NEWS OF THE WEEK.
IT appears to be nearly certain that the Arbitration Treaty with the United States is lost. The Committee of the Senate on Foreign Relations, unwilling to incur the odium of a flat rejection, have recommended that it be accepted with the following preposterous amendment :—" But no question which affects the foreign or domestic policy of either of the high contracting parties or the relations of either with any other State or Power by treaty or otherwise shall be subject to arbitration under this Treaty, except by special agreement." This recommendation will, it is said, be accepted, and of course renders the Treaty so much waste-paper. Every question beyond the competence of diplomatists to settle in half an hour must affect either foreign or domestic policy, and is therefore withdrawn from the operation of the Treaty. It is believed that Mr. Cleveland, on receiving it back thus amended, will drop the negotiation, and if he does not it is most improbable that Lord Salisbury will permit his work, over which he has spent hours of anxious thought, to be thus reduced to a mere formula of empty words. The Treaty must go, and with it much hope, for it will have been rejected not by a baffled diplomatist or an angry Sovereign, but by a representative body which we cannot believe to be wholly out of accord with its constituents.
The true history of the Senate's action is said to be as follows. The Jingoes, who are permanently hostile to Great Britain, have been reinforced by the Silver men, who hold this oormtry to be the sole upholder of the gold standard, and are anxious, therefore, not only to retain every future opportunity of punishing her, but to manifest to all the world that they are still, in spite of the Presidential election, a great power within the Union. As they are backed by all electors of their own opinions, they have no fear of con- sequences at home, and they think Great Britain will be over- awed by the evidence of their influence. They will, they say, at once accept the Treaty if we will reopen the Indian Mints, but while by closing them we deliberately help to pauperise America they will do nothing which can even tend towards conciliation. It is a singular state of opinion which regards such coercion as even possible ; but Lord Salisbury has, of coarse, but one line of conduct open to him. He must bow with grace to the decision of so great a body as the Senate, and register its vote as one more proof that indirect election always sends up men of knowledge, good temper, disinterested- ness, and Christian feeling. We do not ourselves see how a King could have shown himself more unwise, less above pecuniary considerations, or more spiteful,—but of course that is heresy !
The Treaty between Great Britain and Venezuela was signed at Washington on January 2nd, with a pen ornamented with a golden heart studded with diamonds, a. truly Spanish-American idea. The details are of little im- portance, their drift being that the four arbitrators are abso- lute as to definition of territory, that their decision will be always that of a majority, King Oscar having a casting vote when they are divided equally, and that they must render their award within eighteen months. Lord Herschell and Mr. Justice Collins will be the English arbitratore,—a specially good selection. The Venezuelan Opposition are giving trouble, because they say the negotiations assign to Washing- ton a protectorate over all Spanish America, which is true in fact though not in form; but they should have thought of that when they appealed for American protection.
The Emperor of Austria has agreed to visit the Emperor of Russia at St. Petersburg in the last week of February. As that is not a genial season in Russia, and as Francis Joseph begins to feel his years, the Continent is of opinion that the visit will not be one of pure ceremony. The two Emperors want peace, and are aware that in a certain contingency they may be unable to keep it. The contingency is, such an ex- plosion at Constantinople as may compel an occupation of that capital by Russian troops. The Austrian statesmen say they will not permit this, and their Emperor will either impress this upon his brother-Sovereign, or suggest the com- promise which would induce him to overrule his Ministers. In any case, the journey is likely to produce considerable results, and there is already a rumour that a third Emperor may be present. That is improbable, but as we have en- deavoured to show elsewhere, the possible partition of Turkey tends, like the partition of Poland, to draw the three Imperial Houses closer together. If they have not common interests in Constantinople, they have common dangers.
