NEWS OF THE WEEK.
MR. LINCOLN delayed his expected proclamation twenty- four hours, but issued it at last almost unchanged. In it he decrees, "by virtue of his power as Commander-in-Chief of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion," that all slaves within Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia—always excepting a few counties and parishes occupied by Federal troops—" are, and henceforward shall be, free." All officials and generals of the United States are charged to recognize such freedom, all blacks are authorized to enter the army and navy of the Union, and the slaves are charged to abstain from violence except in self-defence. The President concludes with an expression of his sincere 'belief that the act is just, and invokes "on it the considerate judgment of mankind, and the favour of Almighty God." The decree has been hailed with public acclamation by all negroes in the North, and by all the higher Republicans; but the Democrats pronounce it illegal, and one which no State is bound to obey. As yet only one general, General Shaxton, has announced his intention to execute the order; but General Butler's farewell to New Orleans, in which be bitterly denounces the constitution, shows the current of opinion. He was a strong pro-slavery democrat.
An even better sign of the times is a proclamation issued by Mr. Davis on 23rd Dec., in which he decreed that "all negro slaves captured in arms shall be at once delivered over to the 'States to which they belong," and that the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all officers found serving in company with slaves. By the State laws all slaves in insurrection are liable to death, as are all white men aiding them, and the Index, the organ of the South in London, thus interprets the decree :—" It is not to be imagined that a regiment of negroes would, when captured, be put to the sword. The officers would probably be hanged with as little ceremony as our Indian heroes showed towards the captured accomplices of Nana Sahib; a few of the men would likewise be hanged as an example to the rest; the majority would simply return to the condition from which they were taken, and in which, till evil advisers came among them, they were happy." We have commented on this proclamation in another page, and need only add that in the same decree Mr. Davis sentences General Butler to be hanged for executing Mr. Mumford—who had, three days before his entry, pulled down a Federal flag—and all officers serving under his com- mand, for no reason at all.
It is stated, on fair authority, that Lord Palmerston will advise Her Majesty to create three Peers before the Session begins. They are said to be Sir Charles Wood, thirty years member for Halifax, four times Secretary of State, and an official at whose promotion beyond the cares of office every Indian will rejoice; Mr. Ellice, Nestor of the Whigs, and the only human being who could lay claim to a right of property in the North Pole; and Mr. Moncliton Mikes, a /itte'rcdeur of some distinction, a politician of some energy, and a favourite of society. The Emperor of the French opened the Session in person on Monday, the 12th inst. His Majesty commenced a long and temperate speech by remarking that, "to have antici- pated the time for dissolution, fixed by the Constitution would have been an act of ingratitude." In five years he, with their assistance, had proved "that there was no country, how- ever distant, where an attempt against the honour of France could remain unpunished." Two new provinces had been. secured, a vast territory had been thrown open in the far East, "and, what was better than conquests, they had acquired claims to the sympathy of the peoples without losing the con- fidence of the Governments." He had held interviews with many sovereigns, had "tried to obliterate the remembrance of civil discords," had "increased the importance of the great bodies of the State," and had given up a valuable prerogative. It would be necessary to vote a grant for the people distressed by the cotton famine, for the Maritime Powers had not acceded to his proposal for mediation; and. he would remind them to tell their fellow citizens to avoid conflicts. "They must send to the Chamber men who, like the presedt deputies, accept the present system without reserve, and prefer serious deli- berations to sterile discussions." The speech was little applauded in the Chamber, and was coldly received in Paris.
