Arthur Reade.

Finland and the Finns online

. (page 18 of 22)
Online LibraryArthur ReadeFinland and the Finns → online text (page 18 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ployers and workers has established the principle
of equal pay for equal work. There are also sepa-
rate firms which apply the same principle, but these
are exceptional.

It is interesting to know that women have not
favoured special protective legislation for their sex
in factories, unless such legislation is to apply to
men as well. Not long ago the question of night-
work in factories arose, and it was proposed to make
it illegal for women, but the majority of women
workers were against the proposal, because they
questioned whether it really would protect them, and
if it would not rather drive them out of the better
organized and better paid factories into the ill paid
and casual home-work. They preferred night-work
with good wages to the prohibition of night-work
with bad wages, and have only approved of its inter-
diction when, as in the Bakeries law, the embargo
is laid on both sexes alike.

It has already been pointed out that the principle
of equal pay for equal work is applied to the salaries
of elementary school teachers, and the Diet in 1913
pronounced in favour of the principle in the case of
women in the State service. A committee of the
Senate had desired to pay the women less than the
men, but the Diet declared its disapproval of the
suggestion in the following important pronounce-
ment : / 'In the opinion of the Diet there is no reason


to apply to women in the State service a procedure
departing from existing regulations and from the
general principle obtaining in those regulations, that
salaries are determined according to the nature of
the work done without reference to the person hold-
ing the office." Only by the establishment of this
principle throughout industry will men cease to suf-
fer from loss of work or lowered wages due to
female competition.

To illustrate the excellent practical work which
women are doing in Finland, one cannot do better
than give a brief sketch of one of the numerous
societies founded and organized by them. A good
instance is the Martha Society. This was founded
in 1899, the year of the February Manifesto, and its
foundation was doubtless precipitated by the desire
to counteract russianizing influences by stimulating
the interest of the peasants in their own country and
homes. It is entirely a woman's society, and its
members are drawn from all classes without distinc-
tion. The objects of "Martha" are to work for im-
proved housekeeping, a better bringing up of chil-
dren, the spread of handicrafts and the teaching of
gardening. It has, moreover, such moral objects as
the encouragement of temperance and pure living.
Its promoters began wisely by calling meetings at
different places and electing local committees. They
did not make the mistake of trying to manage the
movement altogether from Helsingf ors, but allowed
the local bodies as much freedom as possible.
Women lecturers travelled over the country making
propaganda for the society. They visited the homes


of the peasants, talked with the women, sought to
win their confidence and excite their interest. On
the whole they were very well received, though some-
times their visits were at first regarded with sus-
picion. Sewing-parties were one of the earliest
forms of the society's activity. Expert instruction
in the cutting out of clothes was given and the meet-
ings were frequently enlivened by lectures, discus-
sions, reading aloud and singing. Many branches
arranged for lectures independently of sewing-
parties, preference being given to such subjects as
woman's work in the home, the care of children,
temperance, cleanliness, the duties of women to so-
ciety, gardening and poultry-keeping. As far as
possible practical instruction is given in the two
latter activities, which have hitherto been much
neglected in Finland. The society employs a large
number of women gardeners, who travel round the
country in the spring and summer, giving advice and
help to members. In many places co-operative pur-
chase of seeds is customary. Prizes are offered for
the best-kept garden. Poultry-keeping is also mak-
ing rapid progress, though the society only under-
took it quite recently. Already a co-operative sale
of eggs has been established and the society has its
agent in Helsingfors. Courses in cookery have be-
come very popular, and will help to raise the stand-
ard of Finnish cookery, which at present leaves
something to be desired. One of the most valuable
sides of the society's work is the encouragement of
women's arts and crafts. Courses in weaving are
numerous, curtains, handkerchiefs, blouses and dif-


ferent clothes being manufactured. With these
is also combined instruction in the use of vegetable
dyes. The revival of this old art is a matter of
congratulation. "What calm and strong delight of
colour the good old fabrics have," writes a member
of the society. ' * They tell us of field and forest, of
flowery meadows and green foliage, and first and
last, of women's happy work in weaving beautiful
objects for their homes."

