On Wednesday, November 26, Mr. Gladstone proceeded by special train from Dalmeny to Dalkeith, where he addressed a second meeting of Midlothian electors in the Corn Exchange. Upwards of 3000 persons were present. On the platform there were, amongst other gentlemen, Viscount Dalrymple, Oxenford Castle; Sir William Johnston of Kirkhill; Sir David Wedderburn, Bart., M.P.; James Cowan, M.P.; Peter M'Lagan, M.P.; G. O. Trevelyan, M.P.; Charles Tennant, M.P.; J. J. Reid, Hon. Secretary, Midlothian Liberal Association; R. Richardson, W.S., Secretary and Agent; and Holmes Ivory, W.S., and J. M'Donald, W.S., district agents.
On the motion of Viscount Dalrymple, the chair was taken by Mr. Alexander
Mitchell, the Chief Magistrate of Dalkeith, who briefly introduced the right honourable gentleman.
Mr. Gladstone, who was received with a perfect storm of applause, said:—
Mr. Provost of Dalkeith and Gentlemen,—I ask the attention of this crowded and immense audience in the capacity, not of a leader of the Liberal party, but of one of its most convinced and not least loyal members, happy to follow those who in two Houses of Parliament have ably discharged the duties of the leadership under unfavourable circumstances, and most anxious to contribute my part, such as it may be, towards giving the right direction to the national wishes and convictions at what I think to be, and what I know to be, the most important crisis in our national history that has occurred during the last half-century.
Gentlemen, in conducting that portion of this contest which falls to my special care, I will endeavour to observe fair play. I will not willingly
The principles to be observed during the contest.
wound the feelings of any man. I shall be compelled to use strong language in speaking of measures which seem to me incapable of just description by any language which is weak. But to the authors of these measures I shall give, as I am bound to give—there is no merit in according it—I shall give all along the same implicit credit for honourable and patriotic motives which I claim on behalf of the great political party in whose ranks I have the honour to stand. Yesterday, gentlemen, it was my duty to commence a detailed exposition of what appears to me necessary to be laid before you. It is not an easy task, for it involves a survey of a long series of complicated transactions. These are not the transactions with which you are familiar from youth upwards in the scene and upon the stage of domestic affairs, but transactions largely concerned with the most distant quarters of the globe, and likewise involving that complicated subject of the foreign relations of the country with almost every one of the States of the civilized world. It is a very difficult task, gentlemen; it is only with your help, with the assistance of your kind attention, that I can hope to be useful in addressing myself to its perormance. Yet with such assistance I have that hope, and I will venture to point out to you now the ground that we have already made in order that both to friends and opponents I may be perfectly clear—that there may be
The issue raised before Midlothian.
no mistake as to the issue which is raised before the county of Midlothian. We have arrived in my judgment, gentlemen, at the time when it is necessary frankly to avow that we so widely and fundamentally differ from the course pursued by her Majesty's Government in affairs of vital moment to the country that we cannot contemplate with satisfaction the longer continuance of that Government in office. Some public writer has said within a few days that there ought not to be a dissolution of Parliament, for that it is most desirable that the Government should have time to finish those foreign affairs which they have begun. I will not enter at this moment, gentlemen, into the logic of that argument, but I will make a frank and I think liberal admission. If I believed, if I could possibly hope, that those gentlemen now in office would, as it is called, finish those foreign affairs, I should be inclined to say, "In Heaven's name let them finish them!" They have begun them; they have created them; they have staked their reputation upon them; they have desired to be remembered, and they will be remembered, in connection with them; and I would not grudge them for a moment the satisfaction of finishing them, nay, I should share that satisfaction. There is nothing I should delight in, nothing I desire so much as to see them finished. But I am afraid, gentlemen, the case stands far otherwise. Yet that is a matter on which I at once admit that broad assertions are not to be taken for granted. I ask you not to look to my assertions, but to look to my proofs and my arguments. And having stated that, I hope to observe fair play. I will say this, that when I attack the foreign policy of the Government I will not confine myself to the comparatively easy duty of
objecting to decisions taken in difficult circumstances, but I will endeavour to place before you in a clear and intelligible light those which I conceive to be the true principles of our foreign policy, that you may have an opportunity of comparing them with the false.
Now, gentlemen, I wish here in Dalkeith to say one word as to local questions. The peculiar feature of this crisis is, that it is a crisis at which local affairs
Local and domestic questions are swallowed up.
are most unhappily swallowed up in general questions, and domestic questions are to a great extent absorbed in foreign questions, and therefore I must, before I proceed to touch upon these local and domestic matters, I must remind you how far I conceive myself to have carried the discussion upon the great, the vital question, how the foreign affairs of this country, and its affairs beyond the sea, are to be administered, and how we are to deal with the consequences of that administration in our domestic sphere. I have endeavoured to point out, gentlemen, that as the affairs of this country stood before the present Government acceded to office, the calls of the business of so vast an Empire afforded much more than ample occupation for the very best and very ablest men that could be called to the administration of affairs. A certain progress had been made down to the year 1874 in dealing with some of those calls, but the business of the country still remained confronting us in great mass at the time when the majority of the
The country has been loaded by mischievous engagements abroad.
constituency, in the exercise of its undoubted right, dismissed us from our offices. Since that time I make the complaint that the shoulders, so to speak, of this nation have been loaded by a multitude of gratuitous, mischievous, and dangerous engagements. I point to Africa, I point to India, I point to Afghanistan, to Syria, to Asia Minor, to the whole of Turkey in Asia, I point to our assumption practically, and in an alliance with France, most critical in its nature our assumption of the virtual government of Egypt; I point to our practical annexation of the island of Cyprus, to all the military dangers and responsibilities of undertaking the defence of the Turkish frontier in Armenia In fact, I point to enormous increase of difficulty and labour all over the world and I challenge it, in the first instance, upon the most modest and lowest ground I challenge it on the ground of its prudence. Commonsense, after all gentlemen, is the rule as of private so of public life, and it is a rule of commonsense, which every one of you would observe in his private concerns, that you would
The hands of the Government were quite full enough at home.
not undertake new engagements when your hands were full. My contention is that our hands were full; that we had no business to go into South Africa, into Afghanistan, into Turkey in Asia, into Cyprus, into Egypt, into so many of those various countries, that one can hardly give a complete and accurate catalogue of them all. We had no business to go there with these gratuitous and unnecessary difficulties, disturbing confidence, perplexing business, unsettling the fabric of civilized society through the world. We had no business to take those engagements when our hands were full. But I contend, also, that the engagements were bad; and that, being bad, we ought not to have undertaken them, even if our hands, instead of being full, had been perfectly empty. But now, how can I illustrate my meaning
The true meaning of "increasing the Empire."