Mr. Bright has made another speech at Birmingham, but not, in an oratorical sense, one of his great speeches. The subdued tone of his argument, first in favour of the abolition of commercial blockades, then of the cession of Gibraltar to Spain, may have been due in part to deference to his col- league, Mr. Scholefield, who had just been arguing that we ought to abrogate the provisions of the Congress of Paris, but was also apparently due to the proposed cession of the Ionian. Islands, which had evidently partly appeased the famine of Mr. Bright's heart for radical reforms. It is this permanent hunger of his soul which makes him so eloquent; and Mr. Bright, half-satisfied, is almost an ordinary man. He reserved all the vehemence he could muster for the rash- ness of speakers like Lord Russell and Mr. Gladstone, and of writers like those in the Times, in misleading cot- ton buyers and cotton sellers about the true prospects of the war. Lord Russell, last session, made a speech which he happened to conclude by expressing the common-place hope that the war would soon terminate. "Everybody in Lancashire," says Mr. Bright, "thinks a Foreign Secretary is a most profound statesman, and has everything written down in the Foreign Office; and the consequence was, that when the news reached the Exchange at Manchester, every one wanted to sell and no one to buy. I know a man who was then taking stock with a partner whom he was about to leave, and the effect of that speech was, by a stroke of the pen, to depreciate his share of the business by more than 2,000/." Well, that is very sad; but the evil seems to us to be one which is not chargeable upon influential statesmen and news- papers, but on the credulity of men of business. If they will regard statesmen and newspapers as inspired, they have not sat at Mr. Bright's feet, and he should denounce them, not the accidental causes of these illusions. The duty of treating the Stock Exchange as a sensitive invalid, and consulting anxiously its delicate nerves, is quite a new branch of democratic ethics.
Mr. Kinglake made, on Monday evening, a speech to his constituents, which was remarkable in one way. He pro- fessed himself an admirer of Lord Palmerston's. There was no man whose judgment he would rather trust on the question of the proper mode of defending our naval arsenals, than the Prime Minister's. He is staggered, however, about the proposed cession of the Ionian islands—staggered, though willing to be convinced that it is right. "I trust that Her Majesty's Government may show that they are not necessary as a naval or military station; then I shall gladly support them, because the cession will save something from the public expendi- ture." Mr. Kinglake is in a state nearly resembling what the metaphysicians call the " liberty of indifference," about the Ministerial proposition,—inclining to believe, but unconvinced. Anything whatever that would strengthen his reason, or even, perhaps, his inclination to believe, would clearly turn the scale.
Sir Charles Wood addressed his constituents at Halifax on Thursday in a speech so long and so tedious that, according to the detailed local reports, the people cried out " time, ' the Mayor had to remind him that Mr. Stansfeld was waiting to speak, and he sat down with the Indian branch of his subject still unfinished. He eulogized the general policy of the Government, declared that reform had been postponed by the general indifference of the country, and on the Ionian question contented himself with the barest statement of facts. He could not perceive any chance of a termination to the American contest, but hoped that a better feeling might arise, in which case "Government would hold itself free to take a step it might think acceptable to both parties for the sake of terminating the war.' That is not very dis- tinct, and certainly not open to the charge brought against Mr. Gladstone by Mr. Bright, that his speech brought down the price of cotton. The rest of his address was on Indian affairs, and is described in another column, and the whole speech .was, we think, the poorest and baldest uttered in the recess.
The Prussian Chambers were openedon the 14th instant, in a speech from the throne, read by Herr von Bismark. The Government announced that the expected deficit had been covered by the increased receipts, that in the absence of a legally fixed budget for 1862 they had been extremely economical, that they hoped the deficit of 1863 would also be covered, but that they "unanimously held themselves bound in the interests of the power of Prussia to maintain the reorganization of the army." In other words, the Mr. Stansfeld's was better—though apparently carelessly reported—and indicates the line the independent Liberals may be expected to take. They approve a foreign policy "for which Italy is grateful," rejoice at the cession of the Ionian Islands, and view with a profound grief the current of public opinion in favour of the South. They will stand by the policy of retrenchment which began with his own motion—a motion which, in legal phrase, he might call an "enabling motion" — but reject as fatal the offer of an economy to be purchaRcd by a retrogressive policy abroad. The one thing the Liberal party had failed to secure was reform ; but for that the will of the country must be exerted, and the influential and cultivated thought of the country secured to that side. The real difficulty, as Mr. Stansfeld clearly perceives, is to reconcile those two forces. The edu- cated are willing to enfranchise the workmen, but they are not willing to swamp their own influence in that of the class -which possesses only numerical force.
