NEWS OF THE WEEK.
THE latest news from the Soudan is to the 10th inst , when
General Stewart was still on his march to Gakdul, where he was expected to arrive on the 12th inst. He could not, therefore, reach Metemneh till the 16th; and if there is an engagement there, we shall not hear of it before the 20th, unless, indeed, arrangements have been made for sending news from post to post by heliograph, which is not likely, the posts being too far apart. The march across the Desert is unimpeded by the enemy, and there is still no evidence that any force of im. portance is gathered at Metemneh, native reports of numbers being quite untrustworthy. The force under General Earle is still creeping-up the river, and, it is said, will not reach Khartoum till mid-February ; but with Shendy in British hands, and supplies accessible to his steamers, General Gordon will be comparatively free. The difficulty, if the Mandi persists in the siege of Khartoum, will be to dislodge his men before the main body of the Expedition has arrived, a work of time and patience. Negotiations are rumoured to be going on between General Wolseley and the Mandi ; but the stories are exceedingly vague. The idea, we imagine, if any such negotiations exist, would be that the Mandi should assist in the departure of all Egyptians, and acknowledge the Mudir of Dongola as Emir of Khartoum.
The French Chamber on Tuesday was requested to adjourn to the 27th inst., but refused, unless some explanation were given of the resignation of General Campenon. It met, therefore, on Wednesday for business; but the debate was dull in the extreme. The attack was left to M. Raoul Duval, whose substantial arguments reduced themselves to two. The Government had only been authorised to operate in Tonquin and Formosa ; and if it went further without permission from the Assembly, it would be guilty of a.,:crime against the Constitution and the country. He dwelt also upon the frightful expense, affirming thatevery soldier sent to Pekin in 1860 had cost France £2,000. M. Ferry, in reply, revealed no secrets, contenting himself with asserting that the vote of November 27th, which, it will be remembered, enjoined energetic action upon him, justified all he had done, and also justified an extension of French Tonquin up to the Chinese frontier. To carry this out, he had to ask the Minister of War for further reinforcements; and as General Campenon disapproved the policy or, at all events, "had not sufficient confidence in it to direct it," he necessarily resigned. He had found a new and competent Minister who accepted his policy, and he intended to persevere. The speech was the most guarded one ever delivered by M. Ferry, who is generally a little rash in his explanations, and was heard with profound attention, but no enthusiasm. It will be observed that nothing was said of any future march to Pekin, and that the project defended in the Chamber was one of extending French dominion in Tonquin up to the range dividing that dependency from China. This is a difficult operation. as the hills are pathless, the rivers nearly useless, and the mountaineers brave and hostile ; while it will exactly suit the Chinese, who like fighting at a distance from Pekin, and who are slowly moving considerable bodies of soldiers to the South. General Lcwal declared, however, in the Chamber that it could be done without danger to the general mobilisation of the Regular Army, which was ready to march at a moment's notice, though there bad been " difficulties " such as attend all distant expeditions. He admitted, however, that he should have to ask the Chamber for the means of "a small mobilisation," and spoke again of " a slight sacrifice which would not jeopardise the mobilisation of the country." All this means either that M. Ferry still thinks he can conquer China without an adequate force, or that France is to be drawn step by step into the great undertaking. The Chamber partly perceived this, and carried M. Ferry's Order of the Day by only 294 to 234., not half the regular majority ; while adjournment was only agreed to by 256 to 210. Still, M. Ferry is now at liberty to forward his 12,000 men, who will arrive in Tonquin just as the cold and healthy season ends.
Sir Charles Dilke addressed a meeting of electors iu North Kensington on Tuesday on the effect which the Franchise Act and the Redistribution Bill, when it becomes law, will produce on the state of parties, first pointing out how completely right the Government had been in sticking to the separate Franchise Bill as the fixed point in their tactics. With any other tactics, the whole Reform programme would have been wrecked before now. In considering what Conservatism would become under the influence of the Democratic movement, Sir Charles Dilke quoted his own former definition of Colonial Conservatism,—i.e., Conservatism already under the influence of the Democratic movement. This was—' the Conservatism of men who had got most of the points of the Charter, and desired to conserve them.' In future, he held that the Conservatives would more or less join the party of Democratic Toryism as explained by Lord Randolph Churchill,—a point on which we feel a good deal of doubt, Lord R. Churchill not having, in our opinion, enough sympathy with the English people to be a fair gauge of their tendencies.