The country has been appealed to repeatedly upon the ground that this Government was determined that there should be no diminution of the Empire, but was not at all indisposed to increase the Empire. Well now, what does increasing the Empire mean for us? What does possessing Cyprus mean for us? Pray observe that when we occupied Cyprus we became bound in honour to its maintenance and defence, we became bound in honour to have troops there, we became bound in honour to raise fortifications if they be required, and to uphold the flag of England which has been there erected. Now, we had done much the same thing in the Transvaal, a country where we have chosen, most unwisely, I am tempted to say insanely, to place
ourselves in the strange predicament of the free subjects of a monarchy going to coerce the free subjects of a republic, and to compel them to accept a citizenship which they decline and refuse. But if that is to be done, it must be done by force. If we pass into Afghanistan and occupy Cabul and
The expenditure of money and men.
Candahar and, as some say we are going to do, occupy Herat—and I can see no limit to these operations—everything of that kind means a necessity for more money and means a necessity for more men. From whence are the money and the men to come? What do you mean by this sort of strengthening the Empire? It is simply loading the Empire. It is not strengthening the Empire. I can understand some extensions of territory. I have no doubt that when the Germans were unfortunately led to annex Alsace and Lorraine they reckoned that Alsace and Lorraine would contribute in men and money to the purposes of the Empire, just like the rest of Germany. But that is not the case with our annexations; that is not the case with our undertaking the government of Egypt, and the government of Asia Minor, and the government of Syria, and making ourselves responsible for those countries. The meaning of it is this, that with that limited store of men and of funds which these islands can supply, we are continually to go on enlarging our responsibilities and our dangers all over the surface of the earth. Why, gentlemen, many of you are agriculturists. What would you think of the man who, having a farm of 100 acres, takes another farm of a couple of hundred acres, and makes no increase of his farming stock? That is an illustration—a partial illustration—of the sort of proceeding that has been going on, but it is a very feeble illustration. What would you think of the landlord who, having a great avidity for land and being possessed of a splendid estate—for a splendid estate these islands with this Empire are—purchased another estate next to his own, or if at a distance from his own so much the worse—but purchased another estate, whether near or far from his own, on this condition, that he should pay the tithe—or teinds, as you call them—that he should pay the rates and taxes, and the charges of every kind, but somebody else should receive the rents. Morally, these illustrations are utterly barren and feeble—they do not touch the essence of the
The extension of the Empire does not add strength.
case—but economically they are sound and true. There is no strength to be added to your country by governing the Transvaal, by overrunning Zululand, by undertaking to be responsible for Egypt, or for the vast mass of mountains in Central Asia, and for keeping in order their wild and warlike tribes. It is sheer and pure burden imposed upon you; and I appeal to you, the Liberals of Midlothian—ay, I appeal to the Conservatives or Tories of Midlothian—whether their creed of prudence is such a creed as to admit of the perpetration of follies of this kind. But, gentlemen, I will endeavour to give you another illustration. I have no doubt they will say, "Oh, this country is very strong." Thank God, it is; notwithstanding the proceedings of the Beaconsfield Administration. This country is very strong, but that is no reason why it should load itself with a multitude of needless and mischievous engagements. Multitude of engagements may enchain even a great strength. If our strength was great before the Beaconsfield Government came in, so were our duties great. There was not a disturbance that could happen in Europe that did not touch us. There were many calls which the people of this country thought involved their honour. You may recollect that under the late Government—though I hope it was not deficient in a pacific spirit—when an attempt, which I must call a wicked attempt, was by somebody or other suggested between two great Powers against the freedom and integrity of Belgium—you may recollect that the people of this country almost as one man cried out for measures to be taken in order to show their sympathy with that freedom, and their determination, within limits of reason, to do their best to preserve it. Gentlemen, it is idle to talk of our strength; whatever it was, we had no strength to spare for mischievous and idle purposes.
We had strength enough for every duty, and our duties were weighty and
The country is tied down by needless covenants.
numerous enough; we had none to misapply or to throw away. But now what have they done? I will tell you what they have done, gentlemen. They have placed upon us those engagements which remind me of a little incident in a book which is both a great ornament of our literature as a work of fancy, and at the same time full of the most profound good sense—I mean the "Travels of Gulliver." Yes. Under the veil of allegory is there conveyed, with infinite fun and humour, a lesson of profound political wisdom. When Gulliver lands among the Lilliputians, he is a man of six feet, landing among men of six inches. He goes to sleep, and the Lilliputians, you would say, would have no chance of dealing with such a man; but they tie him down with their greatest cables, which are about the thickness of pack-thread, and by using an enormous number of those cables, which are pack-threads in our sense, and fastening them into the ground by the most powerful rivets they could get—which were nearly as large as the smallest of our pins upon a lady's toilette—they contrived through the multitude of those ties to fasten him down to the ground by the arms and legs and the locks of the hair, so that it was only with the utmost effort that he could liberate one of his arms, and as to the other limb and the hair, he thought it best not to try to liberate them at all. Well, now, that is the way in which we are being tied down, gentlemen, by all sorts of covenants of this kind, to do this and to do that—north, south, east, and west, when we had enough to do before with all the strength we possess. We are gradually being drawn into a position at once ridiculous and dangerous in consequence of these needless engagements, contemplating no public good, lying wholly beyond the line of our duty and our responsibility-hardly one of them, perhaps, in itself of an enormous magnitude but in their combination most fatal to our freedom of action, most injurious to our power of disposing of our resources freely, as occasion shall arise, for objects which may seem to be worthy objects. Gentlemen, I challenge on that ground the prudence of the foreign policy which has thus involved us at almost every point of the compass in those new and strange engagements. Now, gentlemen, for the present I would turn from the subject of foreign
policy in order to touch upon some of those subjects which it is quite necessary that I should notice—namely, the local and special questions in which you feel a special interest. But I cannot do this without ottering you, in the first place, what I may call a warning. Gentlemen, do not be deceived as to our position. Do not suppose that when you get quit of the present Administration you will get quit of the consequences of its deeds. The present Administration, whether it dies intestate or not, will undoubtedly leave an inheritance, an inheritance of financial confusion at home; financial confusion in India; treaties of the strangest and most entangling kind, to be dealt
The difficulty of dealing with them while so much may require to be done elsewhere.
with subject to the honourable engagements under which they will have brought the country; a state of things where the troops of her Majesty—her gallant forces—are at various points, in Asia and in Africa, engaged in wars from which they must heartily wish to be relieved, and from which it must be the first desire, I think, of I every right-minded man to relieve them. All these things, gentlemen, will be handed on to the future, and it is an utter mistake to suppose that you will find things as they were in 1874; that you have got nothing to do but to forget the six years of Tory administration, and to proceed peacefully and quietly with the work of improving the laws and maintaining the interests of the country. On the contrary, any men who are so unfortunate as to succeed to this inheritance will find all their best energies tasked in dealing with the direct consequences of Tory administration, in replacing the finances in something like order in removing the confusion into which the affairs of India have been brought, in bringing within some tolerable limits the territorial responsibilities and the
treaty obligations which we have undertaken. All these things are matters of the greatest difficulty and anxiety; for you know, gentlemen, it is not difficult for a madman to burn York Minster, but it is not an easy task even for a man of sense to build it. That is all I will say on the general position of your domestic affairs; but do not conceal from yourselves the fact that we have not merely lost the six years during which the present Government has been in office; we have lost to a great degree those other years during which it must be the main and the most sacred duty of a succeeding Government to endeavour to deal with the perplexing and almost portentous consequences of the unfortunate errors of the existing Administration.
