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TUNGCHAU --- March to Peking
The March to Pekin.
But according to the Hague Convention, to which
Art. XLIV. Any compulsion of the population of
Art. XLV. Any pressure on the population of occupied territory to take the oath to the hostile Power is prohibited.
Art. XLVI. Family honours and rights, individual lives and property, as well as religious convictions and liberty, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.
The whole story
of the plot and the execution of Cordua will long be remembered as one of the most shameful of the minor incidents that have distinguished this disgraceful war. Cordua, a young man of two-and-twenty, who, having given his parole, was allowed to live at large in Pretoria, was approached by a Spanish halfbreed detective in our service of the name of Gano, who appears to have encouraged him in an absurd plot to kidnap Lord Roberts. It was a harebrained piece of nonsense, but Cordua appears to have been fascinated by the idea, and accepted the assistance in the shape of advice and uniforms furnished him by Gano in order that he might compromise others beside himself, and to secure evidence of the complicity of General Botha in the plot. In this latter enterprise he failed, nor does Cordua appear to have done anything beyond indulging in silly dreams and sillier conversation as to what might be done. When it was evident that they could get no further with their precious plot they arrested Cordua, and caused to be telegraphed to Europe a blood-curdling story of a plot to assassinate British officers and kidnap Lord Roberts. Of this there was absolutely no foundation in fact, excepting Cordua's vagaries. It served, however, to still further excite prejudice against the Boers, and gave occasion for the proclamation of a policy of increased severity against the unfortunate burghers. In common gratitude they might have spared the life of their innocent tool, but in order to play the bloody farce to the end he was made the victim of judicial murder. He died bravely, feeling perhaps that his death might add a touch of dignity to a story which otherwise would have had no reThat Lord Roberts consented to deeming feature. the sacrifice of the life of Gano's victim has created an outburst of amazement and horror from the American and European Press.
Art. L. No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, can be inflicted on the population on account of the acts of individuals, for which it cannot be regarded as collectively responsible.
It is clear, as Mr. Massingham has pointed out, that Lord Roberts's proclamation does compel the population in the Transvaal to take part in operations against their countrymen; puts direct pressure upon them to take the oath to the hostile Power; confiscates their property; and imposes general penalties for individual offences. We therefore stand before the world as the violators of the humanities of the international code of warfare to which we were parties.
The publication of the letters written. by Mr. Labouchere, Dr. Clark, Sir H. de Villiers, Mr. Merriman, and Mr. Te Water, which were captured by our army in the Orange Free State, has been opportune - for the pro-Boers. For they prove beyond all gainsaying that the alleged Afrikander plot to oust the British from South Africa was so absolutely mythical that the Radicals at home and the leading representatives of the Cape Dutch were in active co-operation with the British Government in putting pressure upon President Kruger to make him concede all the just demands of Mr. Chamberlain. In fact, this famous correspondence, which was held in terrorem over the heads of the Opposition, turns out to be invaluable first-hand evidence of the fact that the pro-Boers who were in the most intimate confidential relations with the Transvaal Government used the opportunity which such intimacy gave them to urge the President to give in. We all seconded Mr. Chamberlain's policy of pressure to the utmost of our power. We only failed, firstly, because Mr. Chamberlain was so utterly distrusted by the Boers that they shrank from making concessions to him they would have made to any one else; and, secondly, because after President Kruger had made concessions which Mr. Chamberlain said were nine-tenths satisfactory, Mr. Chamberlain went back on his own offer of a Commission into the seven years' franchise law, and by that repudiation confirmed every Boer in the conviction that every concession would be made the basis for a renewed demand, until a pretext was found for forcing them into war in order that their territory might be seized.
The Captured Letters.
