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severely criticised by its opponents, and the Government was blamed for not paying sufficient attention to the strained financial situation which prevailed, more especially in the Norwegian capital. The railway votes were considered too generous, under the circumstances; to the military grants was raised the additional objection that they were given a political colouring, which must of necessity have been unpalatable to the Swedish nation.
This remark applied still more to the “pure " flag question, which, politically speaking, was by far the most important event of the year. Vain hopes were entertained in some quarters that the matter would have been allowed to stand over. This was not to be; it was carried to the bitter end, and Norway, or rather the Radical Government, in so doing did not commit any violation of the Constitution, although an opposite view was held by many in Sweden. This view, however, hardly lessened the painful impression produced on the other side of the Kölen Mountains. What the Norwegians decided on was to remove the emblem of the Union from the Norwegian flag; whilst Sweden continued to carry it in her flag, the emblems in each case being the colours of the other country.
The action of the Norwegian Government was bound to call forth, and did call forth, a storm of bitter indignation in Sweden. The matter was before the Joint Council of State in Stockholm, and two days later a special edition of the Swedish official paper contained an announcement that the King, in Joint Council of State, had decreed that the Norwegian Flag Act should be promulgated. This Act came into force from having been three times passed by the Norwegian Storthing, the King's sanction being thereby dispensable. The King, consequently, in this case was forced to authorise the publication of an act from which he had withheld his sanction. In the first Council of State (Oct. 6) the Swedish Foreign Minister, Count Douglas, pointed out that the position of the Norwegian Government was settled by the royal letter of June 20, 1844, which had hitherto been the authority for the style of the flags of the two countries. He argued, therefore, that the Norwegian authorities had not acted correctly in ignoring his view, and that, in his opinion, the royal letter still remained in force, and that any alteration in the existing situation could only be passed by the Joint Council of State. At a subsequent meeting of the Joint Council of State (Oct. 11) the Swedish members protested against the resolution of the Norwegian Government to notify its decision on the flag question to the ambassadors as well as to the consuls. The Foreign Minister maintained his original position, but the Premier, M. Boström, pointed out that the Foreign Minister was in this matter at variance with the other members of the Ministry. (Count Douglas, the Foreign Minister, subsequently resigned.) The King's views in the
red that condition establish of the by providmain.
matter were expressed in a note stating that “the uniform resolution concerning the flag question, which the Norwegian Storthing has passed three times, has, as is well known, three times been refused my sanction as King of Norway, for the reasons I had placed on record in the Norwegian Council of State, held December 10, 1898. Here I must, as King of the United Kingdoms, declare that I disapprove and regret any change in the resolution of my exalted father, of June 20, 1844, and I still consider it would have been to the interest of both kingdoms-not the less for Norway—to maintain it. By the emblem of the Union, thereby provided, a visible and fully satisfactory expression of the equal standing of the two nations had been established.” Regretting the existing constitutional conditions in this connection the King, however, declared that the regulations of the royal letter of June 20, 1844, ceased to apply to the Norwegian merchant flag from December 15, 1899. The King also instructed the proper authorities to communicate this to foreign Powers and the legations and consulates of the United Kingdoms (Norway and Sweden). The removal of the visible emblem of the Union from the Norwegian flag caused even in Norway much regret and dissent, although the grave results anticipated in numerous quarters were probably chimerical.
In another way also the proceedings of the Storthing proved a disappointment. The advocates of calling the Storthing together in October instead of, as hitherto, in January, insisted that the session would thereby be considerably shortened. The opposite proved to be the case, for the 1898-9 session was the longest on record, since annual sessions of the Storthing, which were introduced in 1871. The sessions had for years been steadily lengthening, without the legislative work being at all proportionately increased; and this year the end of May had arrived before the Storthing was prorogued, the session having then lasted seven months and seventeen days.
During the summer the King was present at a solemn military function at Haplund, where new standards were presented to a number of regiments. The King made an eloquent speech to the troops and was received with much enthusiasm.
The Storthing reassembled (Oct. 11), and was solemnly opened a day or two later with a speech from M. Steen, the Premier. He announced that several new measures would be laid before the Storthing, including a military criminal code, a proposal dealing with disablement and old-age pensions, a new tariff, etc. Referring to the strained state of the money market, he referred to over-speculation and over-production in some branches as the causes. The credit side of the Budget amounted to 92,300,000 kr., whilst the expenditure was calculated at 90,200,000 kr. The greater portion of the surplus arose from extra taxation of income and property. It was proposed to apply 9,800,000 kr. to railway construction, this sum being
apply 19,50,900f income tan portion of the
obtained from State loans. An increase in the revenue of the State railways about covered a corresponding reduction in the customs receipts. It was also proposed to prolong for four years the extra taxation on income and property, by which time the whole of the votes for extraordinary defence measures43,900,000 kr.-would be covered.
