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diced as men of the stamp of Sir Wilfrid Lawson are, the Liberal party would be in a poor way without them ; and our political leaders are indebted to Sir Wilfrid himself

for many a cold douche of common-sense administered to them at moments when their feelings or their party interests had to some extent obscured their judgment.

It is, however, in connection with the great question of licensing reform that the Member for Carlisle is best known to the world. For years past he has been the guiding spirit of the United Kingdom Alliance, and the most prominent promoter, both in and out of Parliament, of the measure known as the Permissive Bill. Nobody who has been brought in contact with him in connection with this question, whether as a friend or an antagonist, can doub great sincerity of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, or can withhold from him the credit which is

his due for his devotion to so noble a

cause.

For many years he has done more than any other prominent politician to keep the subject of our national drunkenness alive on the platform and in the House of Commons. To him, more perhaps than to any other man, we owe it that in every great town in the country there is a large and powerful organisation, the first object of which is to restrain, if not altogether to abolish, the sale of intoxicating liquors. Even those who may have least sympathy with the methods by which Sir Wilfrid works, those who have least faith in the panacea which he has so long offered to the public for acceptance, cannot deny his claim to the gratitude of his fellow-countrymen for the extent and zeal of his labours in the cause of licensing reform. Yet it is in this very branch of his public work that those defects which I have already mentioned as characterising his political school, have been most conspicuous. The hardness and narrowness and lack of sympathy with others which mark Radicals of his type in their political life, have been strikingly displayed by the Member for Carlisle in the great social campaign in which he has taken so prominent a part. Having adopted the Permissive Bill, which by general consent on the part of statesmen, philosophers, students, and men of affairs, is one of the most hopeless remedies ever proposed for a terrible disease, he has been so confident of his own wisdom that he has treated, if not with actual hostility, at any rate with studied coldness and indifference, the views of all those reformers whose opinions did not run in the same lines as his own. The result is, that for years we have seen those who should have been working shoulder to shoulder, separated by bitter feuds, and pulling in different directions. Sir Wilfred's panacea has doubtless been accepted by great numbers of persons; but his followers would have been vastly increased numerically, and would have wielded an enormously increased influence, if he had permitted them a little latitude in pronouncing the shibboleth of their sect. If he had taken a broader and more statesmanlike view of the question which he has studied with so much zeal, he would never have made the mistake of raising his Bill to the dignity of a political test; and he would in

consequence have been in a far better position, so far as this question of licensing reform is concerned, than that which he occupies now. Fortunately, there have of late been some signs of a change of purpose on his part.

He has somewhat tardily seen the folly of shutting out from the ranks of his supporters men who, though they may differ from him as to the particular remedy to be employed, are at one with him as to the result to be obtained.

The partial concession which he made on his last appearance before the House as a leader of licensing reform is, it is to be hoped, but a step towards the complete fusion, on a broad and reasonable basis, of all those who seek to bring about a change in a system which is the source of so much suffering and crime to the people of these islands. Sir Wilfrid's wit, as I have said, is not of the first order ; but, combined with his earnestness and his honesty, it has sufficed to gain for him the ear of the House, even when advocating a measure so repugnant to the feelings of Parliament as was the Permissive Bill. And even those of us who have least reason to admire the tactics pursued during many years by the United Kingdom Alliance, must bear testi

VOL. II.

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