NEWS OF THE WEEK.
It has been a proud though dull week for the British politician. On all sides he sees concessions to the opinions and dictates of the popular party of his country—that party which seems now to have become so completely national that it has almost lost the faculties as well as the responsibilities of party. The Tory con- cession to English Liberal opinion has been marked by the speech of Lord Derby at the Lord Mayor's feast in the Guildhall; and at no other moment of recent history perhaps has the death of old Toryism been marked by a more complete abandonment of its principles than on this last signal occasion. A master of rhetoric, Lord Derby now delivered one of the most truly beau- tiful speeches thet ever issued from his lips. Laudatory epithets -might be heaped upon it without any exaggeration. It was manly in tone, lucidly simple in expression, courteous, indepen- dent, playful at times, serious for the most part, cheerful, frank, and modest; and yet few compositions that have flowed from the same month with all the evidences of unrehearsed elo- quence have more accurately hit the mark at which they were aimed. The object was to establish the actual position of the Conservative Prime Minister in England at the present moment ; and to do that Lord Derby confronted all the difficulties of his own as well as his opponent's antecedents. He contrasted the state of England in November 1858 and of England in Novem- ber 1857—the bright prospect of the one with the gloomy recol- lections of the other. Most explicitly he claimed on the score of the contrast, "no particular merit for her Majesty's present Go- vernment " ; but this disclaimer only heightened the piquancy of the contrast which, with all the weight of fact and present cir- cumstance, sheds glory on the existing Minister and a shade upon the departed Minister who was once Lord Derby's envy, and is now his foil. The very victories of those hostilities in China whose origin Lord Derby condemned come to lend their brilliancy to the halo of prosperity which surrounds him. But he is a Conservative Minister pledged to Reform ; and in a few distinct sentences he rapidly traced our political history
as a means of accounting for his strange position. As a Conservative Government he and his colleagues look with re- verence and attachment to the great institutions of this country ; but Lord Derby, who will never, grow too old to learn, has been powerfully reminded of the fact that the institutions of this eenntry "were not the aimultaneous operation of a single gene- ration" ; they have "been brought to their present comparative Perfection by successive additions and improvements," and he hopes to be amongst those who have contributed to the course of progressive improvement which has framed the great charters of the land. He and his colleagues are now "actively and seriously engaged in maturing the details" of those measures of social, financial, and political improvements ; and he hopes to submit thens—the Reform Bill included—" to the impartial judgment d Parliament and the people at the commencement of the session."
Our Liberal contemporaries have seized upon this speech, earPieg at it for what they are pleased to call "vagueness," and Practically reviling Lord Derby for not standing further pledged r Reform. Is it the Minister they hate, or the measure that req. want ? Do they care for the Reform Bill, or do they want some other man on the top of the Treasury Bench ? Judging by their comments, they seemed to have missed the obvidus truth,
that the policy of the Liberal party which really desires to ob- tain as good a Reform Bill as possible, is to put the largest con- struction upon the promises of the Minister, and to nail him to the performance. But then, cry some of your " staunch " Libe- rals, we shall be assisting the success of a Tory Premier! What then, if you get a liberal Reform Bill ? In these few expressions we have summed up the political controversy of the week— the written as well as spoken accompaniment of the political events.
The great Napoleon the Third, Emperor of the French, hail bowed to the opinion of England. In a special letter to Prince Napoleon, Minister of Algeria and of the Colonies, the Emperor justifies the course taken in the case of the Charles-et-Georges, on the score of his determined resolution to maintain his right and the independence of the French flag. And as to the prin- ciple of the engagement of the negroes his ideas are far from being settled. If in truth labourers are recruited on the African coast without the exercise of their free will ; if the enrolment is only a slave trade in disguise, he will have it on no terms. Wherefore he begs his dear cousin to seek out the truth and, as the best mode of terminating the dispute ; to renew negotiations through the French Foreign Office with the English Government respecting a supply of free labour in the shape of Indian coolies. If the purport of this letter be carried out in act, the Emperor Napoleon has abandoned his protection of the Regis system of " free' African emigration," and has conceded to the opinion of England, who resumes her lead in the suppression of the African slave trade.
The price iiiii(ljnr Jatis concession in goinposed of several items. Some time,ablee it was understood that negotiations had been proceeding between _the Governments. in Paris and London to transport Coolies from British India to the French sugar colonies. There may be some reason to doubt whether the Coolies in all oases exercise a more genuine free will than African Negroes or the old' German Redemptioners ; but at all events the traffic in Coolies is not morally so injurious to liberty as that of Africans ; and the Coolie permission is the first item in the price. Secondly, the funeral car of Napoleon I. has been given up, and has arrived in Paris, to become a memorial of affection in France instead of a memorial of hostility on English territory. Thirdly, in con- sideration probably of complexities in the case, the somewhat extreme measures carried out by France at Lisbon have been condoned by our Government.
The affaire Montalembert looks more troublesome as time ad- vances. By degrees the English public has become acquainted with the work on which the Government founds its prosecution; and in that composition, although the cuts at Imperialism, its ways and results, are keen and deep-searching almost to mor- tality, the English find it difficult to establish any ground or criminal accusation. The praise of England may read in Freufee so as to suggest the most tragic and even the wildest thoughts ; yet who shall make it a crime to praise England ? Even a French court may see a difficulty in pronouncing the charge proven, particularly from those passages which are said to form the basis of the prosecution. The example of Montalembert has been taken up by others, and Mr. Sidney Herbert's testimony to the power and influence of the English Press as a consequence of its freedom is echoed by M. Eugene Forcade, in what is almost a postscript to the Montalembert pamphlet. It looks as if the spirits of men were rising in France, and yet well-informed persons are laying bets upon the success of the Emperor.
