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giant, thinking only of 'la foi et la fraternité,' which some amongst us have lately thought they saw moving down on a sacred mission from the snows of the North.
I think now as I thought in 1868,5 that Herzen, one of the wittiest of Russia's children, hit quite on the right phrase, and prescribed quite the right policy, when he asked us English why, because we were hostile to the old bear, the Russia of Nicholas, we should be hostile to the young bear, the new Russia, which Nicholas hated more heartily than he hated us.
Russia has been renewing her youth, but she is still a bear, a creature to which it would be wrong to be hostile, but which it might not be prudent absolutely and unreservedly to trust. Besides, the Russia of 1876 is not exactly Herzen's young bear. The pendulum which swung so violently in a liberal direction in the first few years of the present reign, has swung a good deal back in the other direction. Much has happened since that curious gathering at Herzen's house in London which was collected to celebrate the emancipation of the serfs, and which was, as some who may
and who were present will remember, saddened by the news of the first collision between the troops and the people in Warsaw, the mournful prelude of a terrible and fateful drama.
Still the tendency of the country is forward, and not slowly forward. It would be grossly unjust not most fully to admit that.
Our national attitude towards Russia should, as I think, be based on full knowledge of all relevant facts connected with her present strength and relations to all other countries, and on a calm calculation of what she wants, and is likely to want, before she reaches the limits of her ambition-a calculation made with a view to ascertaining what can be granted without injury to ourselves or others, and what should be firmly resisted. Of course this policy must be founded on the understanding that other nations see matters as we do, and are to take their part in opposing what would be injurious to themselves. We have this great advantage, that there is no special English as distinguished from common European interest, that can be menaced at any time by Russia, which we are not strong enough most amply to protect; but I for one, although prepared to go all reasonable lengths in non-intervention, am not prepared to give up desiring to act with other powers, for objects of common interest, until it is proved that they will not act.
What then is Russia likely to want, as to which other nations have a right to say yea or nay? Clearly they have nothing to do with her internal affairs. If the great concerns which she has on hand prosper, so much the better for the world. If some of them fail, and she has a period of revolution to go through as others have had, so
much the worse. Obviously we have to think only of her foreign policy. Well, she will want to press continually onward in Central Asia. I cannot see what is to prevent her annexing one day the whole of Khiva and Bokhara, streaming over the Terek Pass, and ruling in all the lands which were once Chinese, but are now under the dominion of the Ameer of Kashgar, unless indeed China awakes from her secular sleep and becomes a great power, which is not impossible. With all this we have nothing to do. With Khiva and Bokhara we can hardly be said to have any relations at all; and long before it suits Russia to pass beyond the Thian-shar, the strong-handed adventurer, to whom the Indian government not long ago sent an envoy, will in all probability have been gathered to his fathers, with what results on the country to which he contrives to give a fair amount of security, who shall say? As long as Russia moves in her natural path, to the north of the great ranges, we have no more to do either with the approval or disapproval of her acts than she had when we were advancing our frontier from Tanna, some twenty miles from Bombay, to Peshawur, say a thousand miles from that city. It is highly desirable for disquieted Britons to keep in mind that that occurred, as I have pointed out elsewhere, in the lifetime of one man who commanded as an ensign at the first terminus imperii and as a colonel at the second. If, diverging from the line of least resistance, the line commanded by her interests, Russia passes beyond Merv, then our interests would become seriously affected, and an aggression on Afghanistan would inevitably, unless the whole state of circumstances in that part of the world change in some way that cannot be foreseen, bring on war with England. It is undesirable that she should ever come to Merv, and our diplomacy should be exerted, in the interest of both nations, to keep her away from Merv as long as possible. Not that her being at Merv really matters to us, but because her advance to Merv, under existing circumstances, would give much occasion to those who wish to envenom the relations between the two countries. But sooner or later she will probably come to Merv, unless she means to draw back instead of going forward in Asia. The point on which we have to look with jealousy is Herat, though the importance of Herat to a power which can hold Cabul and Ghuznee and Jellalabad may be overrated. Still it is of considerable importance to us that it should stay as it is, while it could be of no conceivable advantage to Russia to go there, except with a view to interfering with us. I maintain, however, that there is no evidence that serious Russian statesmen have the slightest intention of meddling with Herat. They know their interest and our strength a great deal too well, even if they had any evil will towards us in Asia. To the best Russians their conquests in Turkestan are little more than a nuisance, a thing which has been entailed upon them partly by the disagreeable necessity of protecting outlying Russian settlements, partly by the desire of officers for decorations and distinctions, partly by a foolish commercial policy, the bastard child of our own system in ignorant and by most of us forgotten days. I make no doubt whatever that Russia has done a vast number of things in Central Asia which preclude her from having any right to talk about Turkish inhumanity; but at the same time I make no doubt that her rule in Central Asia is a great deal better than that which preceded it, and will be much better than it is now, when Tashkendian is, I dare say very properly, a Russian equivalent for rascal.