The society has also a publication department
and issues numerous tracts and pamphlets in addi-
tion to its own journal. It arranges exhibitions and
excursions and has Martha Days, to which all who
can make a point of coming. And all this admirable
work is done not by rich people with an excess of
money, but in the face of perpetual financial difficul-
ties and the hampering of progress owing to meagre
funds. Moreover, the entire society is managed, as
it was originated, by women. 1

1 The following details, kindly supplied by the society, may
possibly prove of interest. The membership in 1912 was about
11,000, the members being divided among the 164 branches of
the society. Each branch usually consists of a commune, i.e., a
town or parish. But there are some branches including two or
three communes, and certain communes contain more than one
branch. The largest country branch contains 474 members, em-
bracing a small town and sixteen neighbouring villages. During
1912 73 branches had cookery courses, which were visited by
3,125 women; 21 had weaving courses, with an attendance of
456; 96 had regular sewing-parties, at which the attendance
varied from 10 to 50. Between 60 and 70 women gardeners
travelled round the country and gave instruction and help to
about 4,000 homes. Forty-three branches received instruction
in poultry-keeping. Besides the ordinary meetings of the differ-
ent branches, 335 large extra meetings were held and 500 lec-
tures were delivered.



AS has already been pointed out, it was in con-
sequence of the war of 1808-9 that Finland
passed from Sweden to the Eussian Empire, and
this war was only the culmination of a struggle for
supremacy which had been carried on for centuries.
From the time when Peter the Great founded his
capital at Petersburg, the ultimate control of the
Gulf of Finland by Russia became a foregone con-
clusion, and the Russian monarchs clearly recognized
the necessity of breaking down Sweden's power
there. As early as 1742 we find the Empress Eliza-
beth, while at war with Sweden, issuing a manifesto
to the Finns in which she offers to liberate them
from the rule of Sweden and to make Finland an
independent State. The Empress Catherine enter-
tained a similar idea. In 1788 she urged the Finns,
if they really desired peace, "to prevail upon the
Swedish army to leave Finland." They were to
"summon their own Diet, declare themselves inde-
pendent, frame laws. . . .," and Her Majesty would
"solemnly and for ever confirm all their resolu-
tions " and, if necessary, protect them from the



Swedish king by force of arms. In 1808, when the
Eussian general Buxhoevden crossed the Finnish
frontier before the declaration of war, he issued a
manifesto on behalf of the Emperor Alexander I
desiring the Finns not to resist his advance, because
the Eussians came as "friends and protectors."
During the long struggle that followed two opinions
were current in Eussia with regard to Finland's fu-
ture. One party desired annexation and the treat-
ment of Finland as a province of the Empire; the
other party advised the Emperor to guarantee to
the people the constitutional rights they already en-
joyed. The long and stubborn . resistance of the
Finns, combined with his anxiety to free the Eus-
sian army for duties elsewhere, induced Alexander
I to adopt the latter policy, and, at his request, a
deputation representing the nobles, burghers, peas-
ants and clergy of Finland met at Petersburg on
November 12, 1808, while, though Finland had prac-
tically been abandoned, the war was still in progress,
to discuss with him what could be done for Finland.
The deputies asked that a Diet should be summoned,
representing the Four Estates of Finland, and on
January 20, 1809, the Emperor convoked the
famous Diet of Borga. General Buxhoevden was
recalled as a sign that hostile relations no longer
existed between Finland and Eussia, and a civil
Governor of Finland, Sprengporten, was appointed
in his stead.

A word of explanation as to Finland's separation
from Sweden is desirable. The alternatives before
her were to resist to the end without regular troops


and then surrender unconditionally, or to accept the
exceedingly liberal terms proposed by Alexander I,
which included the most important thing of all,
namely, the maintenance of the Swedish Constitu-
tion as the Constitution of Finland. As it became
evident that Sweden neither could nor would do
anything more for Finland, public opinion tended
more and more to welcome the latter alternative.
Sweden had left the Finns to take care of themselves
and they did so. The deposition of the Swedish
king, Gustavus IV, by his own subjects, which oc-
curred about a fortnight before the Diet of Borga,
removed all qualms of conscience from the minds of
waverers. By the treaty of peace of Fredrikshamn,
Sweden ratified the new order of things. The ar-
rangement suited Alexander I as well as it suited
Finland. The Emperor required a buffer State
between Petersburg and the kingdom of Sweden. It
was also desirable, in view of the proximity of the
Finnish frontier to his capital, that he should have
military control over that buffer State. He further
desired, as part of the same policy, the control of
its foreign policy. But otherwise, so far as he was
concerned, Finland might be free and autonomous.
Indeed, it was better so, for the Finns, whose fight-
ing qualities he was only too well aware of, would
then be contented, and unlikely, in the event of a new
war with Sweden, to make difficulties for Russia
by revolting in favour of the Swedes.

