« AnkstesnisTęsti »
But what of the man who leads the Government? Mr. Bonar Law's premiership is a distinction for Canada and a very real advantage to the Empire at this juncture. He has been described as a plain man with a shy but taking manner with his subordinates and colleagues-a man who sits down quietly to discuss a point over a friendly pipe. He is a business man with the experience of a Glasgow iron-master. He has real distinction in debate and managed the House of Commons for Mr. Lloyd George to admiration. He is astute and timed his sudden disappearance from active politics and his reappearance with consummate skill. He has no real eloquence, of which the country is and will remain for some time a little shy, but he has a quiet and logical method of stating his facts which compels attention and claims agreement. He is said to be wanting in initiative and to shirk responsibility: if it is not Lloyd George it will be Curzon or Salisbury whom he will lean upon. That remains to be seen. Too much importance may be attached to his patriotic act of self-suppression in 1916. He was at one time a convinced protectionist, but he is said to have modified his views upon tariff reform. In any case we have his assurance that no active move in this direction will be made in the immediate future.
Hard things have been said about the personnel of Mr. Law's Government, but probably the worst that can be said is that the House of Lords is too well represented. The majority are men whom the country can trust. Some have yet to win their spurs. The man who will be watched most closely is Mr. Stanley Baldwin, Chancellor of the Exchequer. No one envies him his task, least of all probably his immediate predecessor, Sir Robert Horne. An interesting appointment is Viscount Novar, better known as Mr. Munro Ferguson, a former close friend and colleague of Mr. Asquith's. His appointment as Secretary for Scotland will be generally approved.
But what about the line-up of parties for the general election? The Conservative and Unionist wings of the Tory party go in as one. The continuance of the Coalition would
inevitably have meant a split, but such has been avoided. At the same time there is a well marked difference in the degree of support for the present Government and of criticism of the acts of the recent administration. Moreover, the Unionist wing are friendly with the Coalition Liberals and will say nothing to irritate or offend them. The Die-hards on the other hand will be much more outspoken regarding the recent performances of the late Prime Minister and it is certain that friction will arise in many constituencies. If the Conservatives were assured of a sufficient majority independent of the Coalition Liberals there would be much more frank and outspoken criticism.
The Liberals are definitely split into the Coalition and Independent groups and this dissociation will continue so long as their present leaders occupy their posts. The recent utterances of the late Premier will do nothing to heal the breach. On the other hand Viscount Grey has indicated his pleasure at the turn events have taken and on the whole the attitude of the Independent Liberals towards the new administration will be benevolent so long as they do not interfere with tariff matters or otherwise behave as reactionaries.
Many attempts have been made to unite Labour with Independent Liberalism. Those attempts have come from both sides and have entirely failed. The New Statesman has indicated that that is the most desirable combination if an attempt is to be made to win the election for the party of progress. But Labour will have nothing of it. Confident in its steadily growing strength it looks forward to the day, not far distant, when it will rule. It has sense to realize that a premature victory would not be in its interest. It is steadily drawing good blood from the younger Liberals, as is indicated by the large number of men and women with university education-lawyers, doctors, teachers-who are standing in its interest. That is all to the good. A Labour party under the influence and control of Trades Unionism would be a grave danger to the nation, but when the leaders are educated and independent the prospects of a stable and responsible government of the extreme left are enormously increased.
27th November, 1922.
The election is over and Mr. Bonar Law is confirmed in his position with a good working majority. As Mr. J. A. Spender pointed out before the event this has been a 'sorting out election'; a belated stage in the return journey from war conditions, post-dated by the mistake of the 'coupon' campaign of 1918. We have now for the first time the opinion of the people of Great Britain on the broadened franchise basis; that is so far as elections on a non-proportional system indicate the true mind of the people. Mr. Lloyd George makes much of a party returned to power by a minority of electors; but as events have turned out the party returned to power does really reflect the views of a majority of thinking people.
The outstanding features of the election have been: first and foremost the triumph of Labour, although results are no better than the party leaders prophesied. The gains have been chiefly at the expense of Liberalism. That is, not so much a defeat of sitting Liberals but a prevention of the return of the proportion of representatives due to that party. No doubt also many Liberals have voted for Conservative candidates in order to prevent the return of Labour.
The other outstanding feature has been the defeat of Mr. Lloyd George's National Liberals. In Britain this was not the surprise it has been on this side of the Atlantic. There is little talk of ingratitude to the late Premier. The country will view with equanimity the retirement to the 'little place down in Surrey' to which he referred with touching pathos in his Newcastle speech.
And what of the future? Mr. Bonar Law has no easy task before him. His first movements will be watched with critical interest. Will the sufficient and comfortable majority modify recent pronouncements of policy, e.g. on the tariff question and reforming of the House of Lords? The opposition will be capable and keen; a little unruly in its ranks no doubt. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald's task is one which is just as difficult as Mr. Law's. Moreover he has his reputation to remake. He has been out of the public eye and out of active politics for some years now, and when last in the limelight his patriotism was more than in question.
Liberalism is in the trough of the wave. Many of its supporters are quite pleased to see the present government in power and therefore in the future we may expect a revival, but the younger men of ambition and ability will seek to win their spurs on labour platforms. What is required above all things is a leader of the first rank who will rally all that is sane and stable on the side of progress, and once more unite
the shattered party.
Ancient Hebrew Stories and their Modern Interpretation, by W. G. Jordan, B.A., D.D. Hodder and Stoughton,
London and Toronto, 1922. Price, $2.00.
Professor Jordan saw a gap in the Old Testament section of a minister's library and he has written a book to fill it. He has written on the histories. It is true that creative genius among the Hebrews was found mainly in prophets; and we have many books that turn the coinage of ancient prophecy into the currency of modern thought. But the treasures of the historical books have received too scant attention. The precious metal may occur there in thinner veins, but it is none the less precious metal.
The book is intended for those who have a liberal education and who have also a tradition, or a presentiment, that the Bible brings to us the supreme realities of the religious life. They know what history is, but they cannot find it in the stories of pre-Mosaic times. The stories of Genesis are not ‘a narration of public events and national movements based upon written sources and preserved with some measure of system' (p. 52). And even the annals of state affairs which are made in the days of the kingdom supplied little more than a thread on which to string the pearls of popular story. "The great epochs in the world's life as the world appeared to the Hebrews, are represented by groups of stories; the creation of the world and the beginning of the life of humanity, the origin of the Hebrew race, the birth of the nation, the establishment of the kingdom, the rupture between north and south, the conflict with Baal and the conquest of a larger faith' (p. 53).
Professor Jordan knows how keen the critical analysis of the stories has been; he knows with what pains scholars have for two generations scrutinized the text, the literary quality, the historical character of the stories. And he makes free use of the materials criticism puts into his hands. But his main interest is in the living ideas that move through the