NEWS OF THE . WEEK.
ALL the news of the week has a gray colour. It must, we fear, be accepted that the chances of war with Russia have increased, though the negotiations scarcely advance ; and the intelligence from the Red Sea Coast is not encouraging. General Graham, it is true, is advancing on Tamai, and a victory there may pacify the Desert outside Suakim; but the tale of the week is one of losses with but little result. Three per cent. of the whole force employed have been placed hors de combat by -death, wounds, or slight " sunstrokes ;" and the difficulty of earrying the immense supplies of water required—for beasts must drink as well as men—deprives the Expedition, as we have explained elsewhere, of much of its mobility. The total effect of the obstacles encountered is, no doubt, exaggerated by the daily telegrams, and our countrymen know how to contend with difficulties ; but for the moment the Suakim campaign is watched with a feeling of depression, not wholly justified by the facts, but natural enough. The first duty, nevertheless, is not to yield to it.
A melancholy disaster, which might have been most grave, marked Sunday, the 22nd inst. On that day, Sir John M'Neill, with the Berkshire Regiment, some Marines, the Sikhs, the 17th Bengal NJ., the Naval Brigade, and four Gardner guns, moved out to form a zeriba close to the one known as General Baker's. They arrived safely ; but at two o'clock, while the men were at lunch, or constructing the three enclosures decided on, the enemy suddenly appeared. Cavalry pickets had been put oat, but the bush around had neither been burnt nor searched, and 7,000 Arabs were allowed to creep-up unobserved. They charged with their usual frantic valour, especially upon the convoys just starting, and killed or drove off hundreds of beasts, drivers, and followers, who all fled in wild confusion, many rushing into the large zeriba. The Indians were posted there ; and as the Arabs strove to force an entrance through the gape, though the Sikhs fought desperately, the Hindostanees fell into confusion, retreated " headlong " into the second zeriba, and continued firing wildly after orders had been issued to cease. The Europeans, however, stood to their arms with splendid steadiness. One company of the Berkshires in one discharge mowed down a hundred men; the infantry and Marines in the second zeriba positively rained death on Arabs so close that in scores of cases "their faces were blown away ;" the Gardner guns were rapidly worked, and in less than twenty minutes the enemy retreated, leaving nearly a thousand bodies on the ground, among them some women, who, clad in uniform, fought, as in the time of Khalid, with desperate courage. So terrible was the carnage that the disposal of the bodies has since proved a most serious difficulty, the blazing sun making them a source of pestilence.
The victory was complete ; but was rendered a melancholy one by three circumstances. At least thirteen European officers and 150 men had been killed or wounded, besides a number " missing " ; while the Indians had lost eighty, and the camp-followers considerably upwards of 150; indeed, it may be doable that number, with 700 camels. Excluding the camp-followers, the direct loss of fighting-men may be taken at 250, and it was wholly useless and unnecessary. The slaughter was owing to the surprise; and if proper precautions had been taken, the bush searched, and a space cleared round the zeribas, the surprise could not have occurred. General Graham says Sir John M`Neill did as well as circumstances would allow, and the Duke of Cambridge on Thursday justly protested against condemnation before inquiry ; but the voice of the camp is, it is quite clear, against the General, who, though he was in the Ashantee campaign, and is a V.C., has never previously held a command. Secondly, the Sepoys, Sikhs excepted, appear to have given way—a most unfortunate beginning—and have bean left behind in the general advance ; and thirdly, the Arabs seem scarcely to have been discouraged. The very next day they made four distinct attacks upon the Guards and Marines who were escorting a convoy, and though driven off, forced them to march under a scarcely ceasing fire, single Arabs constantly rushing on them apparently in order to be killed.
