Littell's Living Age/Volume 132/Issue 1704/The Geographical Aspect of the Eastern Question

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From The Fortnightly Review.

THE GEOGRAPHICAL ASPECT OF THE EASTERN QUESTION.

BY EDWARD A. FREEMAN.

One special feature of what is called the Eastern Question is the direct and immediate connection into which it brings the earliest and the latest times of history. In the lands with which the Eastern Question is concerned, the lands between the Hadriatic and the Euxine — perhaps we should rather say the lands between the Hadriatic and the Euphrates — we are brought close to the very earliest times in a different way from anything to which we are used in western Europe. In western Europe earlier times have influenced later times in the ordinary way of cause and effect. In eastern Europe the relation between the present and the past — even the very remote past — is much closer than this; we may say with truth that the past and the present are in being side by side; we may say that several different centuries are in those lands really contemporary. This last fact in truth presents one of the great political difficulties of the country. In a newly emancipated State, say the kingdom of Greece or any other, some part of its areas, some classes of its people, will really belong to the nineteenth century, while other parts, other classes, will practically belong to the fourteenth or some earlier century. Now a country which has reached, say the level of England in the fourteenth century, if it stands by itself, out of sight, so to speak, of the nineteenth century, may, if it has inborn life and a spirit of progress, develop in a steady and wholesome way from the starting-point of the fourteenth century. But if the land is placed, so to speak, within sight of the nineteenth century; if, while the mass belongs to the fourteenth century, it contains parts or classes which really belong to the nineteenth, the danger is that its development will not take this steady and wholesome course. The danger, like all other dangers, may doubtless be grappled with, and perhaps overcome; but it is a real danger which has its root in the history of those lands. One set of circumstances has caused them to lag behind the civilization of the West. Another set of circumstances has put the civilization of the West in their full view. Now an outward varnish of modern civilization may easily be put on. The Turk himself can do that. To attain the substance of such civilization must be the work of time, of trouble, perhaps of difficulties and struggles. In such a state of things, the temptation to grasp what is easiest, to think more of the outside than of the substance, is great and dangerous. And these dangers and difficulties must always be borne in mind in judging the amount of progress which has been made by any emancipated Eastern people. Their progress is likely to be real and lasting in exactly the proportion by which it is native, and is not a mere imitation of the manners and institutions of other countries. But the temptation to imitate the manners and customs of other countries is in such a case so strong that it must always be borne in mind in passing any judgment on the condition of Greece, Servia, Roumania, or any other State which may arise in those parts. In estimating their progress, we must, in fairness as well as in charity, bear in mind the special difficulties under which their progress has to be made.

This is a line of thought which might well be carried out at much greater length. But for my present purpose it comes in only incidentally. The hints which I have just thrown out show the way in which what I have ventured to call the co-existence of the present and the past in these lands has worked on their political and social state and prospects. My immediate business in the present paper is different. It is to show another result of the working of the same cause with regard to the land itself and its inhabitants, rather than with regard to the political and social development of its inhabitants. I wish now to speak on some features in the political geography of the country and in the distribution of its inhabitants, and to point out the bearing of those features upon the great questions of the present moment. Here at least questions of this sort cannot be set aside as mere "antiquarian rubbish." They are the very life of the whole matter.

