Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

4 articles on this Page



TUESDAY, FEB. 27, 1872. .


TUESDAY, FEB. 27, 1872. THE Tories are making merry over their victory in North Notts, and at the declaration of the poll yesterday the proceedings were of a most jubilant and almost riotous character. They do well to make the most of every triumph and, long accus- tomed to defeat, they may be pardoned for rushing into hilarity and demonstrative gladness, when success has followed their flag on the battle-field of political life. It is the first time, we believe, that a Tory has been returned for this division of Not- tinghamshire since the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832, and the Obstructive party, naturally; enough, like slaves during a saturnalia, run wild with hysterical glee. The Carnival of Reaction is being celebrated, and inconsequential, thoughtless voters are enjoying themselves as only the frivolous and reckless can. We are told by some of the Tory journals that the event is to be regarded as an evidence of deeply-rooted animosity on the part of the public towards the Government that Mr. GLAD- STONE'S days are numbered that the Liberals are about to be split up into fragments, and that por- tions of the disjecti membra of that body are to be appropriated by their opponents with a view to the formation of a Coalition Cabinet. No possible ob- jection can be raised to these flights of imagina- tion, except, perhaps, that the" reaction" which will inevitably take place when the true state of public feeling comes to be revealed, may seriously shock the constitution of the Tories and impair their efficiency for work. The fact is, that exceptional circumstances operated to render the task of winning the seat for North Notts specially easy. Indeed, the facile way in which the Opposition have strengthened their ranks upon many occasions of late, is due to a concurrent cause. It is not simply because many Nonconformists are opposed to the Government upon the Education question, or that several recal- citrant members of the Liberal party have taken splenetic action, that the Tories have won the day. Disappointed ambition and an overweening sense of the importance of individual opinion may have had a weakening influence upon the Administration. But as parasitical life is a sign of decay, so also may political declension be accepted as affording ground for hope that vitality will be less impaired, in proportion as the body is relieved from the disturbing effects of morbid and irritating excres- cences. Better that traitors should desert to the enemy than remain as spies in the camp. These matters, however, are insignificant, and will adjust themselves in the full light of open discussion and the free action of the Government. The rock upon whiah the Liberal party struck, 'in North Notts and elsewhere, was Mr. BRUCE'S Licensing Bill of last session, and the buoy which has enabled the Tories to float was a beer-barrel. The recent policy of that old-world clique has been to manipulate" the Publicans, to excite their fears, by crating alarm respecting "vested interests," by talking to them of spoliation" and "rôbery," and by ostensibly withdrawing from the position of opponents of Sunday-trading and drunkenness, to assume the novel character of a Publican's Friend." Even the Morning Advertiser, now-a-days, is infected with the anti-Ministerial malady, and with a jerked and spiteful utterance, which its allegiance to the victuallers can, scarcely justify, runs a neck and neck race with its neighbour the Standard, in endeavouring to depreciate the Cabinet and exalt the Public House. In every por- tion of the contested boroughs and counties, an agitation against the Government on the ground that they sought, and still seek, to ruin the inn- keepers, has been kept alive by the Tories. Knowing well the animus which prevails amongst the Licensed Victuallers and Beershop Bonifaces, they have sought to increase the feeling until it has been developed into a feud. They have sent out agents charged with the ignoble mission of stimu- lating the prejudices of the landlords a judicious distribution of pot-house orators in the several dis- tricts, has been the means of fanning the flame of dis- affection; the "trade" has been partially won ove r, and in turn induced to proselytise the customers who "use their houses" for convivial and other purposes. No doubt there are many highly con- scientious men who could not be persuaded to forget that the most bitter crusade against their order was undertaken by Churchmen and Tories, and that they owe many of their prescriptive privileges to a party which their fellows have been suborned to attack. Fortunately it is not every landlord that has been deceived by this transparent Tory ruse. But, in too many cases, in consequence of the nefarious practice whereby antipathy to the Government has been fostered with the subtlety of political Jesuits, a ready support has been obtained for candidates who represent the cause of Obstruc- tion, and are pledged to oppose any Bill which may be introduced for the purpose of compelling Licensed Victuallers to set their houses in order. There is one advantage, however, arising out of this movement, and honey may be gathered from the weed of political tergiversation. Nothing could more strongly testify to the rottenness of the system under which the business of publicans and beer-house keepers is carried on, than the circumstance that such a condition of things exists, and that it has been found possible to influence the public mind, against its own con- viction, through the medium of falsehood associated with drink. Of course, in these remarks we make no reference either to candidates or their legal agents. We allude to what has become a recog- nised piece of machinery in the general economy of Tory electioneering tactics. Nothing tangible in the shape of bribery or treating is attempted, and the morality of the executive, to whom the conduct of elections is committed, is probably higher than ever. But a specious agitation is kept up from day to day, an under-current of wilful misrepre- sentation is permitted to flow through the "parlours and tap-rooms" of the land, and Mr. BRUCE, whose immature Bill gave so much um- brage to the publicans, is made the scape-goat of his party to the advantage of Her Majesty's Opposition, and the discomfiture of his friends. We need not say that voters who sacrifice principle to what they believe to be their interest, and, leaving their old Liberal love fix their affections on the Tories, must sooner or later come to grief. If they are foolish enough to think that the party to which they now cling with fatal tenacity, and whose willing servants they are, have the power or even the will to protect them, they are sadly mistaken. The licensing systefli must be reformed, whatever the Tories may say to the contrary, for the respectable portion of the Trade, no less than the country, are at heart strongly in favour of legislation on the subject. Vice and crime must be checked, albeit the attempt to do so may make a PREMIER un- popular, and shake the stability of an Adminis- tration. The public morals must be protected from a growing evil and, apostate Liberal land- lords and beerhouse keepers notwithstanding, the crapulous libertinism which the disreputable mem- bers of the calling are content to create and feed upon, will be arrested in its course by the action of the legislature. Meanwhile we leave the Tories to rejoice over their victories in North Notts and else- where, and readily accord to them all the credit they deserve for the means adopted to ensure such ques- tionable triumphs.