« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Government, does not encourage them, and there is no longer any danger of an armed conflict between Bulgaria and Turkey.
Meantime, it has gradually become evident that the annexation of Macedonia to Bulgaria is at present unattainable, for the simple reason that the Christian population of Macedonia is divided in its sympathies, and that an influential portion is as fiercely inimical to the Bulgarians as either party is to the Turks. Hence we find Greek insurgent bands fighting on Macedonian soil, and even Macedonian villagers with Greek sympathies attacking those with Bulgarian sympathies, and vice versa. The conviction is thus brought home to even the most ardent supporters of the Bulgarian cause that, at present, all that can be done is to improve the lot of the Macedonian Christians as subjects of Turkey. That is the task which confronts, and is being attempted by, the six European Powers who signed the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.
The space at our disposal does not permit of referring to all the ten chapters, each by a separate writer, which form the volume referred to, but we shall endeavour to cull, from the most important amongst them, the points of interest which are brought out.
The first and introductory chapter is by Mr James Bryce, M.P. He treats chiefly of the decay of the Turkish Empire, and describes the extinction of Ottoman rule as 'plainly inevitable," but, he adds, "it may be delayed for some decades, conceivably even till near the end of the present century." In this the majority of Englishmen will say, il prêche aux convertis. inlet of light must necessarily dispel darkness. The schoolmaster is the vanquisher of autocracies. What will not mend must end. In answering the postulate which Mr Bryce puts, "What ought the solution to be?" he indicates two possible solutions of the Eastern problems. One is the absorption of the existing nationalities into the great dominions and great nations which border upon Turkey. The other is the growth of these nationalities, or some of them, into nations and states. The first seems to Mr Bryce the easiest, but of the second he remarks—
The publication of a volume entitled 'The Balkan Question,' edited by Luigi Villari (Murray), comes very apropos at the present time. It forms a useful compendium, by various competent writers-first, of all that concerns the emancipation of the Christian races which had the misfortune to fall a prey to the retrograde Mohammedan autocracy, and, second, of the actual position of what has got to be called the Macedonian question.
"One may venture to say that humanity has more to expect from the development of new civilised nations out of ancient yet still vigorous races than from the submersion of these races under a flood of Russianising or Germanising influences, emanating from any one of the three great empires."
This is undoubtedly true. The easiest road is not always the best. The goal to be reached is the highest development of national vitality, and that cannot be attained by the easy pathway leading to absorption into a foreign Power. Better far for a race which has faith in its destiny to struggle on a little longer to secure the national freedom which it longs for, than to bow slavishly its neck to another foreign yoke.
The chapter contributed by Mr Bourchier (The Times correspondent) is a lucid and interesting exposé of the various steps by which Greece, Roumania, Servia, and Bulgaria obtained their independence. In his remarks upon the setting aside of the Treaty of San Stefano, while admitting that there can be no doubt Russia had in view, by that treaty, the making of Bulgaria a Russian dependency, Mr Bourchier expresses the opinion that the Bulgarians, "by their dogged tenacity of character," would have speedily emancipated themselves from Russian influence. We regret that we cannot share his views on this subject. Ask a Pole or a Finn what have been their experiences. The fact is that the throwing off the dominion of a great military Power by a small Power is a wellnigh hopeless task. We congratulate the Bulgarians that their dogged tenacity of character was not put to so severe an ordeal. Happily, by the remarkable political foresight of Lord Beaconsfield the independence of Bulgaria became the
act of the Concert of Europe, and not the gift of Russia alone.
After describing the irreconcilable antagonism between the Bulgarian and Greek Christians in Macedonia, Mr Bourchier summarizes the prospects as follows:
Unhappily the Balkan States are not yet ripe for an amicable arrangement, and their discords seem likely as heretofore to offer a new lease of life to Turkey, and to serve the selfish purposes of their great neighbours."
The fifth chapter, by Mr Luigi Villari, is a very valuable contribution to the Macedonian question. In the first sentence of that chapter we read
"Had the population of Macedonia been homogeneous, the problem would have been settled long ago, but the mixture of races has ever been a marked characteristic of the Balkan peninsula, and of no part of it more so than of Macedonia." And further on
"This confusion of tongues and creeds makes the problem of Ma
cedonian reform or autonomy more difficult than it was in the case of
Greece, Crete, Bulgaria, or Servia."
