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OUR LONDON LETTER [BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.] WEDNESDAY EVENING. Peace still continues—in the headlines of our newspapers. Everywhere else the outlook is gloomy. The Emperor William is hurrying back from Palestine on account of European, complications," the Sultan is delaying the evacuation of Crete because he anticipates a rupture between France and England, the fleets of Russia and Britain in the far East j have been mobilised and are now waiting, ready for action, for the word of command in the Gulf of Pechili, orders have been sent to every part of the globe for British men-of- war to hold themselves in readiness, the South African Parliament and other Colonial assemblies are discussing the means of self- defence, and our own dockyards are still working at such a high pressure, that yesterday only one-half of the electors of Chatham could find time to go to the polling booths. In face of all this, one may, without being an alarmist, fear for the future. M. Blowitz, the Paris correspondent of the Times, who is known to be in touch with the Quai d'Orsai, describes the situation as tc delicate," if not grave, and states that Lord Salisbury's back had been considerably stiffened since the laat Cabinet meeting. We all sincerely hope for peace, but the issue no longer lies with Lord Salisbury or with M. Declasse, but in the squares and boulevard* of Paris. RUSSIA AND FEANCE.. The only guarantees of peace lie in the poverty of Russia and the unpreparedness of France. One day this week a remarkable article appeared in the lunes from the pen of Count Tolstoi, the great Russian novelist and Christian socialist." lbe article was so outspoken that it failed to find a publisher in. Uussift. It uGscribsd. the condition of the Russian peasants, and the reasons why they they remain, in spite of their thrift and low standard of comfort, in a chronic state of destitution. Too much government and too little self- reliance "—these words sum up Tolstoi's indictment. The Government seeks to do everything; no scope is left for individual initiative. It is curious to find a socialist of an advanced type reverting in this way to the principles which would find favour witn the Manchester School in this country. The importance of Tolstoi's evidence at the present juncture is that it throws a Hood of light on the Czar's rescript. With an exhausted treasury, a half-starved and badly- nourished peasantry, with a discontented Poland and uneasy Finland, with a huge, half-digested Empire composed of hetero- geneous tribes and nations, it is no wonder the Autocrat desires peace. France, on the other hand, is rich and powerful, but its navy is rotten, and its army is untried. These facts may make the Autocracy and the Republic pause. GERMANY IN THE EAST. But if there is, as is probable, every likeli- hood that a peaceful solution can be formed on the Fashoda question, why is it that this country is arming to the teeth ? Of course 1 have no special means of information, I can only retail the floating gossip of the town, for what it is worth. For some weeks past, unquiet rumours have been current as to the near proximity of a Balkan conflagration. Some of the* Russian papers have been predicting a rising in Macedonia during the -^next few weeks. The Russian minister at i>c.! ;r*de is accused of having been busy with thes^ c .ts, until he was reprimandeed from St. Petei urg. To-day it is reported that several Hui^rians have murdered a Servian, and as -King Milan is known to favour war, and I xce Ferdinand is anxious to dis- tinguish himself, the incident may prove a convenient excuse for a wa.r. Both. Russia, and France are angry at the pilgrimage of the Kaiser to Jerusalem, and the extension of German influence in the East, which it betokens. Hitherto, France and Russia have been looked up to as the natural protectors of the Eastern Christians. Now however the Kaiser disputes their claim, and German en- terprise is also fast making Turkey a province of the Teutonic Empire. During the visit of the Kaiser to the Sultan, the displeasure of Russia was made manifest by the refusal of the Russian minister to hoist his flag. EGYPT. Fashoda, then, is merely a pretext. France is anxious to raise the whole question of Egypt, but this she dares not do without the backing of Russia. Russia is loth to inter- fere, unless at the same time she sees a chance of seizing Constantinople and regain her old influence in the Near East. Should a distur- bance occur in the Balkans, it is certain that Russia would grasp at the chance. She knows beforehand that she will have to reckon on the opposition of England, perhaps of Ger- many, certainly of Austria. She may there- fore thins that her best chance is to see England embroiled with France,—which would keep Germany also employed. These, however, are only eventualities. It may be that England is arming with the intention of preparing more surely for peace. Or it may be that Lord Salisbury intends to raise the Egyptian question once for all by proclaiming a protectorate over the country of. the Khe- dive. We can at present only conjecture; but it may weil be that before these words corns to be read