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But this is not all. The question has a constitutional side to it as well as an economic one, and one of even greater and graver importance. The County Council, pledged to a policy of communism, would have "a great army" at at their command, composed of a "special and privileged class" thoroughly organised, and under the control of men exercising an almost despotic authority over the labouring population. A Radical Government would, sooner or later, place the London police at their disposal. And we beg our readers calmly to reflect on the position which they would then occupy. They would hold their sittings within a mile of the Houses of Parliament. They could bring ten thousand men together in any chose at an hour's notice. They part of the metropolis they could forbid the police to interfere; and a band of ruffians, in overwhelming numerical strength, would be at liberty to occupy Palace Yard while Parliament was sitting, and threaten the life of every member who ventured to withstand their will.
policy of the Council to render the boon of none effect by raising his rates to the level of the rent he would have paid had he remained a tenant. The socialism of the one scheme is to defeat the individualism of the other. If anybody wants to know what real "socialism is, he need go no further. Here we have openly proclaimed as an article of the Progressive creed the virtual abolition of individual ownership.
All the Progressives on the Council may not be socialists. But socialism is the active energetic force which moves the whole body. The trades' unions are the wire-pullers; and "The ratepayers need hardly call to mind," says Lord Onslow, "how the officials of the Council, in order to please their masters, were forced to cook the accounts and resort to arti
fice and fraud in order to cover up
the disastrous failure which had attended the municipalisation of works and labour. The Progressive members, and more particularly those on the Labour Bench, were constantly down at the works listening to the complaints of the men, and providing ticket men to see that none but trades unionists were employed at the works."
And now what follows?
"You might," says the President of the Council, "before very long have had a great army of working men in the direct employment of the County Council, a special and a privileged class, exercising a great, perhaps an overwhelming, influence over the elections; and no one can be blind to the dangers that might have been created by such a state of things."
What his Grace says we might have had, we still may have, if we do not take all the better
This is no fanciful picture. The thing has happened before. Sir Robert Walpole and his friends had to fight their way out of the House of Commons
with drawn swords. In June 1780 a furious mob was in possession of the lobbies till nine o'clock at night, and they only dispersed when they knew that the Life Guards were approaching. Many members of both Houses were seriously injured. Such a mob would be
far more dangerous now, because, whatever the particular grievance which had moved their passions for the moment, their leaders would have ulterior objects in view, and would use them as tools for effecting it. There is no saying to what extremities such disorders might proceed before either the soldiers were called in, or the County Council for very shame directed the police to act. Such are the beginnings of all revolutions. And it is this consideration which forms the strongest ground of all for the new London Government Reform Bill.
The Opposition have been too much occupied with internal dissensions to keep up their customary attacks on the Government during the parliamentary vacation. And hardly a single Radical speech has attracted much attention except Mr Asquith's, to whom we ought all to be grateful for the opportunity of enlivening a rather dull recess which it afforded to Lord Salisbury and Mr Chamberlain. The dry sarcasm with which the Prime Minister treated the proposed abolition of the House of Lords, and the smart but logically correct description given by the Colonial Secretary of Mr Asquith's "new congregation," were both of the best. "It seems to be a commonly received opinion," said Lord Salisbury, "among our opponents that the House of Lords is to be swept away. I do not know how it is to be done, because the prospect of the House of Lords itself lending any assistance to that operation is re
mote." This is in the Premier's favourite style. And he repeated what the Liberals have never attempted to deny, for the assertion is plainly unanswerable, that the people are not likely to be in any great hurry to destroy an institution the effect of which is to prevent sudden revolutions from being sprung upon them against their own convictions, and he gave Fox's India Bill and the Home Rule Bill of 1893 as instances. If the House of Lords will not abdicate, it can only be deposed by violence-in other words, by a revolution, which might or might not mean civil war. However, according to Mr Asquith, speaking again on the 17th December, the Liberal party has quite made up its mind to face all risks, in order to deprive the people of the only political court of appeal which they now possess. said it was quite unnecessary to go into any details, the truth being that he had none to go into. to go into. The Liberals, who are all agreed, he says, are
nevertheless as much at a loss to explain how the thing is to be done as Lord Salisbury himself. It may be that the "inextinguishable faith" with which Mr Asquith accredits them is to be sufficient by itself. If faith can remove mountains, why should it not remove the House of Lords? The Liberals have certainly nothing else to rely upon.
We are afraid, however, that the age of miracle is past, and that Mr Asquith will soon have to dispense with another somewhat cumbersome vestment for
which he has no further use. Home Rule, Local Veto, and Welsh Disestablishment are already gone; and if the party goes on stripping itself at this rate, it will soon be stark naked. But to that we are coming. "Mr Asquith," says Mr Chamberlain, "seems to be addressing a new congregation, from which Irishmen, Teetotallers, and Nonconformists are excluded, and only the great Liberal party is to remain." There was once upon a time an advocate, who after pleading the cause of a worthless client with great ability, and bestowing many eloquent eulogies on his numerous virtues, looked round to the place in court where he had been sitting. He had vanished. He could not stand it. Half the orator's panegyric had been lavished upon nothing. And such is likely to be the case with Mr Asquith's eloquent tribute to "the imperturbable patience and loyal subordination " of the great Liberal party. If he looks over his shoulder for it, he will look in vain. Seriously speaking, if we deduct Home Rulers, Teetotallers, and Liberationists from the whole motley array, we take out all the substance and leave only the idea. It is often said that a party without ideas is in a poor way. But an idea without a party is even more to be pitied. The Liberal idea has lost its way, and is wandering about through forests and deserts in search of some material garment wherewithal to clothe itself.
