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office. They trusted to the imperfect memory and still more imperfect education of the electorate to which they appealed, for their candidates never seem to have been taunted with the total neglect of the agriculturists by the Liberals so long as they were unprovided with votes and unwilling to use them independently. The Unionist party in the House of Commons had, in addition, to bear the loss of several prominent members, two of whom, Mr. W. H. Smith and Lord Hartington, were wise and cautious advisers, both endowed with common sense-a quality of incalculable value in conducting public business and generally most needed in some unforeseen crisis. Mr. Balfour had therefore come to the leadership of the House at a most critical moment, and although no doubt as to his courage, his readiness, and his ability found expression, there were not a few who foresaw that the management of a coalition party in the last session of a long Parliament would have been safer in the hands of a less brilliant but more prudent leader. Moreover, in the conduct of public business Mr. Balfour might necessarily hesitate to impose his will upon his elder colleagues in regard to the conduct of the Bills placed in their respective charge, it being a recognised theory that each minister should regard his own Bill as the one most indispensable alike for the nation as for the stability of the Government. Nevertheless, by the admission of partisans and opponents, Mr. Balfour was the only Parliamentary leader who had increased his reputation during the year. Mr. Gladstone's pre-eminence was never in question, but in spite of his occasionally brilliant oratorical displays it was seen that if the weight of years did not bend his back or shorten his step, there were other signs which led men to think him unequal to conduct, unaided, the management of a party, and still less the leadership of the House, should he be re-called to assume it.
SCOTLAND AND IRELAND.
THE history of Scotland during the year might be briefly summed up in the words Alarms and Excursions'-alarms from numerous conflicts between capital and labour, and excursions of political leaders across the border to stir up or to encourage the zeal of their respective supporters. The long protracted struggle between the railway companies and their servants with which the year opened inflicted a vast amount of inconvenience upon the innocent travelling public, and thereby the sympathy which the strikers might otherwise have enlisted was lost. The chief points demanded by the men on the North
British, the Caledonian, and the Glasgow and South-Western Railways were a recognised limit of ten hours for all employed, except in the case of those in busy shunting yards, where eight hours only were to be the limit, the hours of work reckoned by each day, not on the aggregate of the fortnight; increased pay for overtime and Sundays; annual holidays, and the mileage system for both goods and passenger trains. The number of men who came out was about 9,000, and at least six weeks passed before the negotiations between the directors and the men came to a close, the self-constituted representatives of the latter raising all sorts of trivial objections because they were ignored by the directors. In the end the men gave way, and the companies being free to treat direct with them, were able to make certain concessions, to abandon all prosecutions, and to promise to take back the men as far as their places were open. The companies had, however, shown that they were able, although at a great cost, to cope with a great strike, and that they were able to set aside the officials of the union. The Earl of Wemyss, in the House of Lords, said that the strike had resulted in a loss to Scotland of a million sterling, and of between 200,000l. and 300,000l. to the railway companies.
The only Bill before Parliament specially relating to Scotland was the Private Bill Procedure Bill. The Government proposed, in February, to refer it to a Select Committee of the House of Commons; but, owing to a difference of opinion between the Government and the Opposition as to the best manner of dealing with the measure, and especially as to the constitution of the proposed commission, the Bill was dropped, to the great regret of many persons in Scotland. When, under the Budget proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a surplus of two millions was appropriated to free or "assist" education in England and Wales, Scotland became entitled to an "equivalent" grant of about 220,000Z., the probate duty grant having already been applied to free education there in 1889. Claims to a share in that sum were at once made by various interestsUniversity education, secondary and technical education, a national library, and relief of parochial and other rates. sum actually available for the current year was only 100,000Z., the Government resolved to apply the whole of that sum for one year in relief of local rates, to be administered by the municipal authorities in counties, burghs, and police burghs, leaving for the consideration of Parliament next Session the appropriation of the larger sum. In June the Scotch Education Department issued a minute abolishing all fees in the case of children between five and fourteen years of age. These were the ages afterwards specified in the English Elementary Education Act, but, at the instance of the Scottish members, the Government altered the limits in Scotland to the ages of three and fourteen.
The proposals of the Government for carrying out the recom
mendation of the West Highland Commission included an additional expenditure of nearly 7,000l. a year to secure a more rapid, more frequent, and more regular steamboat service between the Hebrides and the mainland, the improvement of roads in Lewis, a great extension of telegraph lines in the Hebrides and in Orkney and Shetland, the expenditure of 4,000l. on lighthouses and beacons, and of 40,000l. on new piers, breakwaters, and harbours. The Crofters' Commissioners continued their labours during the year, and on many estates in the Hebrides and on the mainland rents were greatly reduced, and arrears to a large extent wiped out. The reduction of rents varied from 25 to 41 per cent., and the proportion of arrears extinguished was generally 70 per cent., and sometimes more. In a few instances rents were slightly raised, and applications for more land were generally acceded to by the landlords, the tenants admitting that the Crofters' Act was of real use and the source of general contentment. It will have been seen from the foregoing chapters that the visits of the Unionist leaders to Scotland have been more numerous than those of their opponents. The Gladstonian cause was regarded as safe in the event of a General Election, as they held already forty-five out of the seventy-two seats by which Scotland is represented in Parliament, and in at least twenty-four out of the twenty-seven seats held by the Conservatives the Unionists were seriously threatened. The two contested elections of the year-at Paisley and in Buteshire-revealed nothing from which any forecast of the future could be gathered. For the first-named constituency a Gladstonian, and in the latter a Unionist, replaced representatives of the same party, and in each case were elected by slightly reduced majorities.