The last zeriba towards Tamai has now been constructed, the whole European force is being concentrated there,—Suakim being left to the Indians and the sailors,—and the grand attack is expected to occur within the next two days. The difficulties of transport are, however, heartbreaking. Water for men and beasts must be carried from Suakim, as we have as yet no wells, the quantity required is of enormous weight, the beasts are too few, and, as they must be protected, they embarrass, and sometimes stop, all movement. The correspondent of the Standard, whom we have followed all through, declares that the difficulty of driving the animals in the centre of marching squares is so great that a halt is called every five minutes, and the general rate of progress is reduced to a mile an hour, so that a regiment guarding convoys does not achieve eight miles by a hard day's work. Of course, sunstrokes are frequent; and though they are "slight," they incapacitate the sufferers for the day at least, like wounds, and leave them permanently unable to face the sun. Fortunately, the higher grounds which we are approaching are cooler ; and Tamai once taken, the troops may be cantoned in Sincat, which is comparatively a sanitarium. Unless, however, the effect of victory on the tribes is much greater than it has yet been, the lines of communication will require to be strongly guarded. Transport, in fact, is the difficulty; and the man who could build a hauling locomotive capable of advancing at a mile an hour on rough roads uphill, would triple the efficacy of the Army.
Whatever the state of the negotiations with Russia, the British Government is obviously resolved to be prepared for the worst. On Thursday a Royal Message was read in both Houses, announcing that a "time of emergency" had arrived, and that the Reserves and Militia Reserves had been called out, 70,000 men in all being thus placed at the disposal of the Horse Guards. According, moreover, to a semiofficial notice, circulated by the Press Association, orders have been issued to make the ships of the First Steam Reserve, including vessels like the Devastation,' ready for sea. At the same time, the Viceroy of India has ordered the mobilisation of 50,000 men. Two armies of 25,000 men each will be formed at once, one in the Bolan at Quetta and Pisheen, commanded by Sir Donald Stewart, and one at Rawul Pindi, from whence entrance can be obtained into Afghanistan by the Khyber, commanded by Sir Frederick Roberts. Provisions for a six months' campaign are already being forwarded, and mules are being collected from provinces as distant as British Burmah. A third Army of Reserve of 20,000 men is to be collected a
little to the South, under the Duke of Connaught, who remains in India for the purpose, and will be strengthened by 10,000 men despatched from England, thus raising the movable forces to 80,000 men. The more important garrisons thus stripped of troops will be occupied ad interim/ by regiments from Madras and Bombay, and all native regiments throughout India will be brought-up to war strength—an addition of about 20,000 men to the rolls. Scindiah has offered his army of 16,000 men as it stands, the Nizam of Hyderabad has promised a contingent, and the Princes of the Punjab border, who rendered such.service in the Mutiny, are again to the fore. India, in short, within a month will be ready for a great war.
A serious difference is said to have broken out between Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of the Cape and High Commissioner for South Africa, and Sir Charles Warren, Commissioner in Bechuanaland The nominal subject of dispute is the method of trying the suspected murderers of Mr. Bethell, the real subject Sir Charles Warren's obvious determination that the Boers outside the Transvaal shall obey the Queen's Government, and that within the Transvaal they shall respect the Convention. Sir Hercules is apparently influenced by his Ministry and its Dutch supporters, who take sides with two of the men accused by Sir Charles Warren. Sir Hercules is, we suspect, acting within his legal authority, which, as High Commissioner, has hardly a limit over the servants of the Crown ; but the dispute, of course, has been referred to Lord Derby, and it is scarcely possible that the disputant against whom he decides can remain in South Africa. Sir Charles Warren has hitherto been successful; he is clearly within his commission, though he may be bound to respect the High Commissioner's order suspending action ; and it is probable that, thick as difficulties grow, the decided course will be the best. In this event he will be supported, and the Dutch colonists will be left to rise in insurrection if they think they can overbear the English. There can be little doubt on which side the natives will be found; and it would be better to lose South Africa for a time than put up with these incessant, though veiled, declarations against the Queen's authority.
The House of Commons has been occupied most of the week over the Schedules of the Redistribution Bill, debating small questions of names and boundaries which were hardly worth the time spent upon them. The chief result has been a change in relation to two or three historical divisions of the Metropolis, Westminster, Southwark, and Finsbury, which are to be allowed to retain their old names, and to be divided into districts, each of which will be recognised as a division of Westminster, Southwark, and Finsbury, instead of being rechristened. Also Westminster is to have four divisions, with a Member for each of the divisions instead of only three, and the additional seat is to be provided at the expense of the East-End of London, which was found to be rather over-represented in proportion to population. When the House adjourns there will still be three Schedules untouched; but it is not thought that the Redistribution Bill will take-up more than two or three nights' debate after Easter.
