After studying many over-gowned ladies, we turned by way of contrast to the ill-dressed emigrants leaving this famous port. It certainly seems strange, considering the paucity of skilled labour in Finland, that so many of the population should emigrate. In fact, it is not merely strange but sad to reflect that a hundred folk a week leave their native country every summer, tempted by wild tales of certain fortune which the steamship agents do not scruple to tell. Some of the poor creatures do succeed, it is true, but that they do not succeed without enduring much hardship is certain; whereas Finland wants skilled labourers badly, and other countries could spare them well. For instance, in the large granite factory at Hang some four hundred men are always employed, and paid extremely well, yet skilled labour of the sort is difficult to get—emigration being presented on all sides as a golden lure. Granite is found all over Finland; indeed, Suomi has risen from the sea on a base of granite, green, gray, red, and black, all of fine quality.
Five million roubles were paid for the wonderful Denkmal to be erected at the Kremlin in Moscow as a memorial of Alexander the Second. The statue itself was entrusted to Russia's most famous sculptor, but the pedestals, stairs, etc., we saw in process of manufacture at Hang. We were shown over the works by a professor well known as a mathematician, and were much interested to see how Finlanders cut and polish granite for tombstones, pillars, etc. The rough stone is generally hewn into form by hand, somewhat roughly with a hammer and mallet, then it is cut into blocks with a saw really made of pellets of steel powder.
Very slow and laborious work it is, and requires great exactitude. Often when the cutting is nearly accomplished some hidden flaw discloses itself, and a stone that had appeared of great value proves to be almost worthless; or the men when chipping the rough granite may suddenly find a flake too much has been chipped off by mistake, which involves not merely the loss of that block but of the labour expended on it.
Finnish granites are chiefly exported to Russia, but Scotland takes a few of the gray. Many of the great Russian churches contain beautiful specimens.
Some of the more experienced workers earn as much as ten and twelve shillings per diem—higher pay being given to the best polishers. Flat polishing can be done by machinery, but one of the four pedestals intended to support the great Alexander monument was being polished round the crevices by three men, who had spent twenty-two days doing those few square feet, and on which, when we left, they were still at work.
An afternoon we spent on one of the ships of the Russian squadron proved thoroughly enjoyable. The Admiral kindly invited us on board, and showed us over his vessel. The squadron at that time at Hang consisted of four ships, two of which were utilised for training, one receiving young cadets from twelve to fourteen years of age, and the other, older lads who were waiting to be sent off as officers.
They arrange their naval training differently in Russia from what we do in England. That is to say, for six summer months cadets live on board the training-ships, but the six winter months are spent at the College in St. Petersburg, where they learn the theoretical part of their education.
A boat came to fetch us manned by twelve oars, all cadets, as well as the steersman who stood at the stern. They were the most charming lads imaginable, and during the following days we saw much of them, and learnt to appreciate their delightful manners, and to wonder more and more at their linguistic accomplishments. Several of them spoke English admirably, most knew French well, and some German. On an English training-ship, or, indeed, an English man-of-war, should we be likely to find such a large percentage acquainted with any language but their own? When we asked them how it was they were able to converse in foreign tongues so fluently, they invariably replied they had an English nurse or French governess in their home when young.
"But," we returned, "although you learnt it when children, how have you managed to keep it up as men?" For we know how our English schoolboys forget such languages as they learn at home, or are taught French and German on some hideous principle at school, which leaves them utterly incapable of understanding or speaking a word when they go out into the world.
"Oh," they answered, "we take great trouble to remember what we learnt when young, for a man must know something more than his own language. We all read foreign papers or books whenever we get an opportunity."
They were delightful young fellows, although we must own their dress at first somewhat surprised us, for they were clothed in our ordinary seamen's clothes—a white blouse and blue sailor collar, with white duck trousers, being their attire by day, or the same in blue serge by night.
They were unaffectedly proud of their ship, and showed us over it with great clat, but we must confess that, although the Russians speak more languages than our own sailors, or officers for that matter, an English man-of-war seemed to us in every way smarter and better kept than a Russian.
Between decks was a piano, and the Russian Admiral suggested that some of the boys (many of whom were Finlanders) should play the Balalaika, the great national instrument, which is something like a triangular guitar, and emits sweet sounds. One lad at once sat himself down to the piano, and five others fetching their Balalaika, played some of the quaint national airs of Russia. Then a young man performed most wonderfully on the violin, and it turned out that they had great concerts among themselves—music and chess being two of their chief recreations.
Every cadet wore round his neck a silver or gold chain with a little cross attached, for each member of the Greek Church has such bestowed in the following manner:—
A christening was about to take place at the Isaak in St. Petersburg. Never having seen the rite of baptism performed in a Greek church, we sat at the golden base of a colossal Finnish granite pillar waiting. There was the font—a large silver bath on a pedestal, big enough to hold a child of eight or ten. Round its edges were placed four candles, three of which were lighted. At a table near sat a long-haired priest, with a kindly face, who was taking down all the details of the children from the respective fathers, of whom there were five. The first was a young officer. He came forward when called upon, and produced from a pocketbook his passport, which every Russian carries about with him to prove his identity, his marriage certificate, etc. From the church documents the statistics of Russia are taken, for it is the priests who supply all such information. Into a book, therefore, our kindly-faced priest copied the father's and mother's names, the child's baptismal name, adding the name of the Saint given to the child when received into the Church. On the father's passport of identity he entered the child's name, date of birth and baptism, afterwards duly signing the document. All this took a long time, and we were struck by the fact that one of the five fathers, a most respectable-looking person, could not write and had to put his x. One often hears of Russian lack of education, but certainly it is difficult to conceive that, in any other civilised country, an individual of the same rank—for he appeared to be worth some hundreds of pounds a year—could have been found unable to write his own name.