The political issue in Scotland turned rather upon disestablishment and Home Rule for its own people than upon any eagerness to extend to Ireland privileges which Scotland did not enjoy. Both Unionists and Gladstonians combined the religious with the political question in their speeches. Mr. Balfour and Mr. Goschen urged that the Scotch vote for Irish Home Rule was being purchased with promises of Disestablishment, and their supporters were not unnaturally indignant that their Church should be sacrificed to the political expediency of their opponents. At the closing meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Moderator (Dr. MacGregor) reviewed the history of the Scottish Church, and enlarged upon the evils which would flow from Disestablishment. The United Presbyterian Synod and the Free Church Assembly, on the other hand, renewed their testimonies in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment, and at a later period there seemed to be some attempt set on foot to bring about a reunion of these two bodies.
The burning question in the Free Church Assembly, however, was a proposed Declaratory Act, setting forth the relations
of the Church to its confessional teaching. That was in fact a proposal on the part of the leaders of the Free Church to relax the rules of orthodoxy, so as to make room for the peculiar doctrines of such men as Professor Dods and Professor Bruce, whose teachings were very distasteful to the strict Calvinists represented by Mr. M'Caskill of Dingwall and Mr. W. Balfour of Edinburgh. This Act was approved by the Presbyteries of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other places by large majorities. A prominent member of the committee intrusted with the consideration of the Declaratory Act affirmed that the effect of it was to convert the Free Church into a "Church of the Holy Ambiguity," maintaining at the same time that the Act in question offered the best possible solution of the doctrinal difficulties in which the Free Church was involved. He added that, if the strict Calvinists did not accept the terms offered now, they would have to face more disastrous issues afterwards.
The legislation of previous sessions led to the introduction of numerous changes in the University system. The most important of these were concerned with graduation in arts, in medicine, and in science, with examinations, with the institution of a faculty of music in Edinburgh, with the education and graduation of women in the faculties of arts and medicine, and with the status of assistants and lecturers. These ordinances, Liberal in their general tendency, did not entirely satisfy university reformers. The wide range of options proposed in the arts ordinance was held to be to a large extent illusory, and the ordinance on medical education in Edinburgh was pronounced deficient because it did not provide for an adequate increase in practical classes, in which the Edinburgh school was at one time in advance, but was now held to be backward in comparison with the medical schools of London, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, and other English centres. Moreover, while English universities still adhered to compulsory Greek, it was proposed to make Greek an optional subject in all the universities of Scotland.
The returns of the census taken in March showed the population of Scotland to be 4,033,103, being an increase of 297,530 since 1881. The chief features of interest revealed in the returns were a great increase in the populations of the larger towns and a great decline in the rural population. In 1841, for example, the eight principal towns in Scotland contained less than a quarter of the whole population of the country. They now contained fully one-third of it. The increase was naturally found to be greatest in the manufacturing towns. Glasgow still stood at the head of Scottish cities, with a population of 565,714—an increase of 54,299 since 1881; but the increase was less in the city of Glasgow itself than in its busy and ever-growing suburbs. Greenock was the only large town in Scotland in which the population had gone back during the decade--a result due to the collapse of the sugar trade. In 1881 it stood in the fifth
place, now both Leith and Paisley leaped over it, and it was in the seventh place. It was not only in the great cities, such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee, that a high rate of increase was perceptible. It was seen also in such provincial towns as Ayr, Kirkcaldy, Hawick, Galashiels, Airdrie, and Motherwell, for the most part growing industrial centres. In quiet residential towns like Perth, Stirling, and Kelso, though there was not an actual decline, there was a much slower rate of progress. Montrose and Forfar, which used to have a good record in connection with the linen trades, were among the backgoing towns. The decline in the rural population was most conspicuous, as might have been expected, in the Highlands, but it was not uniform there. There was also diminution in several Lowland counties, for example, in East Lothian, Midlothian, and Peeblesshire.
The negotiations for a settlement of the differences between Mr. Parnell and the majority of his late party, which were begun at Boulogne at the close of 1890, were resumed in the first week of the new year. Mr. Parnell again met Mr. W. O'Brien at Boulogne, and their conferences, which were of a friendly nature, were at first believed to be tending to a peaceful conclusion; but a hitch arose, and Mr. Dillon, who still remained in America, was sent for to mediate. Meanwhile Mr. Parnell returned to Ireland, where he continued to deliver speeches containing bitter attacks upon Mr. Gladstone, the Irish bishops, and the seceders from his party, while he spoke with significant friendliness of Mr. W. O'Brien, whom he described as one man amongst a million," and a "trusted and true friend of Ireland." Mr. Dillon promptly obeyed the summons addressed to him. Landing at Boulogne (Jan. 18), he first discussed the situation with Mr. O'Brien in a long conference at that place, and the two colleagues then retired for some days to Paris. Representatives of the press were informed that Mr. Dillon was in perfect agreement with Mr. O'Brien, and that a satisfactory settlement might be expected. Subsequently the scene shifted again to Boulogne, and for several weeks there was a continuous going and coming of Irish members across the Channel. The most diverse accounts of the proceedings were given, but the prevailing view was that Mr. McCarthy was to be superseded in the leadership of the Parliamentary party by Mr. Dillon, and that Mr. Parnell's retirement, which was to be more or less temporary, was to be made as little unpleasant to him as possible. More light was thrown upon the actual proposals later in the year, but the negotiations now suddenly broke down, and the failure to come to an understanding was announced in a letter from Mr. Parnell to Mr. O'Brien. The reasons for the failure were not disclosed by Mr. Parnell, though he said he had "perceived within the