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FRENCH DUPLICITY IN MADAGASCAR. OUR relations with France are still far from satisfactory. There are manv dim culties on hand, and these do not look any more promising in the light of the latest Blue Book, which deals with British grievances in Madagascar. There are ominous signs of trouble with France in Siam and in China. There is the frontier question between the Soudan and the French Ubangbi to be delimited, and the controversy over the Newfoundland Fish- eries is rapidly coming to a head, when it must be settled one way or the other. Finally, the ratification of the Niger Con- vention has long been delayed, though it would be impossible to imagine a settle- ment more favourable to France in West Africa than this accords. But the French Governments, one after another, are as incapable of appreciating generous conces- sions, as they have again and again shown themselves to be unable to rise to the common honesty of fair dealing. The Madagascar correspondence is one long protest from Lord Salisbury against the injustice done to British interests under the most deliberate and flagrant breach of faith on the part of France. The story is. of course, no new one. It was told at the opening of Parliament last February, when Lord Salisbury complained of the utter disregard of the French for International equity, and he stated that no other step remained for the redress of British wrongs short of a declaration of war. The facts and sources of the controversy are simple enough. Under the Treaty of 1865 with Madagascar, British trade enjoyed perfect freedom, with duties limited to ten per cent. More than half the foreign trade with the island-the third largest in the world-was with this country, when, about fifteen years ago, the French became actively aggressive in Madagascar. In 1890 they declared a Protectorate over the island, which this country recognised on the express and written undertaking that no British rights or privileges were altered. Why we should thus have made the way easy for France, has never been apparent or explained; but no material injury was done to British trade until the autumn of 1895, when Madagascar was declared a French Colony. In the previous year, France entered upon her final war of conquest against the Hova Government, and secured the benevolent neutrality of Great Britain upon the re- iterated assurances that no injury to British interests was contemplated. Finally, she dishonourably broke these promises by an- nexation, and forthwith applied the French Colonial tariff to Madagascar. This im- posed duties of from 45 to 65 per cent. on British goods, while French trade passes free. Not content with this, a further addition was made to some of the duties last year, and other artifices resorted to, in order to extinguish British competition. In one district the Resident called the natives together and threatened them with punishment if they dealt with any but certain French firms. A pamphlet was issued by the Governor-General enjoining the people to buy only those goods bearing French trade-marks, as illustrated, and subsequently an order was issued confining the coasting trade to French vessels. All these matters are the subject of repeated protests from Lord Salisbury, who says in his despatch of last July, that if this coun- try had known of the treatment it has met with, the attitude of the British Govern- ment would have been very different. This trust in French promises-the most explicit and solemn undertaking ever given by one civilised country to another—has been wholly misplaced. As Lord Salisbury puts it in diplomatic terms, the action of France is inconsistent with our International rights, and with the repeated assurances given by the French Government. There the mat- ter rests, as Mr. Balfour once said of this question, for not one word is vouchsafed in reply to these representations. The ship- ping regulations have been withdrawn, for the reason, as gratuitously stated, that the number of French vessels available are in- adequate for the trade. But apart from this, Lord Salisbury's protests remain un- answered and even un-acknowledged, and his publication of the despatches is mockingly referred to in the French press as a wanton and vaxatious attempt to embitter the re- lations between the two countries. What the British nation feels is, that the time has come for plain speaking, and it is this ne cessity that seems to have guided Lord Salisbury in giving fresh publicity to the Madagascar scandal. The Fasboda affair was only one of many incidents that have made this country a little tired of the French policy of greed and deception, and unless this unsatisfactory state of things can be remedied by more outspoken, or by more friendly methods, it is difficult to see how the pretence of good relationships with France can be much Ipnger maintained.



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