While all this was going on, the verger, if we may so call a uniformed gentleman in attendance, made himself busy in going from nurse to nurse collecting the baptismal garments. Each woman had brought a coverlet—a sort of white bedspread, and a small linen and lace chemise. A blue ribbon was run round the neck of the latter for a boy, and a pink one for a girl. Another small ribbon, on which hung a gold cross—the gift of the respective godfather—was placed round the child's neck as a blessing from the Church, and it was this we noticed every cadet wearing, no Russian ever going without. While this ceremony was in progress, the five babies, each one of which was only two or three days old, for infants must be baptized before they reach the age of eight days, yelled more or less—and no wonder.
At last all was ready; the five fathers gathered round the font, each holding the white coverlet into which he was to receive his new-born baby straight from the blessings of the Church, and between them stood the respective nurses holding their small charges. The priest donned a gorgeous robe, read the baptismal service, and went from infant to infant, crossing their heads, their hands, their feet with sacred oil, each baby lying naked the while in the coverlet its nurse had brought for the purpose. After another prayer he proceeded—hot water having been added to the font—to baptize them, and very cleverly he managed this extremely difficult undertaking. Putting his right hand on the chest and under the arms of the infant, he lifted the small nude specimen of humanity gently, and, with a muttered prayer, turned it upside down, dipping its head three times right into the water of the font, while with his left hand he splashed the pure lymph all over its back. Of course, the baby howled at such ablutions—what infant would not, for they were well-nigh sufficient to drown it—but he held each tiny creature securely and kindly till he placed it wet and dripping in its father's arms. The idea being that the father should receive his child back cleansed from sin by the hands of the Church.
Each nurse, when relieved of her charge, arranged the new coverlet under the father's chin and over his hands, as foreigners do their serviettes at table, and each man—especially the shy young officer—received the dripping squalling baby therein with an agonised expression of countenance. The father was obliged to hold his kicking and yelling infant till the priest had "dressed it in the clothes of the Church," by slipping the little chemise over its head and clasping the ribbon and cross round its neck. Even then, however, all was not ended. The infants had still to receive Holy Communion, there being, we understand, no confirmation ceremony in the Greek Church. This the priest administered by simply putting a small spoonful of mixed wine and water into each child's mouth. When this had been done the five fathers gave the five infants back to their nurses, who dressed them up and took them home.
New-born babies have their troubles in Russia, for such a christening must be a grave trouble indeed, and thus they receive their cross, which they have to carry to the grave. Beneath the low-necked blouses of our cadets the chain was distinctly visible.
The Russian mazurka being a great institution, we asked our friend the Admiral, before leaving his ship, if his cadets might dance it for us.
"Certainly," he said. And they did, but as the decks were small and the dance intricate, we entreated the Admiral to let them come on shore one night and dance it at the hotel. He very kindly agreed, so after eating the most delicious Russian sweets (marmalada) in his cabin, served on a great round meat dish, and congratulating him on his wonderful English, which he spoke most fluently, we left.
It is said no one can learn the Russian mazurka unless brought up to it from childhood; and, certainly, the figures are more intricate than the cotillion. Some of the steps resemble the Scotch reel or barn dance, especially when the dancers beat time with their heels, and we certainly think the swinging measure of the mazurka is often more knack than knowledge.
The ladies float through most of it, holding their arms on high as in the days of the old French minuet, but the men perform many more elaborate steps to a rattling time and tune. The Russian mazurka is a very long performance—indeed, it may go on all night; and as there are many figures, and all intricate, some one has to lead by word of mouth.
When one hears a man roaring for the first time in a ballroom, it sounds somewhat extraordinary, and yet this is the sort of thing which goes on during a Russian mazurka or quadrille.
"Ladies and gentlemen turn."
"Ladies in the middle."
"Gentlemen gallop round."
"Men on their knees."
"Ladies dance round them," etc. These commands being given incessantly for an hour, or perhaps two, until the unfortunate director is worn out and weary, and hoarse into the bargain.
It is a gift to be a good director, and any man who shows aptitude for this rle has generally little time to dance, and has to work very hard during the evening's entertainment.
There is no doubt about it that the mazurka, when danced by stately court folk, is a very elegant and beautiful form of the terpsichorean art, although when young people get together it is apt to degenerate into something of a romp.
It was with sincere regret that we left Hang, for to us leaving Hang meant leaving Finland. Three months previously we had landed on those shores, strangers in a little-known country, where we met with warm friends, whose hospitality we enjoyed more than it is possible to say.
We were tired and weary, for we had travelled far and seen much, and learnt, we hope, not a little. If in this endeavour to give our impressions of Suomi as we saw it we have failed, the kind friends dwelling on the borders of Lapland and Russia must forgive us, and remember that few books exist by which to correct our impressions. They must not forget, either, that all our information was gleaned either by means of observation, and naturally English eyes look at many things differently from Finnish, or by the willing translations of those we met, who always had to speak what to them was a foreign language, and generally, indeed, almost always, a strange one to us. We were therefore both at a disadvantage, and we cannot help smiling as we remember some of our struggles to understand properly what the dear folk wished to impart.
Our eyes were tired with sights, our minds were chaotic with strange ideas and tongues, but yet we felt how misunderstood that beautiful county is, how well worthy of careful study, and what a delightful new field it opens up to the traveller who, though he believes he "knows all Europe," yet has omitted Suomi, one of her quaintest gems.
The days of prophecy are over; but as these pages are about an old-world land, a land that like Rip van Winkle has been sleeping, we may perhaps be allowed to predict that, having at last wakened from her long slumber, Suomi will rise to distinction, for this younger generation of Finlanders, as Ibsen says, is now "knocking at the door" of nations. Finnish women are the most advanced in the world to-day. All honour to them, and all congratulations to their wise men. Great women help to make great nations.
QUESTIONS OF NATIONALITY AND POLITICS IN 1912
Finland has suffered.
Finland is suffering under Russian rule, but surely Russia will soon realise what a valuable people the Finlanders are, and bring the banner of reconciliation instead of further antagonism into their land.
Finland is a wonderful little country and her people are strong.
The conquest of Finland by Sweden (1157-1323) placed the former country within the limits of European culture. From that time the Finnish nation has been included within the ranks of the civilised countries of Western Europe.
