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the contemplated restoration of a metallic currency and adoption of a gold standard, has been postponed, on the initiative, it is said, of the emperor himself. There are rumors that the position of M. de Witte has been somewhat shaken thereby, as well as by the failure of the loan which, it was in vain expected, would be the sequel of the czar's recent visit to the French capital.
On October 30, Prince Khilkoff, minister of ways and communication, returned to St. Petersburg having completed a tour of the world in eighty days. His route had been in the opposite direction to that traversed by Li HungChang. In the course of his travels he crossed the United States from San Francisco, Cal., to New York, being received with much honor by railroad officials at various points. The object of his trip was to inspect the railroad and steamship lines of the world, especially of the United States, with a view to the introduction of reforms and im
proved methods of transportation in the empire and particularly in the great railroad now being built across Siberia.
The trial by court-martial of the prisoners charged with being implicated in the bomb-throwing outrage at Barcelona on June 7 (p. 446), ended December 16. The proceedings were marked by great secrecy owing to fear of other anarchist attempts. It is stated that four of the prisoners were condemned to be shot, four to life imprisonment, and the remaining seventy-six to terms of confinment ranging from eight to nineteen years.
A scandal in high life was the elopement in November of Princess Elvira, daughter of Don Carlos, the pretender to the Spanish throne, with Count Folchi, an artist and a married man with a family
The elopement, in November, of the Princess of Chimay and Caraman, wife of Prince Joseph of Chimay and Caraman, Belgium, with a Hungarian gypsy, a musician named Rigo, has set two worlds a-gossiping, and proved a harvest to those journals which devote large space to details of spicy scandal. Prince Joseph has brought suit for divorce in the Brussels courts. His wife was formerly Miss Clara Ward of Detroit, Mich.
Major Lothaire, the notorious commander of the Kongo Free State troops, was, on November 18, mulcted in the sum of £360 for breach of promise of marriage, on suit brought by Madame van Hecke of Brussels in behalf of her daughter.
On December 17 the federal assembly at Berne elected Dr. Adolf Deucher president for 1897, to succeed Adrien Lachenal elected in December, 1895. Dr. Deucher was vice-president during the past year. Eugen Rueffy, minister of the interior, was elected vice-president.
After several postponements, the trial of Georgieff, Atzoff, and Tufektchieff, accused of the murder of ex-Premier Stambouloff in July, 1895 (Vol. 5, p. 587), began at Sofia on December 21. It ended on December 30 in the acquittal. of Georgieff, a former servant of Major Panitza; but Atzoff, who was M. Stambouloff's coachman on the fatal evening, and Tufektchieff, a former employé of the department of public works, whose brother had been fatally maltreated in prison, it is alleged, by sanction or order of the dead premier, and who was one of the assailants who actually struck the fatal blows, were each convicted and sentenced to three months' imprisonment. A letter written by M. Stambouloff to a friend in March, 1895, was read in court, showing that the dead statesman was well aware that he stood in peril of his life, and implicating Tufektchieff and Natchevitch in a desperate plot against him. The most dramatic incident of the trial was the denunciation made before the tribunal on December 27 by the widow of
M. Stambouloff, who declared: "Let these poor wretches go; the real murderers of my husband are the present government!"
The ministerial difficulties referred to last quarter (p. 691) led to a dissolution of the sobranje about November 1. Elections for new members were held November 29, resulting in an overwhelming majority for the govern ment of M. Stoiloff. The opposition is said to number less than one-fourth of the house, and is divided into four factions.
It appears that notwithstanding the obstruction from high quarters raised in the way of the commercial treaty negotiations with Austria on account of alleged hostility to the scheme from the Russian party, a commercial treaty with the dual monarchy has actually been arranged. This shows that M. Stoiloff tends to pursue a conservative policy in all matters that might create antagonism between Bulgaria and other Danubian states.
THE close of 1896 finds India stricken with famine and pestilence. Dry weather, causing crop failure and preventing fall sowing, coupled with excessive export of former surplus crops, has made the shortage felt in nearly every part of the empire. One half of the Punjab, Northwest Provinces, and Oude is entirely destitute; of the Central Provinces, one fourth is in distress; all Berar and Madras north of the Kistna are in want, while in Bombay the central and southern districts are suffering most, and throughout the country grain riots have become common. The number of persons now employed on government relief works is over a million; and the viceroy estimates that it may exceed three millions during the worst time. The government expects to spend £6,000,000 in such work, and probably will need double that amount. The officially admitted famine area at the close of December has a population of 81,000,000 people, all vegetarians and doing manual labor; and, though some rain fell in the latter part of the month, it is doubtful if the worst is yet foreseen.