Spanish pride has given way under the long strain of the campaign in Cuba. On Wednesday the Queen-Regent signed decrees granting to the islanders many of the " reforms " which Senor Canvas declared he would not grant until the rebellion had been crushed. The reforms are not, however, very thorough. Cuba obtains a sort of Parlia- ment, a Council of thirty-five, in which the majority will be elected, and which will frame budgets and regulate the tariff, subject to the proviso that Spanish goods shall always enjoy an advantage of, it is said, forty per cent. The budgets must, moreover, still be sanctioned by the Home authorities, and the Governor-General will retain the power of appointing all the higher officials. Lastly, in the event of disturbances the Home Government regains its absolute authority. The scheme would work well enough as a beginning if the Government and the people believed in one another, but then they do not. Already there are signs that many of the insurgents will continue the war unless they are granted " autonomy as in Canada." Spain thinks that with such autonomy colonies are not worth holding.
The news from India is unchanged, and is bad. A little rain is falling, but the number of persons on the relief works now exceeds two millions—and will exceed four—and the death-list, especially in the Central Provinces, grows large. The people, for caste reasons, will not enter the poorhouses till they are dying,—a remarkable proof of their readiness to obey ideas. The Plague still rages, and there is a statement in the Daily Mail that it has spread to Delhi, which is, we hope, untrue. The Government of Bengal is passing strong measures—such as the prohibition of pilgrimages—with an unexpected amount of approval from Mussulman and Hindoo Members of the Legislature. Unfortunately such men are often in modern India a little too enlightened to be repre- sentative.
It is stated, apparently on authority, that the Ambassadora
in Constantinople have drawn up their list of " reforms," that it will be submitted next week to the Sultan, and that his Majesty has been informed officially from Paris by both France and Russia that he must accept it, as if not he "would be held personally responsible" by the Powers. Abd-ul- Hamid is, consequently, "greatly agitated," protesting that Ambassadors have no right to hold a Conference hostile to him within his own capital, and that he has already decreed great reforms, and only requires time and money to carry them into execution. He will probably in the end accept and then evade them ; but he lives in an atmosphere of adulation, his personal pride as an adroit manager is sorely wounded, and it is the opinion on the spot that he has by no means resolved to yield. We can see no reason whatever why he should till the next stage is reached. He can submit if needful when coercion is distinctly threatened—Mussulman opinion justifying concessions to armed force—and trust that when the Powers come to discuss the method of coercion they will quarrel. It is nearly certain that the method, when adopted, will not be the shelling of Yildiz Kiosk, and no other method, if temporary, signifies much to the Sultan. Let us hope in humility that the heart of Pharaoh may be hardened, though perhaps the analogy is not quite hopeful after all. We are not told either by Scripture or profane historians that the Pharaoh of the Exodus ever suffered the personal consequences which the Sultan has deserved.
The Government has moved another step forward towards the reasonable defence of the United Kingdom against invasion. On Friday week the Under-Secretary for War, Mr. Brodrick, moved a Resolution, preparatory to a Bill, giving the Government power to raise a loan of five and a half millions, repayable within thirty years. Of this sum £1,200,000 would be expended on the better fortification of four har- bours required as coaling-stations; £2,000,000 for large camps ; £1,150,000 for "defensive positions" and large storehouses or supplementary arsenals round London; £500,000 for the establishment of ranges available for Militia and Volunteer regiments ; and £450,000 for the purchase of Salisbury Plain, forty thousand acres or sixty square miles, upon which both infantry and cavalry could be freely manoeuvred, and Generals thus instructed for the first time in the handling of large bodies of men. All the proposals seem wise, and were well received by the House, though of course, as we have argued elsewhere, they must be supplemented by others if the country is to be made really safe. We want troops enough to fight a second battle before the enemy reaches London. Curiously enough the choice of Salisbury Plain for manceuvres, though it is by far the most eligible site, came upon the country with a shock of surprise. The Bill should contain a strong clause for the protection of Stonehenge, or we shall have some enter- prising General turning that most ancient of temples into a model redoubt. The monoliths have survived many changes, but they might not survive military zeal and cordite.
