Russian territorial expansion has thus been checked, for some years to come, on the Pacific coast; but the expansive tendency will re-appear soon in other regions, and it behooves us to be watchful, because, whatever direction it may take, it is likely to affect our interests directly or indirectly. Will it confine itself for some years to a process of infiltration in Mongolia and Northern Thibet, the line of least resistance? Or will it impinge on our Indian frontier, directed by those who desire to avenge themselves on Japan’s ally for the reverses sustained in Manchuria? Or will it once more take the direction of the Bosphorous, where a campaign might be expected to awaken religious and warlike enthusiasm among the masses? To these questions I cannot give any answer, because so much depends on the internal consequences of the present war, and on accidental circumstances which no one can at present foresee. I have always desired, and still desire, that we should cultivate friendly relations with our great rival, and that we should learn to appreciate the many good qualities of her people; but I have at the same time always desired that we should keep a watchful eye on her irrepressible tendency to expand, and that we should take timely precautions against any unprovoked aggression, however justifiable it may seem to her from the point of view of her own national interests.
THE PRESENT SITUATION
Reform or Revolution?—Reigns of Alexander
II. and Nicholas II.
Compared and Contrasted—The Present Opposition—Various Groups—The
Constitutionalists—Zemski Sobors—The Young Tsar Dispels
Illusions—Liberal Frondeurs—Plehve’s Repressive Policy—Discontent
Increased by the War—Relaxation and Wavering under Prince
Mirski—Reform Enthusiasm—The Constitutionalists Formulate their
Demands—The Social Democrats—Father Gapon’s Demonstration—The
Socialist-Revolutionaries—The Agrarian Agitators—The
Subject-Nationalities—Numerical Strength of the Various Groups—All
United on One Point—Their Different Aims—Possible Solutions of the
Crisis—Difficulties of Introducing Constitutional Regime—A Strong Man
Wanted—Uncertainty of the Future.
Is history about to repeat itself, or are we on the eve of a cataclysm? Is the reign of Nicholas II. to be, in its main lines, a repetition of the reign of Alexander II., or is Russia about to enter on an entirely new phase of her political development?