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an archbishop as one of whom all men speak well. Again, the Government of India has been wantonly destroyed, on the false plea of "self-determination," though it is known that not more than two per cent of the Indian people take the smallest interest in it; and it has been destroyed, without a word of protest from what was once the Tory party, by a minister in whose veins there flows not a drop of English blood. As in law-making, so in administration, the present Government has expressed only the sentiments of the Radioals, who esteem words more highly than deeds. In Ireland it has carried on the baleful work of Mr Birrell, if we may use the word "work" for a settled determination to do nothing. At the very moment when it is proposing to give Ireland a measure of self-government, if the spoiled beauty will deign to accept it, the Government permits murder and arson to go unpunished, and declares that much may be done by a policy of conciliation. It might as well attempt to conciliate a rattlesnake as to appease the treacherous appetites of Sinn Fein. And is there a Tory in the House who dares to suggest that all that Ireland needs is justice and firm government, that order will never be restored to that country until hunger-strikers are allowed, if they choose, to starve themselves to death?
Of course there is not. The voice of criticism is hushed, and the Tories outdo their
ancient foemen in the loud profession of Radical principles. But names last longer than the principle or lack of principle to which they are given, and the wild comedy of Leamington shows clearly enough that, though no man dares to call himself a Tory, there are still those who oling to the title of "Liberal" with a feverish desire. Now, the comedy was perfectly staged, and if at the end it degenerated into a rough-and-tumble farce, the friends of Mr George had no right to be surprised. The Prime Minister's friends went down from London in a special train. They were photographed all wreathed in smiles as they set out on their journey of reconciliation. They were determined to be friends with the friends of their old friend and leader, Mr Asquith. If the olive-branch was rejeoted, then by all means let Mr Asquith's supporters stand to their defence. And Mr George's colleagues carried their proofs in their hands, so to say. In complete forgetfulness that they were the members of a Coalition, that they owed some loyalty to the recalcitrant Tories who have helped them to make a new and far worse world, they boasted loudly that Mr George's Cabinet has been inspired always by the principles of Radicalism, that it has never professed the smallest interest in anything save classlegislation. Their boast is entirely justified, and not altogether honourable. But to the
stalwarts of the other side the boast mattered not a jot. The Liberals of the true breed don't care for what is done. They ask only who has done it, and they refused to give a word of thanks to Mr George and his companions for the harm which they have contrived. So they shouted down the Attorney-General, Dr Macnamara, and the others, and they afforded the honest citizen, who is not drugged by the poison of politics, an excuse of much hilarity.
"I am as good a Liberal as you," ories Mr George. "You are no Liberal at all," retort the henchmen of Mr Asquith. And they would leave us wondering why they made all this pother about a disreputable title, did we not remember that there exists somewhere a
party chest. We know as little what it contains as who filled it. But rumour is eloquent concerning the weight of it; and as in politics the chest is commonly known as "the sinews of war," we can well believe that it is well worth fighting for. Is Mr Asquith going to share it with Mr George? Not a bit of it. Mr George may do and say whatever he likes: he may pass a dozen revolutionary measures, which are dear to the hearts of the stalwarts of Leamington; he may march through Radicalism to anarchy, and with the aid of his Tory colleagues he may tear to pieces the last rags of the Constitution. But he shall not lay a hand upon hand upon the
sacred chest, which was once tenderly guarded and packed with Marconi shares by his old friend the Master of Elibank. Here, indeed, in the party chest, there is a definite cleavage. They are Liberals who may find support in its weight and amplitude. They are not Liberals who are not privileged to dip a greedy hand into the lucky bag. Thus we arrive at the true meaning of political principle. The chest, the chest is the thing! All the rest is mere rhetoric, and Leamington has decided that Mr Asquith's side shall retain the chest, while Mr George must do the best he can with the rhetoric.
For our part, we care not who calls himself a Liberal, or who keeps the key of the chest. Neither the one side nor the other has any zeal for the cause of Great Britain, and in the long-run it is a matter of indifference which species of provincialism wins. Were it not for the effect of the paltry squabble upon Mr George's position, we might be content to dismiss the episode with a laugh. But the accident of an election and the hazard of the foolish gamble known as democracy have placed Mr George upon the throne of an autoorat, and we cannot but wonder what view our eminent minister will take of the rebuff given him at Leamington. The danger is that it will throw him into the arms of the more obviously moderate of his supporters, and if the Tory party-the party
which once was not afraid to
It is improbable, because labour has long since lost whatever trust it had in Mr George, despite the energy wherewith years ago he preached the gospel of plunder and enunciated the doctrine of robbing Peter to keep Paul in idle affluence: despite the adroitness wherewith he declined to allow the railway strike to be fought, as it should have been fought, to a disastrous finish, the egoists who impel the working classes to ask always statesman: he is merely a for higher wages than they cunning manipulator. As can earn, do not want Lord Hugh Cecil said middle-class politician to filch with perfect truth, "the their honours and their profits. Premier has never been able It seems as if Mr George, to distinguish between the art therefore, would be driven of winning an election and into the arms of what used the art of government. He is to be called the Unionist party. conciliating this person and He has proclaimed aloud that shutting the mouth of that he is a resolute opponent of person, and he calls that the nationalisation, and that he art of government." will go to the country, in the fulness of time, upon that issue, which shows that he thinks that the defence of private property may bring him a hatful of votes. But to-morrow he may range himself upon the other side, and we know no more than that the fate of Great Britain, and of Ireland too, depends solely upon the oynicism of our politicians.
