AUSTRALIAN AND IMPERIAL
(FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.)
LONDON, June 21.
Party feeling with regard to the war has been running very high here this week with very
curious results. One of these has been to cause a definite split in the Liberal party, which is not in the least likely to be healed until peace has been arranged, and which practically puts an end to anything like the exercise of healthy Parliament- ary criticism on the policy of the Government.
The trouble has been simmering for a long time, but what has brought it to an acute stage is the accusation of inhumanity against the British authorities on the spot toward the women and children in the refugee camps in South Africa. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the nominal leader of the Opposition, has seen fit to throw in his lot with the extreme pro-Boer party on this point, with the result that the whole body of Liberal Imperialists have cut themselves adrift from his leadership as far as South Africa is con- cerned. I do not propose to say anything as to the opinion of conflicting parties in this country as to those constant charges of cruelty towards the beaten enemy which have their origin partly with the foreign clique in London, and partly with our own increasing sentimentalists. But I may recall the fact that for the purposes of this letter I have repeatedly asked Australians and Canadians who have come from the seat of war about these atrocity stories, and it has never been my lot to find one who has not pooh-poohed them. " We have fought far too much with the gloves on " was the opinion expressed to me some months ago by a New Zealander, who certainly appeared as kindly and mild a mannered man as
ever rode a horse or fired a rifle.
However, the pro-Boers have succeeded in holding a meeting, and in the interests of free- dom of speech it is as well, no doubt, that they were able to do so. But they succeeded under very remarkable conditions. An army of " Bat- tersea lambs," and other gentlemen of high mus-
cular development, and in some cases of very foreign appearance—some seven or eight hun- dred in all—had been imported as " stewards," with orders to hold the doors, and eject imme- diately anybody who even ventured on a groan. Outside there was a large posse of police, and many more were held in reserve in back streets. And they were needed ; for but for their presence the proceedings of the meeting would have been very brief indeed. Once or twice the hall was nearly stormed by the crowd outside, which, being overpowered by the forces of law and order, consoled itself by sing- ing " God Save the King," "Rule Britannia," and " Soldiers of the Queen " ; and also, I am bound to say, by practising violence on anyone supposed to be connected with the organisation of the meeting. I saw one unhappy newspaper reporter, who had simply attended in the exer- cise of his duties, chased as far as a chemist's shop, where he took refuge. The shop-windows were broken, and he had to be taken under escort to a police station, where he was kept in safety until the crowd had dispersed. Another more interest-
ing case was that of an enthusiastic anti-Boer who went down with the hope of getting admis- sion to the meeting and protesting against the object for which it was held. He was hustled by some of the people on duty at the hall, and strik- ing out wildly, according to the police account, he hit a woman in the crowd. He was promptly taken into custody, but his woes were not at an end. Another enthusiastic patriot like himself, seeing him taken away, came to the conclusion, without due inquiry, that he was a pro-Boer under the protection of the police, and " landed " him a tremendous blow, which has practically de-
molished his nose either for use or ornament for some time to come. Meanwhile he has had, with all the evidence of his experiences fresh upon him, to put in a humiliating appearance at the police court. I have come across three or four gentle- men of good social standing, including a well- known lawyer, with bandaged heads as a result of the demonstration. Altogether we have had lively times this week, and there are some indica- tions that things may become livelier still.
I understand that the Agent-General for New South Wales attended a day or two ago a meet- ing in support of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, and that by request a cable has been sent to the Federal Prime Minister asking him to take steps to move the Imperial Government to give facilities for the passing of the bill this session. The measure is of course one deeply interesting to the colonies, and above all to colonials living in Eng- land, as it would incidentally cover the colonial
marriages question. I am afraid, however that not much will come of this well-meant effort. The congestion of business in the House of Com- mons is almost unprecedented, and the Govern- ment can hardly get through the absolutely neces- sary work, if Parliament is to rise at anything like the ordinary time. Besides this, the pro- posed marriage reform has—as I have had reason to point out before—very powerful enemies within the ranks of the Government itself. The Prime Minister detests the bill, the Lord Chancellor is opposed to it, and in addition to this Lord Salis- bury's cleverest son, Lord Hugh Cecil, is the leading obstructionist as far as this particular measure is concerned in the House of Commons. In these circumstances, a bill involving a social change of such importance has little chance of becoming law this year. It is very monstrous, having regard to the enormous bulk of public opinion at the back of the measure, that this should be the case, but we move very slowly in legislative matters in this country. The best thing, however, that can happen if the colonies are really in earnest about the quest is undoubt- edly that they should spend a little in cable-
grams on the subject, or at least should make formal representations in some way. Their right —having regard to certain anomalies and griev-
ances—to a special say in the matter is fully recognised in political circles at home, and the most determined opponents of the change will give greater weight to colonial representations than they will to those of the home controver- sialists on the other side with whom they have been for many years in conflict.