Sir Charles Dilke held that the division of electoral districts into single-Member wards would open to political ability in all classes of life a career which had never been open to it before. He was not in favour of the principle that a class should be always represented by members of that class ; but lie did think that all men of political ability, poor as well as rich, should have their way into Parliament opened to them ; and he rejoiced, therefore, that the miners especially, already so well represented by Mr. Burt, had determined to return several of their own ablest men to the next Parliament. He thought the reform of the London Municipality would be the first great change pressed upon us by the new representatives of the Metropolis, and that a great Local Government Bill for the counties would come with it. And of that he predicted that the first result would be a " sweeping measure" on the land question, the general tenor of which had practically been sketched by Mr. Fyffe, the candidate for the City of Oxford, in his pamphlet on the agricultural question of the day. Mr. Fyffe holds that at present " the land is an instrument for maintaining family dignity ;" and that the effect of the changes proposed by him would be to "make England in a way that it has not been for the last hundred years—the home of the English people." After that, we wish that Mr. Fyffe would kindly send us a copy of his pamphlet, which we do not find it easy to discover or
Sir John Lubbock and Mr. Courtney have been urging proportional representation on the borough of Leicester this week with their accustomed gallantry. On Tuesday Mr. Courtney described it as their purpose to make the House of Commons " a photograph of the political life of the nation,"—a very laudable purpose, but one which, in our opinion, the scheme for proportional representation would not only not further, but defeat. It' would be a very blurred photograph indeed which that plan would produce ; something like those photographs of Mr. Galton's produced by putting one face after another into the focus of his camera, so as to get a sort of flavour of each. We should have, perhaps, a predominance of politics, but also a strong flavour of social estimation, a vast number of traces of confused personal likings, and of all the strange caprices which influence Englishmen after they have roughly expressed their uppermost feeling, in the blurred picture which would result: Mr. Albert Grey, M.P., has written to Mr. Gladstone to assure him that Northumberland favours proportional representation, and that a model election under the new scheme is to be taken as a mode of showing how easily it could be worked. We, for our parts, have never doubted that most men are equal to giving a list of their preferences if they choose. What we do doubt is that that list would be iu the least likely to represent, their true political judgment ; and we doubt quite as much whether it would command the smallest confidence in the English people as a representation of political judgment. If you want to get a real political opinion out of an Englishman, yon must ask him a very plain, short question, and not a highly complex one. Mr. Gladstone replied to Mr. Albert Grey with even more than his usual courtesy to opponents ; but the Prime Minister's speech in the House of Commons in reply to Mr. Courtney shows pretty well how very lightly he holds this elaborate scheme.
Mr. Chamberlain made a speech at Ipswich on Wednesday, chiefly on the politics of the future. He spoke of the agricultural labourer's vote as still doubtful ; but predicted that he would make an effort to use political agencies to improve his own condition. He told a story of some passenger on a great ship who, on the second or third day of the voyage, came to the captain for a berth, and who, when asked where he had been since the ship started, said that he had been lying on a sick man, who, now that he was getting better, would bear it no longer. The squire, the farmer, and sometimes even the parson, said Mr. Chamberlain, bad been lying in this way on the agricultural labourer; but now that he was getting better, he would bear it no longer. Mr. Chamberlain expected that the first use made of the Local Government reform which must be almost the first reform of the next Parliament, would be to give to rural communities some of those great social advantages which the municipalities of the towns,—by providing baths, washhouses, free libraries, museums, and sometimes hospitals,—have conferred on the towns. And he earnestly advocated giving such rural communities power to acquire (at a fair valuation) land for the benefit of the community, and to use it so as to provide the labourers on fair terms with the allotments which they desire.
