NEWS OF THE WEEK.
PARLIAMENT has approached the stage of finishing off in a man- ner which at once exemplifies the political lassitude of the day, and the necessity which is increasing for some radical change in the mode of conducting a large part of the public business.
Even the Lords pass the Government of India Bill on its se- cond reading with little more than an expression of consistent dislike from Lord Granville, and a cutting criticism from Lord Ellenborough ; who thanks God that it is none of his, and pro- nounces the bill to be the work of the Commons rather than Ministers. This is a mistake. A variety of " suggestions " were thrown into the Commons, and those were "passed" which floated best ; so that the bill is the work of little more than in- genious constitution paper-making by force of haphazard. The Lords, however, yielding to the mode of the day, virtually de- clined to interfere, except perhaps to suggest an amendment of style here and there.
The treatment of the Jew question, which has been in effect settled this week, does not fall within the scope of the changes to which we allude, although it gives more proof of the politieekde- bility among the Peers. The majority of that House has contrived to " consult its dignity " in a way that, outside the walls, provules nothing but smiles of no respectful kind. Lord Lucan's Jews Bill, authorizing either House to modify the oath of admission in the case of Jews, has been passed by the Peers, who have firmly repelled any attempt to defeat that particular measure ; at the very same time that their Lordships have also passed the " rea- sons" proposed by the Government for rejecting Lord John Rus- sell's Oaths Bill, on the ground that those who will not use the form, " on the true faith of a Christian," are " morally unfitted" to legislate in a Christian assemblage! The Peers, led by Lord Derby, deemed themselves to have consulted their dignity by sending down their own bill for the admission of the Jews, along with those reasons for rejecting the Commons' bill. The great fact, however, is that on that most extraordinary act of consist- ency,—which could not have been a bitterer sarcasm had it been invented by Rabelais or Voltaire,—the Lords have practically settled the subject so far as their own House was concerned.
The question then was, how the House of Commons could act under these peculiar circumstances ; and Lord John Russell re- sumed the lead which he had been allowed to keep on this parti- cular branch of legislation. He explained on Tuesday the course which he had arranged in anticipation of last night --to move the second reading of Lord Lucan's Jew Bill as a mode of accomplishing the purpose which the Commons have so long had in view, and which the Lords have so capriciously but 13o fortunately adopted ; to persevere with the Oaths Bill, which will operate as a material improvement of the oath, though the original purpose has been transferred to Lord Lucan's bill ; and, finally, instead of accepting sub silentio the irrational reasons of the Lords, or rejecting them in a way that might impede useful legislation, to receive them with respect due to the other Cham- ber, but to place on record the motives which induce the House of Commons net to take any notice of those reasons. Thus the Commons persevere with their own line of action, and attain their objects undisturbed by the caprices of the Peers or Lord Derby's fantastical notions of " dignity."
author very finportant subject which has been deeply stirred
of late was discussed in a debate raised by Mr. Hutt, but not settled. Mr. Hutt moved a resolution substantially abandoning the practice of visit and search to identify the nationality or pursuits of slave-trading ships ; Mr. Hutt's speech, however, aiming at the total abandonment of the armed suppression, squadron and all. His arguments were comprehensive, though they did not exhaust the subject. The impossibility of putting down the traffic in slaves so long as there is a demand for slave labour, the embarrassments into which the attempts at forced suppression lead us, the recent disputes with the United States, the aggravation of suffering which the pursuit of slavers and the consequent devices for evasion draw upon the Negroes themselves, the interference which such measures offer to the extension of regular trading on the African coast—these were Mr. Hutt's practical arguments. On the other side Ministers and the late Premier resisted any departure from the present system. Take off the restriction upon the slave-trade, they said, and it will expand to immense proportions ; while the assertion, that the in- terference is unsuccessful, is refuted by the facts. The case of Loando alone illustrates the advance which has been made. From that port, formerly, fifteen or eighteen thousand Negroes were annually conveyed—about the number now taken from the whole of West Africa ; while at Loando a legitimate traffic has been substituted amounting to 239,0001. exports, and 293,0001. imports. Brazil has abandoned the slave-trade, which is now limited to Cuba as an importer ; and instead of continued em- barrassments with the United States, that Republic has recently agreed to reinforce its own squadron in the Cuban waters for the express purpose of cooperating with our own. Here is success instead of failure, and 223 Members against 24 supported the Government and the late Government in giving the negative to Mr. Hutt's motion.
Mr. Disraeli professes to have introduced a bill to purify the Thames, but it is literally a bill concerning the Metropolitan Board of Public Works, for whom it enacts Laissez faire. The Board is to be no more controlled by the Minister of Public Works, and it is empowered to raise 3,000,0001. sterling on a metropolitan rate of 3d. in the pound, which will pay off in- terest and principal it is calculated in forty years.