One main feature of the south-eastern lands is the way in which all the races which have at any time really settled in the country, as distinguished from those which have simply marched through it, still remain side by side. In many cases they remain as distinct as when they first settled there. This is altogether contrary to our general experience in the West. In the West national assimilation has been the rule. That is to say, in any of the great divisions of western Europe, though the land may have been settled and conquered over and over again, yet the mass of the people of the land have been drawn to some one national type. Either some one among the races inhabiting the land has taught the others to put on its likeness, or else a new national type has been formed drawing elements from several of those races. Thus the modern Frenchman may be defined as produced by the union of blood which is mainly Celtic with a speech which is mainly Latin, and with a historical polity which is mainly Teutonic. Within modern France this one national type has so far assimilated all others as to make everything else merely exceptional. The Fleming of one corner, the Basque of another, even the far more important Breton of a third corner, have all in this way become mere exceptions to the general type of the country. If we pass into our own islands, we shall find that the same process has been at work. If we look to Great Britain only, we shall find that it has been carried out hardly less thoroughly. For all real political purposes, for everything which concerns a nation in the face of other nations, Great Britain is as thoroughly united as France is. A secession of Scotland or Wales is as unlikely as a secession of Normandy or Languedoc. The part of the island which is not thoroughly assimilated in language, the part which still speaks Welsh or Gaelic, is larger in proportion than the non-French part of modern France. But however much the northern Briton may, in a fit of antiquarian politics, declaim against the Saxon, for all practical political purposes he and the Saxon are one. The distinction between the southern and northern. English — for the men of Lothian and Fife must allow me to call them by this last name — is, speaking politically and without ethnological or linguistic precision, much as if France and Aquitaine had been two kingdoms united on equal terms, instead of Aquitaine being merged in France. When we cross into Ireland, we indeed find another state of things, and one which comes nearer to some of the phenomena of the East. Unluckily Ireland is not so firmly united to Great Britain as the different parts of Great Britain are to one another. Still even here the division arises quite as much from geographical and historical causes as from distinctions of race strictly so called. If Ireland had had no wrongs, still two great islands could never have been so throughly united as a continuous territory can be. On the other hand, in point of language, the discontented part of the United Kingdom is much less strongly marked off than that fraction of the contented part which remains non-assimilated. Irish is certainly not the language of Ireland in at all the same degree in which Welsh is the language of Wales. The Saxon has commonly to be denounced in the Saxon tongue.

If we pass further towards the East, we shall find as we go on, that the distinctions of race become more marked, and present nearer approaches to the state of things in the south-eastern lands to which we are passing. We mark by the way that, while the general national unity of the German Empire is greater than that of either France or Great Britain, it has discontented subjects in three corners, on its French, its Danish, and its Polish frontiers. It will be at once answered that the discontent of all three is the result of recent conquest, in two cases of very recent conquest indeed. But this is one of the very points to be marked; the strong national unity of the German Empire has been largely the result of assimilation; and these three parts, where recent conquest has not yet been followed by assimilation, are chiefly important because, in all three cases, the discontented territory is geographically continuous with a territory of its own speech. This does not prove that assimilation can never take place; but it will undoubtedly make the process longer and harder. But this very distinction will help us better to understand the special character of those parts of the world where no length of time seems to bring about thorough assimilation.

It is when we come into south-eastern Europe, that is, in a large part of the Austro-Hungarian and in the whole of the Ottoman dominions, that we come to those phenomena of geography, race, and language, which stand out in marked contrast with anything to which we are used in western Europe. We may perhaps better understand what those phenomena are, if we suppose a state of things which sounds absurd in the West, but which has its exact parallel in many parts of the East. Let us suppose that in a journey through England we came successively to districts, towns, or villages, where we found one after another, first, Britons speaking Welsh; then Romans speaking Latin; then Saxons or Angles speaking an older form of our own tongue; then Scandinavians speaking Danish; then Normans speaking old French; lastly perhaps a settlement of Flemings, Huguenots, or Palatines, still remaining a distinct people and speaking their own tongue. Or let us suppose a journey through northern France, in which we found at different stages, the original Gaul, the Roman, the Frank, the Saxon of Bayeux, the Dane of Coutance, each remaining a distinct people, all of them keeping the tongues which they first brought with them into the land. Let us suppose further that, in many of these cases, a religious distinction was added to a national distinction. Let us conceive one village Roman Catholic, another Anglican, others Nonconformist of various types, even if we do not call up any remnants of the worshippers of Jupiter or of Woden. All this seems absurd in any Western country, and absurd enough it is. But the absurdity of the West is the living reality of the East. There we may still find all the chief races which have ever occupied the country, still remaining distinct, still keeping separate tongues, and those for the most part their own original tongues, while in many cases the national distinction is further intensified by a religious distinction. Or rather, till the revival of the strong conscious feeling of nationality in our own times, we might say that the religious distinction, had taken the place of the national distinction. This growth of strictly national feeling has, like most other things, a good and a bad side. It has kindled both Greek and Slave into a fresh and vigorous life, such as had been unknown for ages. On the other hand, it has set Greek and Slave to dispute with one another in the face of the common enemy.