The above pages were written before the publication in the
'Times' (January 17) of a letter from Mr Goldwin Smith, which to a certain extent travels on the same lines. But though it may very probably point to a consummation to be expected at no remote date, it is not to be looked for immediately. Supposing, as the writer says, that the party system is moribund, it is not yet dead; and its last expiring struggles we may be sure will be attended by violent convulsions. The few warning words uttered by Lord Salisbury at the Constitutional Club are perhaps even better worthy of remembering at such a crisis as the present than in ordinary times. We are not to imagine, he says, that the helpless condition of the Liberal party at the present moment is necessarily permanent. They are few in number, without unity, without a policy, and without a leader; they are rent by schisms which only some overpowering temptation can temporarily smother. we must not be led away by appearances to suppose that we have nothing more to fear from them. The sting of the wasp that is scotched but not killed is always the sharpest. The groups which now stand apart from each other may be reunited at any moment, and they remind Lord Salisbury of the divided groups of tribes which in Egypt. and India threaten us from over the border :
"These groups seem to be utterly divided among themselves-to have no common leader, perhaps no common object; but if on the Afghan or the Egyptian border opportunities shall occur, and they shall see some chance
of carrying out a holy war or securing much desired loot, they may at once in one moment be gathered together by the prestige and the force of some leader that may arise among them. And so it is with the enemies we are confronting. At any moment a Mahdi or a Mad Mullah may arise, and they will bear down upon you to carry out the Jehad and to carry away the loot. I therefore entreat you, notwithstanding these flattering symptoms, to remain in your ranks and to keep your powder dry. There may be plenty for you to do much sooner than you expect."
into them every time they stirred.
We see no signs of the new prophet at present. The Liberal party, if it can be said to exist after Mr Asquith's evisceration of it, is in much the same plight as Sir William Harcourt once told us the Armenians were in, after help had been promised them, as he alleged, by England. They must, he thought, be crying out with the lady in Bluebeard, "Sister Anne, Sister Anne, do you see anybody coming?" If all the Liberals can see by looking out of the window is Sir Henry Campbell - Bannerman, truly they are in "a parlous state." Mr Morley has resigned his post, and Mr Asquith cannot leave his briefs. If it were possible for Sir William Harcourt to come back again he would be less able to command the allegiance of the whole Liberal party in the House of Commons than he was before. The compliments recently exchanged between Mr Asquith and Mr Morley are not forgotten in a hurry. If the rent were patched up the sections of the party would be only pinned together, with the probability of the pins running
How can Mr Morley or Sir William Harcourt, a smaller Englander than even his faithful henchman, who, indeed, says that he is not one at all, thereby indicating the existence of another rift, -ever reunite with a section which the member for the Montrose Burghs describes as something between a monkey and a toad, with the tail of the one and the fasting powers of the other? The creature is not a chameleon which lives on insects. It is a Liberal Imperialist like Mr Asquith and Lord Rosebery, who live on open questions; or, to judge by Mr Asquith, on shadows. In this flattering description of Lord Rosebery's following Mr Morley includes the chameleon's power of changing its hues, and on this point Mr Asquith had to listen to an unpalatable truth. He has changed "the broad-brimmed hat and drab attire of the Quaker for the plumes and flashing scarlet of the Crusader." He admits that he made a mistake in condemning the Egyptian expedition when it first set out, and that he now applauds it, because of its brilliant success. His opposition to it was very likely quite honest, but what are we to think of his judgment? The Government who despatched it had no doubt of its success, and they were right. Mr Asquith chose to prefer his own private opinion, and was wrong. With what face can any public man who has made such a dangerous mistake as this
come forward to solicit our confidence in his sagacity or statesmanship? He has given himself away.
We know not how Mr Morley distinguishes between the "pagan pride of empire" and the British pride of those great soldiers and statesmen "who made the the majesty of this realm." Mr Asquith talks much more common-sense when he refers to the conduct of the Rosebery Liberals on the Fashoda question. To show that England was unanimous was the surest means of preventing war. He very naturally resents the imputations thrown broadcast by Mr Morley on his former colleagues, and refutes them with a warmth which augurs ill for any future reconciliation. Pointing to the phantoms of
great Radical changes which may hereafter become living realities, he declares that they can only be carried out by a party which is "catholic, comprehensive, disciplined, and united.” We are glad to hear this, as we may still sleep in peace. And he adds: 66 their midst the strife and animosities of sections and the factions which some people believed existed, they must be trampled down and cast out before the party could once more become a potent instrument of reform.' We commend these words to Mr Morley and Sir William Harcourt. To be trodden under foot by Mr Asquith would be scarcely a political euthanasia. But it is delightful to see how these Radicals love one another!
"If there were in
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