Finland has from olden times had a mixed population. Large portions of the country were inhabited by Lapps, and to judge from archological finds and other data, there was a Scandinavian population in the South and West. The Finns seem to have come into the country from the East and the South, crossing the Gulf of Finland. The Lapps were gradually driven farther to the North, and it also appears that, in many parts, the Scandinavian element was absorbed into the more numerous Finnish population, but after the Swedish conquest the Swedes in Finland were reinforced by immigration from Sweden.
Owing to the scanty information that has come down to us on the condition of the ancient Finns in heathen times, before the Swedish conquest, very little is known about their ancient institutions. It is evident, however, that they were divided among themselves into hostile clans, without a common bond of union. They lived partly on isolated farms, partly in village communities, and were governed by elected or hereditary chiefs; they pursued agriculture, made iron out of native ores, traded by sea, were doubtless pirates like the Scandinavian Vikings, and had special trading places, which were frequented even by foreigners. Among the Scandinavians the Finns were known for their skill in making arms and by their witchcraft. As to the latter belief, it had, doubtless, its origin in the old Finns' Shaman rites, but was also nourished by their Runic songs, in which faith in the supernatural power of the wise but hidden word prevailed.
The Swedish conquest united the Finnish clans under one government, and thus formed the unity of the Finnish nation. The free political institutions of Sweden were introduced into Finland, where they soon took up their abode owing to the support of the large class of free peasantry which had existed from olden times. In 1362 the inhabitants of Finland, through their representatives, received the right to take part in the election of kings in Sweden, and Finland was now placed on an equal footing with other parts of the Swedish realm. Representatives of the Finnish nobility, clergy, burghers, and peasants were sent to the Swedish parliament (Riksdag). This naturally formed a strong safeguard for the independence of the peasantry, which, in Finland, as also at times in Sweden, was repeatedly threatened by a powerful aristocracy.
The great advantages that the Swedish government brought with it for Finland were accompanied, however, by a drawback that gradually became a heavy burden. The Finnish language was set aside. Swedish being the language of administration, it was exclusively used in all government offices, courts of justice, and, by degrees, it became the language of culture and education. The growing literature appeared in Swedish, and was naturally inaccessible to the mass of the people. In the churches, however, the services were held in Finnish. In 1548 the New Testament was published in Finnish translation, and a hundred years later a translation of the whole Bible was printed. Other books also were gradually published in Finnish, the selection being chiefly of a religious or economic nature. At the meetings of the Riksdag the representatives of Finland repeatedly insisted that measures should be taken to induce officials and judges to learn Finnish. These demands, however, the justice of which was always acknowledged in theory, rarely produced any practical results.
Situated between two rival realms, Sweden and Russia, Finland became, at short intervals, the scene of bloody wars which were conducted by those states against each other. Great parts of the country were thereby desolated, and the population diminished. An era remarkable in this respect was the great Northern war (1700-1721), at the end of which the population of Finland was reduced to a third, and its devastated land divided between hostile powers. Another division of the country (1743) only contributed still more to weaken the national strength. All that remained of this strength was required to maintain the union with Sweden, which was apparently the only salvation of the nation's existence.
Such was the state of affairs when Finland, after a heroic defence, was conquered (1809) by Russia. The high-minded and liberal Emperor, Alexander I., considered that the new conquest could not be better preserved than by attaching his new subjects with bonds of affection to himself. To this end he summoned the representatives of the Finnish people to a parliamentary meeting at Borg, where the Estates assembled on March 22, 1809. At this meeting—the Diet of Borg, as it is generally called—the Emperor announced his intention to confirm the Swedish Constitution, hitherto enjoyed by Finland, as valid for the Grand Duchy. In the following survey of the political institutions of Finland we venture to quote somewhat freely from Senator L. Mechelin's excellent book, A Prcis of the Public Law of Finland, translated from the French original into English by Mr. Charles J. Cooke, formerly British Consul in Finland.
The Emperor signed, on March 27, the following declaration to the inhabitants of Finland:—
Les destines de la Providence nous ayant fait prendre en possession le Grand Duch de Finlande, Nous avons voulu, par l'acte prsent, confirmer et ratifier la Religion et les Lois fondamentales du Pays, ainsi que les privilges et droits, dont chaque classe dans le dit Grand Duch, en particulier, et tous les habitants en gnral, qu'ils aient une position leve ou infrieure, ont joui jusqu'ici selon la Constitution. Nous promettons de maintenir tous ces avantages et les lois fermes et inbranlables dans leur pleine force.
Providence having placed us in possession of the Grand Duchy of Finland, We have desired, by the present act, to confirm and ratify the Religion and fundamental Laws of the Land, as well as the privileges and rights, which each class in the said Grand Duchy, in particular, and all the inhabitants in general, be their position high or low, have hitherto enjoyed according to the Constitution. We promise to maintain all these benefits and laws firm and unshaken in their full force.
Two days later, at a solemn audience held in the Cathedral, the Tzar received the homage of the Estates as Grand Duke of Finland. The Estates took the oath of fealty to the new sovereign, and affirmed, at the same time, the inviolability of the Constitution; the Emperor's declaration was read aloud, the document was delivered into the custody of the Marshal of the Nobles; after which a herald of noble birth stood before the throne and proclaimed: "Vive Alexandre I., Empereur de toutes les Russies et Grand-duc de Finlande!"
The ceremony concluded with a speech from the Emperor, in the French language, bearing witness to the sentiments with which he had received the homage and oath of the country's representatives, and testifying that it was an Act of Union that had just been effected.
The Emperor and Grand Duke submitted to the Diet propositions on the four following questions:—
1. The organisation of the Government of the land, or the institution of a State Council.
2. Taxes and finance.
3. Military organisation.
4. Monetary system.
Thus was Finland's new destiny inaugurated.
