NEWS OF THE WEEK.
THE air is full of rumours about China, but of new facts there are not many. Indeed, there is only one, the departure of an armed Japanese squadron from Nangasaki, and that reveals nothing until we know its destination. The report that the Russian Fleet has occupied Port Arthur "for the winter" is confirmed, while the older report that the fortifications there had been dismantled is denied. The Russians, in fact, have seized, under polite pretexts, a first- ,e ass fortified naval station, from which they can be driven only by force. The German Prince Henry left England for China on Tuesday after an interview with the Queen at 'Osborne and a hurried visit to London, during which he stayed at the German Embassy, but did not call on the Prince of Wales. A great effort is being made in St. Petersburg to minimise the recent occurrences in China ; and in Germany it is denied that they lead 'to partition ; but in Vienna the tone is more serious. There they recognise that the Emperor's Chinese policy will make a heavy demand upon the energies of his Empire. Nothing is known of Japanese feeling, and the " cue " given to the British Press appears to be that the Cabinet awaits developments. The only " development " con- sidered impossible is that the Chinese should resist any demand whatever. The only device of the Mandarins seems to be that the Court should retreat to a city far inland, and so place itself beyond the reach of direct menaces. This project is probably serious, though the city chosen will not be Nankin, which is too full of business, and is besides the focus of Chinese, as opposed to Tartar, feeling.
We would warn our readers against believing the shoals of telegrams now pouring into London, all urging the Government to take instant action. There exists an un- conscious conspiracy to this end. The English in Asia are always in favour of annexing the universe as a hint to man- kind that British goods are best, and for once all other Europeans are on the same side. They want us to sanction partition by helping in it. So do the Japanese, while the Chinese Mandarins grasp at any prospect of setting the Powers by the ears, and therefore suggest stations in the Gulf of Pecheli, far to the northward of our sphere of infln- ence. We trust the Cabinet will not be carried away, as Lord Rosebery once was—he acknowledged this in his speech on the "greater question" rising in the Far East--and will at all events wait until it sees what Russia and Germany really intend, and until it has a stronger Government in India. Rushing will land us in a swamp.
The speeches of the German Emperor and his brother appear to have created a certain dismay in German in- tellectual circles. While one set of politicians profess not to understand them, a second hint that they are a littli impious, as there is only one " crown of thorns " and onE "hallowed person," while a third find comfort in pointing out that the British, who are pre-eminently a sane people, talk of her Majesty's person as " sacred." That is true, bat the formula is old, and we do not talk of " her sacred Majesty's Evangel." The general impression among cul- tivated Germans is, we gather, that the Emperor has been carried off his feet by his new scheme, whatever its exact tenor ; but the common people are delighted, and think they are going to get a land of milk and honey for colonisa- tion. The Naval Bill will therefore be voted, and if a cold fit does not supervene, the result of the coming elections will be highly favourable to prerogative. Note as a fact of political importance that the aged Chancellor, Prince Hohenlohe, on Tuesday lost his almost equally aged wife, who he once said in a speech had been for thirty years his " best support " in political trials. He will not, it is said, resign, but a shock of that kind in the late evening of life is rarely overcome.
There has been practically no news whatever from the Indian Frontier during the present week. The troops are being steadily drawn back to stations within our own dominion, and except that the Khyber, which is deserted by the enemy, is being reoccupied, the campaign may be con- sidered at an end, at all events until the Home Government in spring has arrived at a final decision. This decision, it is nearly certain, will be to improve communications until we can, if necessary, strike bard and rapidly without wasting weeks in the collection of supplies, and then to await. develop- ments in the action of the clansmen, who during the winter will have ample time to reconsider their resources. They have suffered heavily, though not in men, their loss of life being probably not in excess of our own. How should it be, when the moment the conflict threatens to be hand-to-hand, they disappear into the recesses of their hills ? As officers' letters reach home, it begins to be understood that grave errors of judgment have been com- mitted, especially at Simla, and that an unsparing over- haul of transport arrangements is essential to the efficacy of the garrison of Northern India. It is perceived, too, that the departure from the old system of working with minute armies, and making up for all deficiencies by strategy, rapidity, and reckless daring, is nothing less than disastrous. If armies on the Continental scale are required for Indian operations we cannot hold India ; that is the English of the matter. We did better when we had hardly numbers sufficient to make a death-list, and old native soldiers are asking, " What has come over the Sirkar ?"