Denmark has been making her concession to the public opin- ion of Europe. By two ordinances the King has abrogated the law of Oetober1855, in so far as it applies to the duchies of Holstein and Lituenhurg—thus surrendering that point of dinar- rel between Denmark and the Germo.nie Confederation which was recently threatening actual hostilities. Other points are in- volved in the concession, and we have yet to learn how far this act affects the position of the Danish succession, which recent changes had modified in a manner very unsatisfactory to the provinces and to the kingdom. Previous acts of the Sovereign had conferred a certain sort of consolidation on Schleswig and Holstein, Schleswig containing a large eldtnent of Teutonic po-. pulation, and desiring to go with her Gaisuanie Sister; lat lby the recent act that connection •seems 'to be 'severed. It appear% to be obvious that the king has submitted to f, liaa,tIone as little as he could, and has made others pay as much as possible for the royal mortification.
Some further light has been thrown upon Mr. Gladstone's extraordinary commission by the published letter of Sir John Young, the ordinary Lord High Commissioner of 'the Ionian Islands, who has, it seems, provisionally come to the conclusion that England should entirely alter her relations with those in- -saltsr states. The English Government is not only an alien to Ionia, but has in fact never established any kind of root there —never attempted to do so- The local Government is essentially • indigenous, has little sympathy with England, and in bending all its force to recover some kind of nationality, it seeks reunion with Greece. It is the boast of Sir John Young that he has to a considerable extent succeeded in obviating something like anarchy and open sedition in the Local Parliament ; but, although you may bring about a lull, he says you cannot say that you have settled the difficulties of the Ionian Islands. England, he con- siders, has no business in that galley ; and he proposes that we should wash our hands of the whole connection, with one ex- ception. We may retain Corfu, and by colonizing it, render it 'thoroughly English,—one of those stations which we require in various parts of the world to protect that portion of English soil which is for ever wandering on the highways of the waters —our commercial shipping.
We have further details respecting the treaties with Japan .—information in some respects more satisfactory than the briefer accounts. It turns out that Prince Poutiatine had not hastened on before Lord Elgin in vain, for he had obtained some concessions from the Japanese Government, and amongst them had extorted the recognition of some joint proprietary, unre- cognized by history, between Russia and Japan in the Sagalin Island. It was probably in managing this concession that Count Pontiatine impressed the Japanese with the formid- able power of the Plenipotentiary behind him, and thus prepared the way for that negotiation by which Lord Elgin has obtained a treaty more complete than the first -accounts described it to be. For instance, the diplomatic agent who is permitted to reside at Jeddo will have free right to travel to any part of the Japanese empire, while consuls or con- sular agents may be appointed at any or all of the ports. Again, British subjects may employ Japanese subjects in any lawful capacity without restraint ; and assistance is stipulated for ship- wrecked vessels. The treaty, too, comprises the most favoured nation clause. A duty of 35 per cent special impost on all in- toxicating liquors will delight an influential party in this coun- try, and increase the growing reverence of our public, in its pre- sent mood, for Japan.
The most conspicuous subject in the news from India is the report of a case in the Madras Presidency, which has been seized as an illustration of the question involved in the Mortara ease— the question whether the church or the parent is to have the cus- tody of a minor ; but the incident also illustrates another political fact, which, while it lasts, can never be too constantly recalled to notice. The Supreme Court of Madras has decided that a youth, who, being under age, had embraced Christianity, must never- theless be returned to the custody of his father as natural -guardian. The claim against the natural guardian in this in- stance was preferred by that Church of all others in the whole world which would present itself as the very antipodes of the Papacy. It was not only a mission of the Scottish Church which claimed custody of the infant, but a mission of the Scottish Free Church ; an ultra presbyterian body which seceded from the Established Church of Scotland on grounds of antagonism to central priestly authority. According to the evidence, the mis- sionaries had even performed a miracle, converting a child of fourteen into one of sixteen ; so obstinate is the tendency in any human priesthood to assert a temporal despotism above the law on the strength of a supreme commission which mere secular officers are not to question,—nor even to ask a sight of, unless they can see it without looking !
The records of the City this week are truly instructive. At head-quarters the characteristics are upon the whole steadiness, -in contrast -with the fluctuations elsewhere ; the pressing de- mand for gold and silver abroad having again become fiercer than it had been lately ; while the policy of the Bank has softened the operation of the pressure in our own market. On the other hand, moneyed society in that region is somewhat per- turbed by the reports of impending prosecutions against share- holders and directors in joint-stock banks that have been in
trouVe ; Ville the coinplete oplosion of the Oliver ease expired* alarming OsItight 'erhieh *110§.,e4ts may trade; their town account in seetlities eirdruste& by their client, for itibbildleurposes ; tie tleoShtiit', stdd be he City, not being isolated.'•;The position oi the veined in that painful tale rimy be taken to point the common moral, that "honesty is the best policy "; but, indeed, the, whole history of the City and of British commerce for the last three years, down to the present week, has heaped proof upon proof in support of the same mond.