Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE RUSSIAN DOUMA

R

RGAS USSIA'S ”

first parlia- "helped" them organize themselves and ment, after four days their program is very similar to the latof discussion, pub- ter's, but naturally more radical on the lished its first official points which touch them more closely. document.

It was

The party lost many possible members drawn up by a com- among the peasant deputies because it mission of thirty-three stands for the autonomy of Poland and

men. It was to be a the equality of all nationalities. A more compromise of all the tendencies repre- ill-defined group of some fifty peasants is sented. Party programs were to be showing a more conservative tendency. sacrificed in order to obtain the unanimity They are still non-party. The Rights are of the douma. One can see, however, the making every endeavor to win them over temper of the assembly, if not the true by discrediting the Cadets. These peascharacter of its majority, in this docu- ants want land and liberty and are waitment. The discussions were long drawn ing to join that party which promises to out because many deputies felt that they satisfy best their demands. must express their convictions in order to The Radicals are represented in such justify themselves before their supporters. small numbers that they can be neglected. Innumerable amendments were proposed, On the Right are the so-called Octobrists; some of a radical character, many more their platform is the manifesto of October conservative. Most of these proposed 17. They are not properly a Right. If amendments were systematically voted

voted the true conservatives were better repredown. The Constitutional-Democrats sented, the Octobrists would form the showed the strength of a close party Center. Already they have shown an organization. On one occasion, thirty-one inclination to become an obstructionary amendments to a certain paragraph were minority. Their leaders are Count Heyput to the vote and discarded in as many den and Stahovitch. A small but influenminutes.

tial group is the party of Democratic The discussions of this answer to the Reforms, holding an intermediate position speech from the throne did not bring out between the Cadets and the Octobrists. the strength and platforms of the various They have some strong men: Maxime parties. These parties exist, however, Kovalevsky, Kuzmin - Karavaev.

They more or less clearly defined and organized. seem ready to support the Cadets, but The Constitutional-Democrats, called the wish to remain independent and free “Cadets," claim to have the majority. from the latter's disciplinary organizaBut the peasant element which they think tion. A kind of “nationality” group has they have won over is still an uncertain been formed by the Poles and the Jews. quantity.

But the Cadets with the nationality clause The parliamentary group of Laborers of their platform will probably obtain the organized themselves just before the open- coöperation of this group. ing of the douma. This party is com- During the recesses the lobby of the posed of three elements: peasants, work- douma is an interesting study; a more men and, as they term themselves, the democratic gathering would be hard to intellectual proletariat. The last category find. One sees the peasant deputy in his includes such deputies as village-school long coat and high boots walking with the teachers, men connected with the organs land-proprietor. Workmen, professors, of local self government, all interested gentry mingle together.

The orthodox particularly in the agrarian and labor priests with their long hair and heavy problems. This group is said to number beards sit and smoke cigarettes with the one hundred and thirty, The Cadets others. The Tartar delegates from Kazan wear the small skull cap on their shaven answer to the throne speech, a peasant, beads. The peasants from Little Russia with whom I had become quite intimate, and Poland are in their national asked me how long I thought the douma dress, for there is to be no more forced would continue. The question did not Russification. A Catholic priest and the surprise me; one hears so much talk of Archbishop of Warsaw add another vari- the probable dissolution of the assembly. ety. And all these classes gather around The peasant felt the demands they were the tables in the restaurants and tea- making were just, but he was afraid those rooms, each eager to expound his opinion about the Emperor would persuade him The peasants are a little loath to visit the not to grant them. He added that the refreshment rooms where one has to pay people's one hope is the douma. They five cents for a cup of tea. One peasant may not understand its true political was asked if he was enjoying himself with significance, but they know the douma can his five dollars a day. He frankly replied give them land and freedom. that he was sending four dollars and a But all prophecy is futile. What we half home each day.

forget so often, however, is that we must It has been interesting to talk with these not judge Russia by our standards. It is peasant deputies. Some are simple

simple in Russia that the unexpected usually genuine muzhiks, uneducated perhaps, but happens. The answer to the throne speech not ignorant. One peasant surprised me is firm, but respectfully worded. It is a by reminding me of the help Russia had "sweeping program.

