Imatges de pÓgina
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longer to insist, for her own selfish purposes, on the exclusion of the Russian Black Sea fleet from the Eastern Mediterranean. It is not, however, England who excludes the Russian Black Sea fleet from those waters. That exclusion is a necessary corollary of Turkish independence. The provisions of the treaty of Paris in that behalf apply not to Russia only, but to all the world. Supposing Piccadilly were a strait of the sea, miles and miles in length, from either side of which London rose on a gradual slope, so that a fleet steaming leisurely through it could blow the whole city to pieces, would it be endurable that all the fleets of the world should sail up and down it at their own sweet will? And if not all the fleets of the world, why particularly the one fleet which is far the most dangerous? Supposing Constantinople ever became Russian, does the newest school of Russophils really believe that Russia would allow armed vessels to pass between Stamboul and Scutari? No doubt, if you very much strengthened the power of the Ottoman Empire, you might relax the excessive stringency of the present regulations as to the size of the vessels which are allowed to pass through the narrow seas. If you put a strong power in the room of the Ottoman Empire, or if you made Constantinople, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the capital of a small neutral state guaranteed by all Europe -a very possible solution of the Constantinople question at some future period--you might do the like; but surely under no circumstances, as long as a great city and its suburbs extend from the Sea of Marmora almost to the Symplegades, could you allow the Bosphorus to be treated as if it were the Straits of Dover or the Sound.

But the present state of things is inconvenient to Russia. From one point of view yes, from another point of view no. It might be convenient to Russia to send her Black Sea fleet, when she has got one, into the Mediterranean, though it is hard to see what good object she could attain by having it there. But the existing arrangement keeps all her southern coast perfectly free from attack by any power except Turkey. One can imagine circumstances in which it would be vastly agreeable to Russia to be quite certain that as long as the power which held Constantinople, whether the Turks or a revived Byzantine Empire, was neutral, no Austrian or English ironclad could show itself in the Black Sea.

It is not England, it is the Mediterranean powers who are really interested in keeping things as they are and enabling them to forget Russia, for practical purposes, in their naval calculations.

Things would have to be very much changed if, in a war between England and Russia, the catching in the Eastern Mediterranean of the Black Sea fleet were not the greatest possible delight to our countrymen. To have at last a set of ships which he could really sink or take, instead of seeing them, as in the last war, sunk by their own crews, would surely be very refreshing to the British tar if he

once, which God forbid, were obliged to look upon his Russian brother as an enemy. The presence of the Russian fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean could only be inconvenient to us if Russia held Constantinople-even then it would be far more inconvenient to other people. To us it would merely mean that we should be obliged, I do not say actually to seize Lower Egypt, but certainly to be able at any moment to do so, and perhaps to have a naval station and certain rights in Candia. That done, we, as far as our personal interests are concerned, might see the Czar replace the Sultan at Constantinople with the most profound equanimity. We could easily make ourselves safe; but as long as other powers are willing to take their share in preventing Russia seizing Constantinople, so long it is our duty to take our part too.

So much in reply to those amongst us who have been asking why Russia should not go to Constantinople, heedless of the injustice they would do to the populations of the Eastern peninsula by giving them over to the civilisation of Muscovy rather than to that of Germany. But another and quite different section exclaims, 'Russia is not thinking of going to Constantinople; the Czar himself has said it.' I believe implicitly all the Czar said to Lord Augustus Loftus. I know that many of the most sensible Russians would dread the acquisition of that city by their countrymen; but although the sentiment which urges the mass of the Russian people towards Constantinople is very vague, it is nevertheless very strong, and sooner or later it will take her there, if nothing stronger than an Empire which has been wounded to death is put in her place. It is likely enough that, when Russia had once conquered everything down to Cape Matapan, disintegrating forces might begin to work and eventually break up the Colossus, but it would seem unreasonable to permit a vast European change to take place on the chance of something turning up to make it less dangerous than it looks at first sight.

It is not, however, as Englishmen, but as members of the European State-system, that we should object to Russia coming to Constantinople. Her being there would mean that the whole of the Eastern peninsula must necessarily fall, at least for a time, into her hands. From the Solovetzky monastery on the White Sea to the hermitage whose light twinkles over the Ægean from the steep of Cape Malea, there would be one vast Muscovite Empire.

Now who would be benefited by this? The Greeks, who would see their national aspirations, legitimate and illegitimate, swept over by a rule hardly less odious to them than that of the Turks? AustroHungary, which would find itself cut off from the Black Sea? The Magyars, who would see so enormous a weight thrown into the scale of their Slavonic opponents as to be altogether crushed and overmastered? The Germans of Cis-Leithania and Germany proper, who would see an end to the advance, hitherto constant in these latter days, of German

civilisation down the Danube valley? Roumania, which would be. swallowed up and destroyed? Italy, which would have to provide against another possible danger in the Mediterranean, and that danger close to her own shores? France, which would see one of the cardinal points of her policy set aside? Or the Roman Church, which would have to deplore an overwhelming advantage gained by her Eastern rival?

What are the special interests of England in keeping Russia out of Constantinople as compared with these great European interests ? If all other powers chose to neglect their interests, it would of course be no business of ours to fight what is much more their battle than it is ours.

