Lord E. Fitzmaurice Made Some Sort
Of Reply, And There Were Ministerial Cheers.
But the subject, Once raised,
was not allowed to drop.
Inspired and animated by the earnest energy of
a young man, the Opposition were continually growing stronger. The conduct
of Egyptian affairs afforded ample opportunity for criticism and attack.
All through the summer months and almost every night Ministers were
invited to declare whether they would rescue their envoy or leave him to
his fate. Mr. Gladstone returned evasive answers. The Conservative Press
took the cue. The agitation became intense. Even among the supporters of
the Government there was dissatisfaction. But the Prime Minister was
obdurate and unflinching. At length, at the end of the Session, the whole
matter was brought forward in the gravest and most formal way by the
moving of a vote of censure. The debate that followed Sir Michael Hicks
Beach's motion was long and acrimonious. Mr. Gladstone's speech only
increased the disquietude of his followers and the fury of the Opposition.
Mr. Forster openly declared his disagreement with his leader; and although
Lord Hartington in winding up the debate threw out some hopes of an
expedition in the autumn, the Government majority fell on the division to
twenty-eight. And after the prorogation the controversy was carried on
with undiminished vigour outside the walls of Parliament, and the clamour
in the country grew louder and louder.
It is usual to look upon Mr. Gladstone's conduct in the matter of the
relief of Gordon as dictated by benevolent weakness.
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