“sweeping program." But the douma given America on one occasion. He re- felt it must indicate, from the very start,

what it considered to be its mission.

The douma says it will present soon a law on the representation of the people, based on the principle of universal suffrage. For it sees in the solemn promise of the throne speech the assurance of a legislative order conforming to strictly constitutional principles. The Cadets stand for universal, direct, equal and secret vote. They did not insist on their four-term formula, but promised their supporters to introduce a measure at the earliest possible moment.

The absolute power of the chinovnik, the functionary, is pointed out as the chief scourge of the country. He stands between the Czar and the people. The events of the last months have convinced the people that a peaceful order can be established only when it is clear that the administrative authorities can not act arbitrarily, covering their acts with the

Emperor's name, and when the ministers FEODAR RODICHER

are responsible to the representatives of A member of the Cadet Party and its best speaker

the people. Only a ministry enjoying the ferred to the sending of a Russian fleet confidence of the majority in the douma with sealed orders during the Civil War. can strengthen faith in the government. Most of the peasants are willing to talk, Russia must be freed from all “ extraorespecially with a foreigner. Only a few dinary” laws, under the cover of which have been reticent, and they were those continues the absolute power of irresponwho had been to the cities and obtained sible chinovniks. a little education.

In the discussions there was no hesiThe utter simplicity of the genuine tancy to speak openly against the bureaupeasants is almost amusing. While we

While we crats and the ministers. Official docuwere waiting for the final revision of the ments proving that the government organ

[graphic]

ized the "counter-revolution" of last sian woman takes a very lively interest in winter were published this last week. A politics. demand for the investigation of this The protest against the death penalty charge against the ministry of the interior

gave many speakers the opportunity to has been handed in, signed by forty-seven dwell on the military executions of the deputies.

The protest against the Council of the Empire, "composed of appointed statesmen and elected members of the higher classes,” is no less firm, on the same ground, that it too stands between the Emperor and the people. The feeling against the Council is very bitter. As one newspaper said:

“The Council came together yesterday afternoon for a cup of tea.” A little more enthusiasm has been aroused in these pillars of the Empire by the discussion of their answer to the throne speech. Count Witte, still irrepressible, is taking an active part in these council meetings.

Two amendments to the original project, made by Maxime Kovalevsky, were accepted. All taxes shall be regulated by the representatives of the people, and no law relating to taxation, once accepted by the douma, shall be changed except by a body which represents the mass of those on whom the tax falls.

All the liberties of speech, conscience, union, strikes, etc., are to be guaranteed by law. Individuals are to have the right A member of the party of Democratic Reforms; a brilliant speaker to address petitions to the representatives of the people. This was another amend- last months. “The douma will express ment proposed by Kovalevsky, who has the unanimous desire of the whole country been one of the most influential orators of when it projects a law abolishing forever this first week. He is a more practical the death penalty. In anticipation of such authority on constitutional law than a law, the country expects the Emperor to Muromtsev. He is inclined to base his commute all death sentences. arguments too often on the example of “The douma would not consider that it Western Europe. One peasant blurted had fulfilled its mission if it did not work out that Russia has nothing to learn from out a law to satisfy the needs of the workthe West, but that the West can learn ing peasantry, by taking from the state, much from Russia. Much as his opinion appanage, cabinet, monastery and church may be shared, his tactless wording of it lands, and, if necessary, by expropriating was greeted with a loud laugh. There has 'private lands." The peasant deputies been a delightful informality in the ses- showed a little dissatisfaction that their sions, although not too much.

question was not given more importance. Equality of all before the law is essen- One peasant said that, after amnesty, the tial to liberty and order. The douma will land question was the most vital. Intimpropose a law abolishing all limitations idated perhaps by the “intellectual” and privileges for class, nationality, speakers, the peasants did not mount the religion and sex. The last word was added tribune very often, even during the disas an amendment. Many orators spoke cussion of this land clause. There are, for woman suffrage and were loudly however, some good peasant speakers. It applauded. There are many women in is a relief to hear their simple talks after the visitors' gallery. In general, the Rus- a long theoretical exposition by a univer

[graphic]

