NEWS OF THE WEEK.
No political events at home claim to be chronicled this week, although the materials for events are accumulating rapidly 'enough. Such small facts as have come out may be interpreted in one sense or another, or not at all. The circular issued by Mr. Hayter to all Members of the Liberal party invites them to be present when Mr. Evelyn Denison is proposed as Speaker, and it does so with an urgency that might be taken to expect some sort of opposition. The Parliamentary marshal of the Ministerial forces goes so far as to ask the Member to whom the letter is addressed to answer, and to give an assurance that he will be present ; an unusual addition, not very likely to have met with a written response from many. There is indeed scarcely any reason to suppose that the nomination of Mr. Evelyn Denison will be opposed. The choice of the candidate has been made for the very purpose of disarming resistanoe, which would have been challenged by the nomination of a candidate formerly mentioned, and might have been tempting in the ease of another candidate. But Mr. Denison is likely to be so unobjectionable in a party sense to any side of the House, that it would be difficult to rally the forces for a contest on such a question. Yet it is possible that if success were taken too much for granted, and if there were a thin attendance of Ministerial Members on the first night, the Opposition, which will be more compact and perhaps better disciplined than it has been lately, would find itself unable to resist the temptation of opportunity. At least Mr. Hayter's letter shows that the Government is not prepared to allow any advantage to go by default.
Some other minor improvements would appear to imply a certain uneasiness—if they imply anything. Mr. Horsman is understood to have given up an uncongenial post in the Irish Secretaryship ; and he is followed by Mr. Phinn, who does not find the post of Assistant Secretary to the Admiralty in harmony with his own expectations. Perhaps he has looked for the Irish Secretaryship, which is going to another officer in the Admiralty. The anticipated removal of Sir William Williams from the seat for Caine, in order to make room for Mr. Frederick Peel, is one of those minor shiftings which show at least that the Ministry, like the Opposition, is in process of rendering itself compact.
It is a grand stroke to appoint one of the casual Liberal Opposition in the China vote to propose the Speaker. To the organized Opposition it is a defiance, to the Liberal Conservatives a pledge of sympathy on the Treasury-bench, and to the China seceders a condonation of the vote which divided the Liberal party—a reconcilement of lovers.
The press is beginning to consider itself a coordinate authority in appointing our public statesmen, and a certain portion of it which is just at present addicted to Ministerial excesses is undertaking to appoint Lord Palmerston permanent Prime Minister and to disappoint Lord John Russell equally en permanence. The Morning Post, which reprinted a clever, admiring, but antagonistic account of our standing Secretary for Foreign Affairs, has this week been every day giving to us the other view of Lord Palmerston, in a fond biography, minutely informing the British public who Lord Palmerston is, giving him a testimonial for what he has done, and implying an advertisement of what he will do.
Simultaneously, a still more distinguished journal, although supporting Lord Palmerston, is attacking his junior Lord John BusLL SLYEST EDITIONd
sell for the undeniable offence of being older than he has been, of forgetting the rule that" all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," and of being unable to forget what he has done during the last thirty years ; whence, it is almost inferred, with striking peculiarity of logic, that if you "give Lord John Russell full swing for the next thirty years to do all that he professes to 'wish, not one man in twenty would be a bit the better for it." A sweeping predicate negative !
"There is much," says tho Times, "that we desire to see done from personal or patriotic feelings ; such as the reform of the law, the improvement of our cities and large populations, a social organization 'letter adapted for spontaneous progress and self-elevation, increased facilities for trading, for the transfer of lauded property, and so forth. But Lord John never condescends to such points as these. Ills reforms are all in the high constitutional region. They are for some supposed victim of civil or religious persecution. It is the Revolution of 1688 in a perpetually diminishthg series. Lord John is always lauding at Torbay to deliver an ideal Englishman front some hypothetical bondage.'
There is truth as well as point in this statement; but there is also a good deal of truth that is not comprised in it. No doubt, Lord John Russell does a little too much remind us of "Civil
and Religious Liberty," of the Test and Corporation Acts, &o,; a little too much, because the public is by no means inclined to
forget those services. It has occasion to find fault with " John " when he makes mistakes and does not bring the coach to the door up to time ; but, as we saw lately in the London election, if he does but touch that chord of his " old services" the English public answers him with overflowing kindness. After all, a
males services do go for something ; and even if a man is not to win another Waterloo within a coming thirty years, it is not the habit of the English people to forget that he accomplished it thirty years or even forty years ago. This:new attack upon
the leader of the political Liberal party, however, is quite in unison with the course taken by the Quarterly organ of the Government ; and from the tenor of the oration we may conceive the instruction for counsel to have been—Enlarge on "practical improvements," sink political " Reform," and disparage Lord John Russell.
