A Short History of English Liberalism/I

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

[ 7 ]



This book attempts to trace the varying but persistent course of Liberalism in British politics during the last hundred and fifty years. It is not so much a history of events as a reading of them in the light of a particular political philosophy. In the strict sense a history of Liberalism should cover much more than politics. The same habit of mind is to be discovered everywhere else in the history of thought, most conspicuously in religious history, but not less certainly in the history of science and of art. The general victory in these innumerable conflicts of opinion has been to Liberalism, and the movement of the race, during the period with which the writer is concerned, is precisely measured by the degree in which the Liberal spirit has succeeded in modifying the establishments of the preceding age. The object of this book is to investigate the course of that process of modification in politics.

By Liberalism I mean, not a policy, but a habit of mind. It is the disposition of the man who looks upon each of his fellows as of equal worth with himself. He does not assume that all men and women are of equal capacity, or equally entitled to offices and privileges. But he is always inclined to leave and to give them equal opportunity with himself for self-expression and for self-development. He assumes, as the basis of his activity, that he has no right to interfere with any other person's attempts [ 8 ] to employ his natural powers in what he conceives to be the best way. He is unwilling to impose his judgment upon that of others, or to force them to live their lives according to his ideas rather than their own. They are never to be used by him for his own ends, but for theirs. Each is to be left to himself, to work out his own salvation. The Liberal habit of mind has its positive as well as its negative side. Just as it leads its possessor to refrain from interfering with the development of others, so it leads him to take active steps to remove the artificial barriers which impede that development. Natural obstacles will remain, though even these may be diminished. But the artificial conditions, which prevent or hinder growth, are perpetually obnoxious to the Liberal. Upon class distinctions in society, privileges of sex, rank, wealth, and creed, he wages unceasing war. They are, in his eye, weights and impediments. To one of two individuals, not distinguishable in natural capacity, they give an advantage which is denied to the other. It is the object of the Liberal, not to deprive any individual of such opportunities as are required for the exercise of his natural powers, but to prevent the excessive appropriation of such opportunities by members of the privileged class. The differences between the practical aims and methods of Liberals at different times are very wide. But the mental habit has always been the same. "The passion for improving mankind, in its ultimate object, does not vary. But the immediate object of reformers and the forms of persuasion by which they seek to advance them, vary much in different generations. To a hasty observer they might even seem contradictory, and to justify the notion that nothing better than a desire for change, selfish or perverse, is at the bottom of all reforming movements. Only those who will think a little longer about it can discern the same old cause of social good against class interests, for which, under altered names, Liberals are fighting now as they were fifty years ago."[1] The constitutional Liberalism of Fox, the economical Liberalism of Cobden, and the new collectivist Liberalism of Mr. Lloyd [ 9 ] George exhibit great differences in comparison. But the three men are alike in their desire to set free the individual from existing social bonds, and to procure him liberty of growth.

The justification for this individual freedom is not that the man is left to his own selfish motives, to develop himself for his own advantage. It is that it is only in this way that he can realize that his own best advantage is only secured by consulting that of his fellows. "The foundation of liberty is the idea of growth ... it is of course possible to reduce a man to order and prevent him from being a nuisance to his neighbours by arbitrary control and harsh punishment.... It is also possible, though it takes a much higher skill, to teach the same man to discipline himself, and this is to foster the development of will, of personality, of self-control, or whatever we please to call that central harmonizing power which makes us capable of directing our own lives. Liberalism is the belief that society can safely be founded on this self-directing power of personality."[2] This Liberalism has nothing to do with anarchy. Coercion may be consistently applied wherever individual liberty is employed for the public injury, and the imprisonment of burglars and the regulation of factories by law are only two aspects of the same thing. But Liberalism restricts freedom only to extend freedom. Where the individual uses his own liberty to restrict that of others he may be coerced. But in spite of the modifications to which all such political principles must be subject, the general rule holds good. The ideal Liberal State is that in which every individual is equally free to work out his own life.

The practical difficulty of working out the relations between the individual and the society in which he is placed is of course very great, and it will probably always be impossible to maintain a perfect equilibrium. No doubt we shall always suffer from one or other of the two unsatisfying conditions—the sacrifice of the individual to what the majority thinks to be the right of the whole society, and the sacrifice of the [ 10 ] society to the undue emancipation of the individual. But the necessary imperfection of the result is no argument against this or any other political system of thought. Politics are no more than a means of getting things done, and when we have found a society of perfect human beings, we can fairly complain that their affairs are not perfectly managed. So far as he can, the Liberal aims at securing this balance of social and individual good, remembering that the good of society can only be measured by the good of all its members, and not by the good only of some dominant rank, creed, or class. "Rights are relative to the well-being of society, but the converse proposition is equally true, that the well-being of society may be measured by the degree in which their moral rights are secured to its component members.... The moral right of an individual is simply a condition of the full development of his personality as a moral being. Equally, the moral right of any community is the condition of the maintenance of its common life, and since that society is best, happiest, and most progressive which enables its members to make the utmost of themselves, there is no necessary conflict between them. The maintenance of rights is the condition of human progress.... To reconcile the rule of right with the principle of the public welfare is the supreme end of social theory."[3]

In practical politics the work of modern Liberalism has been to alter the conditions of society so that this freedom of growth may be secured for each member of it. The old conception of society was a conception of classes. Human beings were graded and standardized. Certain privileges were reserved for certain groups. Society looked, for its estimate of a man, not to his natural powers, not to what he might make of himself, but to his brand or mark. If within a certain degree, he had a free choice of his mode of life; if without it, he found his condition prescribed, sometimes so rigorously that he could hardly ever improve it. Liberalism has endeavoured to go deeper into the man, to get beneath the outward complexion, [ 11 ] to find out his intrinsic worth, and to give him that place in the social estimate which his natural powers deserve. Arbitrary distinctions are abhorrent to it. It is incapable of thinking in terms of class. Every class is, in its eyes, only an aggregate of individuals, and to exalt one class above another is to appreciate some individuals at the expense of others, to place marks of comparative social worth upon the members of different groups which do not correspond to the relative values of their natural qualities. Against a privileged race, rank, creed, or sex Liberalism must fight continually. By the artificial elevation of one above another, it is made to count for more in society, its members are aggrandized and those of its rivals are depreciated; and while the first are encouraged to abuse, the second are hampered and fettered in their growth. The Liberal asserts that no man, because he happens to be of a particular sect, or to be born of a particular family, or to possess a particular form of property, or to hold particular opinions, shall be invested by Society with privileges which give him an advantage in social intercourse over his fellows. He does not assert that all human beings are equal in capacity, but he demands that their natural inequalities shall not be aggravated by artificial conditions. For what he is worth, each shall be free to realize his highest capacity.

The Liberal conception of equality as between individuals is extended to the case of Churches, of nations, and of sexes. These classes are indeed not regarded by the Liberal as classes, but simply as associations, for limited purposes, of individuals, who are, in all essential respects, separate and distinct. To confer a privilege upon one Church or nation or sex is simply to confer a privilege upon the individuals who compose it, and whether the privilege is the monopoly of political power or the sole right to take part in a public ceremony, it does in greater or less degree affect the relative social values of the members of the two groups, and places the members of the inferior at the disposition of those of the superior. To give the Established Church the sole right to take part in the coronation of the King is a violation [ 12 ] of Liberal principle of the same kind, though not of the same degree, as to exclude Dissenters or Catholics from Parliament, and if men were content to exclude women only from the legal profession, they would be arrogating to themselves a superior value no less clearly than when they refuse to them the right to control their own government.

