surprised us; and we have the testi- parties,-to those who are gratified mony of their own press to convince by it, and to those whom it balks us that it seriously disappointed our of their expected triumph. The opponents. They cannot forgive Liberals, doubtless, marvel that they the right honourable gentleman for find themselves like sheep without letting the Conservative Budget a shepherd so soon after the days of escape so easily, and their chagrin their tyrannous and galling domina
tion. It must be occurring to the the defeated Ministers and the more violent and reckless of them defeated party are sore at the action that, somehow or other, they have which the people took. Either of rather mismanaged their affairs. them may have expected increased They do not, of course, allow that strength from the popular vote, but any of their champions can be sud- neither could have been prepared denly smitten with admiration of for a verdict against both-a clean Conservatism ; they know that the sweep of everything Radical. Budget is very different from that We fear that Mr Gladstone, if which they would have proposed; his feelings are hurt, will hardly and yet they see that the finance make allowance for his late supmeasures have not suffered at all porters. Perhaps they will make from their attacks. Whence comes but little for him. Those, howthis moderation and forbearance? ever, who had no part in the interHave they worried their own chiefs nal strife, cannot fail to see that until the latter, no longer officially the present state of things followed bound to them, have lost the heart inevitably the compact" by which to fight vigorously under their the Radicals took Mr Gladstone for colours, and so decline the combat their leader. The marvel is, not altogether? Does it strike them that they came to ruin as a party, that their insubordinate conduct has but that they managed to stave off been felt and resented; that they ruin so long. It suited Conserare not the most pleasant of allies vative tactics not to hurry them even in sunny days; and that the from power, or the catastrophe free display of the rough side of must have occurred much sooner. their character when fortune chose It was an ill-sorted alliance which to frown, only the more strongly brought them together; but now demonstrated their unfitness to work that they have entered into partnerin concert with men of education ship, an impartial mind can see no and polish? No doubt they have fair ground of quarrel. We have our their grievances.
suspicions of what is about to ensue, They think that they have been but it is too early to say yet what we unfairly refused many changes and apprehend. We must wait and see confiscations which, by aiding to in what way Mr Gladstone's quasi effect other changes and confisca- retirement from active political life tions about which they were them- may operate. He must elect, one selves indifferent, they earned the sees, either to lead or not to lead. right to. Many who so zealously His party cannot consent to be comput their strength to pulling down manded always by subordinates, the Irish Church, cannot under- save when on great field days the stand why, now that they desire to chief may condescend to appear pull down the Church of England, at their head. In the mean time those whom they formerly obliged it is not to be expected that we, with a strong pull will not help who have always exhorted him to them in return. Some, who, with return to academical pursuits, will out much interest in Ireland, lent quarrel with the inclination which their support to the mulcting of he feels for literary leisure. Irish landlords, and the fettering of How much more congenial must Irish property, don't see why they be life in a study amid a wealth of should not have had their turn at literature, than life in the House of English landlords and English pro- Commons subject to such rude asperty. It is certain, too, that both saults as that which Mr Smollet
lately indulged in! We think that, factorily answer. The House did considering how the whole press of not appear to recognise the nethe country has been canvassing the cessity, and if the challenge were manner in which the late election to be answered at all, a knight was brought about, and that, what armed cap-à-pie was hardly reever his expectation may have been, quired to enter the lists. A stout Mr Gladstone certainly gained no- yeoman able to use his quarter-staff thing by his tactics, he might have or his fists might have seemed a been spared this rencontre. We are fitter champion. And here, again, happy to think that we in our March one is constrained to ask what had number* stated our belief that the become of the numerous retainers dissolution of Parliament had not who not long ago would have been long premeditated except as a deemed it the height of good forpossible dernier ressort. We do tune to be allowed to do battle in not accuse him of dissimulation in the ring for Mr Gladstone. Why that respect, and we do take into was the right honourable gentleman consideration the desperate straits left to fight the battle alone? It in which, no doubt, he found him- is rather too soon for him to be self at the end of January. Many utterly forsaken. Ministers might perhaps have The monotony of the Session has thought that, having once taken the been enlivened by an Irish debate, step of summoning Parliament for from which one learns with pleasure the despatch of business, and so that the laws are being enforced in impressed the country with the be- Ireland with a promptitude and lief that the Session was to com- vigour which for some years past mence in a few days, they were pre- have been rare in that part of the cluded in equity, if not in law, from world. Of course the enforcement suddenly reversing their policy and of the law is a grievance to lawdecreeing a dissolution. But such breakers; and hence the House of is not Mr Gladstone's way of look- Commons has been appealed to ing at things. Twenty times within against the perfectly legal, and, as the last five years we have seen how would appear, most necessary acts easily his mind is reconciled to the of the Government. An Irish newsstraining to the uttermost of a law paper, entitled “The Flag of Ireland,' or a custom, or even a provision of has, it seems, been guilty of the the Constitution, when a measure gross indecency of writing of her on which he is intent can be pro. Majesty the Queen as “the foreign moted thereby. But the method of lady who holds this country in subthe dissolution and the mistakes of jection ;' it has glorified the Fenian the Greenwich manifesto had, dur- movement; and it spoke disparaging the election time, been submit- ingly of the English army when it ted to the public judgment, and re- was supposed to have been surceived public condemnation. It is rounded and cut off in Ashanti. not quite clear why Mr Smollet felt For these offences it received a warncalled upon to be Mr Gladstone's ing from the Lords Justices, the accuser before Parliament; still less purport of this warning being, that clear is it why Mr Gladstone thought the offences, or any of them, if reit necessary to plead in such an peated, would bring the paper within excited strain to the indictment, the power of the law, and subject it which, after all, he did not satis- to summary suppression. The feel
* Art., “Mr Gladstone's Night Attack, and its Results."