The old genuine Tory Quarterly, as we might expect, is far less spiteful against inconvenient allusions to Reform than the neophyte Tory in the well-known Blue and Yellow ; and in. accounting for the position of its own party, the Quarterly Revieia rather confirms the inferences drawn from the language of overzealous Ministerialists. Lord Palmerston, according to this more moderate of the Quarterlies, has won over the Church and the Middle-class people, by giving three-fourths of his ecclesiastical appointments to Low Church men, softening the concession by appointing second-rate men—" non nester hie sermo "—and paying himself by giving the other fourth to "Broad Church" Rationalists. He has gained over the Country-gentlemen class, partly because the abuse of him by genuine Liberals on his own side made the Conservative gentry believe that he, a " Liberal. Conservative," is really a sound Tory at heart. And a tendency at the present day to prefer local notabilities, so long as they profess the same " principles " with national notabilities, has ousted the Cobdens, Brights, Cardwells, Northeotes, and others, and deprived the House of Commons of force and character to counteract the man who has used "tricks and manteuvres beyond all precedent." But the moderate Quarterly puts its trust in—Lord John Russell ! It forecasts that he without "factious opposition," but with unabated "courage," will find plenty of work to his hand, "between the average crop of errors that every Government must yield, the openings that the rashness of the recent foreign policy if unamended must afford, the sluggishness of the Cabinet in legislative and administrative movement, and its more decided
immobility on the subjects in which the Liberal party feels the deepest interest."
Abroad, the one event that is positive—if it is positive—is the settlement of the Neuchatel question ; still, however, unauthenticated. If the proposition is rightly described, the mediating Powers who undertook to arrange the matter honourably with Prussia have " sold " the Republic of Switzerland. The report is, that the King of Prussia retains the title of "Prince of Neuchatel " ; that Switzerland is to give a guarantee for the proper administration of certain charitable institutions in the
Principality Canton ; and that she is to give the King a million of francs, by way of indemnity for surrendering—nothing The Bing of Prussia still keeps the title ; he still holds the right to call the Federal Government to account for administrative affairs within the " Principality " ; and he preserves constructive rights, on which some larger revival might be based at a future day. Surely this is not what the Swiss Republic had a right to expect : but we may still doubt whether the intelligence is correct, for it is the second time that we have had a " positive " assertion without a confirmation in fact.
Any other events in Paris are nothing more than plausible gossip. The reports of plots to assassinate the Emperor are regarded as police inventions, for purposes not very clear. The report that the Prince Napoleon refused to meet, the Grand Duke Constantine on his arrival at Toulon has received no confirmation, except a semi-official contradiction. But the existence of such reports indicates an uneasiness beneath the studiously prosperous aspect given to the state of affairs in Paris.
A report is current that the fishery treaty with the French has been disallowed in Newfoundland,—which is probable enough ; so that the concession which we had made to France has only irritated the colonists and disappointed our ally.
Another diplomatic disappointment has been courted in the request that the United States Government should " cooperate " with us in China. If an article in the Ministerial Union is to be taken as representing the views of the Government at Washington, the United States decline the cooperation, and on grounds which it is difficult to contest. You are at war, they answer, with China ; and how can we, who are not at war, " cooperate " with you, a belligerent ? We can only do so by declaring war with China,—a responsibility which we are not inclined to undertake for your convenience. Perhaps the Yankees calculate that any advantages to be obtained by the rashness of Bowring will be equally open to all the world.
The grand Russian Railway scheme has arrived at that stage of unsuccessful endeavour which is characterized by reckless mismanagement. In the effort to push it, whether with or without the requisite certificate of admission upon the English Stook Exchange, expedients have been adopted which were perfectly certain to provoke exposure. Some kind of " transaction " was effected on Monday, with a price nominally realizing a premium of " to 1 per cent." But how did the scheme come there at all ? Who introduced the stranger ? It turns out that three applications had been made, each for the exact sum of 20,000/., and in each case upon instruction from some foreign city,—Paris, Brussels, and perhaps Amsterdam. The attempt, no doubt, was intended to create the appearance of an English demand for the stock of these Russian railways ; but any contrivance more clumsy or more easily seen through can hardly be conceived. It might have been expected that the house of Baring, the representative of England in the Russian directorate, would have understood how to manage matters better on Cornhill. As the comparatively small sum expected from this country, 2,000,000/., might have been raised by private means without an appeal to the public, the appeal argues a want of confidence on the part of those very firms that are seeking to obtain othor people's money for the investment ; while the urgent exertion to collect even petty sums, through country clergymen in England, as well as through private subscriptions in Russia, proves beyond doubt that the scheme does not " take " in any part of Europe. Undoubtedly, this correct judgment has been materially aided by the diligence and unanimity with which the English press has disclosed the true merits of the project.
Two of the quasi municipal bodies of the Metropolis have held special meetings this week, with no other effect than to call attention to their incompetency. The Metropolitan Board of Works has met to discuss the report of a committee on a plan by Mr. Lionel Gisborne for the embankment of the Thames ; and the discussion would have been interesting, if it appeared in the slightest degree to further the adoption of Mr. Gisborne's design, or of any other well-planned design for the improvement in question. But the only practical result was, the resolution to ask the Government if it would carry out the design, or "join with the Board in carrying out the same"? Mr. Thwaites, who carries up these amusing requests, must be a gentleman of imperturbable good-humour.
At a special meeting of the Westminster Improvement Commission, the Commissioners were to account to the bondholders for the actual condition of the estate. They find that the improvements can be finished and a surplus ultimately attained : but that calculation assumes a variety of favourable conditions, including the advance of 99,0001. Here again the proceedings ended in the carrying of an amendment, by which the bondowners practically take the whole subject under their consider ation, evidently with a view to that result which the Chief Commissioner of Public Works is supposed to favour—a winding-up. Two of the principal incorporations charged -with the work of Metropolitan improvement appear to be actually dying before our eyes, of inanition.