The excellent bill for permitting the establishment of Reforma- tories throughout Ireland has passed the stage of Committee in the Commons, not too late, it is to be hoped, for final success in the upper House. Amongst other odds and ends which have been disposed of has been the salary of M. Otto Miindler the travelling agent of the National Gallery—the vote implying that the Commons will support the Government in still further reforms of that strangely-managed institution. Members are anxious to be off by the end of the month and Ministers are
giving every sign of a wind-up ; making arrangements to expe- dite business, settling such posts as are vacant and giving a peerage here and there,—as in the ease of Sir John Yarde Buller ; Mr. Disraeli and his friends being resolved to make Lords while the sun shines.
" The Queen at Cherbourg " has become already a standing topic, and public feeling goes entirely against the French Em- peror for having given an invitation which, to say the least of it, is so infelicitous. Wherever you hear English people speak out, from the lobby to the omnibus, the press to the drawing-room, or the club to the coffee-house, the utterance is the same : " She could scarcely refuse, but she ought not to have been asked." " The Emperor is ' a deep onc,' and so ill an invitation must have had an ill motive." We can imagine, indeed, one answer that her Majesty might have given—That she was too busy to officiate at Cherbourg, because she had so much to do at Alder- shott and Portsmouth. But she has chosen another kind of answer. Consenting to go, she has given the reply in the manner of her going. As Jupiter complied when Semele begged him to visit her with all his honours, Queen Victoria makes her invited visit with a fleet that could bombard Cherbourg and hold it against the French.
The intelligence from India tells ns of victory, and fills us with alarm. Sir fliigh Rose had no doubt taken, Oalpoo, bat as
he marched forward the insurrection revived at his heels. The insurrection is said to have been put down in every part, but nowhere has it been extirpated. Again, we have the assurance which becomes formidable from its repetition, that at Lucknow the "people are beginning to come in." Scindia continued faithful to us, and was defeated ; while two wings of his army were not defeated, because they crossed over to the enemy. It has been thought necessary to strengthen conspicuous posts even in Bombay. In great operations the rebels are defeated ; but they appear to be as difficult to drive away as flies. Meanwhile, the climate is destroying numbers of English. That valuable force, the Artillery, was losing 14 per cent per annum by cli- mate alone ; and routine assisted the sun by keeping up heavy European clothing and preventing eastern expedients to counter- act the heat.
Nor is this all. The broader the view taken, the more pain- ful it becomes. It is understood that we have only 26,000 Eu- ropeans available for fighting in all India, the rest being thrown in some way hors de combat. Financiers are assuring native capitalists, that our debt could be repaid if we hold only the Presidency towns. And an evident watch of anxiety and fear is kept upon the state of our hitherto quiescent neighbours over the north-west frontier.
The feeling of false security, upon which India is casting such a black moral, has received fresh castigation through an unex- pected outrage at Jeddah. A mob of the faithful in that out- post of Mecca assembled for the purpose of massacring the Chris- tians. Amongst the first victims were the English and French Consuls and their families, who were slaughtered with circum- stances of great cruelty. The English force in the neighbour- hood was by no means sufficient to afford protection ; and a larger force was moved up too late to prevent, but not to avenge the massacre, had it not been that the offenders were but a mob, the place itself and its governor being subjects of the Porte—our ally. The outbreak is said to have received its first inspiration from Delhi ; so that it is a kind of supplement to the Indian revolt, visiting us on our Indian high road in the Red Sea. There are rumours, that in other places—Suez and elsewhere, under the feeble Government of the Sultan—the Muasu1mans are putting the Christians in mortal fear.
The American news is almost limited, in the way of novelty, to a single incident. That an army should be moving towards the Salt Lake, or that Mexico should be in a revolutionary ferment, is no novelty whatever ; but party spirit in Florida has gone to unusual lengths. At a place called Tampa, a town in the remote parts of the state, one party has stolen a march upon another, and in the morning four " prominent men," were found hanged on as many trees in the suburbs. This is the argumentum ad hominem with a vengeance. It is per- haps carrying to an extreme an abuse opposite to that under which we live, for here boundless political impunity almost re- lieves men from the slightest shade of personal responsibility on any political subject.
Correspondents of the daily papers give us narratives of the attempt to lay the Atlantic Telegraph cable,—narratives which ought to be instructive for the third attempt. No small amount of risk was incurred through the method of stowing the sable : the ships were not big enough ; a considerable portion was stowed on the upper deck, and the vessel was rendered danger- ously top-heavy for the encounter with the Atlantic storms. This was a source of severe anxiety though not of disaster ; yet how necessary was it in this particular instance more than a thousand others, to avoid the slightest chance of ship-wreck ! The cable was paid out after the manner established by many experiments, and it suddenly broke near the Agamemnon, appa- rently at a time when it was descending some steep incline be- low the Ocean. Is the cable of sufficient strength to bear its own weight when a great length of it is suspended almost perpendi- cularly We might infer that whether in length of cable, strength of cable, or capacity of ship, those who have undertaken this work have made the mistake so common with all the world just now,--that is all the most civilized world, from London builders to British Statesmen,—not to allow enough margin.