There has been another scene in the French Chamber, not
without its importance. The French troops, when landed in Madagascar, are to be transported through the malarious belt in river-gunboats, to avoid the terrible havoc caused by fever. To carry these river-steamers to the island a specially con- structed transport is needed, which is possessed, it is said, by only one firm in the world, an English one. M. Faure, when recently Minister of Marine, asked for tenders for the work, and this firm agreed to do it for £18,000. A French firm also tendered, but asked 240,000, they intending to sub-let the work to the English house, and pocket the difference. Finding that the English firm would pledge itself as to time, while the French firm would not, M. Faure gave the contract to the former. This was brought up on Saturday in the Chamber as a most unpatriotic act, and the Government with difficulty escaped defeat, the Radicals contending, with some justice, that the French Admiralty ought to have been able to perform such a job. Speaker after speaker inveighed against giving such work to Englishmen, and insisted that the contract must be rescinded ; and it was not until it was perceived that a hostile vote would again make a vacancy in the Presidency of the Republic, that the Chamber passed to the Order of the Day. We are not quite sure that our House of Commons would like to entrust transport to foreign hands; but the Chamber showed lamentable want of self-command. The Deputies did not even know for some hours whom they were attacking, and the Government did not dare to say openly that no French firm could do the work at any price.