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Scotch Notes., Issue 7913, 22 May 1889
The principal political event of last month was a fresh descent of feminine enthusiasm into the arena. Mr Gladstone ia said to have expressed the opinion that the Countess of Aberdeen will be known in history as one of the most remarkable women of the century. It must be confessed that her ladyship repays his good opinion of her with interest. Her political creed may be summed up in some such form as this—that Liberalism is Christianity in politics, and that Mr Gladstone is its apostle. Lady Aberdeen is a person of considerable talent, great energy, and genuine philanthropic zeal. No humanitarian movement appeals to her in vain. Her friends fear lest she exhaust her strength and die young, as one of those whom the gods love. She has long ago graduated in politics, doing as much as her worthy husband to make his vice-royalty in Dublin popular with the Nationalists. And when the devout women of Gladstonianism determined that the Primrose League dames should not have the politics of hysteria all to themselves, it was natural for them to look to the peeress who bids fair to become the great lady of that color. So Lady Aberdeen came to Glasgow to help in starting the " Women's Liberal Association for Glasgow and the West of Scotland." So enormous a title has a poor chance of popularity beside the neat, though comparatively nonsensical, style of the " Primrose League," and Lord Elgin, who presided at the inauguration, was careful to explain that the Association was in no respect a copy of the League. The Association was not to administer its doses of politics under any guise of pleasant and frivolous sociality. The Association meant business, and was very much in earnest indeed. This was manifest when Lady Aberdeen began her address with the declaration that she did not think she could exaggerate the importance of the step they were taking. A sense of Imperial responsibility hushed her auditors. It was confessed that but for the previous organisations of Tory and Liberal Unionist women, the Gladstonian women would not have organised themselves. But the Primrose League had taught them that women, as well as men, had political duties. And however painful it might be to them and their friends, they must not shrink from doing their duty. Those who would exclude women from politics took a low view of politics and a narrow view of woman. If Liberalism could do for the people all that its advocates said—if it could help the poor and right social wrongs women had their place in its ranks. The principles of Christianity were the principles of Liberalism. Both demanded of them faith, love, and self-sacri-fice. And this found illustration in the statement that the nobility, the generosity, the justice of Mr Gladstone's Irish policy, and the reverse qualities of Mr Balfour's, appealed to Liberal women irresistibly. At this point one could not help recalling the famous remark of the French general who witnessed the chargo of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. And one thought of Mr Bradlaugh and of Mr Labouchere, who once tried to make a point by lamenting that Mr Balfoar's book on philosophic doubt had detached him from the Christian faith ! One also thought of Mr Balfour's polemic against Positivism at the Church Congress ! Still, Lady Aberdeen's joy in her mission was refreshing. She felt that without politics—no doubt Gladstonian politics —no true woman's life could be complete. People used to say this about marriage long ago. But Lady Aberdeen thinks that husband and wife will perfect their own lives by giving up part of each other's life, and giving up their children too, to the service of humanity. So at least she said in her speech at Glasgow, and Lord Aberdeen said that that speech was the best commentary upon the constitution of the new Association. Another lady, the wife of a well-known political divine in the city, followed this up, and perhaps explained what was otherwise dark enough with the remark that a woman who mighc not be able to undertake any outside work at all might yet do a great work for her country in her own homepresumably by teaching the little men of the future to play at Parnell Commission and call Mr Balfour a naughty man. This may explain why, in Edinburgh, two nights later, Lady Aberdeen explained that they need be in no hurry to seek the extension of the franchise to women. That would come in good time, and she hoped not (as was threatened) from the Conservatives, but from both parties combining to extend it to men and women alike on a new basis.
THE CHURCH QUESTION. The Town Council of which is trembling on the brink of bestowing the freedom of the city on Mr Parnell, has given another indication of its radicalism in determining not to elect a representative elder to the General Assembly, and forbidding the town clerk to countenance any snatched election of one by a majority of the Council. The church question in another form has been troubling the Town Council of Glasgow. The state of what are called the city churches there seems to be far from satisfactory. Besides the famous cathedral, there are nine of these erected and re erected at the public expense between the years 1622 and 1836 —viz., Blackfriars, St. Mary's (the Tron), St. David's (the Ramshorn), St. Andrew's, St. Enoch's, St. George's, St. John's, St. James's, and St. Paul's (the Outer High). It appears that these are now maintained at a heavy loss to the city. The deficiency of their revenue as compared with their expenses, which was fifty years ago Ll5O per annum, is now upwards of L 4.000 per annum, and in the case of St. Andrew's Church, of which Rev. Dr F. L. Robertson is incumbent, a decrease of upwards of 50 per cent, in seat rents had taken place during the last ten years. In view of these facts it was proposed that the Council should ask the Presbytery to look after the ministers, or should themselves insist that the ministers do their duty efficiently. Otherwise it were better to utilise the sites of the churches as open spaces for the citizens. The objectof this proposal was particularly to give a hint of unfaithfulness to Dr Robertson, who is suspected of giving his attention more to other business than to his cure of souls. Dr Robertson is a very clever man, invested with a plurality of offices, and capable of distinguishing himself as much on 'Change as in the pulpit; but his gains from all sources are disagreeable to his critics in the Council. It is a pity that his line of action creates so much unfavorable talk about the clergy. Meanwhile, no further notion has been taken, and people wait to see whether the Presbytery or Dr Robertson will take the hint. THE CROFTERS' COMMISSION.
The Crofterß Commissioners' reports for last year deal with Inverness • shire, Roasshire, Lochinvar, Orkney and Shetland, and the Lewis. In these districts a fair rent was fixed in 2,185 cases, the rental of which over all has been reduced from L 11.882 to L 8.350. The average reduction is 29.47, ranging from a maximum of 51.10 to a minimum of 13.09 per cent. Arrears have been reduced from L 20.325 to L 6.428. In addition to these advantages, the Sutherlandshire crofters have had 6,500 acres added to their holdings. Much more land will be asked for before the wants of their comrades elsewhere are satisfied.—Edinburgh correspondent Melbourne ' Telegraph.' _______»___-
Scotch Notes., Issue 7913, 22 May 1889
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