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Author: Rose, John Holland, 1855-1942
Title: The Development of the European Nations, 1870-1914 (5th ed.)
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[Illustration: Campaigns 1859-71]








     'Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.'--VIRGIL.



_First Edition . .  October 1905.
   Second  "   . . November 1905.
   Third   "   . . December 1911.
   Fourth  "   . . November 1914.
   Fifth   "   . .  October 1915._







In this Edition are included three new chapters (Nos. XXI.-XXIII.), in
which I seek to describe the most important and best-ascertained facts
of the period 1900-14. Necessarily, the narrative is tentative at many
points; and it is impossible to attain impartiality; but I have sought
to view events from the German as well as the British standpoint, and to
sum up the evidence fairly. The addition of these chapters has
necessitated the omission of the former Epilogue and Appendices. I
regret the sacrifice of the Epilogue, for it emphasised two important
considerations, (1) the tendency of British foreign policy towards undue
complaisance, which by other Powers is often interpreted as weakness;
(2) the danger arising from the keen competition in armaments. No one
can review recent events without perceiving the significance of these
considerations. Perhaps they may prove to be among the chief causes
producing the terrible finale of July-August 1914. I desire to express
my acknowledgments and thanks for valuable advice given by Mr. J.W.
Headlam, M.A., Mr. A.B. Hinds, M.A., and Dr. R.W. Seton-Watson, D. Litt.



_September_ 5, 1915.


The outbreak of war in Europe is an event too momentous to be treated
fully in this Preface. But I may point out that the catastrophe resulted
from the two causes of unrest described in this volume, namely, the
Alsace-Lorraine Question and the Eastern Question. Those disputes have
dragged on without any attempt at settlement by the Great Powers. The
Zabern incident inflamed public opinion in Alsace-Lorraine, and
illustrated the overbearing demeanour of the German military caste;
while the insidious attempts of Austria in 1913 to incite Bulgaria
against Servia marked out the Hapsburg Empire as the chief enemy of the
Slav peoples of the Balkan Peninsula after the collapse of Turkish power
in 1912. The internal troubles of the United Kingdom, France, and Russia
in July 1914 furnished the opportunity so long sought by the forward
party at Berlin and Vienna; and the Austro-German Alliance, which, in
its origin, was defensive (as I have shown in this volume), became
offensive, Italy parting from her allies when she discovered their
designs. Drawn into the Triple Alliance solely by pique against France
after the Tunis affair, she now inclines towards the Anglo-French

Readers of my chapter on the Eastern Question will not fail to see how
the neglect of the Balkan peoples by the Great Powers has left that
wound festering in the weak side of Europe; and they will surmise that
the Balkan troubles have, by a natural Nemesis, played their part in
bringing about the European War. It is for students of modern Europe to
seek to form a healthy public opinion so that the errors of the past may
not be repeated, and that the new Europe shall be constituted in
conformity with the aspirations of the peoples themselves.


_September_ 25, 1914.


The line of Virgil quoted on the title-page represents in the present
case a sigh of aspiration, not a paean of achievement. No historical
student, surely, can ever feel the conviction that he has fathomed the
depths of that well where Truth is said to lie hid. What, then, must be
the feelings of one who ventures into the mazy domain of recent annals,
and essays to pick his way through thickets all but untrodden? More than
once I have been tempted to give up the quest and turn aside to paths
where pioneers have cleared the way. There, at least, the whereabouts of
that fabulous well is known and the plummet is ready to hand.
Nevertheless, I resolved to struggle through with my task, in the
consciousness that the work of a pioneer may be helpful, provided that
he carefully notches the track and thereby enables those who come after
him to know what to seek and what to avoid.

After all, there is no lack of guides in the present age. The number of
memoir-writers and newspaper correspondents is legion; and I have come
to believe that they are fully as trustworthy as similar witnesses have
been in any age. The very keenness of their rivalry is some guarantee
for truth. Doubtless competition for good "copy" occasionally leads to
artful embroidering on humdrum actuality; but, after spending much time
in scanning similar embroidery in the literature of the Napoleonic Era,
I unhesitatingly place the work of Archibald Forbes, and that of several
knights of the pen still living, far above the delusive tinsel of
Marbot, Thiebault, and Segur. I will go further and say that, if we
could find out what were the sources used by Thucydides, we should
notice qualms of misgiving shoot through the circles of scientific
historians as they contemplated his majestic work. In any case, I may
appeal to the example of the great Athenian in support of the thesis
that to undertake to write contemporary history is no vain thing.

Above and beyond the accounts of memoir-writers and newspaper
correspondents there are Blue Books. I am well aware that they do not
always contain the whole truth. Sometimes the most important items are
of necessity omitted. But the information which they contain is
enormous; and, seeing that the rules of the public service keep the
original records in Great Britain closed for well-nigh a century, only
the most fastidious can object to the use of the wealth of materials
given to the world in _Parliamentary Papers_.