The same general habit of mind is applied to foreign policy. The acknowledgment of the equal worth of individuals within the nation becomes the acknowledgment of the equal worth of nations among themselves. "Nationalism has stood for liberty, not only in the sense that it has resisted tyrannous encroachment, but also in the sense that it has maintained the right of a community to work out its own salvation in its own way. A nation has an individuality, and the doctrine that individuality is an element in well-being is rightly applied to it. The world advances by the free, vigorous growth of divergent types, and is stunted when all the fresh bursting shoots are planed off close to the heavy, solid stem."[4] The interference of one with another, attempts to prescribe the limits or the cause of development, are as obnoxious in international as in intra-national relations. It was in fact in connection with this idea of nationality that the words "Liberal" and "Liberalism" came into use. The first English Liberals were those statesmen who followed Canning in his championship of Greece and the South American Republics, and some of them were very far from being Liberals within the borders of their own State.[5]

This extension of Liberalism from individuals to nations is easy as a mental process, but very far from easy as a matter of practical politics. Nationality is not difficult to define in general terms. It is sometimes infinitely difficult to decide in a particular case whether the general definition applies. John Stuart Mill has perhaps given as much precision to the Liberal conception of nationality as it can bear. "A portion of mankind may be said [ 13 ] to constitute a nation if they are united among themselves by common sympathies which do not exist between them and others. This feeling of nationality may have been generated by various causes. Sometimes it is the effect of identity of race and descent. Community of language and community of religion greatly contribute to it. Geographical limits are one of the causes. But the strongest of all is identity of political antecedents, the possession of a national history and consequent community of recollections, collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past."[6] Nationality is not a thing of sharp outline, any more than any other political conception, and community of interest, the management of common concerns over a long period of time, has triumphed over differences so potent as those of race and creed. Such has been the fortune of Switzerland, of Canada, and of white South Africa, and it is the hope of Liberalism that such will also be the fortune of Ireland. Without attempting to draw hard lines between communities, the Liberal sees in them distinctions of worth and capacity such as he sees in individuals, and he would give the same freedom of self-development to a nation as to a human being.

The idea that nations are to be bound by moral rules as much as individuals is only another application of the general rule that one man is to be treated as equally entitled with every other to the development of his own faculties. The same rule is extended to nations as to single persons. No one people has the right to interfere with the free development of another, until it is clearly and unmistakably proved that that free development will be generally injurious. Once this principle is accepted, it becomes impossible, as in the case of single persons, for one nation to decline to recognize moral rules in its dealings with others. Morality is nothing but the subjection of individual wills to the common will, as expressed in defined rules. Immorality is only the arrogance of the individual will, refusing to submit itself to general rules, while it endeavours to enforce general rules upon [ 14 ] others. The Liberal State is that which recognizes the universal application of its own principles of conduct, declines to thrust its own ideas upon unwilling associates, and works in harmony with other races instead of in opposition to them.

It is not suggested here that it is any part of the Liberal doctrine to seek peace at any price, or to turn the other cheek to the smiter. A vital condition of the existence of morality is that moral persons shall be ready at all times to defend it. To suffer wanton aggression is as fatal to a nation as to an individual. It is a mere encouragement to the general infringement of rights which means the dissolution of international morality. Liberal patriotism exists, though it is of a different kind from that patriotism which is so conspicuous a feature of our modern Imperialism. Imperialist patriotism is often a vulgar assertion of selfish power. Liberal patriotism is a means of diminishing national selfishness. Just as the Liberal believes that the best life within the nation is produced by the growth of free individuality, so he believes that the best life in the race at large is produced by the growth of free nationality. "If there is one condition precedent to effective internationalism or to the establishment of any reliable relations between States, it is the existence of strong, secure, well-developed, and responsible nations. Internationalism can never be subserved by the suppression or forcible absorption of nations; for these practices react disastrously upon the springs of internationalism, on the one hand setting nations on their armed defence and stifling the amicable approaches between them, on the other debilitating the larger nations through excessive corpulence and indigestion. The hope of a coming internationalism enjoins above all else the maintenance and natural growth of independent nationalities, for without such there could be no gradual evolution of internationalism, but only a series of unsuccessful attempts at a chaotic and unstable cosmopolitanism. As individualism is essential to any sane form of national socialism, so nationalism is essential to internationalism."[7]

[ 15 ]

By far the most difficult of all the tasks which Liberalism has to perform is in its conduct of foreign policy. Even in domestic affairs it is often not easy to calculate the effects of particular proposals, how far they can be pressed towards the ideal, in what temper they will be received by the people, with what smoothness they will operate when they have been expressed in an Act of Parliament. It is a matter of accommodating ourselves to somewhat intractable material, and of managing, persuading, and guiding human beings whose motives we cannot directly control. But the facts are at least fairly within reach. The Liberal statesman has as much opportunity as anybody can have of knowing the mental habit and disposition of those whom his legislation will affect. He is acquainted with their history. He is guided by previous successes or failures. In the last resort, he knows that the great bulk of the people concerned will respect the law even if they dislike it, and will express their dissent no more dangerously than by turning him out of office. In foreign affairs his difficulties are infinitely greater, and the consequences of failure may be disastrous. He is dealing, not with subjects, but with independent persons, who, except in a few points settled by agreement, observe no common law with himself. Their objects are obscure, and may only temporarily coincide with his own. They may have private arrangements among themselves of which he knows little or nothing, and if they cheat him in their own interest he has no remedy except one which is so violent as to be worse almost than any disease. Finally, even if his knowledge of the facts were more accurate, and his confidence in his associates more complete, he would still be baffled by the hostility to Liberal ideas which animates some, if not all, of the foreign diplomatists.

These are obstacles to direct action which it would be folly not to take into consideration, and in the case of the present Foreign Secretary they seem to have proved insuperable. But in some directions it is obvious that the Liberal statesman can pursue his course without fear. Where no powerful opponent or associate is concerned, he is as free as within his own country, and he is bound to act on purely Liberal principles. He must act always [ 16 ] according to moral rules, even in dealing with weak peoples. He is bound to do nothing which would help to maintain a vicious system or government. He is bound not to interfere in the domestic affairs of another nation, save where the fundamental liberties of his own countrymen are in danger. It is equally his duty to refrain from arrogance towards distracted China and towards united Germany. It is not his business to lecture the Russian Government for its vile domestic policy or the Spanish Government for the atrocious murder of Ferrer. But it is no more his business to strengthen these Governments, either by his alliance or otherwise, in thus acting towards their subjects. It is no doubt the duty of Liberals who are private persons to protest against cruelty and oppression, wherever it may be found. Public opinion counts for something, even in a foreign country, and if we cannot prevent evil abroad, we can at least keep alive the hatred of it in our own country. The Englishman who is indifferent to the sufferings of Finland is in danger of becoming insensitive to his own. But whatever may be the duty of private persons, official representations to a foreign State are always useless, and often exaggerate the evils to which they refer. In the face of foreign dictation, domestic tyranny becomes a patriotic duty. Whatever a Liberal Foreign Secretary may think, he must not dictate to any established Government. But his duty on the other side is equally clear, and he must do nothing to strengthen such a Government against its subjects. Palmerston's expressed approval of Napoleon III's coup d'état and Sir Edward Grey's more indirect support of the present Russian tyranny are equally illiberal. If a Government which violates every Liberal principle in its domestic policy is not to be treated as an enemy, it is no more to be treated as a friend. It is entitled to the honourable observance of all agreements for the joint management of joint concerns, and to perfect freedom in its own domestic administration. It is not entitled to anything which will enhance its power. To assist it directly or indirectly is to participate in its wrongdoing, and no Liberal can safely do that without impairing his own character. [ 17 ]