MAXIM KOVALEVSKY

[graphic]

sity man. The peasant's lot is to be bet- and fleet should be organized and tered by laws giving him equality of strengthened. This mention of

of the rights and freeing him from the arbitrary soldiers and sailors was the last amendpower and tutelage of local administra- ment accepted. In the original project tive officials. The peasants will tell you this point was not touched. It was an that they want land and freedom; by the important addition. “Harmony between latter they mean rights as well as liberty all the races and peoples of the empire is Then they add that they must have educa- possible only by the satisfying of the tion, and in the answer the douma needs of each." The douma will occupy promises to propose a law instituting uni- itself with the solution of these “naversal and free instruction. The attempt tional" questions. to insert the word obligatory was de- The first word spoken in the douma was feated.

a word for amnesty. It was the word The workman question is to be solved which the crowd shouted to the deputies by laws guaranteeing hired labor freedom as they entered the douma on the day of of organization and independence, with a its opening. “The douma can not enter

on its work as long as the question of amnesty is not settled." Amnesty is asked for all who have suffered for religious and political motives, and also for those who were involved in the agrarian disturbances. There was an attempt made by the “Right”' to introduce a clause censuring the political assassinations. The Cadets answered frankly that they could not accept such an amendment. Many consider this the first important mistake of the Left majority. But it appears that the group of Laborers wished to “make a scandal" on this point. The Cadets persuaded them to keep quiet by promising to squelch the amendment. The answer closes : “There are demands of the people's conscience which can not be refused, in fulfilling which there must be no delay. Sire, the douma expects from you full political amnesty as the first pledge of mutual understanding and harmony between the Emperor and the people.'

This brief examination of the answer to the throne speech explains the whole

political situation in Russia more clearly IVAN PETRUNKEVITCH A well-known zemstvo worker and a Constitutional Democrat than any document. As was stated

it is addressed to the people as well as to view to bettering their material and spirit- the Czar. It states what the representaual welfare. Particular attention will be tives of the people expect from the given to the just distribution of taxes, Emperor, what they are ready to do for which now fall heavily on the poorer those whom they represent. It gives an classes, and to the suitable expenditure of idea of the general temper of the douma. the imperial moneys.

That may not be the temper of the Local administration and self-govern- country. But the douma is the only voice ment will be reformed. Universal suf- the country has at present. The answer frage will give an equitable representation may appear radical in its demands, but of local population. Justice and right the general feeling, especially in the provmust be the principles on which the army inces, is even more radical.

[graphic]

A PORTION OF JAMESTOWN ISLAND, WHERE THE FIRST ENGLISH SETTLERS LANDED MAY 13, 1607

THE CRADLE OF THE REPUBLIC

JAMESTOWN AND ITS TERCENTENNIAL OF 1907

BY

PLUMMER F. JONES

was

PN May 13, 1607, Captain with a historical, marine, military and

John Smith with a industrial exposition, open to the public
company of some six- on April 26, 1907, the three-hundredth
score adventurous gen- anniversary of the date when the first
tlemen and soldiers Englishmen passed through the capes and
from London, after a entered Virginia waters.
voyage of many weeks, The site which has been chosen is not

disembarked from three that of Jamestown Island, which was first cockle-shell vessels, the Susan Constant, considered, but a splendid plateau adjathe God Speed and the Discovery, and cent to the city of Norfolk, overlooking began at once to lay out on a wooded Hampton Roads, probably the most island near the mouth of what

famous harbor on the Atlantic coast, and subsequently known as James River, in in the very heart of the most historic secVirginia, a rude village which they, in tion of the New World. honor of the king, were pleased to call The exposition as planned is different Jamestown, thus establishing a date, now from any which have yet been held either familiar to every school-child, as that upon in this country or abroad. The industrial which Englishmen first made permanent feature, which has heretofore been presettlement on the western continent. It dominant at every great exposition from is the purpose of the Jamestown Exposi- the Philadelphia Centennial down to the tion Company-composed largely of pat- St. Louis World's Fair, is to be suborriotic men and women-backed by the dinated to the historical and reminiscent; National Government and the several and the marine and military features will states, to commemorate this great event have special prominence.

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »