THE. PROSPECTS OF PEACE.
WE remain, in spite of all rumours and assertions, unconvinced of immediate peace. Certain Depart- ments of the Russian Government, and especially the Department of Finance, are most anxious to spread the impression that peace is coming, and they seem to have persuaded some of the best English correspondents ; while the French correspondents are aware that even the future of the French Republic may be jeopardised by a continu- ance of the war, and they consequently hunger for peace. The French peasantry have so large a stake in Russian stocks that if they lose it they may accuse the Republic of their ruin, and look eagerly around for a new "savour of society." We admit, of course, that peace may arrive suddenly and unexpectedly, for in the present condition of Russia anything may happen, a Palace revolution in- cluded; but we think, on the whole, if normal conditions continue, and the Army still defies the revolution, that the governing group in St. Petersburg will insist upon further resistance to the Japanese. They have still one chance in Admiral Rozhdestvensky's fleet, which is now creeping across the Indian Ocean, and may very well think that if he defeats Admiral Togo and reaches Vladivostok the conditions of the war will be greatly improved, while if he loses the battle matters will be much as before, the new fleet which Russia will of course one day build costing a, little more, and that is all. Moreover, the Russian reactionaries see their way at last to' a protracted campaign in which time, as they conceive, will be entirely on their side. They have from the first asserted that they have Jost nothing but a colony or an India, Russia herself being free of enemies ; and their idea now is to accept the loss as a complete though temporary one, to retreat behind their natural frontier, the Khingan Mountains, and there to await the attack which they believe will never be delivered. Japan cannot.they say, venture to intrude into the old dominion of the Czars, and will be worn out by a war without incidents waged against a hidden foe. This policy enables them to post- pone all large reinforcements of the army with General Linevitch, and thus to keep at home suffictent troops to fight the revolution, while avoiding the vast expenditure for which it is now so difficult to, provide, as well as the decrees of mobilisation which lead to insurrections. They will be able to pay the interest on the Debt, and to keep the bureaucracy going upon reduced salaries, which only mean, in their experience, increased temptation to accept douceurs. The plan, if we have rightly described it, is by no means without adroitness, for it gives the governing men the means of crushing the revolutionaries, while imposing on the Japanese the necessity of keeping on foot an expensive and burdensome env. A notion of bleeding Japan to death has had a strong influence over their minds ever since the war began, and was at the bottom of General Kuropatkin's plan of retreating to Kharbin, and. there organising a series of large and mobile armies which would take the field when they pleased, and slowly drive the Japanese into the sea. A campaign of several years, dupng which Russia would never take the offensive, might, they consider, consolidate rather than weaken the auto- cracy, for whose acts of violence it would supply a justifi- cation which even civilised Powers have occasionally deemed. sufficient.
Moreover—and this is even a more serious reason for doubting the speedy arrival of peace—the statesmen of St. Petersburg, and especially the Emperor himself, are still unable to shake themselves free of the impression that Russia is a great, and Japan a very little, Power. They talk of the Mikado petitioning for peace. They suggest terms which, if their opponent were one of the Western Powers, they would admit to be absurd, and demand as their first condition of making any concession that Russia is not to be "humiliated." "Not a stone of her forts, not an acre of her territory," is to be alienated, while the idea of an indemnity is scouted as if it were an insult' offered out of pure insolence and malignity. It is scarcely possible, therefore, that even if they bumbled themselves to ask for peace, the terms could be rapidly arranged. The Japanese are a very sensible people, and they intend their peace to be one upon which they can rely for at least a generation. They must ask for the evacuation of Manchuria, because that enormous province when refilled by Chinese will serve as a defensible glacis to the Japanese Empire. They must keep Port Arthur, because it has cost them so much blood and treasure, and. with it, as a source of supply, the peninsula of Liao-tung. They must take Korea, as a granary essential to the supply of their increasing population. They will take or neutralise Vladivostok, as being a pistol held at their heads, and they claim Saghalien as an ancient possession of their own. They are sure to ask for some limitation on the right of Russia to send warships to the North Pacific, and they need an indemnity to enable them to raise their Fleet to a strength which may defy any first-class Power except Great Britain upon equal terms. Russia will endeavour, through France and Germany, to whittle away these demands, and failing in that design, may very well think that a continuance of the war, even though it involves risks of disorder in Russia, will be safer for the autocracy than submission to terms which will be represented to all Russians as insolently oppressive, and which undoubtedly must be most galling to the pride of a dynasty nourished for three centuries upon continuous expansions. The pride of the Romanoff a, we must remember, is no more fictitious than the pride of an aristocrat in his position, or the pride of an ancient and prosperous house of business in its con- tinued solvency. So long as there are resources, they will struggle; and we cannot believe either that their power of collecting taxes is exhausted, or that they cannot raise a loan secured upon the enormous property of the Church. The Church will not like the arrangement, but the Czar is Patriarch. The mere cessation of aggres- sive warfare will save them half-a-million a week; while the suspension of mobilisation breaks the mostpowerful weapon in the hands of the revolutionaries. Of course, if the jacquerie spreads, as it is said to be spreading, the Treasury may be emptied ; but Russia is so vast that the economic condition of each region differs from that of every other ; while if the troops continue to obey, internal order may be restored. Besides, the question is not what Western statesmen would consider possible, but what Russian bureaucrats, with centuries of despotism behind them, can delude themselves into believing. There is not in Turkey a province in which Western order reigns, but the Sultan's Government still exists, and can place considerable armies in the field ; and the Czardom is surely as strong as the Sultanate. Peace will no doubt draw nearer, but it is difficult to trick the Japanese; and unless they are over- borne by some European combination, or can them- selves secure some great and permanent guarantee against attack, say a British alliance, they must ask terms which the Russian Government may consider more dangerous than the armed truce which, if they retreat without making peace, they fancy they can secure.