These are elementary rules which the Liberal must observe in all cases where his conduct is to be determined by nothing out of his own control. In other cases he can often do very little, and is compelled to acquiesce in conduct of which he would never himself be guilty. Here it is his duty to do as much as he can, to avoid the offensive imposition of his own ideas upon his fellows, to avoid arrangements which dispose of the fortunes of weak peoples irrespective of their wishes, to work in concert, not with one Power or group of Powers, but with all who are interested, and, in case of difficulty, to throw his weight into the scale with those whose aims most resemble his own. Generally, it is his duty to substitute the expression of moral rules by arbitration for the brutal assertion of national egoism in war. But there is no general presumption against war. It is always an evil. But it may be the least of possible evils. War for the independence of his own nation requires no justification. War for the independence of another nation or for the defence of some rule of international morality is to be judged by its expediency. "It seems to be impossible to state the principle of non-intervention in rational and statesmanlike terms, if it is under all circumstances, and without qualification or limit, to preclude an armed protest against intervention by other foreign Powers. There may happen to be good reasons why we should on a given occasion passively watch a foreign Government interfering by violence in the affairs of another country. Our own Government may have its hands full; or it may have no military means of intervening to good purpose; or its intervention might in the long run do more harm than good to the object of its solicitude. But there can be no general prohibitory rule. When a military despot interferes to crush the men of another country while struggling for their national rights, no principle can make it wrong for a free nation to interfere by force against him. It can only be a question of expediency and prudence."[8] In other words, the importance of the moral rule involved must be weighed with the chances [ 18 ] of success, the cost of war, the waste of life and wealth, and the sufferings of the poorer classes, which are the inevitable consequences of war. In the face of a universal enemy like Napoleon a war on behalf of Spain and Portugal was just. The Crimean War and the Boer Wars were unjust. Wars on behalf of Poles or Finns against Russia or Hungarians against Austrians would have been just, but not expedient, because no maritime power could have waged them with any chance of permanent success. It is a matter of calculation, and there are few wars, other than wars for the independence of their own country, which Liberals would not hold to cost more in blood and treasure than the principle for which they were undertaken.

It is obvious that this reasoning is entirely inconsistent with the theory of the balance of power. That theory, unhappily revived in recent years, requires not merely the subordination of morality to expediency in particular cases, but the complete abandonment of morality as a condition of international politics. Its essence is not international agreement and the rule of right, but international hostility and the rule of force. It sets the States into two groups, one of which must always act against the other. England's policy is no longer decided by herself, but by herself in consultation with allies, whose character and objects may be purely selfish. If one of her associates is guilty of immoral aggression against one of the opposing group, or asserts some right which ought only to be conferred upon her by international agreement, she is dragged into a quarrel in defence of wrong against right, and not only violates moral rules in the particular case, but weakens her own ability to observe them in every other. Her honour and her interest alike are placed in the hands of others. She accepts a bill in blank, which the holder may fill in with any amount he pleases. In cases of extreme necessity this may be inevitable. When all are threatened by an enemy of the type of Napoleon, England cannot dissociate herself from the rest on account of their want of scruple. But as a settled and habitual policy the maintenance of the balance of power must be abhorrent to every [ 19 ] man who is not ready to put his conscience into the keeping of others.


An examination of the opposing mode of thought will make clearer the essential nature of Liberalism. This opposite may fairly be called Toryism, if that term is used, like the other, to describe a persisting habit of mind and not a policy, which varies from generation to generation. Conservatism and Unionism are not satisfactory equivalents. The latter, especially, expresses only opposition to a particular project of Liberalism, and is itself, like its object, of a temporary nature. Conservatism on the other hand, though a permanent force, is not essentially opposed to Liberalism. It is indeed often allied with Toryism, and so long as Liberalism continues to do positive and reconstructive work the strength of Toryism must generally lie in this negative and preserving instinct. When the two opponents exchange their usual parts, the Conservative mass swings over to the Liberal side. It is to Conservatism, as well as to Liberalism, that Free Trade owes its present security. In the face of active retrogression, the true Conservative, without becoming a Liberal, ranges himself with Liberals. But this sort of temporary alliance is rare. Until very recent years Liberalism has been the active and changing force, and has accordingly always found Conservatism its enemy.

A very good illustration of this working agreement between the positive dislike of individual emancipation and the negative reluctance to modify an institution which prevents it was furnished a short time ago by the Dean of Canterbury. The Convocation of the Diocese was considering whether the wife's pledge to obey her husband should be struck out of the marriage service. To the Liberal, this pledge, purporting to invest the subjection of the female sex to the male with a divine sanction, is one of the most obnoxious of all the fetters upon the freedom of women. Regarding the woman as of equal worth with the man, he has no doubt that this institution must be modified in her interest. On the occasion in question, the proposal for her [ 20 ] relief was successfully opposed by the Dean. He said that when they were asked to say that the views of the Apostles regarding the position of the two sexes were wrong, that was a somewhat alarming and distressing principle to introduce into their deliberations. They were bound, not only by the ancient traditions of their Church, but by their vows, to submit their judgment absolutely to the statements of the Apostles on matters of that kind.[9] This is a clear case of Conservatism defending Toryism. The subjection of the wife enjoined by the marriage service dates from a period long preceding even that of apostolic barbarism, when women were regarded as absolutely at the disposition of their male associates. In origin it was a crude assertion of the male ego at the expense of the female. The modern Church makes no such naked requisition, and defends the selfish establishment, not because it is selfish, but because it is an establishment.

This is the usual method of Conservatism. The position was fixed by the remote ancestors of the present garrison, and they are content to defend it even though they would never have themselves taken it up. But pure Toryism lives to-day, and reproduces the thoughts, the arguments, and often the very words, of the Toryism of a century ago. Opponents of Disestablishment repeat the language of the supporters of the Test Act. Opponents of Woman Suffrage, even those who call themselves Liberals, argue as Eldon and Peel argued against Parliamentary Reform. Ulster preserves the atmosphere of the struggle for Catholic Emancipation. Mr. Lloyd George, like Mr. Joseph Chamberlain thirty years ago, excites the same fury as was produced by Tom Paine's Rights of Man. The same principles contend on different stages, and through the mouths of different actors. Though the cries of the unending warfare change, the parties are always the same. Liberty is like the books of the Roman Sybil. As each instalment is wrested from the grasp of the monopolists, the remainder becomes at once as precious as was previously the whole: loss of one privilege never prepares them for the surrender of another. The admission of Dissenters [ 21 ] to public office involved no adoption of the general principle that all sects should be treated equally by the State. The abandonment of rotten boroughs was no acknowledgment that every individual subject to government had the right to control government. The innumerable concessions made by Toryism to Irish nationality have involved no general recognition. The old arguments have been shattered and dissipated in more than one contest. But when the forces of Liberalism advance against the next line of defence, the ancient retainers of monopoly are dragged from the hospitals and galvanized into new activity, to be routed again after a struggle almost as bitter and as long as the first. Toryism is beaten. It is never converted.

