PARLIAMENT is a great thing, but it is not a cheerful thing. Just reflect on the existence of 'Mr Speaker.' First, a small man speaks to him—then a shrill man speaks to him—then a man who cannot speak will speak to him. He leads a life of 'passing tolls,' joint-stock companies, and members out of order. Life is short, but the forms of the House are long. MrEwart complains that a multitude of members, including the Prime Minister himself, actually go to sleep. The very morning paper feels the weight of this leaden regime. Even in the dullest society you hear complaints of the dullness of Parliament—of the representative tedium of the nation.
That an Englishman should grumble is quite right, but that he should grumble at gravity is hardly right. He is rarely a lively being himself, and he should have a sympathy with those of his kind. And he should further be reminded that his criticism is out of place—that dullness in matters of government is a good sign, and not a bad one that, in particular, dullness in parliamentary government is a test of its excellence, an indication of its success. The truth is, all the best business is a little dull. If you go into a merchant's counting-house, you see steel pens, vouchers, files, books of depressing magnitude, desks of awful elevation, staid spiders, and sober clerks moving among the implements of tedium. No doubt, to the parties engaged, much of this is very attractive. 'What,' it has been well said, 'are technicalities to those without, are realities to those within.' To every line in those volumes, to every paper on those damp files, there has gone doubt, decision, action—the work of a considerate brain, the touch of a patient hand. Yet even to those engaged, it is commonly the least interesting business which is the best. The more the doubt, the greater the liability to error—the longer the consideration, generally the worse the result—the more the pain of decision, the greater the likelihood of failure. In Westminster Hall they have a legend of a litigant who stopped his case because the lawyers said it was 'int...