NEWS OF THE WEEK.
IN the few simple facts which belong to the Queen's visit to Bir- mingham is conveyed a whole volume of our national history. Aston Hall, the last residence of Charles I., from which he went to fight the battle of Edge Hill, has been on sale. It is bought by the people of Birmingham for a play-ground and park, a large proportion of the subscriptions coming from the earnings of the working men. They do not like to open it to the public without having the occasion graced by the presence of the Queen ; and when the ruler of the country goes down to Bir- mingham, a million of her subjects flock to the provincial town in order to share the day with their sovereign, and to testify their respect alike for the Queen and the occasion. How many changes of social and political influence are marked by these few and exceedingly obvious events! There is, we truly believe, no other country in the world in which such a variety of classes could be brought together, all engaged in absolute agreement upon the particular business of the day ; there is no other country, we are certain, in which every class, every individual, could have been so absolutely free from any species of coercion or restraint. From Queen Victoria down to the humblest working man, every person was there present by his own free choice. For the freedom of this country—and it is perhaps its most re- markable extreme—extends not only to the working classes but to the throne. How much is conveyed in these facts to esta- blish not only the discretion of our Queen, but her statesman- ship, her appreciation of English character, her knowledge of the people and of their *actual condition ! There are indeed few English statesmen who equal their Queen in the precision as well as the largeness of their knowledge and views on these sub- jects. Amidst all our political conflicts and doubts, it is a great fact, that, when occasion demands it, the, sovereign from the throne will be found acting in cordial concert with the artisans from the Workshop.
The Indian Resolutions have this week made so much progress in the House of Commons, though the House has not got very far in the numerical series, that they have arrived at the end. In the strange, broken, yet final progress, the House has decided important points, the decisions involving important political con- sequences. Lord Stanley has undoubtedly assumed at once a stronger position, and a stronger manner, with his accession to the Board of Control ; and this, with some other circumstances, contributed to the success of Government through him. On the first night of the week the contest lay between his proposal, that the Council should be partly nominated and partly elected, and Lord John Russell's amendment, that the Councillors be appointed by her Majesty. The arguments were not new, and many other issues than the immediate one were introduced into a very dis- cursive debate ; Sir James Graham, particularly, rehinting the proposal that the larger portion of the Council should consist of the East India Directors. But while he and Mr. Gladstone oscillated between the two contending sides their weight lay with the Government rather than otherwise ; while Lord John rallied to him a considerable number of the ex-Ministers and Mr. Sidney Herbert. His defeat therefore, by 250 to 185, was a large Ministerial victory. The defeat of Monday was not retrieved by the Opposition on Thursday ; so much the reverse, that the
Ministers converted their own luck to a tenfold success. Lord Stanley, trenchantly breaking through all calculations, all ante- cedents prepared for him by former bills, former Premiers, inde- pendent leaders, or his own leader, cut short the discussion, announced that he should proceed no more with the resolutions, and, through Mr. Disraeli, his "leader," declared his resolve to introduce his bill and settle the matter forthwith. Whereat the House cheered.
The Ministers have obtained another victory by the process of retreat. They, the Tories, have negatively assisted in carrying through the House of Lords Mr. Locke King's Bill for abolishing the Property Qualification of Members of Parliament, denounced in the final debate as being actually one of the " six points" of the People's Charter ! There was a time when such tergiversa- tion would have drawn upon a Government utter ruin and dis- grace; at present' people are asking how it is that Liberal Go- vernments have left these Radical victories for the Tories ? A world of political inquiry is involved in these simple facts, especially with regard to the future, and to the ulterior position which the Liberals are to take if there is to remain a distinctive Liberal party: The Lords, however, even in the Cabinet, are not expected entirely to use up all the Liberal measures,—at least not all at once, so. that some opportunity will remain for the genuine old Liberals—the driginal firm. It is generally understood that Lord Derby will not adopt Mr. Locke King's other Bill for en- larging the county franchise. Lord Derby, it seems, does not care what the Members may do, but has an eye to the superior position of their masters, the electors.
In another branch of public administration the Government has fairly gone to school. A commission has recently issued for inquiring into the organization and administration of the per- manent Militia: staff, which Lord Hardinge, and his betters, we presume, are simple enough to regard as nothing more than a large recruiting dep6t for the regular Army. The Militia has succeeded, Lord. Harding° almost said, because it has supplied 8000 to the regular Army this year : so he musters a corps of nearly 200,000 men to secure 8000! Divers Dukes gave him very pertinent tuition on the point ; and it is probable that scholars so apt as the present Ministers will illustrate the advantage of this teaching in the instructions which have not yet been issued to the new Commissioners.