This Toryism is the habit of mind which refuses to concede to others that right of free expression which it requires for itself. It is the egoistic mind which regards all others as at its disposition. Its opinions are of superior worth, and others must give way. As the Liberal temper is extended, so is the Tory. The ego includes the Church, the occupation, the nation, and the sex of the individual. It thinks of human beings in classes, as distinguished from itself. They are Dissenters, or "people who do not agree with my religious opinions"; tenants, or "people who pay money to me or my class for the privilege of working or living on our land"; foreigners, or "people who happen to be born in countries other than my own"; wives, widows, and spinsters, or "persons who are, or have been, or will be connected with my sex." The Tory habitually thinks of his fellow-creatures not according to their individuality, but according to their class, the face value which, regardless of their intrinsic worth, either entitles or disentitles them to his favour. They either belong to his own class or they do not. The real worth of each is not the standard by which he forms his judgment of them. Every act and utterance, every request and protest of another person is referred to the artificial connection, or distinction, instead of being judged for itself. The prime condition is that the other should keep in his place. By the Liberal the other is considered as an isolated object, an end in [ 22 ] himself, to be treated without regard to any artificial association between them. The accidental is distinguished from the essential, and the creed, nationality, occupation, or sex is not allowed to interrupt the clear view of the human being who is enclosed in it. The Tory deals with his object as invested with a status. The Liberal deals with the man in himself.

These different points of view determine the different attitudes of the two parties to political problems as they arise. The pure Tory is of course as rare as the pure Liberal, and neither of the two groups, which are at any particular time described as Liberal and Tory, corresponds exactly with the habit of mind associated with its name.[10] Self-styled Tories are occasionally strongly Liberal in particular cases. Windham, who thought that the abolition of bull-baiting was a dangerous revolution, voted against the Slave Trade. Peel, the greatest man whom the old Tory party ever produced, was Liberal in finance, in legislation about crime and factories, and in foreign policy. In the same way, men who are Liberal in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred show [ 23 ] themselves to be Tory in the last. Robert Lowe, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the great Liberal Ministry of 1868, had as fierce a contempt for the working classes as Lord Salisbury himself. The question of Woman Suffrage, appearing unexpectedly on the surface of politics in 1906, has divided both parties, though in different proportions. The true Liberal supports the demand for enfranchisement. The true Tory opposes it. But the agitation has discovered some of the most bitter of sexual egoists on the Radical benches of the House of Commons, and champions of the individual's right to control her own government even among the Cecils.[11] The division between the members of the schools is thus not sharply defined. But the schools always exist, and it is in the perpetual conflict between them that the progress of the nation takes place.

Every political problem involves a conflict between an existing institution and the interest of individuals. The two parties thus approach it from different sides. The Tory looks down from the institution to the man, the Liberal up from the man to the institution. To the Liberal, the State and all other institutions within it are things of flesh and blood, they are so many expressions of human society, associations of human beings for their own human purposes. To the Tory, the institution is a machine, its efficient working is everything, and it is the duty of the individual to subordinate himself to that object whether his own interest is served by it or not. The Liberal says, "The State is made for man, and not man for the State." The Tory reverses the dogma, and even when he pursues the good of individuals, he pursues it rather in order to make them better soldiers or workers, that is to say, better servants of the State, than to make them better in themselves. Democratic government to the Liberal is an essential condition of the free growth of the individual soul. To the Tory, if he believes in it at all, it is a piece of efficient political machinery. "What use can the State make of this man?" asks the Tory. "What [ 24 ] use can this man make of himself?" asks the Liberal. The Tory theory is expressed in terms of duties, the Liberal in terms of rights. The disposing mind is at the back of the one, the encouraging mind at the back of the other. The Tory finds the good of the individual in the strength of the State. The Liberal finds the strength of the State in the good of the individual. Where the one seeks to maintain and use, the other seeks to ease, to alter, and to readjust, binding himself to no particular scheme of political or economic construction, but ready to apply to each case of individual hardship, as it arises, such devices as he can invent.

Practical Toryism, the theory as it has been expressed in actual politics, has been until recent years the Toryism of a governing class. But no class has a monopoly of it. The same habit of mind exists everywhere. There is nothing so universal as the aristocratic temper, which disposes of the fortunes of others according to its own sense of what is fitting. The Tory statesman of a hundred and fifty years ago was a landowner, a Churchman, and a man of wealth. But his view of life would have been much the same if he had been a tinker, an atheist, and in daily expectation of the workhouse. He might, in pursuit of his own class interest, have rebelled against the Toryism of the governing class, without abating any of his own. To such persons as came within his disposition he would display the same zeal for the assertion of his own ego at the expense of theirs, as that which he resented in his own superiors. Even the poorest man has generally a wife, and even the meanest of Englishmen can always speak contemptuously of foreigners. Toryism is a habit of mind, which is often modified by circumstances, but can and does exist in men and women of all classes, irrespective of wealth, creed, or occupation.

It is true that this Tory doctrine is not always crudely stated. The formula is more often that of identification than that of disposition. If the inferior class is so placed that the superior class may dispose of it, it suffers no hardship, because the interest of both is the same. The people are identified with the State, [ 25 ] the workmen are identified with the employer, the wife is identified with the husband. Make the State strong, and you make the people happy. Give the employer higher profits, and the workmen get higher wages out of those profits. Give the husband security and freedom, and the wife will partake of them both. But whatever the form of argument may be, the result is the same. There is an inevitable tendency in human nature to deteriorate in the enjoyment of absolute power. Some governing classes may use the strength of the State to make the people happy. Some employers may cheerfully share their increased gains with their workpeople. Some husbands may concede to their wives that complete freedom of occupation, expression of opinion, and control of property which they themselves possess. But history and contemporary experience alike afford innumerable examples of governing classes oppressing or keeping down their subjects, of employers giving higher wages only in response to strong or even violent pressure from their workmen, and of husbands depriving their wives of independence of thought and action, and even of the control of their own bodies. There is no security for the individual in the generosity of superiors. It is only when all are recognized by the State as having equal worth in their relations with each other that individual liberty can be enjoyed by all.


