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defensive functions of the Government expose them to no such embarrassments. Here all their followers are supposed to be of one mind, and all to be satisfied with one thing-the preservation of the empire and the constitution. We fully sympathise with the two great interests whose "moderate and reasonable" claims were last year set aside. But right and justice can no more rule the roast in representative and popular Governments than they can in the concert of Europe. Nor is remedial legislation the only thing or the principal thing for the sake of which the present Government exists. If any class in the country, or any party in Parliament which now supports the Government on Conservative principles, should ever turn against them on particular measures, or take any steps which might lead to their ultimate downfall, they would repent in sackcloth and ashes before a year
The defensive function of the Government is by far the more important of the two. Reforms, if not effected at one time, may be carried at another. Mistakes in legislation may be repaired. But a great national institution once overthrown can never be restored. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. The Church and the Monarchy were overthrown in the seventeenth century, and restored again in a few years. But they were overthrown by military violence. It was one man against a nation. And the very fact that they were swept away so completely made the restoration of them in their original form all the easier, for there was no other basis to build upon. But a revolution effected by a parliamentary majority, though it might be only a snatched
majority, returned in a moment of passing passion, would be much more difficult to reverse. We believe it would be impossible. At all events, no sensible man can wish to see the country plunged into such struggles as these at the imminent risk of civil war. And a Unionist Government is the only thing that stands between the country and a revolutionary party, who certainly would not hesitate to proceed to any extremities if they thought they were likely to be successful, and that the results would be to benefit themselves. The longer the present Government remain in office, the further will they remove from us those sources of civil danger which have their origin in political ambition. "We cover," says Mr Balfour, "the whole field of moderate and rational reforms." Therefore, those who would turn us out because they have something better to propose must mean something
"neither rational nor moderate." That is so. If we turn out the Unionists, we let in the Radicals; and if we let in the Radicals, they are bound to justify themselves by those imperial sacrifices and sweeping organic changes of which they are already the professed advocates.
But this whole field of reform, be it remembered, cannot be traversed in a day; and if at the expiration of the present Parliament the reasonable demands of any section of the Unionists remain unsatisfied, ought that to be a reason for trying to depose a Ministry representing those great architectonic principles to which all other considerations are subordinate
The words of the Duke of Wellington in 1845 are well worth referring to. In reply to the
Cabinet memorandum of 1845 he wrote "My only object in public life is to support Sir Robert's Peel's administration of the Government for the Queen. A good Government for the country is more important than Corn laws or any other consideration." In the following January he writes to Croker-"I felt that the existing Corn law was not the only interest of this great nation." The italics in this latter sentence are the Duke's own. Much, therefore, as we should regret any such further failure of the Government to satisfy the justifiable demands of the most loyal and faithful section of their followers, as could only be set down to causes calculated to damp the energies of the whole party, we should still say that the paramount duty of all who respect the constitution or take a pride in the empire was to maintain Lord Salisbury's Administration. Politics ought not to be made personal. To talk of "punishing" a Minister who has offended you on some particular point, at the imminent risk of undermining what is infinitely more important, is the language of a woman or a child.
Mr Disraeli was severe on the "Venetian constitution," but he never denied its strength and its stability, of which indeed Venice herself was a standing illustration. When this was superseded in 1832, the dormant authority which he hoped would revive to take its place did not reappear; and the Whigs, unable to control the new power which they had called into existence, were obliged to become its servants, and to drift helplessly down the stream of democracy, too strong now for the aristocratic element in the constitution, while still divided against itself, to effectually resist. It is
useless, therefore, at the present day, to suppose that we have any alternative but to harmonise constitutional principles as far as possible with the democratic spirit. The most Conservative Government that we could imagine even in our dreams could do no more than this. It may be done, of course, with different degrees of success; nor does the situation demand any servile submission to Radical dictation. A dog is never so likely to bite as when you show yourself afraid of him. The Conservative instinct of the country at large would not go so far as to refuse all concessions to Liberalism; but it would, we believe, back up any Government that resisted virtual revolution, and covered at the same time "the whole field of moderate and rational reform."