What, then, will he call the art of government in the near future? The Liberal party declines obstinately to summon him to the leadership or to disgorge its treasure. The Coalition, which is no Coalition at all, but a frank surrender to communism and anarchy, has but a small prospect of permanence, The notorious Central Partycentral in name and revolutionary in policy- was laughed out of existence long ago. And Mr George will be asked sooner or later to make his choice. Will he go to labour, and say in the words of an unhappy monarch, "You have no leader. I will be your leader"?
The truth is that all the proceedings of the House of Commons are enveloped in a oloak of unreality. The one point of agreement in those who support the Home Rule Bill, now before the country, is that it has not a dog's chance of being accepted by Ireland.
Mr Bonar Law confessed its inevitable failure with perfect frankness. "We know," said he, "that we cannot settle the matter of self-determination." So far, so good. "You can only settle it," thus he went on, "by something which, I admit, Southern Ireland will not accept to-day." Then why call it a settlement? When the Bill is passed the situation of Ireland will remain unchanged, and the only excuse for the passage of the Bill is that it may give satisfaction to somebody else whom it does not concern. All the ministers who defended it kept their eyes steadily fixed upon the United States, and thus we may plumb the depth of our degradation: we are listening to the diotation of a foreign power, with whose treatment of its own citizens we have neither the wish nor the intention to interfere.
But it was Mr Asquith who gave us, in the debate about Home Rule, the finest example of hypocrisy. With tears in his voice, he deplored the bad state of affairs in Ireland, "unexampled even in the bad annals of Irish disorders." And he did not confess that for that bad state of affairs he, more than any other man alive, is responsible. When he came into power in 1906 Ireland enjoyed a peace and a prosperity such as it had not known for many years. Ten years of misgovernment or of no government at all, under the auspices of Messrs Asquith and Birrell, ensured the Irish Rebellion of
1916. If Mr Asquith has any doubt upon the matter, let him read the report of the committee, appointed by himself, to inquire into that disgraceful episode.
However, he is not
likely to read it; and even if he did read it, he would with an easy mind shift the responsibility on to somebody else.
Whatever the politicians attempt to do is marred by a lack of candour and simplicity. They are all like the man in Petronius who looked at the cabbage and stole the bacon. When they do one thing, you may be quite sure that they are keeping their eye upon something else; and it is, for instance, because they confuse the art of vote-catching with the art of government that they are profoundly distrusted by the people. Happily, contrasts are not laeking to the bunglings of the politicians. There are practical men all over England who are doing the work that has to be done without fuss and without "back-thought." Among these we may count the members of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, who have brought what relief they could to our plundered Allies, and have made made it possible for the farmers of France, Belgium, and Serbia to make a beginning with the work which the Germans hoped they had interrupted for many a year to come. It was, as we all know, part of the settled policy of the Boohes to destroy the
farms and the orchards of the countries which they invaded. They murdered fruittrees with a a peculiar zest, and they ruthlessly carried off all the cattle upon which they could lay their hands. And when they were ordered to restore the stolen goods, they pleaded with tears in their eyes that if they surrendered to the French the cows that belonged to them, the German children would lack milk. An argument, truly, which found great favour with our British philanthropists, who like to believe that charity begins in the homes of our enemies. However, the Royal Agrioultural Society saw clearly how it could best serve our Allies, and did not rest until it had made an admirable start in the reviving of agrioulture throughout the devastated areas. Some £250,000 was subscribed by the farmers of England, and gifts of beasts and seeds were distributed where most they were needed. Much had been done even before the Armistice was signed. Seed potatoes, sent by the Committee to Verdun when the attack was at its most violent, flourished exceedingly, and it is a satisfaction to think that the Boshe got nothing of the crop. Moreover, some 9000 fruit-trees have been despatched to France, to replace those wantonly destroyed by the invader, and 1000 head of dairy cattle have already gone to the district of the Somme alone. The Duke of Portland, Lord Northbrook, and Mr Adeane, among others,
have done excellent work, and the distribution has been carried out with wisdom and justiee. Upon the relief of the Belgian farmers, for example, the sum of £55,500 has been spent, and a cattle-show held among the ruins of Ypres gave spectacular testimony to the great work done in stricken Belgium by the Agricultural Society. At Paschendael, at Kemmel, at many other places, celebrated in the annals of the war, you may now see sheep peacefully grazing upon the battlefields, and picking up a living upon the scanty herbage. Let an expert tell the story in his own words. "Mr L. Boereboom," says a writer in the 'Live Stock Journal,' "entrusted with the supervision of the work of agricultural reconstruction in Western Flanders, pointed out that the Yser Valley, upon which the Committee wished to concentrate their work of relief, had before the war been dairying country, and that the great need of the farmers in this area was dairy cattle, pigs, and sheep. It was agreed that a farmer's qualification to receive one or more head of stook had to depend upon the number he kept before the war, the lists in respect of these details being still available. Ten head of stook held before the war was fixed as the maximum number permitting any farmer to participate. As there were many more farmers qualified to receive stook than there were animals to distribute, it was realised that the recipients