26 MARCH 1898, Page 1


ATELEGRAM from St. Petersburg of the 18th inst. has attracted less attention than it deserved. It contains an extract from the Official Messenger announcing that on the request of the " Emperor " of Corea, the Russian Government withdraws its financial adviser from Seoul, and also the officers despatched to instruct Corean troops. Russia, the official writer continues, "can now abstain from taking any active part in the affairs of Corea, hoping that the young State, strengthened by the support of Russia, will be able to maintain without assistance order at home and preserve its full independence. In the contrary case, the Imperial Government will take measures for the protection of the interests and rights of Russia as the Great Power which is Corea's neighbour." That is an amazing statement, for it can only mean that Russia, for the present, abandons Corea rather than fight for its possession with Japan, and intends to concentrate her strength upon gaining possession of Manchuria.

The Chinese whale begins to feel the harpoons. According to a telegram from Pekin, the Tsungli Yamen, being recently stung by a repetition of Western demands, resolved to resist them all alike, and even ordered preparations for war and a " concentration of troops." Upon representations from Li Hung Chang, however, the Councillors became more tran- quil, and it was finally decided that the demands of Russia must be conceded. That statement looks true, and at all events the demands of Russia have been conceded. China has granted to her a "lease" of Port Arthur and Talienwan, nominally for twenty-five years, but really for ever, with a proviso that the latter shall be an open port. She has also granted the right to extend the Trans-Siberian Railway to Port Arthur and Talienwan with the same privileges as before, the principal one being the right to fortify the railway stations, and guard them with Russian troops even on Chinese soil. There can be no doubt that this amounts to a virtual cession of Manchuria and Liau-tung, and, according to the Daily Telegraph, it has been followed tip by an order calling out fifty thousand Reservists for service at Yladivostock, with a picked General at their head. Russia, in fact, means the annexation of Northern China, leaving Corea to Japan ; and a strong party in England think we are bound to resist by arms. We differ. The trade must fall to us, for Russia will want revenue from Manchuria ; and as it will so fall, what is it to us who governs ? It is argued that the owner of Port Arthur will rule Pekin, but nothing keeps the Chinese Emperor in that out-of-the-way capital, which he is personally disposed to abandon. It is only the Empress Dowager who clings to the Pink City.

Hanotaux has been saying smooth things to "a foreign

diplomatist," who repeated them to M. de Blowitz, who reports them to the world in the Times of Monday. As to the Niger, France wants nothing except "a fair and friendly settlement." The alarm about Sokoto was ground- less, for the French have no intention of repeating there "the experience of England with Chitral and the Afridis ; " the Niger Company is the root of mischief, for "it is selling its territories to the British Government, and exaggerates their value in order to get a higher price." As to China, France "has no interest in precipitating her disintegration." The "yellow corpse drifting about might poison the springs of the civilised world." France has enough with Tonquin, and has no desire for fresh annexations. Only England" should not put obstacles in the way of others, or dream of monopolising the trade of China." Germany has acted with decision and practical sense, for she wishes to spread her trade in cheap things; but France has no cheap things to sell, the characteristics of her industry being fineness and delicacy. [That is the reason clearly why she seeks trade with naked negroes.] In short, France is an unambitious, or at all events a satiated, Power, seeking nothing but justice, and looking on the British expedition to Khartoum, which, says M. Hanota.ux with lofty frankness, "will succeed," with innocent admiration. It is all very pretty, and was all said for some purpose, bat it is diffi- cult to see exactly what, for the oily sentences do not bear the smallest resemblance to the facts. Smooth M. Hanotanx is in West Africa as obstinate as a mule in claiming what is not his, and in China makes the most grasping demands, asking special influence not only in Kwangse, which marches with Tonquin, but in Yunnan, which is the Hinterland of Burmah, and in Kwantnng, which contains Hong-kong.

