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protested against being tried by the court. He said he could be tried only by his commandant or the immediate superior of the commandant.
The court, apparently after consideration, overruled his objections. It considered its sentence in private.18
A young American officer of the French Army at home on a brief furlough, informs the writer that certain French aviators escaped from custody as prisoners of war in Germany by shooting two sentinels. The French authorities employ them elsewhere than at the front, fearing that, if again captured by the Germans, they might be put to death.
The conclusion is reached that the master and crew of a captured vessel, in attempting the rescue of their ship and cargo, are guilty of no crime so far as the laws of their own country are concerned, or so far as any law of any neutral country is concerned; that the attempt, however, may be resisted, even to the death by the captors; that, not accompanied by violence, no serious penalty attaches, further than closer confinement; but if accompanied by violence, punishment may be inflicted by the captor according to his laws and regulations, if the prisoner does not escape beyond his jurisdiction.
CHARLES NOBLE GREGORY.
18 London Times, April 24, 1915, quoted Stowell & Munro's International Cases, War and Neutrality, p. 207.
THE HELLENIC CRISIS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF CONSTITUTIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LAW 1
The summary review in the previous article of the historical events which culminated in the creation of the Hellenic Kingdom, and the vicissitudes which Greece underwent from the time of the declaration of her independence up to the year 1911, when her Constitution of 1864 was revised, plainly show that the Hellenic people never for a moment thought of submitting themselves to autocracy, but on the contrary asserted their determination to live under a democracy. Hence the murder of their first president, or governor Capodistrias, the deposition of their first king, Otho, and the abjuration now by a large section of the Hellenic nation both in and out of Greece, of their present ruler, Constantine, who, under the cloak of the Constitution, rules the part of the country still under his dominion, not as a constitutional King of the Hellenes, but as an absolute monarch.
King Constantine, in answer to his critics, who upbraid him for the manner in which he wields his royal power, asserts that in exercising his prerogatives he adheres strictly to the letter of the Constitution and repudiates the charge of unconstitutionality for any of his actions. It should be recalled that the sovereign of Greece claims the exclusive right of conducting the foreign affairs of the country, leaving its internal administration to the care of the "servants of the Crown," namely, his Ministers, and he contends that in case the latter refuse to carry out the "royal policy" he has the right to dispense with their services, it being immaterial whether such “servants of the Crown” enjoy or not the confidence of the duly elected representatives of the nation.
Furthermore, the King of the Hellenes asserts that, in order to carry out his policy, he has the right to exercise the prerogative con
1 Continued from the January, 1917, number, p. 46.
ferred on the Crown by the Constitution (Art. 37), namely, to dissolve the Boulé (the legislature) and order new elections; and that, if the people by their votes again give a majority to the political party to which such ministers are affiliated, thereby indorsing the policy of the latter and disapproving that of the King espoused by another group of politicians, the King still claims that he is not under any obligation to bow to the national will, but that he can again and again dissolve the Legislature until he can secure a body that is willing to support a cabinet which will carry out the will of the monarch. In short, King Constantine arrogates to himself the right of shaping the destinies of the nation, of declaring war or remaining at peace, without any interference whatever from the people or their representatives.
Such being the contention of the King of the Hellenes, it is pertinent to inquire whether the attitude taken by him from the time of the declaration of the present European War up to the present time, with the consequent "royal actions," can be justified according to the Constitution of Greece, which, on his accession to the throne, he undertook under oath faithfully to maintain.
The bone of contention, so to speak, between King Constantine on the one hand, and Mr. Venizelos and the nation generally on the other, is the difference in their interpretation of the royal prerogatives embodied in the Constitution. The view of the Greek sovereign is that the letter of the instrument does not need any construction and that all rights therein conferred on the Crown are to be taken literally; while the contention of the Cretan statesman and his party is that the provisions of the Constitution must be construed in accordance with the existing constitutional usages in Greece, and also those in force in other countries enjoying constitutional government, which may be summarized in the expression or dictum that "the Prince reigns but does not govern."
Limiting ourselves to the actual controversy between ruler and expremier, we see that the latter contends that, after the general elections of June, 1915, the King should have abided by the national will; that the dissolution of the Boulé in the course of the year 1915 was decreed by him (the King) because his Majesty had disagreed with the policy of Mr. Venizelos and his party, who advocated the participation of Greece in the European War on the side of the Triple, now Quadruple,
Entente; and that the people by their votes given in said elections, indorsed the policy of Mr. Venizelos.