Of course, Mr. Chamberlain was for perfectly gratuitous education,—indeed, he spoke of the children of poor parents as if they were mere additions to their burdens and needs, and not as if they had moral claims on those parents' forethought and selfdenial ; and, of course, also, he was for the emancipation of the land, and for every facility which would tend to create afresh the class of small proprietors or yeomen. He threw out even that he should not object to the three "F's,"—fixity of tenure, fair rent, and free sale,—though that is a change very little suited to England, and one which points in a very different direction from peasant-proprietorship. But perhaps the most interesting part of his speech was his attack on the principle which throws so much of our taxation upon the rateable value of the house in which the taxpayer lives, and his defence of the principle of placing a small tax on the total property,—real or personal,—of every taxpayer. So far from this being a principle of confiscation, it was once admitted by Mr. Disraeli as the best way of transferring the burdens of industry to the shoulders best able to bear them. This country had been termed, said Mr. Chamberlain, the " paradise of the rich." He warned his audience not to allow it to remain the " purgatory of the poor."
he Liberation Society held a Conference on Tuesday at the
Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, Mr. Lyulph Stanley in the chair, at which it was shown beyond question that there is no intention of pressing Disestablishment as a test-question on all Liberal candidates at the next election, in the ordinary sense of that term,—that is, of asking the supporters of Disestablishment to refuse to vote for any Liberal or Radical candidate who is not in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church. Mr. Lyulph Stanley, who loves to go a little beyond his own political friends, spoke, if the Times' report of his speech may be trusted, for something more like the imposition of a test than the Society itself is prepared to support. But the resolutions passed were perfectly moderate, and meant no more than this,—that when the friends of Disestablishment have a clear majority, they should press their claim, that the Society should insist, so far as it is possible to insist, on having the Disestablishment candidate as the choice of the Party. No one could be unreasonable enough to demand anything less. At the same time, there are very many strong Liberals who will be conscientiously unable to vote for a candidate who advocates Disestablishmeut, just as there will be some strong partisans of Disestablishment who will find themselves conscientiously unable to vote for a candidate who is opposed to that measure.
Great interest appears to be felt in some quarters in the mission of Fehmy Pasha. This Turk, together with Hobart Pasha, has been despatched by the Sultan to London, avowedly to tell Lord Granville that if the British Government will acknowledge all the rights which the Sultan claims in Egypt, his Majesty will support the English financial scheme. As England has not been pouring out blood and treasure in order to ruin Egypt, this mission would be slightly ridiculous, but that its avowed object i3 probably not the real one. The Sultan, though very ignorant, is an able man ; he is alarmed at the new dangers to his European possessions, and at the emptiness of his Treasury, which breeds mutiny; and he has probably directed Fehmy Pasha to see if he caunot sell to the English or to the French some legal right which would be of value. The Sultan . is also anxious to ascertain whether the removal of Tewfik Pasha, who is hated at Constantinople for his conduct in cutting-off bribes, would not be acceptable, and in general to make himself visible in Egyptian affairs. The Pasha has come upon a bootless errand. The British Government will forward none of his master's wishes, is bound not to intrigue against Tewfik, and will purchase nothing in Egypt unless it be the Suzerainty, which the Sultan dare not sell.
No arrangement has yet been made about Egyptian finance, but France appears to be giving way a little. M. Ferry, it is said, rejects in lobo the proposals about the Domain lands,— the meaning of which is that the Rothschilds do not approve them—but agrees that, instead. of reducing the interest on the Unified Debt, the Bonds should be subjected to a special tax. He desires, however, that the new loan should be for £9,000,000, that it should be guaranteed by all the Powers, and that the control of the Office of the Debt should be made international. These are, of course, only bases for negotiation ; but as M. Ferry wants help of all kinds in China, it is probable that some compromise will be effected. That will not do any real good to Egypt, which wants an effective and permanent Government, and not a mere respite from avowed bankruptcy ; but it will give time for Lord Wolseley to return, and for the Cabinet to decide finally what course it intends to take. If it leaves Egypt with the Soudan lost, the taxation unchanged, nothing reformed, and nine millions added to the Debt, it will not have made a success. Therefore, it cannot leave Egypt as Egypt is.
