The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20, 1879.
A cablegram in our issue of to-day informs ns that a quarrel has arisen between |i the Czar of Russia and the Czarewitch, 5. the heir-apparent demanding the establishment of constitutional Government, which the Emperor refuses to accede to. It is a ; sign that the enlightenment of the age we live in is penetrating even the Imperial palaces of Russia when we find her future Emperor demanding of his father a boon to his people of the nature indicated by the cablegram. We are willing to believe that the Czarewitch’s demand is the result of a more liberal view of political life taken by the future -Emperor, but we are afraid that the action of the Nihilists has not a little to do with it, and that the pressure they are bringing to bear upon . the Royal Family by the terror they axe—inspiring is bsgiim'ng to fill the'Riissi&pl powers that be with alarm. The peasant has for generations, been trained to an almost superstitious loyalty to the. Czar, whom he looks upon as ■ a ruler' holding liis right to the throne 4 ' by a tenure which is the next thing to divine. . This loyalty of the peasant, who" of course is also the soldier of the country, stands in the way of the Nihilist agitator, and to undermine it he directs all the energies of his nature. ; It is amazing to read with what pertinacity the cancer of Nihilism, that is now gnawing the vitals of the Russian dynasty, works away to accomplish this purpose. If the emissary of the secret agency is an educated man, and most of the Nihilists are such, hedoes not hesitate to assume the peasant's dress and position and labor for years upon the soil, poisoning by his subtle influence the minds of his fellow workmen against the royalty of the country;: and 'aJI th 6 institutions of the Government he hatesl" Nihilism is making too rapid strides in Russia for the Czar to be comfortable, and frequent narrow escapes i fifom: assassination are only warnings that sooner or later the fatal bullet will speed to its direful mission. Wholesale deportation to Siberia of suspected rebels seems? ltd’; have no effect in reducing the strength or slackening ' the activity of an agency Taj«yil against the Government of the power, such as it has never,;in'all its black hi story had to cope : but the more extreme the measures taken te stamp itout the more active does its , ? operati3nl seem to become, and.'tl#inpw hostility. i • : i * , The word of the <)zar has hitherto ’ law, and his oppression of thepebpteV'dr at least the oppression of the people by the system of his rule, has been galling. Under that rule a person suspected of 'eh-I. tertaining feelings hostile to the reigning power, dr who had, however unwittingly, crossed the path of any of those holders of personal authority : wHo are'sb tife'lif the country, was liable at any moment to find himself or herself (for, s Russian “ justice ” cares not for Sex)' en route to prison or a Siberian exile. It is quite 1 time the Royalty of Russia should think of reform, for its subjects; have beenjthe most down-trodden, and the greatest strangers to freedom, of all the people who have yet claimed to come withiri the confines of modern civilisation. But wo fear the Czar is not yet able to , extricate -himself from the instincts of his house* . .and the recent wars he has ; waged i hyp,ocritie* ally in the name of Christianity* ; with an ostensible view to wrest from 3 urkishirulo Mahomraedan-ridden Christians, - A bub really to add if possible more territory to his already over-grown dominions, are only another proof of how cruelly‘loyal he is to the ruling passion of his race—greed of territory. If the Czar grants constitutional Government to his people he Will do more than is expected of him, and more than he will do wiUingly.; iHe yield his absolute power until he feels that a dangerous contra-power compels him. In a former article we said that to some readers of Russian history? the Nihilist agitation would speui like a Nemesis to the House of Romandft; of Which /the Czar is a scion, and we further statedrtnat no Christian nation possessed : a.'l'litt'eaga of royalty so marked with • cruelty and crime as has for centuries back been the Russian house of Romanoff:' Let us take a rapid glance back‘over'the history of the country’s rulers, and see the stuff of which they were made. The founder of the house of Romanoff was a man named Kobyla, who emigrated from Prussia. In the sixth generation of his descendants they adopted the name the; house now bears—Romanoff. It was one - of these descendants who became the Wife of the notorious Ivan the Terrible, the fiend who murdered his eldest. son, crushing his skull with an iron rod. This same