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LONDON LETTER. I -I

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LONDON LETTER. ) [SPECIALLY WIRED.] [BT OUR GALLERY CORRESPONDENT.] LONDON, Thursday Night. New Year's Day has long ceased to be a date associated with the anxieties of years ago so far as the complications of European politics are concerned. President Grevy, in receiving the Foreign Ambassadors to- day at the Elysee, was all smiles and com- pliment, and was happy to bear testimony to the friendship uniting France with all other nations. The generation is passing a).y which retains a remembrance of New Year's Day under the Empire, when on.one memorable occasion, six and twenty years ago, the Emperor Napoleon spoke a few words to Baron Hubner, the Austrian Auibaasador, which in a few hours sent down the value of stocks in the European markets £ 100,000,000 sterling. Then followed the formation of the volunteer army of England in the fear that the fate of Austria in being attacked might be ours, and I suppose there are few who recollect that nearly half a generation has now elapsed since the sovereign who was then described as the arbitrator of Europe was laid to his rest in the church of a Kentish village, having died as an exile in the land which had called upon its citizens to arm against the military forces which, as the master of legions, he had at his com- mand. Much thin satire has been expended to- day over the announcement that the Queen's consent to the betrothal of Prince Beatrice was given on condition that her Royal Hiorhness should continue to reside with her Ma jesty. The idea of a bridegroom taking up his quarters with a mother-in-law has been subjected to some obvious ridicule. But looking at the constant companionship between the Queen and her youngest child, the stipulation which her Ma- jesty has made does not appear so unreasonable after all. Princess Louise ieft home to be married nearly 14 years ago, in March, 1871. Princess Beatrice was then 14 years of age, but such has been the constant companionship between mother and daughter, that although the latter has long entered the state of womanhood, the Queen, in the letter which she wrote to her people expressing the thanks for the sympa- thy shown to her when an attempt was made upon her life by Maclean, spoke of Princess Beatrice as her beloved child. The Princess was less than five years old when her father died, and since then seven of the Queen's children have been married and two have followed the Prince Consort to the tomb. In all these changes Princess Beatrice has been the daily solace of her mother, and as there is no necessity for the Royal couple to live out of England, her Majesty not unnaturally wishes that the last of her children to be married shall still be with her. It is satisfactory to know that Mr Forster, who had an operation performed upon his foot a few days ago, is making good progress towards recovery. Some years ago, when obtruction in the House of Commons had not reached its present stage of perfection, Mr Forster declared that although an old man, hu was quite prepared to sit up all night in order to prevent the success- ful development of the new system. That was in 1877, but even now Mr Forster can scarcely be described as an old man. We should. not so call Sir Stafford Northcote, who was born in the same year which witnessed the birth of Mr Forster, 1818. Sir Stafford Northcote is indeed as well preserved a man as is to be seen on either of the front benches. The soft breezes which blow over the county of Devon thoroughly agree with him. Whatever course Mr Gladstone may adopt after the general electionâwhether he will remain to lead the Liberal party, or retire to spend the rest of his days in well earned leisureâ one thing is definitely settled. He wfll not undertake the task of furthering the cause which the Liberation Society have at heart, and to which they intend to devote their energies in the :0> coming year, and in the new Parliament. He has, in a private letter to one of the leaders of the movement, plainly intimated this de- cision. It would, indeed, be difficult, apart from circumstances pertaining to thirst for rest, for Jl r Gladstone to enter upon a crusade, the declared end of which is the disestablishment of the Church of England. In a memorable passage which is probably cherished in the notebook of many a fervent Churchman, he has spoken of the disestablishment question as affecting the Church of England in terms that cannot be misunderstood. He does not deny that the is inevitable, nor dispute its near ap- proach. But he does most emphatically 'â¢eciare thai if Church of England is to he disestablished, it must he through other inc:. h' 'L.}. rJVr-' iillaj sjjtjtjun lUtfcUC siX or seven years ago, and it is true that a very significant I thing has happened s^ice then. When the Premier wa3 in Scotland in the autumn, he granted an interview to a deputation repre- senting the views of the Free Church ,,f Scotland, in itself a orisiderable advance, as he had hitherto scrup,joljg]y re- frained from touching on the Chuu^ ques- tion in Scotland. 1 happened to in Edinburgh at the time, and was abu to communicate to you the purport of he reply made to the deputation by thv Premier. He was still exceedingly reserved, and would not give any pledge, or even offer any opinion on the question, narrowed as l was by the deputation to the fate of the Church in Scotland. But he adviseu, it may bo aJuiost said authorised, the deputa- tion to remove the ban against demanding pledges on the Disestablishment question, which had hitherto I)i,i laid upon tne Liberal confltllellces with the object of pre- venting fissures. That was a lnng step in advance, the importance of which can scarcely be over- rated. Dining Mr Gladstone's election campaign in Midlothian, the question of disestablishment was by general consent tabooed, it beinij known that Mr Gladstone was not prepared to give a pledge on the subject. At the next general election this restraint will be removed, and it is certain, however things may go in other parts of the United Kingdom, that in Scotland disestab- lishment will be made the test question, a prospect not to be viewed without apprehen- sion by Liberals pure and simple. It will lead to much cross voting, and here and there a Tory may in consequence fetch a Liberal seat. Mr Gladstone himself cannot fscaufc the general rule, and will have to declare for or against disestablishment. But perhaps he does not mean to stand again for Midlothian, and had this determination in mind when he gave the advice.

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