25 JUNE 1892, Page 17


!TO THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."] Sus,—You ask in the Spectator of June 11th, referring to the official opinion in Germany that the famine in Russia has not been due to an accidental drought, but is the outcome of a steady decay of agricultural prosperity : " What change is it that they think has occurred in the rural districts of Russia ?"

The following paragraph, taken from a much-read German agricultural gazette, may interest you, since it mentions the cause to which this decay is attributed :-

"The wanton despoiling of Russian forests during these last thirty years has led to such widespread devastation in the wood- lands, that industrial Western Europe is at present richer in woods than Central Russia. The havoc wrought in the forests has had the result that the abundance of water in rivers and inland lakes has decreased ; that immense masses of quicksand have been formed, which encroach steadily upon the cultivated land ; that the Rus- sian territory is becoming desiccated and nature impoverished ; that the temperature in summer has increased by three degrees, and decreased in winter to the same amount. Professor Bog- danow, who has diligently studied these subjects for years, pre- dicts, upon the above grounds, that the metamorphosis of the `black earth' into a desert will be accomplished within the next century, unless this destruction of woods be proceeded against with ruthless energy."

—I am, Sir, &c.,