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I'"The Liberal Party

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I The Liberal Party SPEECH BY LORD ROSEBERY. Lord Rosebery presided on Friday night at a house dinner at the City of London .Li- beral Club, and in responding to the toast of his health' referred to the position of the Liberal party. He remarked that he could not help saying that the decay of Parlia- mentary Liberalism was a very great disaster to the country, although he paid a tribute of praise to Sir H. Canipbell-Bannerman for the way in which he had railied the Opposi- tion. The hideous political apathy that existed was mainly due, he considered, to this decay. He especially mentioned "Par- liamentary" Liberalism because he never doubted for one moment of the great swell of Liberalism in the country. lie believed the country was never so heartily-—uncon- sciously to some extent—in sympathy with Liberal aims. When he spoke of Liberal- ism, he did not mean sectional Liberalism, but the old Liberal spirit as it existed before 1886-befADre the unhappy division weakened half the party and drove the other half into associations which it must sometimes find distasteful. If he ventured to address any advice to politicians, he should say that un- til they had the Liberal party as it was before 1886, reconstituted: in some form or another, or until they had a new party con- situted which would embody all the elements which existed in the Liberal party before 1886, they would never have that predomin- ance in the country which used to appear the heritage and almost the birth-right of the Liberal party. Proceeding to refer to the growth of Imperialism, Lord Rosebery distinguished between "sane" Imperialism and "wild cat" Imperialism, defining the former as nothing but larger patriotism. It now, he said, pervaded almost every section and every individual in the community. If the old Liberal party was to be revived or a new party built up, this factor of "a larger patriotism" must be prominent in the minds of those who revived or constructed it. He believed that if the old Liberal spirit were combined with the new Imperial spirit, de- finitely and nominally, as he believed it to be essentially, in the mind of the nation, the Liberal party would once more regain It lost predominance and would have a future which would vie with the richest traditions of the past. In a later speech, replying to the expression of a hope that he would once more take his place in the front rank of public men, Lord Rosebery said he trusted nothing had occurred that night which might be taken as an indication that he had any intention of returning to that active arena which he deliberately, and for good reason, forsook in 1896. SIR W. HARCOURT'S REPLY. Sir W. Harcourt speaking at the annual dinner of the Welsh Parliamentary Party, on Saturday night, said it appeared from the morning papers to be thought fitting by a gentleman who had retired from the leader- ship and from party politics to devote an after-dinner speech upon a semi-public oc- casion to comments upon the policy and eont-titution of the Liberal party. After such an address it would not be difficult. to understand the phrase about "cross- currents" which was used in some recent published correspondence between Mr Morley and himself. What did his lordship mean by going back to 1886?? The ashes of Mr Gladstone were hardly cold before they were advised to take a sponge and wipe out the whole of the inheritance which that illustrious and revered statesman hiid left to the Liberal party. What was to be wiped out ? First, Welsh Disestablishment, which deep- ly interested the people and the Parliament- ary representatives of the Principality of Wales. Next, temperance reform, also land reform, then a question supposed by some to be not only of » primary, but of exclusive importance--viy, the veto power of the House of Lords. Was all that to be ab- jured? He (Sir William Harcourt) always understood that the Liberal party had been a party) of progress, but now it was apparent- ly expected that the stream should be turned back. That was against the nature of greao streams, which went onwards, and did not ascend to their source. All this came from one who was one of the principal col- leagues of Mr Gladstone—one who was a partv to the whole of that which it was now Jes;r»-d to ol:lte.at- It came from ( re who, when he became responsible for, he Liberal party at the Foreign Office meeting in 1893, on Mr Gladstone's retirement, de- clared that there was nothing changed in the policy of the party. Why was this ne- cessity for returning to the period before 1886 not proclaimed at the election of 1895 ? Why was this repentance reserved for 1899 ? v were the Liberal party in the House of Commons reproachc, tor apathy ? He (Sir William) did not himself see any apathy about his right hon. friend, Sir Henry Camp- bell-Bannerman. That leader at least was not an apostle of reaction. Sir Henry's declarations had been for fidelity to the cause of progress, and it was in view of this fact that he (Sir William Harcourt) was for his part prepared to give him a. loyal sup- port. He believed Sir Henry Campbell- Bannerman would faithfully adhere to the principles to which the Liberal party had declared its attachment during the past 15 years. In some of those years the Liberal party had been beaten, and in some of 1 iem it had been successful, but of none of them had it any cause to be ashamed. What they wanted in a leader was & man to said to his troopsj ''Go forward," and who was not pre- pared to invite them to retire to the rear., At all events, the time had come when the Liberal party must make up its mind "whether its march1 was to be forward or backward., If it allowed itself to be defeated by such counsels as he had referred to it would de- serve to be destroyed. They might be told that the recent advice was given because they had been defeated, that the City Liberal Club was depressed by the election of 1874, and that it was stunned by the defeat of 1 "095. But 1874 was followed by the victory of 1880, and the defeat cf 1886 was wiped out by the victory of 1892. It was not be- cause they had been beaten in 1895 that they were going to throw up the sponge, and to declare that for fifteen years they had been in the wrong or that the men whom they ought to have followed were the Duke of Devonshire and Mr Chamberlain. He (Sir William) concluded by saying :•—"I think I know enough' of the spirit of the Welsh members to prophecy in which camp they will be found, and I hope I may not be to blame in expressing at least my sentiments as an independent Welsh member, in which I think I perceive I carry with me your as- sent" (cheers). OPINION ON THE SPEECH. The speech, says the Press Association, was warmly received by most of the mem- bers persent at the Welsh dinner. Several of them, however, are disposed, like other members of the Opposition, to think that Lord Rosebery's speech has been somewhat misconstrued, and that it was only intended as an appeal to Liberal Unionists amongst the audience to assist in restoring the former organisation and united influence of the whole Liberal party, irrespective of recent differences upon certain points of policy which al e now considered to be outside the immediate range of practical politics.

I |Welsh Judges for Wales.

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