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Political and Personal, 4- "WESTMINSTER'S" NOTES OF THE WEEK. The Old and New Czars-Lord Rose- bery and His Ministers—Lancashire Operatives and Eight Hours. The warmth of human affection which finds such touching expression in the manifesto of the new Emperor of Russia is a deeply inte- resting and encouraging revelation of the character of a Prince about whom the world has hitherto known little or nothing, and who will henceforth have so large an influence in shaping its destinies. The sincerity of heart- felt grief breathes in these beautiful words— "We believe there is no place in our vast Empire where warm tears will not be shed over the Emperor so prematureiy called into eternity, away from the land which he loved with all the ardour of his Russian soul, and to whose welfare he devoted all his thoughts, sparing neither health nor life." Here, indeed, is the touch of Nature which makes the whole world kin. Nicholas 11. has begun his reign well. All men are kindly disposed towards him, and fervently hope that lie may be enabled to xultil ms rolemn vow, "to keep always before us, as the object of our life, the peaceful progress, might, and glory of beloved Russia." Peace, unquestionably, was dear to the heart of the late Emperor, but his love of it 'lid not keep him from pursuing a policy of distinct aggression and of vigorous preparation for war by land and sea, and he has left to his successor a very troubled inheritance. Alexander III. was a stubborn and vindic- tive man, and all through his reign his aim was to avenge Russia on England and Ger- many for having thwarted her schemes of conquest in Europe and thrust her back into Asi&. It is a curious reflection that, after all her immense waste of blood and treasure in rescuing Eastern Europe from the Turkish yoke, Russia is further off attaining the great object of her ambition, the con- quest of Constantinople, than she seemed to be fifty or even seventy years ago. The principalities she set free have been converted by European diplomacy into the independent States of Roumania, Servia, and Bulgaria, while the Austrians have occupied the pro- vunaes of Bosnia and Herzegovina, :.o chat what were intended as stepping-stones to help the advance of Russia have become for- midable obstacles in her path. This is the result of the informal understanding con- cluded between Lord Beaconsheld and Prince Bismarck at the Congress of Berlin, and it ma.rks the definite triumph, in Europe at ail events, of that conception of the right foreign policy to be pursued by England which will always be identified with the < name of Lord Palmerston. It mattered nothing to the great German Minister that Russia, thus baulked in Europe, would inevitably seek expansion in Asia; in fact, this diver- sion of her strength, was a grea.t relief to him. Alexander III. became the representa- tive of the Russian party which is always actively hostile to England, and the cowardice and impotence of G-Iadsfconiaa. Governments enabled him to extend and consolidate the Ifcossiaii dominions up to, and even within, the northern frontier of Afghanistan. Having thus gained a, 'vantage ground from which she thinks she can make a spring upon India at the first favourable opportunity, Russrai has enormously increased her Navy in preparation for a maritime war, and within the last two years she has cemented an alliance with France which is deliberately and almost avowedly inimical to British interests. Englishmen should not,•then, be misled by a sentiment of pity for the Emperor's fate into imagining that lie was a. friend to this country. He would probably have gone to war with us ten years ago if he had not, thanks to the weakness of Mr. Gladstone, secured all he wanted at the moment in Central Asia without lighting. The true drift of the late Emperor's policy may be inferred from the anguish-stricken lamentations of the French people over the death of Alexander III. A note of appre- hension may be detected in their seemingly confident predictions that the new Czar will follow in his father's footsteps. They evi- dienitily do not like the accession to the Russian throne of a ruler who will soon become, by marriage, a. cousin of the German Emperor and, as the Queen of England points out in the "Court Circular," "her Majesty's grandson." The Queen goes: on to say that she 3nterta-ins for Nicholas II. "a sincere aiiec- tion and regard," and it must be a galling tiling to Frenchmen to consider that our Queen will soon have two grandsons, the Emperors William and Nicholas, occupying the principal thrones on the Continent. The relationship of Nicholas II., through his mother, with the Prince and Princess of Wales is another guarantee that he vill not lightly turn against England. At the same time, the French are right in thinking tha.t family relationships are of small account when national passions are aroused. Their jour- nalists insist upon the "community of sym- pathies" between France and Russia, It would be more correct to speak of their community of antipathies, which often have more weight than sympathies in deciding the issue of peace or war. One unknown force in calculations of what Russia's future policy wifll be is the character of the Emperor's affianced bride, the Princess Alix