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RETROSPECT. The old year, whose death-knell has just been tolled, will go down to posterity U unwept, unhonoured and unsung." Never, perhaps, within living memory has there been such a general unanimity of desire to see the last of the passing year, seldom such 11 flagrant breach of good manners by speaking nothing but ill of the dead. Popular anxiety has been far more concerned to welcome the coming than to speed the parting guest. Whatever the future may betide, everybody is satisfied that the new year at all events cannot be any worse than its immediate pre- decessor. The twelvemonths just dosed marks a period and weather unspeakably ungenial and unexampled in these latitudes. It has been the wettest, stormiest, coldest year on record, and the tiller of the soil, whether that soil be farm or garden, will Lave bitter reason to remember 1903 to his dying day. On February 27th a terrific gale swept over these islands, causing widespread damage, a cruel frost in April robbed the orchards of all the bright promise of fruit, and on July 6th a furious, wintry north-west gale again visited our shores, wrecking numerous vessels and devastating growing crops of all descriptions. The continuously dripping skies and the sunless monotony of the alleged summer months completed a picture from the contemplation of which it is a pleasure to turn away. One of the brightest features of the year's work has been the gratifying interchange of international courtesies, in which our august Sovereign has played a leading part. New Year's Day -N ew Year's Day witnessed the great Coronation Durbar at Delhi, where King Edward was proclaimed, amid a scene of Oriental splendour, the first King Emperor of India. On the 31st of March, his Majesty sailed from Portsmouth on a Continental tour, which embraced Portugal, Italy and France. On May 5th, the King returned home, and six days later he proceeded on a visit to Edinburgh, where he had a hearty welcome from his Scottish suojects. The King and Queen went to Ireland on July 21st, and won all hearts by their kindly interest in Ireland and the Irish. The good feeling that had been created by King Edward's Continental tour was increased by the visit, on July 6th oi President Loubet to England, followed by gratifying demonstrations of a strong rapproachment between France and England. It is, however, for its exciting political record that the year 1903 will be most memorable in British history. The opening of the year found Mr. Chamberlain, as Colonial Secretary, pursuing his great mission in South -rei t iiill:slori in South Africa, and the close of December still leaves that statesman the most engrossing subject of Political interest. On February 25th be sailed from Capetown arriving in England on a.rch 14tb, to receive a warm demonstration from his admiring fellow-countrymen. It Was on May 15th at Birmingham, in a speech to his own constituents, that Mr. Chamberlain created a sensation by questioning the efficacy of our system of one-sided Free Trade and by forshadowing his bold scheme ot fiscal reform that had been maturing in his mind during his South African visit. It is from this fateful day that all the agitation of the past six months in connection with tariff reform dates. Dissension within the Cabinet resulted dramatically on September 17th in the simultaneous resignations of Mr. Cham-I berlain, and of his two Free Trade colleagues, Mr. Ritchie, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lord George Hamilton, Secretary of State for India; while only lour days later came the news of the retirement of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Secretary for Scotland, and of Mr. R. D. Elliot, Financial Secretary to the Treasury. October proved an exciting month. On the 1st Mr. Balfour delivered his long-anticipated speech to the annual confer- ence of the National Union of Conservati ve Associations, indicating that he was prepared to go half way with Mr. Chamberlain, and j rather leaving it to he understood that he was personally in full sympathy with the aims and objects of the ex-Colonial Secretary. Six days later, ostensibly as a consequence of the Premiers speech at Sheffield, the Duke of Devonshire's resignation became public, and on the same evening the first shot in the fiscal campaign proper was fired at Glasgow by Mr. Chamberlain. That campaign has in the meantime been prosecuted in various parts of England and Wales with all Mr. Chamberlain's characteristic fire and pertinacity, and although a comparitively small number of Unionist Free Traders have voiced their entire disagreement with Mr. Chamberlain's unofficial programme, current events, including the bye-elections, seem to indicate that he is swimming in the flowing tide" of popular approval. Among other important items of the political year must be enumerated Mr. George Wyndham's Irish Land Bill, which enjoyed a remarkably cordial reception and which has passed into law, adding fresh lustre to the already brilliant reputation of that now eminent statesman. The Motor-car Act which came into force yesterday, is another piece of useful domestic legislation that was obviously needed by the development ot that popular mode of locomotion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget, which was unfolded on April 23rd, gave a welcome remission of fourpence on the intolerable income-tax, but, strange to say, weakly surrendered the shilling duty on foreign corn, ] which had really paved the way for fiscal reform. Among other domestic concerns the question of education has loomed large in the public eye, the absurd action of Passive- resisters" being responsible for much melo-dramatic agitation the consequences of which are not yet fully foreseen. It is always difficult to classify the out- standing features of a year within the narrow compass of a short article, but some of the incidents that deserve to be chronicled include the trial and death-sentence on January 23rd of "Colonel" Lynch for high treason in South Africa, the penalty being eventually reduced to penal servitude for life; the fire at Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, on January 27th, when over fifty persons perished the Chicago theatre hre on December 30th, when nearly 600 people were burned to death the disaster to a British force in Somaliland (April 24th), when nearly 200 of our men were killed, a catas- trophe which, however, was avenged on the following day the close of the notorious Moat Farm tragedy, in the execution of the murderer and forger, Dougal, on July 14th the election of Pope Pius X. on August 4th the failure of Sir Thomas Lipton to capture the America Cup with Shamrock III. on September 3rd and the win of the first Test Cricket Match in Australia by the English team on December 17th. The year's obituary is always melancholy reading, and iin the present occasion we have to deplore the 10: of many men and women who had contributed generously to the advancement of various great causes. Senor Sagasta, the most prominent and experienced statesman of his time in Spain, breathed his last on January 5th Dean Farrar, a grand old figure in the religious world, expired on March 21st General Hector MacDonald, an ideal British soldier, feU tragically by his own hand, in Paris, on March 25th the Rt. Hon. R. W. Hanbury, an eminently practical I Minister of Agriculture, died suddenly on April 28th Cardinal Vaughan's death on June 19th created a sad void in religious, educational and social life. The King and Queen of Servia were foully assassinated on June 11th, the tragedy being followed by a revolution. The world of letters lost brilliant ornaments by the death of W. E. Henley, July 11th, and Herbert Spencer, December 8th. Art is poorer by the demise of Mr. Whistler, July 17th the Roman Catholic body throughout the world was bereaved by the death of the Pope, July 20th the peerage lost one of its oldest representatives in the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, deceased September 27th while the greatest blow that has fallen upon this country during the twelve- months came on August 22nd, with the death of Lord Salisbury, the aged statesman who during the preceding century had contributed so much to the solidification and progress of the British Empire by his masterly manage- ment of home and foreign policy during the long period of his polititical activity.











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