The Wednesday's sitting was devoted this week to Edinburgh and its Annuity Tax—a sort of local church-rate. Now since the Established Church of Scotland has ceased to be the Church of the entire nation, it is felt that the impost ought to share the fate of the Irish Ministers' Money—and, some will say, of the English Church-rates. Mr. Black's bill, however, could not prevail against the united interests of Scotch orthodoxy and English Church-rates ; and its second reading was negatived by a bare majority of one.
The problem of the Slave-trade' and its suppression has been brought before the House of Lords in the most solemn manner, on a petition from a district in Jamaica, presented by the Bishop of Oxford, the son of Wilberforce. The petitioners complain, that, notwithstanding the treaties between Great Britain and
Spain, the trade is continued, especially through Cuba. We
know nothing of the history of the petition ; we remember that Jamaica comprises within its shores representatives of the old anti--slavery interest, planters who dislike to see a means of la- bour retained in neighbouring islands which they have lost, and
West Indians actuated by the ordinary rivalries of foreign neigh- bours. Be that as it may, there is obviously a ground upon the
face of the record for the complaint of the Jamaica petitioners.
There are, however, serious difficulties in enforcing the treaties. It has been justly asked, how we could yield to the United
States, and temporize with France, while putting the screw upon
Spain, who is not more faithless to our interpretation of the treaties than those more powerful allies have been ? If we were to get over that difficulty, and to coerce Spain, it would still be quite open for her to renew her observance of the treaties in their letter, at - the same time adopting that plan of "Free African Emigration ". which ne treaties forbid, and which we are obliged to tolerate in France. The only mode of preventing this evasion would be to obtain a. new set of treaties with improved texts( s but which of our allies would make this concession ? The diffi- culty, no doubt, owes its first origin to what was at the time thought a great stroke of policy. When it was suggested that the action of the blockade squadron should be transferred from the African shores, the point of departure, to the American shores, the point of arrival, a better mechanical hold was ob- tained over the traffic ; but the removal of the action brought our cruisers upon different ground, in embarrassing neighbour- hoods, and dangerously entangled with the ordinary traffic of trade and locomotion. We are now feeling these secondary in- conveniences of the transfer.
The explanations given in Parliament, coupled with the fur- ther information on the subject, remove any disagreeable doubts which hung over the solution of the Neapolitan question. It ap- pears that King Ferdinand's Government surrendered the Ca- gliari and crew to the English Government, in consequence of the energetic language used by our Foreign Minister, and in the absence of any final demand from the Sardinian Government. The Ministers of King Victor Emmanuel, indeed, had pressed their claims, and a final demand would no doubt ultimately have found its way to Naples ; but meanwhile, Lord Malmesbury was more prompt and not less direct than the Sardinian Administra- tion could have been, and no advantage that he has gained is regarded with invidious regret by Count Cavour or his colleagues. Undoubtedly our Tory Ministers have obtained a very great success ; and if the late Government regret that this advantage should have been obtained by the traditionary opponents of Libe- ral opinions, they cannot but reflect that it was the deliberate choice of the Liberal Ministers which left this opportunity open ; while to Lord Malmesbury must be allowed the positive credit of having used the opportunity in capital style, for no despatches could be more plain than his, more direct, or more "English."
The settlement of the question seems for the time to postpone another larger question which appeared to have been opened rather formidably. The greatest apprehensions were arising for the peace of Italy ; war in the Peninsula being undoubtedly only the commencement of a general disturbance in Europe—the extension of the controversy at present smothered between the Courts and Departments on the one hand, the nationalities and their notables on the other. No doubt Austria saw this contin- gency, and while it is understood that some Austrian statesmen are following up the efforts which cost Count Stadion his reason —seeking to reconcile the Austrian rule with the inevitable fu- ture, by establishing an approach to Liberal Government in the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom—there cannot be the slightest question that warnings from Vienna have compelled King Ferdi- nand to submit to public law. There were other motives for this counsel. One of the objects which France is supposed to contemplate for engaging the restlessness of her military popu- lation, is a war of some kind in Italy,—perhaps to set up an Emperor of Italy resting his throne upon universal suffrage ? And if peace were actually broken in that Southern corner of Europe, it is impossible to say whither conflict might spread, or what might be the political consequences in any part of the Continent.
In France the movement is almost entirely official, and it piques rather than satisfies the curiosity. General Espinasse has been removed from the head of the Ministry of the Interior, and he is succeeded by another person, a lawyer, who is regarded as a man of pronounced opinions. The change is remarkable in several ways. The General was "Minister of the Interior and of the General Safety," M. Delangle, hitherto First President of the Imperial Court of Paris, is only "Minister of the Interior." The Imperial regime seems to be slightly reverting to civil ideas.
