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General Kuroki himself, filled all mouths. Perhaps by the time that these lines appear in print the truth may have been made manifest. One hears many versions of it; but it is no business of mine to purvey the gossip of the clubs. For the present I am content to note the fact that as last month drew to a close the hopes both of Army reformers and of economists seemed to sink to the lowest point at which they had stood since Mr. Brodrick retired from his throne of thorns in Pall Mall.
Parliament has been engaged during the month with the Licensing Bill, and other measures for the most part of secondary importance. On the Licensing Bill, Ministers have so far held their own, and have successfully resisted even the attempt, strongly supported on their own side of the House, to induce them to impose a time limit on their measure for conferring a practical endowment on the publicans. But their success in the House of Commons has not followed them into the country, where public opinion is steadily growing more hostile to the Bill. The bishops and clergymen of the Church of England have come forward to protest against it, and popular demonstrations for the purpose of denouncing it have been held in many of the large towns throughout England. The demonstrations may not in themselves be immediately operative; but they undoubtedly swell the tide of resentment against the Governinent which is growing so steadily in all quarters. More important, perhaps, than any individual measure dealt with during the month is the movement within the House of Commons which has been caused by the systematic attempt of certain members to deprive the House of its liberty of action, in the interests of particular parties. Debate, on a motion for the adjournment of the House, is not, under the rules, permitted on any question with respect to which a notice of motion is standing on the paper. In itself there are doubtless good reasons for this rule, but it is deliberately abused by members who put down what can only be called sham notices of motion for the purpose of preventing any real debate upon the questions with which their notices deal. It seems intolerable that the freedom of Parliament should be curtailed in this matter by the hacks of parties or the advertisers of their own names. The Prime Minister has undertaken, at the request of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, to consider how this scandal may be dealt with. Public respect for the House of Commons will hardly be increased if it should prove to be powerless to protect itself from this gross infringement of its rights.
The ‘Dundonald incident,' as it has been called, is one of the least pleasant features of the history of the month. The Earl of Dundonald, a soldier of brilliant reputation, was appointed, after the South African War, General in command of the Canadian Militia. Recently, in that capacity, he nominated certain persons for commissions in one of the regiments of militia. One at least of these
nominations was rejected by Mr. Fisher, Minister of Agriculture, to whom the matter was referred by the Minister to whose department questions connected with the national defence belong. Lord Dun. donald thought he had reason to believe that Mr. Fisher acted from motives connected with party politics, and he made a speech on the subject at a public gathering, in which he protested strongly against the intrusion of politics into matters of military discipline. There is no doubt that he committed an indiscretion in taking this action, and that he showed his failure to appreciate the constitutional laws by which he, in common with other persons, must be content to be governed. But his indiscretion was not treated generously or even leniently by the Dominion Government, whilst Sir Wilfrid Laurier's reference to this distinguished British soldier as a 'foreigner'-an indiscretion, it is true, immediately repented of-leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. The incident ought to be a lesson to the politicians who, ignoring the advice of the wise men of the past, are anxious to anticipate the work of time in cementing a closer relationship between the Mother Country and the Colonies. Of other incidents of the month, two which must be noticed in this chronicle are the assassination of General Bobrikoff, the Governor-General of Finland, by an official of the Finnish Administration who afterwards committed suicide, and the terrible fire on a pleasure-boat in East River, New York, by which some 900 lives, chiefly those of children, were lost. So far as the tragedy at Helsingfors is concerned, public opinion in this country seems to be divided between our righteous abhorrence of assassination as a weapon in political warfare, and our indignation at the harsh and arbitrary way in which the Government at St. Petersburg has for years past been engaged in the attempt to substitute autocratic rule for the once free constitution of Finland.
The war between Russia and Japan has undergone a great development during the month, and has now attained proportions which irresistibly recall the mighty conflict of 1870. With one exception, all the events of the month have been unfavourable to the arms of Russia. This exception is the successful raid of the Vladivostok fleet into Japanese waters, where the swift Russian cruisers were able to inflict serious damage upon a fleet of the enemy's transports. The loss of life was great, and the interruption to the Japanese operations has been considerable. The Russian vessels were exceptionally fortunate in being able to evade the Japanese squadron, and to return to Vladivostok in safety. But though the Russians have been naturally cheered by this, their first successful operation during the war, the record of the month has been, in all other respects, uniformly adverse to them. The investment of Port Arthur was completed on the 4th of June, and the Japanese armies began at once to move northwards in the direction of Mukden. A desperate attempt was made by General Kuropatkin, at the urgent instigation of the authorities in
Vol. LVI-No. 329
St. Pete rsburg, to send a relieving force to Port Arthur. The result has been at least one pitched battle, and a series of sanguinary engagements. The pitched battle resulted in the complete defeat of the Russians, with a loss that has been estimated at as high a figure as 10,000, and that probably does not fall far short of that number. Since then there have been rumours of another engagement scarcely less disastrous to the armies of the Czar, and the position of the corps which made the abortive attempt to relieve Port Arthur is extremely precarious. Not merely in scientific strategy, but in power of endurance on the field of battle, the Japanese continue to manifest their superiority to their foe, whose unquestionable valour seems of little avail against the desperate courage and better generalship of the enemy he has to face. General Kuropatkin is apparently being reinforced as rapidly as possible, but the Russian position in Manchuria is not more hopeful than it was, and we seem to be on the eve of grave, possibly even of decisive, events.