When the extent of the famine became known in Russia, orders were issued from St. Petersburg to convey donations of breadstuffs for the sufferers free from all parts of Russia to India; while the newspapers of Moscow and St. Petersburg published earnest appeals for help, and the archbishop of Moscow opened a subscription for the famine sufferers. This interest of Russia in England's colony is looked upon with suspicion by the English press as concealing some deep political design.
The bubonic plague which broke out in Bombay in September, was confined to one ward for two months; but, by December 1, had spread to all districts of the city, and, up to the close of the month, had not diminished in virulence, the deaths numbering about 1,500. Bombay is built on what was formerly an island, now a peninsula; and experts are advising absolute isolation of the city by armed steamers and a cordon of troops, and the burning and rebuilding of the native quarters of the city. It is stated that fully 200,000 persons, or one quarter of the population, have fled from the city. So deep is the general terror that the native doctors either flee or refuse to visit the sick. The fact that the plague is affecting the smaller animals, such as pigs, goats, rats, poultry, and pigeons, is ominous. The plague has already appeared at Kurrachee in Sinde and a number of smaller places, whence it may spread through the Punjab, where it will find easy victims among the starving population.
On October 14, at Sunari, a small station on the SindPishin section of the Northwestern railway, seven men, including the station-master, were murdered by seven or eight Ghazis of the Marri tribe, led by the Mahometan. fanatic Kalakhan, better known as the Mast Fakir; and the following day four gang-men were killed near Dalijal, about fourteen miles from Sunari. News of the outrage reaching General Gatacre, who had just assumed command of the Quetta district, he immediately left for Sunari fearing a general uprising; and, on October 24, with twenty men of the 24th Baluchistan regiment, surprised the Ghazis in their camp on the Dungan Hill, capturing three, including Fakir Kalakhan, the leader, who were publicly hanged and burned. It is believed this was a case of pure Ghaza, which is the taking of the life of a Kafir or unbeliever, and is of no political significance. Ghaza is considered a meritorious act, and obtains for the Ghazi sure entry to Bhisht or Heaven.
The London Spectator states that Dr. Fahrer, the
archæological surveyor of Northwestern India, has discovered amidst the ruins of a vast array of monasteries at Mauza Paderlya in Butala, a district of the Nepal Terai, the monolith, previously believed to exist, on which is an inscription recording that Asoka in the twentieth year of his reign (about 239 B. C.) erected the monument to mark the birthplace of Buddha. The ruins around the monolith will be excavated next year.
A correspondent writing from Tokio on October 19 throws further light upon the resignation of the ministry of Marquis Ito, which took place at the end of August (p. 692).
It appears that there had arisen widespread popular distrust of the cabinet. The administration of reforms in Korea had been a failure, and the confusion in Formosa had cast discredit upon the people and policy of Japan. Moreover, the financial policy of the govern ment did not inspire confidence. There was dissension within the cabinet, the finance minister being at variance with some of his colleagues who proposed a budget of expenditure for the coming year largely in excess of the probable revenue, and threatening to resign. This state of indecision in the ministry had a depressing effect upon trade, industry, government bonds, and the stock exchanges. In fact, says the writer, the fall of the Ito ministry was "a general breakdown originating in a want of decision, absence of unity, and lack of moral stamina in the cabinet as a whole.
"The premier left the reins of government to other hands, not on any specific point of principle, but because the entire political and financial situation of the country had become too complicated for his reSources. The exit of the cabinet, coming, as it did, at a time when one would naturally have expected a successful and energetic prosecution of various post-bellum measures, was distinctly of a character to suggest a lack of moral force and of political insight. One has only to recall the work accomplished by Germany after the war of 1870-1, to perceive the failure of the Ito ministry in all its length and breadth."
Count Matsukata assumed office as premier and minister of finance, September 18. The full significance of the change of government, particularly as regards the foreign policy of the empire, is not yet apparent.
What has been heralded as an evidence of the remarkable resources and progress of the United States in the matter of naval construction, was the signing in Washington, D. C., at the Japanese legation, on December 31, of formal contracts whereby the Japanese government placed orders in this country for the construction of two men-ofwar for the imperial Japanese navy-one to be built by the Cramps of Philadelphia, Penn., the other by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, Cal., both to be completed