Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/18

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12
WHAT SHE CAME THROUGH.

see their lately won ecclesiastical independence sacrificed, as it certainly would be, to the Russian desire for ecclesiastical uniformity and centralization. Once delivered from Turkish oppression, the Bulgarians and Bosnians would have no more desire to come under the Russian conscription, the Russian customs system, the vexatious Russian police supervision, than the Servians or Roumans have now. Any kind of independence would seem preferable — why be swallowed up and forgotten in that monstrous state, like snow-flakes in a river? Panslavism would soon have no more power over the Slavs of the Danube than pan-Teutonism has over Swedes or Dutchmen.

Whichever way the question is regarded, the conclusion appears to be the same, that the best way of stopping Russia is to remove as far as possible the grounds which justify her interference, and substitute the powers collectively, and England not least conspicuously among them, for Russia alone as the protecting influence to which the subject populations have to look. One part of this is to exact from the Porte all such reforms in the administration of its provinces generally as it is possible for the watchful presence of European commissioners to see carried out. The other is to erect in the north of European Turkey a group of semi-independent principalities whose interest it will be to maintain and strengthen their separate national, life, and which will, in fact, constitute a barrier against the farther advance of Russia in that direction. Of course there will be plenty of intrigue and corruption in such principalities, as there is in Roumania now (whose people, by the way, are in every respect inferior to the Bulgarians), and very likely Russia will have a linger in such intrigues. But two facts will remain: the condition of the inhabitants will be better than it is under the Porte, and instead of looking to Russia to send her troops in among them, they will have every motive to keep her at arm's-length.

This is putting the case from the most anti-Russian point of view, and assuming her motives to be merely selfish — an assumption that seems to me thoroughly wanton and unfair. True it is that some of the bolder spirits in the Russian party of aggression would regret the loss of a fulcrum by which they worked on the subjects of the Porte, and by which they could also stimulate at times the enthusiasm of their more ignorant fellow-countrymen, thereby winning for their cause a strength not its own. This weapon, this passionate sympathy for Christians oppressed by Muslims, which makes Russia at the present moment really formidable, they would lose, to the world's gain. But many of the best and wisest people in Russia (including, one may well hope and believe, the emperor himself) would be heartily glad to see substantial reforms carried out in Turkey and the frontier provinces liberated, both for the sake of the subject Christians, and because they feel that a large part of their own people would thereby be led to turn their aspirations into a healthier channel and think more of developing intellectually and materially the Russia they have got, than of adding to her new provinces which could only be a source of weakness.

Whatever be Russia's real designs — as to which I will only repeat that I have not sought to prove that they are unselfish, but only that we shall certainly err by assuming them to be dishonest, and by ignoring the mighty popular forces that are at work pressing the czar onward — one thing seems tolerably clear. The mistake of England has been in leaving to Russia all these years, and more especially since the insurrection broke out in Herzegovina, the sole championship (whether real or apparent) of good government and the welfare of the Christian population in Turkey. What the consequences of that mistake have been during the last six months; how it has divided us at home in a way that would have been impossible had the whole truth been known; how it has made our policy waver in the eyes of foreign nations; has kept Austria afraid to rely on us; has incensed all Russia, and emboldened her war party; has encouraged the Porte to refuse what it would otherwise have conceded, and made it believe that in the last resort it can always play upon our fears for Constantinople — these are questions which it is beyond the scope of the present article to discuss.




From Good Words.

WHAT SHE CAME THROUGH.

BY SARAH TYTLER,
AUTHOR OF "LADY BELL,'* ETC.

CHAPTER LIV.

A SUDDEN SUMMONS.


Pleasance was still at Stone Cross when the morning post brought her, along