Now, gentlemen, I have considered in my own mind what are the subjects most likely to have a special interest for you. I will take first a
The inadequate representation of Scotland.
subject that I feel must have a hold upon your feelings. At any rate, I myself have an opinion on it that I am desirous of laying before you. I do not think you will disapprove of it, although it is a subject which has not of late been much discussed in Scotland. It is my opinion that Scotland is not represented in the Imperial Parliament up to the full measure which ustice demands. [A voice—Whose fault is it? Mr. Gladstone—I will tell you in a moment.] If Scotland were represented according to population
it would, instead of sixty members, possess seventy members. If Scotland were represented according to the share of revenue which it contributes, it would, instead of sixty members, possess seventy-eight
members. I am sorry that my friend asked me whose fault it was, for I had no intention of making any charge against the members of the present Government in connection with this subject But as he asks me whose fault it is, I must tell him that it is the fault of those who framed and carried the Reform Bills of 1867 and 1868, in such a manner as not to accord to Scotland a fairer share of the representation.
Now, gentlemen, besides the consideration of population, which I think to be the main one, and besides the consideration of revenue, which also
The distance from the seat of Government is an element in the question.
has some importance, there is another clement that enters into the equitable examination of the question, and that is the element of distance. A small number of representatives are more effective when they are close to the seat of government than when they are far from the seat of government. On that account it is that London and the metropolitan district, with their vast population of four millions, or one-sixth of the whole population of England and Wales, do not influence the return of more than between 30 and 40 members, which would only be about one-twelfth or one-thirteenth of the population of England and Wales. It is thus recognised that nearness is a reason for having a more limited number of members, and consequently that distance constitutes a claim for a larger number of members than the population would warrant. I hope, gentlemen, that you will bear this subject in mind, because we are given to understand that her Majesty's Government have a great anxiety to dispose, by Act of Parliament, before the dissolution, of five or six seats. I think six is the number that are now vacant. I have no doubt that in the disposal of these seats they may innocently have a certain regard to the probable use of the franchise by those whom they may seek, not to endow with the franchise, for that they already have, but those to whom they may seek to give an increased share, or a new form of representation. My fear is, gentlemen, that they will not be very anxious, from that point of view, to entertain the claims of Scotland. I very much doubt whether Edinburgh or Glasgow, or whether any of your great counties, are likely to fare favourably at the hands of the Government in regard to that subject, and I recommend it to your careful and watchful observance to see that whenever there are seats to be disposed of Scotland should receive a fair measure of justice.
I pass on from that matter, gentlemen, to another matter which is of great interest in two points of view, and that is the old subject, well known to you by
the name of Hypothec. I am not, gentlemen, going to discuss the merits of the question in itself. Happily it is unnecessary, because opinion has reached a stage and a condition in Scotland in which all parties, may be said, are agreed that the Law of Hypothec ought to be done away with That being so, I accept the conclusion, and I do not waste your time in the discussion. But I do occupy and I hope not altogether waste your time, in calling, your attention to the way in which that question has been worked. A political Catechism has been sent to me in print, which, I suppose, is to be administered to me on some convenient opportunity; but at any rate it is complained in the Catechism that when the Liberal Government was in office it did not abolished the Law of Hypothec. Now, gentlemen, I am bound to say that there was a great deal of legislative work which it was quite impossible for us to achieve and the question which, as reasonable men, you will put to us and to yourselves is not whether we did everything that it was desirable to do, but it is whether we manfully and seriously employed our time and spent our energies in doing as much as we could. But I must say it is rather hard that this reproach should come from the opposite side, when I consider that at the last election, when we were dismissed from office by the verdict of the constituencies, in the address of Lord Beaconsfield, then Mr. Disraeli, which was the manifesto of the party it was distinctly complained of us that we had neglected foreign affairs, and had
The conduct of the Tories in regard to this question.
been too active in home legislation. Well, now, gentlemen, I wan to know whether you are satisfied with the manner in which this question of hypothec is worked in Scotland. How is it worked Why, all your Tory members, with one or two exceptions, vote for abolition. Is not that very delightful? Does not that give you entire satifaction? What complaint can you make when you find them so rational as this Let me call your attention to a closer examination of the subject, which I we endeavour to make by the help of the political microscope. When I look into it, I find that Mr. Vans Agnew, a stout Conservative, moved a bill for the abortion of hypothec. Nay, more, he has moved it for several years, and, as far a I see, if the present Government and present Parliament could happily for the Tories continue without limit, he would regularly go on moving it from year to year for your satisfaction until old age should break down his energies, on death should remove him from this mortal scene. He moved the bill on some day in April—early in the session—or in March; and he carried the second reading of the bill by 204 ayes to 77 noes, and sent, no doubt, a throb of pleasure through the minds and hearts of all the farmers of Scotland, who are pretty much united on this subject. But his bill, though read a second time on some day in March or April, was never more heard of. The Government had the control of the business of the House—the session was very little advanced but no attempt was made to carry forward the measure. That is not all. [unclear: La]
us examine the division. Most interesting documents these division lists some times are. The Lord Advocate warmly supported the bill. He supported it with such warmth that he convinced five of his colleagues, and five of his colleague voted with him in the division for the bill abolishing the Law of Hypothec; [unclear: be]
he also unfortunately convinced eleven of them the other way. We were to that the Government had become favourable to the abolition of the Law Hypothec, but if we had depended on the votes of the members of the Government, there would have been ayes, 6; noes, 11; the bill condemned and turns out of the House of Commons by a majority of five. So much for the Government. But how, gentlemen, for your Tory members, who vote so steadily [unclear: f]
the abolition of the Law of Hypothec? I make a further examination of the division lists and I find this, that every Tory member from Scotland excel we voted for the abolition of hypothec, and I really have rather a respect