The news from America has oscillated between stormy and very stormy, and the general impression in regard to the inevitableness of war is evidently growing stronger. The prospect of war is more decided one day than another, but the prospect of peace never seems to improve. In all the swayings backwards and forwards the one thing that never stops or varies is the clang of iron in the arsenals, the re- cruiting of soldiers and sailors, and the fitting out of war. ships. In the Senate on Thursday Mr. Thurston, who has lately returned from Cuba, declared that an overstatement of the horrors was impossible. Under General Weyler four hundred thousand of the agricultural population, most of them old men, women, and children, were driven into the cities, "and according to a conservative estimate two hundred and ten thousand of them were starved." The only alterna- tives in the Cuban question were independence, or inter- vention in the form of telling Spain to leave the island. The 'Maine' Report has not yet been issued, and the rumours as to its contents are clearly not based on knowledge.

During the week the country has waited with the utmost impatience the news of a battle on the Nile, but contrary to all expectation, Mahmond and Osman Digna have failed to attack. At present the position seems to be this. Our main force is on the north side of the Atbara at the Heidi Ford, and the Dervishes are on the other side of the river—it is now little more than a watercourse with pools—lying perdu, in the deep bush at Helgi, a place thirty miles up the Atbara. There, according to a deserter, they are entrenching them- selves. This force is probably under the command of Mahmond. Osman Digna has, it is said, gone in the direction of the Adarama—our post in the direction of Kassala—from which place also comes the news of an attack repulsed with considerable loss to the Dervishes. It is possible that Osman Digna may be contemplating making a diversion by attacking Kassala, but even if he does there need be no alarm. Meantime Mahmoud would like to be attacked in the bush. The Sirdar is not likely to oblige. Delay, remember, is in

our favour, not in that of the Dervishes. We have plenty of food and water ; they have very little food and thousands of camels and horses to feed as well as an army of between fifteen and twenty thousand men.

P.a. 34,000,000 There have been many surpluses, says Sir James Westland, in the last twenty years. Yes ; but how much has the Debt been swollen, and of that swelling, how much has been devoted to works actually reproductive in tangible cash ? Lord G. Hanxilton.ought to tell us, but he will not. This is our single complaint about Indian finance. There is no corruption and little waste, no misrepresentations and perhaps no effort at concealment, but there is continuous and impenetrable fog.

The German Emperor does not always fail. Whatever the other results of his seizure of Kiao-chow, its effect on opinion in Germany has been most marked. No parties except the Socialist and the Radical have ventured to denounce the Naval Bill, though it pledges Germany for six years, and will undoubtedly involve in the end very heavy expenditure. The rather ridiculous incidents:which have attended Prince Henry's voyage to the East have deepened the impression in favour of the Bill, the public saying, with justice, that if their old war vessels are in such bad condition new ones must be built. The first clause of the Bill, which involves its whole principle, was, therefore, carried on Thursday by a vote, in an unusually full House, of 212 to 139. Dr. Lieber, the leader of the Centre party, declared that although he had no enthusiasm for the Bill, the public had ; and Dr. von Bennigsen, the old and respected leader of the National Liberals, who once supported the Kulturkampf, declared that 3ommerce must be protected, that Kiao-chow must be "held fast," and that any grievances of the Clericals ought to be removed because "they had accepted the Empire." The Emperor is, in fact, forming a majority out of the Tories, Clericals, and Jingoes, and after the next elections will probably be more powerful than ever.

Uruguay has passed through a revolution, with the usual result of revolutions in Spanish America,—the installation of an elective Monarchy. The Representatives had made themselves hated by violence, corruption, and attacks on property, and all eyes turned upon Senor Cuestas, President of the Senate, and since the murder of President Borda temporary head of the Executive, as the only man who could save the Republic. Senor Cuestas accordingly removed all officials devoted to the Chambers, called out a thousand National Guards, and being thus master of the situation, on February 10th dissolved the Chambers and declared himself provisional President. He then appointed a "Council" of eighty prominent citizens of all parties, invested them with the legislative power, and directed them to elect a new President, and to settle the method and time of the next elections,—which will probably not occur just yet. According to the Times' correspondent, the citizens of Monte -Video of all parties approved his action, not a stroke was

