THE END OF A GREAT WEEK.
[Sidenote: Mr. Goschen.]
The Tories were not in good heart at the beginning of the week which saw the second reading of the Home Rule Bill carried on April 21st, and perhaps it was owing to this that they put up one of their very best men. Mr. Goschen I have always held to be one of the really great debaters of the House of Commons. It is true that he has almost every physical disadvantage with which an orator could be cursed. His voice is hoarse, muffled, raucous, with some reminiscences of the Teutonic fatherland from which he remotely comes. His shortness of sight amounts almost to a disability. Whenever he has anything to read he has to place the paper under his eyes, and even then he finds it very difficult to read it. His action is like that of a distracted wind-mill. He beats the air with his whirling arms; he stands several feet from the table, and moves backwards and forwards in this space in a positively distracting manner. And yet he is a great debater.
[Sidenote: In Opposition.]
But Mr. Goschen, like every other orator of the Opposition, has fallen on somewhat evil days, and is not at his very best now. “The world,” said Thackeray long ago, “is a wretched snob, and is especially cold to the unsuccessful.” This applies to that portion of the world which changes sides in the House of Commons according to the resolves of the popular verdict. Mr. Goschen, then, is not seen at his best in these days when all his arguments can receive the triumphant and unanswerable retort of a majority in the division lobbies. But still, the speech of Mr. Goschen on April 17th was an excellent one; it was really the first, since the beginning of this debate, which struck me as giving something to answer. Acute, subtle, a dialectician to his finger-tips, Mr. Goschen is best as a critic, and as a bit of criticism, his attack on the Bill was excellent. Mr. Morley found himself compelled for the first time for days to take serious notes; here at last were points which it was necessary to confront. After all the dreary platitudes of many days, this was a mercy for which to be thankful.