these two gentlemen—Lord Elcho was one of them—because I feel that their vote must have been a very sincere and conscientious vote under the circumstances. But the Tory members from Scotland voted for the abolition of the law; and it is supposed you can ask nothing more. Thirteen of them voted for the bill; and when I examine the position of the Tory party I find it to be as follows: For the abolition of the law in March last, after all your Scottish Tories had been converted—for the abolition of the law in March last there voted fifty-six Tories, and for maintaining the law there voted seventy-seven Tories, constituting the whole minority on the occasion. Consequently, if that law had been dealt with by the Tory party, what does it signify to you that your Conservative members voted for the abolition of the law, when they can trust to the votes of the majority of their colleagues from England, Wales, and Ireland to nullify their votes altogether, and to maintain the law you want to get rid of? Gentlemen, this is a most curious system, thoroughly understood in the Tory party. You have no idea how tolerant that party is, under certain circumstances. When the profession of a particular opinion on a given measure in a particular constituency is necessary for gaining a seat there are no bounds to the toleration of the Tories. For that reason, members favourable to the abolition of Hypothec are allowed to stand as Tories, and are accepted as good and sound Tories if they come from Scotland. Members favourable to Home Rule are allowed as good and sound Tories if they come from Ireland—exactly on the same principle. And I remember in days before the Ballot became law, when a Tory was accepted as a good and sound Tory, though he voted for the ballot, in order that he might get a seat for the town of Stockport. Now, gentlemen, you are good enough arithmeticians, and good enough observers, to see how all this works. A certain number of Tories are returned as adverse to hypothec from Scotland, knowing that their brother Tories in the other two countries will destroy the effect of their votes. A certain number of Tories are, and may be, returned as Home Rulers from Ireland, because it is known that the votes of England and Scotland, including all your Tory opponents of hypothec from Scotland, will neutralize the vote of the Home Rulers from Ireland on the question of Home Rule, exactly as in all likelihood you will find on making the reference the Home Rulers from Ireland contribute to neutralize on the question of hypothec the vote of your Tories from Scotland. And with the ballot it is just the same. The Tory majority in the House of Commons is that which carries on the affairs of the country, and you, if you are as wise, will look to the general conduct of that majority and will not be satisfied with the individual concession of the individual member in regard to the particular question, knowing that his individual vote will be neutralized, and is meant to be neutralized, by the votes of that majority, of his friends elsewhere, who, where no local interest is felt, will join in maintaining the law you disapprove of. But now, gentlemen, I must say this. My noble friend Lord Rosebery, speaking to me of the Law of Hypothec, said, and I
thought with great force, of Mr. Vans Agnew's Bill, "It is a Tulchan Bill." You know, gentlemen, better than I do what a Tulchan bishop was. Lord Rosebery, departing from the figure of the Tulchan bishop, speaks of a Tulchan bill. I think we can understand that. A Tulchan, as 1 understand it, was the figure of a calf stuffed with straw, and the practice, an old Scotch practice—I 'do not know whether it still prevails—the practice was to place this calf stuffed with straw under the cow, in order to induce the cow to give milk. Lord Rosebery's idea is that the bill of Mr. Vans Agnew is the Tulchan calf, that the cow is the Liberal party or the Scotch farmer, and that the Tulchan bill is put to the Scotch farmer in order to induce him to give milk, meaning his vote, to the Tory party. Now, I do believe that that illustration is a perfectly just and plain illustration. In the same way Home Rule is used as a Tulchan in Ireland, because that is meant to induce the Irish to give their
milk—that is to say, their votes—to men who will vote for Home Rule, being, in other respects, Tories, and working with the Tory party on everything but that particular question. Well, gentlemen, there is so much to say that I will not dwell longer on that subject, except that I really do think that a very curious illustration is shown of the working of party organization by this toleration of Liberal votes on isolated questions shown in the case of your Scotch Conservative members with a view to securing seats which, on all other questions, are to be used for the promotion of an anti-Liberal policy and an anti-Liberal Administration.
But I have promised, gentlemen, to say a word during this course of addresses
on a subject of very great importance—namely, the subject of the Liquor Laws of this country. I confess that the state of this country with regard to intemperance, we must all painfully feel it, is a national vice and scandal. I read with the greatest pain in a very able work lately published by Mr. Saunders, a gentleman connected with the newspaper press in London—a very able work on the United States of America. It contains a statement of the comparative consumption of alcoholic liquors by the population there and the
The relative consomption of alcohol in America and here.
population of this country. The population of America, as a rule, have larger means, higher wages, than are current among the mass of the people here, and they have access to spirituous drinks at a lower price, for the tax is not so high; but, notwithstanding that, if I remember right, the statement of Mr. Saunders is to this effect, that the consumption in America is about one-half of the consumption of this country. Every one admits the seriousness of the case, but we come to great differences of opinion as to the mode of dealing with it. Now, gentlemen, I am not here to give what is called a pledge either upon this or upon any other subject. For I feel that if, after a man has served his country in Parliament for nearly half a century—and after he has been called upon to take an active part, or at the very least to give a vote upon almost every imaginable subject that has been under discussion in that long period of years—if you cannot with such a man find evidence of his future course in that which he has already said and done, all I can say is this, you ought not to ask him for pledges—you ought politely to
Three principles to be recognised n dealing with this question.
decline to have anything to do with him. But my opinion is this, that the three principles which ought to guide the consideration of this difficult question are as follows: Serious efforts ought to be made to abate this terrible mischief. These efforts should be made just as the remarkable effort that was successfully made in past sessions to close the public-houses of Ireland on Sunday. They should be made with a
Regard to public opinion.
due and a careful regard for the state of public opinion. You cannot, gentlemen, judge in the abstract what law ought or ought not to be passed at a given time in a country like this. Shakespeare, who is as full of social and political wisdom as he is of flashing genius at every point, tells us, "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." And so it is with questions of this kind; you must have regard to the ripeness or unripeness of public opinion, and to the favourable or unfavourable conjuncture of circumstances. But I must also add that I think that if it be necessary—if Parliament shall think it wise to introduce radical change into the working of the liquor law in such a way as to break down the fair expectations
of persons who have grown up—whether rightly or wrongly is not the question; it is not their fault, it is our fault—under the shadow of these laws, their fair claim to compensation ought, if they can make good their case, to be considered, as all such claims have been considered, by the wisdom and the liberality of the British Parliament. It is said, gentlemen, that
we are to be asked to vote for a principle which is called Local Option. Now, the forms of that principle, the mode of its application, the conditions of its application, as I understand, are reserved for the
future. In that principle I do not see myself anything that is justly to be condemned. I do not think it is unfair to say that, within the limits of justice and fairness, the local opinion of a particular district may be considered in the particular conditions of those police laws which are to regulate the sale of alcoholic liquors. I may say so, because I have acted upon that principle. I supported many years ago a bill which unhappily failed in Parliament through a combination of parties, under the Government of Lord Palmerston, but which that Government seriously endeavoured to pass, where the local opinion of Liverpool advising the adoption of a particular system was embodied in a private measure, and where, as I said, I myself was among the active supporters of that measure. During the late Government we introduced a bill which again embodied the principles of local option. It was not in our power to carry that bill. I do not dwell upon its provisions particularly. I do not ask now whether they were the wisest and the best, or the most unwise and the worst. I speak only of its principle, and I say that, so far as I am able to judge, there is no reason why upon the threshold a proposition for allowing the operation of local option in regard to the liquor laws should be rejected and condemned.