The Republican party in the North have just passed a bill which utterly puzzles their English friends. It admits Western Virginia to the Union as a separate State. Nothing can be clearer than the clause in the Constitution which pro- hibits the creation of one State within another, unless the original State consents, which in this instance is not pleaded. The act reverses the whole policy of the party, which has been to stretch, but never to violate, constitutional law. If they are prepared to shake off their old chains, why throwaway only an armlet; if not, why pass an act which leaves them no legal foothold ? If they wanted senators from Virginia, why not have treated the loyal section as the whole, and admitted its nominees to represent the old State ? It is the worst blunder in tactics the party has yet committed.
The throne of Greece is still going a begging. It has been offered, it is said, to the Duke of Saxe Coburg, who, of course, as the only third candidate for a German Imperial Crown, has declined the burdensome prize. King Ferdinand, though pressed by King Leopold, adheres to his first resolve, and it would really appear that for once the Royal caste has resolved to refuse a throne. Meanwhile, the National Assembly occupies itself with expelling members irregularly elected, brigandage has reached to the gates of Athens, and the Greek population remains faithful to its fi-st love—Prince Alfred. It is time the situation was filled, tiefore Europe has an excuse for declaring Greece in a state of insupportable anarchy. Per- sistency is a political virtue, but when Greeks threaten, as in a pamphlet before us, to accept the Sultan rather than endure any Prince but Prince Alfred, they show that prejudice and sentiment have got the better of political sense. Government of Prussia intends to persist in its illegal course, and keep up forces not voted by Parliament on funds the Cham- bers have never supplied. This is a declaration of war, as they will probably find from the first vote of the Lower Chamber. The King, it is said, is ill with annoyance and disappointment, and the wealthy classes of Rhineland have addressed him a most earnest petition, condemning the Ministry who have threatened to deprive them of their charters. The course to be adopted by the Chambers has not yet been ascertained, but they will probably wait for the Government to make the first move. It is said that Herr von Bismark wishes for a declaration of war from Austria, but as yet he has only suc- ceeded in eliciting a remonstrance from Count Karolyi against his own impertinence.
Rumours are current, generally in telegrams, of troubles approaching in Servia. Their usual drift is that the Sultan is aware of great preparations in Servia and the Principalities for an attack upon Turkey, and is determined to anticipate it by striking the first blow himself, that he is preparing for a campaign, and that England is urging him on. The story is probable enough in itself, as the Servians are certainly both ready and irritated ; but with France embarrassed by Mexico, Austria by debt, and England by the necessity of reductions, the Turks will, perhaps, think twice before they encounter their- Slav subjects, backed by Hungarian emigrants and by Russian secret agents. It must not be forgotten that the merchants of the Feuer, the cleverest and least scrupulous class in Europe, have a direct interest in exaggerating all these reports.
A number of diplomatic documents relating to Italy have been published in France. It appears that M. Pasolini, when_ pressed on the subject of Rome, did reply that the Italian Government would not re-open negotiations, as the French Government seemed by its last resolutions to leave them no hope of a satisfactory arrangement. He added, however, that Italy intended to remain "hand in hand" with France. It also appears that the British Ministry during the Christmas fetes strongly pressed the Pope to leave Rome, and even offered him, as an asylum, the Governor's Palace in Malta. They expressed, moreover, through Mr. Odo Russell, their belief that the Pope might speedily be obliged to regret that he had not accepted the offer. It was a curious one to emanate from a strictly Protestant Government which only last Session explained that it had not interfered because the matter concerned rather the Catholic than the Protestant world. Of course, the Pope, if he chooses, may reside anywhere within the British dominions; but we should imagine that at Malta, a military station crowded with bigoted Maltese, and still more bigoted Irish soldiery, he would be a decided and very dangerous nuisance. Gibraltar would be a much better residence, as, in the event of too- much trouble, we might hand him, and the rock, and the "lizards," all over together to Spain.
The French Government, it is said, has resolved to appoint a commission to inquire into the laws affecting the succession to landed property. At present, by an entail stricter than any in Scotland, every child inherits, and the consequent sub- division is killing agriculture. The pauper ouvrier cannot keep- cattle or purchase guano, and sometimes finds ploughing impos- sible from the small size of his fields. The councils of the Depart- ments have formally condemned the system, which, however, it will be exceedingly difficult to reform. The peasantry will not bear inequality among children, and are not prepared for co-operation ; but there is a third course, successful all over British India. Keep the law as it stands, let property sub- divide till, as in Ceylon, each man has the sixteenth share of a right to a bunch of olives, but induce the owners to entrust cultivation to a conseil de famille. Then property is divided, but not hedges, and ploughing is possible, though wealth is not.