Sir James Westland, the Indian Chancellor of the Exchequer, produced his Budget on the 21st inst., and as usual it is optimistic. He admits that the Famine has cost in all Rx. 14,000,000, and the Plague and earthquake nearly Rx. 1,000,000 more ; that the Secretary of State intends to borrow £6,000,000, and the Government in India Rx.3,000,000, while £6,000,000 of bills, which ought to be paid off, will be renewed. He gives, moreover, no estimate of the total expense of the Frontier Campaign, though Rx. 3,820,000 are put down under that head as outlay in 1897-98. He however believes that in 1898-99, owing mainly, as we may presume, to improvements in the exchange—which, however, are not mentioned in the statement—there will be a surplus of Rx. 890,000. That is very nice ; but we should like when Lord George Hamilton brings forward his Budget to have the general history made a little clearer. How much of the total below is dead lose, and how much only matter of account ?—

By famine ... •ia Oaf ..• Mc. 14,000,000

Plague and earthquake ••• 1,000,000 Borrowed at home ••• 8,000,000 Bills not paid... •" 8,000,000 Borrowed in India 3,000,000

GOO ••• •••

••• •••

struck for the Chambers, and public securities rose at once by from eight to fourteen points. Senor Cuestas, in fact, is trusted and competent, and all would go well but for two apparently incurable obstacles. It will be nearly impossible to guard the new President's life without espionage and tyranny which he rejects— and an invincible prejudice compels him to call together Representatives, who will be just as unmanageable and perverse as those he has dismissed. The Spanish-Americans see the system they want, and at intervals secure it, but cannot bring their pride to accept it as their permanent method of being governed. They need Judges, but, as Republicans, must have juries, and so ill-doers prosper.

In the House of Commons on Monday Mr. John Dillon began the debate on the second reading of the Irish Local Government Bill in a speech of feeble acidity. He was anxious not to injure the prospects of the Bill, but he also wanted to advertise his Nationalist irreconcilability. Mr. Dillon, therefore, talked shrilly, or rather shrewishly, about bribes to the landlords, about the limitation of local expenditure on improvements being offensive and unnecessary, and about the other safeguards of the BilL He made, however, a good, point when he objected to the exclusion of the clergy, and we very greatly hope that this objectionable disability will be got rid of in Committee. Mr. Redmond in a far more manly and straightforward speech supported the Bill, and declared very truly that Mr. Dillon's speech provided another instance of the habit into which the honourable Member was falling of speaking against a Motion and voting for it. Mr. Lecky's speech was on the whole in favour of the Bill. He entirely approved the withholding the control of the police from the new authority. Any one who desired the opposite arrange- ment would be as near political insanity as a man could be.

Mr. Morley's speech was disappointing. He did not, of' course, oppose the Bill, but echoed the foolish talk about bribes to the landlords, and actually lent his authority to the opposition that is being made to the financial clauses because they may incidentally put £500 a year into Lord Clanricarde's pocket. Of course Mr. Morley did not put this argument in its vulgarest and crudest form, but he did not hesitate to make use of the prejudice involved in Lord Clanricarde's name. Mr. Morley ended his speech with one of the ornate prophetic perorations of which he is so fond when speaking about Ireland. This time it was about the genie in the bottle. Mr. Gerald Balfour's speech in reply was firm and without irritation. He promised to consider the proposal for two- Member constituencies, by means of which it is hoped that a certain amount of representation may be secured to the land- lord class. The difficulty, as he pointed out, is the largeness of the Boards. Mr. Devitt in the course of his speech attacked Mr. Redmond for having poured buckets full of benedictions on the Bill., Mr. Healy ended the debate in a speech which does him the very greatest possible credit, and must have required.sgreat courage. Quite exeellent was the method a dealing with the Clanricarde red-herring. "The hon. Member asked whether they were going to vote for Lord Clanricarde getting 2500 or £600 a year out of the Bill?' Supposing it was put the other way, and the landlord party said, " Are you. going to pay half the county cess for the tenants, some of whom are Maamtrasna murderers, informers, and moonlighters ? " The Anti-Parnellite party, he declared, were supporting this Bill, not because Lord Clanricarde might get some of the money, but as a great measure of peace and reform for the country.