The Fenians have nearly made a mistake, and have almost affronted American opinion. A fortnight ago, one T. Phelan, being interviewed by a journalist of Missouri, made statements about an attempt to blow up 'The Queen' while lying in the Liverpool Docks. According to him, dynamite had been placed on board by J. Kearney ; but Kearney being called away, there was no explosion. Phelan, hearing the facts from Kearney, hurried to The Queen' to warn the officers, but learned that they had already been warned by telegram from America. These statements irritated some Fenians of New York, and Phelan was asked to visit O'Donovan Rossa's office. He did so, and was stabbed by an Irishman whose pseudonym is Short, and who was once a butcher. Phelan will, it is believed, recover ; and loudly declares that he was lured to O'Donovan Rossa's office in order to be murdered. That seems probable; but, as he can get uo evidence, the facts will not come out at the trial. The Americans are very indignant, and say they now believe that the threats of the Fenians are not bluster ; but their indignation only extends to words. Some day or other a steamer with known American• ladies on board will be blown-up, and then it will be found possible, even in New York, to prevent systematic attempts to murder.
Prince Bismarck, on Saturday, while asking a small vote of £9,000 for the Governor of the Cameroons, made a great speech upon his Colonial policy. Its main ideas, which are discussed elsewhere, were that he intended to make several Settlements in Africa ; that the British Government was friendly, but that its agents were not ; that the native risings against Germany, iu so many places at once. presented a curious coincidence; and that if any Power opposed his views, it must expect that he should lend support to its adversaries. He repudiated, however, auy idea of war with Great Britain, which Herr Windthorst had considered possible; and declared that all differences could be settled by negotiation. The speech was not pleasant in tone, the Chancellor evincing a new suspiciousness of England, but it was not menacing ; and since its delivery a quarrel which seemed rising about Samoa has been arranged. New Zealand wishes for the islands which form that kingdom ; but German traders are powerful there, and it is announced that an old agreement under which neither Germany nor England can annex them will be maintained. Assurances have, moreover, been given, according to Sir Charles Dilke, that Germany has uo intention of establishing a Protectorate iu Zanzibar. We do not believe Prince Bismarck even wants New Guinea, his evident idea being to do what he can in Africa, and use his power of worrying us in the Pacific to facilitate that end. He would attain his objects much more easily by a little friendliness.
The curious Clewer murder,—curious because the murderer showed so strange an indifference to the deed he had done as to remain in the room with his wife's dead body for more than one day, and even informed her relations of her disappearance without making the least attempt to escape,—ended ou Tuesday in the conviction of the prisoner, Joseph Shill, for the murder of his wife on December 19th last, and he was sentenced to death by Mr. Justice Hawkins in the usual form. The evidence left no room for any sort of plausible defence; but there has seldom been a murder of a more stolid character,—one showing less guilty dread of either the sin or the punishment. The man murdered his wife, thrust her body under the bed, lay on the bed all night, went out and returned to the house the next day, informed his wife's relations of her disappearance, and then went drinking in the neighbourhood without making any attempt. to escape. Stolid indifference to the deed and the penalty could hardly go further.
Mr. H. Fowler, the new Under-Secretary for the Home Department, made a speech at the Liverpool Reform Club on Thursday evening, which showed that he at least believes that the first work of the new Parliament will be the reform of the Land Laws. He asked whether there was any breach of the Eighth Commandment in sweeping away primogeniture and restricting settlement, in making land as saleable as cotton, in giving the farmer a property in his improvements, in favouring the creation of small properties, in restoring communal rights, or in subjecting land held under mortmain to ordinary taxation. He did not believe that the present system could go on, for under it 710 men own one-fourth of England and Wales, 7/4 men one-half of Ireland, and 70 men one-half of Scotland, while less than 13,000 proprietors own two-thirds of the whole United Kingdom. It is evident that it is to this question of the land that the thoughts of economists are turning ; just as Mr. Cobden said they would whenever Free-trade had become an indisputable axiom, and that the best of them seek first to secure its complete transferability.