We are happy to perceive that the charge against Captain Taylor, of the Jane, of having chopped off a sailor's fingers while frost-bitten, was unfounded. The sailor himself declared before the Mayor that he had asked the mate to cut the fingers off, as they were decayed from frost ; he could see the bone, and he was afraid of mortification. The mate con- firmed this evidence, and a surgeon of Cardiff declared that, from the appearance of the sufferer's hands, he must have been very carefully and kindly treated. The Mayor declared that there was no evidence against Captain Taylor, who "had used 'every care and attention." The inquiry seems to have been instituted, very properly, by the Superintendent of Dock Police, on a rumour of cruelty which had reached him, and he himself accompanied the frost-bitten man to the surgeons.
The famous Yelverton case presents a new feature. The second wife, Mrs. Forbes Yelverton, writes to the Examiner to say she had never heard of the claim of the first except as a cast-off mistress, and, indeed, could not, as she did not invent it till afterwards, out of revenge. There- upon Mrs. Longworth Yelverton's solicitors write to the Scotsman denying the allegation, and promising, in the absence of their client, that she will bring an action for libel for the letter, a pleasing little complication in the case. To punish the second wife for being a little too bitter upon the claims of the first seems a little hard, and we hope Mrs. Longworth Yelverton, whose fault does not seem to be rancour, will be better advised than her lawyers deem it prudent to appear.
The Italian conscription for the year has been successfully carried out, and the army of Italy will shortly consist of 400,000 effectives. Consequently the loan, which was to have been postponed till 1864, is to be raised this year—circum- stances flowing solely out of the selfish occupation of Rome.
General Butler has been superseded at New Orleans by General Banks, whose expedition has reinforced the garrison and taken possession of Baton Rouge. General Butler, in a farewell order, tells the population that he has enforced order among them, improved the sanitary condition of the city, and governed them with invariable leniency. He challenges them to :educe an instance in which a woman had been outraged, and sneers at the "hypocritical" nations of Europe, who suffocated Arabs in Algeria and blew sepoys from cannon before Delhi. The proclamation is that of a clever but bitter attorney, who can make points, but misses all general principles. General Banks began his command with an order stopping confiscation, and promisino•° protection to the citizens in words wholly free from insult. His instruc- tions are obviously to govern sternly, but observe the judicial decorum which experienced officers, however savage, seldom forget. General Butler has been summoned to Washington, and will, it is rumoured, be appointed to command an expedition to Charleston.
The military intelligence from America is still most un- favourable to the North, a great battle having been fought in the South West with very doubtful result. On 27th Decem- ber General Rosencranz, with 45,000 men and 100 pieces of artillery, marched from Nashville to attack Murfreesboro, a position thirty miles south, where the enemy were concentrat- ing their strength. He attacked on the 31st, his army being formed into three divisions ; but the left was repulsed, and the centre, led by himself to the rescue, though successful at first, suffered fearful slaughter. After eleven hours of fighting, the loss of dozens of officers and of at least 2,500 men he paused, and remained for the night without giving way. Next morning he renewed the attack, which was still raging when the last despatches were sent off. No further details are certain, but the latest rumours were unfavourable, and the absence of any telegram claiming the victory justifies the im- pression that Rosencranz sustained a defeat. If so, his army may be destroyed, for the Confederate cavalry were behind him, much of his train had been captured, and he had suffered losses which the figures quoted obviously do not represent. If he is destroyed, the war for Tennessee and Kentucky is at an end.
The Richmond correspondent of the Times, a writer as Southern as if he had been born in the Carolinas, declares that the Federal troops, though hopelessly beaten, behaved with magnificent courage at Fredericksburg.
