Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

No. 132.]

Sir: A rescript of the Emperor has just appeared constituting a special committee, under the presidency of the Cesarevitch, charged with the general direction of the work of relief for the sufferers in the Provinces afflicted by the famine. This committee is composed, besides the heir to the throne, of Gen. de Kaufmann, Privy Councillor Pobedonostseff, Minister of Domains Ostrovsky, Minister of the Interior Count Vorontsoff-Daschkoff, Count Strogonoff, and Privy Councillor Ploewe. It is understood that this committee will associate with itself experts like Gen. Annenkoff, who is specially skilled in the field of transportation and in the work of construction. Its object is to give unity to the measures of relief, to direct the offerings of private benevolence in the most effective channels, to remedy any defeats of administration, and to provide work as far as may be to those in need of employment. It is expected also that the committee will address itself to the consideration of such measures as may be feasible for appropriating and distributing the surplus grain which is accumulated in some parts of the Empire, as stated in my No. 130. The creation of a special committee of this high character with the heir to the throne at its head indicates the gravity of the problem which is presented by the short crop and the earnest spirit with which the Emperor and his Government meet it. It is hoped that this organization will diminish the difficulties in dealing with the emergency.

I have, etc.,

Charles Emory Smith.