A few days after the reassembling of the Storthing the representatives of the Left met in order to consider the programme for the next general election. This important question had already been publicly discussed for some time previous to the meeting. With one or two exceptions, the Radical papers urged the party to adopt a more active, not to say aggressive, policy in the “Union's conflict," although the paper, which was supposed to act as the mouthpiece of the present Radical Government, pointed out the great risk which an acute conflict with Sweden would involve. At the same time it was insisted that the old demands for separate and independent Norwegian institutions (separate diplomatic and consular representation) should be maintained, only it should be left more or less to the discretion of the members, how and when these claims should be advanced. Otherwise the official paper had, since the flag question had been solved in accordance with the wishes of the Radical party, often assumed an overbearing tone in its reference to Sweden. Only a few days previously, when touching upon the large defensive votes which had been passed in recent years, it had stated that the point was to make Norway capable of defending herself against possible Swedish plans of attack. This was now in a fair way of being compassed. The moment for action was now approaching, and it was time to put the question of the Union forward as an active programme, but it was best to advance step by step, first by consular representation, that was now ripe, etc.
It was therefore a matter of little surprise that the meeting of delegates for the Radical, or Left party as they called themselves, fully endorsed these views, though with some reserve as regards the choice of time. The programme, approved of by the meeting, contained the following items :
The consummation of Norway's independence by means of separate Norwegian foreign representation and independent Norwegian consuls; the resolution with regard to the latter to be passed before the next general election. The second resolution endorsed the principle of arbitration and neutrality, the third advocated insurance against disablement, comprising the whole Norwegian nation. This programme was then forwarded to the local Radical unions for further consideration,
The Storthing, by 95 votes against 21, passed (Oct. 25) the proposal for a new State loan of 30,000,000ki. The minority advocated a loan of only 20,000,000 kr., which they considered adequate for the first three or four years.
I. INDIA, ETC.
Afghanistan.-Not for many years had Afghanistan been less disturbed than in 1899. Few tribal risings occurred and the Ameer Abdurrhaman continued friendly to Great Britain. Yet there was a disquieting rumour that Russia was preparing to advance on Herat in certain eventualities, and that an experimental mobilisation of Russian troops from Tiflis to Kuskh (some sixty miles from Herat) was made at the close of the year.
Several small disturbances were created along the frontier in February by marauding bands of Waziris and Mahsuds, which were easily suppressed by the local militia without aid from regular troops.
Captain Ross-Keppel in March made a sudden attack on a predatory band of Chamkannis that had been raiding in the Kuram Valley and captured 100 prisoners with 3,000 head of cattle. These raids, though tiresome, were, however, of no political importance.
But in consequence of repeated outrages committed by the Waziris, and especially because of the murder of Colonel E. H. le Marchant of the Hampshire Regiment, the Indian Government in May ordered the partial disarmament of the Peshawar division, and of all trans-border Pathans at the frontier, and the disarmament of all persons without licences in all municipalities and cantonments within the division.
In spite of punitive measures the robber Waziris in July continued their lawless attacks, chiefly with a view to cattle raiding.
In accordance with the frontier policy of the Viceroy all regular troops were withdrawn from the Khyber Pass in December to Peshawar, leaving the forts and posts in the pass to be guarded by the Khyber Rifles. Complete tranquillity prevailed in consequence, and the Afridis and other local tribes were thereby convinced that the Government had no idea of annexing their territory or of placing British garrisons over the border. The Ameer kept up a friendly correspondence with the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, during the year, and the relations between Afghanistan and the Indian Government were never more cordial.
available for the Honovember to be the expira
Burmah.-Peace and prosperity reigned in almost every district during the year and the organised gangs of dacoits were dispersed. The Government continued renewing the expiring leases for working the forests instead of assuming the work.
The demarcation of the southern section of the BurmoChinese frontier was completed in May, and in October the final delimitation for the season was accomplished. The frontier from the river Namyang runs due east, adding to the northern Shan States several hundred square miles more than was given by the line laid down by the agreement of 1897.
A good railway route from Yung-chang-fu to Yin-chau, near Shunning-fu, was discovered, rendering railway connection practicable between Burmah and the Chinese province of Yunnan.
A chief court of justice for Lower Burmah, consisting of a chief and three associate judges, was recommended by the Government in August.
At the close of the year the construction of the BasseinHenzada Railway was about to begin, and also the survey of the Pegu-Moulmein line.
It was announced that 2,020,881 tons of rice were this year available for export from Burmah.
Bombay.—The Hon. Sir Henry Stafford Northcote, baronet, was appointed in November to be Governor of Bombay in succession to Lord Sandhurst, on the expiration of his term of office in February, 1900.
The native editor of a Marathi newspaper, the Gurakki, published at Bombay, was sentenced in June to six months' imprisonment for publishing in March in that paper a series of seditious articles, which were a direct incitement to rebellion.
A great sensation was caused at Poona on February 8 by the assassination of the brothers Dravid, the informers through whose evidence Damodar Chapekar was convicted of the murder of Mr. Rand and Lieutenant Ayerst in June, 1897. The Dravids were enticed from their house and shot. While several members of a club formed by Damodar Chapekar were being examined at the police station, the youngest brother of Damodar fired a revolver at the native chief constable, boasted that he had killed the brothers Dravid, and declared that Ranade, a Brahmin, who had been arrested on suspicion, was his accomplice. In March Balkrishna Chapekar, Vasudeo Chapekar and Ranade were found guilty of the murder of Lieutenant Ayerst and Mr. Rand, and sentenced to death. Vasudeo and Ranade were previously convicted of the murder of the brothers Dravid.
In October the Bombay millowners decided to run their cotton mills only four days per week on account of the depression caused by the failure of the Indian cotton crop, the low price of yarn, and the glut in the Chinese market.