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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 93, November 5, 1887   By:

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VOL. 93.

November 5th 1887.



Liverpool, Saturday Noon.



My boat is on the shore, And my bark is on the sea, But before I go, TO BEE, I will write a line to thee. I am here to join the bark aforesaid, which will presently convey JOSEPH and his fortunes to the United States. As far as one can judge from the Press news telegraphed here, the reception that awaits me is not very cordial. I have all my life been conscious of a tendency to rub people down the wrong way. Unhappily the consciousness is borne in upon me only after the evil is effected. No succession of experience has effect upon my conduct. HARTINGTON and I are pretty good friends now, but I daresay you will remember the night, now a dozen years dead, when I rose from a seat below the Gangway in the House of Commons and, amid frantic cheers from the little Radical Party of which I was then a humble ornament, denounced him as " late the Leader of the Liberal Party." The Markiss is now my friend and ally, and I might almost say patron. The time is too short for me to recall a tithe of the nasty things I have said about him and others who toil not, neither do they spin. With GLADSTONE the process is reversed, but in the end is much the same. I began by adulating him, and now no one can say that that is my precise attitude towards him.

It is more or less well as far as individuals are concerned. But I am afraid I put my foot in it when, in defiance of historic warning, I framed an indictment against a whole nation. Going out to the New World on a mission of peace, I began by aggravating Canada and setting up the back of the United States. When I reflect how easy it would have been for me to say nothing, I stand amazed at my own indiscretion. The only recompense I find in the situation is the chagrin of the Markiss and his friends. They thought they had done a nice stroke of policy in engaging me on this business. It is, of course, not a new procedure. If I were still on the other side, I should take delight in showing that herein, as in the matter of the Convention with France just completed, they have taken a leaf out of the book of their political opponents, and re issued it with their own imprimatur. The last time a Commissioner was sent out from England to reason with the United States, GLADSTONE was in the Markiss's place, and he selected STAFFORD NORTHCOTE as the agent. It was an excellent device, tying in advance the hands of the enemy, who could scarcely denounce a policy for the initiation and direction of which one of their principal men was chiefly responsible. But what a difference between STAFFORD NORTHCOTE and me! a difference which the Markiss is already beginning to realise. The proposal suited me well enough. It would take me away from the country at a time when my presence here only involves me in embarrassing controversy. Moreover, if I made a great hit, and insured a successful Treaty, it would pave the way for my return to my old position in the popular esteem. As for the Markiss, my acceptance of the work would secure for him an ally on the Opposition benches in the event of future debate arising out of the Treaty, and would draw into close, personal union with his Party what only natural modesty prevents me from alluding to as a formidable antagonist. That was the little game; and for the sake of saying something bitter, under the temptation to gird at an adversary that had affronted me, I hopelessly spoiled it.

Writing to you, cher TOBY, in the confidence of friendly correspondence (I suppose your letters are not opened at the Post Office, Barkshire not being an Irish county) I will confess that I really could not help it. It is not that I do not know better, but my temper is perhaps a little peculiar. I am essentially a fighting man. If any one bites his thumb at me I will know the reason why, and no considerations of what is politic will prevent me from returning a blow... Continue reading book >>

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