Page images

ance shaken to some extent by the "revelations" of Prince Bismarck (see below); and Germany apparently reduced to something like the isolation of England during the Transvaal crisis of a year ago-these are the most striking features of the ever-shifting diplomatic situation on the continent at the end of the year. Russia is the centre of controlling influence; France follows her lead; and English public opinion seems to look upon an understanding with those two powers as the only practicable method of escaping from virtual impotence, in the face of the European concert, to effect a settlement of the Eastern question. It is not now, and may never be, known, to what extent this prospect of better understanding between England and Russia on the Turkish question, is due to the recent visit of the czar and czarina to the British court (p. 608).

For the time being, however, there is little likelihood of any radical departure by Russia from the lines of foreign policy laid down by the late Prince Lobanof Rostovski (pp. 610, 765). It is more than likely that the policy of the empire for some time to come will be tentative; and this will imply a continuation of Russia's protection of the sultan, and her absolute rejection of all proposals for European interference in Turkey. In proof of this, may be pointed out the fact that a scheme for the adjustment of Turkish finances was recently rejected by Russia even though it was submitted by the French foreign minister.

The Czar in France. The climax of scenic splendor and popular enthusiasm that marked every stage of the tour of the Russian imperial couple begun in August (p. 607), was reached in France.

After visiting the courts of Austria, Germany, and Denmark, their majesties visited Queen Victoria at Balmoral castle, September 22. On October 5, accompanied by the Channel squadron of the British fleet, they sailed from Portsmouth, Eng. About fifteen miles off the French coast, they were met by the French fleet, which escorted them into the harbor of Cherbourg. There they were met by President Faure and other high officials. Numerous presentations followed; also an inspection of the French squadron. After an official banquet in the evening, at which the czar and President Faure toasted each other in cordial but guarded terms, the imperial party started for Paris, where they arrived the following morning. October 6 to 9 was spent in a constant round of gorgeous festivities and official ceremonials marked by such a display of pageantry and enthusiasm of popular excitement as had never been equalled in the history of international festivals. Among the special features worthy of mention were: the laying of the foundation stone of the Exhibition bridgePont Alexandre III.; the appropriation of 200,000 francs for the payment of rents for the poor instead of for free wine as had been the custom on other similar occasions; and the great military review at

Chalons, which gave the ezar an opportunity to compare French soldiers with those of Germany and Austria, whom he had recently seen. The fetes during the five days of their majesties' stay in France, are estimated to have cost from twelve to fifteen million francs. On leaving France (Oct. 9), the czar and czarina went to Darmstadt for a brief visit with the Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse, intending also to visit the Empress Frederick of Germany at Friedrichshof before returning home.

This was the first time since the formation of the Third Republic twenty-five years ago that France had received as her guest a great European potentate. The wild enthusiasm of the popular welcome is not to be taken as indicative of any returning desire for monarchy. Between autocratic Russia and a country so firmly committed to republicanism as France, there can hardly be any sympathy of institutional ideals. The popular excitement would be in part explained by the impulsive nature of the French temperament; but the fact is, that, in the czar's visit to Paris, Frenchmen saw an ostentatious political demonstration. They saw in it a proof to the world that the entente of France with one of the greatest powers of history was now not only an acknowledged but a demonstrated fact; that France had now fully emerged from the long period of isolation and humiliation which began with the peace of Frankfurt, and had at last recovered her appropriate rank among the great family of European powers. Just what France, in the long run, may have to pay for the support which she receives from the great Slav empire, the future course of history alone can reveal. We have no evidence that Russia would countenance a war of aggression for the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine. But in the meantime, the understanding with Russia undoubtedly gives to France an influence in the counsels of Europe which she would not otherwise enjoy.

Bismarck's Revelations.-A profound sensation was caused throughout Europe by the appearance, October 24, in the Hamburg Nachrichten, of certain "revelations" signed by "A German Statesman" (presumably Prince Bismarck). Their tendency is directly to impair the Triple Alliance, but indirectly to show that all diplomacy may be suspected as a hollow sham. If the most sacred treaty pledges of friendship cannot prevent counter-plotting against each other on the part of those whom they are supposed to bind together, what faith at all can be put in any treaties or alliances, and what can be relied on in political emergencies except the brute forces of armies and fleets? The following extract contains the substance of the so-called revelations:"

Up to 1890 both empires, Germany and Russia, were fully agreed that if one of them were attacked the other should remain benevolently neutral-that if, for instance, Germany were attacked by France, Russia's benevolent neutrality was to be counted on, and Germany's in the event of Russia being assailed without provocation. After Prince Bismarck's resignation this understanding was not renewed; and, if we are well informed regarding the course of events in Berlin, it was not Russia which, annoyed at the change of chancellors, refused to continue this mutual assurance. On the contrary, she was willing to renew it, but Count von Caprivi declined. Owing to Count von Caprivi's European and Polish policies, not to mention any other considerations, Russia was constrained, despite her greatness, to think of the future. In the Crimean war, Russia saw all the other great powers-France, England, and Italy-arrayed against her in the field; Austria threatening to join them unless she made definite concessions; and Prussia, the last of the Russophile great powers, restrained only by strenuous efforts from completing the European coalition. We will not say that the recurrence of the complication is probable; but we find it perfectly intelligible that even so powerful and invulnerable a state as Russia should say "We must try to keep one sure ally for ourselves in Europe." Thus the first affiliation between Russian absolutism and the French republic were brought about, in our opinion, exclusively by Count von Caprivi's mistakes, which have forced Russia to take out in France that insurance against international politics which every prudent statesman of the great powers likes to have at command.

