THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND FRANCE.
In Egypt, for example, France unclasps the galling
financial handcuffs which have prevented the protectie., Power from utilising for the benefit of the protected country the prosperity which she herself has created by her steady and self-denying care. As soon as the other Powers of Europe have assented—and their assent is practically assured—Egypt, which for the present means Lord Cromer, will regain her right to dispose for purposes of improvement of the surplus revenues which are now hypothecated to the maintenance of a useless pre- caution against an impossible bankruptcy. The harmful portion of the authority of the international " Caisse" is abrogated, and the Egyptian Treasury set free. This is a great concession on the part of France, which has always asserted, through the instrumentality of international financial control, her pretension to a special and most worrying right of interference in Egyptian affairs. More- over. France gives up her vexatious claim to regard our occupation of Egypt as of a temporary character, and piormaes not again to suggest the propriety of evacua- tion. As the rights of France in Egypt are the only ones which can bear any comparison with our own, this is equivalent to a European consent that the British occupation of Egypt is legal and is for the benefit of the world. As a compensation—and it is a good big one—Great Britain recognises that the claim of France to a special predominance in the Hinterland of Morocco is well founded, and that if that Empire, now in anarchy, is to be " regenerated " by European influence, the task, and the control necessary to the task, fall naturally to the Republic. Again, there is that question of the rights over the Newfoundland treaty shore, which for a hundred years has been a burning one. No mortal man can state precisely what the French rights under treaty really are; but their effect has been to impede all free action by New- foundland within that portion of her own territory, and to prevent the prosperity which the Colonists consider their indubitable right. So acute have been the differences upon this subject that there never has been a day during the last half-century when hot-headed action by a British or French Lieutenant might not have caused the cannon to go off almost of themselves. France now foregoes her exclu- sive rights, obtaining as compensation reasonable fishing
rights and a sum of money for her fishermen, to be here-
after settled ; free access to the navigable portion of the liver Gambia ; the sovereignty of three small islands which are assumed to threaten the safety of Ronakry, the port of French Guinea ; and a cession of eight thousand square miles in Nigeria, which allows to her people direct access to Lake Chad. This latter cession, though it seems to Englishmen who have to live on the point of a needle a great one, is really equivalent in those vast regions to the surrender of a convenient right-of-way. There remains the question of Siam, which within the last twenty years hat* brought the two nations to the very edge of war. We have no inclination to gush over these arrange- ments, though we welcome them with a most hearty cordiality. We have no belief in Utopias, or in those sudden improvements in human nature which, in the judgment of enthusiasts, will one day enable the nations to disarm ; but we wish to point out, and to point out strongly, the immense advance in common-sense which such arrangements indicate. There never was anything so stupid as the distrust which for more than a generation has rendered it difficult for Great Britain and France to work together. Each Power has felt all that while that the hostility of its nearest neighbour was the latent menace to be dreaded, and each has felt less free in its action because it ha,s feared to awaken a dis- trust which might at any moment paralyse its strength. Yet during all this time neither country has bad any direct cause of collision with the other. France, as the final result of the Fashoda incident showed, never seriously determined to drive Britain out of Egypt; and Great Britain, as this agreement proves, did not even desire to hamper France in Morocco. Britain was always ready to compensate France for the loss of a privilege in Newfoundland—indeed, she offered to do it no less than five times—and though the question of Siam was, and is, a most delicate one, the two nations never even knew how desperately serious their rulers thought it might become. That the Foreign Offices on both sides of the Channel should arrive at the conclusion that to permit causes of offence like these to endure is waste of power was an access of common-sense for which even those Offices did not venture to hope. That they now hope it, or, rather, believe it, must be due to a general improve- ment in their public feeling, a general decline in their irritability, and a general disposition, to put it plainly, to see the argument for the other side.
We may, we believe, expect much from this alteration of feeling. The two nations have now nothing substantial left to quarrel about, and they certainly neither hate nor despise each other. They each have lines of expansion along which to advance without even casual interference with each other's gains, and we may, therefore, without expecting too much, hope that they will remain cordial friends. That is the best guarantee for peace. For after all, friends even when they collide are able to understand one another, and without loss of dignity to ask for explanations which one hardly demands from enemies, even if we fancy that they may be conceded. There are many political reasons why at the present juncture the dis- appearance of jealousies between Great Britain and France is of direct advantage to the peace of the world ; but this is not perhaps the moment for dreaming, still less for suggesting, that with Britain and France become friendly it will be difficult for the latent ambitions of less con- tented States to display themselves in any aggressive fashion.
WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT ?
TN spite of the fact that the Budget is to be introduced 1 next Tuesday and the Licensing Bill on Wednesday, the real question of the hour is that which we have chosen as the title of this article. "He," needless to say, is Mr Chamberlain, and " it " is the Government. What will