Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/639

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617
THE PEOPLES OF THE BALKAN PENINSULA.

guages and religions upon his map proved too complicated for our imitative abilities. We were obliged to limit our cartography to languages alone. The reader who would gain a true conception of the ethnic heterogeneity of Turkey should consult his original map.

The word Turk was for several centuries taken in a religious sense as synonymous with Mohammedan,[1] as in the Collect for Good Friday in its reference to "Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics." Thus in Bosnia, where in the fifteenth century many Slavs were converted to Mohammedanism, their descendants are still known as Turks, especially where they use the Turkish speech in their religion. Obviously in this case no Turkish blood need flow in their veins. It is the religion of Islam, acting in this way, which has served to keep the Turks as distinct from the Slavs and Greeks as they are to-day. Freeman has drawn an instructive comparison in this connection between the fate of the Bulgars, who, as we shall see, are merely Slavonized Finns, and the Turks, who have steadily resisted all attempts at assimilation. The first came, he says, as "mere heathen savages (who) could be Christianized, Europeanized, assimilated," because no antipathy save that of race and speech had to be overcome. The Turks, in contradistinction, came "burdened with the half-truth of Islam, with the halfcivilization of the East." By the aid of these, especially the former, the Turk has been enabled to maintain an independent existence as "an unnatural excrescence" on this corner of Europe.

Even using this word as in a measure synonymous with religious affiliations, the Turks form but a small and decreasing minority in the Balkan Peninsula. Couvreur affirms that not over one third of the population profess the religion of Islam, all the remainder being Greek Catholics. This being so, the query at once suggests itself as to the reason for the continued political domination of this Turkish minority, Asiatic alike in race, in speech, and in religion. The answer is certain. It depends upon that subtle principle, the balance of power in Europe. Is it not clear that to allow the Turk to go under, as numerically he ought to do, would mean to add strength to the great Slavic majority, affiliated as it is with Kussia both by speech and religion? This, with the consent of the Anglo-Saxon and other Teutonic rivals of the Slav, could never be allowed. Thus does it come about that the poor Greek is ground between the upper Turkish and the nether Slavic millstone. "Unnatural disunion is the fate of the whole land, and the cuckoo-cry about the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire means, among the other evil things that it means, the continuance of this disunion." Let us turn from this


  1. Consult Taylor, 1890, p. 48; Von Luschan, 1889, p. 198; Sax, 1863, p. 91.