Imágenes de páginas

is materialistic interests which are supreme at the present time.

To a somewhat higher motive the opposition which has been offered to the Hungarian Loan must be attributed. Hungary is, of course, associated with Austria in the Triple Alliance, and has been, through the mouths of her statesmen, boasting of her hearty support of that alliance. It is, therefore, part of a coalition directed against France and its allies, and to the political conscience of the French people an appeal is made not to contribute funds to strengthen potential enemies. It is intolerable, it is said, that French savings should be devoted to paying for the armaments of the Triple Alliance,

It is worthy of note in this connection that whatever France may have lost in other respects she has become for most of the nations of Europe the indispensable means to which recourse must be had for the raising of national loans, For long years Russia has depended upon French savings, and within the last few months Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey have raised money in France. Hungary, as we have just said, is anxious to do the same, and even Germany has long been casting wistful eyes on the French Bourse. It is said, in fact, that, by a roundabout way, the funds for the Baghdad Railway, which is being made under German auspices, have been derived from France, or must be, if the work is to go on.

The increase of the cost of living, which France is experiencing along with other countries which have adopted protection, is giving Free Traders an argument of which they are taking full advantage. Within the last decade the price of necessaries has increased by one-third, and for some articles has doubled. Commodities which in June, 1908, were sold at an average standard price of 100.8 cost 102 last year and 106.6 to-day. The price of bread also has risen and certain demiportions served in the restaurants have been abolished. This has led to an agitation calling upon the government to suspend the Customs in order that, for a time, grain may be admitted free. The government has not been slow to take the matter in hand, and has instituted an inquiry, promising that if it should be proved that the increase of prices is due to the transgression of the law with reference to market transactions, or to the artificial forcing up of prices by speculators, prosecutions will be instituted.

It is wonderful how little is heard of Switzerland. About once a year the election of a new President is announced. A few Alpine accidents occur and from time to time an avalanche. Recently there has been news of floods. Doubtless this is a sign that all is going well, but it does not make Switzerland a country that adds much to the interest of life, as understood nowadays. It is not, however, a country to be neglected, even as a political power, small and quiet though it is, and of their interest in it Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy have recently given proof. It is only of late, however, that the Third Republic has shown any sense of the possible importance of their smaller neighbor. At last it has awakened to a due recognition of this importance, and after a period of negotiation a formal rapprochement has taken place, the seal to which has been placed by the visit paid by President Fallières a few weeks ago. Every effort was made to welcome the head of the French Republic, and festivities of all kinds were arranged. But on the eve of the departure of the President, a railway accident, of a very serious character, took place in France. As an evidence of sympathy with the sufferers, all the festivities were, at the President's request, countermanded. The visit itself, however, was paid, and the substantial result, in the shape of a more cordial and intimate friendship between the two Republics, has, it is hoped, been secured.

In another quarter France has experienced the mortification of seeing her influence supplanted by that of Germany, and yet in such a way as to afford no ground of complaint against that country. For some years the small army of the Brazilian State of Sao Paulo has been trained by French officers, but, before the term of their engagement had expired, it has been decided to appoint German officers instead of French. As the Chilian and Argentine armies are being trained by Germans, an indication is given of the extent and growth of the influence of Germany in South America, which is in no way pleasing to the Republic. The President of Brazil has been the object of several marked acts of courtesy on the part of the Kaiser, and has been so prompt in reciprocating them, that it seems clear that the influence of Germany is growing ever greater over the authorities of Brazil. A warning accordingly is given to those authorities that the French money market may not be opened to supply Brazil's needs when next it applies.


The rivalry in armaments necessitated by the attitude maintained by Germany will, it is feared, shortly involve France in a further large expenditure of money. The Lebel rifle, which is now in use, while capable, it is said, of competing with all the rifles of foreign armies, is not so perfect as the war authorities desire, and a new weapon embodying every technical perfection having been elaborated, its adoption is being urged as, if not necessary, at least desirable. The expense, however, makes even the War Minister hesitate; for it is said that it will cost no less than two hundred millions of dollars. Others put the amount at about half this sum. The authorities are in this difficulty: if they say that the rifle now in use is totally unfit, they may bring Germany down upon them; if, on the other hand, they say that the rifle is as good as can be desired, there is no reason for incurring the immense expense involved in changing. The recent advance in aeronautics renders it necessary to take measures for aerial defence. A special corps has been formed for this purpose, which has at its service 32 aeroplanes and several airships. Such are the efforts being made in order to maintain the balance of power in countries which border one upon another.


