NEWS OF THE WEEK.
THE first reply of the Greek Government to the Powers, published in London on Tuesday, was exceedingly moderate in tone, but was firm in substance. The Govern. ment declared itself as anxious for peace as the Powers, but unable to believe that the autonomy suggested would fulfil the " noble intentions " from which it emanated. They therefore urged the Great Powers most earnestly to " lead Crete back to Greece." Granting even that the presence of the Greek fleet is unnecessary, the presence of the Greek .army in the island is still desirable in the interest of the re- establishment of order. "Oar duty forbids us to abandon the Cretan people to the mercy of Mussulman fanaticism and the Turkish army." They therefore suggest that the Greek army should remain, and that the Cretan people should be permitted to declare how they wish to be governed. In a subsequent despatch, not yet published, the Greek Govern- ment is believed to have agreed to an international control of its forces in the island, and to await the restoration of order before the Cretans are consulted as to their destiny,—a pro- posal which it was at first believed would suffice as a basis for a compromise.
The decision of the Powers upon these proposals had, up to Friday afternoon, been carefully concealed, the absolutist Powers remaining quite silent, the British Government :avoiding replies to questions, and the French Government, after some scenes in the Chamber, promising full explanations next Monday. It appears, to be understood that the British, French, and Italian Governments are opposed to extreme measures, but that the Imperial Powers, instigated by the 'German Emperor, think, if they suffer themselves to be defied, that the Concert of Europe becomes powerless for action. They insist, therefore, upon coercion; and the other Powers, fearing for the peace of Europe, confine themselves to pleading Yor the gentler pressure involved in a strict but " pacific " blockade. They think this will be sufficient to enable King George to plead force majeure, and at all events to promise to recall his troops. He has already recalled his ships from Calm, it may be because they are hopelessly outmatched by squadrons, the Admirals of which are burning to show their powars,but it also may be because the ships will be wanted to take part in the first battle with the Turks. The course of the Greek Government is still uncertain, but it seems clear that the Greek people desire war in preference to .farther humiliation. They trust to the different tendencies of the Powers, and to their own ability if defeated in the open to .defend the mountains of Thessaly by a guerilla war.
'The news of the week from Canoe is on the whole favour- able. A bittereivil war, it is true, continues, and the Cretans show themselves almost as ferocious as the Mussulmans. Their
leaders, however, are more civilised, and at Candano, after conferences with Sir A. Billiotti, a Levantine Greek who is the British Consul-General at Canes., they allowed the Mussul- man garrison, two thousand strong, to depart with their arms. Sir A. Billiotti was, however, compelled to land six hundred international marines to protect the departing garrison, the victorious Cretans being mad with fury and the memory of old wrongs, which they, with their pride of blood, feel as Americans feel wrongs from negroes. Sir A. Billiotti is hated by his countrymen, who think him a renegade, but be appears in this affair to have shown great promptitude, splendid personal courage, and complete devotion to his official duty. His success has charmed the Mahommedans, whose view of the whole situation is slightly misunderstood in this country. They wish to retain their evil ascendency, but if they cannot they will, we believe, vote to a man for Greece. They are hopeless of Cretan tolerance, but are aware that Greece has in Thessaly fully protected their co-religionists, as also the Austrians have done in Bosnia.
Everybody is watching Crete, but the true crux of the situation is in Thessaly. The Greek army, reinforced by the Reservists, is gathering there, and will soon be sixty thousand strong. It is faced by a Turkish army of fifty thousand men, under the Turkish Marshal, Edhem Pasha, who is re- ceiving every day large supplies of munitions, and who is supported by forces arranged in echelon behind him down to Salonica, which probably number one hundred thousand more. The Greeks appear to observers to have no chance, but that depends upon unknown circumstances, and espe- cially upon the completeness of the popular rising which will follow a declaration of war. The outposts of the two armies already fight skirmishes, and it is by no means clear that a collision, which would mean war, can be averted, and by no means certain that the Sultan wishes it should be. If Austria and Russia are com- pelled to move, and quarrel, the position of the Sultan, with his masses of fighting Ottomans, would be a very formidable one. As yet neither party has given any final orders, but the danger to peace is that either Sultan or King may momentarily lose control, the Thessalian peasantry and the Turkish irregulars being both in a savage mood.
Sir William Harcourt on Tuesday night raised a most im- portant point of constitutional law. Observing that the French Government had promised to take no serious step without consulting the Chambers, he requested Mr. Balfour to pledge himself that her Majesty's forces should not be employed against Greece without the consent of the House of Commons. The effect of such a pledge, of course, would be that Ministers would cease to be responsible for their policy, and that no great order could be given, however emergent, without a previous debate. Mr. Balfour, in a short speech of much weight, rejected the application. He was not quite sure of the pledge given by the French Ministry, but in any case their action was no precedent for us. He could not, he con- tinued, depart from the tradition of "unnumbered genera- tions," sanctioned by Sir William Harcourt himself when the Cabinet of which he was a member ordered the bombardment of Alexandria. He hoped that nothing nearly as strong as that bombardment would occur in the present crisis,—the Government would be bitterly disappointed if it did,—but he could give no further pledge. The Government was quite aware that if it went counter to the will of the country it would be punished by being turned out of office, if, indeed, said Mr. Balfour with smiling pathos, such expulsion can be termed a punishment. Sir William Harcourt's proposal was put in the form of an interpellation, and required no division; but it is a little difficult to understand why it was made. Sir William must have known perfectly well that he could have but one
answer, and that the one which in a similar crisis he would have given himself.
The German Government, alarmed at the consternation created by its naval demands, has soddenly retreated from them. Admiral Hollmann had demanded, on Friday week, a credit of sixteen millions sterling, but found in a few hours that both the Clerical and Liberal parties were against him, and that the whole country, in fact, was convinced that the fate of Germany depended upon her Army and not her Fleet. Upon Monday, therefore, both he and the Chancellor declared, the former in a very excited manner, that the demand was only intended as a memorandum of what was required to bring the German Fleet up to a level with that of France, and that in reality the Government only asked for one extra line-of-battle ship. The explanation is acceptable to Europe because it permits taxation to remain as at present, but otherwise it is of no importance. If the German Fleet were greatly increased, the fleets of other maritime Powers would be increased pari passu, and in the grand competition of expenditure it is not Germany which would win. She has, of course, like France, the advantage of a naval conscription, but as yet the Power which relies on voluntary enlistment has not been compelled to succumb to this formidable weapon. We suspect, though we do not know, that if the struggling Powers were wise, it would be through an immense develop. ment of marine artillery, and not of ships, that they would seek equality.
A dinner of the Associated Chambers of Commerce was held on Wednesday at the Whitehall Rooms of the Hotel Metropole, when Mr. Mundella proposed the toast of her Majesty's Ministers, to which Lord Salisbury responded. Of course every one was eager to hear what the Prime Minister would say on the burning question of the day, and it cannot be asserted that he said very much. But he did entreat every one to believe that this was a matter in which Ministers were not at liberty to follow the lead of their own sympathies, but were required to act for the highest interests of the nation, even if they had to sacrifice their own sympathies. If, said Lord Salisbury, a man gave all his goods to feed the poor, he would be thought of as a man of singular sanctity and holiness, but if, as a trustee, he gave all the goods of those who had intrusted him with their goods, to feed the poor, he would be sent to penal servitude. The Ministers were trustees for the whole nation, find were not always at liberty to act as their own personal sympathies might induce them to act. Certainly not ; but are they not bound to consider the convictions of the great majority of the nation in determining their proper policy, as one of the most important elements in the interests of the nation ?