In the great Eastern Peninsula then, and in the lands immediately to the north of that peninsula, the original races, those whom we find there at the first beginnings of history, are all there still. They form three distinct nations. There are the Greeks, if not all true Hellenes, yet an aggregate of adopted Hellenes gathered round and assimilated to a true Hellenic kernel. They form an artificial nation, defined by the union of Greek speech and Orthodox faith. This last qualification is not to be left out; the Greek who turns Mussulman ceases altogether to be Greek, and he who turns Catholic remains Greek only in a very imperfect sense.[1] Here are the oldest recorded inhabitants of a large part of the land abiding, and abiding in a very different case from the remnants of the Celt and the Iberian in western Europe. The Greeks are no survival of a nation; they are a true and living nation, a nation whose importance to the matter in hand is quite out of its proportion to its extent in mere numbers. They still abide, the predominant race in their own ancient and again independent land, the predominant race in those provinces of the Continental Turkish dominion which formed part of their ancient land, the predominant race through all the shores and islands of the Ægean and of part of the Euxine also. In near neighborhood to the Greeks still live another race of equal antiquity, the Skipetar or Albanians. These, as I believe is no longer doubted, represent the ancient Illyrians. The exact degree of their ethnical kindred with the Greeks is a scientific question which lies without the range of practical politics; but the facts that they are more largely intermingled with the Greeks than any of the other neighboring nations, that they show a special power of identifying themselves with the Greeks, a power, so to speak, of becoming Greeks and forming part of the artificial Greek nation, are matters of very practical politics indeed. It must never be forgotten that, among the worthies of the Greek war of independence, some of the noblest were not of Hellenic but Albanian blood. The Christian Albanian thus easily turns into a Greek; and the Mahometan Albanian is something broadly distinguished from a Turk. He has, as he well may have, a strong national feeling, and that national feeling has sometimes got the better of religious divisions. If Albania is among the most backward parts of the peninsula, still it is, by all accounts, the part where there is most hope of men of different religions joining together against the common enemy.

Here then are two ancient races, the Greeks and another race, not indeed so advanced, so important, or so widely spread, but a race which equally keeps a real national being. And I would add, as what is my own belief, though I cannot assert it with the same confidence as in the other two cases, that a third ancient race also survives as a distinct people in the peninsula. These are the Vlachs or Roumans, in whom I am strongly inclined to see the surviving representatives of the great Thracian race. Every one knows that, in the modern principality of Roumania and in the adjoining parts of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, there is to be seen that phenomenon so unique in the East, a people who not only still keep the Roman name, but who speak neither Greek nor Turkish, neither Slave nor Skipetar, but a dialect of Latin, a tongue akin, not to the tongues of any of their neighbors, but to the tongues of Gaul, Italy, and Spain. The assumption has commonly been that this outlying Romance people owe their Romance character to the Roman colonization of Dacia under Trajan. In this view the modern Roumans would be the descendants of Trajan's colonists and of Dacians who had learned of them to adopt the speech and manners of Rome. But when we remember that Dacia was the first Roman province to be given up — that the modern Roumania was for ages the highway of every barbarian tribe on its way from the East to the West — that the land has been conquered and settled and forsaken over and over again — it would be passing strange if this should be the one land, and its people the one race, to keep the Latin tongue when it has been forgotten in all the neighboring countries. Add to this that the Roumans are not, and never have been, confined to the modern Roumania — that they are still found, if in some parts only as wandering shepherds, in various parts of the peninsula — that their establishment in Dacia seems to be of comparatively recent date. All this may lead us to look for some other explanation of this most singular and puzzling phenomenon. It has indeed been thought that the modern Rouman is not strictly a Romance language, but rather a language akin to Latin, a trace of primeval kindred between the tongues of the Italian and the Byzantine peninsula. This would be carrying things back very far indeed. Such a belief would indeed be the greatest strengthening of my position as to the abiding character of nations and language in south-eastern Europe. But we need not go back so far as this. It will be quite enough, if we look on the Roumans as Romanized Thracians, as the representatives of the great Thracian race which lived on in the inland parts of the peninsula while the Greeks occupied the coasts. Their lands, Mœsia, Thrace specially so called, and Dacia, were added to the empire at various times from Augustus to Trajan. That they should gradually adopt the Latin language is in no sort wonderful. Their position with regard to Rome was exactly the same as that of Gaul and Spain. Where Greek civilization had been firmly established, Latin could nowhere displace it. Wherever Greek civilization was unknown, Latin overcame the barbarian tongue. It would naturally do so in this part of the East exactly as it did in the West. But, though the question of the origin of the Roumans is of deep historical and ethnological interest, the questions which I have just been discussing are of comparatively little moment for my present purpose. In any case, the Roumans represent a people more ancient than the Slavonic settlements. If they really represent the Roman and Romanized inhabitants of Trajan's Dacia, their time of endurance would be somewhat shortened, but the difficulties of their endurance would be increased tenfold.[2]

