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uable part of the House of Commons is long will there be obstruction. But in its minority, whose function it is to so far as you muzzle the Opposition. criticize. Criticism takes time, and if you kill the House of Commons. you limit the time by closure, you may There may be differences of opinion certainly prevent a great deal of use as to the amount of legislation which is less and infinitely dreary criticism; but, necessary or desirable. With that on the other hand, you also prevent the question we are not now concerned. House from producing the one thing The interest of a Session is almost alwhich justifies its existence,-good criti- ways concentrated on one big Bill, on cism. Every member of the House is which the Government stakes its exclivided between two interests-his in- istence. That Bill is sure to be guilloterest as an actual or potential minis- tined. The application of the guilloterialist, and his interest as a potential tine is always the signal for an outcry or actual inember of the Opposition. of the outraged minority, and the The first interest tends to make him shorter the time given to unfettered subordinate every thing to the speedy discussion the more effective is the outcarrying out of the will of the Govern- cry. Hence we have the phenomenon ment; the second makes him yearn for which we may call vicarious obstruction, endless opportunities of debate and that is the obstruction of less important obstruction. If he wants the House and less contentious Bills, in order to of Commons business-like to-day, he prevent the progress of the larger measwill probably want it unbusiness-like ure. Herein lies the true problem for to-morrow. Pure-bred democracy only the reformers, for vicarious obstruclives in opposition, for democracy is al- tion means the wreck of many small ways aspiration and never attainment. Departmental Bills which offend no It is plain that any attempt to increase body and probably are urgently needed the amount of legislation means an in- by the few whom they concern. But crease of the powers of the Government here again no rules can be of the slightat the expense of the valuable critical est avail. These Bills must either not element in the House of Commons; it require the sanction of the House of means the prohibition of good criticism Commons, or they must be open to critas well as of bad; it means a step away icism. We must either boldly institute from democracy and towards bureau- something more than Droit Administratif cracy.
or we must confront the possibility of That a large amount of time is a waste of time. Such Bills may inwasted, and even wilfully wasted, in deed go up to Standing Committees, but futile talk, no one would deny. Yet if the report-stage has still to be reckoned the duty of an Opposition is to oppose, with, and if the report-stage be curit is their duty to talk not less, but tailed, the House is deprived of all right more than is absolutely necessary. At of detailed criticism. The remedy, if any rate it is the plain truth that no there is one, must lie with the GovernOpposition will willingly give way on ment. It is perhaps too much to hope to-day's Bill in order that the Govern- for a Session devoted to small measment may proceed with an equally ob- ures, urgently needed but not clamornoxious measure to-morrow. There is ously demanded,- for a King's Speech in at present no choice between plentiful which there is no echo of the hustings. rhetoric and an unfettered Government. But no Government can justly excuse responsible only once in seven years. itself for omitting to pass a really unMake what rules you will, so long as contentious measure. Such a measthere is an articulate Opposition, so ure only acquires a fictitious conten
tiousness, if it be discussed to the ex- taken would probably suffice. Memclusion of the really contentious. Ifbers of Parliament bave no desire to it comes on when there is a certainty sit up all night, or to miss their train that no other business will be taken, it to the country, for the sake of opposing retains its true character. The suspen- a colorless Bill. The main hindrance sion of the eleven o'clock rule, or bet- to the passage of Departmental Bills is ter still of the five o'clock rule on Fri- not obstruction, but the fact that no poday, would have the desired effect with litical capital is to be made out of them. out hampering more important business In any case it is absurd to talk of gag. and without unduly taxing the energies ging the House of Commons, and so deof the House. Suspensions are on priving it of its chief function, to avoid general principles undesirable, but they adding one weary day to a weary sesare a convenient mode of announcing sion. Such reform, and it is the reform the Government's decision to pass a which seems to be implied in the word measure at all costs. That announce- business-like, is no reform at all; it is ment, if accompanied by the necessary destruction, pledge that no other business will be
Wilfred Johnston. Macmillan's Magazine.
A MILANESE MYSTERY.
CHAPTER III. Douglas passed the rest of the day dastard of the kind indicated by the in a state of increasing restlessness and press, whom to lay by the heels were conviction: the former because he did the manifest duty of the first righteous not know what to do to substantiate his man who discovered the cobbler's inbelief that Bassano the cobbler had famy, then he would share his triumph very much to do with the tragedies with no one. which were still an unelucidated marvel He hoped, and quarrelled with his to Milan, and the latter inevitably the hopes. more he sought other interpretations of In this confusion of mind he wanthe conduct and words of the cobbler dered about the city. He spent a silent and his daughter.