It is important for Unionists to remember what is the only alternative to the present Government. We may be excused for referring with pardonable satisfaction to the repetition by Mr Balfour of the very argument we employed in our November article, entitled "The Party Future." When that was written there were some who thought that Lord Rosebery's resignation might lead to the formation of a third party standing between the Conservatives and the Radicals. Our reply was that there was no longer any room for one; that the ground was occupied; that the fusion of the Liberal Unionists and Conservatives had used up all the materials for such a party. Mr Balfour says exactly the same thing. If you go outside of our domestic policy you at once cross the line which separates reform from revolution. There may be many members of the Radical
party who do not desire revolution. But it is the only thing left to them-the only thing that they have to oppose to the policy of the Government.
"I do not say for a moment that
our opponents are not anxious to carry out, on their own behalf, moderate and rational reforms; but I say the whole field of moderate and rational reforms is covered by our party in the sense I have endeavoured to indicate, and that when the other side ask you to turn us out and to put them in, it can only be because they bring before you something which is neither rational nor moderate, as I think, but some violent interference with our existing Constitution, some great disturbance in the relations, let us say, between England and Ireland, or between Church and State. Therefore, in the face of that danger, it is most necessary and most desirable that we should keep our organisations at the highest point of efficiency; that we should not allow our zeal to cool, so that, when the day of stress and danger shall again be upon us, we shall be found with united ranks, fully equipped for the battle before us, and, therefore and consequently, with good hope of bringing that battle to a successful issue."
Here, be it observed, we have no talk about the swing of the pendulum. Mr Balfour thinks as we do that to take it for granted that the Conservatism of the country must have spent its force before the next general election is political suicide. Why should another Radical Government be different from the last, which the people drove out with contempt and indignation? That is a question which independent men may very well ask themselves. The late Government was "pledged, however impotently, to break up the Constitution; pledged, however impotently, to disestablish the Church, and deal fundamental
blows at an ancient order of this realm." So would the next be: they could not help themselves. And Mr Balfour is again our authority for what we have suggested on an earlier page—namely, that in these latter days a slow but steady conversion" of the people of this country has been taking place, and that they have come round to the view, "to many of them a new view," that the great interests of the country are safest in the hands of the Conservative and Unionist party. It is not for Conservatives to arrest the progress of this conversion by preaching the direct contrary-by telling the people that they have no political principles at all; and that their votes are regulated by an unintelligent caprice, akin to what, rightly or wrongly, we attribute to the brute creation.
A fact unaccountably overlooked by many political speakers which militates strongly against this theory is that, even at the last general election, there was no real swing of the pendulum in Great Britain. The majority fell, but it did not go over to the other side. We have therefore had a British Unionist majority in three Parliaments running; and why not in a fourth? Mr Balfour does not apparently believe in the swing of the pendulum, in the sense in which the words have been used by some of his colleagues and supporters; but, as we have already pointed out, he seems to have little faith in the power of the Government to carry great measures through the House of Commons -measures like those which were carried by Mr Gladstone's Government from 1869-1872. We confess we cannot reconcile this frame of mind with his belief in the growing Conservatism of the people,
to which he might look for an effective support against all the arts of faction and obstruction. Sharing his belief in the disposition of the public, we should have thought that the present was a peculiarly favourable time for the introduction of great measures. The Opposition in the House of Commons, says the leader of that House, are good for nothing but guerilla warfare. In a pitched battle, or any conflict on a larger scale, they are sure to be beaten, and they know it. But they will regain strength by degrees, he adds, and once more become formidable. Then, why wait till they do? We should have said, now or never was the time. We suppose we are mistaken, and that Government have reasons of their own which sufficiently justify them in renouncing a comprehensive policy. Of course, in the matter of education they have no choice.
is absolutely necessary that the money for the voluntary schools should be voted before the 31st of next March; and there will be no time to do more than pass a very short and simple bill for that purpose.