The Government of India evidently agrees with the opinion we have always expressed upon the subject,—viz., that seditious writing or oratory should be repressed, like any other minor crime, by light sentences inflicted by a Magistrate. They have accordingly introduced a Bill making the law more clear, though not more stringent, and enabling Magistrates of the first class to carry it out without a jury. The usual procedure will be to bind over the guilty persons, who are in themselves, say the Government, of no importance, to keep the peace for twelve months, fiat is, in fact, to inflict fines if they do not behave themselves. The only addition to the law, which will apply to Europeans as well as to natives, and to spoken words as well as to words written or printed, is that sedition is to include any attempt to stir up class against class, a clause levelled, we fancy, at the preaching Moollahs. There is to be no prosecution without Government consent, and the accused may prove that his statements were true and made with a good intent. The Bill seems a sensible one, and if worked with care and moderation will enforce that restraint enforced in England by opinion. We can se no
reasons whatever why the same measure should not be ex- tended to any serious libel, an offence under which wealthy natives of high position now suffer greatly.
The Egyptian troops, numbering nine hundred, telegraphs the special correspondent of the Times, arrived at Kassala on Wednesday, having marched from the Italian port of Massowah. Major de Bernardis, the Governor of the town, met the battalion a mile out, and the guns of the fort fired a salute of twenty-one guns. The Egyptian flag was then hoisted on the fort beside the Italian, and there both flags will remain till Christmas Day, when at noon the formal transfer will be completed by the withdrawal of the Italian troops from the fort and its occupation by the Egyptian soldiers. In spite of their long march, the health of the Egyptian troops is excellent, only four men being on the sick-list. Counting the native levies re-enlisted by us, the garrison at Kassala will consist of nearly two thousand men, and doubtless could in a few months be raised to considerably above that level.
In connection with the transfer of Kassala the special correspondent of the Times sends to Thursday's issue a most interesting letter, giving a detailed account of his journey from Massowah through the Italian colony of Erythrea. He shows that not only have the Italians an exceedingly fine port and prosperous gate of trade in Massowah—a town of quite civilised aspect—but that the back colony is a well-watered and beautiful mountain region with many great natural advantages. The Times' correspondent found that not only had the Italians made besides their line of railway an excellent mountain road, but that all along his route there were signs of successful colonisation. Coming from the Soudan, he was struck to find not only good sleeping accommodation at the rest-posts, but places where wine and food could be bought from the ubiquitous Greek cafe-keepers. In view of these facts, Italy's misfortunes in Africa are all the more to be regretted. Italy's chief blunder was being in too great a hurry, and too eager. The better plan in colonising is to go on inch by inch, grumbling at and grudging every advance. That is our way and the way of safety.
The Due d'Orleans, now head of "the house of France," has published in the shape of a letter to his chief agent, M. Dufeuille, a manifesto to the Royalists, which will comfort half of them, the "Rallied," but will reduce the other half, the " Monarchists," to despair. He does not openly abandon hope, expressing his belief that France will one day find " prosperity and grandeur " under " the constitutional and liberal Monarchy," but he directs his followers to prefer "the supreme interest of France" to the immediate and apparent advantage of the party." They are not "to hamper the salutary movement of France" towards moderate and conservative ideas." The " duty " of the Monarchists, says " Philippe VII., King of France," is " to work wherever they can for the triumph of ideas of order, of social preserva- tion, and of liberty." It is a most sensible letter, but it is the death-warrant of the Royalist party. Whenever France rejects the Republic, it will be because she wants a dictator, not because she is seeking a constitutional and well-meaning figurehead. M. de Blowitz, we see, thinks the letter will re- dound to the advantage of the Republic. So it will, and also to the advantage of Louis Bonaparte, second son of Prince Napoleon, now a Colonel in the Russian Artillery.