The conqueror found himself in the presence of a people firmly attached to their political institutions and their civil laws, the liberal principles of which had taken root in the minds and habits of the citizens. To have employed physical force in order to incorporate this country with Russia would not have accorded with the Emperor's personal views, nor conduced to the immediate pacification which the political interests of the Empire necessitated. Hence Alexander preferred an "Act of Union." He confirmed the old Constitution, and summoned the representatives of the nation, so as to establish, conjointly with them, the new order of things.
The Finlanders, foreseeing the final issue of the war and the impossibility of a return to the past, could not hesitate to meet half-way the proposals of the Emperor Alexander, who had given them, as a security for the future, the most formal assurance to maintain the former Constitution. In Sweden the king had been dethroned; the Swedish government had no more power over Finland; the Finnish Estates, elected and assembled according to law, could alone at that moment represent with perfect right the Finnish people. Hence the authority they made use of in binding the inhabitants of the country by the oath taken to the new sovereign, on the basis of the Constitution confirmed by him, was acknowledged both by the Emperor and the people. The Emperor expressed this in his manifesto "to all the inhabitants of Finland," published at Borg, April 4, 1809. No protest was heard in the country.
The union thus established was clearly defined by the Emperor, not only in the above-mentioned speech of 29th March and his speech at the conclusion of the Diet, on July 18, 1809, but also on other occasions—for example, in the manifesto of March 27, 1810, concerning the militia, from which we extract the introduction:—
"His Imperial Majesty's Gracious Manifesto.
"From the moment that, through the Will of Providence, Finland's destiny was entrusted to Us, it has been Our aim to rule that land in conformity with the liberties of the Nation and the rights assured to it by its Constitution.
"The proofs of devotion the Inhabitants have given Us since the Oath of Fealty, which they tendered to Us of their perfect free will through their Representatives assembled at the Diet, have only conduced to strengthen Us in that purpose.
"All the steps We have hitherto taken, with regard to the internal administration of the Country, are simply a consequence of and an addition to that fundamental idea. The maintenance of the Religion and the Laws, the summoning of the Estates to a general Diet, the formation of a State Council in the Nation's midst, and the inviolability of the judicial and administrative authority, afford sufficient proofs to assure the Finnish Nation (Finska Nationen) of its political existence and the rights appertaining thereto."
As has been said above, one of the questions submitted by Alexander I. to the Diet was the establishment of a State Council, to carry out the government of the country. The statutes for this Council were issued on August 18, 1809, and its name was in 1816 changed to Imperial Senate for Finland; in the manifesto, in which this change of name was effected, the Emperor took the occasion to repeat his "assurance of a separate Constitution of the country, under Our Sceptre and that of Our successors."
According to the Constitution, the Emperor and Grand Duke is assisted in the work of governing Finland by the Senate, the Governor-General, and the office of the Finnish Secretary of State residing in St. Petersburg.
The Emperor and Grand Duke has the right, in criminal matters, to pardon, to commute the penalty of death, to pronounce the rehabilitation of and to return forfeited property. He commands the military forces, provides for the defence of the country, declares war, concludes treaties of peace, of alliance, and so forth. He appoints to the higher offices of State. He has the right of conferring titles on persons who have particularly well merited of the Sovereign or of the country; he may also raise nobles to the rank of Baron or Count. By means of naturalisation the Emperor may grant to foreigners and Russian subjects the status of Finnish citizens.
The Senate is composed of two departments—that of Justice, which is the supreme tribunal, and the Administrative Department, which manages the general administration of the country. The two departments, united, form the "Plenum" of the Senate. The Governor-General presides both over the Plenum and over each of the departments, which is composed, generally, of ten members, including the Vice-President. The Administrative Department comprises the following sections—Judicial matters, Home Affairs, Finance, Control, Public Worship and Instruction, Agriculture, Communications, Commerce and Industries. There should also be a section for military matters, but since the Finnish army has been disbanded, as we shall see later on, this section no longer exists.
Each of these sections has a Senator at its head, besides which, two Senators are deputy heads of the Home Affairs and Finance sections; the Vice-President and one of the members of the Administrative Department have no portfolios. The number of the Senators is not always, however, brought up to this full complement.
The Plenum of the Senate is composed of the President and all the Senators, or, according to the nature and importance of the business at hand, of four Senators from each department, besides the President.
In the absence of the Governor-General, one of the Vice-Presidents takes the chair; in the Departments, the oldest Senator present presides at the Plenum.
The Senators are appointed by the Emperor for a period of three years, at the expiration of which their appointment may be renewed. All the Senators of the Department of Justice, and at least two of the members of the Administrative Department, ought to be competent to discharge the functions of a Judge.
All matters to be discussed are reported upon by Referendary-Secretaries, except financial questions, the report of which is entrusted to the Controllers of the Financial Departments of the Senate. The Referendary-Secretaries and the Controllers are appointed by the Emperor.
All cases are decided by a majority of votes, the President having a casting vote should there be an equal division.
In the sections of the Administrative Department the Head Senator alone, or his deputy, decides as to the resolutions to be taken on the report of the Referendary-Secretary, or of the Controller.
The Procurator-General has the right of being present at the sittings of the Senate, without, however, voting, or taking part in the deliberations. He is appointed by the Emperor, as is also his deputy and assistant.
The Senate has a permanent committee for the preparation of projected measures, working under the guidance of a Senator, appointed by the Senate, for each legislative measure with which the committee is charged. The Plenum of the Senate appoints the members of the committee for a period of three years.
Under the Constitution, Finland has the right to a separate army organisation. For a long time after Finland was united to Russia, no soldiers were raised in Finland, since it was considered that the country, which had suffered so much under the war, should be for some time to come relieved of every military burden. Later on, however, Finnish troops were organised under the old Swedish military tenure system, and in 1878 a new military law came into force, having been duly passed by the Diet and received Imperial sanction. Under this law, personal military service was compulsory for every Finnish citizen; every able-bodied man had to serve either with the colours, or in the reserve, or the militia. None but Finnish citizens could enter the army. The Governor-General was Commander-in-Chief of the troops. How this army was dissolved will be stated later on.
