9 FEBRUARY 1867, Page 5


PERHAPS the most noteworthy point in the Queen's Speech—a document, by the way, as ungrammatical as if it had been written by a Whig Cabinet—is the unusual space devoted to foreign affairs. The paragraphs on that subject drew little attention within the House, where everybody was listening for the word "Reform," and will create no excitement outside, but they had a significance of their own which the Continent will appreciate. The Queen, it will be seen, acknowledges that the new overtures for settling the Alabama dispute commenced on this side, a clear indication that Her Majesty's Government is anxious to establish an entente .cordiale with the United States. "Cordial friendship" is a phrase which, among diplomatists, is almost equivalent to alliance. Moreover, though the public has only caught one, there are two paragraphs devoted to this end, two " con- oessions " made to the Government of the Union. The audience smiled a little when the war between Spain and Chili was made so prominent in the Speech, but the sentence, "if either, by agreement between the parties themselves, or by the mediation of any other friendly power, peace shall be .restored, the object which I have in view will be equally obtained," contains, we conceive, an announcement that the Government does not disapprove the somewhat authoritative mediation of the United States. The paragraphs about Turkey also will be read with a somewhat keen interest in Greece. It appears to be understood on the Continent that England has retreated almost formally from her position as pro- tector of Turkey, and to be expected that she would pur- sue a policy strictly of non-intervention. Lord Stanley, however, it seems clear, has intervened on behalf of the Cretans. The feeling of the Russian Government towards their cause has been displayed in the most marked manner, and now we learn that the "joint efforts of England, France, and Russia have been directed to bringing about improved relations between the Porte and its Christian subjects not inconsistent with the sovereign rights of the Sultan," and that the Government considers the creation of an hereditary Hospodorate in Roumania a "happy" termination of diffi- oulties. If that solution, which is virtual independence, is so happy a one in Roumania, why not in Crete, or any other province of the Turkish Empire in which Christians out- number Mussulmans, and are capable of organization? That speech is an ominous one for the Sultan, if only he could interpret it, for it shows that the principles of Lord Palmer- ston, the theories which compelled us to support the sway of a brutal Asiatic horde over Christian races lest somebody should at some time threaten India, have expired with his .re'ginie. Indeed, we are not quite certain they have not been reversed, that England has not accepted the "new Eastern policy" which seeks to change European Turkey in the first instance into a group of semi-independent hereditary Pashalies, governed by cadets of the great European family. 'The transition from foreign States to the Colonies is of course easy, and the single announcement made by the Colonial Office is of international importance. The Government has resolved to unite the Canadas, Nova Scotia, and New Bruns- -wick in one Federation, and to do it by exerting that reserved and supreme sovereignty which belongs to the Imperial Par- liament. The announcement is the more important, because this is the first instance in which the power to override a con- stitution granted to a British colony has been formally claimed. The internal programme for the session is a large, and would be a satisfactory one, were only the Reform Bill out of the way and more trustworthy men in power. General Peel is not the man whom the country would select to build up an Army of Reserve, nor can an effective Army be constructed while the House of Commons does not represent those who must supply its rank and file. It is hard to believe, moreover, that an un- reformed Parliament can improve the law for the benefit both of masters and men, or that Tories will construct a machine which shall work at once more satisfactorily and more quietly than the Trades' Unions. If they do, they will have effected an improvement very much greater than Reform, nothing less than a reconciliation between Labour and Capital. Their suc- cess depends, however, almost entirely on the spirit in which they approach the task, and that spirit must not be the one displayed by the Peer who moved the Address. He took it for granted at once that the object of Government in author- izing a Commission of Inquiry was to break up the Unions, —a remark which was certainly not calculated to soothe the susceptibilities of those immediately concerned. Unless the Government repudiates this intention with some promp- titude, its Commission will not obtain much voluntary evidence. The workmen are already fidgeting under the idea that a House in which they are not represented is about to compel them, under penalties, to betray the secrets of their Order. They feel as editors would if compelled to give up their cor- respondents—dishonoured as well as oppressed. The mercan- tile marine may be improved by Sir John Pakington as well as the Duke of Somerset, but it is a little remarkable that the Navy, which he found in so unsatisfactory a state—at least, so he said—should have been left altogether out of the Speech. Is the First Lord more content, or is his discontent too heavy for the endurance of the Exchequer Sir Stafford North- cote will, we dare say, haul the shareholders in insolvent rail- ways out of their scrape as well as Mr. Milner Gibson could have done, or, indeed, better, Mr. Gibson's grand notion being to let things alone' but the metropolis need not expect much improvement from Mr. Hardy in the management of its poor. The "redistribution of some of the charges for relief in London" suggests a very half-hearted Bill, and anything rather than an effective equalization of rates. Lord Chelmsford, with the Committee's report to help him and the Scotch system to study, may reform the laws of Bankruptcy, but it is not from Tories that we can hope for "a Bill which, without interfering with the rights of property, will offer direct encouragement to the occupiers of land to improve their holdings, and provide a simple method of obtaining compensation for permanent improvements." Doubtless Lord Derby is himself a good Irish landlord. Doubtless, also, he would be willing, were it only possible, to regain the support in Ireland which his party has forfeited by its steady defence of Orangemen ; but when it comes to the push, the resistance of Irish landlords, backed by the instincts of a majority of English squires, will, we fear, be too strong for a Minister who only reigns because his party is the largest of three. He will not venture to alienate the Orangemen, who regard tenant right as a priestly device, or to defy the landlords, who regard it with justice as the death-warrant of their political power. It is through the owners of land that Toryism is strong, and it is not by the owners of land that the power of eviction at will will be seriously impaired. As well expect Bishops to declare against episcopal power.

Good or bad, however, whether trusted to strong or to weak expounders, not half of these measures will ever reach their second reading. The Cabinet sees with some clearness what the country wants, and is ready to give it some taste of each dish for which it longs. This plan, under ordinary circum- stances, might succeed, the British public having but slender belief in its own digestive powers, but unfortunately at this moment it wants a good deal of one joint, and is disposed to pronounce all entrees, however palatable, or however artisti- cally arranged, merely " kickshaws. It wants Reform before a Militia, Reform before a tenant right, Reform before equaliza- tion of rates, wants a tonic, in fact, before it will consent to sit down to dinner at all. The cook has been very clever, if not in preparing the dishes, at least in drawing the menu, but the diner wants appetite first, and this, though he keeps the bitters, he is indisposed to give. Seriously, all these nice pro- mises only serve to make Reform more essential, because, until. it has come, their fulfilment must be postponed.