3 SEPTEMBER 1898, Page 1


ON Monday the Emperor of Russia astonished the civilised world by making public a proposal for an international 'Conference for the preservation of peace and the reduction of armaments. This proposal was contained in a document which, on August 24th, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, " by order of the Emperor," banded from "a neat pile of papers" on his table to the Ambassadors and Ministers of the Powers resident at St. Petersburg. The ideal aims, says Count Muravieff, in whose name the project is issued, towards which the efforts of all Governments should be directed are

the maintenance of universal peace and a possible reduction of excessive armaments." " This is the view which fully corresponds with the humanitarian and magnanimous in- tentions of his Majesty the Emperor, my august master." Alliances have been formed and armies strengthened in order to guarantee peace, but these efforts have not led to the desired pacification. " The ever-increasing financial burdens attack public prosperity at its very roots," and the physical and intellectual strength of the peoples is wasted, and hundreds of millions thrown away on engines of destruction. Thus peace becomes more terrible than war, and if the situ- ation is prolonged, it will lead to the disaster which is sought to be avoided. "It is the supreme duty, therefore, at the present moment of all States to put some limit to these unceasing armaments and to find means of averting the calamities which threaten the whole world. Impressed by this feeling, his Majesty the Emperor has been pleased to command me to propose to all Governments accredited to the Imperial Court the meeting of a Conference to discuss this grave problem. Such a Conference, with God's help, would be a happy augury for the opening century."