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They should open school of deportment, and call themselves Turvey drop. It is clear that Mr Webb is Petronius reincarnated, the supreme arbiter elegantiorem. And as for Mrs Webb, she should rival the great ladies of the eighteenth century, who dazzled Paris with their salons, and taught the arts of life and talk to the poets, the statesmen, and the courtiers of the time. Thus the mission of these two good people is plainly marked out for them. They will, no doubt, in their beneficence begin with the Court. So far, they have consented to keep the King and Queen upon their thrones, but not unconditionally. The Court must mend its manners, or disaster will surely overtake it. Let us not lose a single one of the winged words of the Webbs : "Unless the Court' can acquire better manners and a new sense of social values, it may be expected that the institution of monarchy, whatever its political advantages, will become unpopular, and in that case it might very quickly disappear." However, Mr and Mrs Webb have given "the Court due warning, and we have no doubt that if the Court went to them hat in hand, our eminent arbiter elegantiorem and his spouse would give it a few first easy lessons in "democratic deportment."
That there should exist two personages so absurdly devoid of a sense of humour as are
Mr and Mrs Webb is a fierce unanswerable indictment of Socialism and all its practices. Their simple vanity has persuaded them to set forth their views in the terms of an exquisite pomposity, and has thus enabled us to measure the height and depth of their folly. After their excursus upon manners, we cannot profess an active interest in the statement that they intend to lay hands upon the 22,000 country houses of England-they have, we suppose, made a census-and convert them into houses for tired workers. Plunder clearly lies outside the sphere of manners. But the puzzle is that personages so vain and foolish as these should aspire not only to govern the Empire but to tell us all what we should think and how we should live. only they had the power, there would be an end of freedom. For tyranny is in their blood and bone, a dogged determination to interfere with the liberty of others. And they have not yet discovered that England is no proper field for their pranks. For many centuries we have lived, as we chose, within the limits of the law. We have done what suited us, each according to his character and temperament; and there have grown up in our midst men and women of infinite variety and manifold talents who have brought happiness and prosperity to a smiling land. And if Mr MacDonald and Mr and Mrs Webb think that they are destined to put
the people of Great Britain abroad was weaker than ever under their goloshes, they are it was, that our influence in woefully mistaken. There is foreign affairs has almost dismuch that Englishmen will en- appeared." But he gave no dure for the sake of tran- facts in support of his case, quillity. They will fight to and then bullied France for not the last drop of their blood being at peace with Germany. against any pedants who thrust "To treat Germany now worse themselves into their houses, than Germany treated France desecrate their hearths, steal fifty years ago," said he, "is their possessions, and then to make a monstrous prepara(worst of all) offer them, tion for the next great war." cheap, a course of lessons in He forgets that fifty years ago France kept to the terms of peace which she signed, and that Germany still repudiates her obligations. However, when an aspirant to a place in a Socialist Cabinet can find no better stick than this wherewith to beat his opponents, it proves either that he has nothing to say or that he is following the instruction of his Party leaders not to commit himself.
Mr and Mrs Webb are, it need not be said, figures of fun. But in a democracy of Aristotle's fifth-class, figures of fun may come to the top at any moment, and it is well to be forewarned. Did not Athens have its sausage-seller? Meanwhile the Socialists, as though
mere thought of office weighed heavy on them, have adopted a demure and placid style, as though they would not, for all the power in the world, rob so much as a hen roost. They discourse most willingly of such vague matters as foreign affairs, and they are grievously shocked if it be suggested to their patriotic minds that there is such a thing as an International. That they, who love their country far more than their class or kind, should be suspected of a double allegiance, of fostering an imperium in imperio, is an outrage upon their single-hearted loyalty. The speech which Mr Clynes delivered in support of the Vote of Censure was softly garrulous and no more. He murmured that our position
Mr Asquith, in giving support to the Socialists, whom he once regarded as his bitterest foes, allowed himself a far greater freedom. He did not do much with it, for he, too, is cribb'd, cabin'd, and confin'd in a dangerous place. However, he announced at once that he would vote, and ask his followers to vote, for the amendment. There may be many theories," he said, "why we have been sent here by the electorate in such strange proportions; but there is one theory which will not hold water for a moment, and that is that we were sent here to maintain the present Government in office." That may be
true. It is equally true that Mr Asquith and his friends were not sent to the House of Commons to put the Socialists in power. He knows well enough the risk he runs-it is not very great; and he must arrange matters as best he may with his own conscience. He denied with considerable emphasis that 'they were all there hungering and thirsting for office; that they were prepared to pay any price in order to retain, to regain, or for the first time to gain, office; that they were prepared to pay any price, even at the sacrifice of decency and honour, for the purpose." Assuredly there is no doubt that the Socialists are prepared to pay a high price for office. Ever since the polls were declared, they have taken it for grantcu that they
to govern the country. They have sketched out cabinets, they have distributed portfolios, they have, in brief, cut up the skin before they killed the bear, and we hope they will not be disappointed. And as for Mr Asquith, we shall remember his loud words when he begins to manœuvre for the position which the Socialists will presently quit.