The insurgents in the Philippines are said to have sur- rendered their chief Agninaldo and his principal followers, having accepted an amnesty. This news is confirmed, and gives great delight in Madrid; but it is not clear whether the submission extends to the interior, where the insurgents are rebelling against the priesthood, which really governs the dependency. In Cuba., on the other hand, matters are getting worse, the insurgents having murdered Colonel Ruiz, a Spanish officer sent to them to explain the Government terms, and executed seventy of their own number for listening to his proposals too eagerly. That conduct means war to the knife, and will alienate much American sympathy, though not all, the decisions of States being influenced by their permanent interests rather than by moral disgusts. General Weyler, of course, quotes the incident as proof that his severity was justified ; and his admirers will not reflect that the severity did much to produce the incident. There is, however, a streak of bloodthirstiness in the Spanish character which has revealed itself all through history, which infects insurgents and Royalists alike, and which has never been convincingly explained. There is a trace of Africa in Spain somehow, though her people have grand qualities.
We regret deeply to record the death of Sir F. Lockwood, Solicitor-General under the late Government. He was not a politician of much mark, but he was a leading advocate, a man of unusually varied gifts, and one of the very few humourists, as distinguished from wits, now remaining in the House of Commons. Sir F. Lockwood might have been a leading actor, he would have made a capital editor for Punch, and he could, had his ambition turned that way, have played the part of a more cultivated Cobbett. He was, moreover, a man of fine character, clear sense, and right feeling ; and his death is a clear loss to the Bar, his party, and the country. His jests as a rule did not bite so deep as Lord Westbury's, or reveal a fund of wisdom like Lord Bowen's, but they were, like the caricatures which he loved to scatter broadcast, entirely free from malice. He will be greatly missed, the new generation of lawyers pro- ducing men of almost every capacity except genial humour.
The second Conference between the representatives of the Engineers' Union and of the masters came to an end last Saturday, with the result that a fresh appeal is to be made to the men. The leaders of the men obtained certain modifica- tions of the masters' proposals rejected by the previous vote, but not sufficient to enable them to come to an agreement without a further appeal to the strikers. It remains to be seen whether the men will again hold out for better terms. As far as we can gather, the Union leaders do not intend, as they virtually did on the previous occasion, to recommend rejection, but leave the matter open, leaning possibly somewhat on the side of acceptance. In their circular they point out that the new proposals " secure the status of the Unions on some of the points covered." The right of consultation is secured as to the terms and conditions under which changes are being carried out. " The freedom of employment clauses have been improved." The clauses relating to rating of workmen have been "much" improved, " inasmuch as the right of the Unions to collective bargaining on behalf of their members is main- tained, and the practice which has obtained up till now in negotiating wage alterations is to be continued." The leaders state, however, that they have failed to get a recognition of the minimum wage, though they consider that things will probably continue in this respect as before. On the hours question they could obtain no concessions. The circular ends with some rather vague phrases as to their desire for a return to work, " and some degree of certainty of lasting peace and a return of goodwill." Whether the circular means to sug- gest peace or not is doubtful. It certainly does not strongly advise a continuation of war. The ballot will take place on December 27th.
