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3-193 (Text)

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addressee author,male,Deniehy, Daniel Henry,32
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Newspapers & Broadsides
Deniehy, 1884
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MR. COWPER has, yes, finally, retired from public life. The by means utterly insoluble enigma presented by his declining to say "yes", or "no" to his supporters before the East Sydney election, is now open enough. 
The crisis involved the loss of Mr. Cowper himself, as well as of a Premier. It was a tide in the affairs of man which the great democratic constituency should have taken at the flood. Not only gratitude for the past, but hope for the future, should have animated it. There was a Land Bill yet to come, and a People's Minister was wanted to make it and embody it victoriously in law. There was Reform of the Second Chamber in arrears, and we needed a democratic leader, true and tried, to carry it. But the giant metropolitan constituency made feeble sign of matching its energies and power with the demands of the emergency. Only a small section of the electors polled, and though Mr. Cowper's position was the first, he was placed there but by a narrow majority. Worse still, Mr. Black, a man of yesterday, and an ingrate in the shoes of his patrons and protectors, was returned also. It was the "sunset of life," and Mr. Cowper practically exhibited the "mystical lore" befitting that critical time of day. 
As Mr. Cowper is no longer a public man, we have no further right, and we have no wish, to say much more about him than has already appeared in the pages of this journal. Not a thousandth part of what might have been said has been said, or anything but a mere fragment of the charges preferred, upon which, before any impartial tribunal of public opinion, he would have been convicted. He has done well in more senses than one to retire. His deserts would have come, betwixt the retorts of those he might by bare possibility have screwed up his courage to attack in the House, and all sorts of journals without. He would have stood as fair a chance of being prominently pilloried for his treasons to principle, for the lowest and meanest of purposes, as he richly merited. 
He goes back into private life, if he has anything in the nature of a conscience at all, with the sense that he has succeeded in utterly demoralising politics in this country for many years to come. His simple object was, of course, to keep his hold on office, and that with some men is, perhaps, natural enough. But few, we believe, would have consented to make the country pay the terrible price for it which he did. Before his Administration, men by no means fitted for the discharge of its functions might have crept into the Legislature. They were supposed to have done so from a variety of reasons more or less connected with mistaken notions of their vocations or with vanity. 
It remained for Mr. Cowper to make a seat in Parliament the only chance of pecuniary success to those who had failed in or were unfitted for any other walk, or who looked upon political life solely in the light of a business vocation. Principles as a public man he had no more than the veriest black-leg who is matched by whatever means to keep his stake on the table. 
But this is not all. He had not mental capacity enough to comprehend in all its bearings the tremendous results which would eventually follow his reckless game. If he had, whatever might have been his frailties, his hankerings, his tenacity to place, he would have desisted with an uneasy fear of consequences. 
The poor fools and dupes about the city, led by those deeper than themselves, still babble on Mr. Cowper and Electoral Reform, Mr. Cowper and Democratic Progress. As if the great rushing organism of Democratic Progress wanted the puny aid of Mr. Cowper, in a new country like this, with free institutions, to allow it room and play. As if Democratic Progress had not controlled Mr. Cowper, as it would have done any other Minister, and not Mr. Cowper Democratic Progress. As if the question of Electoral Reform, overthrowing Sir Watson Parker, and armed and in the field to overthrow any Minister who faltered or hesitated a moment about it, was a grace flowing from the deepest and most ardent convictions of Mr. Cowper's inmost heart, though, generous chief, had he liked, he might have haughtily scoffed at it, as some patrician leader below the immemorial blazonries of the New Palace at Westminster! The poor "Tail" of the great "Liberal Party," that curls itself impotently, and writhes at the street corners, should flap quietly in this hour of supreme trouble, with the sense that Mr. Cowper took office with Electoral Reform as the condition of receiving it. He took office with an honourable and learned gentleman who had about the same amount of respect for the doctrine as that entertained by Mr. Thomas Paine for the Holy Evangelists. Our one object in saying this to the "Tail" just now in mourning for it, is to assuage the wild desolation of its woe by reminding it that though Mr. Cowper was a mild believer, such as peace-loving Protestants who marry strong-minded Catholic partners, he was no fiery enthusiast, and under no circumstances was he, in a political sense, prepared to go to the stake for the great popular dogma. A compromise far below manhood suffrage would have suited Mr. Cowper, if a majority of opinions lay in that direction, or a tolerably narrow franchise, indeed, if need were. Besides, Ministers will always be found, and in plenty, to give any number of popular privileges running from license to liberty so long as they are left in possession of power, and allowed to use it as they think fit. The Ministry could only have been, and must be for years to come, "Liberal." We congratulate the country on being released from the peculiar theory of morals upon which Mr. Cowper's Administration was laid. When it will be the duty of any journal to congratulate it on its release from utter scepticism in principle, and the belief that the government and legislation of the country are other than mere games of personal interest, it would be hard to say.