NEWS OF THE WEEK.
THE Egyptian campaign advances. A letter has been received in Korti from General Gordon, dated December 14th, announcing that Khartoum is " all right;" and General Wolseley, who probably knew that before, has decided to advance by the Desert route to Shendy. The distance is one hundred and eighty miles ; but there are wells half way across, and General Herbert Stewart started on December 30th to seize them. The remaining force will follow in a few days ; and within a fortnight Lord Wolseley, with 6,000 men, should be in sight of Shendy, and in front of Metemneh, where, it is believed in camp, the Mandi will make his first effort to check the British advance. It is not known whether his force there is considerable; but it is known that he is still closely investing Khartoum, and he can hardly detach his best troops to defend Metemneh. So far all has gone well, though the seizure of the Gakdul Wells is not yet reported ; and the telegrams mention also another expedition from Korti, intended, it is believed, to seize Berber. General Earle takes some infantry in boats up to Abu Hamad, whence he can either sail on to Berber or open communication across. the Desert with Koroshko. About this enterprise of General Earle's, however, information is contradictory, and there is some reason to believe that Lord Wolseley, fearing French telegrams to Koroshko, allows deceptive intelligence to obtain European circulation.
Prince Bismarck has published, through the North German Gazette, a statement of his reasons for opposing Great Britain in Egypt. He says the Continental Powers are much more interested in their relations to each other than in their relations to Egypt; and as just now Germany desires good relations with France, the Chancellor supports that Power rather than England. Germany is not acting out of caprice, but out of policy. The Gazette adds that the Powers will probably not reply to the British proposals, and that "no apeemeat can be obtained by written despatches always crossing each other." This last sentence has given rise to the rumour mentioned belovi that the German Government will call a Conference to settle the fate of Egypt once for all. His recent experience, gained at the Conference on the Congo, is said to have convinced the Prince that results can be obtained by such meetings in a few weeks which years of despatches would not secure. That, we imagine, is not precisely Lord Granville's experience. He would probably say that Conferences act quickly when all parties are agreed, bat exasperate differences when they are at variance.
It appears to be certain that the Powers decline the recent British proposals about Egyptian finance, and it is said that a new one is circulating en the Continent. Prince Bismarck desires to hold a Conference at Paris upon the entire Egyptian Question. The rumour is as yet unconfirmed ; and it is not probable that England will join such a Conference without previous guarantees as to the scope of its deliberations. The English decision so far is understood to be to let events take their course ; and as the Powers, or rather the Bondholders, refuse to submit to any sacrifice, to allow Egypt to provide for her Administration, and to pay to the creditors any balance that may remain. That is the course pursued by all other States unable to discharge their obligations ; and the Liquidation Law is no more sacred than the original promise to pay. Another rumour reached London on Friday afternoon to the effect that Prince Bismarck intended to offer his acquisitions in the Pacificin exchange for Heligoland, the islet at the mouth of the Elbe which geographically certainly belongs to Germany. We do not know that either British interests or British pride are greatly concerned in the possession of this rock, the existence of which was recently menaced by innumerable rabbits.
Lord Richard Grosvenor, who, as Patronage Secretary to the Treasury, must be held to speak for the Government, has announced, in a speech at Dorchester, that it will be necessary this Session to renew the Prevention of Crimes Act. If it is, as reported, the deliberate opinion of Lord Spencer that tranquillity cannot be maintained in Ireland without this Act, there is nothing else to be done ; but we trust that before it is reintroduced, the Cabinet will consider deeply whether its provisions could not be modified, and whether some of them, at least, could not be passed for the whole United Kingdom. We should not be sorry to see the provisions for securing evidence embodied in a general law, and cannot believe, in view of the language tolerated in the Irish newspapers, that the clauses about the Press are of any use. Mere violence of language can have little effect ; and the Irish papers can say, and do say, under the law anything hostile to the Union or to the Castle that they please. It is argued that a Continuance Bill offers little room for obstruction ; but we must deal with obstruction some time or other, and may as well use final measures in the next Session as postpone them to a new Parliament. Besides, the Parnellitos will not obstruct on the Crimes Bill only, but all through the Session. They have their seats to secure.