ing of every honest Briton who came vote is essential cannot avoid conto know of the matter undoubtedly niving at such crimes as the body was, that the writer of such infamous of Irish members choose to take stuff, instead of being simply warn under their protection. Had the ed, should have been summarily choice of the people been less depunished. He would have felt the cidedly expressed than it was at the public indignation if he had uttered last election, the Irish members his abominable sayings where John would have held—as they expected Bull could lay his hand upon him. to hold—the scales in which the But the law prescribes, and no doubt two great parties hung, and might properly prescribes, that a warning have inclined the beam either way shall in the first instance be given at their pleasure. A more dangerto offenders of this class, to be fol- ous state of things it is impossible lowed by something a little sharper to conceive; and electors on this if the offence should be repeated. side the water, when they read of The Government, therefore, has not these occurrences in Ireland, will shrunk from the suppression of this rejoice that they did not half do unbecoming language: it has done their work, but returned a British all that it was empowered to do; and majority outnumbering not only the we, who burn with the conscious Irish vote, but all those sections ness that the offender has escaped which would have coalesced with too cheaply, may rest assured that, the Home Rule and other factions if the hint of the Lords Justices be for the sake of maintaining their not taken, he will have the full party in power. benefit of the law when he next The language of the 'Flag of Iremay commit himself. As a proof land'affords a melancholy proof of that the Irish Executive is not likely the amount of conciliation that has to flinch, we may mention that this been produced by despoiling and is not the only instance in which it disestablishing the Irish Church, has shown vigour in repressing dis- and by slighting and discouraging affection. One Mr Thomas M'Evoy the most loyal portion of the Irish a magistrate of the County Meath, people. The editor of the print thought fit at an election meeting to does not, of course, stand alone. He indulge in the delivery of a disloyal represents a league or section of and pro-Fenian speech, for which some kind and some magnitude, and he has been promptly deprived of one which does not hesitate to give his commission of the peace. These its opinions to the world. Whatexamples, be it remembered, could ever the section may be, it seems not have been made by a Govern- but slightly sensible of, or responment dependent for its existence sive to, the great benefits conferred upon the Popish vote.
on Ireland by the late Government. faction in the House of Commons We do not mean, however, to imply which can now only bluster and that the · Flag of Ireland' represents tellout theirgrievance (proh pudor!), more than a fraction of the Home might have threatened the late Gov- Rulers, Fenians, and what not. At ernment with annihilation if it any rate, it does not imitate their should persist in a firm and just tactics. It is too outspoken-lets execution of the law. Hence we us see too plainly the end that it may discern the enormous gain to is pursuing; it utters sentiments order in Ireland produced by the which, if uttered by all those who late change of administration. A are struggling for the so-called Irish Government to which the Popish freedom, would speedily alienate
sympathy in this island, and bring passed unnoticed, if Ministers had the different movements to a stand- not, by the course they took, directed still. At present the great body of attention to it. The article, he the turbulent Irish profess to be, argued (we know not on what and we believe are, perfectly loyal grounds), would never make a rebel, to the Crown. The wire-pullers in but the warning might do so. This Rome and elsewhere don't let them is the very purest Irish doctrine. see too far into the ultimate designs. Sedition, treason, are quite innoxThis was proved by innocent Mr ious in themselves; it is only when Digby, who, in the debate of which the law attempts to interfere with we write, said that “when he joined them that they are dangerous. The the Home-Rule Association, he did general inference, of course, is that so in the hope that it would afford it is exceedingly unwise to throw the basis of a sure alliance between any impediment in the way of Irish the two countries, but certainly not crime, which, provided it may only to encourage the publication of have free scope, will be the most miserable and seditous libels." We harmless thing in the world. Abquite believe you, Mr Digby; and surd as all this reads, the time is we trust that you and other honour- not so very old when the unwisdom able and loyal gentlemen will, be- of it would have been less apparent. fore you have committed yourselves When there was a weak Government too far, take more heed to your in office, and when a large division ways, ascertain what the adventure of Englishmen had been persuaded is in which you have embarked, to believe in Irish grievances, it whither it points, and whether the certainly would have been most
Flag of Ireland' has not, in its indiscreet to direct public attenunguarded wrath, only too plainly tion to seditious writings. The demonstrated the real designs of warning would have been folthose who are abusing your generous lowed by no decisive action, natures, and using you for purposes and might have excited sympathy which you would abhor if you for the criminal. The Executive understood them. The pear is not dared not act, and therefore the ripe yet, and the 'Flag of Ireland, only policy was to wink hard and though it meets with lenient treat- let sedition have its way. But Mr ment from the “foreign lady" whom Butt seems to forget entirely that it has maligned, may, for its loqua- we now have a Government which city, get a harder knock from another knows its duty in this regard, and “foreign lady"-a lady clothed in means to fulfil it. It does not quite purple and scarlet, of notoriously understand why, when disloyal ill fame, and who, manoeuvre as she sentiments are printed and pubmay, will never prevail against the lished, they should be condoned, or gracious lady who sits on the throne at the best overlooked, lest a bird of of these realms, while there is a the air should carry the matter, and Briton alive to defend the Protestant increased circulation should be given dynasty.
to the seditious sentiments. We Mr Butt's speech on this wretched much fear that, when language of affair evinced a bold ingenuity wor- the kind complained of is made thy of the late Mr O'Connell. The public in Ireland, only too certain honourable and learned member means are resorted to for giving it attacked the Government for warn- the widest possible circulation. We ing the seditious paper. The sedi do not imagine that the warning tious article would, he thought, have will at all increase the circulation