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THE "OPEN-AIR PARLIAMENT" IN APPENZELL, SWITZERLAND.
(Taking the oath to vote" in the interest of the land and to the avoidance of evil.")
BY W. G. FITZ-GERALD.
IN many ways Switzerland is the ideal state. The inhabitants pay very little taxes,unlike their oppressed brethren on the other side of the Alps. They have no navy to maintain; and although every adult is by training and inclination a soldier, as in military Germany, there is no civilized state whose outlook politically is more peaceful.
The nation is made up of 22 commonwealths, or cantons; and, as with our own States, each has its own civil and criminal laws, together with its own local government and system of voting. Several of the cantons have clung tenaciously to the customs of their forefathers; and one of the most curious and interesting of these is the Landsgemeinde, or open-air parliament," which dates back to the remote Middle Ages without a break.
It is the more strange that Switzerland has not changed, because she is overrun summer and winter with foreign tourists, who
bring enormous sums of money into the prosperous little republic. Thus, last season, in spite of the severe restrictions against fast motoring, at least $20,000,000 was paid over to hotel and pension keepers, besides another $7,500,000 to railroad and steamboat companies and proprietors of road vehicles.
Yet the moment Switzerland's foreign millions have turned their backs and gone home, the peasants return to the ways of their fathers; and the famous Alpine guides go back to the sheep-tending and wood-carving, that occupied their ancestors for generations.
As to the "open-air parliaments," one canton,-that of Appenzell,-has two such lawmaking bodies, because of the religious split which led to the war of 1597, and divided this little state into two parts. Thus, Inner Rhoden, with little Appenzell as its capital, remained true to the Roman Catholic Church, while Ausser Rhoden, with Trogen
as its capital, became a Protestant stronghold. peaceful and dignified procedure throughout. The canton boasts one of Switzerland's Of excitement or unseemly fighting or inlargest lakes, and almost southern vegetation, sults there is absolutely none. Every phase rich pastures, lofty snow mountains, and of the work in hand is conducted with quiet great industrial prosperity. A rough, hardy, self-possession that many a magnificent senand pious folk these Appenzellers, knowing ate might envy. little of the outer world beyond their cattlebreeding and cheese-making. Almost every house in Ausser Rhoden has its own loom for silk or cotton manufacture, and these homemade products often exhibit extraordinary taste and skill, and have been greatly. admired by the most eminent connoisseurs in the various international expositions.
Appenzell itself is only a big village of ancient wooden houses; and above towers the snow-clad Sentis, of 8000 feet, whose rocky summit commands a superb panorama of Lake Constance, with Swabia and Bavaria, as well as the Tyrolese Mountains, the Grisons, and the Alps of Glarus and Berne. Both parliaments meet at Trogen and Appenzell on the last Sunday in April of each succeeding year.
No more interesting sight could be imagined than the scene in the quaint old market square opposite the ancient Rathaus. First of all his faithful followers wait upon the President, with other members of the government, and escort them from the Rathaus to the platform on the big square which has been erected the previous day.
In front of this the thousands of burghers. stand bareheaded in the sunlight as the venerable President opens the parliament with a prayer and a modest speech. The men assembled before him take an oath to vote according to conscience, for the good of the land and the avoidance of all evil."
Next a list of candidates for the cantonal government is handed up to the platform, and the members of the new body are elected simply by a show of hands. The old President reads out each name and the question of "Aye?" is put to the people, much as Moses himself must have done in ancient Biblical days.
Up go the hands of those who are in favor of the candidate. Then "Nay" is called, and hands go up also. Of course, the majority decides. And in this simple way is this law-abiding and prosperous community ruled. Then follow various discussions about roads, laws, and new regulations.-all of which matters have been freely discussed in the little local journals for weeks before the parliament met.
The foreign onlooker is amazed at the
The Glarner Landsgemeinde meets annually on the first Sunday in May. Canton Glarus, too, has had its religious wars, when family rose against family. But in this district the two religions did not separate as in other places, the one going one way and the other another, like Abraham and Lot. Rather did each man remain on the land of his fathers. But it was agreed by contract in 1623 that each denomination should have a separate government; the Protestants meeting at Schwanden and the Catholics at Näfels. And one week later a common air parliament" was to be held at Glarus. And this is the one which has survived.
