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ITHE YEAR 1898.I

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THE YEAR 1898. IN wishing all our readers a happy, pros- perous, and good New Year, we feel that we cannot do better than review shortly the principal events of the year 1898 the year that has just expired. A I resume of this kind,âwhich, considerations of space and other conditions will not allow of its being exhaustive-may to some extent assist us in arriving ac a clear and definite ideas of the world's progress, or otherwise I socially, politically, and intellectually. We propose, therefore, to refer to the home and foreign politics of the year, and to Welsh public matters generally. The year found a Conservative ministry I in power, with one of the largest majorities of modern times. It was not a ministry in its infancy, but a well-developed, matured ministry in the third year of its age Being a Conservative ministry, no one could hope from it any real measures of reform. The present Government has distinguished itself by class legislation of the worst possible kind, although during 1898, its efforts in this direction have not been quite so marked as in the two previous years. The great measure of the session, undoubtedly, was the Irish Local Government Act. Pledged to oppose Home Rule, in whatever guise it might appear, they in spite of the spirit of their pledges, brought in a measure giving the Irish people a limited amount of Home Rule. That the Irish Parliamentary Party looked upon the measure in this light, was proved by the fact that both Parnellites and Nationalists gave it support. Bat the Radicals did not look upon certain clauses of the bill with suc favour. One of its provisions contained a monstrous bribe to the Irish landlords, in order that their op- position to the bill should be appeased. In Ireland, half the poor rate was paid by the tenant, and half by the landlord. The now bill provided that the tenant's half 11 should be paid as before, but that the land- lord's moiety should be borne by tha Im- perial Exchequer, that is, that the taxpay- ers of this country should pay what was before paid by the Irish landlords. It is not surprising that the Radical members opposed this clause tooth and nail, but, of course, their opposition availed nothing. The Nationalists, on the other hand, sup- ported the clause, as their country was re- ceiving by it hundreds of thousands of pounds. There was an addional reason why the Irishmen agreed to this iniquitous proposition. Another clause of the bill provided that the half-county rate, usually paid by the tenant should be paid from the Imperial Exchequer. This was a sop that the Nationalists could not resist. The Go- verment carried their bill, but its passage engendered a sourness between a section of the Liberal members and the Irish Nationa- lists that has not yet completely worn off. The measure came into operation on Mon- day last, and we shall watch with interest how the Irish will take advantage of this instalment of Home Rule. Another measure which gave rise to an agitation in the county of which we have not yet seen its end, was the Beneiices Bill. The bill itself was not of so much importance except to the Church of England authori- ties but during the debate, Mr. Samuel Smith, the well known member of Parlia- ment for tbe County of Flint, raised the question of Ritualistic practices, so pre- valent in many of the churches of the country. His speech, good as it undobtedly was, would not have created such a commo- tion bad not the ball been taken up by Sir W. Harcourt. His interposition raised the question into pre-eminence, and the pre- sent crusade against ritualistic practices can fairly be attributed, in no small degree, to the move then made. One other measure of all those passed during the year calls for comment, and that is the Vaccination Act. This measure was brought forward, undoubtedly, in conse- quence of the efforts of the anti-vaccina- tors; but its provisions are ludicrous in the extreme. To the minds of many, whether believers in vaccination or not, the Govern- ment's remedy is worse than the disease. So far as the Act provides for a plentiful supply of pure sterilised lymph, no doubt, it may do some good, but its quasi-volun- tary character is ridiculous. Petitions I against it have already been adopted in scores of Board of Guardians and other in- terested bodies, and, no doabt, the clamour will soon be so great that the, Act must speedily be amended. A subject of im- portance discussed in the House of Com- mons, was the financial relations between Ireland and the rest of the country. It is contended, and a Royal Commission has so affirmed it. that Ireland is most unfairly taxed, but a resolution to this effect, pro- proposed by Mr. J. Redmond, was defeated by 286 votes to 144. One of the chief political events of the season has occurred since the prorogation ot Parliament. We allude to the resig- nation of Sir William Harcourt from the leadership of the Liberal party. This was made known on the 14th of last month, in a letter addressed to Mr. John Morley. The matter was alluded to in a few days