The essential differences between Liberalism and Toryism are revealed in their disputes about the larger political topics. The franchise never fails to draw clear expressions of character from both sides. To the Liberal, the right of a man to control his own government is only one of the many rights which go to make up his right to control his own life. His freedom of life cannot be complete if, without his consent, his earnings may be diminished by taxation, his business ruined by a commercial treaty, the education of his children prescribed by legislation, and his whole fortune impaired by a declaration of war. There can be no real freedom of growth without control of government. But the argument for enfranchisement is based on more than the [ 26 ] direct consequences of it. That the man who is taxed against his will enjoys only an imperfect freedom is obvious. What is not so readily perceived is that he is indirectly affected in a much more serious way. It is axiomatic that a governing class will, sooner or later, abuse its absolute power. Landowners use the tariff to increase their rents, and so impose burdens upon the poor. The middle class prohibits the combination of workmen in trade disputes, or resists the regulation of factories by law. Working-men exclude working-women from trades which they wish to preserve for their own sex. Men erect a system of marriage law which places the wife in the power of the husband. All this is written in history, and cannot be disputed. But the unseen consequences of disfranchisement are not so often realized. There is constant action and reaction between political institutions and social estimates. If disfranchisement springs from depreciation, it also encourages it. To confine the control of government to one class is to appreciate that class at the expense of others, and to encourage its members to abuse their disfranchised associates whenever they are brought into contact with them. So long as the big business of politics is reserved for them, so long are they compelled to believe that the monopoly is the reward of their superior worth. Their ego is exalted, and that of their subjects is depressed. Private insolence is the inevitable consequence of public privilege. Government by landlords means interference with the political and religious opinions of tenants. Government by Protestants means the exclusion of Catholics from offices of dignity and profit. Government by masters means bad conditions of labour and fettered powers of combination among workmen. Government by men means the exclusion of women from professions and the maintenance of a double standard of morality. It is not suggested here that disfranchisement does more than affect tendencies. The political thinker who values his reputation will always write in terms of tendencies rather than in terms of states. But disfranchisement at least tends to produce, if it does not actually produce, the consequences of social depreciation. In some countries, or in [ 27 ] some states of society, these may be less dangerous than the consequences of general enfranchisement. But they always exist.

An admirable statement of this part of the case for enfranchisement has been recently made by an opponent of Woman Suffrage. "If you enfranchise women," he said, "you cannot deprive them of the powers and privileges which accompany it. If they are to share men's political duties they must enjoy his rights, they must be eligible for the Bar, the Bench, for the Civil Service, and for election to Parliament. Once in Parliament you cannot brand them as a class or sex apart, to be deprived of any of the high offices open to men. If they are not to attain these offices, it cannot be by the avowal of sex, but by an admission of incapacity."[12] This is absolute Toryism. Disfranchisement is a convenient means of depreciating women in private life, and the main bulwark of the male ego. It disables every woman in advance, and deprives her of private rights without the trouble of testing her capacity. Her political disability marks her with a brand wherever she goes, and the person who disposes of her politics, disposes also, in proportion to his own selfishness, of her occupation, of her marital rights, and of her honour. Mr. Harcourt is content to exclude her from Parliament and the legal profession. Baser men display the same male egoism in depriving her of education, in enfeebling her body and mind by excessive child-bearing, and in taking advantage of her poverty to use her as a prostitute for the gratification of their vilest passions. This confession by an opponent of Woman Suffrage illustrates the temper of Toryism in all controversies about the franchise. Acknowledge the right to control government, and you acknowledge the right to control life. So long as it lies in the power of one class to impose taxes, to regulate the hours of labour, to admit and to exclude from occupations, and generally to control the political organization of society, so long will its members be tempted to dispose of the members of the subject class in every part of life. When the equality of both classes in the State is admitted, the admission of their equal worth in all their private [ 28 ] relations inevitably follows. There is no essential difference between public and private rights.

But the reaction of political status upon the individual has another aspect no less important than this. Participation in the organized life of the community is a necessary part of that education which modern opinion requires for every human being. There are now living very few of those frantic Tories who believe that it is harmful to develop the minds of the poor, and every civilized State regards public education as one of its ordinary duties. But once the right of individuals to a good education is admitted, the extent of the right can hardly be limited to the provision of elementary or secondary schools. There is no education to be compared with the experience of organized life. Trade Unionism and Co-operation, political associations outside Parliament, the management of charities, all these are valuable not only for their immediate results, but for the way in which they train the people concerned. Incomparably the best school of the kind is politics. Nothing so broadens the mind and so disciplines the temper as being engaged, even in a humble capacity, in the management of political affairs. But the connection between the individual and the State must be direct, if it is to produce its full benefit. The vague and irresponsible interest of the disfranchised is a poor substitute for the definite obligation to apply one's own strength to the machine itself, which is the privilege of the enfranchised. The extension of the suffrage to all individuals in the State is thus an essential part of the Liberal faith, not only because it prevents direct and indirect abuse, but because it is a means of education without which few individuals can ever develop their natural powers to the full. "We, who were reformers from the beginning, always said that the enfranchisement of the people was an end in itself. We said, and we were much derided for saying so, that citizenship only gives that self-respect which is the true basis of respect of others, and without which there is no lasting social order or real morality."[13] "If the individual is [ 29 ] to have a higher feeling of public duty, he must take part in the work of the State.... That active interest in the service of the State, which makes patriotism in the better sense, can hardly arise while the individual's relation to the State is that of a passive recipient of protection in the exercise of his rights of person and property."[14] It is this conception of the exercise of the franchise which leads to the apparent paradox that the people are never fit for the suffrage until they possess it. In practice these logical difficulties have little weight. It is true that the only real test of political capacity is politics. But it is no hard task to detect in a person's management of other affairs how he is likely to conduct himself as a voter. Plain good sense is the only essential quality. It is got by living, not by learning, and where conditions of life are reasonably good, political capacity will not be wanting. The franchise completes, it does not make, education. It may thus be fairly extended to all ordinary persons as part of the Liberal method of equipping the individual for the fullest life of which he is capable.

Influenced by these considerations, the Liberal asserts that the franchise is a right which exists in the individual subject. To the Tory, accustomed to the idea of disposition, the subject is under and not above the State. Where the Liberal emphasizes the responsibility of the State to the subject, and requires that every act of its ministers shall be done in the interest of the subject, the Tory emphasizes the duty of the subject to submit to the State, and by a process of argument which is as illogical as it is politically vicious, leaves it to the State to decide even to what persons it shall be responsible. Thus Sir Robert Inglis, opposing in 1853 a Bill for permitting Jews to sit in Parliament, contended "that power was a trust which the State might delegate to those whom it thought fit to exercise it—the exercise of the suffrage, for example—but it was the inherent right of no man. If it were, then indeed had they destroyed the value of the principle by all the restrictions imposed with respect to property, [ 30 ] to age, and to sex."[15] The allusion to sex was prophetic. More than half a century later, Professor Dicey uses precisely the same argument against the enfranchisement of women. "The rights of an individual with regard to matters which primarily concern the State are public or political rights, or, in other words, duties or functions to be exercised by the possessor not in accordance with his own wish or interest, but primarily at least with a view to the interest of the State, and therefore may be limited or extended in any way which conduces to the welfare of the community."[16]

The confusion of thought in both these passages is the same. What is the State? Who are the community? How is the State to know what conduces to the welfare of the community? Both these Tory thinkers reason as if the State were some concrete thing, some piece of machinery, existing out of and independent of the society of human beings, managing their affairs, allotting them their rights, and associating with itself in their government such of them as it was pleased to select. Their argument is based upon this fundamental absurdity. The State has in fact no existence apart from human beings; it is not external to society, but a growth out of it, and its own form and constitution are determined in all cases by the creatures whom the Tory theorists treat as subjected to its absolute discretion. The Liberal declares that human beings exist before the State, and control it, that their opinion determines in what way the State, like the Church, the industrial system, and the home, shall be constructed, that opinion varies in different countries and in different ages, and will at one time and in one place acquiesce in despotism and at another time and in another place require adult suffrage, but that always, first and last, the subjects are masters of the State.