That Russia should have a part, and a great part, in influencing the future of the people of the Eastern peninsula, is only reasonable. It is right that she should repay the debt which she owes to them for Christianity and the beginnings of civilisation; but when Russians talk of other powers who insist upon having a voice in the affairs of the Eastern peninsula, as if they were strangers who officiously interfere in family matters, the pretension goes beyond all bounds. We have at least as good a right as anyone else to have an opinion with regard to the affairs of the Turks and of the Greeks, and in the reliance on England which they have lately been showing the latter have been giving more proof of political sagacity than they have done for many a day. If only they had shown as much during the years in which their piteous mismanagement of their own affairs has been breaking the hearts of their best friends, one most difficult portion of the Eastern question would have no existence. If Greece had set to work to cover herself with roads and to make travelling safe and agreeable, to examine her ancient sites as Dr. Schliemann has been examining Mycenæ, she would long ere this have become a higher kind of Switzerland, a pleasure-place for the civilised world; and no one who learned Greek at all would think that he had given himself fair play unless he had spent some time at the University of Athens.

It is not to the undue aggrandisement of the Slav race that we ought to sacrifice the Hellenic race, irritated as we have a right to be with its disgraceful history since the emancipation. It is all very well to blame the Turks for the vices of their former subjects; but that is a mere device of controversy, very mischievous when it is put forward by persons of weight, because it tends to prevent the Greeks becoming ashamed of their faults, learning to amend them, and making free Greece such a state as Europe may enlarge in the confident hope that she is conferring a benefit on the districts which she adds to it.

I trust I have made it clear in the above that, far from having any jealousy of Russia, I am quite content to see her extend wherever she can do so without interfering with civilisations higher than her

own.

When the most powerful minister whom the most powerful of European states has seen for a long time back put himself at the head of a movement which was directed against the continuance of Turkish administration in the most important portion of the Eastern peninsula, I dreamt of a combination by which Russia and England, assisted by the other great powers, might have entered into a sort of partnership for creating a new power whose seat should be at Constantinople. It soon appeared, however, that the September movement was to a great extent of a passing character, a natural relieving of the feelings without much ulterior effect. Things began to point to the 'amended status quo;' and that is what, after much carte and tierce, the whole thing is coming to, unless Europe is prepared to take or permit far stronger measures than she has as yet resolved upon.

Of course the status quo, amended or otherwise, cannot last long. The Turkish power is mined, and all that has happened will only have had the effect of bringing Russia a step nearer the fulfilment of her longcherished hopes, unless Europe takes wise and united action soon. When an acute crisis again supervenes, it is not probable that she will have ready to her hand such an expedient as she seemed to have last autumn. Russia and England, then for a moment brought together, may be further apart than ever. I think, however, that the same general maxim will, when the next acute crisis of the Eastern question supervenes, be as applicable as now-that, namely, Europe should gratify all legitimate Russian ambitions, but quietly and firmly resist all attempts to advance the interests of a power which is still in the ambitious and conquering stage, at the expense of higher or potentially higher civilisations. Some have thought that we might be content, as far as our individual interests are concerned, to see Russia in Constantinople, if only we held St. Jean d'Acre and the country behind it. Those who do so seem to me to attribute too much importance to the often talked-of Euphrates route to India. It would be very convenient and desirable to have some such route, and no doubt we shall one day communicate with India along that river or the Tigris; but this will be only, so to speak, a fair-weather route, a road for quiet times, and should not be on any account allowed to hide from our view the vast importance of the Egyptian transit.

Egypt is the only country in the world, except India, Afghanistan, and the British Isles, where we can at any moment be a great military as well as a great naval power, and, in spite of the consolatory calculations of Sir George Campbell in his recent work, few would be inclined to fall back, with any satisfaction, upon the communication with India round the Cape. It should be remembered, too, by the advocates of St. Jean d'Acre, that any interference of England in Syria would excite just susceptibilities on the part of other powers. Both the great communions of the East and West naturally think that they and their children have a better right to be there than we heretics have.

There are others who think that we should have done enough for our own security if we held the Dardanelles. I entirely dissent from that opinion. Even if we could set down Gibraltar at Gallipoli or near the Tumulus of Achilles, the position would be intolerable, and the whole strength of the Empire might be strained in vain to resist a foe which would, ex hypothesi, be in possession of the whole of the Eastern peninsula.

Recent discussions have forced me to consider warlike eventualities, but I cannot understand why, if the policy of the two countries is even decently directed, there should be any the slightest danger of a conflict between ourselves and Russia. I should strongly deprecate any close alliance at present between the two countries such as those have advocated who proposed after the failure of the Conference that the two nations should combine to fight a new Navarino for a wholly microscopic object.

If anything is done at present with reference to Turkey, it should be done by all the powers. If nothing is done, and if, as is but too probable, all the efforts of Turkish internal reformers fail as completely as they have often failed before, it is not, I hope, impossible that Europe may see in the accident which has connected so closely the German, Russian, and English thrones, a way out of a terrible imbroglio-a method of escape for the Christians from Mussulman intolerance and the perhaps worse tyranny of their own clergy, combined with the most absolute security to the disciples of the Koran for equality of civil and political rights.

This may be destined to be only a dream, though surely not a very fantastic one; but if not in this way, at least in many others, a fuller understanding of Russia on the part of England will bear good fruits, and it is the duty of all who have studied that country so to contribute, to the best of their ability, to the furtherance of that result.

M. E. GRANT Duff.

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