BLTC Press Titles

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Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Lord Randolph Churchill

by Winston Churchill




Minutely trace man's life; year after year,
Through all his days let all his deeds appear,
And then, though some may in that life be strange,
Yet there appears no vast nor sudden change;
The links that bind those various deeds are seen,
And no mysterious void is left between.

CRABBE, The Parting Hour.

1874 A PROFOUND tranquillity brooded over the early ^et. 25 years of the Parliament of 1874. Mr. Gladstone was in retirement. A young Irishman, Charles Stewart Parnell, had been beaten at the General Election in his Dublin candidature and did not enter the House of Commons or make a nervous maiden speech till the spring of 1875. Mr. Chamberlain, a new though already formidable English politician, had, as a Radical, vainly attacked Mr. Roebuck, the Liberal member for Sheffield, and was not returned as a representative of Birmingham till 1876. The Irish party was led sedately along the uncongenial paths of constitutional agitation by Mr. Butt; Radicalism was without a spokesman; and the Liberals reposed under the leadership of Lord Hartington and the ascendency of the Whigs. For the first time since the schism of 1846 a Conservative

Administration was founded upon a Conservative 1874 majority. The fiscal period had closed. All those questions of trade and navigation, of the incidence of taxation and of public economy, which had occupied almost the whole lives of political leaders on both sides, were settled. New strains, new problems, new perils approached — but at a distance; and in the meanwhile the Conservative party, relieved from the necessity of defending untenable positions, freed from controversies which had proved to them so utterly disastrous, received again the confidence of the nation and the substantial gift of power.

The reasons which had induced, or perhaps compelled Mr. Disraeli to refuse to form a Government on the defeat of Mr. Gladstone's Irish University Bill early in 1873, seemed conclusive at the time. They were certainly vindicated by the subsequent course of events. The Liberal Ministry never recovered its credit. Nonconformist wrath at the Education Act and Radical disdain continued fierce and enduring. Harsh demands for social reforms began to come from Birmingham and grated on the ears of the Whigs. The dissensions in the governing party cast their shadows upon the Cabinet. Vexatious quarrels broke out among Ministers. No reconstruction availed. Not even the return of Mr. Bright to the Administration could revive its falling fortunes: by-elections were adverse and the House of Commons was apathetic. The Government of 1868 had been in its day very powerful. Scarcely any Prime Minister had enjoyed the support of such distinguished col1874 leagues as Mr. Gladstone had commanded in the Stt^s noonday of his strength. Few Administrations had more punctually and faithfully discharged the pledges under which they had assumed office. The statutebook, the Army, and the finances bore forcible testimony to their reforming zeal. But their usefulness and their welcome were alike exhausted and the nation listened with morose approval to the charges which Mr. Disraeli preferred. 'For nearly five years,' he wrote to Lord Grey de Wilton, October 3, 1873, on the eve of the by-election at Bath, 'the present Ministers have harassed every trade, worried every profession, and assailed or menaced every class, institution, and species of property in the country. Occasionally they have varied this state of civil warfare by perpetrating some job which outraged public opinion, or by stumbling into mistakes which have been always discreditable and sometimes ruinous.'

Yet it is alleged that a cause much more personal than political precipitated the dissolution. Mr. Gladstone had at the late reconstruction become Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as First Lord of the Treasury. Had he therefore vacated his seat by accepting an office of profit under the Crown? The Opposition was alert; the law officers were as doubtful in their published opinion as the constituency of Greenwich in its temper. The question lay outside the control of the Government and their supporters. If Mr. Gladstone sat and voted when the session opened, he could be sued in the courts for substantial penalties;

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