Here then we have in the south-eastern peninsula three nations which have all lived on at least from the days of the early Roman Empire. Two of them, I am inclined to think all of them, have lived on from the very beginnings of European history. We have nothing answering to this in the West. It needs no proof that the speakers of Celtic and Basque, in Gaul and in Spain, do not hold the same position in western Europe which the Greeks, Albanians, and Roumans do in eastern Europe. In the East the most ancient inhabitants of the land are still there, not as scraps or survivors, not as fragments of nations lingering on in corners, but as nations in the strictest sense, nations whose national being forms an element in every modern and political question. They all have their memories, their grievances, and their hopes; and their memories, their grievances, and their hopes are all of a practical and political kind. Highlanders, Welshmen, Bretons, Basques, have doubtless memories, but they have hardly political grievances or hopes.[3] Ireland may have political grievances; it certainly has political hopes; but they are not exactly of the same kind as the grievances or hopes of the Greek, the Albanian, and the Rouman. Let home rule succeed to the extent of setting up an independent king and parliament of Ireland, yet the language and civilization of that king and parliament would still be English. Ireland would form an English State, politically hostile, it may be, to Great Britain, but still an English State. No Greek, Albanian, or Rouman State that can be conceived would be in the same sense a Turkish State.

On these primitive and abiding races came, as on other parts of Europe, the Roman conquest. That conquest planted Latin colonies on the Dalmatian coast, where the Latin tongue still remains in its Italian variety as the speech of literature and city life — it Romanized in any case some part of the earlier inhabitants, be they Thracians or be they Dacians — it had the great political effect of all, that of planting the Roman power in a Greek city, and thereby creating a State, and in the end a nation, which was Roman on one side, and Greek on the other. Then came the wandering of the nations, on which, as regards men of our own race, we need not dwell. The Goths marched at will through the Eastern Empire; but no Teutonic settlement was ever made within its bounds, no lasting Teutonic settlement was ever made even on its border. The part of the Teuton in the West was played far less perfectly indeed by the Slave in the East. On the points of likeness and unlikeness between the part played by the Teutons in the West and that played by the Slaves in the East, I cannot enlarge here. The great point to be borne in mind is that the Slave in the East does answer, however imperfectly, to the Teuton in the West, that he is there what the Teuton is here, the great representative of what we may call the modern European races, those whose part in history began after the establishment of the Roman power. The differences with which we are here concerned between the position of the two races are chiefly these. The Slave in the East has, as we have seen, pre-Roman races standing alongside of him in a way in which the Teuton has not in the West. He also himself stands alongside of races which have come in since his own coming, in a way which the Teuton in the West is still further from doing. That is to say, besides Greeks, Albanians, and Roumans, he stands alongside of Bulgarians, Magyars, and Turks, who have nothing to answer to them in the West. We might also say that there is nothing in the East exactly answering to the Romance nations in the West. There are no people, Latin or Greek in speech, who have been brought under Slavonic influences in the same way in which the Romance nations have been brought under Teutonic influences. We might say that the Greeks answer to the Welsh in both senses of the word, at once to the Celtic and to the Latin-speaking people of western Europe. The causes of all these differences I hope to explain in another shape; we have now to deal only with the differences themselves. The Slave, in the time of his coming, in the nature of his settlement, answers roughly to the Teuton; his position is what that of the Teuton would be, if western Europe had been brought under the power of an alien race at some time later than his own settlement. The Slaves undoubtedly form the greatest element in the population of the Eastern Peninsula, and they once reached more widely still. Taking the Slavonic name in its widest meaning, they occupy all the lands from the Danube and its great tributaries southward to the strictly Greek border. The exceptions are where earlier races remain, Greek or Italian on the coast-line, Albanian in the mountains. The Slaves hold the heart of the peninsula, and they hold more than the peninsula itself. Here comes in a fact which bears very distinctly on the politics of the present moment, the fact that the present frontier of the Austrian and Ottoman empires, a frontier so dear in the eyes of diplomatists, is no natural or historical frontier at all, but simply comes of the wars of the last century. The Slave lives equally on both sides of it; indeed, but for the last set of causes which have affected eastern Europe, the Slave might have reached uninterruptedly from the Baltic to the Ægæan.