On Saturday the Lord Chief Justice gave judgment in the much-discussed case of " Lewis v. Clay." The facts are simple, though the law was difficult. Lord William Nevill induced his intimate friend, Mr. Spender Clay, a subaltern in the Guards, to sign two promissory notes to the value of some 811,000. He did not, however, explain that the documents were promissory notes, but procured the signa- tures to them by saying that he wanted Mr. Spender Clay to witness his signature to a power of attorney which was of a very private nature, as it was connected with his sister's marriage settlement and with certain divorce proceedings. Accordingly, Mr. Spender Clay, relying on his friend's honour, signed his name where holes had been cut in the blotting paper which concealed the documents. On these promissory notes money was advanced by Mr. Lewis, a bill discounter, who belWed that the signatures bad been obtained in a legitimate manner. When Lord William failed to meet his obligations, Mr. Lewis sued Mr. Spender Clay for the money. Lord Russell, who, owing to the great im- portance of the principle involved, took three weeks to consider his judgment, decided in favour of Mr. Spender Clay's contention that he was not liable, his signature having been obtained under false pretences. That the judgment was sound in law we cannot doubt. A signature obtained in such a way ought no more to bind a man than if it had been deliberately forged, or than if the formal words of a prom's-
eory note had been written above a signature inadvertently placed in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Talleyrand, it will be remembered, when Mr. Murray asked for his sig- nature to place below an engraved portrait for a book, wrote his name at the very extreme edge and in the left-hand corner, so determined was he that nothing should be put before it. Lord Russell's decision will help to make such precautions unnecessary. Lord William Nevin has gone to Paris, but we presume there can be no difficulty in obtaining his extradition should it be decided to prosecute him, as is proposed.
On Monday was opened the newest and largest of the Rowton Houses, — those marvellous poor men's hotels with which the Rowton Houses Company is dotting London. The new house, which will hold eight hundred men, is provided with every poor man's luxury,—i.e., good and clean beds, warmth, light, pleasant rooms to sit and smoke in, baths and hot water in abundance at all hours, and the opportunity to buy and cook very good food at a low price. The cubicle, which is really a very good, well-lighted ship's cabin or state-room —it would be considered big enough to hold three saloon passengers on many lines—costs 6d., and it is calculated that a man can live well in the Rowton Houses for 10s. a week. Lord Rowton, to whom this wonderfully successful piece of work is due, has done a very notable thing. He has made all the difference between extreme misery and comparative happiness to the men who have come down low in the world. To these men dirt and the inability to get plenty of hot water to wash in whenever they need it is often the worst of tortures. In the Rowton Houses a man may not be in Paradise, but he need never know the wretchedness of dirt. To those who read a detailed account of what is to be got in the houses, perhaps the thing which will seem strangest about them is the fact that they pay. But then they are always full, and eight hundred sixpences a day means £7,300 a year, and that sum goes a long way in rent.
On Monday the Lord Mayor received an official letter from the Secretary of State for War bringing to his notice the position of soldiers on leaving the colours. These men, who number twenty thousand annually, of whom fifteen thousand are between twenty-five and thirty, go into the Reserve for four or five years and receive sixpence a day. Hitherto the duty of helping these men to find civil employment has been left to philanthropic effort ; but the Government feel that the time has come when an effort should be made, through definite agencies, to secure to every soldier of good character a reasonable certainty of employment. Hence they have appointed special officers who will furnish detailed particulars as to the men discharged. The Government will also give -one thousand posts per annum in the Post Office, and the departments under the War Office will provide another thousand per annum. Lord Lansdowne goes on to ask the Lord Mayor to appeal to employers of labour to assist by giving one-fourth of their annual vacancies among unskilled workmen to Reserve men. He ends by asking what number of annual vacancies may be expected from the City. This is, of course, all in the right direction ; but it must not be imagined that any plan of this kind will be enough to meet the demand, that a soldier who wants to make soldiering his life's work shall be offered a real career by the War Office. That must be secured by more far-reaching improvements in the existing system.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, in a speech at Edinburgh on Monday night, to which we have alluded elsewhere, dealt with the accusation made against his party that it was without a programme. Their opponents wanted them to publish a programme. Some of their more simple-minded and unsophisticated friends had taken compassion on the distress shown by the Unionists in this matter, and had produced a programme. He was himself not sufficiently metropolitanised for these efforts. He had three objections to programme-mongering. Firstly, it was not good tactics to do what the enemy wanted you to do. Secondly, it was not wise to give the earliest possible information of what you are going to do to the enemy; in such matters reticence tended to success. Thirdly, " burnt bairns dread the fire." Still, circum- stances might arise when a programme might become neces. sary, and a pretty full one too. Sir Henry Campbell- Bannerman is very " pawky." His steady refusal to open his mouth, even under strong pressure, reminds us of the story of the old Scotchwoman in the dentist's chair, who kept her teeth tightly shut. When urged to open them she only replied, " Na, na! Aiblims yell bite me."
