A sober and subdued opposition.
I have always held that the present Government would first begin to fix its hold upon the country when it was face to face with Parliament. It was, during the vacation, like a great firm that is expected by everybody to do a vast amount of business, but that has been unduly and unexpectedly delayed in building its works. A visit to the House of Commons during the week ending February 24th would have exemplified what I say. It is true there would have been missed all the intense fury and excitement which characterised one of the most exciting and interesting weeks the House of Commons has seen for many a day. There was a calm, the deadliness of which it is impossible to exaggerate. But periods of calm are much more interesting to Governments than to the public. When there are the noise and tumult of battle; when the galleries are crowded—when peers jostle each other in the race for seats—when the Prince of Wales comes down to his place over the clock, then you may take it for granted that the business of the country is at a standstill; and that just so much of the public time is being wasted in mere emptiness and talk. But when the House is half empty—when the galleries are no longer full—when debates are brief and passionless, then you can reasonably conclude that things are going well with the Government; that useful business is in progress; and that something is being really added to the happiness of the nation.
[Sidenote: The humbled Opposition.]