demon hypocritically attended mass in Novgorod cathedral in January, 1570. His soldiers were with him, their side arms clanging on the floor when they knelt in prayer. On a signal from the Czar, the troops se'zed the Archbishop, imprisoned,kirn, pillaged the archiepiscopal palace, and sacked the city. Men, women, and children were mercilessly tossed into the river, and the inhuman brute ordered, his soldiers to ride along the banks river to prevent the escape of the, victims. For weeks the scenes of blood and plunder continued. In 1584 this, imposter died by the visitation of God in a mortal illness that seized- him, and. suddenly ended his terrible career. His son Feodor was almost an idiot, but ho ascended the throne. He married Irina Goduriof, and the virtual ruld of i the country fell into the hands of her brother. When Feodor died his widow entered a monastery, and her brother assassinated three persons Who stood between him and the throne, to which he was elected by the
Cptmdl of Nobles, and by the dignitaries of the church! This usurper was poisoned, and his son succeded him, only to be assassinated with his mother to-make-room for the “ False Demetrius ’ who professed to bo the son of Ivan the. Terrible. Ke, too, fell a victim to the as-jiissin s r ki ife. He was buried in the ‘ ‘ Stranger- fa Field,’’ but the infuriated people'would Hot 1 permit even the ashes df the Pretender to their “ holy” throne to’ reihaiii iti the grave. They burned his body, and mixed the calcined dust with powder and fired it from a cannon in the direction of Mos"cow. Shorusky, chosen by the mob, succeeded him, and he in his turn was de- ' throned. Ladislas, a son of the King of Poland, was the next Czar, but he was opposed S' . the priests because he was a Latin thdlic. Michael Romanoff, a lineal descendant of Kobyla, was the next aspirant to the throne, and Peter the Great, his ‘giutidson, succeeded him. Then com- ' menced that thirst , for territory that has burned in the Russian breast to this day. He, like Ivan the Terrible, murdered his eldest son, but murder Was not the only 'stain upon his life. He married the mistress of two of his generals, a woman who had been the wife of a Swedish dragoon. Before his marriage with her, whUe her dragoon husband and Peter’s first wife were still alive, she bore the Czar‘two daughters. * Another of Peter’s "mistresses, an English woman named Hamilton, was executed for murdering an illegitimate child sh® bore- to Peter; and the Czar, so pure himself, accused his first wife of infidelity, and had the alleged paramoir impaled. Peter attended the execution to jeer at the unfortunate n.an, who was brave enough to spit in the face Of his unmanly sovereign. The Czar’s Swedish wife Catherine was in turn un- ■ true to her lord, and he had her lover beheaded. before her eyes. Peter the Second succeeded this paragon of virtue, of whom the Russian nation is so proud, but he was very speedily deposed, and the Czarina . Anne ascended the throne. ’ She took up with a groom, who became the virtual ruler of the nation. Ivan the : "‘Sedtirid .succeeded Anne, but his reign • whk short, and after a sojourn in prison for eighteen years he was murdered. "Fllizabfeth followed, but the life she led is imnanyafthle, Prince Orloff strangled her successor,-' Peter . the Third. Peter’s widow,--Catherine the Second, succeeded hiip, .Hot character was a commixture of (Jebiuchery arid cruelty, and half the nobilityoftheland were accomplices in her infamy. Paul succeeded her :he was her son by a paramoui, and he was strangled at the instigation of bis own sons, after a five years* reign. Alexander the First was the next sovereign. He died in the Crimea in 1825. His brother ; Constantine, the “ butcher,” is famous for having atrociously murdered two women at Strelna in a manner that cannot be.described. We need not extend the enumeration of the Ronianofis’ crimes by detailing the evil doings of Nicholas in Poland and Circassia. We have shown enough from the black history of Russia’s sovereigns to leave the reader to imagine what the state ot a people must be who (tewe been ruled by such a catalogue of Liberty is a word unknown in the' land, and Campbell’s lines were terribly true, when, on the downfall of Poland, he said : Oh sacred Truth, thy triumph ceased a . while, And Hope; thy sister, ceased with thee to ‘smile.” W« r may condemn Nihilism as we may, but whan we consider the reign of terror under which the Russian people live, and the grinding oppression that has given birflir tAthe movement, we are constrained to find some palliation for the existence of • ail ulgSAi»tipT.Jbat haß for its aim the freedoni of its country—no matter how mMakeifits notions of freedom may be.
