18 DECEMBER 1886, Page 2

S. Ricotti, the Italian Minister of War, brought forward his

Budget on Thursday, in a speech of some importance. He declared that Italy now possessed an effective force of 400,000 men, or in war 500,000, who could be mobilised in a few days, even their victualling being quite ready. The distribution of the repeating-rifle had begun, and 1,000,000 such rifles would be in the hands of the Army by 1888,—rather a long date if the war is to begin next spring. "There is nothing," said the Minister, "to threaten the continuance of peace ; but if war should break out, Italy is quite in a position to await events with confidence. A force of 500,000 men is more than sufficient to enable us to take our part either by the side of an ally or against a foe." An Italian Army of this magnitude, with a British ccnTs d'arrnge as spear- head, would be equal to any foe within the Mediterranean.