It is officially announced that the Queen has consented to the betrothal of the Princess Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg, cousin of the Grand Duke of Hesse, and brother to the Prince of Bulgaria. The marriage will not take place till next summer, and the Prince and Princess will continue to reside in England, where the presence of her youngest daughter has become almost indispensable to the Queen, who for many years has relied upon her affectionate attendance.
It seems that Mr. Goschen has withdrawn his name simultaneously from the Reform Club and from the Devonshire, which looks rather like a determination to extricate himself from anything like party ties. If that were all, we confess we should regret it, for we do not believe that in English public life even very strong men can do much good from an isolated position. Mr. Goschen might do great good as a Liberal leader, if he would frankly tale up that position, or as a Conservative leader, if he felt compelled to assume that position ; but in isolation from party ties of any kind he would be powerless. We have, however, no knowledge at all that he contemplates any such course, and even the double withdrawal may possibly arise from motives not closely connected with pulley or statesmanship.
Spain was visited on Christmas Day by a severe earthquake, the force of which has not apparently even now spent itself, as we hear every day of fresh shocks and fresh victims. It has been most fatal in the province of Granada, and very fatal also in that of Malaga. It seems to be thought that about a thousand people have already lost their lives by the earthquake, which was accompanied by severe cold and a heavy fall of snow, rendering it still more difficult to take assistance to the sufferers. The Cathedrals, both of Granada and of Seville, have been seriously injured ; but, as a rule, the force of the earthquake has spent itself more on the smaller houses than on the public buildings, and more in proportion on the country villages than on the great towns. The centre of the earthquake's force appears to have been somewhere near the town of Alhama, in the Province of Granada, which suffered frightfully by the repeated shocks.
Mr. W. S. Caine made an excellent speech to the Liverpool Reform Club on Monday, from which, and from the way in which it was received, it would appear that the Liberals of Liverpool no longer feel that prepossession against the division of great boroughs into one-seat constituencies, which was so commonly felt there a few months ago, and so ably expressed in letters to the Times by Mr. Edward Russell, the editor of the Liverpool Daily Post, who is destined, we hope, to represent one of these divisions of Liverpool in future Parliaments. Mr. Caine expressed very strongly the conviction which we endeavoured to enforce a fortnight ago, that .popular electorates will choose much better where they have one, and only one, man to choose, and are not distracted by the various secondary motives which always, more or less, influence a good-natured Briton's political feelings unless his choice be very closely limited, than they have chosen when their attention has been divided between two, and even three, possible Members. Mr. Caine also expressed his strong, preference for one political Assembly, and his desire to " end " the House of Lords as a separate Legislative Chamber, —and expressed it with singular frankness and force considering that, as Secretary to the Admiralty, he replied to the toast of her Majesty's Government. It is clear that the wish to try a single strong Chamber, to which Peers, like every one else, should be eligible, is 'Vapidly growing in strength among the Liberal party.
The Government of Victoria has called upon the Governments of other Australian Colonies to protest against Lord Derby's action in the matter of New Guinea, and to insist that he shall remedy it by seizing such of the neighbouring islands as are available. The Premier, Mr. Service, adds that the action of the Colonial Office will greatly weaken the ties between Australia and the Mother-country. This protest, in which Tasmania and Queensland join, would have some effect, but that the Government of New South Wales, always jealous of Victoria, has refused to join in it, upon the plea that, for aught anybody knows, Lord Derby may have made an agreement with Germany, or may have issued orders already to seize the islands. In the presence of divided counsels, of course, nothing will be done ; but the Colonists are fearing a new annexation. They believe, with or without reason, that the agreement to neutralise the New Hebrides is about to be broken,. that France will annex those islands, and that the relapsed convicts will be sent there to flood Australia with crime. If that be true, all Australia will be on fire; but it is much more probable that M. Ferry has bought permission to annex the New Hebrides by agreeing not to send convicts, not being political prisoners, to any island in the South Pacific. That would be looked upon in France as an honourable compromise.