A great Asiatic monarch offered a reward to the inventor of a new pleasure. I wonder why in this country, where so many enjoy the sensation of being shaken over the mouth of the pit, no one offers a reward for the invention of a new panic. If anyone did so, I think I would come forward as a competitor.
Surely, with a little trouble, one might get up a very good panicabout the advance of Russia in Asia Minor.
In Europe she is watched by Argus-eyed enemies. Along the Afghan frontier she has England to reckon with. Interference in China might one day have many attractions, but that day is not yet, and the attractions might have their drawbacks. Now, however, that the phrase "integrity of the Ottoman Empire' has lost its spell on the minds, or at least ears, of many on whom it once worked potently, what is to prevent Russia establishing herself in Turkish Armenia whenever she pleases ? "The Turkish army and the fortress of Erzeroum,' says someone. But the Turkish army in these parts is very weak, and the fortress of Erzeroum, in spite of the million or so of money that has been spent upon it, could do but little to stay an invader.
Carelessness, peculation, and want of knowledge have only too well effected their usual work. But Turkish Armenia'once acquired, should the potentate who rules in Samarcand desire also to rule in Nineveh, in Babylon and Bagdad, what is to prevent him?-unless, indeed, Sir George Jenkinson, like a new Peter the Hermit, leads forth a gallant band of Crusaders, to fight for the line of the Euphrates Valley Railway. If Russia is so desirous of reaching a southern sea, as many suppose, she will probably reach it more easily at the head of the Persian Gulf than anywhere else.
Her presence there might well oblige India largely to increase the modest figure (70,0001. a year) which she now pays to the Admiralty for the service of the British Navy; and the grand attack against our dominions there, with dreams of which Russian officers, as we gather from Captain Burnaby and other travellers, so often amuse the weary hours of their Central Asian banishment, might be aided by the operations of a fleet under a Russian Nearchus.
That, surely, is a good working bugbear enough; but, seriously speaking, what is there to stand in the way of Russia advancing from Trans-Caucasia to the southward, if she pleases so to do? Once on the
march she might either take the route which I have suggested, or advance to the westward. As to this last operation Europe would certainly have something to say; but as to the other, little or nothing. Unhappily there is scant reason to suppose that her advance into Turkey in Asia would be of any great advantage to the population. The heart of Russia is too weak to propel the blood even to the existing extremities of the einpire. What I and many others, I suppose, who have looked on the desolation of those lands, consacrés par une si antique célébrité,' have hoped for, is the gradual influx of German colonists such as might well come about if a power with strong German connections replaced on the Bosphorus the power whose hold has recently been so rudely shaken.