Besides these published sources there is the fund of information
possessed by public men and the "well-informed" of various grades.
Unfortunately this is rarely accessible, or only under conventional
restrictions. Here and there I have been able to make use of it without
any breach of trust; and to those who have enlightened my darkness I am
very grateful. The illumination, I know, is only partial; but I hope
that its effect, in respect to the twilight of diplomacy, may be
compared to that of the Aurora Borealis lights.

After working at my subject for some time, I found it desirable to limit
it to events which had a distinctly formative influence on the
development of European States. On questions of motive and policy I have
generally refrained from expressing a decided verdict, seeing that these
are always the most difficult to probe; and facile dogmatism on them is
better fitted to omniscient leaderettes than to the pages of an
historical work. At the same time, I have not hesitated to pronounce a
judgment on these questions, and to differ from other writers, where the
evidence has seemed to me decisive. To quote one instance, I reject the
verdict of most authorities on the question of Bismarck's treatment of
the Ems telegram, and of its effect in the negotiations with France in
July 1870.

For the most part, however, I have dealt only with external events,
pointing out now and again the part which they have played in the great
drama of human action still going on around us. This limitation of aim
has enabled me to take only specific topics, and to treat them far more
fully than is done in the brief chronicle of facts presented by MM.
Lavisse and Rambaud in the concluding volume of their _Histoire
Generale_. Where a series of events began in the year 1899 or 1900, and
did not conclude before the time with which this narrative closes, I
have left it on one side. Obviously the Boer War falls under this head.
Owing to lack of space my references to the domestic concerns of the
United Kingdom have been brief. I have regretfully omitted one imperial
event of great importance, the formation of the Australian Commonwealth.
After all, that concerned only the British race; and in my survey of the
affairs of the Empire I have treated only those which directly affected
other nations as well, namely the Afghan and Egyptian questions and the
Partition of Africa. Here I have sought to show the connection with
"world politics," and I trust that even specialists will find something
new and suggestive in this method of treatment.

In attempting to write a history of contemporary affairs, I regard it as
essential to refer to the original authority, or authorities, in the
case of every important statement. I have sought to carry out this rule
(though at the cost of great additional toil) because it enables the
reader to check the accuracy of the narrative and to gain hints for
further reading. To compile bibliographies, where many new books are
coming out every year, is a useless task; but exact references to the
sources of information never lose their value.

My thanks are due to many who have helped me in this undertaking. Among
them I may name Sir Charles Dilke, M.P., Mr. James Bryce, M.P., and Mr.
Chedo Mijatovich, who have given me valuable advice on special topics.
My obligations are also due to a subject of the Czar, who has placed
his knowledge at my service, but for obvious reasons does not wish his
name to be known. Mr. Bernard Pares, M.A., of the University of
Liverpool, has very kindly read over the proofs of the early chapters,
and has offered most helpful suggestions. Messrs. G. Bell and Sons have
granted me permission to make use of the plans of the chief battles of
the Franco-German War from Mr. Hooper's work, _Sedan and the Downfall of
the Second Empire_, published by them. To Mr. H.W. Wilson, author of
_Ironclads in Action_, my thanks are also due for permission to make use
of the plan illustrating the fighting at Alexandria in 1882.


_July, 1905._
























TEUTON _versus_ SLAV (1908-13)




Campaigns of 1859-71

Sketch Map of the District between Metz and the Rhine

Plan of the Battle of Woerth

Plan of the Battles of Rezonville and Gravelotte

Plan of the Battle of Sedan

Map of Bulgaria

Plan of Plevna

Map of the Treaties of Berlin and San Stefano

Map of Thessaly

Map of Afghanistan

Battle of Maiwand

Battle of Alexandria (Bombardment of, 1882)

Map of the Nile

The Battle of Omdurman

Plan of Khartum

Map of Africa (1902)


     "The movements in the masses of European peoples are divided
     and slow, and their progress interrupted and impeded, because
     they are such great and unequally formed masses; but the
     preparation for the future is widely diffused, and . . . the
     promises of the age are so great that even the most
     faint-hearted rouse themselves to the belief that a time has
     arrived in which it is a privilege to live."--GERVINUS, 1853.

The Roman poet Lucretius in an oft-quoted passage describes the
satisfaction that naturally fills the mind when from some safe
vantage-ground one looks forth on travellers tossed about on the stormy
deep. We may perhaps use the poet's not very altruistic words as
symbolising many of the feelings with which, at the dawn of the
twentieth century, we look back over the stormy waters of the century
that has passed away. Some congratulation on this score is justifiable,
especially as those wars and revolutions have served to build up States
that are far stronger than their predecessors, in proportion as they
correspond more nearly with the desires of the nations that
compose them.