Archbishop Whately always handles a practical subject in a masculine way. He annihilates the English ticket-of-leave system with a single sentence :—" What should we think of a right, encouraged by a Secretary of State, to go every day to a menagerie and let out by mere rotation one animal from a cage without inquiring whether he released a monkey or a tiger ?" The Archbishop proposes that all sentences beyond fifteen years should be irreversible, except by an Act of Parlia- ment specifying the names, offences, and previous committals of the prisoners pardoned. Mr. Senior carries the suggestion further still; and proposes to take away all power of remitting a sentence at all. Dr.Whately is more fortunate in illustrating the evil than in suggesting the remedy. The system of remitting part of a sentence without any proof that the prisoner is fit for liberty is simply monstrous. But there is no advantage j_-every disadvantage—in depriving our officers of the power to remit, under strict conditions, as a reward for great and manifest improvement in social character and industry. It is the Most wretched economy to cast away all the leverage of motives to improve, because a Jebb refuses to use them in their only legitimate method. What we want is, not to sacrifice the motive power, but to use it as motive power, and in no other way. Sir Joshua Jebb, at great expense, generates his steam in order to let it off again, and never thinks of using it to move the engine. Archbishop Whately and Mr. Senior denounce the process, and wish to have no steam at all. Sir Walter Crofton used it.
The Confederates are violent against England for declining to mediate. The Richnwnd TVhig speaks of our "grovelling and cold-blooded selfishness," calls Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell "painted mummies," actuated by "sordid lust and base fears," and promises to hate us "next to the abominable North more than any nation upon earth." Mr. Seward is dictating the policy of Lord Russell, and the "Yankee fox" is "by far the shrewder knave of the two." There is something of the virulence of despair about this refined abuse.
We are now told by the French official statistics that there are 515,000 operatives employed in the cotton manufacture throughout France-250,000 men and 265,000 women. The starving operatives are invited to take work on the new rail- ways and great docks in course of construction—so that no effort appears to be made to keep them together round the centres of manufacture.
The Revolutionary Committee in Rome has issued a very able new year's proclamation to the Romans on the promised Papal reforms. It expresses Roman gratitude both to the Power which gives and to the Power which has solicited these reforms, with considerable force :—" Romans,—An over- whelmino.b foreign force has added yet another year to the history of your servitude, to the lamentable series of your misfortunes. But, as a solace to your sorrows, pretended administrative reforms are promised you—that is to say, the partial and ephemeral carrying into effect of a new law pro- mulgated at Gaeta as far back as 1850, a modification of the postal regulations, and a slight change in the administration of the lottery. This is what the generous Government of France has obtained from the Pontiff and the Holy College after thirteen years of military occupation ; this is what the Pontiff and the Holy College have been able to concede to the generous Government of France in requital of its maintenance of the temporal power in Rome against the will of the Romans. Romans, you should be equally grateful to him who obtains and to him who gives to you such a benefit."
Sir George Grey's policy seems failing in New Zealand The natives resist his authority with the most defiant air. A very amusing conversation has taken place between Sir George Grey and Wi Tako, an able supporter of the Maori King movement. Wi Tako is perfectly candid. "You shall know," he says, "all my thoughts and why I am so strong and energetic in upholdincr° the lifttori King and the King move- ment." He confides to Sir George Grey that he has no faith in the English wish to govern justly; he believes they only wish to get land, and therefore he supports a native government. Sir George Grey's part in the dialogue is feeble and hortatory. Everywhere his measures seem to be failing, and at Taranaki the settlers have suffered and are suffering so dreadfully, that a proposition has been made, and very ably supported in the Legislative Assembly by Captain H. Atkinson, for a compen- sation of 200,0001. to the settlers of that colony. The calami- ties are in great measure brought home to the tremendous incapacity of Colonel Gold.
"France, Russia, and the Porte have agreed to an arrange- ment which will be applauded by all Christendom." The state of the dome of the Holy Sepulchre, threatening to tumble about the heads of the pilgrims, awakened contemporaneously "the solicitude" of the French and Russian Emperors' Governments. The two Cabinets agreed to ask the consent of the Porte to construct a new dome. The Porte entered into the holy plan with an ardour worthy almost of the Papacy, or of St. Peter himself when he outran St. John on the way to the sepulchre. It claimed the right of the territorial sovereign to participate in the expense. And so the three Powers are to keep triangular watch over each other as they build the roof of the empty sepulchre ; and the Christian Powers try, with the aid of the Turk, to find a new verification of the prophecy that the Cross came to produce, not peace on earth, but a sword.