It should be noted that both before and during the electioneering campaign of March-June, 1915, the divergence of views between the King and Mr. Venizelos was an open secret, it being hotly discussed both in the press and in the speeches to the constituents. It was also the catchword of the politicians who supported the King's policy by warning the voters that if they voted for the Venizelos candidates Greece would enter the European War, but that if they cast their votes for the "party of the King,” they would be spared that ordeal and continue to follow their peaceful vocations. The result of these elections, notwithstanding the royal support, was a complete victory for Mr. Venizelos and a humiliating defeat for Constantine. Hence the subsequent high-handed proceedings of the sovereign in again dissolving the Legislature in order to impose upon the nation his own personal policy, namely, a so-called “benevolent neutrality" towards the Allies in appearance, but in fact, as it has been now attested, to give secret help to the Central Powers and particularly to Prussia, the fatherland of the Queen of the Hellenes. Hence the irreconcilable divergence of views between the soldier sovereign and the jurist statesman, the one asserting the right to use the royal prerogative as the letter of the Constitution prescribes, the other contending that both tradition and universal practice militates against such exercise. Hence the chasm created between a sovereign imbued with the idea of the divine right of kings, and the citizen nurtured in the modern school of democracy repudiating indignantly such obsolete notions of government. Hence the abandonment of King Constantine and his adherents to their fate
• Proofs for this assertion will be adduced in a subsequent article.
* After the constitutional régime inaugurated in France by the Charter of 1814, a controversy arose between the two political parties of the time, namely, the Royalists and the Liberals, the former contending that the Charter should be applied literally, the latter on the contrary asserting that it should be carried out according to its spirit. It was then that Thiers laid down the principle that the King reigns but does not govern. See on this point the learned treatise of Professor J. Barthélémy entitled l’Introduction du Régime Parlementaire en France (1914), p. 78. Barthélémy, however, tells us that the majority of the writers indorse the other maxim, — which does not differ much in substance from the former that "the King does not govern; but he influences the government.” Ibid. p. 80.
in old Greece, to suffer repeated humiliations, to face starvation, to submit to the invasion of the territory of Hellas by friends and foes alike, and the establishment of a new government by the elite of the nation in New Hellas, in order to save the national honor and preserve the territorial integrity of the Kingdom with the possibility, be it remote, of gathering under the ægis of the Hellenic state some of the remnants of Hellenism still under a foreign yoke or dominion.
In order to understand the controversy it is necessary to refer to the parliamentary systems of some of the European states, from which Greece borrowed her Constitution, and particularly to that of England, which has undoubtedly been the prototype of all modern constitutional governments. A French writer states that the English Constitution was appealed to by all the oppressed nations and acclaimed in every revolution, that every state that was formed during the course of the nineteenth century copied it more or less faithfully, and that Belgium adopted it in 1830. A contemporary English writer says that Italy and Belgium (from which last country Greece borrowed her Constitution), with some variations, "remodeled their Constitutions in the last century with the express object of assimilating them to the English."
To revert to our subject, the crux of the controversy between King Constantine on the one hand, and Venizelos and the Greek nation on the other, is the construction or misconstruction of the provisions of the constitutional charter. The King ignores entirely the parliamentary customs and usages, known in England as the understandings or con
6 E. Freeman, The Growth of the English Constitution (1898), pp. 18-19; Bryce, Studies in the History of Jurisprudence, p. 125; Gladstone, Gleamings of Past Years (1879), Vol. I, p. 228; Sir Henry Maine, Popular Government (1897), pp. 9–14; Lowell, Governments and Parties in Continental Europe, Vol. 1, pp. 1-7; Hearn, The Government of England (1867), p. 2; Guizot, Histoire des Origines du Gouvernement Réprésentatif en Europe (1851), première leçon, p. 11; E. Boutmy, Studies in Constitutional Law, tr. by E. M. Dicey (1891), p. 3; Glasson, Histoire du droit et des Institutions politiques, civiles et judiciaires de l'Angleterre, Vol. VI, p. 8; A. Esmein, Éléments de droit Constitutionnel Français et comparé (1906), pp. 45 et seq.; Duguit, Traité de droit Constitutionnel, Vol. I, pp. 411, 421–422.
6 P. Matter, La dissolution des Assemblées Parlementaires, pp. 217–218; see also Jellinek, Allgemeine Staatslehre (1914) p. 704.
7 Sidney Low, Governance of England (1904), pp. 44-47.