As we gaze at the revolutions and wars that form the storm-centres of
the past century, we can now see some of the causes that brought about
those storms. If we survey them with discerning eye, we soon begin to
see that, in the main, the cyclonic disturbances had their origins in
two great natural impulses of the civilised races of mankind. The first
of these forces is that great impulse towards individual liberty, which
we name Democracy; the second is that impulse, scarcely less mighty and
elemental, that prompts men to effect a close union with their kith and
kin: this we may term Nationality.

Now, it is true that these two forces have not led up to the last and
crowning phase of human development, as their enthusiastic champions at
one time asserted that they would; far from that, they are accountable,
especially so the force of Nationality, for numerous defects in the life
of the several peoples; and the national principle is at this very time
producing great and needless friction in the dealings of nations. Yet,
granting all this, it still remains true that Democracy and Nationality
have been the two chief formative influences in the political
development of Europe during the Nineteenth Century.

In no age of the world's history have these two impulses worked with so
triumphant an activity. They have not always been endowed with living
force. Among many peoples they lay dormant for ages and were only called
to life by some great event, such as the intolerable oppression of a
despot or of a governing caste that crushed the liberties of the
individual, or the domination of an alien people over one that
obstinately refused to be assimilated. Sometimes the spark that kindled
vital consciousness was the flash of a poet's genius, or the heroism of
some sturdy son of the soil. The causes of awakening have been
infinitely various, and have never wholly died away; but it is the
special glory of the Nineteenth Century that races which had hitherto
lain helpless and well-nigh dead, rose to manhood as if by magic, and
shed their blood like water in the effort to secure a free and
unfettered existence both for the individual and the nation. It is a
true saying of the German historian, Gervinus, "The history of this age
will no longer be only a relation of the lives of great men and of
princes, but a biography of nations."

At first sight, this illuminating statement seems to leave out of count
the career of the mighty Napoleon. But it does not. The great Emperor
unconsciously called into vigorous life the forces of Democracy and
Nationality both in Germany and in Italy, where there had been naught
but servility and disunion. His career, if viewed from our present
standpoint, falls into two portions: first, that in which he figured as
the champion of Revolutionary France and the liberator of Italy from
foreign and domestic tyrants; and secondly, as imperial autocrat who
conquered and held down a great part of Europe in his attempt to ruin
British commerce. In the former of these enterprises he had the new
forces of the age acting with him and endowing him with seemingly
resistless might; in the latter part of his life he mistook his place in
the economy of Nature, and by his violation of the principles of
individual liberty and racial kinship in Spain and Central Europe,
assured his own downfall.

The greatest battle of the century was the tremendous strife that for
three days surged to and fro around Leipzig in the month of October
1813, when Russians, Prussians, Austrians, Swedes, together with a few
Britons, Hanoverians, and finally his own Saxon allies, combined to
shake the imperial yoke from the neck of the Germanic peoples. This
_Voelkerschlacht_ (Battle of the Peoples), as the Germans term it,
decided that the future of Europe was not to be moulded by the imperial
autocrat, but by the will of the princes and nations whom his obstinacy
had embattled against him. Far from recognising the verdict, the great
man struggled on until the pertinacity of the allies finally drove him
from power and assigned to France practically the same boundaries that
she had had in 1791, before the time of her mighty expansion. That is to
say, the nation which in its purely democratic form had easily overrun
and subdued the neighbouring States in the time of their old, inert,
semi-feudal existence, was overthrown by them when their national
consciousness had been trampled into being by the legions of the
great Emperor.

In 1814, and again after Waterloo, France was driven in on herself, and
resumed something like her old position in Europe, save that the throne
of the Bourbons never acquired any solidity--the older branch of that
family being unseated by the Revolution of 1830. In the centre of the
Continent, the old dynasties had made common cause with the peoples in
the national struggles of 1813-14, and therefore enjoyed more
consideration--a fact which enabled them for a time to repress popular
aspirations for constitutional rule and national unity.

Nevertheless, by the Treaties of Vienna (1814-15) the centre of Europe
was more solidly organised than ever before. In place of the effete
institution known as the Holy Roman Empire, which Napoleon swept away in
1806, the Central States were reorganised in the German Confederation--a
cumbrous and ineffective league in which Austria held the presidency.
Austria also gained Venetia and Lombardy in Italy. The acquisition of
the fertile Rhine Province by Prussia brought that vigorous State up to
the bounds of Lorraine and made her the natural protectress of Germany
against France. Russia acquired complete control over nearly the whole
of the former Kingdom of Poland. Thus, the Powers that had been foremost
in the struggle against Napoleon now gained most largely in the
redistribution of lands in 1814-15, while the States that had been
friendly to him now suffered for their devotion. Italy was split up into
a mosaic of States; Saxony ceded nearly the half of her lands to
Prussia; Denmark yielded up her ancient possession, Norway, to the
Swedish Crown.