We have several times referred to the Governors of Provinces, so it may be well here to enumerate a few of their duties:—
The Governor's functions are very numerous. He must see to the public order and safety, and to the maintenance of roads and bridges. He is the head of the provincial police branches. He executes the sentences of tribunals. He orders the levying of distresses and executions. He supervises, by means of Crown inspectors, the tenants of Crown lands. He administers the State grain stores. He controls the collection of direct taxes and excises, and the administration of the provincial pay-offices. He presides over the higher recruiting commission. He is the agent of the Senate in all matters for which the province has no special officials or agents. The decisions of the Communes in certain cases require the Governor's sanction. He directs the attention of the Senate and of the Governor-General to any measures calculated to promote the prosperity of the province. He presents every year, to the Emperor and to the Senate, a report on the condition of the province entrusted to him. The functions of the Governor place him in communication, not only with the Home Section, but also with the other sections of the Administrative Department of the Senate.
Legislation in Finland is of a twofold nature. It is an inheritance of the old Swedish Constitution, which, it will be remembered, remained valid in Finland after 1809, that the Sovereign exercises legislative powers, by means of administrative ordinances, in certain minor matters, described as "cases of economy and order." This, however, forms an exception to the general rule, under which legislation must be carried out by the Sovereign and the representatives of the people conjointly. The Constitution also provided, as it stood up till 1869, that it depended solely on the Sovereign to convoke the representatives, whenever a legislative measure, requiring the co-operation of the representatives, was found desirable. The new rulers of Finland were, therefore, not by law compelled to convoke the Diet, and so it happened that no Diet was held until the time of Alexander II., when the Estates of Finland assembled in 1863. In 1869 a Law of the Diet was issued, and invested with the sanctity of a fundamental law. The old Swedish system of four Estates, or orders—the nobles, the clergy, the burgesses, and the peasantry—was retained. By this law, the summoning of the Diet was no longer left to the good-will of the monarch, but the Diets were to be periodical, and the Estates to be convoked at least every five years. But the Diet still had no other right of initiative than by means of "petitions" to the Sovereign to present to the Estates a Bill on such questions as, in the opinion of the Diet, required legislative measures. The right of initiative, by way of "motions," was to a considerable extent granted to the Diet under Alexander III., in 1886.
The new Law of the Diet, of July 20, 1906, has materially changed the composition of the Diet. It now consists of one Chamber only, the number of members being two hundred. The sessions of the Diet are annual. The right of initiative by way of motion has been extended to all questions within the legislative competence of the Diet except questions affecting the fundamental laws (of which this new law is one) and the organisation of the defence by land or by sea. On these questions, however, the Diet has the right to "petition" the Sovereign.
The members of the Diet are elected for a period of three years, but before the expiration of this period the Diet may be dissolved by order of the Sovereign. The elections take place, under an elaborate system of proportional voting, and the franchise is extended to every Finnish citizen, man or woman, who is twenty-four years old or more. Disqualified to vote are persons who serve in the active army; who stand under tutelage; who have not been inscribed as Finnish citizens during the three years preceding the election; those who during the two preceding years have failed to pay their taxes, unless this omission is due to want of means; who are in permanent receipt of poor relief; undischarged bankrupts; persons condemned to ignominious punishment; finally, persons convicted for corrupt practices are disfranchised for a period of six years. The electorate in Finland now amounts to some 1,200,000 persons, or about forty per cent, of the total population. Women as well as men are eligible as members of the Diet.
It is a fundamental principle of the Finnish Constitution that the country shall be governed with the assistance of native authorities only.
* * * * *
A brief survey of party politics in Finland will, perhaps, now be of interest.
At its union with Russia, Finland presented a country where the upper classes spoke a language different from that used by the majority of the people. This majority, with a language that had no place in the administration of the country, did not consist of serfs or farm-hands, but of free landowners with their own servants and labourers. That such a state of things could not last long soon became clear to every thoughtful person.
Already during past centuries the scientific and lighter literature, although written in Swedish, had been inspired by a national spirit. Henrik Gabriel Porthan, Professor of the University of bo, had devoted his life to deep researches into the history, language, and folklore of the Finnish people, and a great many of his disciples followed in his footsteps.
The cultured Finn, spite of his Swedish mother-tongue, had always considered himself a member of the Finnish nation. The altered circumstances, on which Finland entered subsequent to her union with the mighty Russian Empire, had the effect of inspiring earnest patriots with the gravest anxiety.
Was there any possibility for Finland to maintain its home policy, or, indeed, its national life? If such a possibility existed, could it be looked for anywhere else than in a unanimous and national feeling? The answer to these questions may be found in the famous words of a young University teacher, Arvidsson: "Swedes we are no more, Russians we cannot become, therefore let us be Finns!"
The national consciousness gathered fresh impulse from the appearance of the great national epic, Kalevala, songs descending from heathen times, written down by Elias Lnnrot from the lips of the people, as described in a former chapter. In no less degree was the national feeling intensified by the great poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. In his poems, inspired by a glowing love for the Finnish fatherland, he glorified the courage, faithfulness, and honour of the Finnish people. Although written in Swedish, the poems, successfully translated, have become the property of the whole population.
With the awakening national feeling it is natural that special attention should be directed to the cause of the long neglected Finnish language. One of the earliest and most important champions of this language was Johan Wilhelm Snellman, who advocated his cause with great vigour and skill in his two journals, first the Saima (1844-1847), and Literaturblad fr allmn medborgerlig bildning[F] (1847-1863). Snellman's activity was of epoch-making importance for Finland. With much penetration he proved that the existence of the Finnish people depended on the preservation and development of the language spoken by the bulk of the population. He maintained that the West-European civilisation, that had been imparted to the Finnish nation, would never take firm root if only supported by a small upper class—it ought to become the property of the whole people. An educated, Finnish-speaking class must be created, and to this end schools established in which the pupils could receive their instruction in Finnish. The Finnish language must be introduced in government offices, courts of justice, and so on.