Now, there is another question of great importance on which I must say a few words, but I hope I shall be able to dispose of it without very great difficulty. It is the question of the Disestablishment of the Church. I, gentlemen,
have very little to say upon it at this moment, because you are substantially in possession of my opinions. I have no second thoughts kept in reserve in regard to this matter. The opinion I have indicated is perfectly transparent. I do not think it is a question for me to determine, so much as it is for the people of Scotland. It is not part of my duty to keep it backward. It is not part of my duty to endeavour to thrust it forward. It is our friends of the other way of thinking that are endeavouring to stir this question. They are endeavouring, gentlemen, to use it as a weapon against us, to sow dissension and division in our ranks. There are, happily, a considerable number of members of the Established Church of Scotland who are good and sound Liberals. And if it is their less happy fortune to be associated in that Church with a great number of other excellent persons who are not good and sound Liberals, why, that, instead of being a reason why we should value the good and sound Liberals of the Established Church the less, is a reason why we should feel for them and value them all the more. Now, gentlemen, in my opinion the Liberal party can stand with a clear conscience in the face of the Established Church of Scotland and say, "We, at least, have done it no harm." When we were in office we raised no question that tended to disturb its position. Looking to the great religious divisions in the country, we conscientiously believed that quietude was the best policy for the Established Church to follow. Those who came after us, gentlemen, did not like a policy of quietude. They liked a policy such as they have been applying to their foreign
The Government policy of disquietude.
affairs. They liked a policy of disquietude, and they succeeded in one way or other in contriving to force the subject of Disestablishment into a certain amount of prominence, and making it one of the real factors of political discussion. We did not do it; but they did it. I make no imputation upon them. All I say is, it is not for them, it does not lie in their mouths to call us agitators and disturbers upon this question. But I am going to make another criticism upon them—I shall have a great many to make before I have done—and it is this. We had a debate on the affairs of the Scotch Established Church last year in the House of Commons. I do not know if you read the speeches that were then made by the gentlemen who call themselves the friends of the Church. But if you do, you will be astonished to see how poor and meagre is the colour of those speeches. Instead of saying, "This is a great and sacred connection; the Government is prepared to stand or fall; or, the member is prepared to devote the years of his life
to maintaining it"—all that high romantic and chivalrous style of policy seems to be by the Tories of the present day thought quite inapplicable to the
The weak defence of the Church by the Tories themselves.
Established Church of Scotland. Mr. Dalrymple made one of the strongest speeches for it; and what said he? I had the curiosity to consult Hansard. He said he would leave the defence of the Establishment to some future time. Mr. Cross, on the part of the Government, said when it was attacked they would be quite ready to defend it. But it had been attacked. The Free Kirk had petitioned. The United Presbyterians were up in arms. Important bodies were discussing the matter. And if I may give a recommendation to the friends and members of the Establishment, it would be, not to look so much at this moment at the attitude of the Liberal party, who are disturbing nothing in regard to the matter, but to look to the attitude of their own friends, and see if they cannot inspire a little more pith into their opinions and intentions in regard to this matter. Gentlemen, on this subject I have got a practical remark to make, as I understand there is a real anxiety, and I think a just and fair anxiety, prevailing among the
The desire by Churchmen that the question be fairly and fully tried.
members of the Established Church of Scotland; and it is this, that their cause should be fairly tried; that if the Established Church, so much respected, and so justly, for long services, for the character of its ministers and for the good they do, and for the suitableness of its institutions in many respects to the habits of the people, if it is to be put upon its trial, it shall have a fair, full, and open trial—that it shall not be condemned without having been thus fairly tried. They hope, if I understand them rightly, that no Parliament will dispose finally of the case of the Church of Scotland unless that Parliament has been elected under circumstances when the people of Scotland had the whole case put before them. I think that hope, gentlemen, is a reasonable hope. I refer to it now, because it is the object of the opposite party to insinuate the belief that my purpose is, or that the purposes of other men more wicked than myself—if such there can be—is to smuggle the Established Church of Scotland out of existence. Lord Salisbury has been about the country, and he raises the question thus. I take the question as he has raised it. He wishes to inspire great distrust of me in this matter, and he does it by pointing back to what happened in the case of the Irish Church. Gentlemen, I have never said that the case of the Irish Church was like the case of the Established Church of Scotland. And I do not think that any of those—Free Churchmen, or United Presbyterians, or others who may be friendly to Disestablishment—would ever put the two cases on the same footing. But the question directly raised is this: May the members and ministers of the Established Church of Scotland trust, make themselves assured, that so far as there can be certainty of what is future in human affairs, there will be a full consideration of this matter by the people before the Parliament which may have to deal with it proceeds to deal with it? Lord
The case of the Irish Church in 1868.
Salisbury says, No—see what happened in the case of the Irish Church. I will go with him to the case of the Irish Church, and I say it proves directly the fact he wants. What happened in the case of the Irish Church? That down to the year 1865 and the dissolution of that year, the whole question of the Irish Church was dead; nobody cared for it; nobody paid attention to it in England. Circumstances occurred which drew the attention of the people to the Irish Church. I said myself in 1865, and I believed, that it was out of the range of practical politics; that is to say, the politics of the coming election. When it came to this—that a great jail in the heart of the metropolis was broken open under circumstances which drew the attention of the English people to the state of Ireland, and when in Manchester policemen were murdered in the execution of their duty, at once the whole country became alive to Irish questions; and the question of the Irish Church revived. It came within the range of practical politics.
I myself took it up, and proposed Resolutions to the House of Commons, declaring the view of the House that the Irish Church ought no longer to exist as an Establishment. But those Resolutions, though passed, did not bring about the destruction of the Irish Church, nor did any one expect that they would. They raised the question in the face of the country; the Parliament was dissolved upon the question; the country, from one end of it to the other, considered it fully, made up its mind, and returned a Parliament with a vast majority empowered to speak and act for them on the matter. So that the very chain of facts which is chosen by the Government in order to inspire suspicion in the minds of Liberals who are Established Churchmen—that very chain of facts shows that even in the case of the Irish Church, which was far weaker than that of the Scottish Church—even in that case there was, after the subject had been raised in Parliament, a dissolution expressly upon the case. The verdict of the country was given only after a full trial
The conclusion to be drawn from the action of the Tories.
and consideration; and this is what the Established Church of Scotland fairly and justly asks. Gentlemen, I must say that those Liberal Churchmen run a risk of being placed in exactly the same condition with regard to the question of the Established Church as the Scotch farmer is in regard to hypothec. The Established Church is attempted to be made into a tulchan question to draw the milk of the Liberal Churchmen—of all Churchmen who are Liberals—to persuade them that there is a danger, which I do not believe those very people conceive to exist—a danger of the destruction of that Church, venerated upon so many grounds, without a fair trial and a full consideration of the case by the people of Scotland.