The French have sustained a severe check in Tonquin. General Negrier was attacked in his position at Dong-dong, fifteen miles from Langson, on the 22nd inst., and marched out to take the offensive. He fought for two days ; but on the 24th inst., owing to the superior numbers of the enemy, and a want of ammunition, "his efforts," as he says himself, "collapsed," and he was driven back into Doug-dong with 200 killed and wounded. The message comes from himself, and Parisians are so accustomed to false bulletins, that the wildest rumours are in circulation. It is said that thirteen officers were killed, that the losses far exceeded General Negrier's estimate, and that even the artillery was lost. M. Ferry denies the latter statement, and the officially-admitted truth is serious enough. A Chinese army has for the first time defeated a French army in the field. That army will advance into Tonqnin, and will meet the French next time with a confidence never yet displayed. The news has, of course, been telegraphed to Pekin, and will, we may be sure, greatly influence the" serious negotiations" for peace which had been once more opened at Shanghai. A d.ebate is arranged in the Chamber on the subject, M. Ferry will be attacked for his management of the war, as well as for its inception, and a demand will be made for further reinforcements, which it is most difficult to supply. General Negrier's force is not stated ; but he would not have moved out with less than 6,000 men. The French Democracy is going as far as possible into the. opposite extreme from Sir John Lubbock and his friends. It has decided, indeed, for the election of Deputies in large groups ; but instead of electing them by the minority system, which wouhLsecure for a minorityin each department a proportional' number of representatives, it is carefully extinguishing the minority in each department, and returning to the next Assembly representatives of the majority only in each department. The result will be, it is said, that the Republicans can secure at least three-fourths of the Deputies, and probably more ; but it is by no means certain whether the new system will content France. The arguments alleged for it are, in the main, two,—first, that the new system will give a much greater solidity to the structure of parties, and this really seems an artificial solidity not to be found amongst the people represented themselves ; and next, that it will set free the Deputies from the pressure now exerted over them by their constituents, since, in future, no voter in an arrondissement will have more right to put pressure on any one Deputy for his department than he will have to put it on all the others. In short, theadvantages of the change consist in its really diminishing the representative character of the Assembly, and creating something quite different in its political effect from a miniature France.
Mr. Gladstone on Thursday night moved the ratification of the Egyptian Financial Agreement in the shape of a vote authorising her Majesty to guarantee 3i per cent. upon 29,000,000, to be raised by the Egyptian Government. We have elsewhere given the substance of his argument—which isquite unanswerable, except by a counter-proposition to take Egypt—and need only mention here that the debate on Thursday was chiefly notable for the declarations of representative Radicals that they would vote for Government. The best speech after Mr. Gladstone's was that of Lord E. Fitzmaurice, who, however, only repeated his leader's arguments, with this addition, that Members too often spoke as if only the British Government had rights in Egypt. Other Governments had also clear rights ;. and it was impossible to act as if England were alone, and could impress upon Egypt any character she would. More important persons were to share in the debate last night; but it was generally understood on Friday that effective resistance to the Agreement was impossible. A few Whigs would stay away ; but the Radicals, besides not greatly disliking the arrangement, have been struck by the continued reluctance of the constituencies to oppose Mr. Gladstone even upon Egypt The discussion, in fact—though, we suppose, usual—has been a waste of time, and not acceptable to the country.