It was at Näfels, on April 9, 1388, that these proud mountaineers shook off the yoke of Austria, and there is a monument here to which pilgrims resort from every corner of the canton on the first Thursday in April. Perhaps in no town in the world do Protestants and Catholics get on so well together as in little Glarus. Above it towers the precipitous Vorder-Glarnisch, and still above its brownish precipices tower the eternal snows of the Hausstock.
There is but one church, belonging to both Protestant and Catholic parishes, and services are held for both every Sunday morning, one after the other. At 10 o'clock on the morning of the first Sunday in May a detachment of smart infantry and a brass band accompany the President and the members of his government from the Town Hall to the quaint old mediæval square by the schoolhouse.
Here the President, chief justice, and two secretaries, take their places on the platform which the villagers have erected in the centre of a hugh circle marked by tiers of benches. The background of quaint old houses, towering precipices, and beyond, the snowy ramps of the Alps, is magnificently picturesque.
On the front benches the members of the cantonal government are seated, and the rest are occupied by male citizens of the tiny state.
The proceedings here are noticeably wider in tone than in the other Swiss cantons which keep up the "open-air parliaments." In his opening speech the President refers to the political events of the past year,-not only
in Canton Glarus, but also all over the republic, and in the rest of the world besides. Strange as it may seem, this grave old peasant's address is a model of dignity, breadth of view, and grasp of the reality of things.
He is listened to with grave reverence, and at the close of his speech the oath to vote "for the benefit of the country and the avoidance of evil" is taken by the assembled burghers with uplifted arms and three fingers pointing to the sky. Next follow the elections of state officers, and after that due measures and laws are discussed. They may have reference to roads (the Alpine roads are famous the world over), or to markets, sanitary measures, schools, police, and so
Citizen after citizen rises from his place; and although he may have difficulty in sign
ing his own name, yet he has a grave and serious tongue, and puts an argument with force and cogency. Many a foreign onlooker has been amazed at the brevity and wit of these speakers, who are in some cases entirely illiterate or very poorly educated; factory hands, it may be, farmers, or small tradespeople. And yet these frequently throw the doctors and lawyers into the shade as orators in these open-air Alpine parliaments. Anything like graft or bribery is utterly unknown; notoriously the sturdy independent spirit of the Swiss peasant would make any attempt at undue influence something more than unprofitable.
The only disadvantage the system has is that all the world may see how a man votes. As to what kind of measures are brought forward at these unique parliaments, let us consider the last in Canton Glarus. The meas
ures may not seem to us of epoch-making importance, but they affect very seriously the comfort and well-being of this pastoral people. A workingmen's club sent deputies who proposed to raise the price of salt to 4 cents a kilo; the extra profits to be used for the founding of an insurance fund for workingmen against sickness and old age.
Then an Alpine guide representing a hunting society rose up and suggested that certain districts be preserved henceforward and no shooting of chamois or other game to be allowed for a certain number of years. Fishermen's clubs wanted all fishing in the Linth, from the Lake of Walen to the Bridge at Mollis, forbidden absolutely. Another proposal was to abolish the obligatory insurance of cattle.
Taxes and rates were fixed by the parliament, also the cantonal expenditure on public
works, such as the building and maintenance Tell's own place, and a bronze statue of the
of roads and the correction of river beds torn by winter torrents from the mountains. Also the erection of new schoolhouses. All new measures must be first read and discussed three times by the government before they are proposed to the parliament sitting in solemn open-air conclave.
Usually it is a question of "Aye" or "Nay." Sometimes, however, a paragraph of a new bill, or even the entire measure, will be openly discussed before the parliament, and either accepted or rejected. If in course of time a measure is not found to answer it can be abolished by the next parliament.
At Altdorf and Sarnen the "open-air parliaments" of Uri and. Unterwalden meet, also in the lovely month of May. The congress of Altdorf meets in a field close to the village; for the capital of Canton Uri is so tiny a place that it does not possess a square large enough conveniently to hold its male population. But little Altdorf is a lovely village, buried in gardens and pastures and surrounded by lofty snows. This is William
famous archer, with his boy by his side, stands in the medieval platz, near the tower of the thirteenth-century church.
