November 11, 1888
OLD WORLD NEWS BY CABLE
"Salisbury's Sneers and Coming Irish Debates"
by commercial cable from our own correspondent.
London, Nov. 10.-- It is not to be wondered at that an uneasy feeling should exist here among people generally as to the future relations of England and the United States. Lord Salisbury in his speech at the Lord Mayor's Guild Hall banquet last evening touched upon the subject only to insult the present Administration and suggest that it had been defeated because of its summary dismissal of Lord Sackville; but the popular mind is impressed with the notion that Mr. Blaine wants to quarrel with England, and recognizes that Canadian affairs afford only too many and convenient pretexts for such a quarrel. Already one is conscious of a change in the familiar, every-day attitude of Englishmen towards Americans. It is very slight of course, but still it is a change. I dare say this foreboding, based as it is on nothing more substancial than Mr. Blaine's ante-election attitude, is not of much importance; but it is a rather melancholy consequence that for the first time in a long, long while an English Prime Minister, in a set speech, sneers at the American Republic and that no London paper but the Gladstonian Daily News resents his words.
Lord Salisbury's references to the more immediate foreign outlook were full of professions of hope and revelations of despair. The five great Continental powers now have 12,000,000 men under arms, not to mention the naval armaments, almost double in size the whole sea fighting force of the world twenty years ago. In the Parliaments of three of these powers there are now pending measures for the material increase of even this vast war host. No doubt it is the duty of a statesman to profess confidence that this means nothing but peace; but it is nobody-else's duty to pretend to share this politely-expressed assurance. It has long been a commonplace of conviction that Russia would fight as soon as she felt herself in a fit condition. Hence there must be a recurrence of the war scare every time there is any movement inside the Russian Empire which seems to betoken that this state of readiness is near at hand. Last Autumn and Winter the steady movement of Russian troops westward toward the Posen, Galician, and Roumanian frontiers created a widespread belief that in the Spring there would be a fight, but Spring came and Summer passed and the Colossus of the North made no hostile sign. We are approaching now the period when the Bourses will again sink under a feeling that this time Russia does mean mischief. The Berlin Vossische Zeitung, the chief Liberal paper of the town, last evening had a long alarmist article on the fact that Russia was endeavoring to negotiate a new loan of 500,000,000 rubles, and warning German financiers against lending assistance to secure it. On the other hand, it is reported to-day that Winter has suddenly and prematurely set in on the Neva and at St. Petersburg. Being without anything like her full supply of English coal, prices are already leaping up, which means a rapid fall in value of the ruble and sharply-accentuated internal distress. From this time out the burden of European gossip is likely to consist of rumors about Russian loans, Russian troops, and very possibly Russian Nihilistic uprisings.
Nor should it be forgotten that within the past fortnight the situation in Servia has become very acute. Not much actual news comes to us from this remote kingdom, but I know that in Russian circles here the word has been passed around that decisive events there are impending and threaten to take a shape which will bring Russia and Austria face to face with conflicting projects of settlement.
The Tory Government's compact with Germany jointly to occupy the East African coast grows in unpopularity with discussion. Lord Salisbury's declaration that the English liability is limited to naval action reassures nobody, for Berlin is seething with plans for raising a volunteer infantry force to co-operate with the combined fleets, and a favorite scheme is to enlist the Sikhs and Maharattas for this purpose. It is, indeed, stated that the agent of the German East African Company has already started for Bombay to begin this work. Questions on this point will be asked in Parliament next week, and the matter bids fair to assume large political importance.
So, too, does the subject of the new Whitechapel murders. On the occasion of the last two previous butcheries by this strange assassin on the closing day of September, I pointed out the probability that this would give the Ministry serious trouble in Parliament. The latest atrocity has made this a certainty. On Monday Davis, one of the South London Tory members, will raise the question on a motion to adjourn the House, and a resolution attacking both Matthews and Waren will be moved. There will be a big debate during the evening and the division is regarded by some members of the Goverment with apprehension. Urgent telegraphic whips have been sent to the Irish members who are still in Ireland, begging them to come over in time for this division, the effect of which may be to upset the Ministry or at least to sorely damage it. London Tory members will vote almost solidly against Matthews, for their constituents are all up in arms against the existing police inefficiency. This is very characteristic of London, which reads of Clanricarde's turning out into the wintry blasts thousands of helpless tenants without concern, but it is willing to wreck a Ministry because some street-walker in the slums has been murdered by a mysterious lunatic.
Close upon the heels of this will come the inevitable Irish debates. The first of these is likely to be raised over the appointment of Sir Henry Blake to the Governorship of Queensland, an appointment which elicited cabled expressions of astonishment and indignation from the leaders of both political parties in that colony. Blake, who is one of the numerous landlord family of that name in Connaught, was seven years ago a poor sub-inspector in the Irish constabulary, but a handsome young fellow, who ran away with and married the elder daughter of Bernal Osborne. Her younger sister had just before wedded the Duke of St. Albans, and by the influence of this ducal connection Blake was made one of the five distict magistrates on whom the working of the coercion act of 1882 devolved. Clifford Lloyd was another of these, and, like Lloyd, Blake made himself so fiercely hated by the people that he had to be removed form Ireland. As Lloyd was not backed by the Duke he only got an inferior billet in Mauritius; but Blake leaped full-fledged into the dignity of Governor of the Bahamas. When the Duke of St. Albans ratted from Gladstone as a Liberal Unionist a part of the price he secured from the Tories was Blake's advancement to the Governorship of Newfoundland, and now the effort is made further to promote him to Queensland. Even the Ministerial Standard to-day attacks the Colonial Office for its stupidity in thus, against numerous warnings, provoking a quarrel with the colony, and this may suffice to secure the withdrawal of an appointment that is resented by every Irishman in Australasia. If it does not, then Mr. Gladstone will raise a big debate in the House. The other set of Irish debates will come up on Arthur O'Connor's statement of the grave failure of the potato crop in Donegal and other parts of the west coast, and on William O'Brien's challenge of the vote for Mr. Balfour's salary. But, as I hinted last night, in all probability the whole question will be precipitated upon Parliament even sooner by developments in the Parnell Commission inquiry. In mere point of financial outlay this undertaking of the London Times is as unprecedented in the history of journalism as is its assumption of the task of convicting a whole nation in court. On Thursday of this week, for example, it had present in London 290 witnesses from Ireland, of whom 80 were stopping in good style at the Inns of Court Hotel alone and the rest were distributed among the smaller hotels and lodging houses. These witnesses are divided into four classes. The first, who are special people, get L5 per day and liberal expenses; the second are of the professional class of landlords and widows of landlords, and get L3 and expenses; the third is the middle class of shopkeepers, &c., who get L2 and expenses, and the fourth, the peasantry, L1 and expenses. By a computation made for me by one of the lawyers the cost of witnesses alone would be nearly $4,000 per day. As to the counsel, the Attorney-General and Sir Henry James, besides their original fees of $25,000 and $20,000 respectively, get refreshers of $400 every day of the session, and there is a whole swarm of minor counsel who swallow up as much more. All this is independent of the immense outlay in originally getting up the case in Ireland, Paris, and America. Compared with this the expense of finding Livingstone or exploring the Congo was a mere matter of small change.