There came, then, a series of incidents which threw the House into convulsions of rancorous scorn and farcical laughter. Earlier in the evening there had been a speech by Mr. Kenyon. Words fail to describe the kind of speech Mr. Kenyon delivers. Sometimes one is doubtful as to the sex of the speaker, for he moans out his lamentations over “the dear old Church of England” exactly as one would imagine a sweet old lady with a gingham umbrella and a widow’s cap to intone it. Meantime, the rest of the House is convulsed with laughter, so that there is the curious contrast of one man—Punch-like in complexion and face—reciting a dirge while the rest of the House are holding their universal sides with laughter. The anger came when Sir Henry James and Mr. T.W. Russell were seen to be fluctuating between the Liberal and the Tory lobby. Joe wisely found a convenient engagement at Birmingham. At last Toryism prevailed, and amid a tempest of ironical cheers, the Liberal renegades went into the Tory lobby.
Then the Tories were beaten by a majority of 56, after which they tried a little obstruction. But it was promptly sat upon; the closure was moved; only the solitary and plaintive voice of Mr. Kenyon rose in protest against it, and so, amid shouts of laughter and triumph, the doom of the Welsh Establishment was pronounced.
The personal element.
[Sidenote: Small jealousies and great questions.]
It is one of the delights of Parliamentary life that you can never be sure of what is going to take place. The strongest of all possible Governments may be threatened, and even destroyed, in the course of a sunny afternoon, which has begun in gaiety and brightest hope; a reputation may grow or be destroyed in an hour; and an intrigue may burst upon the assembly in a moment, which has been slowly germinating for many weeks. Mr. Gladstone had a notice upon the paper on Monday, February 27th, the effect of which was to demand for the Government most of the time which ordinarily belongs to the private member. There is no notice which has more hidden or treacherous depths and cross-currents. For when you interfere with the private member, you suddenly come in collision with a vast number of personal vanities, and when you touch anything in the shape of personal vanity in politics you have got into a hornet’s nest, the multitudinousness, the pettiness, the malignity, the unexpectedness of which you can never appreciate. I sometimes gaze upon the House of Commons in a certain semi-detached spirit, and I ask myself if there be any place in the whole world where you can see so much of the mean as well as of the loftiest passions of human nature as in a legislative assembly. Look at these men sitting on the same bench and members of the same party—perhaps even with exactly the same great purpose to carry out in public policy, and neither really in the least dishonest nor insincere. They are talking in the most amicable manner, they pass with all in the world—including themselves—for bosom friends; and yet at a certain moment—in a given situation—they would stab each other in the back without compunction or hesitation, to gain a step in the race for distinction.