Snellman's ideas were embraced with enthusiasm by large portions of the educated classes, particularly so by University students. Snellman's campaign was not conducted without opposition. His career commenced at the period of bureaucratic reaction characteristic of the rgime of Nicholas I. In 1850 the draconic edict was issued by which the publication of all other books than those of a religious or economic nature in the Finnish language was forbidden. This somewhat preposterous edict had soon to be repealed, and Snellman's work gained more recognition. He was appointed Professor of Philosophy in 1856, and a member of the Senate in 1863. In the same year an ordinance was issued by which the Finnish language was admitted to Government offices and Courts of Justice, but it was not as yet recognised as a language with equal rights with Swedish. In the meantime the language question came to form the dividing line between the two principal parties in the home politics of Finland.
As explained in Chapter VII., the champions of the Finnish language were dubbed Fennomans, while those who advocated the position of Swedish were known as Svecomans. The strife between the two parties was at times very bitter, especially between the extreme wings of the parties. The extremists on the Finnish side wanted the Finnish tongue to supersede the Swedish, which was to be reduced to the position of a tolerated local language. The moderates on both sides found a modus vivendi in the equality of rights of the two languages. On the whole, the Svecoman party recognised the justness of the Finnish claims, but advocated vigorously the necessity of preserving the Swedish language, which, besides being the mother tongue of a considerable portion of the peasantry in Finland, possessed historic rights as the language of the higher culture in the country, and forms the link of communication with Scandinavian, and the whole West European civilisation. The Svecomans gave a warning against a too hasty introduction of the Finnish language into official use before its undoubted lack of an official terminology had been properly filled. The Fennomans, again, admitting the soundness of this objection, set to work at the development of Finnish, and their untiring efforts have borne excellent fruits, so that at the present time it not only is well equipped with a legal phraseology, but is capable of serving the demands of cultured literature and science. One point of difference between Fennomans and Svecomans consisted in this, that the former, naturally impatient to effect a full recognition of their language, insisted that the language question should be settled by means of an administrative ordinance, which could be done much quicker than by a law duly passed by the Diet. This latter procedure might take years, considering the long intervals at that time between the sessions of the Diet, even if the Diet, in which then the Swedish element predominated, would pass such a Bill. The Svecomans, again, preferred the second course, as being constitutionally sounder, and they also pointed to the dangerous precedent an administrative procedure would involve. The opposition of the Svecomans was also to some degree at least based on their reluctance, especially on the part of officials belonging to an older generation, to acquire knowledge of an extremely difficult language, and a language which was still in official making. The resistance offered by the extremists of the Svecoman party to the establishment of new Finnish secondary schools was certainly not to their credit.
It is impossible to follow here the language struggle in Finland in all its vicissitudes. At present, Finnish and Swedish form the two official languages in Finland, with a natural preponderance of Finnish, as the language of the majority. Every one aspiring to an official position in Finland must possess a sufficient knowledge of both languages. In some posts, Russian is also required, and the plan is now contemplated in St. Petersburg to supersede both Swedish and Finnish with Russian in all the more important Departments, though the Russian-speaking population in Finland only amounts to a few thousand people.
To a stranger like myself this seems a curious idea, hardly worthy of so great a country as Russia.
The language question is no longer the dominant factor in Finnish party politics; but before we proceed to an account of the new party divisions, it will be necessary to give a brief sketch of the recent political history of the Grand Duchy.
Whereas under Alexander II. the Constitution of Finland had been respected, and its liberties even to some degree extended, attempts were made under Alexander III. to over-ride the Finnish laws, but these did not affect questions of greater importance. At that time not only was Finland at peace, but Russia herself had not begun that terrible struggle which later kept her in an iron grip—the universal socialistic unrest from which the whole world is suffering.
When, in 1894, Nicholas II. ascended the throne, he signed, as had all his august predecessors, the Act of Assurance, in which he promised to maintain the Constitution.
For some time everything went on smoothly, until 1898, when General Bobrikoff was appointed Governor-General of the Grand Duchy, and grave misgivings began to be entertained in Finland. General Bobrikoff was preceded by a reputation of being the principal agent in the Russification of the Baltic Provinces, and it soon appeared that he was sent to Finland on a similar mission.
Simultaneously with General Bobrikoff's appointment, the Finnish Estates were summoned to an extraordinary session in January 1899, and in the summons it was said that a Bill for a new military law would be presented to them. The Bill, when it arrived in the Diet, turned out to be entirely subversive of the existing military organisation, and tended to a complete denationalisation of the Finnish army; it contained no provision as to the limitation of recruits to be taken out annually for service with the colours, and their number might be increased five or even six times, as compared with the number taken out under the old law. It soon became evident that the Diet would not accept this Bill, and while the deliberations were still in a preliminary stage, an event happened which was to mark a new epoch in the recent history of Finland.
A "Gracious Manifesto," dated February 15, 1899, was published, by which the legislative competence of the Finnish Diet was limited to minor local affairs, and the general effect of which was an overthrow of the Finnish Constitution. It is impossible to describe adequately the excitement created in Finland by this entirely unexpected measure. Meetings of protest were held everywhere, and in the course of a few weeks a monster address was signed by over half a million people, or about half of the adult population. A mass deputation of five hundred persons, representing all the parishes in Finland, went to St. Petersburg to present the address to the Tzar.
But it was not received by him.
The immediate effect of the "February Manifesto" was that the Finnish Diet was no longer required to exercise its legislative powers on the Army Bill, but it was declared that the Estates had only to give their "opinion" on the matter.
The Diet refused to submit to this curtailment of the constitutional rights of the country, and drew up a counter proposal, which, while maintaining the national character of the army, provided for a considerable increase of the Finnish troops. This proposal, as may have been expected, did not receive the Sovereign's sanction, and in 1901 a new Military Law was issued by means of an Imperial Decree, based almost entirely on the original Bill, which had been refused by the Diet.
When this new Army Edict was to be enforced it met with a vigorous opposition. The would-be recruits, summoned to the annual levies, failed in large numbers to put in their appearance. One of the effects of this opposition was the disbandment of the existing Finnish regiments.