What is actually at the back of the Tory mind, when it reasons in this fashion, is that the State, as conceived by them, is not external to all society, but only to a part of it. In other words, [ 31 ] when it says "the State," it means "the governing class for the time being." It is always thinking of a privileged class disposing of the fortunes of another class. To Sir Robert Inglis "the State" meant "men of twenty-one years of age, who are landowners and Christians." To Windham, fifty years before, it meant "men of twenty-one years of age, who are landowners and Churchmen." To Professor Dicey, fifty years later, it meant "men of twenty-one years of age." The class varies, and its boundaries extend. But it is always of a class of some dimensions that the Tory thinks when he speaks of "the State." In effect he argues that the general body of men and women have no right to control their own government, except when the class into whose hands government has fallen sees fit to give it them. By the same process of reasoning the most bloody despot who ever usurped a throne could exclude aristocracy itself, and keep the control of government in the hands of the meanest of his parasites. This conflict between the individual right of the subject and the absolute discretion of the governing class has been repeated at every proposal to extend the franchise in Great Britain. The work of Liberalism has been, and is still, to extend the limits of the governing class, and to make State and subjects, government and governed, co-extensive.

The same characteristic difference between the desire to adapt an institution to the encouragement of individual growth and the desire to compel individual growth to the efficient working of an institution peeps out, even where the practical proposals of the two parties appear to be identical. A Liberal supports State education because it puts the poor man into fuller possession of himself. A Tory supports it because an ignorant poor man is likely to be turbulent and to make attacks upon the institution of property. A Liberal supports a Mental Deficiency Bill because it protects feeble-minded persons against their neighbours and against themselves. A Tory supports it because it discourages the breeding of types which he regards as useless to the State. While the general attitude of Toryism to the economic reforms of modern Liberalism has been hostile, a small [ 32 ] section of the Tory party has shown itself ready enough to support, and even to originate schemes which interfere with economic freedom and the rights of property. But the motives of the Liberal and the Tory social reformers are not the same. The one aims at private happiness, the other at public utility. "We would endeavour," said Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, "to secure to every man the best conditions of living, and so far as can be done by laws and customs, to secure him also an equal chance with others of a useful and happy life."[17] "The essence of our policy," says Lord Willoughby de Broke, "is to give each individual the elements that will afford him an opportunity of at least living a free and a decorous existence, and the opportunity to raise himself or herself to the highest point of moral and material efficiency."[18] The emphasis on happiness in the one passage and on efficiency in the other shows precisely the difference in the objects of the two men. The first is personal, the second instrumental. The Liberal conception of the State makes the development of the individual an end in itself. The Tory conception makes it a means of public advantage, of obtaining workers for national industries and soldiers for national armies, and it is accompanied by proposals for conscription, protection, and the maintenance of popular education at a low level, which are redolent of restriction and subordination. A Tory journalist puts the matter more precisely: "If Unionism is to recover the confidence of the masses it must recognize their claim to a fuller and a happier life. Only in this way can it serve the great causes which it has at heart. We stand for the Empire. An Imperial people cannot be built up in squalor and poverty, when every thought is absorbed by the provision of the daily bread. We cannot get a hearing for Imperial causes until we have brought happiness into the homes of the people."[19] The Tory makes its inhabitants happy for the sake of the Empire. The Liberal has no use for the Empire unless it makes its inhabitants happy.

[ 33 ]

Modern Toryism is identified with Imperialism, and, except for the relics of old controversies between sects, most of the antagonism of Liberal and Tory centres to-day about the Empire. The most definite opposition is to be observed in original conceptions. To the Tory, the Empire seems to be something in itself; he is impressed with its size, its wealth, its population; the mere existence of such a huge fabric, efficiently maintained, under the national flag, satisfies him. The Liberal is more concerned with what the Empire represents, with its maintenance of individual liberty, with its development of the subject peoples which it contains, with its encouragement to exploitation, with its implied antagonism to foreign peoples, with its increase of the cost of armaments, and with its effect upon the temper of domestic government. He is not, as a practical statesman, concerned to evacuate any part of this vast inheritance. "The situation of man is the preceptor of his duty." But he looks with suspicion upon any attempt to increase it, he encourages every transfer of control to local authorities, he insists that where races of an inferior civilization are incorporated their affairs shall be managed in their interest and not in that of the conquering race, and he views with constant apprehension the inclusion of such races because he knows that their despotic government must threaten the existence of his own free institutions. If the Empire is justified at all, it is justified by the ideals which it expresses, and by nothing else.

The better Imperial idea was thus described a few years ago by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain: "We, in our Colonial policy, as fast as we acquire new territory and develop it, develop it as trustees of civilization for the commerce of the world. We offer in all these markets over which our flag floats the same opportunities, the same open field, to foreigners that we offer to our own subjects, and upon the same terms. In that policy we stand alone, because all other nations, as fast as they acquire new territory—acting, as I believe, most mistakenly in their own interests, and, above all, in the interests of the countries that they administer—all other nations seek at once to secure the [ 34 ] monopoly for their own products by preferential and other methods."[20] These are noble and generous words. The conception of a rich and powerful race extending the blessings of order, good government, and industrial enterprise into the backward parts of the earth for the universal benefit of all mankind is a magnificent conception. But if it ever was Imperialism it is not the Imperialism of to-day. In less than ten years the speaker denied himself. The trustees of civilization became national egoists, subordinating all others to their own ascendancy. The free and open market was made a national monopoly, and British subjects arrogated to themselves all the exclusive privileges which had been "most mistakenly" reserved to themselves by other nations. The deterioration of generosity has seldom been so swift and so complete. In 1912 Mr. Chamberlain's successor in the leadership of Protectionist Imperialism makes the exclusion of the foreigner the very essence of Empire. "Co-operation in war was a vital necessity; but there could never be real co-operation in war unless there first had been co-operation in peace. It was for that reason that Unionists had advocated, and intended to advocate, the policy of Imperial preference. All the Dominions had urged the Mother Country to adopt in trade—and in everything else—that principle which would enable one portion of the Empire to treat all other portions of the Empire on better terms than were given to the rest of the world." The whole basis of the Empire is thus made to be hostility towards foreign peoples, and instead of war being a hateful necessity, undertaken to preserve the ideals for which the Empire stands, it becomes itself the first object of the Empire, to which all its other possibilities must be sacrificed.