This last set of causes are those which specially distinguish the histories of eastern and of western Europe, those which have caused the special difficulties of the last five hundred years. In western Europe, though we have had plenty of political conquests, we have had no national migrations since the days of the Teutonic settlements — at least, if we may extend these last so as to take in the Scandinavian settlements in Britain and Gaul. The Teuton has pressed to the East at the expense of the Slave and the Old Prussian: the borders between the Romance and the Teutonic nations in the West have fluctuated; but no third set of nations has come in, strange alike to the Roman and the Teuton and to the whole Aryan family. As the Huns of Attila showed themselves in western Europe as passing ravagers, so did the Magyars at a later day; so did the Ottoman Turks in a day later still, when they besieged Vienna and laid waste the Venetian mainland. But all these Turanian invaders appeared in western Europe simply as passing invaders; in eastern Europe their part has been widely different. Besides the temporary dominion of Avars, Patzinaks, Chazars, Cumans, and a crowd of others, three bodies of more abiding settlers, the Bulgarians, the Magyars, and the Mogul conquerors of Russia, have come in by one path; a fourth, the Ottoman Turks, have come in by another path. Among all these invasions we have one case of thorough assimilation, and only one. The original Finnish Bulgarians, like Western conquerors, have been lost among Slavonic subjects and neighbors; the modern Bulgarian is a Slave bearing the Bulgarian name, as the modern French is a Gaul bearing the Frankish name. The geographical function of the Magyar has been to keep the two great groups of Slavonic nations apart. To his coming, more than to any other cause, we may attribute the great historical gap which separates the Slave of the Baltic from his southern kinsfolk. The work of the Ottoman Turk we all know. These later settlers remain alongside of the Slave, just as the Slave remains alongside of the earlier settlers. The Slavonized Bulgarians are the only instance of assimilation such as we are used to in the West. All the other races, old and new, from the Albanian to the Ottoman, are still there, each keeping its national being and its national speech. And in one part of the ancient Dacia we must add quite a distinct element, the element of Teutonic occupation in a form unlike any in which we see it in the West, in the shape of the Saxons of Transylvania.

We have thus worked out our point in detail. While in each Western country some one of the various races which have settled in it has, speaking roughly, assimilated the others, in the East all the races that have ever settled in the country still abide side by side. And it is important to remark that this phenomenon is not peculiar to the lands which are now under the Turk; it is shared equally with the lands which form the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. We may for the moment set aside those parts of Germany which are so strangely united with the crowns of Hungary and Dalmatia. In those parts of the monarchy which come within our present survey, the Roman and the Rouman — we may so distinguish the Romance-speaking inhabitants of Dalmatia and the Romance-speaking inhabitants of Transylvania — the Slave of the north and of the south, the Magyar conqueror, the Saxon immigrant, all abide as distinct races. That the Ottoman is not to be added to our list in Hungary, while he is to be added in Bulgaria, is simply because he has been driven out of Hungary, while he is allowed to abide in Bulgaria. No point is more important to insist on now than the fact that the Ottoman once held the greater part of Hungary by exactly the same right, the right of the strongest, as that by which he still holds Bosnia and Bulgaria. It is simply the result of a century of warfare, from Sobieski to Joseph the Second, which has fixed the boundary which to diplomatists seems eternal. That boundary has advanced and gone back over and over again. As Buda once was Turkish, Belgrade has more than once been Austrian. In the old days of Austrian intolerance, the persecuted Protestant of Hungary deemed the yoke of the sultan less heavy than that of the emperor-king. In days of better rule in the Hungarian kingdom, the Servian rayah welcomed the emperor-king as his deliverer from the sultan. The whole of these lands, from the Carpathian Mountains southward, present the same characteristic of permanence and distinctness among the several races which occupy them. The several races may lie, here in large continuous masses, there in small detached settlements; but there they all are in their distinctness. It would be hard to trace out in these lands a State of the same scale as any of the great States of western Europe which should consist of one race, language, or religion. The point to be specially borne in mind is that this characteristic belongs equally to the Austrian and to the Turkish empire, and that the frontier which divides the two is a purely artificial one, the result of several fluctuations during the wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