The position of Finland in the Russian Empire
was determined by the proceedings at Borga and
the Treaty of Fredrikshamn. The former were


marked by great solemnity. On March 15/27, 1809,
Alexander I reached Borga and on the same evening
signed the so-called Act of Assurance. On March
17/29 the Finnish Estates met the Tsar in the
Cathedral of Borga to receive his pledge and subse-
quently do homage to him. The Act of Assurance
was read out by the Governor-General on behalf of
the Tsar. It runs as follows:

We, Alexander the First, by the Grace of God Emperor and
Autocrat of All the Russias, etc., do make known:

That Providence having placed Us in possession of the Grand
Duchy of Finland, We have desired hereby to confirm and rat-
ify the religion and fundamental Laws of the Land as well as
the privileges and rights which each class in the said Grand
Duchy in particular, and all the inhabitants in general, be their
position high or low, have hitherto enjoyed according to the Con-
stitution. We promise to maintain all these benefits and laws
firm, and unshakeable in their full force. In confirmation
whereof we have signed this Act of Assurance with Our own

Given in Borga, March 15/27, 1809.


The Four Estates then took the oath of allegiance,
after which the Tear spoke in French as follows :

Je regois avec sensibilite les serments de fidelite que les hab-
itants de la Finlande viennent de me preter par 1'organe de
leur representants.

Les liens qui m'unissent a eux, affermis par ce mouvement
spontane de leur affection, consacre par cet acte solennel, en
deviennent plus cher a mon coeur, plus conf orme a mes principes.

En leur promettant de maintenir leur religion, leur lois fon-
damentales, fai voulu leur montrer le prix que j'attache aux
sentiments de la confiance et de 1'amour.

J'implore PEtre tout puissant de m'accorder sa force et sa
lumiere pour gouverner cette nation respectable d'apres ses lois
et sa justice divine,


The Emperor then made a triumphant tour in
Finland and was everywhere received with the
greatest enthusiasm. Before leaving the country
he issued at Borga, on March 23/ April 4, the fol-
lowing important manifesto in French, which he
commanded should be translated into Finnish and
Swedish and be read aloud, together with the Act
of Assurance, in all the churches in Finland:

Nous, Alexandra Premier, Empereur et Autocrate de toutes
les Hussies, etc., Grand Due de Finlande, etc.:

Ayant reuni les etats de la Finlande en une Diete generale, et
regu leurs sermens de fidelite, Nous avpns voulu a cette occa-
sion par un acte solennel, emane en leur presence et proclame
dans le sanctuaire de 1'Etre Supreme, confirmer et assurer le
maintien de la Religion, des lois fondamentales, les droits et
les privileges dont chaque etat en particulier et tous les habi-
tants de la Finlande en general ont joui jusqu'a present.

En faisant promulger cet acte par ces presentes Nous croyons
devoir instruire en meme terns Nos fideles sujets de Finlande
qu'en ous conformant a Pusage antique et venere de ce pays
Nous regardons les sermens de fidelite pretes par les etats en
general et par les deputes des paysans en particulier en leur
nom et en celui de leurs commettans, de leurs mouvemens
propres et spontanes, comme bons et obligatoires pour tous les
habitans de la Finlande.

Intimement persuade que ce peuple bon et loyale conservera
a jamais pour Nous et pour Nos successeurs les memes senti-
mens de fidelite et d'attachement inviolable qui 1'ont toujours
distingue, Nous attacherons a lui donner avec 1'aide de Dieu
de preuves continuelles de Nos soins assidus et paternels pour
son bonheur et sa prosperite.

A Borga ce 23 mars, 1809.