In the House of Commons on Wednesday Mr. Perks moved the second reading of his Bill for making it no longer necessary for civil registrars to be present at marriages solemnised in Nonconformist chapels. Such presence was not required in the case of Jews or Quakers, nor, curiously enough, in one or two special chapels,—one being the Methodist Church at Aldershot. Mr. Perks declared that his Bill would only make the law in England what it was in Ireland and Scotland. The measure was opposed by the registrars because they would lose their fees. The promoters of the Bill had no objection to the insertion of provisions to meet the case of diminutive congregations which made no proper arrangements for the conduct of their ser- vices or for the preservetion of their records. We are on

the main question entirely in favour of doing away with anything which may seem to the Nonconformists as dis- agreeable or derogatory, and we cannot share the Attorney- General's doubts and difficulties as to how to obtain a working scheme. There are, of course, objections to every plan; but then many of them apply to marriages which are at this moment solemnised without a registrar. Would it not be possible to make all Nonconformist ministers authorised by the central bodies of the great sects (as per schedule) ipso facto registrars, and to grant a license to act as registrar to any other Nonconformist minister who could satisfy the Registrar-General that he was a fit and proper person ? The second reading of the Bill was ultimately agreed to. It will be a great pity if the Government and the promoters of the Bill cannot agree upon a line of action.

There was quite a disturbance of calm in the House of Commons on Thursday. A number of questions were asked as to the progress of events in China, and to all Mr. Curzon declined, in the public interest, to reply. The Speaker was thereupon asked if the Under-Secretary was within his right, and ruled that he was, and also that he himself had a right to prevent questions being put. This gave an opportunity to Sir William Harcourt, who, speaking nominally about the Consolidated Fund, told the Government that they had a right to be discreet, but that they used it indiscreetly. Nobody could get anything out of Mr. Curzon, but Mr. Chamberlain would answer, and even provoke, the rashest inestions about France. There was a disposition to main- tain secrecy, which must be carefully watched lest the House of Commons should lose its control of most im- portant affairs. Mr. Davitt, improving on this, threatened to divide the House against the Consolidated Fund Bill unless questions were answered; and Mr. Curzon at last said that if notice of questions were given, he would consider whether answers would be consistent with the public service. This pacified everybody, and an incident which threatened to be an angry one ended; but the difficulty is a real one, and is not removed. There can be no doubt that questions on foreign affairs may be most inconvenient, and even injurious, and yet the House really needs official information. To sup- press such questions altogether, but allow debating, would be to make talk interminable, and a compromise is very difficult to devise. Perhaps a weekly statement by the Minister in charge made every Monday or Tuesday at the beginning of business would keep the House informed, and yet allow of perfect Ministerial discretion.

The newspapers during the week have been full of telegrams as to the mobilisation of the French Fleet. But this, as M. Lockroy, at one ti me Minister of Marine, and still the Parliamen- tary advocate of a strong Navy, stated to an interviewer, has nothing to do with the international situation, but is merely the carrying out of the departmental routine, under which the Northern Fleet is always mobilised during the spring. M. Lockroy, at the close of his interview, stated in effect that though France was prepared for a naval war with the Triple Alliance, she was not yet prepared for a war with England.

For an exclusively naval war France is not yet sufficiently prepared. She is deficient both in new ships and in bases of operation." That is, we believe, the truth, and we doubt whether in case of war a prudent Minister of Marine would allow the French warships to leave harbour. But then in war a prudent French Minister of Marine would not remain long in office. In previous naval wars with England disaster has often come to the French fleets from imperative orders to fight.