The Emperor of Germany entered on Sunday upon his eightyeighth year. The usual grand festivities had been prepared, and half-a-dozen reigning Princes and Heirs Apparent were in attendance in Berlin ; but the day was raw, the Emperor had a cold, and a personal reception was accorded only to some forty Royal and Princely personages. Even. Ambassadors obtained no audience. As ceremonial is observed in the Court of Emperor William as strictly as in that of Louis XIV., it was argued. from this that the Emperor was seriously indisposed ; but he received the forty "equal-born," he attended the theatre in the evening, and on Tuesday he wrote a letter' to the Chancellor intended for publication, thanking the German nation for its manifold tokens of loyalty and devotion, and declaring, "I will not, until God puts an end to my power to will and to do, grow. weary of devoting my whole strength to the welfare of my beloved Fatherland." The old man will die as he has lived, in harness, master, so far as his strength allows, of all around him There is a vein of assumption in all this; but there is also a vein of strict devotion to duty, even when performing it has become painful, which is not without fine pathos. The Emperor is not only the oldest monarch in the world; but also, we believe, the oldest monarch of the first class who ever reigned ; and. standing where he does, burdened at once with years and victories, he is one of the most picturesque figures in history. We shall never know exactly what he was until he has passed away ; but we may rely on it his disappearance will leave no small gap in the politics of Europe. The Hohenzollerns rule Germany, for all Prince Bismarck ; and though a King is never what he was as 'heir, the heir is never precisely what the last King was. He believes in other men, to begin with ; and that may mean very much.
The motion for opening the South Kensington Museum and
other institutions of a Similar character on Sundays was moved in the House of Lords yesterday week by Lord Tharlow, and only rejected because an equal number of votes was recorded both for and against it—sixty-four cm each side—the Lord 'Chancellor consequently declaring the resolution lost, in conformity with the rule sentper prcesumitur pro negante. The new fact on Lord Thurlow's side was that at a (rather thinly attended) meeting of the Trustees of the British Museum a considerable majority had voted on the 17th of last January in favour of opening the Natural History Museum at South Kensington on Sunday afternoons, an example which had already been largely set at Kew Gardens, and in Manchester, Birmingham, Stokeupon-Trent, Dublin, Newcastle, and other places, with excellent results to the working-classes of those plates. And undoubtedly this resolution of the Trustees of the British Museum affected a good many votes in the House of Lords. On the other hand, Lord Cairns, who, in the absence of Lord Shaftesbury from indisposition, led the opposition to Lord Thuslow, quoted triumphantly the fact that in three comparatively small places —Worcester, Maidstone, and Chester,—the experiment of opening the Museum or the Public Library had been tried, and had resulted so badly, that after a short time these places were closed again. We submit, however, that the successful experiments made in great cities should count for much more than the unsuccessful experiments made in small places, if unsuccessful they really were.
Lord Bramwell, in arguing for the motion, read a letter from a Jew on the misunderstanding by Christians of the nature of the Jewish Sabbath. The writer said that though anything like labour is strictly forbidden on the Jewish Sabbath, quiet recreations of all kinds are cordially encouraged, and he complained of the terrible gloom of an English Sunday. On the other hand, the opponents of the opening of Art Galleries, Libraries, &c., insisted on the jealousy felt by the working-class of affording an additional excuse for Sunday labour. And the Archbishop of Canterbury even went so far as to say that this step would promote the growth of the class whom he might call ' white slaves." We should have thought that nothing was less likely to favour the increase of the class of "white slaves" than the opening of public libraries on the only day on which the hard-worked classes have time to read. But it is the House of Commons, not the House of Lords, which must carry this change.
Mr. Gladstone has offered to restore the Cross of Edinburgh as a memorial of his connection with Midlothian, and the Corporation of Edinburgh has gratefully accepted the offer. This will be a fitting historical monument, not only of Mr. Gladstone's political connection with the county in which the capital of Scotland is situated, but of Mr. Gladstone's historical conservatism, and of his vivid enjoyment of the greatest literary genius who ever commemorated the traditions of old Scotland. The Cross which Mr. Gladstone is to restore will not, indeed, be the immediate successor of that which is the scene of one of the most effective passages in " Marmion ;" but it will succeed that which Scott there refers to as having taken the place of the one where the spectral summons was put forth ; and it will be directly associated with both in the eyes of all who look upon the restored monument :—
" Dun-Edin's cross, a pillar'd stone,
Bose on a turret octagon; (But now is razed that monument Whence royal edict rang, And voice of Scotland's law was sent In glorious trumpet clang.
0 be his tomb as lead to lead Upon its dull destroyer's head!
A minstrel's malison is sea)"
And as a minstrel's malison was said upon the dull destroyer of the old cross, so, if Scott could still be with us, a minstrel's blessing would be invoked upon the brilliant restorer of the old historic sign.
