National Geographic : 1909 Jan
HONORS TO THE AMERICAN NAVY lords and dividing them into farms for the peasant farmers and in building them comfortable homes. More than three hun dred million dollars have already been spent in this work, which will make a total of more than nine hundred million dollars contributed by the British treas ury to the peace and prosperity of the Irish people. The venerable Francis Joseph of Aus tria celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his reign by adding to his empire the former Turkish states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have been under Austrian protection since the war be tween Turkey and Russia in 1878, and while there are remonstrances from Servia, Bulgaria, and from some of the European powers, the opposition will finally concede the right of permanent possession. The advance of constitutional govern ment during 1908 has been extraordinary. The last of the autocrats has handed down his scepter to his subjects. The last of the absolute monarchies has collapsed. The political reformation of the world is not yet complete; sinners still sit in high places. But revolutions do not go back ward, and authority once relinquished can never be recovered. By reducing the number of voters, as has been done in the south, the revolu tionary element has been eliminated from the Russian Douma, and the sessions of that body are now conducted with dig nity and order. A budget has been voted; government loans have been authorized; the courts are being reformed; millions of dollars have been appropriated for education; the laws of the empire are be ing revised and codified, and although deprived of universal suffrage the Rus sians have a fair share of representative government, which experience will im prove. The Sultan of Turkey in July restored the constitution to the Turkish Empire and called a parliament to be elected by the people. The "Young Turks," led by his own nephew, now control the Sublime Porte. They have given Turkey freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and many liberties and political blessings that were never before known in that country. Pro testants and Catholics, Greeks and Arme nians, Jews and Gentiles, will have seats in the parliament, will participate in the administration of the government, and will probably be admitted to the army, both as officers and privates, which will forever prevent a Moslem fanatic from ascending the Ottoman throne. The young Shah of Persia, who tried to repudiate the constitution and the parliament granted by his father a short time before his death, is now as much a prisoner in his palace as the Czar at Peterhof. Neither one of them dare pass outside the walls that surround him ex cept in the center of a military guard. And while the Shah may interrupt the progress of reform for a brief period, his fate has been read in the stars, and it is only a question of time when his brief reign will be abruptly terminated. His situation is hopeless. The supreme eccle siastics of the Established Church of Persia have declared that a constitution and a parliament and a complete change in the personnel at the palace are neces sary for the well-being of Persia. They have excommunicated their sovereign, and the nominal head of their church, for violating an oath he took upon the Koran, and for profaning the sanctuary of two mosques in which members of parliament who were fleeing from his soldiers had taken refuge. There has been a good deal of comic opera mixed up with the tragedies at Teheran. The first Persian parliament was not an ideal assembly. No business was transacted, no laws were passed, no legis lative action whatever was taken, and the most important issues were ignored while the members relieved the pent-up indig nation of a thousand years in vehement attacks upon their sovereign and the sys tem of tyranny he represents. Instead of gently eliminating the insurrectionary element by restricting suffrage like the Czar, he hung and shot the Liberal lead-. ers, he dispersed the parliament at the. point of the bayonet, and thus scattered, the sparks of revolution all over the land.