The Senatorial elections in France take place in January, and those for the Chamber are expected to be fixed for March ; and the Royalist Senators have consequently issued a manifesto. Besides the usual points, such as the attacks' upon the Church, they assail the policy of conquest abroad, which, they say, will leave France with an imperfect defensive army, and loudly condemn the prodigality of the Republic. They declare that the expenditure has risen to £120,000,000 a year, that £120,000,000 have been added to the Debt since 1875, and that the deficit for next year will be £8,000,000. These statements are substantially true ; and it will be interesting to watch their effect. Will the peasants resent the national waste, or will they remember that most of it has been caused by eagerness to conciliate them with costly public works ? Our impression is that the selfish interests will win, and that the Government will not be called to account until new taxes are imposed ; and perhaps not then, if the taxes take the form of protective duties. The lessons Democracy shows itself most slow to learn are the rules of arithmetic. Something of a most unusual character appears to have occurred in Burmah. The great depot of the Burmese, and therefore of the Rangoon trade with Western China, is Bhamo, a-river port on the Upper Irrawaddy, some two hundred miles northswest of Ara, the ancient capital. Its-trade is of considerable importance, and if Burmah were decently governed, might rapidly become great. Late in December a Chinese leader, said to be named Kinkhueyee, and to have been recently in Burmese service, quarrelled with the Governor, and with his Chinese followers took possession of the town. He intends, he says, to conquer down to Mandalay, the present capital, and leave the rest of Bnrmah to the British. This may, of course, be rhodomontade ; but it is certain that a Chinese, followed by Chinese discharged soldiers, has taken Bhamo, and nearly certain that King Theebaw cannot drive him out. The Chinaman may attract the Burmese, who are sick of their drunken savage; and as we could not permit the rise in Bnrmah of a conquering dynasty, the crisis long expected may be on us at last. The course to be pursued, as we desire no annexation, is to seat some able descendant of Alompra upon the throne of Ava. Pekin is certainly not anxious to conquer Burmah.
A new dispute is, it appears, brewing between the British Government and that of Germany. Sir H. Bulwer has taken possession of St. Lucia, a harbour in Zululand, and has requested the Colonial Office to sanction that annexation. It appears, however, that Herr Luderitz, a merchant of Bremen, had, through his agents, acquired the tract round St. Lucia Bay, apparently in the form of a grant from the Zulu King, and he has memorialised Prince Bismarck to protect his rights. The mere possession of property does not convey sovereign rights, while the hoisting of the flag, if confirmed by the rulers of the annexing State, does ; but we confess we do not approve Sir H. Bulwer's act. Why should we burden ourselves with Zululand, or any part of it, while we.already possess twice as much territory in South Africa as we can manage well ? English agents, in their present temper, would annex half the world if they were allowed, and then complain because the remainder of Europe murmured.
Lord Barrington, who writes his view on the great House of Lords question to the Times of Monday, and who treats as mere wild fanatics all those who-would prefer one strong Chamber to two Chambers which deliberately hamper each other, is not likely, we think, to produce any great impression on public opinion. " The great grievance," he says, " entertained by many against the House of Lords, is that it is irresponsible and wanting in harmony with the views of the present House of Commons. That is an accidental circumstance, and one for which the Peers cannot be blamed." This is very much like saying to a man who objects that a drinking-glass has a hole in it which lets the water run out as fast as it is poured in, " that is an accidental circumstance, and one for which the glass cannot be blamed." The hostility of the House of Lords to popular measures may be an accidental circumstance, but the very object of the agitation for a reform is to prevent such accidents happening. It is in some sense an accident no doubt, but an accident which will always happen so long as the House of Lords remains what it is.