Now this lasting and distinct character of races in these lands leads to a geographical feature which is quite unlike anything to which we are now used in western Europe, but which was familiar enough in ancient times. We may say that, till the establishment of the Roman Empire, it was the rule in the lands round the Mediterranean that the seaboard and the inland part of a country should be held by distinct nations. First Phœnician, then Greek colonies spread themselves over the greater part of the Mediterranean, Ægæan, and Euxine coasts. But they nowherer went very far inland. Thus the group of Greek cities of which Massalia was the head were scattered along the Mediterranean coast of Gaul and northern Spain; but in the interior of the country they had no influence beyond a purely commercial one. The land was Celtic or Iberian, with a Greek fringe on the coast. The Roman power put an end to this state of things as far as political dominion was concerned. Throughout the empire, the seacoast and the interior, whatever were the race and speech of their inhabitants, were alike Roman in allegiance. But with the great Slavonic movement of the sixth and seventh centuries the older state of things revived in south-eastern Europe, and it has, to a great extent, remained to our day. The seacoast and the interior of the land have again parted company. A map of Europe in the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries, carefully marking the dominions of the eastern emperors, brings out this fact in a wonderful way.[4] Like the colonies of Old Greece at an earlier day, like the dominions of Venice at a later day, the dominions of the Eastern Cæsar were cut down to a system of islands, peninsulas, strips of coast, maritime possessions scattered here and there over a large part of Europe. From the coming of the Slaves till the overthrow of the Bulgarian kingdom at the beginning of the eleventh century, there was no great continuous Imperial territory anywhere but in Asia Minor. Things had come back to the days before Roman dominion. The Greek, as for this purpose we may call him, again occupies the Ægæan, Hadriatic, and Euxine coasts. His rule reaches from Venice to Cherson and Trebizond. But the inland part of the wide land between the Hadriatic and the Euxine is again alien, in his eyes barbarian. From the Danube to Olympos — for a while from the Danube to Peloponnesos — the inland parts are Slavonic or Bulgarian, while the coast remains Greek or, in the northern part of the Hadriatic, Italian — in either case, Imperial. And this state of things in a manner abides still. The disposition of races remains much the same; the only difference is the political one, that Constantinople in Ottoman hands exercises a power over the inland regions which it did not exercise in Byzantine hands. Now as then, along a vast range of country, the coast is mainly Greek; the inland regions are mainly Slave. And in one corner, the older state of things is still more completely brought before our eyes; the coast and the interior are separated, not only by race, but by political allegiance. There is no more instructive lesson in history than that which is taught us by the revolutions of the narrow strip of Dalmatian coast and of the vast mainland to the back of it. For a few centuries, Illyria was one of the most prominent and flourishing parts of the world, renowned above all things as the land which gave the world its rulers. It was so, because, for those few centuries only, the coast and the interior were not divided. Before the establishment of the Roman dominion, Illyria counted for a barbarous and backward land, hard indeed for conquerors to subdue, but where civilization was confined to a few Greek cities on its coasts and islands. Under the Roman peace, the body and its natural mouths were brought together. Jadera flourished; Pietas Julii flourished; Salona was one of the great cities of the earth; and from Salona came forth Diocletian. But Diocletian was only the greatest of a long line of Illyrian princes before and after him. The border-land of East and West might worthily claim to supply East and West alike with its