Early in the morning of this day week, a few hours after his successor, Dr. King, had been elected by the chapter to be Bishop of Lincoln, Bishop Wordsworth, who had so worthily filled the See of Lincoln, breathed his last. Born in 1807, the late Bishop was in his 78th year at the time of his death. Educated at Winchester, where he was a great cricketer, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and both in 1827 and 1828 gained the Chancellor's medal for English verse, and in 1830 took his degree as Senior Classic and as Senior Optime. From 1836 to 1844 he was Head Master of Harrow, where he succeeded in restoring discipline—which he found greatly relaxed—at considerable cost to the popularity of the school, which fell rapidly in numbers daring his head-mastership. He then became Canon of Westminster, where he had the courage to protest against the appointment of Dean Stanley to the Deanery, a protest which only cemented his friendship with that most generous and amiable of Deans. In 1869 he was raised to the See of Lincoln, which he has filled sixteen years, having gained the love of all the clergy and the reverence of all men, even including those brethren among the Dissenters to whom, in his somewhat narrow ecolesiasticisrn, he steadily refused the title of "reverend." His life was singularly noble and saintly, and in his face even the staunchest of his opponents read purity, benignity, and humility of a type which are hardly common among the dignataries of our Church. In him, at least, it would have been impossible even for Lord Houghton to find a fit mediator between the worldliness of the world and the spirituality of the Church.
A special Conference of the advocates of Disestablishment was held in the Library of the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, on Tuesday, to consult upon a plan of campaign under the presidency of Mr. Illingworth, M.P. The resolutions passed urged that Liberal candidates at the general election should be required to pledge themselves to the Disestablishment of the Scottish and of the Welsh Church. As to the Scotch Disestablishment, it is not proposed to create any Church body, or to pass over any revenues to such a body. The only vested interests to be protected are, it appears, those of the individual ministers in receipt of stipends at the time the Disestablishment measure may pass. All ministers under thirty would receive an annuity equal to the half of their emoluments. Above that age there would be an increase, and at the age of sixty every minister would be secured the full amount of his stipend and emoluments. The surplus would be appropriated to educational purposes. The Conference was wise in advocating the substitution of an affirmation for the oath of allegiance in the House of Commons. A great many will be with them in supporting that abolition of religious inequalities, who would not regard it as any satiafantion to the consciences of Dissenters that all public provision for religions ministrations to those who belong to no religious society of their own, should be abolished.
The Lord Chancellor introduced on Thursday a measure for the Reform of the Lunacy Laws, which appears, so far as we can judge of it from his own sketch, to embody the most material of the reforms which we have from time to time advocated. Lord Selborne said that the Bill he was introducing required that no person should be confined in a lunatic asylum without the order of either a Judge of the Supreme Court, the Judge of a Comity Court, a Stipendiary Magistrate, or a Justice of the Peace ; but we do not gather from his account of the Bill that the Magistrate is bound to try the allegation of lunacy in Court as he would try an allegation of crime; and, looking to what "Justices of the Peace" are, we should hope that this would be required. Of the two certificates by medical men, one must be that of the patient's regular medical attendant, unless special reason can be given why it should not be so. Within a month of any patient's reception, the Commissioners in Lunacy were to be bound to visit him and ascertain his condition. Further, the Secretary of State was to have under this Bill the same power with regard to private asylums which he now has in relation to pauper lunatic asylums.
With regard to private asylums, the Bill proposes that no fresh asylum should be licensed by the Justices without the consent of the Secretary of State; and we should much prefer this provision to be strengthened so as to prohibit altogether the future licensing of private asylums. Besides this, there would be nothing to prevent the Justices of the Peace from buying-up the private asylums on behalf of the public, and turning them into asylums for paying patients, though under the control of the public authorities. The advantage of this would be that no superintendent of such an asylum would in future gain by the continued residence of patients who were cured. Indeed, they would have less trouble and responsibility if the number of those patients were somewhat fewer, and they would have just as good a salary. On the whole, Lord Selborne's Bill looks to ma like a very reasonable measure.
Bank Rate, 3 per cent. Consols were on Friday 961 to 96.