For let there be no mistake, the sojourn of Mr MacDonald and his friends in what Mr Asquith calls the seats of the mighty will not be long. Having informed Mr MacDonald of his kindly patronage, Mr Asquith left him in no doubt about the future. If the Liberals are kind enough to help
Mr MacDonald to turn the Conservatives out, they do not pledge themselves to keep the Socialists in. Their office is the office of the wrecker, which they can discharge well enough so long as they hold a balance between the two. It is not a lofty office, such as serious men would care to discharge. But Mr Asquith has never been a serious man. All that he says and does is marked by the levity of the politician, and at this crisis of our history he has done what was expected of him. He is not worth grave thoughts nor big words. He is playing the game of politics as he has played it for thirty years, and should surprise nobody. He finds nothing in the King's Speech hostile to his principles, and so without hesitation he supports those whose opinions he says he believes are destructive to the peace and prosperity of the country; and having wrecked one Government, he thinks he can wreck another when he will.
There is, in truth, no question of a blank cheque. "Nothing can be more absurd," says Mr Asquith, "than the contention that because by voting for this amendment you turn out the present Government, the House of Commons is giving a blank cheque, a free letter of licence, to the successors of the Government to do what they please with the interests and the institutions of the country. Nobody knows better than the Leader of the Labour Party that that is an
absurd contention." Clearly, then, if Mr Asquith and his friends cry a plague on both Parties," they would be wise and logical if they voted for neither. They would thus avoid the responsibility of either danger and save the country, for a time at least, from a hazardous experiment. That prudent course would not suit Mr Asquith. He wants to use the power which accident has put in his hands. "We of the Liberal Party," thus Mr Asquith goes on, "are deeply and sincerely pledged to give no more countenance to Socialistic experiments than to a Protectionist policy." And so he votes for the Socialists, in order to drive from office the Conservatives, who went to the country for a mandate of Protection, and having failed to get it, have no desire to force their unwanted policy upon the electorate. How Mr Asquith squares his words and his deeds is left unexplained. One thing only is clear that in proposing to wreck both the other Parties, he will assuredly destroy his own. And the destruction of the Liberal Party will be an unmixed blessing. Its selfish, unenlightened, sectarian policy lay like a blight upon the nineteenth century. The tenets of Manchester, the parrot-criesfreedom of speech and the dissidence of dissent, the craving for a little England, the eagerness to surrender in Ireland, in South Africa, anywhere where Englishmen were thwarted or massacred, these are the con
tributions of the Liberal Party to political thought and political action. And the Liberal Party is being led by Mr Asquith down into the gulf, where it will disappear unwept and unregretted.
Meanwhile, under Mr Asquith's auspices, a Party will come into power, supported by foreign gold and pledged to take its orders from an international society, to put the war of classes above the safety of the Empire. It is a strange Party, of which many of the members did their best to thwart England when she was at war, and which, by a grotesque irony, has fixed upon itself "Labour 99 for a label. It is very little practical knowledge that it has of labour. True, it has used the workingclasses for its dupes, but that is no proof either of sympathy or understanding. The leaders of the Socialists are typical specimens of the middle-class intelligentsia. They are in character and disposition the very men whom on the platform they affect to despise. They have soft hands, high brows, and polished foreheads. Some of them have passed some time in Ruskin College, that cemetery of thought and independence, and some have not. Very few of them have any touch with reality. They have lived and worked in the vicious circle of political agitation. They have prepared themselves for the government of the world, not by attempting to gain any knowledge of the world, but
placed zeal of Lord Ullswater, when passed, far less dangerous Lord Long, and Lord Cave to the realm than it is. Safethat to-day we live (in prospect) guards might have been introunder that form of democracy duced to check the unbridled in which, as Aristotle says, licence of the measure. It not the law but the multi- might reasonably have been tude has the supreme power, urged that reform in the House and supersedes the law by its of Commons should not be decrees. This is a state of passed without an accompanythings brought about by the ing reform in the House of demagogues. . . . And the Lords-that "debt of honour" which Mr Asquith, who had already taken the precaution of destroying the Upper House, had told us, with an insolent irony, "brooked no brooked no delay." Nothing was done. The zealous Conservatives not only agreed to everything that Radical fury could suggest, but assumed the responsibility of the plot in both the Houses. Happily there is to-day a better leadership for those Tories who survive. There are still some Ministers for whom they may cast their votes without fear of betrayal.
people, which is now a monarch and no longer under the control of law, seeks to exercise monarchical sway, and grows into a despot; the flatterer is held in honour; this sort of democracy being relatively to other democracies what tyranny is to other forms of monarchy." In all points the parallel is complete. Nothing that might come to pass was hidden from the seeing eye of Aristotle. He knew, as we shall presently be asked to discover, that "the demagogues make the decrees of the people override the laws, and refer all things to the popular assembly. And therefore they grow great, because the people have all things in their hands, and they hold in their hands the votes of the people, who are too ready to listen to them." Thus we arrive at a condition of things which will ultimately destroy the greatest Empire: the State is governed by the poor, who are a majority, and not by the laws."
If only the champions of concessionary principles had gone through the form of debating the measure in the House of Commons, it would have been,
The full degradation caused by the Franchise Bill of 19171918 has not yet been felt. Its immediate result is that Mr Ramsay MacDonald is the leader more or less of a motley crowd of 192; and that Mr Asquith, that staunch individualist, has given another proof of his insincerity by helping into office-not into power; nobody could do that-the man who is most bitterly opposed to his policy. Not that we would have him do otherwise. Some there are whose support is always an encumbrance; and the Conservative Party, purged at last of intrigue and treas