Mr. Bryce and Mr. Mundella, who were both present at the dinner of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, having made extremely pleasant speeches, in which there was not the faintest trace of political rancour towards the Prime Minister, who was the guest of the evening, Lord Salisbury remarked on the singular spectacle, as any foreign statesman would regard it, of the friendliness of feeling between the two great political parties in England, and in apologising for the slow rate of the legislation intended to promote the interests of our commerce, threw out as a kindly suggestion that it would be well for the House of Commons to send up (say) a fourth of its Members to be made Peers for six months, and learn the habits of the House of Lords as to taciturnity and legislative expedition. He predicted that they would return to the House of Commons quite reformed characters. In reference to the complaints that had been made of the younger diplomatists, that they effected so little in penetrating the cordon of hostile tariffs by which Great Britain is en- compassed, Lord Salisbury suggested that in spite of our attachment to Free-trade as a " principle." there may be no principle in it, but that what is best for this country need not be, and perhaps is not, the best for those numerous other countries which cling so tenaciously to Protection ; and he lamented that we should give ourselves away by proclaiming to all the nations of the earth that no commercial hostility to us, however bitter, would ever induce us to retaliate. That proves to our satisfaction that Lord Salisbury has never really grasped what Free-trade means,—namely, that wherever the natural advantages of soil, climate, and geographical position make it less costly to produce what the world wants than it is in any other spot on the globe, there it is for the advantage of the inhabitants of the earth that such products should be produced, without any interference by statesmen. Retaliation is merely the policy of cutting off your nose to Spite your face.
Almost all the debates of the week on the Education Bill have turned on the question of the voluntary Associations to be formed amongst the denominational schools for the purpose of advising the Education Department as to the best mode of distributing the new grant-in-aid in such a manner as to im- prove the efficiency of the schools. The debate has produced a very hoarse sort of music, "long drawn out." On Monday Mr. Lloyd George moved an amendment intended. to get rid of these School Associations altogether, and to re- quire the Education Department to draw up rules for the distribution of the grant-in-aid and lay the rules before Parliament for a month, within which time either House of Parliament might carry a motion against the scheme so presented. This proposal was supported in a moderate speech by Mr. Asquith and debated for two hours, when Mr. Balfour moved the Closure, which was carried by a majority of 133 (212 to 79), after which Mr. Lloyd George's. amendment was rejected by a majority of 148 (221 to 73). Then Mr. Buxton moved an amendment intended to get rid of the word " necessitous " before "schools," and to give the Department power to judge for itself what help it would give the schools even if they were not exactly" necessitous." This. was an amendment in the very teeth of the one which the Opposition had moved in the previous week, when it had en- deavoured to force the use of the adjective "necessitous" in a clause where it would have been entirely redundant. Yet this amendment was debated for another hour and a half, after which the Closure was moved by Mr. Balfour and• carried by a majority of 154 (265 to 111), when Mr. Buxton's amendment was rejected by a majority of 164 (280 to 116).
Mr. Balfour then moved that all the words down to the word "due," in the twelfth line, be now put, which was carried by 156 (275 to 119), and Mr. Balfour's motion was then carried by a majority of 179 (294 to 115). Mr. Lambert then moved an amendment limiting the grant-in-aid to sohools where the voluntary subscriptions fell short of the average of the last three years, and this was debated for three-quarters of an hour, till midnight suspended the sitting.
On Tuesday the same debate continued for another two. hours and a quarter, when Mr. Balfour moved the Closure, which was carried by a majority of 152 (283 to 131), and the amendment, which would have been fatal to a great number of Roman Catholic schools, was rejected by a majority of 155- (285 to 130). Subsequently one or two amendments of no consequence were debated, and then Mr. Lloyd George moved, an amendment intended to abolish altogether any provision for associating schools and for using these Associations for the purpose of guiding the Education Department as to the needs of the schools,—an amendment debated till midnight, when it was rejected by a majority of 163 (279 to 116). On Wednesday Mr. Griffith moved an amendment intended to tie down the Associations to a plan of association which was to be drawn up by the Government and embodied in the Bill, and this• was debated for four hours, and finally rejected by a majority of 199 (324 to 125), Mr. Balfour explaining that the whole plan of association must be tentative, and that it would be fatal so to predetermine how it should be carried out as to' fetter proceedings which would require a good deal of negotiation, and very elastic terms.