On Friday week Mr. Chamberlain continued the debate on the appointment of the South African Committee. We have discussed his speech elsewhere, but must note here his grave declaration that "the situation in South Africa at the present time gives cause for considerable anxiety." There had been a recrudescence of unreetfulness, and the situation was not improved by the recent legislation in the Transvaal. There was no doubt that provisions in some of that legislation were contrary to the Convention of London. "If that legislation is enforced, undoubtedly a situation will be created which will require all our prudence, all our impartiality, and all our patience." Mr. Chamberlain went on to speak of the reforms demanded by the Outlanders, and the President's unredeemed promises in regard to them. At the same time, Mr. Cham- berlain admitted that President Kruger had internal difficulties to overcome. Mr. Chamberlain, at the end of his speech, declared that no inquiry into the Raid would be com- plete without an inquiry also into the grievances on which the reform movement in Johannesburg was founded.
Sir William Harcourt followed Mr. Chamberlain with a declaration that an inquiry having been promised in the Queen's Speech of last year, it would be to break a promise made to the world at large not to hold it. More pertinent was his argument that not only the Raid, but the general position and actions of the Chartered Company, must be inquired into. Sir William Harcourt, after the laudatory
references to the Chancellor of the Exchequer which are now part of the common form of his speeches, made a powerful de- fence of Lord Rosmead. After speeches by Sir .A.shmead-Bart- lett and Sir Henry Howorth, who did not even spare the House the comparison of Mr. Rhodes to Clive and Warren Hastings, there was a short wrangle over the number of Members on the Committee. Ultimately, however, the Committee, not enlarged, was reappointed, Mr. Maclean withdrawing his amendment. The Committee is somewhat too big for thorough work, but in spite of that drawback it should be able to get at the chief facts.
Mr. Balfour on Monday moved the financial resolution• which is necessary to set up the foundation for the Education Bill,—namely, that a grant not exceeding 5s. per child in average attendance on voluntary schools should be given in aid of the resources of those schools, that the 17s. 6d. limit should be repealed, and that voluntary schools should be exempted from rates. He pointed out that he had been earnestly advised to make the Bill a simple one, and that he had as early as last July announced his intention to do so, and not to mix up the new grant to voluntary schools with any other matter of educational policy. He admitted entirely the claim of poor Board-schools to receive aid of the same kind, and de- clared his intention to bring in a Bill for that purpose, but said that as its provisions must be quite different from those applic- able to the voluntary schools, they could not, as he foresaw in July, be included in this Bill. He explained that though the suns needed would be 5s. for every child in voluntary schools, there were some voluntary schools which are not in need of this grant at all, a good many which will not need more than ls. or 2s. or 3s. per child, and again, a good many of the poorest voluntary schools in towns which will need more than 5s. a child to bring up their resources to the point necessary for real efficiency. The Education Department would allocate the new grant amongst the voluntary schools, but would be advised by the school federations, which would be formed amongst schools belonging to the same denomination, and which would submit to the Education Department a scheme for dividing the total grant amongst the voluntary schools needing aid. He concluded by explaining that he attached the greatest importance to keeping up both the Board-schools and the voluntary schools, and abiding honestly by the compromise of 1870.
The debate which followed, both on Monday and Tuesday, was a very heated one, the Opposition benches indulging in peals of ironic laughter and cheers. It was begun by Mr. Acland, who showed a much more vehement, not to say angry, feeling than usual, treated the Government as desirous to ignore the claims of necessitous Board-schools, taunted them for not including those claims in the present Bill, and censured them for proceeding under a financial resolution which nominally prevented the discussion of the claims of poor Board-schools ;—only nominally, however, since every speaker dwelt on the subject as much as he pleased. It was more or less admitted by Mr. Balfour that he had not much hope of concluding the discussion in time to pass the Bill before March 31st, but he showed that the voluntary schools would really lose nothing by the delay, since the grant-in-aid of 5s. per child for the year 1897-98 on a considerably increased average attendance would more than make up for the fraction of the grant for 1896-97 which world be included if the Bill could be passed before March 31st. Professor Jebb, Mr. Cripps, Major Rasch, and Sir F. S. Powell supported the Bill with some cordiality, but several of the Unionists, headed by Mr. Courtney, treated the probable delay as showing that the excuse of haste was hardly genuine, that it would have been perfectly easy to include provisions for the help of the poor Board-schools in the Bill, and that the bias of the Government was in favour of leaving them " out in the cold."