Now, gentlemen, there is one question yet upon which I think it is quite necessary that I should still detain you, though time passes rapidly, and there is no reason why I should occupy much more time. It is the great and important question of the condition of the land in this country; and I propose
now to consider it for a few moments in concluding the address I have had the honour to make to you. I shall look at it for a few moments in connection with the various points of law or practice which touch the interests of the cultivators of the soil—the responsible cultivators of the land—I mean the tenant-farmers of the country. I will not dwell further, gentlemen, upon hypothec, because on that we seem, I think, to be all agreed, as far as the merits of the measure are concerned. I will not dwell upon the subject of game, which deeply interests the Scotch farmer in many portions of the country, because upon that subject, through the able exertions of Mr. M'Lagan, a bill has been passed—which I believe has at all events done very considerable good, and which perhaps renders it unnecessary, at any rate for the present moment, to enter further, under the present pressure of so many subjects, into the consideration of the matter. Neither will I dwell, gentlemen, upon what is commonly called security of tenure, because happily in Scotland the education of the country is so far advanced, both among landlords and tenants, that to a certain extent that security is attained by the system of leases, and no desire exists to disturb that system, either on the part of the landlord or on the part of the tenant. There are other matters, however, upon which it may be well to say a few words. One of them is the practice of inserting in leases a number of covenants, which direct particular modes of cultivation, and by
Restrictions upon the mode of cultivation.
directing particular modes do much to restrain its freedom. A good tenant, a good farmer, feels that after all he is the best judge of the mode of conducting what is his own business. Every one will agree with that. On the other hand, there is something, I think, of equity in the statement of the landlord that during the closing years of a lease, if a tenant means to remove, it is difficult for him, without covenants of that kind, to prevent the wasteful use of the farm. Now it is not for me, gentlemen, to offer instruction, perhaps not even to offer a suggestion to you; but there is a method in
with some landlords in England who have leases that I confess appears to me to be not without wisdom. I will just take a supposititious length of a lease, because that is not material. It will only serve to enable me clearly to explain the nature of the expedient by which it is endeavoured to do full justice to the interests of both the landlord and the tenant—that is to say, to leave the tenant entirely free in the prosecution of his business, but at the same time to secure the landlord against the particular, though, perhaps, rare instances—certainly I should think very rare in Scotland—the rare instances in which a tenant intending to leave, might leave the farm behind him in a state greatly worse than that in which he had received it. The method is this: We will say the landlord gives his tenant a lease of twenty-one years. In that lease are included a number of provisions directing, and therefore restraining, cultivation; but there is also a clause directing that those provisions shall not operate during the first seventeen years of the lease. At the end of seventeen years the tenant is to declare whether he wishes to renew his lease or not. If he exercises his option to renew his lease he receives at once, both parties being willing, another lease, which immediately comes into operation, with similar provisions. If he says, I mean to leave, then the provisions directing and restraining the method of cultivation come into operation for the last four years of the lease only, so that the landlord is secured against the deterioration of the farm. Now I know that that method of proceeding is approved by many men of good judgment. It is not for me to pronounce upon it; I confess there appears to be much equity in it. I hold as strongly as any of you can hold that it is most important to rid the tenantry of the country of all unnecessary fetters upon the freedom of their action. They are engaged in a great struggle. Time forbids me at this moment to enter upon the particular character of this struggle. I shall endeavour to do it elsewhere if I am unable to do it to-day; but I wish you to believe that I am heartily and cordially associated with you not less in my own capacity as a landlord, than in my own capacity as a candidate before you in the desire, not only for the sake of gaining your suffrages, but upon higher and upon national grounds, to give all possible freedom to the cultivation of the soil in order that the agriculture of England may have full and fair play in competition with the agriculture of the world.
That is a point, gentlemen, from which I will pass on to another subject of
great importance—the law of Entail and Settlement. I believe that you view that law with disapproval as being itself one of the most serious restraints upon the effective prosecution of the agriculture of the country. Gentlemen, I need not dwell upon the matter. I heartily agree with you upon the point at issue. I am for the alteration of that law. I disapprove of it or economic grounds. I disapprove of it on social and moral grounds. I disapprove of the relation which it creates between the father and the eldest son. I disapprove of the manner in which it makes provision for the interests of children to be born. Was there ever in the history of legislation a stranger expedient? Let us consider what takes place in England habitually, and I believe habitually in Scotland also, but I am less conversant with the actual daily practice of this country. A possessor of an estate in England, having sons, or having an eldest son, is in this condition: If he dies intestate, his estate goes bodily to his son. That law, gentlemen, is not just, and it ought to be altered, the law of intestacy. But setting aside the question of intestacy, let us take the ordinary case. The ordinary case is this. The son is going to marry. When he marries—because under the law, supposing he does not marry, and his father dies, he becomes absolute owner—when he marries his father gives him an income for life, and he, in consideration of that income, resettles the estate upon his issue to be thereafter born. Now, what is the meaning of that process? It is this—that the actual owner of the estate induces the son to make provision for his own children by giving him an income for his life. The provision for the children
is not made by the freewill of the father, but by the freewill of the grandfather, and it is made by the freewill of the grandfather in order to secure the future and further tying up of the estate. Why, gentlemen, it appears to me that if there is one law written more distinctly than another upon the constitution of human society by the finger of the Almighty it is this, that the parent is responsible for making sufficient provision on behalf of the child; but the law of England is wiser than the Almighty. It improves upon Divine Providence. It will not trust the father to make provision for his son. It calls in the aid of the grandfather, commits to him the function of the parent, introduces a false and, in my opinion, a rather unnatural relation even into the constitution of that primary element of society, the sacred constitution of the family. Not only then to liberate agriculture, gentlemen, but upon other grounds—and I will say upon what I think still higher grounds—I am for doing away with the present law of settlement and entail.
Now, gentlemen, I have gone through, I think, all the questions, except one that greatly affect the interests of occupiers of the soil—I mean all
the questions capable of being dealt with by legislation. I am not speaking now of that great question of competition with foreign countries, to which I must revert elsewhere. But there is one that yet remains, and that is the subject of our local and county government. It is a strange anomaly that in this most important matter of local government we who have representative institutions everywhere else have been content down to this time to remain without them. This is one of the greatest subjects that awaits the consideration of a future Parliament, and that I hope will receive that consideration so soon as those immediate and pressing impediments to which I have already referred can be taken, by care and skill, out of the way. Gentlemen, there was no question upon which the last Government was more severely criticised than its treatment of the subject of local government. Now, what did we do with regard to it? We avowed from the beginning that the state of our county government was wholly unsatisfactory, and must be radically reformed. We thought the law of liability in England which threw the whole responsibility for the rates upon the tenant was an unjust law, and we proposed to divide it, as it is divided in Scotland. We knew that there was a great desire in the country to relieve the ratepayer from the Consolidated Fund. We saw in that desire, and in the power to relieve the ratepayer from the Consolidated Fund, a strong leverage placed in the hand of the Executive Government to induce all the local interests to go freely into the changes that must be made in order to establish a sound system of county government, and to give you, gentlemen, a free and thorough control over the disposal of your own local taxes as you have over the disposal of Imperial taxes. We therefore said, We will not give this money away until we are able to make it the means of bringing all parties to cope with the difficulties of establishing a new system of government, and so to lead to the enjoyment of whatever aid it may be right to give from the Imperial Treasury on behalf of the ratepayer. That, gentlemen, was our position. We were severely censured for it; but we were not willing to depart from it. Before it was in our power to deal thoroughly and effectively with the subject on this basis, we were removed from office. Our successors took an entirely opposite view. In their view the only thing material was to relieve the ratepayers, so they handed over year by year large sums from the Consolidated Fund, made no other change whatever, except indeed certain centralizing changes, left the present irresponsible authorities in possession, continued some five years in office before they produced even the phantom of a Local Government Bill; and when they produced one, contrived to frame it in such a way that no party and no section of a party in the House of Commons showed the smallest desire to have it. The consequence is that your local government remains in the unsatisfactory position in which it formerly stood. Whereas the Imperial Government, which is the only propelling power