In other words:

Between 1884 and 1890 a secret treaty existed between Germany and Russia, binding each to remain in "benevolent neutrality" in case the other were attacked by a third power. This was supposed to be directed against France and Austria. Thus, if France attacked Germany to wreak vengeance for the Terrible Year, Russia was to give no aid to France; and if Austria attacked Russia, Germany was bound to remain aloof from Austria. In 1890 the treaty was to have been renewed for another six years; but at this juncture the chancellor crisis occurred, and Count von Caprivi informed Count Schouvaloff that Germany could no longer pursue such a complicated policy and would confine herself to the Triple Alliance. It is highly probable that it was this attitude of Germany, accentuated by the simultaneous adoption of a more friendly policy toward England and the German Poles, that caused Russia to enter into her present relations with France.

These words imply an impeachment of Germany's good faith under the Bismarckian régime. They created a painful impression at Vienna, and aroused intense indignation in official circles in Berlin and St. Petersburg, as calculated to disturb peace by spreading a spirit of suspicion and unrest. All the time negotiations were in progress for this secret treaty, and through all its period of life, Germany was also bound to Austria-Hungary by a close offensive and defensive alliance (formed in 1879) with special reference to resistance of Russian encroachments

in southeastern Europe. This alliance of 1879 between Germany and Austria was the basis of the Triple Alliance, Italy being subsequently enlisted as a counterpoise to France in case of a possible Franco-Russian combination.

Either Germany acted with duplicity, and Russia with perfidy (for there was also a "revelation" of a deliberate proposal on the part of Alexander II. to invade Austria if he could count on Germany's neutrality during the period when the Three Emperors' League -the Dreikaiserbund-was in force), or the threefold coalitions which have for a generation been regarded as the basis of the structure of European peace are discredited.

On this delicate subject the German government has vouchsafed no reply beyond a semi-official paragraph in the Imperial Gazette, taking the high ground that the government will give no explanation of matters touching the "strictest secrets of state "-neither denying nor acknowledging them. It is worthy of note that the present German emperor had no hand in the intrigue, if there were intrigue. Also, that a general doubt is entertained regarding the veracity of the details of the statements. That a secret understanding with Russia existed and disappeared, is about the only declaration that seems to bear full scrutiny. That an entente cordiale between Germany and Russia continued up to the end of the Bismarck régime, is confuted by facts of history well known to all.

Bismarck's motives in fathering these "revelations" are a matter of conjecture. By some they have been attributed to mere jealousy of his successors in office and passionate resentment at his enforced retirement. By others it is supposed that the ex-chancellor seeks to cause mutual distrust between France and Russia, whose alliance is coming to dominate the European situation. The most plausible explanation, however, seems to be that Bismarck, noting the decline in German power and prestige in Europe in the face of the rising influence of Russia, seeks to discredit the whole foreign policy pursued by Germany since his own retirement, and to protest against diplomatic methods which are in his opinion shortsighted and unpractical.

THE FAR-EASTERN SITUATION. Chinese-Japanese Commercial Relations.-The commercial treaty recently concluded between Japan and China was finally ratified about October 1.

It is framed on the lines of the existing treaties between China and Western powers, but it now provides that no revision of the existing tariff on imports may be demanded for ten years. The Japanese obtain jurisdiction over their people in China; but Chinese in Japan are to be subject to Japanese jurisdiction. One article provides for the establishment of bonded warehouses at all the treaty ports; but the treaty is silent on the very important subject of the taxation to be levied by the Chinese on goods manufactured by foreigners at the treaty ports under the treaty of Simonoseki. The treaty of Simonoseki provided that such manufactures should pay no higher internal impost than goods imported.

On the last mentioned point, light was thrown by a statement from United States Minister Denby at Pekin, to the effect that on October 16 the Japanese government had formally renounced that part of clause 4, article 6, of the treaty of Simonoseki which provided that all articles manufactured by Japanese subjects in China should, in respect to inland transit and internal taxes, etc., and also in respect to warehousing facilities in the interior of China, stand on the same footing as merchandise imported by Japanese subjects into China (Vol. 5, pp. 304, 556).

For many years China had denied to foreigners the right to import machinery into the empire and to engage in manufacture there; but, at the close of the late war with Japan, she assented to the insertion of a clause which secured to the Japanese subjects in China the right to manufacture on the same footing as Chinese subjects. This privilege at the same time was extended to Western powers through the "most-favored-nation" clause in their existing treaties with China; and it was thouhgt that German and English manufacturers would enter China in considerable numbers. Now, however, the old condition of things is restored. Japan's motive in removing the privilege she had secured is supposed to have sprung from the consideration that the concession had proved to be of comparatively little value to her people, and that it might be wise, by this act of courtesy, to remove as far as possible all causes of friction between herself and her quondam antagonist.

A Russo-Chinese Railway.-The czar has given his sanction to the articles of association of the Eastern Chinese Railway Company, which is to construct and work a railway on Chinese soil in connection with the Trans-Siberian railway.

« PreviousContinue »