Lord. Barrington's view is not very strong, but it is good. sense itself compared to Lord Walsingham's. That worthy Peer holds that the remedy for an inefficient House of Lords is a duty on corn :—" The best reform, and, in my opinion, the one most required for the House of Lords, can be effected only by a Government who will recognise that the financial prosperity of the country is dependent upon a reasonable measure of success in British agriculture. If Peers, who are for the most part landowners, were not forced by one-sided Free-trade to let their London houses and live in the country, the attendance in the House of Lords would be greatly increased, and the many thousands of unemployed working-men in our country villages would spend a happier Christmas and be better able to buy the bread which, even at its present price, they too frequently see only through the baker's window." Titled wiseacres of this kind will hardly do much to promote confidence in the House of Lords.
In the Times of Wednesday there is a very remarkable letter from Mr. Giffen, which we wish those bewildered Fair-traders, who are always talking of Free-trade as having failed and brought England near to ruin, would try to master. It shows
by the most convincing evidence that as the manufactures of foreign countries have increased, the demand of those foreign countries for English goods has also increased, though not, of course, for the particular manufactures which they had learned to make for themselves, instead of taking them from us. They hare come to us for iron, coal, machinery, and shipping in more than the proportion in which they have ceased to take the articles which they had learned to manufacture for themselves ; and, in addition to this, they have sent us not unfrequently, in the shape of manufactured goods of their own, the raw materials which we have afterwards embodied in more highly-manufactured goods before they reach the consumer. Not only has the increased activity of the labour of foreign countries been consistent with an increase in the activity of English labour, but "without it," as Mr. Giffen proves, " the measure of our prosperity would have been much less full than it has been." The fact is that the Fair-traders are not masters of the subject, and want to make England's fortunes by a course which would bring the country to destruction.
There has been a very curious literary duel this week in the pages of the Daily News concerning a little book, to which we referred for another purpose in our last issue,—Mrs. Fenwick Miller's " Life of Harriet Martineau," in the " Eminent Women Series." In Tuesday's Daily News appeared a long letter from Dr. Martineau impugning the accuracy of several statements made in that work concerning various matters of family history. In it he quoted the evidence of contemporary letters with, what appeared to us, convincing force for his own view of the case. Mrs. Fenwick Miller replied in Thursday's Daily News, in a letter which rested almost wholly on the evidence of Miss Martineau's letters to Mr. Atkinson, and on her own Autobiography. Now, these letters and that Autobiography were both composed many years after the events to which they related, and certainly were not checked by reference to her own contemporary letters, which she seems to have generally required her correspondents to destroy. We infer that Harriet Martineau's memory was a highly refracting medium, not to be compared for its authority with letters written at the time. And on the one point on which the letters written at the time are final—the question whether Miss Martineau was or was not cruelly overridden by the dictation of her mother as to her wish to settle to literary work in town—it is perfectly clear that her memory utterly deceived her, and substituted an involuntary perversion of the truth when she was writing her " Autobiography " at the age of fifty-five. For one who is so hasty in assault, Mrs. Fenwick Miller herself is not very accurate. She boldly adds two years to Dr. Martineau's age in order to lower the authority of his memory. In truth, Dr. Martineau has been very careful not to rest too much on the evidence of unsupported memory.
The Sub-Committee appointed by the London School Board to consider the question of over-pressure,--a strong Committee in whose views we should place the utmost confidence,—has reported :—" 1. They are convinced that the children are, as a whole, not only educationally, but physically, much the better for attending school. 2. At the same time, there is evidence that under certain conditions—(on the one hand, where the child is underfed, suffers from bad health, defective intellect, longstanding neglect or irregularity ; and, on the other band, where the child is over-excitable,too eager or anxions)—some over-strain does occasionally occur. But the cases of over-pressure are proportionally not numerous, nor is the evil widespread. 3. They believe that much has been done, and more will in the future be done, by the New Code, to prevent over-pressure. 4. But they think that the New Code cannot produce the results intended, unless it is administered in spirit as well as in letter ; and they do not think that this is always the case at present." They go on to recommend that home-lessons should never be enforced on children below the third standard, and should never be enforced at all, except on the joint responsibility of the managers and teachers. And they make other prudent suggestions. We hope this report will carry the weight to which it is entitled, and will relieve the morbid anxiety on the subject evinced by a portion of the public.