‘As far as possible all actions of the Chinese Government are regu. lated by precedents reaching back thousands of years, and a board of the highest officials have to watch that all edicts and proclamations conform in style, spirit, and substance with the ancient dynastic regulations and Confucian precepts.' Only the other day I read this sentence in an able article about the Yellow Peril, published last month in this Review. In common with most of my brother publicists my mind, such as it is, has been of late so much occupied with the fiscal controversy that whatever I am reading I find myself reverting to Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League. My first impression on reading this passage was that by some printer's error the words China and Confucius had been substituted for England and Cobden. A second perusal dispelled this illusion ; but, as I read on, I learnt that the writer of the article in question attributed the decay of the Celestial Empire to the persistency with which the Chinese direct their policy, and regulate their action, in accordance, not with the conditions of the present day, but with theories laid down and promulgated by teachers in the bygone past. A subsequent study of the speeches delivered by the pundits of Liberalism on the occasion of the centenary of Cobden's birth has caused me to feel deep anxiety about the extent to which the Liberal party are adopting similar principles of government to those which commend themselves to the collective wisdom of China. Like causes produce like results; and if, as I am daily assured, the control of the British Empire is about to pass into the hands of a party whose one article of faith is the infallibility of Cobden, I can only come to the conclusion that sooner or later Great Britain must incur the fate which has befallen the nation whose faith is pinned to the omniscience of Confucius. The French have a proverb that * so long as you live, you have got to live with the living, not with the dead,' and the truth conveyed in this proverb is violated by any country which refuses to deal with the present and adheres to the past. In order to show how far the Cobdeniat and the Confucian evangels resemble each other it may be well to quote a few flowers of rhetoric culled from the adulatory speeches of the leaders of the Liberal party during last month's commemoration of the centenary of Cobden's birth.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman gave the note of the Cobden demonstration by calling on his audience at the Alexandra Palace 'to declare their adherence to the doctrines which Cobden taught and their determination that the power of these doctrines should not, God helping them, be impaired.' In respect of Cobden Sir Henry seems to be what it is the fashion of the Liberals of to-day to call a 'whole hogger.' He not only pins his salvation to the faith of Free Trade as expounded by the some time member for Stockport, but he swallows without flinching the peace dogmas of which his guide, philosopher, and friend was the exponent. He informs us that • Cobden's belief in Free Trade was not a mere isolated doctrine standing forlornly by itself ; it was part, and an essential part, of his general outlook on the world. He saw the nations separated by their selfishness and their suspicions; he saw that militarism and protection went hand in hand.'
Even Sir Henry's enthusiasm could not quite blind him to the fact that, though England under Cobden's advice had adopted Free Trade for the last sixty years, militarism has increased instead of declining. In order to meet this obvious objection he informs his listeners that 'they were to assert, not with bated breath, but in confident tones and in accents of triumph, that Cobden's dream was no illusion, and that the strength of the country depended not upon war equipment, not upon fleets and armies, but upon peace equipment.' In plain language, the policy, in virtue of which the eulogist of Cobden's foresight (the Minister of War under the last Liberal administration and the nominal leader of the Liberal party) proposes to secure to England the blessing of peace, is to reduce our armaments, to leave our shores and harbours unprotected, on the strength of his own conviction that Cobden was no dreamer of dreams, but was right in his theories, however facts may have gone against their realisation. Sir Henry's pompous eulogies were supported by a claptrap speech of Mr. Winston Churchill, who ignored Cobden, except as far as he dwelt upon the importance to Free Trade of his own conversion to Cobdenian orthodoxy, and wound up with a stirring peroration, in which he described the Unionists, whom he had just deserted,
a capitalist party, the mere washpot of plutocracy, the engine of the tariff and the trust, a hard confederation of interest and monopoly banded together to corrupt and to plunder the Commonwealth.'
At Birmingham Mr. Morley had the good sense to admit that the sudden desire exhibited by the Liberals to resuscitate the somewhat faded memory of Cobden was 'not a purely ceremonial tribute to a great public servant.' He had the good taste also to avoid any personal attack on the member for West Birmingham. With a total disregard, however, of historical proportion he poured forth his gall upon