that can cause legislation of that kind to move onwards, has gratuitously and prematurely parted with the great inducement they held in their hands to bring all parties into a reasonable settlement, to induce magistrates to give in, to induce all constituted authorities to give in, and to abate of their respective pretensions; they have given up the lever by which they ought to have propelled the question on behalf of the public interest, and the question remains in that neglected and abandoned state in which they have left almost every other subject of that kind. Or rather it is in a condition of greater difficulty and of' less hope than ever it was before. But, gentlemen, I have detained you long enough. I have endeavoured to be practical and intelligible in my remarks. I have endeavoured to show you that subjects of local and domestic interest do not escape my attention. I have warned you of the immense Imperial difficulties we have to contend with. I have not held out to you too sanguine expectations. I have told you that when you succeed in returning a more—what shall I say?—a more enlightened Parliament—and in obtaining an Administration better qualified to give effect to your convictions, there will be much yet to do, much cause for patience and forbearance, before we can see the peaceful course of legislation which has been the practice of former Administrations—in many cases that I could name, and certainly in at least one Conservative Administration—I mean the Administration of Sir Robert Peel, before that course of peaceful and useful legislation can be resumed. Let me say that in my opinion these two
great subjects of local government and the land laws ought now to occupy a foremost place in the thoughts of every man who aspires to be a legislator. In the matter of local government, there may lie a solution of some national and even Imperial difficulties. It will not be in my power to enter largely while I am in the county upon the important question of the condition of Ireland; but you know well how unhappily the action of Parliament has been impeded and disorganized, from considerations no doubt conscientiously entertained by a part of the Irish representatives, and from their desire to establish what they term Home Rule. If you ask me what I think of Home Rule, I must tell you that I will only answer you when you tell me how Home Rule is related to local government. I am friendly to local government. I am friendly to large local privileges and powers. I desire, I may almost say I intensely desire, to see Parliament relieved of some portion of its duties. I see the efficiency of Parliament interfered with not only by obstruction from Irish members, but even more gravely by the enormous weight that is placed upon the time and the minds of those whom you send to represent you. We have got an overweighted Parliament: and if Ireland, or any other portion of the country, is desirous and able so to arrange its affairs that by taking the local part or some local part of its transactions off the hands of Parliament, it can liberate and strengthen Parliament for Imperial concerns, I say I will not only accord a reluctant assent,
The only limit to local government.
but I will give a zealous support to any such scheme. One limit, gentlemen, one limit only, I know to the extension of local government. It is this: Nothing can be done, in my opinion, by any wise statesman or right-minded Briton to weaken or compromise the authority of the Imperial Parliament, because the Imperial Parliament must be supreme in these three Kingdoms. And nothing that creates a doubt upon that supremacy can be tolerated by any intelligent and patriotic man. But subject to that limitation, if we can make arrangements under which Ireland, Scotland, Wales, portions of England, can deal with questions of local and special interest to themselves more efficiently than Parliament now can, that, I say, will be the attainment of a great national good. The Scotch members, who always show in Parliament—I must say speaking of them as an average, and perhaps it is all the more true because the majority of them are always Liberal—who always show in the transaction of Scotch business remarkable shrewdness and efficiency, yet all find cause to complain, and complain seriously and gravely, that they cannot get the Scotch business properly transacted.
The Parliament is overweighted—the Parliament is almost overwhelmed. If we can take off its shoulders that superfluous weight by the constitution
The relief to be afforded to Parliament.
of secondary and subordinate authorities, I am not going to be frightened out of a wise measure of that kind by being told that in that I am condescending to the prejudices of Home Rulers. I will condescend to no such prejudices. I will consent to give to Ireland no principle, nothing that is not to be upon equal terms offered to Scotland and to the different portions of the United Kingdom. But I say that the man who shall devise a machinery by which some portion of the excessive and impossible task now laid upon the House of Commons shall be shifted to the more free and therefore more efficient hands of secondary and local authorities, will confer a blessing upon his country that will entitle him to be reckoned among the prominent benefactors of the land.
After the outburst of applause had subsided, a vote of thanks to Mr. Gladstone was proposed by Mr. Riddell, farmer, Corshope, and carried amid loud cheers.
The right hon. gentleman proceeded from the Corn Exchange, after a short interval, to the Foresters' Hall, where a presentation was made to Mrs. Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone, in acknowledging the gift, said:—
Provost Mitchell, Mr. Tod, Ladies and Gentlemen,—I rise to perform the duty of returning thanks on behalf of my wife and myself, at the same time that I feel that I can really add very little by expatiating upon the subject to the simple words that she has used, and which express a sentiment that comes with perfect sincerity from the very root of her feelings and of my own. You referred, sir, to the relations, the family relations in which I have had the happiness to stand; to the inestimable blessing—not through my deserving—that has been permitted me through a long life, for these family relations have been the source of unequalled and unfailing consolations, without a break, without a shadow, without a doubt, without a change. I would, Mr. Tod, as far as I may presume to do so, venture so far to reecho the words of that eloquent and beautiful eulogy, which I must in justice say to you, you have so admirably pronounced, even if its terms be wanner than a strict justice would warrant towards us who have been the subjects of the eulogy. Well, sir, you have spoken to me on a subject which always commands and stirs my feelings—the subject of Scotland. It is but two days since I re-entered it, and how many tokens, how unquestionable proofs, have I had presented to me at every turn of every road, at every hour of each of these days, and at every moment of each hour, that I am come back not only to the land of beautiful natural characteristics, not only to the
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood"—
but I come back to that which is better still, to the land which has a prerogative, to describe which I will borrow the terms used in a higher sense by one of the latest, and certainly not the least, of your writers of beautiful songs—I mean Lady Nairne—I hope Scotland may always itself deserve to be called, down to the latest posterity, "the land of the leal." And, sir, with regard to the special occasion which has brought us here to-night, I understand it to be your wish that I should use some words addressed to the particular share that ladies, and that women, may be thought to have in the crisis of to-day. I use the expression women with greater satisfaction than the former one which I uttered, the name of ladies; because it is to them, not only in virtue of a particular station, not only by reason of their possessing a greater portion of the goods of life than may have been granted to the humbler classes of society, that I appeal. I appeal to them in virtue of the common nature which runs through us all. And I am very glad, sir, that you have introduced to us with a special notice the factory girls of the place, who on this occasion have been desirous to testify their kindly feelings. I hope
you will convey to them the assurance that their particular act is not forgotten and that the gift they offer is accepted with as lively thankfulness and as profound gratification as the most splendid offering that could be tendered by the noblest in the land.
I speak to you, ladies, as women; and I do think and feel that the present political crisis has to do not only with human interests at large, but especially with those interests which are most appropriate, and ought to be most dear to you The harder, and sterner, and drier lessons of politics are little to your taste, You do not concern yourselves with abstract propositions. It is that side of politics which is associated with the heart of man, that I must call your side of politics!
Peace, Retrenchment, Reform.