after- wards, at a meeting of the Liberal Federa- tion in Birmingham, but, wisely, no dis- cussion of the subject was allowed. It remains to be seen what the Liberal members of the House of Commons will do when they meet a few weeks hence. As leaders of the party in tbe Commons, two names are prominently put forward, viz., Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, and Mr. Asquith. Mr. Morley is also mentioned, but as he will, no doubt, be unable to attend regularly at the House, being engaged on a biography of Mr. Gladstone, it is generally believed that he is just now scarcely as eligible as he otherwise would be. Turning to foreign matters, tbe year 1898 has been a remarkable one. It has seen crisis after crisis. On several occasions war has been imminent, and in one case war actually broke out. Early in the year the Chinese question engendered strained rela- tions between this country and Russia. Russia, undoubtedly, has been straining every nerve to obtain predominating in fiuance in China. Germany having acquired Kiao-Chan, and Russia having already bad Port Arthur, compelled China to cede it Ta-Lien-Wari. Lord Salisbury's reply to this was an offer to the Chinese government of a loan of twelve million pounds at four per cent., conditionally upon Ta-Lien- Wan being made a treaty port. But the Russians were too much for Lord Salis- bury, and he ultimately withdrew certain war vessels that were stationed at Port Arthur The Chinese alsoâacting under Russian influenceârefused the loan. Russia gave assurances that Port Arthur should remain a treaty port, and a free outlet to the Trans Siberian Railway. But Rus- sian promises are not made to be kept. As soon as Russia got possession of Port Arthur, they commenced to fortify it, ani now passports are required for admission into the place. Lord Salisbury thought that his best plan was to acquire a similar port, and be obtained a lease of Wei-hai- wei. Since then, Russia and this country have been engaged in a game of diplo- macy over the partition of China, and it is difficult to understand our present posi- tion; but it is positively certain that we have come off very much second best. Meanwhile, there are internal troubles. The young Emperor has been deposed, be- cause, apparently, he was too favorable to European reforms, and the Empress Dowager has taken the reins of Govern- ment. There are other dangers to this country, besides those from Russia, over the Chinese question. France is pushing forward its claim to the Shanghai ter; itory, and this, we fear, is a blow at British in- terests. It was the Fashoda question, however, that very nearly led this country into a great war. Following a policy inaugura- ted some years ago by the British and the Egyptian Governments, a campaign was suc- cessfully launched against the Rbalifa and his followers, and the expedition culmina- ted in the battle of Omdurman, -and the capture of Khartoum. Soudan was thus re- united to Egypt, and the forces of the rebel were utterly overthrown. But whilst the country was rejoicing over the great victory, and over its probable effects, news arrived that there was a small force of white men at Fashoda. The Sirdar sent an expedi tion up the Nile to Fashoda, and there found Major Marchand, a French explorer, who was in occupation of the govern- ment buildings. The French flag was floating over the citadel. The Sirdar pro- tested against this intrusion, but the Frenchman refused to depart from the place, or to lower the French nag. A most serious situation was thus created. Great Britain and France were face to face, and it became necessary for one of them to give way, or war was inevitable, Lord Salis- bury, for once, was firm, and he was backed up by the leaders of the Opposition and by, practically, the whole country. Luckily for him he could fall back upon a declaration made by Sir Edward Grey, when under- secretary at the Foreign Office in the late Liberal government. Sir Edward Grey had said that the despatch of a French expedition into any part of the Nile, would be regarded as an unfriendly act. Backed up by this, Lord Salisbury absolutely de- clined to discuss the right, or the alleged right of France to be at Fashoda, and naval preparations on a great scale were com- menced. The Government let it be known that it was absolutely certain that war would break out unless Marchand and his followers were recalled. The French, when thus cornered, gave way, and at the Guild hall banquet on the 5th of November, Lord Salisbury was able to announce that Marchand had been recalled from Fashoda, and that the imminent crisis was over. But the difficulty with France over our Egyptian policy, is not yet over, and the future is not by any means clear. One of the principal events of the year, alJd one, no doubt, that will have an indi- rect bearing on Great Britain, was the Hispano-American war. For many years Cuba had been in a state of revolt against Spain. The measures taken by the Span- iards to attempt the suppression of the rising were terribly cruel, but they utterly failed. The state of the island was a scandal, and the perpetual discord prevail- ing in it inflicted a serious injury