22 JULY 1905, Page 14

acquisition of this island is of considerably later date. Its

acquisition by Russia is necessarily bound up with the story of Russian expansion in the regions of the Amur, and this does not begin till after the arrival of Muravieff as Governor in Eastern Siberia in 1848. Muravieff may be regarded as the originator of the recent Russian policy in the Far East, a policy to which Nicholas I., and the two Alexanders after him, gave a grudging consent, and which has been brought to its full and fatal fruition under Nicholas II., the first Czar who has supported the policy of Far Eastern expansion with any degree of enthusiasm. It is curious to note with what consistent disapproval this policy has been regarded by the greatest rulers of Russia during the past two centuries. Peter the Great, who pushed Russia to the Baltic, made the Treaty of Nertchinsk with China, by which Russia relinquished all claims to the Amur. Catherine the Great, who pushed Russia to the Black Sea, upheld her predecessor's Far Eastern policy throughout the whole of her long reign. Count Nesselrode, who presided with such exceptional skill and brilliancy over Russian foreign policy for upwards of forty years, was bitterly opposed to Muravieff's schemes. In fact, for nearly two centuries the avoidance of an aggressive policy on the confines of China and Japan was unflinchingly observed by the Russian Government. It is not improbable that the advent of the troubles in the Near East which led to the Crimean War relaxed the hold of the St. Petersburg Government on the doings of its Proconsul in the Far East. At all events, Muravieff set up the Russian flag in Saghalien in 1853. But Japan had claims to the island, and for the next twenty years exercised effective dominion at least over its southern part. In 1875 Japan was induced, very unwillingly and under pressure, to barter her claims to Saghalien for the inadequate equivalent of the Kurile Islands. Thus the effective Russian control of Saghalien is not sixty years old, but thirty. Of the many results of the present great war, surely not the least beneficent will be the transference of Saghalien from Russia to Japan. Under Russia the unhappy island has been a veritable hell upon earth, as any reader of Mr. Hawes's " In the Uttermost East" may easily see for

himself.—I am, Sir, &c., C. T. KNAUS.