of Hesse. There is a. remarkable picture of the Princess in the Gallery of Fair Women in Grafton-street. She is decidedly good- looking, and has a pensive, almost a sad, fexpression. Her features indicate much strength of character, and she will probably ) obtain considerable influence over the Emperor. It is a national misfortune that, at a time when the maintenance of peace is so uncer- tain, this country should be governed by a Prime Minister who is not respected either at home or abroad. Lord Palmerston used to say that no man could Tie written down— except by himself; and Lord Rosebery may fairly be said to have talked himself down. The flippant tone he affects in all his speeches has produced the impression that he is a ma-fa of immature mind and weak judgment; and he bids fair to earn the reputation assigned by Rochester to King Charles II., and to be regarded as a Minister "whose word no man relies on." He himself, I should imagine, must by this time stand aghast at the appalling failure of the long-meditated pro- nouncement against the House of Lords. The Radicals, who do not trust Lord Rosebery, hardly pretend to take this declaration of war seriously: and the Unionists siirilily laush at his idle threats. Lord Rosebery cannot, like Mr. Gladstone, kindle the moral enthusiasm of the people in favour of any cause he espouses and the comnlete collapse of the agitation against the Lords is the signal that his Ministry is doomed. You will have observed that Sir William Harcourt still observes an ominous silence, and that the onlv members of the Government who have spoken in support of their chief are those well- known and obedient hacks. Lord Tweedmouth, Mr. Arnold Morlev, and Mr. T. E. Ellis. I hear on good authority that the relations between the Prime Minister and his Chan- cellor of the Exchequer are strained almost to the point of breaking. They hate one another as bitterly as Lords Grey and Pal- merston used to do when they were members of Lord Melbourne's Government; and they have no one over them to compose their quarrels. The belief is growing, therefore, that tin Ministry will fall to pieces < ven before the re-assembling of Parliament. The Cabinet must feel that to formulate a legislative pro- gramme for next session is, in present circum- stances, nothing but a farce; and it is hinted that several members of the Government would not be at all sorry to resign oft ice at once. The evidence supplied' by the municipal elec- tions. of a reaction in favour of the Unionist party must strengthen this inclination. Lord Rosebery is thought as little of by Continental nations as by his own countrymen. Even in France some of the newspapers condemn his attack on the House of Lords as unjust and foredoomed to failure: and his xnoladroitness in bragging about Agincourt at Sheffield has given great offence to our susceptible neigh- bours. With true French esprit, General Mercier, in unveiling a statue of Marshal Bosnuet, delicately rebuked our Prime Minister for his Jingoism by remarking that at Inkerman the marshal extricated the English Army, "as" brave but not so fortunate as at Agincourt," from a very awkward predica- ment. Lord Rnsehery's pretensions to be a strong Foreign Minister must be offensive and intolerable to the sincere Radicals who helped to put the present Government in office. He sneers at "Little England" as dead; yet he counts among his colleagues men who delibe- rately voted three years ago, when they were in Opposition, for refusing the supplies required to maintain the English garrison In Egypt. He has borrowed his foreign policv. wherever it has been successful, from Lord Salislyurv, and has relied for upholding it on the patriotic forbearance of the Conser- vative party. For my part, I think our leaders have been far too magnanimous in such matters, and that they ought to seize any opportunity that may present itself for turning the Government out of office. The results of an important experiment which has just been tried in Lancashire, to ascertain the real feeling of the factory opera- tives on the questions of a legal eight hours day and of direct representation of labour, should be carefully studied bv working men in all parts of the country. The Lancashire Trades Union leaders always set their faces against an Eight Hours Bill up to two years ago. just before the general election, when they suddenly changed their minds, under the impression apparently that they would lose their places if they did not do so, owing to the general acceptance by the factory operatives of the doctrines of the New Union- ism. They have since seen reason, how- ever, to believe that they made a mistake in not sticking to their old opinion, and a short time ago they determined to take a ballot in order to find out what the spinners and weavers really wish. Much to their credit, the representative council of the Trades Unions had the courage to point out, in the circular they issued before the ballot was taken, that "the reduction of working time would be about 15 per cent., and that wages would, to begin with, fall in the same ratio." They also refrained from attempting to in- fluence a single vote. The result of the ballot showed a very small aggregate majority of the whole body of operatives in favour of an Eight Hours Bill, the numbers