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In Russia, since the last notes Russia.
were made, what has for some
time been the normal course of unsettlement still exists. Not, however, in so aggravated a form. Only one high official has been assassinated ; nor have so many hundreds of the people been shot by the orders of the Little Father. Peace, however, is far from reigning; nor will, or in fact should, it reign until fundamental changes of government, such as to make life bearable, have been made. How necessary it is that there should be a change may be judged by the simple fact that in the single year 1903 no fewer than 4,867 persons were arbitrarily arrested for holding political opinions, and sent without any trial to long imprison. ment or to various forms of exile in different parts of Siberia. This was done in spite of the fact that in 1896 a Ukase had been issued which seemed to abolish all arbitrary arrest for political offences or political opinions. It is not to be wondered at that a more substantial security for life and freedom is now found necessary than the word of the supreme ruler.
The hope that such security will be realized is made brighter than ever before by the long.expected manifesto issued by the Tsar on August 19. In this manifesto the Tsar declares that “the time is come to summon elected representatives from the whole of Russia to take a constant and active part in the elaboration of the laws, attaching for this purpose to the higher State institutions a special consultative body entrusted with the preliminary elaboration and discussion of measures and the examination of the State Budget. While preserving the fundamental law regarding autocratic power, we have deemed it well to form a Lower House of Assembly and to approve the regu. lations for elections to this Lower House, extending the validity of these laws to the whole territory of the empire," with some exceptions.
The manifesto excludes Finland from any of these concessions and declares that, with regard to that province, the Tsar will take special measures. The general Assembly is to meet not later than the middle of January, 1906.
The manifesto sets forth at great length the provisions for the Constitution. The members of this State Council will be elected by the people for the term of five years. This National Duma, or Lower Council, may be dissolved at any time by the Tsar and new elections ordered at his will. The Council shall have authority—but only advisory authority—to consider new laws or modifications of old ones; to examine and to give its opinion on the different State budgets; to examine the official report of the comptroller of the Empire; to consider the construction of railways by the State and also the organization of stock companies that involve exceptions from the present laws; and also to consider matters which an Imperial decree submits to them for debate. This Council may initiate bills and may pass on bills submitted to it by the ministers and chiefs of departments and the secretary of the Empire. Its sessions are not to be open to the public; but representatives of the press are to be admitted to all save closed sessions. The President of the Council must exercise censorship over all press reports. Bills that have been passed by this State Council go then to the Council of the Empire. The results in each Council are to be submitted to the Tsar.
Such are in brief outline the long looked for concessions which have been granted to Russia by the Imperial manifesto to the Russian people. It is in no way the grant of a Constitution. For its validity and stability it depends on the will of the Tsar and his successors. Their autocratic power is ex. pressly reserved, both in general and in particular. The power of perfecting the organization of the Lower House and to make changes in it, is declared to belong entirely to the Emperor.
Although the manifesto was published only a few days ago, its principal provisions have been known and discussed for many weeks and at a Congress held at Moscow, of representatives of the Zemstvos and Dumas of the Empire, the scheme (as it then was) met with almost unanimous condemnation, as being merely an extension of the present hated bureaucratic system. Many of these representatives were in favor of making a revolutionary appeal to the people. Better counsels, however, prevailed; the wise decision was taken to make the utmost use of the concessions which were expected, as a means for the attainment of further and greater concessions. This they did because they feared that the Russian people might be upon the point of holding a position of power and influence to which they had never been accustomed, and that there were others besides themselves who had it in their power to appeal to them. In fact, there are many who think with Count Tolstoy, that all political changes are of no use for the amelioration of the immense majority of men. Kings and emperors, noblemen and gentlemen, may have been guilty of oppression and of acting unjustly; but, after all, in their oppression there: was something of the grand and the magnificent; but the oppression of the class beneath the upper class, that is, the so called middle class, to whom political changes have given power in many countries, is as great and infinitely more sordid and humiliating, and therefore less tolerable. The Russian people, ninety per cent of whom are peasants, have been brought up to venerate, love, and trust the Tsar, and have but little regard for any one else, least of all for the doctors, professors, merchants, landed proprietors, and the classes who are mainly represented in the Zemstvos. What the peasants want is the land, and if they can get that, each one enough for his own wants, Parliaments and political changes of every kind are, in their eyes, of no account. For their well-being, temporal and eternal, they would place greater trust in the Little Father than in parliamentary representatives. If ninety per cent of the Russian people could be brought to be contented with their lot, the Tsar might well have thought that he could defy the rest—the so-called intellectuals. The manifesto, however, has settled this question. A step has been taken towards a Parliament. It is too early to form a judgment as to results.