On Thursday the time at the disposal of the House for the Committee stage of the Education Bill was very short, though Mr. Lowther hoped to lengthen it by ignoring the custom of giving half an hour for dinner, which irritated the hungry Members so much as to induce a revolt, which probably con- sumed more time than the half-hour which he had intended to gain. The time of the Committee when at last it got tc work was taken up by discussing whether or not these Associations should contain " elective " members,—that members elected either by the parents or by the ratepayers of the districts in which the schools are situated. This motion was dismissed for an hour and a half, and then closured by Mr. Balfour by a majority of 145 (249 to 104), when the amendment was rejected by a majority of 161 (26€ to 105); and another amendment of the same type was rejected by a majority of 171 (263 to 92), and a third amendment against the proposal to represent "the managers" of the schools was further rejected by a majority of 178 (261 to 83). And then, midnight having been reached, the sitting was ► suspended.
In the House of Commons on Friday, March 5th, Mr. Goschen made a striking defence of the policy of the Admiralty, especially in regard to the manning of the Fleet. In the five past years, including the present financial year, we have added 26,000 men to the Navy,—a number equal to twenty-six battalions of the Line. The increase has gone pari passe with the shipbuilding. The additions to the Fleet since 1894-95 which will be made by the end of the financial year 1897-98 will require an addition of 30,950 men, but the provision made and proposed is for 31,650 men. " To sum up, we have 100,000 men on the active list, 25,000 men in the Royal Naval Reserve, and, besides that, 10,000 pensioners." There were besides a number of seamen who took their discharge after twelve years' service, and who often became yachtsmen. In an emer- gency a considerable number of these men could be obtained by a bounty, if necessary. That certainly sounds satisfactory, and no doubt in a great emergency we have many resources to fall back upon. Mr. Goschen mentioned that "one of our great naval battles was won by a regiment of soldiers who were placed on board ship." Still, that is more an event to be remembered silently than to be put for- ward officially. Such daring devices may be used in actual war, but should never be reckoned on in peace time.
Friday, March 5th, was the last day on which Mr. Rhodes was examined in regard to the Raid, his examination on the far more important matter—the conduct and management of the Chartered Company—being postponed till a later stage. Nothing very important was elicited from Mr. Rhodes in answer to Mr. Wyndham, but he elaborated his declaration— which is, of course, true—that the Outlanders of Dutch origin feel their position in the Transvaal quite as strongly as those of English birth, and explained certain facts con- nected with the railway system of South Africa. The questions asked and the answers received by Mr. Chamber- lain showed (1) that the cession of the Bechuanaland Protectorate to the Chartered Company had been promised by Lord Ripon ; (2) that Mr. Chamberlain delayed carrying this promise out in order to make proper terms for Khama and the nativee; (3) that Mr. Rhodes asked leave to place police in the Protectorate in order to guard the railway ; (4) that the strip required for the railway was ceded first because it was held impossible to place the Company's police in Imperial territory ; (5) that terms made with the natives were favourable to them, and also to the British Government, which saved £40,000 a year by the transfer of the police, and £200,000, the sum promised as a railway subsidy by the British Government.