The Fiftieth Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, just issued, is summarised in Wednesday's Times. The Commissioners are the largest landlords in England, and the details of the vast property they hold are most curious. Their total income is about 21,335,000. Its sources are approximately :—

Rents of lands (mainly agricultural) and

premises ... ..£240,000 Rents of house property, &c., in London and suburbs ••• 115.000 Tithe and corn-rent charges ... 233,000 Ground-rents (mainly in London) 34S,000 Mining royalties, &c. 341,000 Other receipts ... 58,000

Next year, after putting E85,000 to their reserve fund, as they did last year, the Commissioners propose to use 2150,000 for the augmentation and endowment of benefices. Up till now their augmentations and endowments are equivalent to a capital value of about £30,000,000. But though the Com- missioners have been able to do so much, we are by no means sure whether the old prejudice against the holding of land in mortniain was not a sound one. Stocks and shares and Government loans are per se much better investments for the "dead hand" than lands and manors.

The National Liberal Federation held its Council meeting at Leicester on Tuesday. We have the greatest respect, as a rule, for both Dr. Spence Watson and Mr. Birrell, but we are bound to say that their speeches, and those of several other speakers, suggest that these eminent Liberals have been lately reading the " Biglow Papers," and have taken quite seriously the advice there given as to hedging and other forms of political action. Here is a portion of Dr.

Spence Watson's speech taken from the Daily News report :— "At a time like this, with a majority of one hundred and forty against them, they did not want to dram any man

out of the party. On the contrary, they wanted to keep them all in. The critics said that a programme was intended to serve for a time, but a creed was for all eternity. In his opinion a political creed at the present day with the Unionist majority in power was a laughing stock for gods and men. Let them all bold to every item, not only in what had been called the Newcastle programme, and to the far-reaching reforms they were yet to see, and let them keep with them

every man who would go with them so far, thankful for his assistance so long as he remained by their side." Apparently the Liberal policy is like that of "the Gin'ral" :—

" He hezn't told ye wut he is, an' so there ain't no know-in' But wut he may turn out to be the best there is agoin'• Thus, at the on'y spot thet pinched the shoe directly eases, Coz every one is free to 'xpect percisely wut he pleases."

Mr. Birrell, though of course himself quite "sound on the goose," declared that "Irish Home-rule as a practical question had gone clean out of the minds of the con- stituencies." We entirely agree, and have said so repeatedly for the last three years ; but who in such a context could resist Birdofredum's immortal remark :—

" It takes a mind like Dan l's, fact, ez big ez all out-doors To find out that it looks like rain, arter it fairly pours."

On Wednesday Mr. John Morley addressed a mass meeting at Leicester. After an allusion to the fact that "Sir William Harcourt and his colleagues stick to the ship with dogged pluck in foul weather as in fair," which cannot have been very pleasant reading to Lord Rosebery, Mr. Morley made a very strong attack upon the Referendum, about which it may be remembered that Mr. Asquith lately expressed so favourable an opinion. "I am glad," he said, "to see at the end of this hall those two words written up large on a red ground, 'No Referendum.' Those two words express my sentiments." We do not wonder that Mr. Morley should combat so fiercely the most democratic of all instruments of government, for the spirit in which he approaches politics is doubtless far more that of the Jacobin than of the Democrat. Mr. Morley also put forward his favourite plan for dealing with the Lords. Peers, if they choose, are to be allowed to divest themselves of their peerages and seek election in the Commons. They are not, however, to have "a second shot," —i.e., be allowed if they fail to go back to the Lords. They are also apparently to give up "his lordship." But how can' a man give up being called "my lord" if his friends con..• tinue to use the title ? When, too, a man has a courtesy title,.

is he to give it up if, when he succeeds, he elects to stand, for the Commons ? Very judicious, if not very Radical or'; very inspiriting, was what Mr. Morley had to say generally' about the House of Lords. There was, he said, a full and an" unanswerable historic case against the House of Lords ; bUe the people of this country are not very promptly moved, el%err by the fullest and most unanswerable historic case. " If the House of Lords resists anything upon which the heart of the country is set, of course they will be driven like chaff before the wind; but I am not sure that they will give you that chance."

Bank Rate, 3 per cent.

New Consols (2) were on Friday, 1111.