In the Cape Parliament Sir Gordon at Cape Town Sprigg continues to hold office. He
has had two great victories. Mr. Merriman's motion for an inquiry into the working of martial law was rejected by a majority of eight, and the so-called Treason Bill has been carried by a majority of nine. Mr. Sauer, who has been somewhat erratic in his motions, is now proposing to move a resolution in favour of stopping the war. Mr. Rhodes has received leave of absence and remains in Rhodesia, where the mining companies are at their wits' end for labour. The African Review cynically remarks that the native is an agriculturist and not a miner, and therefore it is necessary to take measures to prevent his easy acquisition of land! An attempt is being made to import Asiatics. There is
no prospect of any early resumption of the mining industry at Johannesburg. The Outlanders, who brought all this trouble upon the world, are growling angrily at their continued exclusion from the goldreefed city. But as there would be nothing for them to eat if they were back on the Rand to-morrow, they had better stay where they are until the land, which has been blasted with fire for their dear sake, has been permitted to bear other crops than that of commandoes.
I have dealt elsewhere with the relief of the Legations at Pekin; but here I Future of China. must note the somewhat startling development which has taken place in the Chinese problem by the publication of the Russian Note. The ease with which a small expeditionary force cut its way to Pekin, and the safety of the Legations thereby secured, has given Russia a chance of which she has promptly availed herself. The basis of the international march on Pekin-which was accepted by "almost all the Powers "-originally put forward by Russia was fourfold, viz. :—
(3) Removal of everything that could lead to a partition of the Celestial Empire.
(4) The establishment with united powers of a legal central Government at Pekin, able unassisted to preserve order and tranquillity in the country.
The relief of the Legations having been accomplished, Russia announces that she will withdraw her Minister from the capital to Tientsin, whither he will be accompanied by the Russian troops. As for the occupation of Manchuria, that was a temporary measure exclusively prompted by the necessity of protecting the railway and warding off the aggressive attacks of the Chinese rebels. "As soon as lasting order shall have been established in Manchuria, and indispensable measures taken for the protection of the railway," Russia will not fail to recall her troops from these territories, "provided that the action of the other Powers does not place any obstacle in the way of such a measure"; which means, of course, that Russia is free to do as she pleases, and will be able to remain in occupation of Niuchwang or any other
part of Manchuria if any of the other Powers do not in all things adjust their policy according to her wishes.
This declaration of the Russian intention has created no small sensation among the Allies. The American Government, which was first approached, appears to have been somewhat startled at the bold Russian initiative, and intimated their strong preference for the alternative of all the Powers remaining in Pekin until a stable Government was established in China. But if this unanimous. agreement could not be arrived at, they were willing to follow the Russian example. Writing at this moment it is impossible to say what line will be taken by the other Powers, notably by Germany. If the Russian Government, which seems to be acting in cordial agreement with that of Japan, insists upon retiring from Pekin, it will be very difficult indeed for the other Powers to persist in the occupation of the Chinese capital. A situation would be created so critical that at any moment the Powers might find themselves face to face with the danger of an alliance between China and Russia, in which they could not count upon the assistance of Japan. From the text of the Russian Circular it would seem as if the Russians were quite content to wait an indefinite time for the establishment of the authority of the Chinese Government. The next few days will put to the test the statesmanship of Europe, and in particular it will test the capacity for self-control on the part of the Kaiser. After all his high-faluting speeches as to what the Germans were to do in avenging their Ambassador, it would be rather humiliating to acquiesce in the dispersal of the International forces before the German generalissimo reaches Chinese waters.
What will the Powers do?
celebrated in Turkey by fresh massacres of Armenians in the province of Sassoun, and an order for eight new ironclads and two torpedo boats. The Sultan has at least one great merit in the eyes of the Faithful. Thanks largely to Prince Lobanoff and the German Emperor, he has vindicated the right of the Commander of the Faithful to massacre the infidel at his sweet will and pleasure, all treaties, capitulations, and other diplomatic cobwebs notwithstanding.