These two documents are the charter of Finland's
liberties. The Treaty of Fredrikshamn, which
ended the war between Russia and Sweden, was
signed on September 17 in the same year. In it


Sweden formally renounced all claims to Finland,
thereby officially recognizing the change that had
actually taken place several months before. It is
urged by certain Russian controversialists that by
this treaty the Act of Assurance and the manifesto
of March 23/ April 4, 1809, were cancelled. This
is so far from being the case, however, that the
treaty, in one of its clauses, actually recognizes
the agreement already in existence between Alex-
ander I and the Finns.

The clause quoted by Russian writers in support
of their contention is No. 4 of the treaty. It con-
tains the following proviso:

These provinces [of Finland], with all their inhabitants,
towns, ports, forts, villages and islands, with all their appurte-
nances, privileges and revenues, shall hereafter under full own-
ership and sovereignty belong to the Russian Empire and be
incorporated with the same.

They omit, however, to quote Clause 6 of the
same treaty, which runs as follows:

His Majesty the Emperor of All the Russias having already
given the most manifest proofs of the clemency and justice with
which he has resolved to govern the inhabitants of the provinces
which he has acquired, by generosity and by his own spontane-
ous act assuring to them the free exercise of their religion,
rights, property and privileges, His Swedish Majesty considers
himself thereby released from performing the otherwise sacred
duty of making reservations in the above respects in favour of
his former subjects.

This clause clearly refers to the proceedings at
Borga and recognizes the validity of the agreement
then entered upon by the Emperor and the people
of Finland. Consequently, both the Diet of Borga


and the Treaty of Fredrikshamn have to be taken
into account in any definition of Finland's legal
position, i The former defines her position with
regard to internal administration, the latter defines
it exclusively from the standpoint of international

We must now glance briefly at the manner in
which the sovereign power of the Autocrat of All
the Russias was limited in his capacity of Grand
Duke of Finland. What the Emperor did at Borga
was to sanction the already existing Swedish laws
in Finland, and in particular thie so-called "form
of government" of 1772 and the Act of Union and
Security of 1789. These latter were to constitute
the Finnish Constitution, or the "fundamental laws
of Finland," and their essence was contained in
sections 40 and 41 of the "Form of Government,"
which run as follows:

The king shall make no new law nor abolish an old one with-
out the knowledge and consent of thef Estates.

The Estates of the Realm (Riksens Stander) shall abolish
no old law nor make a new law without the king's yea and

In other words, a law, if it is to be binding in
Finland, must, firstly, be passed by the Finnish Diet,
and secondly, be sanctioned by the Emperor-Grand-

Other important principles established by the
Constitution are the following:

The country must be governed with the assistance
of Finnish authorities (the only exception being the
Governor-General) .


The Constitution cannot be altered without the
consent of the Finnish Diet. (This principle was de-
fined more clearly by the law of the Diet of 1869.)

There were, however, certain fields of legislative
activity in Finland in which the Emperor is at lib-
erty to issue ordinances having the force of law
without the co-operation of the Diet. This right
descended to him in virtue of the old constitutional
practice in Sweden, where, ever since the thirteenth
century, it had been a recognized principle that the
king could issue laws in certain minor matters by
way of administrative procedure. These matters
have never been actually defined and are regulated
by precedent. They may be stated briefly as the
administration of Crown properties and revenue-
yielding rights, the carrying on of certain trades,
general economy, the preservation of public order
and the establishment of official departments. No
administrative ordinance, however, may clash with
ordinary legislation.

There are also certain matters affecting Finland
which fall within the competence not of the Finnish
but of the Eussian State, such as the laws of suc-
cession to the Eussian throne, foreign policy, the
position of foreign consuls, the Eussian army and
navy and Church and schools in Finland.

The above is a brief statement of the legal rela-
tion of Finland to Eussia, as it appears to the Finns.
It is not the purpose of this book to render an ac-
count of the polemic that has raged round the
subject. Persans interested in the juridical aspect
of the conflict should consult such books as Mr.