Just above the Capuchin Monastery the visitor will see the Bannwald, or sacred grove, which will never know a woodman's axe, since it protects the little village from falling rocks,-as Schiller's classic play will tell you. Here we see the same quaint scene of a big circle of citizens making their own laws in the open air, as their ancestors have done for a thousand years.
The parliament at Sarnen, the capital of Canton Unterwalden, consists of 3000 voters, almost all of them Catholics. As a general rule the proceedings are absolutely peaceful and votes of confidence are passed in both President and government officers. These, when they have done their work and faithfully served their little mountain community, drop back into their pastoral pursuits once more and on parliament day will rally loyally to the support of the new chief of state, whoever he may be.
BY ALFRED HOLT STONE.
FOR years it has been the mental habit of thought of filling his place by any other variety
the American people to associate cotton production with the idea of negro labor as its sole dependence. This is true to such an extent that most people are under the impression that practically the entire American cotton crop is the product of negro toil. As a matter of fact, more than half is raised by the white man. The inability of the negro, thus far, to hold his own in competition with the Northern white man has been demonstrated so often, and in so many ways, that it is no longer a debatable question. The fault is divided between the labor union, Northern economic race prejudice, and negro inefficiency, in what proportions I shall not attempt to say. As a cotton-grower, however, his supremacy remains unquestioned in the popular mind. In investigating this popular fallacy some 13 years ago I reached the conclusion that, although the native Southern white man had always, even during the slavery régime, produced a much larger proportion of the cotton crop than was commonly believed, it was not he who was destined seriously to threaten the negro's hold on this branch of industry. I believed then, as I believe now, that it is through immigration that the South is to realize the ultimate development of her almost untouched resources. I believe that it is merely a question of time when the story of the West is to find its counterpart in the Southern States. The action may be artificially retarded or accelerated, according to the sentiment of the native white man in different parts of the South; but it can no more be prevented than can the final working out of any other economic law.
It is now more than a quarter of a century since Frederick Douglass risked his reputation as a prophet on a prediction based upon the economic dependence of the South upon the negro. In an address on the "Kansas Exodus" he declared that:
of the human family will be found delusive and utterly impracticable. Neither Chinaman, German, Norwegian, nor Swede can drive him from the sugar and cotton-fields of Louisiana and Mississippi. They would certainly perish in the black bottoms of those States if they could be induced, which they cannot, to try the experiment. Hence it is seen that the dependence of the planters, land-owners, and old master-class of the South upon the negro is nearly complete and perfect. He stands to-day the admitted aution are now possessed by the South, and the thor of whatever prosperity, beauty, and civilizaadmitted arbiter of her destiny.
THE ITALIAN AS THE NEGRO'S COMPETITOR.
It is rather singular that in his enumeration of races incapable of competing with the negro Frederick Douglass should have overlooked the Italian, though his words are wholly without foundation as to those he mentioned. It is very largely the Italian who has deprived the negro of so many occupations in Northern cities, and it is the hardy, thrifty, tireless peasant of the same race who is to-day, in the sugar and cotton fields of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, furnishing proof that Douglass was a better orator than prophet. With his exultant words in mind, it is interesting to turn to the dull and prosaic pages of an Industrial Commission report of a later day, and read there the matter-of-fact statement that "the Italians of Mississippi and Louisiana are rapidly dislodging the negroes from the sugarcane plantations." The five parishes of Louisiana which in 1899, the year previous to the last census, had more than 20,000 acres each in cane were St. Mary, Lafourche, Assumption, Terrebonne, and St. James. This group contained 54 per cent. of the total cane area of the State. In 1890 these parishes contained 960 Italians, and in 1900, 5007. During the same 10-year period the percentage of negroes decreased.
THE COLONY AT SUNNYSIDE.
But it is the Italian cotton-grower to Only a few years of non-tillage would be needed to give the sunny and fruitful South to whom I wish to call attention here, and to the bats and owls of a desolate wilderness. what is probably the most important colony From this condition, shocking for a Southern of these people now in the Southern States. man to contemplate, it is now seen that nothing This is the Sunnyside colony, in Chicot less powerful than the naked iron arm of the a Southern County, Ark., on the Mississippi River, negro can save her. For him as laborer there is no competitor or substitute. The nearly opposite Greenville, Miss., and be