on American interests. There. was a section of the Americans who were and had 'been for some time 'spoiling for a, fight,' and no doubt had events run their drdinary course, President McKinley would have been forced to interfere. But the blowing up of the American cruiser Maine in Havana harbour, fanned the agitation for war beyond controllable bounds. The Spanish authorities earnestly contended that the occurrence was an accident, but there were many who thought it the work of enemies. A commission of inquiry was instituted, and when its report was pub- lished, it was found that its conclusions pointed to the allegation that the ship had been blown up by a submarine mine, but the report did not attempt to fix the responsi- bility. In quick succession after this, events pointed to tha impossibility of avoiding a declaration of war, and such declaration, or what was equivalent to it, was published on the 17th of April. Into the history of the war we need not enter. It lasted three months, and its results have been that practically the whole of the Spanish possessions in the new world have been lost to her. The treaty of peace was, however, only finally signed on the 10th of last month. The attitude of this country towards our brethren in America was most sympathetic, and there is no doubt but that a firmer union of hearts' has been the result be- tween Great Britain and the United States. The splendid isolation' of this country is now a thing of the past, and it is stated that we can count upon the United States, and even upon Germany, should occasion unfortunately arise, when their assistance would be of value. We have only space to refer briefly to one other notable affair. For the whole of the twelve months H'ciffaire Dreyfus' has agitated the public mind of France, and, it is stated, other nations. The successful attempt to reopen the Dreyfus case, was the work of M. Zola, the famous novelist. Although Zola himself has been prosecuted and convicted, the case for which he so fearlessly laboured is now on the eve of being re-considered, and in the opinion of many persons qualified to judge, it is most probable that Dreyfus will be found inno- cent, and that he has been the victim of a cruel conspiracy on the part of the military authorities. Turning to our own little Principality of Wales, the year has been a quiet one, but not devoid of interesting events. In Par liament, the Welsh members have been diligent and faithful to their trust. Mr. Herbert Lewis brought forward the ques- tion of Home Rule for Wales-in other words, the right of Wales to separate legis lative treatmentâas an amendment to the address, and it is a significant fact that while a similar amendment on behalf of Ireland was defeated by 168 votes, the Welsh amendment was only defeated by 39. An attempt was made to pass a Welsh Land Bill, its sponsors being Messrs. Herbert Lewis, Vaughan Davies, Lloyd-George, Brynmor Jones, Herbert Roberts, and Lloyd Morgan. Mr. Bryn Roberts, Mr. Lloyd-George, and others, took a prominent part in the discussion on the Benefices Bill Outside Parliament, we must not forget the inauguration of the Welsh National Council. All the Welsh members are not equally enthusiastic over this new institu- tion, and three at least of the North Wales members have not taken any part in its deliberations, viz., Messrs. Bryn Roberts, Ellis Jones-Griffith, and Humphreys Owen. Only one parliamentary election was fought in Wales during the year, viz., Pembroke- shire, and the result was a Liberal victory, Mr. Wynford Phillips' majority being 1,670. The triennial County Council elec- tions were held in March, and in most instances, the Liberals in North Wales more than held their own. Denbighshire sent about the Tory majority in a very un ceremonious manner. The cause of education is steadily pro. gressing in the Principality. The year 1898 saw several new Intermediate or County Schools started, and in nearly every instance those which started two or three years ago, are now pronounced and decided successes. The death rate of public men in Wales has been exceptionally heavy during the year. Mr. Gladstone, although not a Welshman, resided in the Principality, and his death was as genuinely mourned in Wales as in any part of the world. Mr. Gee-passed away from his work to his reward in September. Others connected with Wales by ties of blood or residence, who have died during the year were Sir E. Burne Jones, the artist, Proffessor Michael D. Jones, Bala; Rev. D. S. Davies, editor of the Celt; Mr. T. P. Lewis, ex- M P. for Anglesea; Mr. Thomas Owen, M.P. for Launces'on Mr. Edward Davies, Llandinam; the Marquis of Anglesea; Lady Harlech, Lady Cunliffe, Mrs. De- vereux Price, Lady Theodore Martin, Major-General Hughes, Anglesea; the Rev. John Rees, the oldest Welsh Wesleyan minister, the Rev. Thomas Hughes, Mach- ynlleth, the oldest Calvinistic Methodist minister; the Rev. W. R. Jones (Goleu- fryn); Principal Gent, Miss A. J. Davies (of the Liverpool School Board); Alder- man E. T. Jones, Denbigh; Mr. Llewelyn Adams, Clerk of the Peace for the County of Denbigh, and many others.

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