being 38,804 votes foi and 38,364 against. But, on analysing and dis- tributing the votes, I find that the spinners and ca-rdroom workers voted by a considerable majority in favour of the change, while the weavers \oted by almost as large a majority against it. This difference of opinion com- plicates matters considerably. It means that in Oldham, for instance, which is the headquarters of the cotton-spinning indus- try, the workers would like a day of eigiit hours, while in Blackburn, where the weavers predominate, such a, restriction would be objected to. The feeling on either side is, however, by no means enthusiastic, and it is obvious that, in present circum- stances, Parliament could not be asked to pass an Eight Hours Act for the cotton trade. This verdict is all the more valuable because the Lancashire operatives have no prejudice against legislative interference with in the hours of labour of adults. Their indus- try has been subjected to strict regulations for the last fifty years, so that they know thoroughly by experience both the advan- tages and disadvantages of reduced hours of work. Of course, they would rather work eight hours than nine if their wages remained at the same level, but they are intelligent enough to see that this could not be. It is contended bv the eight hours men that excessive production keeps down prices, and that, consequently, if production were curtailed, prices would rise and wages would also increase. But here comes in the element of foreign competition. If pro- duction were checked in this country, the only result would be an increase of produc- tion in foreign countries. The cotton industry of Lancashire is already on the down-grade. Statistics recently published show that the number of spindles and looms has only increased by 5 per cent, in England during the last ten years, while on the Con- tinent and in the United States the increase has been 20 per cent., and in India 70 per I cent. China and Japan have also now become formidable competitors. So unpro- ductive is the capital now invested in cotton- spinning in Lancashire that forty concerns which ha,ve published their balance-sheets for the last quarter show an aggregate net loss cf £ 70,000, hardly any of them having been worked at a profit. This is not the time, then, when fresh restrictions OIl labour, which mean increased cost of production, can be thought reasonable. With regard to the representation of labour, the ballot shewed a larger majority in favour of it, and probably the voting would have been nearly unanimous if Parliament had sanctioned the principle of payment of members. The main difficulty with regard to labour representation is that the leaders of the working men are so jealous of one another. Look at the brotherly love, for instarce, existing between Mr. John Burns and Mr. Iveir Hardie, or between "Mabon," M.P., and the men who wish to supplant him. I see that you have been directing atten- tion to the. increasing competition of foreign coal with the coal shipped from Cardiff. Japan, our latest rival, promises also to be the most formidable, although, of course, the present war may check for a time the development of her export trade. At Hong Kong Japanese coal has been selling at from 2jdol. to 5dol. a ton, and not only English, but Australian, stands no chnncs against it, as it is of very good quality. A contract for the landing of 240,000 tons of coai at San Francisco was recently placed in Japan, and the same coal is now largely imported into Bombay. The "Times states that "a consignment has even been heard of for the London market." The report of the Director of Indian Railways for 1893-4 shows that the annual output had increased to 2,029,000 tons, as compared with 1,316,000 tons in 1892-3. Of this quantity the Indian railways consumed 2Ca,uuO tons, as against only 178,000 tons of English coal. The faddists are, after all, not to be allowed: to have everything their own way in this country. A Sporting League has been formed, under the patronage of well-known men, to collect funds for offering an organised opposition to the efforts of the Anti- gambling and other associations which aim at putting down all social amusements of which they disapprove. England is cer- tainly a very curious country. No other nation in the world would bear so patiently as we do the interference with our freedom of action and enjoyment which all sorts of "cranks" a.re never weary of practising it our expense. Could there be a worse example of a tyrannical abuse of the rirfits of property than the decision of a wealthy landowner to close a pubiic-house on his estate which has. perhaps, for a century or two been the only place of rest and refresh- ment for wearv travellers? Yet this is applauded by the total abstinence zealots as a, most righteous proceeding, and public opinion, not being properly organised, is too timid to make an effectual protest against it. The Sporting League will, I hope, do something to rescue us from the yoke of .people who imagine that they can save their own souls in the other world by making things as uncomfortable as possible for their fellow-creatures in this world. ["Westminster's" notes make their appear- ance a dav late owinsr to delay in trans- mission.—Ed. -111:8]

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