rulers. With the Slavonic immigrations all this ceased; the body was again cut off from the mouths and the mouths from the body. The interior became barbarian; civilization was again shut up in the coast cities which still clave to the empire. Salona fell, and Spalato rose in its place; but, in the changed state of things, Spalato could not be what Salona had been. Tossed to and fro between various masters, Byzantine, Venetian, Hungarian, French, and Austrian, the Dalmatian cities have ever since been cut off from the land behind them. Ragusa, independent within living memory, was, from her very independence, yet more isolated than the rest. We all say, and we say truly, that Montenegro must have a haven. We feel it by simply looking at the map; but we feel it tenfold more keenly when we look down from the Black Mountain itself on Cattaro and her mouths — the Bocche, the city and haven of which the men of the Black Mountain were so shamefully robbed — on the narrow rim of land which fences in the Bocche, and on the wide Hadriatic beyond. We feel pent up in prison without an outlet. But what is true of Montenegro is true of the whole land; the body is still everywhere cut off from the mouth and the mouth from the body. Those lands will hardly send forth another Aurelian, another Diocletian, another Constantine, as long as two parts of them which is essential to the prosperity of each of the other are thus unnaturally kept asunder. Here then we come to some of the great difficulties which surround what is called the Eastern Question, difficulties of the present which, like most difficulties of the present, are an inheritance of the events handed on from the past. When the Turk is gone, "bag and baggage" — that is, of course, the gang of official oppressors, not the Mahometan population whom no one wishes to injure, and who may in truth be counted among the victims of the official Turk — when the Turk in this sense is gone, there will still be other difficulties to grapple with, difficulties which were in full force before he came. There will still be that separation between the coast and the interior, which exists more or less {hws|every|everywhere}} {hwe|where|everywhere}}, and which reaches its height in the political separation between the Illyrian coast and the Illyrian mainland. There will still be the difficulty of drawing any frontier which will satisfy the conflicting claims of Greek and Bulgarian. There will still be the difficulty of saying what should be the position of the New Rome herself. But one axiom may be laid down: the New Rome must ever be the New Rome; she must be the head of something, be it empire or federation. Eternal as she is in a far truer sense than the elder Rome, she cannot be the subject, she cannot even be the equal, of any other city, or of any other power. But of what is she to be the head? I need hardly speak my own mind — of a federation, if federation is to be had; of an empire, if federation is not to be had. And the latest experiences of European polity have taught us that federation and empire are not incompatible. The States which already exist, any States which may hereafter be formed, must, whatever be the nature of the tie, still look to Constantinople as the head of all. There are moments in Byzantine history when we are inclined to curse the foundation of the New Rome, and to look on it simply as an hindrance to the national growth of Bulgaria or Servia. But the Imperial city is there, and the Imperial city she must ever be. Shallow indeed are the thoughts, vain are the fears, of those who profess to look for a day when Constantinople shall be a Russian possession. The Russian of our own day may win her, as the Russian of a thousand years back strove to win her; but, if he wins her, he will cease to be Russian. A prince of the house of Romanoff may sit on the Byzantine throne, as a prince of the house of Hohenzollern or of Coburg may sit upon it. But Constantinople can never be a dependency of St. Petersburg, any more than it can be a dependency of Berlin or of London. Alarmists may shriek, sentimental dreamers may chatter; but nature and history are too strong for them.