The various races which form the population of Macedonia are succinctly described. Mr Villari estimates it as 700,000 Mohammedans, and 1,300,000 to 1,500,000 Christians. The Christians he divides into four communities - Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Rumans or Kutzo-Vlachs. To the Greek community he attributes 300,000 souls, and to the KutzoVlachs 100,000 souls. No figures are given for the Serb and Bulgarian communities, but it is implied that to
gether they represent about 900,000 souls. Thus the Bulgarian element is only a little more numerous than the Mohammedan.
Some remarks of Mr Villari upon the ambitions of the Bulgarians in Macedonia deserve special notice. He writes
"But of late years another tendency has begun to manifest itself, especially in Macedonia, in favour not of a union of that country with the Principality, but of its formation into an autonomous province. . . . In Macedonia the Bulgarian or BulgaroMacedonian element is not the only one, and incorporation with the Principality would arouse bitter jealousies on the part of all the other Balkan States. Their [the Bulgarian] aspirations now may be described as nothing more drastic than the execution of the provisions concerning Macedonia set forth in Article 23 of the Berlin Treaty. All that they ask of Europe is, that they may live in peace."
The seventh chapter, by Mr Frederick Moore, gives interesting details of the working of the external and internal revolutionary organisations-in other words, of the Bulgarian insurgent bands; of the capture of Miss Stone, planned by Sarafoff to raise money for the purchase of rifles; of the murder of Professor Mihaileanu in Bucharest; of the Salonika outrages and of the Krushevo incident, which last is too mildly described as "a grand plunder, not a massacre. This chapter is most instructive, and shows the insurgents in their true colours, unscrupulous and unprincipled, characteristics which deprive them of the sympathy which otherwise their courageous but unsuccess
ful efforts might have called forth.
The eighth chapter, by Mr Valentine Chirol, is the ablest in the volume, and, in many respects, the most important. It is a masterly exposé of the attitude of the European Powers towards the Christian from the time of Catherine II. races subjugated by Turkey, of Russia down to the present day. During that long period of 138 years the policy of Russia towards these Christian races has never varied, and is aptly described by Mr Chirol in these terms:
"The underlying Russian conception of policy in the Near East was that all intervention in favour of the Christian subjects of the Porte should be carried out by Russia alone,— ostensibly because they were mem
bers of the same faith as the Russians, and that it was easier for one Power to bring energetic pressure to bear on the Sultan; in reality, because Russia wished to have a free
hand for the extension both of her torial boundaries. Though not specipolitical ascendancy and of her terrifically defined, Russia's claim to the right of interference between the Sultan and his Christian subjects was England, however, never admitted it, tacitly recognised by the Turks. and it was in order more effectually to resist it that she first sought to organise what has come to be known as the Concert of Europe, on the basis of the necessity for a collective intervention of all the Powers."
It is interesting and instructive to notice from Mr Chirol's paper that, although Russia first laboured in behalf of Greece, Roumania, Bulgaria, and Eastern Roumelia, these countries ultimately received their deliverance from Turkish domination by a collective act
of the Concert of Europe, thus freeing them from a predominating influence on the part of Russia. We are told how Russia alone, as early as 1767-74, induced the Greek population of the Morea to rise against its oppressors, but that it was the united squadrons of Russia, England, and France which destroyed the Turkish fleet at Navarino, and that the final protocol which regulated the status of the new Hellenic kingdom was signed in London. Roumania owed her first steps towards independence to Russia, but it was the Concert of Europe, by the Convention of Paris in 1858, which ratified her full autonomy, and, twenty years later, by the Treaty of Berlin, created her an independent kingdom. Alexander III. of Russia has justly been called the Liberator of Bulgaria, but it was the Concert of Europe, by the Treaty of Berlin, which gave Bulgaria the charter of its liberty. Russian agents and consuls in Eastern Roumelia strenuously promoted the agitation for union with the Principality, but it was the attitude of England, France, and Italy which induced the Sultan to recognise that union under the Prince of Bulgaria as Governor. Indeed, if their national life is to be preserved, it is of vital importance to the Christian races of Turkey that their freedom should be ratified by the Concert of Europe, and this is a point which must on no account be lost sight of in any scheme for the amelioration of the Christian races in Macedonia.