Germany, also, has been having its political holiday, the enjoyment of which has been somewhat interfered with by two events-a widely extended shipping dispute and a speech of the Kaiser. The former has not, so far as we have heard, been settled, the effects of the latter have still to be made manifest. Before visiting Königsberg, at which the speech was made, the Emperor went to Posen, where a new Royal Castle, the seventh, we believe, has been building for the past five years. It has cost no less a sum than a million and a quarter, and is not, so critics say, of remarkable beauty. The disappointment on this occasion was not on account of anything said by the Kaiser, but rather on account of what he did not say. The Germans are busy in the attempt to Germanize the districts which formed part of the former Kingdom of Poland, but have met with very little success. An Expropriation Law was made two years ago to further these efforts, but seems not to have been put into effect, and the colonization policy has fared no better than it did before the Law was

made. Under these circumstances it was not unnatural to expect that the Kaiser should make an announcement of the policy to be adopted in the immediate future. He confined himself, however, to generalities, the only reference which he made to the question of the relations between Germans and Poles being the expression of the hope that the town of Posen "might be and remain a home and nursery of German culture and customs."

At Königsberg, to which the Emperor subsequently proceeded, he was, no one will question it, outspoken enough. His son and heir, the Crown Prince, had made, two or three days before, his first speech in public on the occasion of his being installed as Rector Magnificentissimus of the University. In this speech the Crown Prince declared it to be the duty of all the dwellers in the Empire to emphasize what is essentially German in them, in contrast to the efforts towards internationalization which threatened to obliterate their healthy national peculiarities.

The fact that Königsberg was the place where the Great Elector's son, Frederick III. of Brandenburg, had had himself crowned King of Prussia, and that he did this by his own right, and that also later on it was the scene of his grandfather's placing upon his own head the crown of the Kings of Prussia by the grace of God alone, and not by Parliaments, meetings of the people, or popular decision, formed the Kaiser's ground for the assertion that he too was himself the chosen instrument of heaven, and that it was as such he performed his duties as Regent and as Ruler. "Considering myself as the instrument of the Lord," he went on to say, to say, "without heeding the views and opinions of the day, I go my way, which is devoted solely and alone to the prosperity and peaceful development of our Fatherland."

These utterances have called forth severe criticism from friends and foes alike. The friends of the monarchy fear that they will stir up an agitation dangerous to the throne and adding strength to the ever-increasing force of Socialism. The leading Catholic journal, the Germania, expresses the hope that the Emperor may not possess a false idea of his attributes as the instrument of heaven, and may not leave unheeded the opinions of others. It finds consolation in the fact that in the past his action has belied his words, and that he has always listened

to the opinion of the people when it has been decisively and clearly expressed. The Socialist organ demands an instant summoning of the Reichstag to take action upon a distinct and clear violation of the Constitution, a declaration of absolutism, a disregard of the people and of the people's representatives. So loud was the outcry, that it had to be explained semiofficially that the speech was not a governmental action; but a personal expression of faith on the part of the monarch; and of this personal faith the Kaiser, in a subsequent speech, said that all he meant to imply, when he called himself a chosen instrument of the Lord, was that he felt himself to be working under the highest protection and with the highest mandate of our Lord and God, "and that I assume to be the case with every honest Christian whoever he may be." More will be heard of this matter when the Reichstag meets, for there will then be an interpellation.

Statistics of the movement of population in the Empire have recently been published, from which it appears that, while the decline in the death-rate has been checked, the decline in the birth-rate has continued. This decline has taken place in all States of the Empire and in all parts of the country during the last ten years. The rate for the whole Empire is 4 per cent lower (33 per 1,000) in 1908 than in 1899, 37 per 1,000. In Berlin the rate has now fallen to 23.9 per 1,000 inhabitants. The rate is markedly low in the Protestant parts, in Saxony most of all, while the highest rate is in the Catholic parts, with the exception of Alsace-Lorraine.


In pleasing contrast to the German Emperor's self-assertion is the selfeffacement of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor-King; and as the former's speech has called forth the spirit of dissension and criticism, the quiet celebration of the eightieth birthday of Francis Joseph has been attended by a universal manifestation of esteem and even reverence, with not a discordant note. By the Emperor's command the only special celebration of the day consisted in the foundation of a large number of charitable institutions and the granting of a large number of amnesties. A family dinner at Ischl, and the performance of a play written by his youngest daughter, in which the actors and actress were his grandchildren, can

« AnteriorContinuar »