On Tuesday two Afrikander Members of the Cape Parlia. ment were examined,—Mr. Louw and Mr. Venter. Their evidence was on the side of Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company, for they both declared that it would be impossible to carry on Rhodesia under Imperial control. That was the -opinion, said Mr. Lonw, of every Afrikander. Mr. Louw declared that the Chartered Company treated the natives only too well, and in a way much more satisfactory to the white colonists than would the Imperial Government. Guns and ammunition should be kept away from the natives. The witness admitted, however, that this the Chartered Company had not done hitherto. The Chartered Company also did well in "encouraging " the natives to labour [i.e., obliging them to work for an employer unless they could show independent means] and in making them show proper respect for their white masters. The aim was to oblige idle natives to work. They were not flogged for paltry disobedience. The natives, said Mr. Venter, were delighted to work for the white man. "As long as you have not got too much education it is all right, but as soon as the native finds he can walk about with a cap and a stick be won't work." Mr. Venter admitted that when labour was wanted in a mine the owner applied first to the Chartered Company, and that then an order was made on a chief for so much labour. He did not think the natives were allowed to make their own bargains. They could not choose their masters, they could not choose their wages, and they could not choose their time of working. They were probably obliged to work for three months. Asked by Mr. Chamberlain what was the difference between that and the earwee, the witness said he did not know what was going on at the mines, but that he believed the natives could make their own terms with the farmers.
Sir Graham Bower's evidence, also given on Tuesday, was of great importance. He stated that late in October, 1895, Mr. Rhodes came into his office and said, " I want you to give me your word of honour that you will not say a word to any one about what I am going to tell you." Sir Graham Bower—who, as he said, had a great many Cape secrets in his possession—not unnaturally perhaps, though very unwarily, pledged his word, and soon found he was in possession of a secret which it was his official duty to disclose to the High Commissioner and his private duty not to disclose. Mr. Rhodes then said that he was negotiating about the Protectorate, that there was going to be a rising in Johannesburg, and that he wished to have a police-force on the border. He added in substance :—" If trouble comes I am not going to sit stilL You fellows are infernally slow. You can act if you like, but if you do not act I will." We cannot follow the rest of Sir Graham Bower's examination except to note that on the fateful Sunday Mr. Rhodes told the witness that Jameson had gone in, but that he hoped that the message he had sent would stop him, and that he wrote on the Monday to the same effect.
The blows struck at Bida and florin by the Niger Company seem to have resounded through all that region. The Emir of llorin has submitted and has been reinstated, some thirty petty chiefs have prayed for peace, and the Sultan of Sokoto has pardoned the presumption of the British and practically confirmed their acts. Even the mighty Rabah, the slave conqueror of Bornn and Baghirm6, has heard of the event, and whereas he was advancing, has retreated towards the Nile. There is a rumour that a French party has descended on Bousa, higher up on the Niger, but still within the British "sphere," but it requires confirmation. Sir George Goldie has felt strong enough to abolish the status of slavery throughout his territories from June 22nd, the Jubilee day, and a great reserve of free lands is to be set aside where escaped slaves may be settled in small farms. All that ie excellent, and it is quite true, as Sir George Goldie has been boasting, that the work has been done much cheaper than the Imperial Government could do it, but still we should like an answer to one or two questions. Are black men when told to work for the Niger Company free to say " No " ? and has Sir George Goldie any force which, if his obedient Emirs revolted, could resubdue the vast regions he has annexedF We believe the answer in both cases must be in the negative, and if so, two facts are clear, that the Imperial Government is responsible for the defence of the Niger Company's posses- sions, and that within those possessions forced labour exists, though not slavery.
The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have published a remark- able Report for the year ending November 1st, 1896, which will, we fancy, often be quoted hereafter at Nonconformist meetings. The Commissioners have managed the funds en- trusted to them so admirably that their accounts read like the Budget of a third-class State rather than the record of a corporate property. It was expected that after paying the sums charged on them by the statute under which they hold their powers, they would have £300,000 a year to apply to the augmentation of small benefices ; but they have since 184C augmented and endowed upwards of five thousand seven hundred benefices by grants exceeding £808,000 in perpetuity, with a capital value equivalent to £24.300,000. This sum has been increased by benefactions of £26,000 a year, and "the total increase in the incomes of benefices thus re- sulting from the operations of the Commissioners exceeds £1,016,000 per annum, which may be taken to represent a capital sum of £30,000,000." The total income of the Com- mission may now be taken at £1,125,000, equal to the income, perhaps, of the three greatest nobles or millionaires in England.
Bank Rate, 3 per cent.
New Consols (21) were on Friday, 1121. a