TOPICS OF THE DAY. The City of London and Mr Chamberlain, it was exceedingly fitting that the heart of the great Empire should publicly recognise the vast services which have been rendered to that Empire by the Colonial Secretary.
The reception which Mr Chamberlain met with at the hands of the City of London on Thursday was worthy of the occasion, whilst the speech of the Right Hon. Gentleman in acknowledging the compliment paid to him was further contribution to those Statesmanlike utterances which have done so much to encourage and foster that Imperial spirit and unanimity of purpose of which the Nation has given so many conspicuous examples since we entered upon the settlement of the South African question.
Fifty years of peace have not dulled the temper of the race. Despite the efforts of its ill-wishers at home and abroad, the great bulk of the Nation has given proof in every direction of that old spirit which has carried us through so many times of stress and storm. But Mr Chamberlain points out, this is not all. The communion of sentiment which animates the British race throughout the world has at last found material expression.
We in England know now that the honour and the interests of the Empire are recognised as not the care of this country alone. Shoulder to shoulder, all for each and each for all, we stand united before the world. They are our children; they are with us in the obligations well as in the privileges of Empire. We have taken a step during the past few months towards that consolidation which was the ideal of our ancestors, and which has been striven for patriotic Statesmen of all parties. Whether we realise what means, and whether we are able to grasp the responsibilities which brings its wake and transmit a United Empire to our descendants, will much depend on the manner in which we settle the affairs of South Africa.
We are not prepared to throw away negotiation what we have gained arms, and although we will not bear malice and are frankly wiling to pardon and receive as friends our enemies of yesterday, we must safeguard our interests in the future, and one means by which we shall this Mr Chamberlain points out very explicitly.
Those men responsible for the prolongation of the War, who have openly boasted of their intention to sweep the English from South Africa, who within the last few weeks have boasted that after the settlement they will have another opportunity of carrying out their intention, these men will be banished from South Africa for ever. do not ” threaten their lives.
We do not even touch “their property, but we do not desire their future company. To otherwise would “to lose the confidence of our kinsfolk, to be” tray those who have trusted in us, and to invite the contempt of those foreign countries whose affection, indeed, it seems impossible ” for us to gain, but whose respect at any rate ” we are able to secure.”
The Anglo-Japanese Agreement. lf there any truth in the rumour that Lord Salisbury will shortly retire, he has marked the closing days of his brilliant career as Premier one of the greatest achievements of the many diplomatic successes which have distinguished his long and meritorious life in the service of his country.
The alliance between this Country and Japan is the most important step in the settlement of the Far Eastern question which England has ever taken.
The policy of Lord Salisbury in China has been bitterly arraigned in this country. His opponents and many of his candid friends have asserted that he was allowing the great British interests in the Far East to be undermined by Russia, France and Germany, and of the three the greatest to feared was the first-named.
The announcement last week that Wei-Hai-Wei was not to be fortified and was to be retained as a commercial port was hailed as another evidence of the Premier’s soupiness. Now that the truth is out, we see that so far from neglecting this country’s interests, and allowing our power to be displaced, Lord Salisbury has been steadily encompassing the confusion of those who would break up China in the hope of benefitting the anarchy and chaos which would result. The Alliance with Japan practically ensures peace the Far East, and, whilst upholding the integrity the Chinese Empire, provides the greatest safeguard that the machinations of jealous European Powers will henceforth be powerless to affect the interests of this country.
The Treaty declares that Great Britain and Japan are actuated solely desire to maintain the status quo and ” general peace the Extreme East,” and to safeguard the special interests they have in maintaining the independence and territorial integrity of the Empire of China and the ” Empire Korea, and in securing equal opportunities in those countries for the commerce and industry of all nations.” Both nations agree to the maintenance of strict neutrality the event of either party becoming involved in war with one single Power in the defence of their interests in the East, and for mutual assistance in the event of either of them being confronted more than one hostile Power.
They agree not to enter without consultation into separate arrangements with another Power prejudicial to the interests described, and to communicate fully and frankly with one another whenever those interests are in danger.
The Agreement to remain in force for five years, and unless denounced by either party twelve months before expiration of such term, it shall remain binding from year to year subject to similar notice of determination, and. any case. If when the date for its expiration arrives, either ally is actually engaged in war, the alliance shall ipso facto continue until “Peace concluded”.
Thus, the two Island Empires in the West and East are, the prescience of their chief Statesmen, allied maintain peace the Far East. the face of such an Alliance, bold indeed will be the Power who ventures to dispute our will in Chinese affairs, or attempts undermine those interests, which, at all costs, the two Nations are determined to protect.
The War Office Contracts. —No one will dispute the fact that vast sums of money have been lost in this War over hasty and ill-advised contracts, but the Government can no more be considered to blame than can the Opposition.
The fault lies once more with the system not with those Ministers who are confronted with it at a time of stress and emergency such as this Nation has never previously experienced. When the Boers made war on England no one would have supposed that horses would be required by the hundred thousand.
A great Power cannot send forth into the world’s markets to buy hundreds of thousands of horses without spilling money. Contractors may make large profits; extravagant prices may be paid; the horses obtained may not always be of the quality required; and officers may be careless in passing them.
The mistakes, the extravagance, the indiscretions, the alleged carelessness, might have been avoided had the nation been willing to sanction preparation in peace time for the unexpected in war.
Under the circumstances, the Government have done better than the best that could have been anticipated, and we should not grumble that the work has not been always well done; we should be grateful that it has been done at all. There is even less excuse for the hostility shown towards the new meat contract. The ground of attack, that the contract was given a person who has formed company to carry it out, seem« untenable. The thing was perfectly open. was too big contract for one man, and it was frankly explained that if the contract were obtained it would be carried out by a company.
The tender accepted was the lowest, and under it the Government hope to save three-quarters of a million a year.
BNA – Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald – Saturday 15 February 1902