Mr Chirol gives us the text of a letter from Sir William White to his friend Sir Robert Morier, in 1885, which clearly exhibits the views of that distinguished diplomatist and highest authority Near Eastern politics. We make no apology for quoting it, and gladly emphasise the opinion of Mr Chirol that it indicates the present and future policy which it will be our wisdom to follow in relation to the Christian races of Turkey. Sir William White writes
"The future of European Turkey -to Adrianople, at any rate-must sooner or later belong to Christian races. There is no example in history, since the siege of Vienna two centuries ago, of the Turk's having regained an inch of soil that he has once yielded to native races. Is Eastern Roumelia to constitute an exception to this rule? We have always been accused by Russia and chief obstacles to the emancipation of her agents in the East of being the Christian races in European Turkey. The reasons for a particular line of policy on our part have fortunately ceased to exist, and we are free to act impartially, and to take up gradually, with the proper restraints, the lines which made Palmerston famous in regard to Belgium, Italy, &c. The Russians have made sacrifices to liberate Greece, Servia, and Roumania. Montenegro alone has remained faithful and grateful. They are now about to lose the Bulgarians. These newly emancipated races want to breathe free air, and not through Russian nostrils."
It was the breathing of that free air, not through Russian nostrils, which was secured to the Bulgarians by the substitution of the Treaty of Berlin for the Treaty of San Stefano. It will only be secured to the Macedonians
at the far end of the hedgerow. There we were presently joined by the trio, who were all now walking on our side of the hedge, Tertius loudly expostulating with William, that individual looking more like a martyr than usual, and the inquisitive one apparently lacking some of his characteristic urbanity.
"You seem to have had pretty good sport," I remarked. "Yes, good sport, thank you, and a good row too," snapped Tertius. "That double-distilled idiot”—indicating William "let us go poaching beyond our boundary, and we've mopped up pretty well a whole covey of somebody's tame birds, and got caught in the act by the gamekeeper!"
It may be remembered that Mr Pickwick, most charitable of mankind, on one occasion eyed a horse "with looks expressive of hatred and revenge, and more than once calculated the probable amount of the expense he would incur by cutting its throat." So, too, the normally placid Tertius was now eyeing the guilty William with any feeling rather than that of affection in his mind, when the lastnamed individual, pointing with his finger, slowly ejaculated "Doock!" and surely enough there were three of those birds high in the air, well within half a mile of us. "D―n the duck!" rasped out the inquisitive one in a tone which showed that the iron had entered into his soul
also. Fortunately or unfortunately, this anticlimax followed William's climax with
such startling rapidity that our air - and - exercise member went off into a wild shout of laughter, which proving to be contagious sensibly relieved the situation. When the party had returned to their sober senses Tertius proceeded to unfold his dolorous tale. It appeared that William, astute enough to keep his own precious carcase on the right side of the hedge, had either of inadvertence or design allowed our friends on the right to wander into a neighbouring squire's turnip-field, wherein was lying a covey of partridges which the keeper had carefully reared and preserved as breeding-stock for the future. As the poor tame things lay like so many stones, and got up either singly or in pairs, no less than fifteen out of eighteen had fallen to our guns, who innocently supposed that fickle fortune had been unusually kind to them. The slaughter over, there followed the small matter of retrieving the game; and as repeated shouts and entreaties had about as much effect upon William as the cuttings with knives and lancets upon Baal on Mount Carmel, the two sportsmen buckled to the task themselves. Gathering dead birds in rime-covered turnips even with a dog is a difficult task, without a dog wellnigh hopeless. With exceeding great joy, then, the searchers hailed the appearance on the scene of action of a man with a retriever, and in all confidence they invoked his assistance. With the help of these new allies the game was duly