Meanwhile, the Mon iteur put forward denials that France has increased her military forces, the denial being positive in tone, but so vague as to be quite consistent with an actual augmenta- tion of the effective force. The announcement too is in the non- official part of the paper, a part for which the Executive is, ac- cording to its own statement, not responsible ; the Government, in fact, does not unite with the Government journal in this de- claration.
The Conferences of the Plenipotentaries are going on, and we have a rumour that the tribunal has decided against any union of the Turkish Principalities, except a union of the Legislature. This looks like a bungling and erroneous statement, scarcely Trorth notice as it stands. The only thing of which we are cer- tain is, that we shall not be let into the confidence of the Con- ferences until all the mischief shall have been done.
The steamer brings us the details of that Indian news which was only foreshadowed in the telegraph. Upon the
whole it is quite satisfactory. It tells us of no new points, but makes us understand more clearly than we did before how the rebel force is gradually driven away from its centres. while in spreading it becomes thinner and feebler. Brigadier Walpole's endeavour to snatch a glory for himself by the attack upon the fort at Rhodamow, stands forth as a blunder of the grossest kind ; but upon the whole it appears to be more than compensated by the general progress of the British. We cannot expect that so numerous a body of rebels can be reduced to terms at once, but their armies are gradually broken up into fragments, and the event is fulfilling our calculations.
We have little fresh intelligence from the United States, but the tenor of it, coupled with the reports at home make us be- lieve that the grievances alleged by our ally, in the shape or lawless trespasses upon American vessels, have been officially re- cognized as being more substantial than our public was at first taught to think ; while it appears to be undoubted that the satis- faction given to the Federal Government will be sufficient to pre_ vent any further irritations. The Senate had continued to fortify the Executive by anticipative resolutions which empowered the President to take very energetic steps should the British outrages be continued. Now it is possible that there may be more out- rages than we have yet learned, simply because the British officers may proceed en suite until they have some kind of hint from Washington or the new instructions from England ; but, meanwhile, the issue of those new instructions, which are under- stood to be very complete, coupled with the explanations and assurances from our Government, will undoubtedly be sufficient to exonerate President Buchanan from the necessity of any ex- treme display of his " energy" ; and also, perhaps, to cause a burst of triumphant exultation in the Republic. The broad issue of this conflict, if really provoked by the excesses of British officers, is to establish the truth, that however laudable may be our enterprise for the complete abolition of slavery, that enter- prise must be carried on in conformity with the public law of the civilized world ; and that whatever authority we may have ob- tained to interfere in certain cases, we never can claim the authority,—and Heaven forbid that we should !—to set our will, opinion, or action above that public law.
It used to be a local joke in some of the extreme Western parts of Ireland to speak of the district as " the nearest parish to America." This proximate proximity has hitherto been en- tirely unused by transatlantic travellers, although almost every year finds the Irish papers talking about the matter : now, how- ever, there is a modicum of action. The "Indian Empire," a steamship of respectable size and power, has actually left Galway for New York, carrying passengers, freight, and the Irish mails. The passage may be made, it is said, in eight days ; and, con- sidering the length of the passages of the Cunard steamers on the longer, the Liverpool route, the calculation is not exaggerated. The results of the enterprise may be overestimated, but it may call into activity some of Ireland's undeveloped industrial capa- bilities.
Our Postscript last week mentioned a curious contest which is going on in Belgravia. A reverend gentleman, intent upon the work of rooting out the Popish practices which have notoriously prevailed in that district, had recently obtained evidence which he regarded as being of a very damnatory kind ; and his friends summoned a public meeting last week, to receive a statement of the case. When the meeting assembled, the case was stated for the most part with much temper and discretion ; but the re- verend missionary who seems to have given the first impulse transgressed decorum when he imported an easy and not refined wit into his speech for the prosecution. The substance of his case was, that six poor women had deposed to certain examina- tions in the Confessional ; depositions which would establish against the clergyman who had catechized them the Reverend Alfred Poole, the exercise of that Popish practice in its grossest and most objectionable form. The official announcement, that he had been dismissed by the Bishop of London, looked very like a counter-signalise of his utter condemnation. On the other side, however, has appeared a more temperate and exact state- ment, the gist of which is, that Mr. Poole has not been dismissed on any such grounds, but simply on the ground of his own ad- missions with regard to the Confessional ; that the Bishop who dismissed him declined to have his case publicly investigated under the Church Discipline Act ; and that he has appealed against that decision to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is impossible for a moment, in the absence of the authority by which a court of justice is fortified, to set such evidence as that of the six women in question, against the evidence of Mr. Poole and his friends ; so that the attempt to snatch a judgment from a public meeting, while an appeal to the higher court, the Pril
mate of all England, is pending, has recoiled upon the over- zealous missionary and. those estimable persons who were indis- creet enough to act with him.