Dr. O'Dwyer, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Limerick, addressing the students of St. Mnnchin's College on Wed- nesday night, dealt with the question of University education in Ireland. The grievance in respect of a Roman Catholic University for Ireland was one that hurt the laity more than it did the clergy in the material and secular consequences, for their sons were practically out off from all the advantages of higher education. "Catholics had practically no Univer- sity to which to send their sons unless they were prepared to risk their faith in exchange for knowledge." If the position were reversed, and Catholics treated their Protestant country- men so, what an outcry would be raised as to the intolerance of Rome. Dr. O'Dwyer went on to show how the representatives of Trinity College, Mr. Horace Plunkett, Mr. T. W. Russell, and other representative Protestants were in favour of granting the Catholic demand. Two such different Irish Secretaries as Mr. Balfour and Mr. Morley also agreed ; yet the question was shelved from year to year. Dr. O'Dwyer, after an impassioned passage as to the way in which the Irish Catholics had been treated on the subject, asked that next year a Commission might be appointed to frame a scheme, and that the year after such a scheme should be ratified. We are for once entirely at one with Dr. O'Dwyer. We hold most strongly that the Irish Roman Catholics should be given not what Protestants consider an ideal or even a fair University, but the kind of University which the Catholics themselves want, and what they quite sincerely say is the only University they can make use of. We also agree most heartily with Dr. O'Dwyer that to postpone the settlement of this subject any longer will be a scandal and an injustice.
On Wednesday Lord Roberts made an interesting chair- man's speech at a lecture on military history given in Dublin by Captain James. In his belief, strategy was to a great extent a matter of instinct,—a gift, however, which can be trained and quickened by careful study and by trying to fathom the reasons which induced great commanders such as Wellington and Napoleon to act as they did act on any particular occasion. Lord Roberta went on to speak of the infinitely closer criticism to which, owing to the telegraph- wire, commanders were now subjected. One of the disad- vantages of this was that telegrams necessarily being short, men were apt to jump to false conclusions. That is not new, but still a fact well worth emphasising. There is a real danger at the present moment of commanders playing up to the telegraph,—that is, not doing the very best thing they can, but instead something which will look well in a telegram, or at any rate which is not likely to be misrepresented in a telegram as an act of weakness or want of vigour.
The French Government, in order to gratify the curiosity of the literary class, who have doubted whether the bodies of Voltaire and Rousseau are really buried in the Pantheon, has ordered their graves and coffins to be opened. This was done on December 18th in presence of a crowd so pushingly inquisitive that the officials were nearly jostled out, and the skeletons were found intact. The skull of Voltaire indeed still sneered, and was recognised at once. That of Rousseau also corresponded with his busts, and was not shattered, as a legend had it, by any pistol-bullet. One wonders, if Voltaire and Rousseau were looking on, what they thought of the pro- ceeding. If they are unchanged in their present world they are delighted, for nothing oould be more gratifying to their intellectual vanity. To Englishmen the search appears to be somewhat offensive, but their months are shut, for they are always desecrating the mummies of Egyptian Kings and Queens, who were probably no more Pagan than Voltaire and Rousseau. nemeses IL believed in the " Book of the Dead," which the Frenchman and the Swiss would equally i have ridiculed.
Bank Rate, 3 per cent.
ti New Consols (21) were on Thursday, 112.