While the Sultan is receiving the conThreatened War gratulations of his fellow-sovereigns
on his jubilee, the peace of the East is threatened by a curious dispute which has sprung up between Roumania and Bulgaria. The Macedonian Committée, which exists for the purpose of realising the ideal of the big Bulgaria by the expulsion of the Turks from the province which was given back to them by the Berlin Congress, appears to raise its funds by means of blackmail. Well-to-do Bulgarians and Macedonians, whether living in Bulgaria or Roumania, are ordered to contribute their quota to the revolutionary treasury. If they refuse they are removed by the simple process of assassination. The easiest way to understand the quarrel would be to imagine a Clan Na Gael in the United States,
levying blackmail by threats of assassination upon Irish residents in Paris. If the Clan Na Gael assassinated three Irishmen resident in France, and if the French Government then made representations to the American Government asking for the prosecution of the Clan Na Gael, we would have the situation as it is in the Balkans to-day. The Macedonian Committee is accused by the Roumanian Government of having killed three Macedonians living in Roumania because they refused to pay blackmail. The Roumanian Government therefore asked the Bulgarian Ministry to prosecute the Macedonian Committee. This they refused to do, for the members of that Ministry are themselves alleged to be terrorised by the Committee, which finds shelter in Sofia. It is, however, difficult to think that Austria and Russia will allow war to break out on the Danube.
in leading the Shah to abandon his promised visit to London. He went to Ostend, and will return to Teheran without visiting England. This is to be regretted on many grounds. Among others, because Persia is likely before long to become, equally with China, the arena in which rival European Powers will contend for the mastery. Sufficient, however, unto the day is the evil thereof, but the present drift of events bodes ill for the peace of those who dwell in Buffer States.
Bresci, who murdered King Humbert, has been sentenced to seven years' solitary confinement, and then to spend the rest of his life in a convict prison. Whether it is more merciful to doom a man to this living death than to hang him outright is a question upon which the Italians and the English differ. It is curious that a nation which is of all others most prolific in homicides, should shrink so morbidly from vesting the State with the liberty to kill, which is exercised every day by the private citizen. Beyond the abortive attempt on the life of the Shah there has been no fresh exploit on the part of the Anarchists; but rumour is busy with the names of their intended victims, and it will be surprising if the month closes without some other attempt which will probably be announced a the avenging of Bresci.
So far as can be seen at present, Bresci has strengthened the cause of monarchy in two ways. First, he has created a great reaction in favour of the dynasty, and secondly, he has replaced a some
The New King.
what negative figure-head by a young man who, if we may judge from his inaugural, will run the Kaiser hard as a royal orator. The speech of Victor Emanuel III., which created an extraordinary impres sion, contains some really fine passages. He said :
"From this plébiscite of sorrow I draw the best augury for my reign. Holding high my head, and aspiring to the greatest ideals, I dedicate myself to my country with all the warmth, all the vigour within me, all the strength derived from the examples and traditions of my House." Italy would continue to be an influence for peace abroad. "But external peace suffices not. We need internal peace and the concord of all men of goodwill to develop our intellectual forces and our economic energies. Senators, Deputies! unabashed and steadfast I ascend the Thone, conscious of my rights and of my duties as a King. Let Italy have faith in me as I have faith in the destinies of our country, and no human force shall destroy that which with such selfsacrifice our fathers builded. It is necessary to keep watch and to employ every living force to guard intact the great conquests of unity and of liberty. The serenest trust in our liberal charter will never fail me, and I shall not be wanting either in strong initiative or in energy of action in vigorously defending our glorious institutions, precious heritage from our great dead. Brought up in the love of religion and of the Fatherland, I take God to witness of my promise that from this day forward I offer my heart, my mind, my life, to the grandeur of our land." (Cries of "Viva il Re!"" Viva la Regina!" "Viva Casa Savoia!" lasting more than five minutes.)
Francis Joseph celebrated his seventieth birthday last month amid general rejoicings, in which all the Emperor of Austria.various races composing his polyglot realm appear to have taken part. He has been so long so conspicuous a figure on the European stage that it is with some relief we are reminded that he is only seventy years of age.