Page:Frontiers.djvu/45

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43
Frontiers

influence are regarded as the peculiar right of the interested Power. No body of rules can, however, be laid down: for it is obvious that a Sphere of Influence in a still independent kingdom like Persia, must be a very different thing from a Sphere of Influence among the semi-barbarous tribes of the Bahr-el-Ghazel or the Niger.

Some of the most anxious moments of modern history have arisen from the vague and grandiose interpretation given to this claim by modern Powers.[1] Sometimes the advance has been so rapid that even the inner Frontiers of the Sphere of Influence are unknown,[2] at others the claim itself is so vast that it can be supported neither by reasoning nor by force. At the same time, in an epoch when the rate of advance has so frequently been in inverse proportion to the means for effective occupation or the capacity of military defence, it is probable that on the whole a pacific influence has been exercised by the diplomatic recognition of these somewhat anomalous types, which usually present one very remarkable and highly characteristic feature—that they are constructed by European statesmen with the minimum of reference or deference to the parties prima facie most interested, namely, the occupants of the sphere itself.

The theory of Hinterland is another modern application of the doctrine of Spheres of Influence, resting the

  1. In this connexion may be recalled the arrest of Colonel Younghusband by a Russian detachment under Colonel Yonoff in 1891 at Bozai Gumbaz on the Upper Oxus, on the ground that he was trespassing upon the then unkown and undefine Russian Sphere of Influence in the Pamirs.
  2. In 1893 an unfortunate collision, in which European lives were lost, occurred at Waima in the Hinterland of Sierra Leone between English and French forces, as to which neither side could state with certainty in whose sphere the scene of the disaster lay.