On Tuesday the irritating laughter of the Opposition became still more marked and emphatic, but the divisions showed that the Radicals were not well supported by the more moderate Liberals. Mr. Lloyd George's amend- ment confining the grant to 5s. for each child in " necessi- tous" Board-schools received only 112 votes against 320 (majority, 208). The closure of the debate was resisted by 142 Liberal votes against 296 Ministerialist (majority, 154). And Mr. Balfour's resolution itself was carried by 325 votes against 110 (majority, 215). Amongst the warm
enpporters of the Government was Sir John Bennaway, who advised the withdrawal of the Education Bill of last Session.
The Walthamstow election is, from the Unionist point of -view, a most unpleasant and also a most unintelligible incident. Mr. Woods, the Labour and Radical candidate, who is Secretary to the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade-Union Congress, was returned on Wednesday by a majority of 279 votes. He polled 6,518 votes and his opponent, Mr. Dewar, 6,239. But in 1895 the Unionist candidate won by a majority of 2,353. This means that the Home-rule vote has increased by practically 2,000 and the Unionist vote has decreased by 637. The poll was a heavier one by 1,358 than in 1895, but this is partly due to an increase in the register, which now numbers 18,826. There were thus nearly 6,000 voters who did not poll,—a large number when a register is only a month old. We have dealt elsewhere with some of the explanations for the change in the electorate, but will enter here a warning against much importance being attached to any by-election, however sensational. If we remember, however, that the man who in 1895 believed that to vote for a Gladstonian candidate meant (1) the passing of a Home-rule Bill which he hated, (2) the continuance in power of a Ministry which had fallen into popular contempt, (3) the imposition of legal fetters on the consumption of beer, no longer attaches these consequences to voting for the Glad- stonians, and has, in fact, forgotten his fears, we can easily understand a revulsion of feeling in favour of the old flag.
• Great importance, too, must be attached to the fact that Walthamstow is a characteristic "poor School Board district" and that the Opposition had been declaring for the past fortnight that the Government was intent on oppressing the poor School Board ratepayer in order to relieve the rich subscriber to the voluntary schools.
The polling in the Romford division of Essex resulted on Monday in the return of the Unionist, Mr. Louis Sinclair, by a majority of 125. In 1895 the Unionist majority was 1,827. This is, however, not quite so bad as it looks, for the Unionist poll has only fallen by about 100 votes. The Home-rule poll at the same time has increased by over 1,500. In truth, the constituency has greatly changed in the last year and a half, for some two thousand voters have been added to it. Perhaps the most striking thing about the election is the fact that there are over twenty-two thousand voters on the register, while on the Salisbury register there are not three thousand. Yet each place has the same voting power in Parliament.
The House of Commons on Wednesday gaily voted a revolution. Mr. Faithfull Begg, who sits for the St. Rollox division of Glasgow, proposed in a maiden speech the second reading of a Bill, said to be very badly drawn, for en- franchising all women, whether married or unmarried, who possessed property of their own. He and Mr. Atherley Jones, who followed him, adduced the time-worn arguments in favour of the measure, and were opposed by Mr. Radcliffe 'Cooke, who in an amusing speech showed that so little were the women of the eountry in favour of the measure, that the local societies in support of it could hardly keep alive. The most important speeches on the favouring side were those of Mr. Courtney, who maintained that the Bill would not alter human nature, and that men would therefore continue to rule even if it were passed, and that of Professor Jebb, whose grand arguments were that women were " more practical" than men, that they would be harder towards certain forms of crime, and that they would introduce more conscientiousness into public life. He did not quote Catherine de Medici, Catherine II. of Russia, Mary of Scots, Elizabeth of England, or Isabella of Spain in proof of this last assertion. Mr. Labouchere made an amusing speech against the motion, objecting courageously to petticoat government, and denying absolutely the capacity of women to comprehend political argument. Sir William Harcourt followed on the same side with the more statesmanlike argu- ment that the measure must be followed by the general en- franchisement of women, who, as they had a majority of one million two hundred thousand, would then possess all power, and that such a revolution must be the work of a responsible Ministry and not of private Members on a dreary Wednesday afternoon. The House applauded his argument, but never. theless voted the second reading of the Bill by 223 to 157, a majority of 71. A more discreditable example of levity and contempt for argument has rarely been shown, even by a representative assembly.
