22 FEBRUARY 1890, Page 1

The Prussian Council of State, revivified to attend to labour

questions, was opened on Friday week by the Emperor in person. His Majesty told the members, who are principally officials and great employers of labour, that he wanted " pro- tection for the working classes against an arbitrary and limitless exploitation of their capacity to work," consideration of the position of women " so important both to morality and thrift," and the formation of representative bodies through which workmen shall inform the State and negotiate with their employers. Great circumspection would be needed, because " if remunerative employment were prejudiced in the world's market," more harm would be done than good ; but he trusted in the devotion of the State Council, and thought Church and school had also a wide field for fruitful action. The speech was moderate and sensible, though 'a little in the style of the Toynbee Hall young man, who has more enthu- siasm for improvement than perception how to attain it, and it is entirely believed by the respectable classes that the Emperor is in earnest. The belief of the lower classes is, how- ever, not so certain, those classes being partly inarticulate, and the question seems to formulate itself thus. Will the suffering section of the artisans regard the Emperor's effort as a substitute for Socialism, or will they be more openly Socialist because he has endorsed some of the Socialist ideas?