The German Emperor has been
Germany. the chief centre of interest, not only in his own domains, but throughout the length and breadth of Europe. His diplomatic victory over France, which resulted in the fall of M. Delcassé, has not induced him to relax his activity. That victory was not entirely due to himself. If the French had stood as a unit in support of the minister's policy, their plan for the peaceful penetration of Morocco would not have been frustrated. M. Delcassé's fall was due, to a great extent, to the dislike felt for him by the Socialists, represented by M. Jaurès. The Socialists are averse to war and stand in special dread of a war with Germany, and to this dread M. Delcassé was sacrificed. The German Socialists have the same aversion to war, and were willing to unite with the French in a peace demonstration to be held in Berlin. M. Jaurès was invited to address this meeting. Common sense, and some little feeling of gratitude for his services to peace, should have made him wel. come. The very opposite happened; Prince Bülow wrote to the German ambassador in Paris to request M. Jaurès not to go to Berlin. The Prince said that M. Jaurès was a very excellent man, holding many opinions of which he highly approved; but that the German Socialists, who are by far the most numerous of the German parties, having some three million votes, were so very unpatriotic that they would use M. Jaurès' presence in Berlin for the purpose of their campaign against the State and against national interests. The result of this action has been to bring prominently into notice the aims of the international Social Democracy, and into favorable notice, too. The prospects of peace being preserved are far better when there are, as in Germany, millions of the Ger. man working classes, who form the backbone of German industry and also of the army, bent upon peace and out of sympathy with any policy of aggression.
But the visit of the Emperor to the Tsar has been the allabsorbing subject ever since it took place, and the speculations concerning it would fill many pages. Did the Tsar invite the Kaiser or the Kaiser the Tsar ? What was the real significance of the meeting? Was it aimed at the alliance between France and Russia ? Had the Emperor in view the formation of a a league against Japan, the revival of the Triple Alliance of 1894 of Russia, Germany, and France ? Or was the visit merely an act of personal friendship on the part of the two monarchs ? Were the internal troubles of Russia the main subject of discussion ? Did the Emperor urge the Tsar to continue the war, or was his influence exerted in favor of peace? Or perhaps it was the affairs of Norway and Sweden which were the chief subject of discussion. The European newspapers have devoted columns upon columns to the discussions of those questions without, we fear, imparting any real knowledge. The interview, of course, was important. Our fear is that it will not have done much to promote the well-being of the world. We cannot forget that it is to the advice of the Emperor that the present war is due, for it was he who prevailed upon the Tsar to occupy Port Arthur. The results of the present interview will be revealed by the impending events. It is not to the Tsar alone that the German Emperor has paid visits. King Oscar of Sweden and King Christian of Denmark have been likewise honored. Concerning these visits, also, rumor has been busy. Much has been written, but very little is known. It is worthy of note, however, how great is the influence which, in the somewhat decayed condition of Parliaments at the present time, is being exerted by the different rulers. Emperors, Kings, Presidents, are very busy and seem to be taking their places at the head of affairs and to be supplanting their ministers, even in countries which give but little power to the head of the State. It cannot be doubted that the feeling against England is growing stronger and stronger in Germany; in fact, it is said on good authority that it is as intense as it was during the Boer War. This was shown when it was announced that a British Fleet was going to cruise in the Baltic. In Berlin this was interpreted as a political demonstration intended to counterbalance the impression created by the activity of German squadrons in those waters. As a matter of fact, the cruise had been arranged three or four months ago. Some of the German papers argued for the Baltic being declared a mare clausum like the Black Sea. Most of the papers, however, declined to go this length. The British cruise, however, will prove a strong argument for an increase of the German navy. It may be thought that too much attention is being paid to the German Emperor for, after all, he is but a single unit of the many on the surface of the globe. Yet even in these days, in which the people are supposed to rule, the fate of the many is dependent upon the will of the few ; and among these few the Kaiser has a very great power for good or for ill, and a very distinct personality. He is determined not merely to reign but to rule. Prince Bismarck's fall was due to this determination; every subsequent Chancellor holds his office upon this condition; and if Prince Bülow has any distinction, it is that he recognizes this fact more fully than his