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THE - POLITICAL PARTIES.

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THE POLITICAL PARTIES. THE present and future state of the Liberal party,, seems to give more concern to its opponents than to his friends Mr. Balfour and Mr. Chamberlain find it easier to offer their advice to the party, than to make any substantial contribution towards the solu- tion of the problems which are for the go- vernment of the day. Both ministers have lately been electioneering in their consti- tuencies, and the professed anxiety for a strong and united Opposition is, of course, the merest fooling. When, at the outset of its career, the Liberal party forced the Government to abandon its Voluntary Schools Bill, and to modify the Rating Act, ministers were the first to go howling up and down the country about the obstruc- tion, and the scandalous behaviour of the Opposition. So they will find that they have all they want when the voice of the Liberal party once more corresponds in Parliament with something like its strength I in the country. Its present plight isiowing to the divisions at headquarters, and to the want of energy and enthusiasm in the party machinery. But though its adherents may be baffled and vexed, they still remain Liberals, and constitute very nearly half of the whole electorate. The Tories need not fear that these natural forces will not firid their proper sphere in the destiny of the country. Meanwhile, in the noisy brag- gadocia of Mr. Chamberlain, and the < philosophic melancholy of Mr. Balfour, we have every sign of a, weak and wobbling Government, without coherence in either foreign or domestic affairs, Mr. Dham- berlain looks out on the world, and sees only Fa 3 hoc a. He thinks if other nations bad made such wonderful achievements as ¡ we have in the past few years, they would not be able to contain themselves, Mr. Balfour, on tha other hand, told his con- stituents at Manchester, that up to a few months ago, the great powers took it for granted that this country would meekly put up with anything short of a direct affront. It was precisely this estimate of Lord Salisbury that led to the outburst against any surrender at Fasboda. But the result is nothing to brag about, least of all by ministers who owe their success to out- side support. It will be time enough to talk about achievements when there is a real and final settlement of African ques I tions with France. There is China, too, of which Mr,, Chamberlain says not a word; but Lord Charles Beresford is coming home and we shall then hear something more of another story, The Colonial Secretary is not overburdened with modesty. He was quite as ready to run the Jubilee celebra- tions for the benefit of the Unionist Go- vernment as he is now to claim all the credit for the present great commercial and industrial activity in the country. He glories in what he calls the disappearance of the Manchester School; but it is wholly to this political faction that the country owes the wonderful increase of its material prosperity in the last fifty years. If we have loyal and prosperous Colonies, it is not due to a cheap and trashy imperialism, but to the school which Mr. Chamberlain now regards a fit subject for gibes and jeers. His first object is always to catch the popular breeze. When the Zollverein scheme droops, up goes Old Age Pensions, or anything else that will serve its purpose for a time. With Mr. Balfour it is different. He bad nothing more attractive for his Manchester audience than an irrevelant theory that the Liberal party must become more and more pledged to Home Rule, and to the Disestablishment of the English Church. He sees in this, grist for the Unionist mill; but Mr. Balfour does not read the papers and he would almost seem to be without any other sources of popular information. His statement that the whole country looked to Lord Beaconsfield's foreign policy as the ideal, or practically so, is ludicrous in the face of Lord Salis- bury's admission that it was simply back- ing the wrong horse, and of Mr. Balfour's former declaration that it was a policy long since dead, and done with. Then with re- gard to the crisis in the Church, while Mr. Balfour was trying to manufacture confusion for the Liberals, whilst it is his own party that stands in deadly peril of being wrecked in the coming storm. If Mr. Balfour did not know this before he went to Manches- ter, he knows now. He, of course, depre- cates further legislation. The object of the Government is the same as that of the bishops, which is to temporise—to let the storm blow over, when everything will go on as before. Most of the bishops are more or less in active sympathy with the Ritual istic practices and to look to them for any eftectual reform is but to lean on a broken reed. The Church, so long as it remains Established by law, is subject to the juris- diction of Parliament; and it is for the Government to say what is to be done to put down the lawlessness of the Romanising movement. When pressed upon this point, Mr. Balfour says he thinks the bishops should have a little more time to see what they can do and it would be impossible for him to make any suggestion more utter- ly puerile and indefinite. This is not a party-question, as Mr. Balfour would wish to believe, in his desire to evade responsi- bility. It divides the Unionists far more than it does the Liberals; but tbe; e is, at the same time, a difference between the views of the two parties, which stood cut in sharp contrast over the Benefices Bill last year. That Act specifies certain Lew reasons why a bishop may refuse institu- tion. The Opposition tried to include, among those reasons, the practice of illegal ritual. The Government resisted, and de- feated this endeavour and herein lies the fundamental difference between the two political parties on the Ritualistic contro- versy.

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