Pictures of the Socialistic Future
THE socialistic Governments of Russia and France are quite as much at their wits' ends as we are to know how to overcome the difficulties that are constantly arising. Hence they try to appease the ill-humours of their populations by directing attention to foreign affairs. One of the first acts of the socialistic governments had been to dissolve the Triple Alliance. Austria sees herself threatened at the present moment by Italy, in Istria and the Italian Tyrol. The opportunity of Austria's being thus engaged on another side appears a favourable one to Russia and France for their adopting a high tone towards Germany. Accordingly, both powers have addressed simultaneous notes to our Foreign Office, requesting that within ten days, payment be made of the amount due for goods supplied.
Now, how is it that France comes to be in the position of a creditor of ours? As a matter of fact, we have drawn nothing whatever from France except a few million bottles of champagne which were emptied in the first intoxication of delight at the success of the great Revolution, and before the State had taken the regulation of consumption into its own hands. Russia, however, has had the perfidy to cede a part of her claims on us to France, in order to construct a common basis of operations against us. Our indebtedness to Russia has now run up to over a milliard, although our imports of corn, wood, flax, hemp, etc., from that country have only been the same as they were in former times. These are imports which we absolutely cannot do without. But the unfortunate part of the business is, that those manufactures which we had been in the habit of sending to France and Russia, in the way of exchange for imports, have of late nearly all been returned to us, on the pretence of their not being at all up to the mark, of the price being too high, and so forth. If such a thing had happened to us in former times, we should simply have paid the Russians in Russian bonds or their coupons, of which there was then no scarcity in Germany. But having now no bonds, and no stock of noble metals to fall back upon, we are rather bothered by the lack of a convenient means of exchange.
Our good neighbours are only too well aware of this. Hence they take no great pains in their diplomatic notes to conceal the threat, that in case the claims are not promptly settled, they will be compelled to take possession of parts of Posen and Eastern Prussia, and of Alsace and Lorraine as pledges. Both powers expressed their readiness to waive their claims for payment, provided Germany were disposed to yield up possession of these provinces. Is not that a piece of unparalleled impudence?
There is no lack of well-drilled men, of muskets, powder, and shot in Germany. The former regime took good care to provide an abundance of these materials. But in other respects we are not so well prepared; and it seems that in consequence of the diminution in the out-put of coal, and of the dwindling away of the stocks, there is a scarcity of this material which would most seriously hamper the transport of troops by rail. Great complaints are also made by the military authorities as to the scarcity of meat, flour, oats, and similar stores.
Meantime, France has annexed Luxemburg. At the dissolution of the Custom's Union, this Duchy had been, so to say, cut quite adrift. One party in the Duchy took advantage of the ill-humour at the severance of the old commercial relations with Germany to call in the French. The latter lost no time in responding to the call, and they soon reached the territory by way of Longwy. It is said that French cavalry has already been seen on the Germano-Luxemburg frontier close to Treves.
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