In the meantime—both before and after the promulgation of the Army Edict—a long series of ordinances were issued, and other measures taken which were not only unconstitutional in principle, but also in direct conflict with the common law of the land, too numerous to be recorded in detail in this brief summary. We may here mention only the introduction of the Russian language in public departments, the appointment of Russians to important public posts, such as provincial governorships, the transfer of administrative powers from the Senate to the person of the Governor-General. To all these measures a "passive resistance" was organised in Finland.
It was inculcated on the minds of the people that every Finnish citizen, whether in an official position or not, affected by any illegal measures, should refuse to comply, and should act in accordance only with the indisputably legal rights of the country, irrespective of threats of punishment. Finland was struggling for her rights.
That this resistance would provoke repressive measures was fully expected, and the expectations were amply fulfilled. Scores of officials, though legally irremovable except by trial and sentence, were summarily dismissed; judges equally summarily removed; numerous domiciliary visits were paid by the Russian police and gendarmes to persons suspected of tendencies of opposition; illegal arrests were effected.
The newspapers were ruthlessly persecuted. In the years 1899 to 1901 scores of newspapers were suspended for short periods, and twenty-four were permanently suppressed.
In 1903 General Bobrikoff procured for himself dictatorial powers in Finland, of which he availed himself freely. Among other things, more than fifty Finlanders, many of them belonging to the most prominent citizens of the Grand Duchy, were exiled or deported to Russia. Some of the deportations, however, happened after the death of General Bobrikoff.
On June 16, 1904, a young official, Eugen Schauman, who had never been known to take an active interest in politics, shot General Bobrikoff dead, and immediately afterwards killed himself. A few weeks later, on July 28, M. de Plehve fell the victim of a plot of Russian revolutionaries, aided and abetted, it appears, by agents of the Russian secret police. M. de Plehve combined with his office of Russian Minister of the Interior the post as Secretary of State for Finland, which, by the way, also was illegal, as this post should be filled by a Finlander.
Thus two of the most prominent enemies of Finland were no longer among the living. M. de Plehve's immediate successor, Prince Sviatopolsk-Mirski, was a humane and liberal-minded man. The new Governor-General in Finland, Prince Obolenski, also was a man of a far less aggressive type than General Bobrikoff. Shortly after his arrival in Finland more lenient methods in dealing with Finland were adopted. In the autumn of 1904 the Diet was convoked, and those of the exiles who were either members by right of birth of the House of Nobles, or had been elected to either of the other Houses, were allowed to return.
At this time Russia was involved in the disastrous war with Japan. The grave difficulties which the Government experienced from the repeated defeats in the Far East were further enhanced by the revolutionary movement at home. At the end of October 1905 a general strike was proclaimed in Russia, which resulted in the Tzar's manifesto of October 30, in which the establishment of a Constitutional Government in Russia was promised. The same day a general strike broke out in Finland. All government offices, schools, industrial establishments, restaurants, public-houses, and shops were closed. The railway service, and to a great extent the steamship service, stopped; so also the telephones and the supply of electric light. Only a few telegraph lines were in operation. In the towns, the tramways and cabs no longer moved in the streets. Only the water and food supply was kept going. In Helsingfors, a deputation of leading citizens went to Prince Obolenski, and urged him to resign his post. The same demand was directed to the members of the Senate, who were too much compromised on account of their submissiveness to General Bobrikoff's rgime.
On December 31, 1904, the Diet had adopted a "Humble Petition" to the Tzar for the restitution of Finland's constitutional rights, but no answer had been forthcoming. This petition was now brought to the Tzar's notice, and on November 4, 1905, he signed a Manifesto, in which he granted the petition and repealed all the more important of the previous unconstitutional measures. The Manifesto of February 15, 1899, was to be "suspended until the questions therein contained shall be arranged by an act of legislation." At the same time, the Diet was convoked for December 20, 1905.
The importance of this Diet is only surpassed by that held at Borg in 1809, almost a century before, and it is equalled only by the Diet of 1863. It was the last Diet held under the system of four Estates, sitting in separate houses, and the last remnant of this time-honoured, venerable, but certainly somewhat cumbrous Swedish system of representation disappeared. For at this Diet the new law of the Diet, of which a brief account is given above, was adopted in May 1906. During the "Bobrikoff era," or "Era of Oppression," as the preceding years were called in Finland, women had done excellent service in the organisation of the passive resistance movement, and largely for this reason men were ready and willing that the suffrage should be extended to women on the same conditions as to men themselves. No vulgar rioting was necessary. Finnish men were wide-minded enough to see that as regards brains, employment, and politics, there should be no such question as sex.
The proportional system of voting was also adopted without any opposition.
The same year the principles of the freedom of the Press, of assemblies, and of associations were guaranteed by a law, invested with the sanctity of fundamental laws, which, for their repeal or alteration, require a qualified majority.
We can now return to the question of parties in Finland. Already before the commencement of the "Bobrikoff era," the Fennoman party had split up into two groups known as the Old-Finnish and the Young-Finnish party. The latter professed more liberal views on various questions, as in regard to religion and social problems. The Svecoman party had to a considerable extent abandoned its opposition to the Finnish claims, but it still remained as representing the interests of the Swedish population in Finland. When the Russian attacks first commenced, all party divergences were sunk into oblivion, and the country provided the spectacle of a completely united nation. General Bobrikoff was too much of a tactician to be pleased with this state of affairs, and he began to play up to the Old-Finns, not without success. Among other things, he filled all public posts, vacated by their former occupants, who had either resigned on constitutional grounds or had been dismissed, exclusively with Old-Finns.
The Swedish and Young-Finnish parties now entered on a powerful party alliance, and formed the "constitutional" bloc, which was also joined by many influential members of the Old-Finnish party, and strongly supported by the great masses, who had previously exercised very little political influence, and from the ranks of which the recent Social Democratic party was later on to be recruited.