hour in the beautiful Duomo, apparently At one time he was for calling upon lost in pious meditation, but most of the the Cavaliere di Barese and telling him time thinking of those three or four all he knew and surmised. But scru- souls whose fate might chance to deples withheld him. It was very repug pend upon him: Bassano and his daughnant to him to think that he might be a ter, the worthy Marco, and that abwrecker of Bassano's home. He could breviated human devil of a Bolla, with not do it, indeed. How, for instance, the ears which declared him more would that poor, pretty girl look at him, brute-beast than man. There was beif he were thus proclaimed as a spy? sieds the Count, for whom he felt a disLook at him, forsooth! Why, she like as great as that inspired by the would perhaps seek to tear the eyes dwarf. He also could not be disassofrom bis head. Moreover, a certain ciated from any exposure of the casa feeling of pride supported his natural Bassano. inclination in the matter. He had un- But throughout the reflection there dertaken this charge alone. If the was all the time this one baffling and worst befell, and Bassano were really a quite important detail. Though he had it in plain black and white before bim "Yes," replied the girl. “I believe that Bassano and Bolla were Vafia everything that is good of the signore. fiends, he could see no key to the man- But there is something I wish to say. ner of their operations. Of all men, It is about Masuccio." Bassano, the shrinking pink-eyed piece “What about the fellow?" asked of timidity! How could he be made Douglas. responsible for such magnificent chem- “I have arranged it with myself, siyistry? There was no trace in him of norino. It was a foolishness from the audacity, whether of mind or body. first, that intimacy. I perceive it now. And from what Maria had told him, One has one's looks, to be sure, and it her father was little better than an seems a pity not to make a little money anchorite, shut up all day and all night innocently with one's face as well as with his leather and his tools, save with one's hands, if God gives one the when as a rare enterprise he stole out precious gift of beauty; but, yes, I refor a glass of vermouth at the “Na proach myself for Marco's sake. I zione." Maria had said it was but once have done with him. When he rea week or so that he thus dissipated, turns to-morrow I shall give him bis and then he was back again in a few boot and tell him the truth. He may minutes. No; there was nothing vil take his boots to another cobbler in fulainous or masterful in the composition ture, and if he requires it of me his of Bassano the cobbler, so far as the presents shall all be returned to him. common eye could see.
Ah! but it will be a sorrow, signorino, It was late when Douglas returned to surrender them. Especially the to the Via Corta. He felt a little ear-rings of gold and crystal, and the anxious about his reception. In his bracelet with the corals! But I tire band, moreover, was another evening your amiability, caro signorino. Here paper with comments on the Gazzetta's is the lamp, and good-night." article about the five mysteries. But Douglas was not eager for the lamp. he would keep that to himself, go to "This is fine news, little one," he bed, and perhaps awake with some wise said. "I congratulate you." ideas.
"The signore is very kind to say so." To his satisfaction, however, Maria continued the girl. “But there may be Bassano opened the door to him with trouble, nevertheless. The Count is of welcoming eyes.
a haughty nature. One must trust in "It contents me to see you, caro sig. God even more than one's self. There nore," she said with gentle friendliness. is one other thing to say; but I do not "I was not myself this afternoon. I like to perhaps vex you, caro signorino. fear i behaved with some asperity. by saying it to-night after my wicked The signore will, I hope, not remember passion of__". it.” She proffered her hand in the "Never mind that, Maria," Douglas dimly lighted passage.
interrupted, scenting a reference to "I have quite forgotten it, little one,” Bolla. “Whatever it is, tell it to me said Douglas cordially. "I sympa- now." thized. You believe that?”
"Truly ?” She put the question with He could hear the tap-tapping of the arched eyebrows and a very sweet grarcobbler's bammer upstairs. Bassano ity in her blue eyes. did not often work so late, though the “Yes, I request it," he said. sound was always the first that came She gave him his candle first. to him when he opened his eyes in the “It hurts to say it, caro signorino; but morning.
I have persuaded my father to leare
Milan very soon; perhaps to-morrow, tap-tapping of the cobbler still soundperhaps the day after. Will it incom- ing in the house like a death-tick that mode you very much to seek another sleep very considerately came to him. apartment in the morning?"
But, in fact, he did not wake early. "You leave Milan?" he asked, aston- That is to say, it was eight o'clock beished.
fore he opened his eyes and turned to"Perhaps, signorino. There are rea- wards the sunlit corner of the Castello sons. I must not name them."
and the patch of the Piazza d'Armi beDouglas's presence of mind failed him yond his unblinded window. for the time, thus confronted by the He lay still for a few moments, gathlikelibood of fresh disappointments. ering the threads of his life.
“Those tiresome reasons again!" he There was talking somewhere on the exclaimed. “Any one would think your premises below. Outside, a fruitfather was-was not- " In some con seller was proclaiming fresh apricots fusion, he stayed his tongue. "We will and other things. consider it in the morning. There will Then Douglas jumped from his bed. be time then. Good-night."