The Welsh peers and members of Parliament and other dignitaries who have been moving in favour of the recognition of the Welsh arms in the Royal Standard have finished their inquiries, and the result is that they have come to a reso- lution asking for recognition in the arms of the Prince of Wales when the Duke of Cornwall and York is " created " after his colonial tour. This reminds one very closely of Mr. Copland's resource when he found that there was no getting the Duke of Cornwall to be Prince of Australia.
He then proposed that the title should go to one of the Duke's sons, and the Welshmen have taken a leaf out of his book. Baffled in their designs on the Royal Standard, they fall back on the arms of the Heir Apparent. There were, I believe, many historical difficulties in the way of the more ambitious design, but apart from this, there is no doubt—as I have before pointed out—that if any change in the Royal Standard were to be seriously contemplated, the claims of the colonies and India to recognition would be vigorously urged as regards the fourth quartering. The idea of putting a globe, or some such design, while the duplicate three leopards now have a place, has long been in favour with some old colonials who take an interest in matters of this sort.
A bold attempt was made last night in the House of Commons to obtain the exemption of the colonies from the sugar duty imposed by the Budget. The member who moved the amend- ment declared that he spoke in the interests of Australia as well as of the West Indies, and that an opportunity had arrived for commencing an inter-empire prefer- ential tariff. The attempt, however, came to nothing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer worked himself into a rage over the proposal— sweetness of temper is not Sir Michael Hicks- Beach's strong point—and delivered a speech which another member who plumes himself on his knowledge of colonial affairs declared would be read with consternation in Canada and Aus-
tralia. I do not suppose that as a fact it will greatly flutter people's minds in Sydney. At all events it effectively smashed the proposal.
The prime mover in the matter voted against his own amendment, and 365 other members went the same way ; while only 16—including several Irish members—voted for it. The incident serves
to illustrate how completely the people who talk glibly of fair trade and preferential tariffs are out of touch with the real feeling of the House of Commons, even when the Conservative party are
by far the most dominant section. The Chancellor of the Exchequer even went the length of denying that the preferential treatment of English goods by Canada had done anything towards in- creasing the trade between that colony and the mother country.
A little bill, which will be of interest to friendly societies all the world over, found its way to a third reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday almost unnoticed except by a score or so of members who have specially interested themselves in its provisions. Yet in its way it effects something like a revolution in our poor law, and even in our usual methods of treating social questions. It has alway been held that outdoor relief could only be given in cases of absolute destitution. This bill provides that where sufficient thrift has been shown on the part of a person applying for relief to have secured him a sum not exceeding 5s a week from any friendly society, the fact that he possesses this allowance shall not be taken into consider- ation by the Boards of Guardians, nor be a bar to any relief to which he would otherwise be entitled. Five shillings a week is not much even for an agricultural labourer with half a dozen children ; but the principle is now for the first time laid down that because a man has practised sufficient self-denial to secure himself a trifle against a rainy day he shall not in times of trouble be denied that help from the community at large on which his drunken and absolutely thriftless brother can cheerfully count. The measure is one which it is felt here is bound to give great encouragement to the friendly societies ; but which at the same time establishes a principle which people who are in terror of social innovation fear may prove capable of
There have been one or two gatherings of some colonial interest this week. One is a meeting of the Women's Liberal Unionist Association, which was held yesterday at the house of Lady Gertrude Cochrane. Lady Frederick Cavendish, who has been elected president of the association, was in the chair, and among those who took part in the proceedings were the Countess of Jersey, repre- senting the Victoria League, to the constitution of which I have already referred. Mrs. Roland Trimer, representing the children of the Empire League, Miss Chadwick, of the Lads' Drill As-
sociation, and among the representatives of the sterner sex Mr. Gilbert Parker, M.P., and Mr.
T. L. Schreiner. The general burden of the speeches was the advisibilily of drawing closer the bonds of Empire. The annual dinner of the Colonial Club on Monday was more than usually successful. Mr. Justice Hodges was among the guests at the cross-table. Some of the speeches were a little lengthy for after-dinner orations, but others were brief and to the point, including one by General Sir Redvers Buller in reply to the toast of the Imperial forces.
I understand that Miss Theodora Cowan is to execute a bust of the Bishop of London, for which the Bishop has promised to sit at Fulham Palace. Miss Cowan's portrait, by the way, recently ap-
peared in one of the London illustrated journals with a notice of her work.