If we turn from Russia's Asiatic to her western frontiers, we find her in the most amicable relations with two of her neighbours, Germany and Austro-Hungary. At the same time everyone knows that all three powers keep constantly before their mind a possible interruption to this agreeable state of things. Germany could, no doubt, very much diminish the heavy strain which her armaments make upon her, if she did not feel that she might one day have to contend against a Russo-French alliance; and the saying attributed to Paskiewitch, that the road to Constantinople lies through Vienna, is certainly not forgotten either in that city or in Pesth. Russia, on the other hand, is quite aware that the dislike which many of her people feel towards the Germans is cordially reciprocated by not a few west of the Vistula, and is well aware that if some very powerful persons in Austro-Hungary had had their way, on at least two recent occasions, she would have had to wage a defensive war alike against her allies and foes of 1849, against those to whom the day of the surrender of Georgey at Vilagos was a success if not a triumph, and against those to whom it was a great, though not a final, national disaster. It was for the possible eventuality of a war with Germany or Austria, or both combined, that the very strong group of fortresses was planned which forms the most important link in the chain of defences which runs from Kertch to Cronstadt. These are Modlin, Ivangorod, BresczLitewski, and Warsaw. We may feel pretty sure, however, that the position of the troops in this quadrilateral, in the midst of a partly hostile population, would not be wholly agreeable if the invading army were directed by ability at all equal to that which was displayed by Count von Moltke in 1866 or 1870. The result of an armed conflict between Russia and Austria is a more doubtful question, the military problem being complicated by numerous political considerations. There must be few, if any, in Western Europe, who could give a very valuable opinion, even if this disturbing element were absent, and, I should think, no one at all who could do so if it be taken into account. We may be sure, however, that towards the West Russia will make no permanent advance. A quarter of a century ago no one would have ventured to make such a prophecy. Many worthy people in Germany expected that she would, and the Emperor Nicholas treated the princes of that country as little better than his vassals. Those were the days when Herzen laughingly said, 'Germany has only a nominal existence; it is a mere collection of Baltic provinces, to which have been conceded certain illusory rights, as, for instance, the right of being not only the subjects of Nicholas, but also of their own little sovereigns.' Times are indeed changed since Prussia quailed before the Czar at Olmütz, and when one who saw him on that occasion described him as looking like the very incarnation of an Arctic storm. On the other hand, we may be pretty sure that Russia has nothing to fear from either of her Western neighbours, provided she leaves them alone. To what extent Poland might be used as a torpedo, if she does not do so, is a question for which I would fain find an answer, but who can tell us what has been going on in Poland for the last dozen years? In 1863 and 1864 we had helps enough, and those of us who took the trouble had ample means for forming an opinion. I formed one then, and a very definite one, which was equally disagreeable to the extreme partisans of both the victors and the vanquished.
But now whither can one turn for an unprejudiced account of existing circumstances? Blind sympathisers with Poland will tell you that the national spirit is as keen as ever. Blind sympathisers with Russia will tell you that the agrarian legislation and the severe repression of separatist tendencies have been thoroughly successful, alike in the western provinces and in Poland proper. I can hardly believe either assertion. Now, however, that Russia and her affairs are to the front, why does not some enterprising traveller go and see for himself, and let us know what to think? In these days of press omnipotence, might not Mr. Sutherland Edwards be seized in his bed, as the conscripts were by Wielopolski at Warsaw, and sent off to inquire? It would not be easy to find an abler or fairer investigator.
Two other subjects upon which we are sadly in want of information transmitted through colourless glasses, are the Baltic provinces and Siberia. Eckhardt tells us much of the former, but it would be absurd to speak of his writings as perfectly impartial, though I doubt not that they are much more so than those of the late M. Samarin, who wrote on the question of the Baltic provinces in the ultraMuscovite interest. A paper on Siberia by Mr. Ashton Dilke some time ago tantalised Englishmen interested in Russia ; but it has had, I think, no successors. On Turkestan and the adjoining regions we have had quite enough for the present. Much is to be learnt from Mr. Schuyler's book, and something from all the travellers in these lands, recent and older, rash as are the conclusions to which some of them have jumped.
We have been constantly told of late that England ought no