The Empire, as conceived by modern Imperialists, is in fact the negation of Liberalism. Domestic liberty, local independence, economic freedom, the development of inferior races, all must be sacrificed to the idea of an isolated and mechanically efficient unity. "The Unionist policy is a policy of union and strength. The Unionists say: As we are faced by great dangers, [ 35 ] let us hold to the tried and proved national organization which was devised to meet such dangers in the past. And they say also: Let us have peace between the classes, for division in that way is even more dangerous than the division of the United Kingdom into its separate tribes or parishes.... We must keep united or we will be destroyed. But the Unionists go farther, and they say: We must be united not only as a United Kingdom but as a British Empire. Old England by herself may not have the strength to face the enormous forces now being arrayed against her. In the same way the Dominions by themselves have not the strength to maintain their freedom against possible attacks. Let us therefore combine, and then we shall be like the bundle of faggots, impossible to break. Now this policy of Imperial union cannot be achieved by sentiment alone. Sentiment is an excellent thing; but as part of the Empire is Dutch and part French, and as even British colonists tend to forget the Mother Country and look upon their own new country as the centre and the boundary of their patriotism, we need the perpetual unifier of material interest. Where a man's treasure is, there shall his heart be also." Therefore we must tax imported foodstuffs in order to give a preference to the Colonies. If we do not, "What are we to offer to Canada in the way of a material interest strong enough to make her foreign policy identical with ours?"[21]

This is the subordination of everything to organization. Ireland is to be governed against its will, the poorer classes are to be kept down by force or by indulgence, the industrial and commercial freedom of the Colonies and the Mother Country is to be fettered by artificial bonds of trade, in order that [ 36 ] Germany may be kept in her place. The illustration of the bundle of faggots will serve for the Liberal as well as for the Tory. What the Liberal wants is not a bundle of dead wood, but a group of living and growing trees about a parent stem, each planted freely in the soil and drawing from it its own sustenance.

The Tory conception of the Empire is in fact very like the old Roman Empire, and ominous comparisons are often drawn between the two.[22] The Roman Empire was a similar gigantic organization, which subordinated all other ideas to that of strength and unity against external peoples. What will preserve the British Empire from the fate of the Roman is what the Romans omitted, the encouragement of local independence, the sacrifice of mere mechanical efficiency to that infinite diversity of individual civilizations which keeps nations alive. The recent Canadian attempt to make a treaty of reciprocity with the United States produced some excellent examples of the viciousness of Imperialism. The Liberal Ministry allowed the British Ambassador in the States to place his services at the disposal of the Canadian Government. They assumed that it was not their business to dictate to the Canadians what commercial arrangements they should or should not make with foreign peoples, and they treated a Canadian Government which had been in office for seventeen years as properly representative of the Canadian people. The Tory Imperialists attacked them for assisting the Canadian Ministry in its negotiations. Their demand, in effect, was that the British Government should have at least tacitly disapproved of this assertion of Canadian independence. For the moment the Canadian people have refused to enter into the treaty. Ten years hence they may have changed their minds, and we shall then have a direct conflict between Imperialism and Canadian Nationalism. The Liberals would allow the Canadians to manage their own affairs as they think best. The Tories, even though they would refrain from force, would at least try to bribe [ 37 ] them into an artificial union, which they would not enter of their own free will.

The deterioration of Imperialism really dates from the South African War. This was the first expression of Imperial unity. But what was that unity worth, which was employed for the shameful purpose of destroying the local independence which it existed only to maintain? The whole justification of the Empire was that it enabled communities of different characters to grow freely within it, and the war destroyed what war should never have been undertaken except to preserve. The difference of opinion about that grave event marked the characteristic difference between Liberal and Tory. The life of the individual parts is everything to the Liberal, and their organization is only tolerable in so far as it protects and encourages that life. It is not to him, as it is to the Tory, a thing in itself, a permanent segregation of his race from the rest of humanity, a monopoly and a preserve, to be maintained as a weight in the balance of international power. Nor has he any doubt that the loosely knit federation, which he prefers, will prove in the end stronger against Foreign enemies than the drilled and disciplined union which the Tories want. The Roman Empire collapsed because of this unnatural perfection of strength. The native vigour and independence of its parts were sacrificed to centralization. By enslaving the minds of her dependents to the Imperial idea, Rome threw herself open to less organized but more individualistic enemies. By leaving the inhabitants of her Dominions to develop themselves according to their own ideas, and not by managing them as potential weapons against the foreigner, Great Britain has brought herself to her present strength. A conscript army may be maintained for an indefinite period by constantly renewing the recruits. Nations cannot be renewed, and a conscript Empire must inevitably perish of its own rigidity.

Imperialists often speak of the Empire as if it consisted entirely of self-governing dominions of white men. In fact, by far the greater part of it is governed despotically, and consists of countries where white men cannot make permanent settlements. This [ 38 ] part of the Empire the Liberal regards from two points of view. The less civilized or less powerful races which inhabit them are as individual to him as are the Canadians or the Germans, and are no more to be used by him for his own interest. "A superior race is bound to observe the highest current morality of the time in all its dealings with the subject race."[23] Order, justice, capital, the development of natural resources, and education, with an honest spirit in the Government, may help rather than retard the growth of the local life. But with the benefits of civilization is too often introduced the temper of exploitation. Confiscation, massacre, slavery, open or disguised, and the abuse of native women, have been common enough in the building of the Empire, and the conduct of men like Cole of Nairobi and Lewis of Rhodesia shows that the same habit of mind is far from rare at this day.[24] The modern history of South Africa contains more than one disreputable passage of this kind, and if the development of territories like Uganda and Batsutoland has been more disinterested, it is only because they offered less easy prizes to the rapacity of trading companies and financiers. The primary motive of all our appropriations of territory has of course been our desire to increase our own wealth, and in most quarters we have been more anxious to force the native population into labour for our profit than to improve their condition or character. The plea that our Empire is justified because it elevates inferior races is a piece of cant which has been grafted on to a purely materialistic system. How little separates us even now from the old slavery may be seen in the following passage from a Tory newspaper: "In all essential qualities of racial progress, in self-control, perseverance, reasoning power, and so forth, the negro races are far behind the white.... The negro is given new racial ambitions by the acquisition of civil and in some cases of political rights.... The white South [ 39 ] African ... may be forced to reconsider his whole native policy.... Education is a frightful source of mischief.... Industrial education, the painful teaching of toil in civilization, must precede the higher development."[25] In plain English, we may have to disfranchise the coloured voters of Cape Colony, shut up their schools and churches, and reduce them to slavery. In just such language did the West Indian planters reason in the days of Wilberforce, from the fact of inferiority, through the deprivation of the means of improvement, to the ultimate destruction of character in "industrial education." It is in problems of this sort that the Liberal sees the evil side of Empire. It is more important to him that the black races of Cape Colony should not be deprived of the franchise than that South Africa should be able to assist Great Britain in time of war. If the country can only be included in the Empire at the cost of this deliberate degradation of the native peoples, it is better in his eyes that it should become independent. When the Empire ceases to encourage the growth of all peoples within it, the justification of it has ceased to exist.[26]