The City is greatly interested by an announcement from Messrs. Glyn, Mills, Currie, and Co., the well-known bankers, that they have registered themselves as a Joint-Stock Bank with unlimited liability, the shares to be held by the present partners, who will retain the entire management. They will issue half-yearly accounts, but will not publish auy profit-andloss account. It is argued that this step is a death-warrant to all remaining private banks, as they also must become jointstock concerns ; but that is not quite so certain. What is there in the change to tempt depositors to prefer such a bank as Messrs. Glyn's will be to auy other of equal repute ? Is it the publication of accounts ? That is no guarantee against bad trading, as we have seen in a dozen instances within the past few years. The partners are the same, the resources are the same, the business done will be the same. All that is altered is that if a partner or a partner's heir wishes to retire, he can, by selling his shares, effect his object a little more easily and quietly ; and of what good is that to the public ? The position of private bankers is as well-known to leading City men as that of the Joint-Stock Banks ; and it is they who establish the reputation which induces the crowd of customers to come in.
All men who love true Irish eloquence and true Irish independence will regret to hear of the death lust Monday of Mr. P. J. Smyth, at the age of sixty-one. He was one of the leading Nationalists, and even went oet to Australia after 1S-18 to rescue Mitchell, an enterprise in which he succeeded. lie sat formerly for Westmeath, and then for Tipperary, but refused to join the Laud League, which lie was not afraid to term a " League of Hell." The consequence was that he lost all his popularity in Ireland. The Irish people is no better than other peoples in this. that it casts off its old favourites in a moment if they do not follow the popular mood of the hour ; and there was probably not a constituency in Ireland which would have returned Mr. Smyth at the next election. Yet he was a patriot to the backbone. His eloquence was persuasive, his humour rich and buoyant, and his character sincere. There is something very pathetic in the desertion of such a man by the people for whom he had sacrificed so much.
Professor Freeman writes an interesting letter to the Times of yesterday on the subject of vivisection ; but we cannot see our way to agree with him in asserting that even great pain inflicted on animals for the immediate benefit of man is defensible, while great pain inflicted on animals for the purpose of widening the sphere of human knowledge is indefensible. It seems to us that the very able letter from " C. E. S.," which we print in another column, puts the question in a much clearer light. We hold that though animal lift is utterly subordinate to human life, animal pain is not to be held utterly subordinate to the relief of man from pain ; and that it would be ,just as wicked to purchase a return of health by inflicting torture on a sensitive animal, as it would bo to purchase the same .advantage l,y inflicting torture on an equally sensitive man. The ultimate principle is, that any treatment of animals which tends to diminish the natural and proper sympathy between us and them, or to harden us towards them as if they were mere scapegoats for our sufferings, is immoral. But, of course, there are slighter pangs which we inflict without scruple, iu order to render them more serviceable to us, and to make their co-operation with us more complete ; just as we inflict the Same kind of discipline for a similar purpose without scruph. on children or on each other, and only strengthen the binding force of the social bond by so doing.
We regret to see that Sir E. Bramwell, in his speech to the Institute of Civil Engineers, on Tuesday, decided almost finally against the use of the tides as a source of continuous power. He said :—" Very few businesses needing motive power can allow their plant to remain idle for nearly half the working-day, and this was an obstacle in most cases to the use of tidal-power. Further, when it was sought to preserve continuity of action by providing a series of reservoirs, the outlay needed was so large that the mere interest on it would pay for the fuel for a steam-engine. t am afraid, therefore, that
except for certain ea-,,, F-;1,1; pumping of water into a
reservoir, or chars*: :.•,1 storage-batteries, this source of power is not likely to s r ommercially with heat-motors
until coal is very mecis es.The exception in favour of
storage-batteries is, lees:seer, a large one.