: - ' The' decision arrived at by Parliament oh ita 'lsstjßitting day, as to the adoption of the schedule of railways, was probably the wisest thing they have done among ' the many resolutions they have passed during the session. ■ They struck out of - ■; the list of authorised railways the major portion of the “ Nelson to Greymonth ” ■ Cahd the whole of' the “ Waikato to Taraj naki.” ■ lie first was one of the maddest . schemes ever propounded, by which to, - ruin the finances of the colony, and to - . breed a. feeling of distrust among the ‘ - English bondholders, by spending a million !a ?«fm'iney in constructing a line which could never be anything but . a white . ; elephant'to the railway department. The , country through which this line was to be constructed is of the roughest and most , . difficult, nature possible to imagine ; the • grades are steep, the. hill sides on which the.. formation would bo made are very , liable to slips, and the only traffic to be : looked . for is the carriage of coal, an article having a large demand and consequently subject to a large amount of competition. This line would inevitably have '' proved a failure, from the fact that the KawaKawa mine, north of Auckland, is . now being so well developed, and possesses r so many advantages in the way of a good ~ market, in the, hurgp'steamers now trading ./ fi>Auck!and,and pther ports. . These all ~ call on their way at Russell , to coal, and ■ lie ; pjnes wjU have, in a short time, . conveniencesby which tie proprietors may , compete with outside markets like Newcastle, which is the competitor our New Zealand coal pit owners have to contend against more than any other, so that the proposed line, from Brunuerton either . ; to.Apberly or Nelson could , neyer land . cqol on this side of the Island at a price which Would pay against Kawakawa coal, or from the Brunner pine itself, if sea borne to Lyttelton- Therefore, the decision arrived at by Parliament as to the beat means of utilising the Grey coal measures—thatisby further improving the entfancetothe Grey river, so as to make it navigable for vessels of sufficient tonnage, and thus compete with the mines in New South Wales—was the on« best, calculated to render them useful to the country at large. We do not think we are . overstating the resources of the colony when we perdict that in a less period than ' ;* fiveyeara frop the present date, we will be v exporters, instead of importers of com. Our resources ape immense. ’ : Qfi the Weso Coast, from the Grey 1 river ' to West Wanganui, a] distance ' .. 'of 150 miles by coasit, thick seams of coal : ; are visible wherever the gorges of the ” rivepi. intersect the measures. At the the Ten-mile, at Fox’s river, \' otarlest<m, Mount .Rbchfort, Mokihinni, Karamea river ami at West Wanganui .’./’TnSet, anil thence across to Golden Bay, ?''? ! ci^/ exists in inexhaustible quantities, of - 1 utebd:ird- /depths ofseam, and of a quality unequalled in the world, according to the
opinions of the Admiralty authorities at vVoolwich ; and it only requires the means of transit to make the present wilderness of the West Coast the richest district in the colony by means of a trans-insular railway. But the enormous range of mountains forming the backbone of the Island is- decisively prohibitive to the formation of a road for the iron horse. The other line struck out of the list was, if possible, a more extravagant one. Its course was through lands which are still in the hands of the native owners ; icrossed numerous and difficult. rivers ; the country it intersected was mostly heavy bush, and in hilly country ; and the cost of formation would have been out of all proportion to the returns : whilst the maintenance, after completion would have been a heavy item to place against the earnings of the line. It was one of those lines called hy some political, and by others military railways, constructed with a view to assisting land sharks on the one side, and stirring up a Maori war on the other, the English capitalist becoming the stalking horse for both parties.