The importance of the day thus begun He turned for the stairs. The girl's had loomed large to his imagination. eyes had enlarged with his words, and It behooved him to waste no more time. it would not have surprised him to He could hear that persistent cobbler hear another outburst from her. But at work upstairs; not hammering, but none came. Perhaps it had lacked time moving weights, as it were. Most of to develop.
all, however, he heard the voices downAlone in his little room, with the stairs. And it was with only one leg saints on the walls and Maria Bassano's in his trousers that he suddenly realized patchwork bedcover, made in the days whose voice it was as well as Maria's. of her sublimely innocent early teens, Maria's had risen to a passionate and Douglas put the candle on the toilet rather sbrill pitch. The other's hail table and gave way to his irritation. also risen from a basso profondo to The tap-tap of the cobbler upstairs still something like a hoarse tenor. And continued. It seemed to add to his the other's was the Count Enzio Maannoyance. He was a fool to have let succio's. bis personal feelings for one moment it such an hour: , interfere with his prescribed duty as :: Still with the right leg in and the left pursuer of evil-doers. He ought to have leg outside his trousers, Douglas quietly consulted the Cavaliere di Barese that opened his door. It relied on a latch evening. Were it not so late, even now only and a key which he never used. he would, perhaps, have gone to him. “It is your last chance, carina," he What a fool to have allowed a pair of now heard the Count say. “I shall Venetian blue eyes to waste his time, bring a carriage to this end of the Viat and, again perhaps, involve the down- Legnano at ten o'clock. If you do not fall of another life: This projecte come to me I come for you. Ponder it flight of the Bassano establishment con- well." firmed all the portents. The Via ('ort: "No, signore," said Maria Bassano. was at the root of the five horrible as. “I have told you it cannot be." sassinations, and Bassano the cobbler “And I repeat that it is either that or at the very root of the root.
there will be something that will make He went to bed with every deter- you sorry. I am not master of myself, mination to rise early and make amends my dove." for his negligence; and it was with the "Have the courtesy to depart. xiy
LIVING AGE. VOL. XXXV. 1832
nore," then said Maria, lowering her Virgin, intercede for us in this our voice. “My father, I think, is descend hour of greatest need!" While he ing.”
paused, irresolute, Douglas heard this "Very well, signorina," said the Count much of the piteous little petition fly off in a much more ordinary tone. "It is to heaven. understood. Addio!"
A shout from the cobbler broke upon Douglas heard the house door close, the girl's prayers like something sacriand shutting his own door, proceeded legious. "My daughter!" yelled the with his toilet. He stepped to the man. window. The Count lived at the ceme- Maria Bassano sprang up the stairs. tery end of the city, and would proba- "Oh, signore!" she gasped as she fled bly, as usual, pass towards the piazza. past Douglas. There he was, indeed, with the little par A minute later she rushed down. cel under his arm, a gray felt Tyrolese In the meantime Douglas had waited hat on his head; for the rest, perfectly and resumed his dressing. There was gloved, and with a slender umbrella. a crowd on the piazza now-men, It had rained in the night, and there women, and boys looking about them as were puddles on the road. The Count if they were hunting for many lost was careful to avoid the puddles. pieces of money. At times one would
For maybe a full minute Douglas kept stoop, pick up something, and drop it the gentleman in sight, until he was again. Upstairs the cobbler and his near by the trees which here bordered daughter conversed strenuously. the great piazza.
And then the girl descended, and Douglas was buttoning his braces Douglas intercepted her. and about to turn away, when suddenly "Well?" he said. "The Count-you he seemed to freeze from head to foot. know, perhaps-he has been extermi('ould he believe bis eyes? The unfor nated: He, the sixth!" tunate Masuccio had disappeared, and Maria Bassano clasped her hands on instead of him there was a little cloud her bosom. The agony in her eyes was of particles which— But of course he dreadful to Douglas. Yet she spoke could believe his eyes. The report as calmly in assent. of a cannon which sounded a moment "Si, signore, the sixth! But it was a later told him everything.
mistake. It does not matter. We are, Staring horror-stricken, he saw the of course, ruined this time. But it was cloud die away. There was no well- not Masuccio who was decreed to die. dressed Count Enzio Masuccio visible Dio mio! no. My father, in his agitawhere the cloud had been; but a gen- tion, placed it in the wrong boot-that darme and a man in an operative's of Masuccio. He has discovered that blue smock were running towards then it was so." site of the explosion.
Looking up, Douglas saw the pallid Douglas slipped into his coat with face of Bassano himself at the top of out troubling about anything else. the stairs. But in spite of his pallor
The silence of the house was almost there was an expression of vigor in the a stunning contrast to that fatal roar cobbler's eyes which was new to Dougwhose echo was still in his ears. Not las. He had the air, indeed, of a man a sound now came from the cobbler up- whose back was against a wall, and stairs. But when he opened his door who meant to fight. he heard a whisper from below, and it Thus standing, the cobbler spoke. subdued patter of prayers from Maria “Are you a friend to us, signorino." Bassano drifted towards him. "Holy he asked steadily.