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THE FALL OF THE GLADSTONE MINISTRY Surprise seems to have been the general feeling of the country on Tuesday morning, when intelligence was flashed from its centre to its remotest corners that the Gladstone ministry had at last fallen, having been igno- miniously defeated on a question of finance. And yet, having recovered from the first shock of the announcement, and reason hav- ing once more taken her seat, it was not a matter which should have greatly surprised -any one. The Government bad on several occasions narrowly escaped defeat on impor- tant questions, and the much vaunted ma- jority with which it- assumed the reins of power five years ago, had dwindled down to an almost shadowy and very feeble number, and it required the whole strength of the party to keep it intact. Mr Gladstone and Ids colleagues had, however, managed to weather many a fierce storm, notwithstand- ing that the indignation of the country had been fully roused, and it was believed by Conservatives and Liberals that upon a ^question of secondary importance they would again come out of the ordeal with some degree of victory. It is, however, very often the irony of fate that bad Gover- ments are tripped up upon just such ques- tions as that which has now brought doom upon one of the most vacillating and unstable Governments that ever held the reins of office in England. The working classes were justly indignant that an attempt should have been made to impose an additional tax upon what, notwithstanding teetotalism, are yet thenational beverages, while the wealthy and the teetotallers were not called upon to bear a fair share of the increased taxation. Mr Guilders and his colleagues found that a mistake had been made, and therefore with- drew a part of the proposed burden, when they asked Parliament to sanction fin additional duty of one shilling per gallon on spirits instead of two shillings, as at first intended. But even this was unsatisfactory as shown by the concensus of opinion from all parts of the country when the downfall! of the ministry was announced. There is no denying the fact that it was a dishonest budget, with which Liberal and Conservative members were dissatisfied, and hence the Liberal disaffection from the ranks of their leaders. There are other considerations which, must also be taken into account hitherto the Liberal members were in a man- ner compelled to answer to the" whip, otherwise the caucuses would put on the lash but this was a question on which their own partisans were so thoroughly divided that they were enabled to act independently, and the moment they possessed the power a large number availed themselves of it. It is a series of blundering at home and abroad which has brought a be; at the catas- trophe. Liberals;, as well as Conservatives, had become heartily sickened with the vacili- tyand mimic government to which they were daily witnesses, and were really gkJ of the opportunity of getting out of the difficulty. The only pity is that the legacy left to the succeeding officials at Downiog-streefc is One. of the greatest hard-hip. Many reforms have been-commenced at home, bat all a>V left undone abroad, the state of affairs is >" something which is dreadful to contemplate. I All the powers of Earope are alienated, and YET the tusks which most be performed in I Egypt,, the Soudan, and Russia are far from •completed. We fear there is great truth iu •completed. We fear there is great truth in ifce remark that the members of the ad minis- .ti&tion which has just been crashed are exultant that difficulties which were crowd- t, ing upon themselves will now be transferred to the shoulders of others, Such conduct is apiece with that which has characterised the Dilfee-Chamberlain party throughout the whole chapter. Shiftiness and unstability have been the two prominent traits in the character of the Government from the com- mencement of its career to the close, and to- day its stands convicted in the eyes of the world of its own inherent folly. But apart from all party considerations, the position of Mr Gladstone is one in which he deserves to be commiserated with. If there was a de- partment in which he prided himself, and justly so, in being serocessful, it was that of a financier. We caF. remember, lift the palmy Palmerstonlan days, when men of all creeds of politics willingly acknowledged him as a master mind in figures. What a change has now taken place The very budget upon which he staked the life of 'his Cabinet has been thrown ont, and that through the wilful abstention of his own follov.-ers, Well nssy be sigh for the days that:are gone, to come no more. The step which was taken by Sir Michael Hicks Beech and the Conservatives has proved them to be the true friends of the working classes, and we trust and believe that during the few months they will be in office before a geueral election must come round, they will exercise so wise a discretion and judgment in the management-of public affairs at home and abroad as to even more largely secure for them the confidence of a nation which has now so determinedly pro-. noun cod that it has ceased to consider a Liberal administration worthy of the trust imposed in them. 1








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