the situation will have been more clearly explained by a ministerial speech or by the publication of Bluebooks. FRANCE AS A COLONISING POWER. I have often in these columns insisted on the fact that France is not a successful coloniser- M. Decle, a Frenchman who has travelled all over the world, bears interesting testimony to the truth of this statement in this month's Fortnightly. Algiers, he say3, h's.s been in French hands for half a century, yet no exploring expeditions have penetrated further into the interior than 300miles. It is not self-supporting, according to this impartial observer, in Lritish hands it would become a flourishing colony in three years. and its trade even with France would be double what it now is. France has been in a hurry to gobble up hundreds of thousands of African square miles but though she has spent millions, she gains nothing in return. Madagascar has cost her thousands of lives and millions of francs; but Madagascar is seething with discontent,and French colonists —as distinguished from soldiers and officials —are conspicuous by their absence. Even m China, where France had a great chance, Prince Henry of Orleans was compelled to admit that the colonies were a failure. It IS inconceivable, therefore, that any sensible French politician should seriously contem- plate the possibility of a war with England over a pestilential African swamp. If war does break out, it will not be over Fashoda or Bahr-el-Ghazel; these will only be the pre- texts. It will be due to other and far wider reasons. HAROLD FREDERIC. The sad and premature death of poor Harold Frederic has brought to notoriety the pernicious doctrines of the "Christian Scientists. Frederic was a man whom English literature could ill afford to lose, and though his posthumous work Gloria Mundi does not come up to the great expectations of his friends, it is yet a very brilliant and original piece of work. It is not generally known that Frederic was Welsh on his mother's side. He was born, as is known, df poor parents in Utica., and he seems to have inherited his passion for literature and self- culture, as well as his sense of style, from his mother's folk. He settled down in London as the correspondent of the JSen; York Times, and he was a well-known figure a.t the National Liberal and the Savage Clubs. A tew years ago he came up to a W elsh Liberal member at the former club, and asked him if it was true that the Welsh people were getting up a national testimonial to Prince Llewelyn. On hearing that that was so, he said Well, my mother was a Welshwoman, and though I know little of Wales I honour its struggle for nationhood. Harold Frederic s name appears as a contributor of three guiDeas to the Memorial Fund, though alas he never lived to see the statue placed on Llewelyn's grave at Abbey Cwm Hir. MR. WATTS-DUNTON'S ROMANCE. It is characteristic of our anonymous journalism that the name of Mr. Watts- Dunton—perhaps the greatest critic of our time, whose verdict in the Atheneum causes even the most hardened minor poet to tremble —should be almost unknown to the great mass of readers. He is now well on in years, and somevrhat deaf withal. Mr. Swinburne and he have been close friends for years, and being both bachelors, they live together in the same house. The book of the week undoubtedly has been Mr. Watts-Dunton's romance, Aylwin." It was originally written many years ago, but it has been altered and amended over and over again. It tells an impassioned love-story, the heroine being a Welsh girl. Winifred Wynne. As the scene is laid in North Wales, there is of course plenty of local colour, scm* exquisite descriptions of Welsh scenery, some Welsh. songs (which have, I understand, been translated into English by a distinguished Welsh man of letters), and a generous appreciation of the beauty of the fair maids of Wales, the most beautiful maidens in the world." Mr. Watts-Dunton spent much of his time in North Wales in his younger days, but he has not revisited his old haunts for over 30 years. He sees Wales, its scenery, and even its maids," through a halo of tender associations and with the tender sympathy which a man feels for his lost youth. Altogether, "Aylwin," quite apart from 'its originality and its strength and beauty, is well worth the attention of Welsh readers. MISCELLANEOUS Mary Dominic "-an Irish tale by Mrs. Ernest Rhys—was published to-day by Dent and Co. I shall revert to it again next week. —To-night the London Welsh present Mr. T. E. Ellis with some wedding gifts and a cheque, amounting in all to £ 110.—A good d?al of interest was evinced in the case which was heard in the Divisional Court to- day, as to whether the House of Commons is exempt from the licensing laws or not. Mr. Asquith's junior is Mr. Harry Stephen, a member of the South Wales Circuit, and a son of the late Mr. Justice Stephen.-The London County Council decided yesterday to go to Wales for water. It is to be hoped that Welsh towns will guard their own interests, and that we shall not have water, water everywhere," and not a drop for the Welsh- man to drink. Mr. Idris, the Chairman of the Water Committee, is a Welshman—a native of Pembroke Dock.







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