Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/28

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

other powers, or by way of Archangel, which, like Petersburg, is icebound for a large part of the year. Nor are conditions better in the Far East where the premature insistence upon the possession of Port Arthur and the consequent war with Japan was largely due to the desire for an ice-free port on the Pacific. Russia's means of access to the world's commerce are too circumscribed for so large a state, and she is bound to demand a readjustment favorable to her interests from time to time. Indeed that is what she has been doing for centuries; her coastward movement has been in progress for at least four hundred years and we are witnesses to-day of another gigantic step in this direction. The Germans block the way, and ultimately, combined with them, the Swedes and Danes. That Russia with her population of 175 millions, increasing at the rate of nearly three millions a year, and with resources so vast and undeveloped that they can only be roughly estimated, will be kept permanently bottled up is not likely. Her coastward advance, however, is likely to follow lines of least resistance and the conquest of an outlet by way of Constantinople to the world's trade is as inevitable as is its geographic reasonableness. Towards the Persian Gulf the way is also open and inviting. Indeed everywhere in Asia she has the unique advantage of internal lines of development and therefore also of attack. Geographically the serious menace to British world supremacy does not lie in Germany but in Russia.

In the past great rivers and flat plains invited expansion over immense areas of forest, swamp and rich agricultural lands. To-day the lure of rich trade routes and the consequent attraction of the sea is fascinating the eastern Slav. He is building his roads, railroads and canals, and sending colonists out into unoccupied land very much as did the United States in the nineteenth century. Once this is occupied, the push to the sea will be irresistible. This youthful giant among the nations of the world is beginning to realize his great strength; the resignation and despair of the peasant empire is giving way to a New Russia full of confident assurance.