But the Government cannot stop here. A bill limited to an increased grant for voluntary schools can only be a temporary expedient, and stop only one hole in a sieve. Even if any such grant were possible as would wholly remove the present inequality between the two systems, it would be in the power of the board schools to restore it when they pleased by a further inroad on the rates. And Government will have to face this difficulty in another session. An increased grant to the voluntary schools alone would still leave them at the mercy of the school boards. An equal grant to all
schools alike would leave their relative positions untouched. Rate aid for voluntary schools, combined with popular control, would be fatal to religious education. Rate aid without popular control would be denounced as a new Church rate, provoke the same agitation, and most likely meet the same fate. Some other mode of settling the question must be taken, and we believe that nothing will be found so effective as the transfer of part of the function of primary education to secondary education, combined with a reduction in the expenditure of existing school boards, to be carefully watched over by some new local authority. Till some check is placed on the power now possessed by these bodies of levying rates ad libitum, the education question will never be satisfactorily settled.
Our primary education is up to quite as high a mark as can fairly be required either in the interests of those who receive it or in justice to those who pay for it. The superficial smattering of unnecessary knowledge which is all that many children carry away with them in addition to what is really useful, does them more harm than good. Our school accommodation as a rule is sufficient for every comfort and convenience which the children or their parents can reasonably expect; and more is demanded by those only who have ulterior purposes to serve, or are the victims of a mysterious monomania on the subject of cloaks and cupboards. All this foolish, faddish extravagance should be permanently bridled. This, of course, cannot be done next session. But we hope there will be no unnecessary delay in dealing with this great question on an adequate scale, and that the
measure on secondary education, of which notice has been given for the present session, will not stand in the way of a larger one dealing with both questions, either next year or the year after. Delays are dangerous. There is many a slip between the cup and the lip; and if Government are waiting for a session when they have nothing else to do, they may wait long enough. The rustic in Horace who wants to cross the river waits till it has stopped flowing.
If these two certainties are borne in mind—namely, that neither a grant all round nor rate aid in any form will solve the problemGovernment cannot go very far wrong, and with these reservations we heartily commend to all the advocates of religious education the advice given to them by Mr Balfour in the speech we have so often referred to. They have no friends outside of the Unionist party, and they cannot afford to quarrel with those who belong to it. As long as government in England continues to be conducted on the party system, all great questions must be settled through its agency. "All great questions in this House," said Sir George Cornewall Lewis, "have been decided by party moves, and whatever amelioration is to be expected in our present state must, according to the constitution of the House of Commons, proceed from the same source." Such being the case, and this method of procedure being riveted upon us, we have only to make the best of it, and submit with a good grace to the conditions which it imposes; and one of the first is, that we must recognise the necessity of compromises, not only between the two hostile parties, but between members of the same party. In
the present instance the Government, as we have already said, need not be afraid of any opposition likely to proceed from their own followers, for they could lose a good many of them, without being a pin the worse for it, in the present Parliament. But such a schism would have a bad moral effect on their general prospects, and would certainly be injurious to the cause of religious education. If its friends cannot agree, its opponents will say if they differ so widely from each other as to make opposition to the Government a lesser evil in their eyes than the acceptance of what is proposed to them,-is it not clear that no satisfactory settlement can be expected from that quarter? Will not the Secularists have a right to say this? And will not their resistance to any Government proposal not exactly in accordance with their own views become more violent than ever?
The above remarks do not apply to another question, which we hope will be recognised next session as one of great importance, even if it is not enrolled among the Government measures. We mean Church Reform. The Benefices Bill is one to which no honest objection can be raised, except perhaps by the small group of fanatics, of whom Lord Grimthorpe is the leader, who foresee in the power to be conferred upon the Bishops the revival of the Star Chamber and High Commission Court. The opposition of the Nonconformists in the House of Commons ought not, perhaps, to be called dishonest, because they do not conceal their real motives. But it is certainly scandalous. Their wish is that the Church should be let alone, with all the abuses, such as time inevitably generates in all institu