In the House of Lords on Thursday Lord Lansdowne announced the details of the proposed increase to the Army. Shortly, the new scheme is to add two battalions to the brigade of Guards, thus giving each Guards regiment two battalions and enabling three battalions of Guards to be always on foreign service,—i.e., at Malta or Gibraltar ; to add a second battalion to the Cameron Highlanders ; to raise another regi- ment of Malta Militia ; to add a battalion to the West India regiment; to increase the garrison artillery by three thousand four hundred men; and to add one battery of field artillery. We approve heartily of all these proposals except that in regard to the Guards, which we cannot but describe as most ill•judged. It has indeed every conceivable disadvantage, and practically no advantage. It will spoil the recruiting for the Guards by making the service unpopular, it will give the officers a reasonable grievance, it will still farther weaken the Army at home—up till now the Guards at any rate were not in the squeezed-lemon position, now they will be—and it will not really remedy the want of more soldiers abroad. A far better and in the end cheaper plan would be to leave the Guards alone, and raise four new line battalions. We should also like to see two thousand men added to the Marines, and Gibraltar in future entirely garrisoned by this fine force, who, as they are not wanted to manoeuvre in large bodies, would find the Rock a very ample quarter-deck.
Sir John Tenniel, besides being a great artist in black and white, often shows an extraordinary knack of crystallising public feeling in a few fitting words. He was never more suc- cessful in doing so than in this week's Punch. The cartoon represents the shade of Warren Hastings saying to Mr. Rhodes, " I succeeded, and was impeached ; you fail, and are called as a witness." This exactly represents what the plain man outside the City and the House of Commons feels when he is told that Mr. Rhodes is as great or greater than Clive or Warren Hastings. Mr. Rhodes has no doubt done some useful pioneering and developing work, but he has always been most loyally and even obediently backed up and helped by the British Government. Warren Hastings helped to found a splendid Empire with almost no support, and while his chiefs at home, instead of helping him, were storming because he did not send them more money.
The internal jealousies of the English Home-rulers almost match those of the Irish. On Wednesday the junior members of the National Liberal Club entertained Mr. Labouchere at dinner, but no leader of the party—i.e., ex-Cabinet Minister —could be induced to take the chair, to speak, or even to be present ;—not very generous treatment of a member whose cleverness and address the chiefs are often glad to employ. After chaffing the Conservatives for the "punitive expeditions " which they were constantly sending out against their leaders, Mr. Labouchere turned to the alternative policy offered by the Opposition. The most important thing was the democratising of the legislative machine. Every man must have a vote, and there must be no one with a veto. He did not want to tinker the Constitution, but to entirely recast it in a democratic mould. He did not want to hear the mew of the jumping cat in his leaders' speeches. He wanted to hear them speak out clearly. Mr. Labouchere, however, did not himself speak out with any special clearness, and he carefully refrained from anything like announcing a programme. But how can his poor leaders follow him if he will not show them the way ? Why did he not advocate—(1) universal suffrage, (2) equal electoral districts, (3) Disestablishment of the two Churches, (4) abolition of the House of Lords, (5) repeal of the Union, (6) evacuation of Egypt, and (7) reduction of the Army and Navy? That would have been a clear and simple programme at any rate, and, according to Mr. Labouchere, a popular one. Yet somehow when it comes to the pinch even he seems to " funk."
Bank Rate, 3 per cent.
New Consols (2!) were on Friday, 113'„-.