When I look at the inscription which faces me on yonder gallery, see the words "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform." All of these words, ladies, are connected with the promotion of human happiness; and what some would call the desert of this world, and of the political world in particular, would be an arid desert indeed if we could not hope that our labours are addressed to the increase of human happiness; that we try to diminish the sin and the sorrow in the world, to do something to reduce its grievous and overwhelming mass, to alleviate a little the burden of life for some to take out of the way of struggling excellence those impediments at least which the folly or the graver offence of man has offered as obstacles in his progress These are the hopes that cheer, that ought to cheer, the human heart amidst the labours and struggles of public life. Of all these words-peace, retrenchment and reform—the one word upon which I will say a few more special words on this occasion is the word peace. Is this, ladies, a time of peace? Cast your eyes abroad over the world. Think what has taken place in the last three or four years. Think of the events which have deluged many a hill and many valley with blood; and think, with regret and pain, of the share, not which you individually, but which your country collectively has had in that grievous operation.
If we cast our eyes to South Africa, what do we behold That a nation whom we term savages have in defence of their own land offered their naked bodies to the terribly improved artillery and arms of modern European science, and have been mowed down by hundreds and by thousands, having committed no offence, but having, with rude and ignorance courage, clone what were for them, and done faithfully and bravely what were for them, the duties of patriotism. You may talk of glory, you may offer rewards—and you are right to give rewards to the gallantry of your soldiers, who, I think are entitled not only to our admiration for courage, but to our compassion for the nature of the duties they have been called upon to perform. But the [unclear: grie]
and the pain none the less remain. Go from South Africa to the mountains Central Asia. Go into the lofty hills of Afghanistan, as they were last winter
and what do we there see? I fear a yet sadder sight than was to be seen in the land of the Zulus. It is true that with respect to the operations of the war in Afghanistan you have seen none but official accounts, of hardly any but official accounts; and many of the facts belonging to that was have not been brought under the general notice of the British public. I think that a great misfortune. I know that it may be necessary and wise under certain circumstances to restrain what might be the injudicious and exaggerated, and therefore the dangerous communications that might proceed from irresponsible
persons. At the same time, I deeply regret that we were not more fully informed of the proceedings of the war in Afghanistan, especially as we must bear in mind that our army is composed in great part of a soldier not British, and not under Christian obligations and restraints. What we know is this, that our gallant troops have been called upon to ascend to an elevation of many thousand feet, and to operate in the winter months—I am going back to a period of nine or twelve months—amidst the snows of winter. We know that that was done for the most part not strictly in the territory of Afghanistan
proper, but in its border lands, inhabited by hill tribes who enjoy more or less of political independence, and do not own a regular allegiance to the Afghan ruler. You have seen during last winter from time to time that from such
and such a village attacks had been made upon the British forces, and that in consequence the village had been burned. Have you ever reflected on the meaning of these words? Do not suppose that I am pronouncing a censure, for I am not, either upon the military commanders or upon those who acted subject to their orders. But I am trying to point out the responsibility of the terrible consequences that follow upon such operations. Those hill tribes had committed no real offence against us. We, in the pursuit of our political objects, chose to establish military positions in their country. If they resisted, would not you have done the same? and when, going forth from their villages, they had resisted, what you find is this, that those who went forth were slain, and that the village was burned. Again I say, have you considered the meaning of these words? The meaning of the burning of the village is, that the women and the children were driven forth to perish in the snows of winter. Is not that a terrible supposition? Is not that a fact—for such, I fear, it must be reckoned to be—which does appeal to your hearts as women, which does lay a special hold and make a special claim upon your interest, which does rouse in you a sentiment of horror and grief, to think that the name of England, under no political necessity, but for a war as frivolous as ever was waged in the history of man, should be associated with consequents such as these? I have carried you from South Africa to Central Asia. I carry you from Central Asia to Eastern Europe, and in the history of Eastern Europe in the last few years do you
not again feel that this is no matter of dry political argument, that there was a wider theatre upon which for many generations a cruel and a grinding oppression, not resting upon superior civilization, not upon superior knowledge, but a domination of mere force, had crushed down to
The oppressivo government of the Turk.
the earth races who, four or five hundred years ago, greatly excelled our own forefathers in civilization—had crushed these races to the earth, had abated in them the manhood and the nobler qualities that belong to freedom—had ground these qualities, it appeared, in some cases almost out of their composition—had succeeded in impressing upon them some of the features of slaves; and in addition to this, when from time to time the impulses of humanity would not be repressed, and an effort was made by any of these people to secure to themselves their long-lost liberties. These efforts had been put down with a cruelty incredible and unequalled, almost, and perhaps entirely, unequalled in the annals of mankind, and not only with that cruelty, but with a development of other horrors in the treatment of men, women, and children, which even decency does not permit me to describe. I will not dwell further on these matters than to say that I think in all these scenes, if peace be our motto, we must feel that a strong appeal is made to you as women—to you specially, and to whatever there is in men that associates itself with what is best and most peculiar in you.
Ladies, I am not here before you as one of those who have ever professed to believe that the state which society has reached permits us to
A long experience deepens the conviction of the evil of war.
make a vow of universal peace, and of renouncing, in all cases, the alternative of war. But I am here to say that a long experience of life leads me, not towards any abstract doctrine upon the subject, but to a deeper and deeper conviction of the enormous mischiefs of war even, under the best and most favourable circumstances, and of the mischiefs indescribable and the guilt unredeemed of causeless and unnecessary wars. Look back over the pages of history; consider the feelings with which we now regard wars that our forefathers in their time supported with the same pernicious fanaticism, of which we have had some developments in this country within the last three years. Consider, for example, that the American war, now con-
demned by 999 out of every 1000 persons in this country, was a war which for years was enthusiastically supported by the mass of the population. And then see how powerful and deadly are the fascinations of passion and of pride; and, if it be true that the errors of former times are recorded for our instruction in order that we may avoid their repetition, then I beg and entreat you, be on your guard against these deadly fascinations; do not suffer appeals to national pride to blind you to the dictates of justice.
Remember the rights of the savage, as we call him. Remember that the happiness of his humble home, remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eye of Almighty God as can be your own. Remember that He who has united you together as human beings in the same flesh and blood, has bound you by the
Mutual love is not limited by Christian civilization.
law of mutual love; that that mutual love is not limited by the shores of this island, is not limited by the boundaries of Christian civilization, that it passes over the whole surface of the earth, and embraces the meanest along with the greatest, in its unmeasured scope. And, therefore, I think that in appealing to you ungrudgingly to open your own feelings and bear your own part in a political crisis like this, we are making no inappropriate demand, but are beseeching you to fulfil a duty which belongs to you, which, so far from involving any departure from your character as women, is associated with the fulfilment of that character, and the performance of its duties; the neglect of which would in future times be to you a source of pain and just mortification, and the fulfilment of which will serve to gild your own future years with sweet remembrances, and to warrant you in hoping that, each in your own place and sphere, you have raised your voice for justice, and have striven to mitigate the sorrows and misfortunes of mankind.
A vote of thanks was on the motion of Mr. Tod by acclamation accorded to Mr. Gladstone, who then left the town, passing down rows of torch-bearers drawn up to illuminate the streets in his honour.