Constantinople must then be the heart of whatever it has to be, empire or federation or federal empire, which takes the place of the rule of alien intruders and oppressors. But am I, is any one, called on to try to draw out in detail any scheme for the future? In this matter we are placed on the horns of a cruel dilemma. Frederick the Second was first excommunicated for not going on the crusade, and when he did go he was excommunicated again for going. The like hard fate falls on him who ventures to say anything about the affairs of eastern Europe. If he points out evils and does not propose remedies, he is unpractical and "irresponsible." If he does propose remedies, he is still unpractical and "irresponsible," and he is speculative and dreamy to boot. What is practical or unpractical is a question which often admits of two answers. It is often a practical course to take an inch when we cannot get an ell. To leave the sultan at Constantinople, and to free as large a part as may be of the land which he oppresses from his direct rule, would be a great and practical gain. But such a settlement would be in its own nature temporary. What it does for some provinces will have at some future day to be done for others. Still to take even one step in advance is a gain, and we may be glad to take that one step, if we are not able to take two. But nothing which is in its own nature temporary is practical in the higher sense. The practical view, practical in the higher sense, goes much further. It is not pent up within the geographical bounds of the Ottoman. Empire. It takes in all south-eastern Europe, all the lands which share the special characteristics of south-eastern Europe. It takes in the Slaves and the Roumans who are subjects of the Austrian, as well as the Slaves and the Roumans who are subjects or vassals of the Turk. I will not draw out schemes; but I will recall certain memories. In the days of the treaty of Passarowitz, when the Turkish frontier went largely back, men dreamed that the two crowns of East and West might again be united on the brow of Charles the Sixth. The successes of the Imperial arms had been so great since the Ottoman had besieged Vienna that the advance of a Western emperor to Constantinople hardly seemed a dream. But for Charles the Sixth to have become Eastern emperor, he must have ceased to be Western emperor and German king, perhaps even to be Austrian archduke. The same man could no more reign at once at Constantinople and at Vienna than he could reign at Constantinople and at St. Petersburg. By the peace of Belgrade the Turkish frontier again advanced; in the days of Joseph the Second it again fell back. The same dreams were again cherished then. And, at least as a momentary thought, the same dreams could hardly fail to arise again in the autumn of 1875. It should not be forgotten that the stirring of the Slavonic mind which followed on the visit of Francis Joseph to his Dalmatian realm had not a little to do with all the events which have followed. In that autumn Austria was playing the part of a good neighbor to Bosnia and Herzegovina; patriots were not yet "interned," nor was open sympathy anywhere expressed for the cause of the barbarian. The thought could not fail to arise that the lord of so many Slavonic lands, the king of Slavonia, Croatia, and Dalmatia, to say nothing of Bohemia, Galicia, and Lodomeria, might put himself at the head of the Slavonic movement, even that he might possibly exchange his sham Imperial crown for a real one. The wild outburst of Magyar fury has checked all this. Can it be that an ethnical kindred of the most remote and shadowy kind is really a practical element in the case? Can it be that the strange comedy which was lately played at Constantinople, the fraternization of Turk and Magyar, really had a serious meaning? Certain it is that Magyar hatred towards the Slave, the natural hatred of the oppressor towards the oppressed, a hatred which shows itself even to Slavonic refugees fleeing from their Turkish destroyers, is one great difficulty of the moment. But it cannot remain a difficulty forever. Millions of men of European blood will not endure that a handful of alien intruders, ostentatiously proclaiming themselves as alien intruders, shall forever hinder the natural settlement of south-eastern Europe. The reunion of Austria, Tyrol, and Salzburg with the German body may not suit the immediate German policy of the moment; there are obvious reasons why it does not. But it must come sooner or later. The separation of those lands from Germany, their union with Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, and the rest, is too unnatural to be abiding. The separation of the Slaves within the Austro-Hungarian monarchy from the Slaves to the south of them is also too unnatural to be abiding. A Byzantine empire, a Byzantine confederation, whenever it is fully and finally formed, must reach a good deal further to the north than the artificial limit of 1739. If the Turk stands in the way of a just settlement at one end, his agglutinative ally at Pesth stands in the way at the other. He is a great difficulty, but surely not a difficulty that can last forever. It is a strange thought that, if the Apostolic Stephen, well nigh nine hundred years back, had got his Christianity from the New Rome instead of from the Old, one great hindrance to a just settlement of south-eastern Europe would in all likelihood not have stood in our way.


  1. Would Hellenic nationality be affected in the same way either by embracing Protestantism or by giving up all religious profession? Most likely not. To turn either Mussulman or Catholic is to undergo a political as well as a theological change. It is to accept a new master in the caliph or the pope. No such submission as this is involved in either of the other changes.
  2. I have been set thinking on this question by the second chapter of Jireceks "Geschichte der Bulgaren," Prag, 1876. On the other side see Zeuss, "Die Deutschen und die Nachbarstämme," 263.
  3. I do not pretend to answer for the Spanish Basques, who do seem to have grievances, though their way of trying to redress them may be thought a strange one. But a purely Basque State would surely be inconceivable.
  4. Some of the maps of the Eastern Empire in the new edition of Spruner-Menke bring this out more clearly than' any other which I have yet seen.