J. R. Fisher's admirably lucid "Finland and the
Tsars" (second edition, 1901). By far the most im-
portant document on the subject, however, is the
declaration made by international lawyers in Febru-
ary, 1910, after a conference held in London. The
signatories represent the best juridical opinion of
Europe, and their verdict may fairly be regarded as
conclusive so far as the legal issue is concerned. The
statement is as follows :

We, the following

Gerhard Anschiitz, LL.D., Professor of Public Law, Univer-
sity of Berlin; L. von Bar, LL.D., Geheimer Justiz-Rat, Pro-
fessor of Law, University of Gottingen, Hon. Member and Past
President of the Institut de Droit international, Member of
the Court of Arbitration of The Hague ; A. de Lapradelle, Pro-
fesseur agrege a la faculte de droit de 1'Universite de Paris,
Directeur de la Revue de Droit international prive, Co-directeur
du Recueil des Arbitrages internationaux, Associe de 1'Institut
de Droit international; Leon Michoud, Professeur de droit
public a 1'Universite de Grenoble; Ernest Nys, Professeur de
droit international a 1'Universite de Bruxelles, Conseiller a la
Cour d'Appel de Bruxelles Membre de 1'Institut de Droit inter-
national; Sir Frederick Pollock, Bart., LL.D., D.O.L., late
Corpus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Oxford; W.
van der Vlugt, Professeur de la philosophic du droit a 1'Uni-
versite de Leyde; J. Westlake, KG., LL.D., D.C.L., late Pro-
fessor of International Law, University of Cambridge, Hon.
Member and Past President of the Institut de Droit interna-
tional; C. V. Nyholm, formerly a member of the Supreme
Court of Denmark

Led by our studies to an examination of the relations, be-
tween Finland and Russia. . . . Having welcomed the sugges-
tion made by a group of Dutch jurisconsults to meet in London,
in order to examine the arguments adduced on both sides, and
to deliberate in common . . . have unanimously agreed on the
following conclusions :

1. The rights of Finland in respect to her Constitution are
not a figment of Finnish "imagination," but an historical real-


ity; they do not form a "dogma" in which the Finlanders be-
lieve without being able to offer proof, but a juridical truth
scientifically demonstrated.

2. It is not only from Sweden, under the Treaty of Frederik-
shamn (Article IV), but, as was recognized by the same docu-
ment (Article VI), before this treaty, from the Finlanders
themselves, that Alexander I, on his solemn promise to them to
respect their Fundamental Laws, took possession of Finland.

3. When, at the Diet of Borga, the Oath of the Four Estates
followed on the promises of the Czar, Finland "free as regards
her internal affairs," "from henceforth placed in the rank of
nations," did not enter into the Russian Empire as a conquered
province, precariously endowed with temporary privileges, but
as an autonomous organism, united by free agreement to a
sovereign State, which, on account of this agreement, is obliged
to respect this autonomy.

4. In whatever fashion authors analyse and define the tie
between Finland and Russia, according to their conception of a
State and their different modes of classifying institutions of
public law, they are, with very few exceptions, all agreed, Rus-
sians included, on this point, that Finland has the right to de-
mand that the Russian Empire should respect her Constitution.

5. The introduction in Russia of a constitutional system,
could not modify the position of Finland. . . .

6. Being unable, by direct means, to withdraw either from
the Diet or from the Finnish administrative organs all or any
part of their powers, Russia cannot do so by indirect means
through reserving to herself the right to determine the scope
of this competence.

7. If the superior interests of the Empire demand the estab-
lishment of a common procedure for dealing with certain inter-
nal affairs, it pertains to the Diet either itself to determine
those affairs or to consent to the creation of a body charged
with determining them.




FINLAND and Eussia are separated not only
by such natural barriers as the Gulf of Fin-
land and Lake Ladoga, but also by the profound
psychological gulf that lies between the Russians
and the West European. Of this gulf the Russians
themselves are perfectly conscious. Prince Kropot-
kin describes in his " Memoirs " a conversation he
had with Tourguenieff in the^ eighteen-seventies.
" 'You must have had a great deal of experience
in your life among Frenchmen, Germans and other
people,' he said to me once. 'Have you not remarked
that there is a deep, unfathomable chasm between
many of their conceptions and the views which we
Russians hold on the same subjects points upon

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 22

Online LibraryArthur ReadeFinland and the Finns → online text (page 18 of 22)