THE SEXTON INCIDENT.
[Sidenote: Mr. Sexton.]
The resignation of Mr. Sexton, early in June, seemed to point to one of those disastrous splits in the Irish ranks which have always come at the wrong moment to spoil the chances of the Irish cause. There were many whose memories were brought back by the event to that trying and strange time when Mr. Parnell fought his desperate battle for the continuance of his leadership. But then there were many modifications of the position, and the chief of these was the much greater tranquillity with which the affair was regarded; and the general faith that the Irish members would be wise enough to settle their differences satisfactorily. Still there were some very ugly moments.
[Sidenote: A Conservative opportunity.]
Nothing could be more galling, for instance, to those who had charge of the Home Rule Bill, than to look across at the Irish Benches and see a vast and aching void in the places where the representatives of the people mainly concerned are accustomed to sit. The Tories were not slow to utilise the moment; and if things had been different—if the Home Rule cause had not got so far—they would probably have been able to stop progress with the measure altogether. But fortunately the Home Rule Bill was in committee—and whether men like it or not, it is impossible for them to avoid something like business discussion when a Bill is in committee. There is the clause under discussion; there are the amendments to it, which stand on the paper; the clause and the amendments have to be spoken to; and it is impossible, within the limits of a discussion so defined, to introduce a subject so extraneous as a domestic difficulty in the Irish ranks. But, at the same time, the opportunity was too tempting to be altogether passed without notice. Sir John Lubbock has taken a prominent part at times in opposing the Home Rule Bill. Sir John is a most estimable man, has written some very entertaining books, and in the City has appropriate rank as both an erudite and a rich banker. But he does not shine in the House of Commons. His voice is thin and feeble, and his arguments, somehow or other, always appear wire-drawn. And then the House of Commons is a place, above all others, where physical qualities go largely towards making success or failure. A robustious voice and manner are the very first essentials of Parliamentary success; and no man who is not gifted with these things has really much right to try Parliamentary life. However, Sir John Lubbock was not strong enough to withstand the temptation of making capital out of Irish misfortunes; and he pointed to the Irish Benches, with their yawning emptiness, as a proof that the Irish members took no interest whatsoever in the Home Bale Bill.
[Sidenote: Irish objections to divorce.]