The badness of this government of less efficient races lies not only in its possible, and almost inevitable, exploitation of those races themselves, but in its reaction upon the people of Great Britain. There are very few men who can occupy themselves even with the honest and disinterested management of the affairs of a subject people without suffering some deterioration of their love of liberty. However benevolent despotism may be, it is always despotism. The essence of such government as that of India is to dispose of the fortunes of a people according to our own opinion of what is best for them, and not according to theirs. When it is bad, it is tyranny. When it is good, as it nearly always is, it is indulgence. It is never responsibility. It never [ 40 ] seriously contemplates the time when the subject shall control his own affairs, or shall even be associated on equal terms with the foreign conqueror. Those who grow accustomed to this absolute power can never work comfortably with free institutions, and the whole of the governing race tends to become infected with the disposing habit. The business of government becomes more than the spirit of it, the mechanical successes of administration are applauded, while the stultification of the general mind is overlooked. Efficiency is exaggerated at the expense of freedom, criticism of the Ministry is treated as insolence, and the right of every intelligent man to interest himself in the affairs of his own country is subordinated to the convenience of officials.[27] The official always looks up and not down for approval and censure, and he cannot depress the eye of his mind when he returns home from one of our foreign dependencies. The Imperialist revival of the last thirty years has thus coincided, not only with the neglect of domestic affairs, but with the active suppression of domestic freedom. The foremost champions of the House of Lords in 1909 were a retired Viceroy of India and a man who, after a successful career in Egypt, had been the mouthpiece of British insolence in South Africa. The best name in the list of the opponents of Woman Suffrage is that of the greatest despot that Egypt has ever known. "Is it not just possible," asked Cobden in 1860, "that we may become corrupted at home by the reaction of arbitrary political maxims in the East upon our domestic politics, just as Greece and Rome were demoralized by their contact with Asia?"[28] No Liberal who has watched the joint progress of [ 41 ] Imperial expansion and domestic reaction, which has taken place since Cobden's death, can answer that searching question in the negative.


The foregoing examination will be sufficient to indicate the scope and the method of the following chapters. They attempt to describe the political growth of the country, from a time when power was confined to a small disposing class, to the present day, when we have reached a well-defined stage on our advance towards complete equality of values. They also deal with the varying fortunes of Liberal ideas in foreign policy. The process seems to the writer to resemble the change from the old Ptolemaic to the new Copernican system of Astronomy. The old astronomers believed that the Earth was the centre of the Universe, and that the planets revolved about it. The new astronomers discovered that the Earth was not the centre, and that the other planets, though they had certain relations with and attractions for the earth, actually were, in the main, independent of it, and revolved, like it, about a common centre in orbits of their own. Similarly Toryism imagined that the unprivileged sex, classes, and creeds existed for no other purpose than fulfilling those duties which related to itself, and for enjoying those rights which proceeded from itself. It has been compelled to recognize that other individuals, however united with the dominant class for certain limited purposes, have their independent interests, orbits, and personalities. The writer cannot pretend to be indifferent, as between Liberalism and Toryism. But the last chapter will be sufficient proof that he is not over-full of the spirit of mere party.

1 ^  T. H. Green, Works, iii. 367.

2 ^  L. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism, 122.

3 ^  L. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism, 126, 127, 133.

4 ^  L. T. Hobhouse, Democracy and Reaction (2nd edition), 166.

5 ^  Bulwer's Life of Palmerston, i. 278. Palmerston's list of "Liberals" of June, 1828, includes 11 Peers and 37 Commoners.

6 ^  Representative Government, chap. xvi.

7 ^  J. A. Hobson, Imperialism (1905 edition), 319.

8 ^  Morley's Life of Cobden (popular edition), 529. The reference is to Russia's assistance of Austria against the Hungarians.

9 ^  Daily News, 16th February, 1912.

10 ^  There are few modern expressions of a general theory of Tory politics. The Letters of an Englishman (Constable, 1911, 1912) are almost pure Toryism. Lord Hugh Cecil's Conservatism is tinged with Liberal ideas on Free Trade and Foreign Affairs. Mr. Pierse Loftus's Conservative Party and the Future is essentially Tory, but is rather suggestion for the future than an expression of the present mind of Toryism. Mr. J. M. Kennedy's Tory Democracy is the philosophy of Nietzsche masquerading in political dress, and bears no relation to practical politics, past, present, or future. Mr. Price Collier's England and the English is the Toryism of an American who has enjoyed the hospitality of the leisured class, and has read the Times with some diligence. The cheap reprint is introduced by a characteristic eulogy from the pen of Lord Rosebery, who seems to have spent the last twenty-five years, if not in a castle in Spain, at least in an eighteenth-century nobleman's country house. Neither he nor Mr. Collier seems to have any knowledge of the industrial North. The Standard has now opened its columns to a discussion of the principles and proposals of Toryism, but I have not yet (December, 1912) detected much system in what has been published. Various periodicals express various shades of Toryism, from the purity of Mr. W. S. Lilly, through the individualism of Mr. A. Baumann, to the Protectionist-Social Reform School of "Curio."

11 ^  But most of the Tory Suffragists stop at a narrow property franchise.

12 ^  Mr. Lewis Harcourt at the Albert Hall, 28th February, 1911.

13 ^  T. H. Green, Works, iii. cxii.

14 ^  T. H. Green, Political Obligation, § 122.

15 ^  Hansard, III. cxxiv. 602.

16 ^  Letters to a Friend on Votes for Women.

17 ^  Speeches reprinted from the Times, 47.

18 ^  National Review, May, 1912, 420.

19 ^  Observer, leading article, 15th September, 1912.

20 ^  At the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, 13th November, 1896.

21 ^  Morning Post, leading article, 22nd August, 1912. The most startling feature of this passage is its assumption that patriotism can be bought, and, indeed, cannot be made secure except by being bought. If it be true that patriotism follows the cash, we are bound to the Argentine Republic and the United States by as close ties as to Canada, and if the present flow of British capital continues, our hearts will soon warm towards Russia. For the Liberal view of Empire, half a century old, see Gladstone's speech (1855), quoted in Morley's Life of Gladstone, i. 363.

22 ^  See, for example, leading articles in the Morning Post, 18th July, 1912, and Daily Telegraph, 12th July, 1912.

23 ^  Morley's Burke (English Men of Letters), 136.

24 ^  Cole shot a black man because he suspected him of stealing sheep. Lewis shot another because his daughter said he had insulted her. Both acts were done in cold blood, and with the approval of local whites. There was no suggestion in either case that the law was inadequate or could not have been enforced.

25 ^  Morning Post, leading article, 14th May, 1912.

26 ^  The grossest modern example of Tory Imperialism is Mr. Bonar Law's proposal, while claiming the right to close English markets to foreign manufacturers, to keep those of India, whether Indians like it or not, open to English manufacturers. It is matched by his proposal that it should be left to the Dominions to say whether or not our own food supplies should be free or taxed.

27 ^  The Times recently spoke of "insolence" when a meeting of East Lancashire manufacturers and Members of Parliament criticized Sir Edward Grey's policy in Persia. We may be wrong in the North. But we shall always think for ourselves. The same journal has made a vicious attack upon the Supreme Court of India, because it interferes with the arbitrary acts of executive officers.

28 ^  Moray's Life of Cobden, ii. 361. The Review of Reviews furnished another example of this vicious reaction when it urged (October, 1912) that England must not put pressure upon Turkey to reform its government of Macedonia, because such action would impair our authority over the Moslem of India. In other words, because of our Empire, we must connive at murder, rape, and every form of brigandage.