The Times, considering how strongly it has advocated the cause of vivisection, has been singularly fair in inserting the letters of those who are opposed to the practice ; and on Tuesday it published a very temperate and valuable letter from Miss Cobbe, expounding her own view and that of most of her allies in
the agitation against it. Miss Cobbs does not deny that it may lead to scientific discoveries of great utility to man, though she thinks that this would be much more likely if vivisection of human beings were permitted in certain cases, since, of course, the inferences drawn from the vivisection of animals of a different organisation to that of man are extremely uncertain. But she believes that whatever physical benefits might result to human sufferers would be far outweighed by the frightful mischiefs which the habit of making little account of th.) torture of animals would entail on the moral nature of man. And she points out that in many cases in which the great value of this practice has been vaunted, it has turned out that there was no gain at all; as, for instance, the other day, when the man who had the abscess in his brain removed, on a diagnosis alleged to be due to Professor Ferrier's experiments, died instead of recovering from the operation. For our own parts, we believe entirely with Miss Cobbe that the use of vivisection,, properly so called, has practically been found so inseparable from abuse that it is desirable to put an end to it ; though, when we say this, we do not include in vivisection any mild inoculations by which it is hoped to discover remedies against a few very fatal epidemics.
Our medical contemporaries have been violently assailing the Bishop of Oxford for a very moderate speech made recently at Oxford against Vivisection. The Medical Times, for instance, of this week attacks that sliced.' vigorously, on the ground that the Bishop treated cruel vivisections of animals and cruel vivisections of men as on the same level, which we sincerely believe that they are. The Medical Times replies that killing animals for food is not objectionable, but that killing men for food is held objectionable by all civilised beings. Of course it is ; but the writer of the article does not see that he is guilty of the very fallacy which the Bishop of Oxford exposes in a letter to yesterday's Times. The fallacy consists of the syllogism, of which the major premiss is,—Whatever you may kill for food you may kill and torture for physiological ends ; and the minor premiss is,—Yon may kill a rabbit for food, ergo you may torture a rabbit for purposes of physiological research. The Bishop rejects the syllogism simply because the major premiss is false, as it is also false that you may infer with any safety from the effect of a surgical operation on animals what the effect of that operation would be on men. Indeed, the Medical Times expressly admits this when it says :—" The human frame is so highly complicated in structure, so subtly balanced in function, that it would often be impossible to obtain from any experimental interrogation of it that might be devised definite replies to questions that would be answered with perfect clearness if put in a similar manner to simpler organisms." That is surely another way of saying that an experiment on an animal leads to one result, when the same experiment on man would lead to a very different result.
The Queen has appointed the Rev. E. H. Bickersteth, of Christchurch, Hampstead, to be Dean of Gloucester, in the place of Dean Law. Mr. Bickersteth is the cousin of the late Bishop of Ripon, and the Dean of Lichfield, and obtained the Chancellor's medal at Cambridge in three successive years,184418-18. He was both a Senior Optime and a third-class Classic at Cambridge, and has published devotional poems in later life. He is an Evangelical of some mark, and greatly respected in his parish.
The Astronomical Congress, which proposed to begin the day at midnight and to count it straight on from 0 h. to 2.111., is to have its recommendation in this respect provisionally tried at Greenwich during the present year. The clock of the Observatory is to count henceforth from midnight up to 23 o'clock minutes, after which it reaches 0 o'clock again. We do not suppose that that very simple system will be generally adopted in England,—though it will be a great convenience, on the whole, wherever it is,—but we wish the railway guides would adopt it. There is no confusion greater than the confusion between a.m. and p.m., the hours for the same train constantly passing from a.m. at one station to p.m. at another, and travellers having to take great care, especially for early afternoon trains, that they are not consulting the times of nighttrains, instead of day. On the telegraph papers, too, it would be a great convenience if the new notation were adopted at once.