It was by this bloc that the passive resistance campaign was principally carried on. The leaders of the Old-Finnish party adopted a policy of yielding to General Bobrikoff's demands, by which they hoped to save some remnants of the Finnish rights. The party was to some extent disfigured by a number of office hunters, but on the whole it was actuated by patriotic motives. General Bobrikoff was well aware that the Old-Finns at heart were much opposed to his policy, but from their submissive attitude, and their readiness to waive constitutional objections in return for temporary advantages, he took occasion to represent to the Tzar that his policy had the "support of the mass of the people."
When by the law of 1906 the suffrage was extended to the great masses of the people, two new parties arose. The most numerous of all parties in Finland is now the Social Democratic party, which is strongly opposed to the Russian demands. So also is the Agrarian Reform party, which takes up a radical platform in questions of land legislation, and is closely allied to the Young-Finns, with some leanings towards Socialism. A small group is formed by the "Christian Labourers."
Since 1906 no less than five elections have been held, and their results may be seen from the following table:—
Agrarian Social Swedish Reform Christian Democrats. Old-Finns. Young-Finns. Party. Party. Labourers. 1907 80 59 26 24 9 2 1908 83 54 27 25 9 2 1909 84 48 29 25 13 1 1910 86 42 28 26 17 1 1911 80 43 28 26 16 1
The reason why so many elections have taken place—practically every year—though the members are elected for three years, is that the Diets have been dissolved by Imperial command, because they have protested against new breaches of the Constitution. Some of the more important instances may here be recorded. In June 1908 the Russian Council of Ministers was invested with far-reaching powers to interfere in the business both of the Finnish Senate and the Diet. In 1910 the Russian Legislature adopted a proposal, presented by the Tzar, and sanctioned by him on June 30, which provided that a vast number of questions, specified in the new law, were withdrawn from the competence of the Finnish Diet. Legislation on such questions was henceforward transferred to the Russian Legislature, and the Diet was placed in a position to give its opinion on them only. When a law relating to Finland was to be discussed in the Russian Duma or Council of State, Finland was to be represented by four members in the former, and two members in the latter Chamber. The Finnish Diet declared that it could not recognise the new law as legal, since it was unconstitutionally enacted, and in substance constituted a breach of Finnish laws.
In February 1912 the Russian Legislature passed a law, by which Russians coming to Finland were to enjoy all the rights accruing to Finns without acquiring Finnish citizenship. A serious question of principle is involved in this new measure, since it amounts to the negation of a separate Finnish citizenship, which has hitherto been recognised by the Russian rulers even in their dealings with foreign powers. One of the obvious motives for this law is to make it possible to appoint Russian officials to Finnish posts. Several such appointments have already taken place. In August 1912 the members of the Wiborg Town Court were arrested, and brought to St. Petersburg to be tried before a Russian Court for having refused to apply the law just mentioned.
The people of Finland are awaiting with grave anxiety further developments in the present Russian policy.
I am only an outsider, but I have travelled a little both in Finland and Russia. It seems to me that the characters of the two peoples are so fundamentally different, they should each have free hands; and that Russia, while retaining Finland as part of the Russian Empire, should allow her the administration of her own affairs, which she has always shown herself so capable of exercising.
[F] Journal for Literature and General Instruction in Civic Affairs.
T. NELSON AND SONS
PRINTERS AND PUBLISHERS
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FELICITY IN FRANCE. Constance Maud.
Miss Maud has written a fascinating guide book to the French countryside. A pleasant thread of narrative is woven into the book, but it is primarily a description of travels in different parts of France. The perfect sympathy with and understanding of French life, and the humour and grace of the style make it an ideal travelling companion. (July 2.)
MY CLIMBS IN THE ALPS AND CAUCASUS. A. F. Mummery.
Mr. A. F. Mummery, who was killed by an avalanche in attempting the ascent of Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas, was probably the greatest climber of his day. He was the first, for example, to ascend that most formidable of the Chamonix Aiguilles, the Grepon, where the "Mummery Chimney" still commemorates his achievement. The present volume is one of the great classics of mountaineering, and can be read with delight by those who have never seen anything higher than the Surrey Downs. (August 6.)
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The following corrections have been applied to this text:
The national air of Finland is Maamme or Vrt Land in Swedish ("Our Land"). "Vrt" was printed as "Vart" in the original.
for in those Northern climes there are many strange natural effects far more beautiful than in the South. "there are" missing in the original.
with a bathroom." Nested opening quotes are closed with one closing quote.
Me tahdomme lhte (or matkustaa) We would like to leave at one kello yksi. o'clock. "Me tahdomme" lhte was printed as "Meetahdommlhte" in the Original.
Viisi kymment. 50. "kymment" missing in the original
Kolme sataa. 300. "sataa" was printed as "soloa" in the original.
Tuhat kahdeksansataa yhdeksnkymment kuusi. 1896. "kuusi" was missing in the original.
Let us take as an example a 400-mark re (tax). "us" was printed as "as" in the original.
and is certainly in a very flourishing condition. "flourishing" was printed as "flourishng" in the original.
for my sister and I were going back to Ilkesaari alone "Ilkesaari" was printed as "Ilkesaari" in the original.
and for the male, sljd, gardening, and fieldwork. "sljd" was printed as "slojd" in the original.
When we went to Kuopio we hoped to meet Minna Canth "Kuopio" was printed as "Koupio" in the original.
lined throughout with black sheepskin. "througout" was printed as "thoughout" in the original.
feeling the incarnation of industry and pride, "feeling" was printed as "fealing" in the original.
coupled with the bare simplicity of the boards "simplicity" was printed as "simplictiy" in the original.
Accordingly, every year on that day in June sixty men start work at Uleborg "every" was printed as "ever" in the original.
we explained it was to go to the ngbtshytt (cabin) number ten "ngbtshytt" was printed as "angbat shytt" in the original.
par l'acte prsent "prsent" was printed as "present" in the original.
ont joui jusqu'ici selon la Constitution "jusqu'ici" was printed as "jusqu' ici" in the original.
maintenir tous ces avantages "ces" was printed as "ses" in the original.
afford sufficient proofs to assure the Finnish Nation "proofs" was printed as "poofs" in the original.