In some respects the triumph of the national principle, which had
brought victory to the old dynasties, strengthened the European fabric.
The Treaties of Vienna brought the boundaries of States more nearly into
accord with racial interests and sentiments than had been the case
before; but in several instances those interests and feelings were
chafed or violated by designing or short-sighted statesmen. The Germans,
who had longed for an effective national union, saw with indignation
that the constitution of the new Germanic Confederation left them under
the control of the rulers of the component States and of the very real
headship exercised by Austria, which was always used to repress popular
movements. The Italians, who had also learned from Napoleon the secret
that they were in all essentials a nation, deeply resented the
domination of Austria in Lombardy-Venetia and the parcelling out of the
rest of the Peninsula between reactionary kings somnolent dukes, and
obscurantist clerics. The Belgians likewise protested against the
enforced union with Holland in what was now called the Kingdom of the
United Netherlands (1815-30). In the east of Europe the Poles struggled
in vain against the fate which once more partitioned them between
Russia, Austria, and Prussia. The Germans of Holstein, Schleswig, and
Lauenburg submitted uneasily to the Danish rule; and only under the
stress of demonstrations by the allies did the Norwegians accept the
union with Sweden.

It should be carefully noted that these were the very cases which caused
most of the political troubles in the following period. In fact, most of
the political occurrences on the Continent in the years 1815 to
1870--the revolts, revolutions, and wars, that give a special character
to the history of the century--resulted directly from the bad or
imperfect arrangements of the Congress of Vienna and of the so-called
Holy Alliance of the monarchs who sought to perpetuate them. The effect
of this widespread discontent was not felt at once. The peoples were too
exhausted by the terrific strain of the Napoleonic wars to do much for a
generation or more, save in times of popular excitement. Except in the
south-east of Europe, where Greece, with the aid of Russia, Britain, and
France, wrested her political independence from the grasp of the Sultan
(1827), the forty years that succeeded Waterloo were broken by no
important war; but they were marked by oft-recurring unrest and
sedition. Thus, when the French Revolution of 1830 overthrew the
reactionary dynasty of the elder Bourbons, the universal excitement
caused by this event endowed the Belgians with strength sufficient to
shake off the heavy yoke of the Dutch; while in Italy, Germany, and
Poland the democrats and nationalists (now working generally in accord)
made valiant but unsuccessful efforts to achieve their ideals.

The same was the case in 1848. The excitement, which this time
originated in Italy, spread to France, overthrew the throne of Louis
Philippe (of the younger branch of the French Bourbons), and bade fair
to roll half of the crowns of Europe into the gutter. But these
spasmodic efforts of the democrats speedily failed. Inexperience,
disunion, and jealousy paralysed their actions and yielded the victory
to the old Governments. Frenchmen, in dismay at the seeming approach of
communism and anarchy, fell back upon the odd expedient of a Napoleonic
Republic, which in 1852 was easily changed by Louis Napoleon into an
Empire modelled on that of his far greater uncle. The democrats of
Germany achieved some startling successes over their repressive
Governments in the spring of the year 1848, only to find that they could
not devise a working constitution for the Fatherland; and the deputies
who met at the federal capital, Frankfurt, to unify Germany "by
speechifying and majorities," saw power slip back little by little into
the hands of the monarchs and princes. In the Austrian Empire
nationalist claims and strivings led to a very Babel of discordant talk
and action, amidst which the young Hapsburg ruler, Francis Joseph,
thanks to Russian military aid, was able to triumph over the valour of
the Hungarians and the devotion of their champion, Kossuth.

In Italy the same sad tale was told. In the spring of that year of
revolutions, 1848, the rulers in quick succession granted constitutions
to their subjects. The reforming Pope, Pius IX., and the patriotic King
of Sardinia, Charles Albert, also made common cause with their peoples
in the effort to drive out the Austrians from Lombardy-Venetia; but the
Pope and all the potentates except Charles Albert speedily deserted the
popular cause; friction between the King and the republican leaders,
Mazzini and Garibaldi, further weakened the nationalists, and the
Austrians had little difficulty in crushing Charles Albert's forces,
whereupon he abdicated in favour of his son, Victor Emmanuel II.
(1849). The Republics set up at Rome and Venice struggled valiantly for
a time against great odds--Mazzini, Garibaldi, and their volunteers
being finally overborne at the Eternal City by the French troops whom
Louis Napoleon sent to restore the Pope (June 1849); while, two months
later, Venice surrendered to the Austrians whom she had long held at
bay. The Queen of the Adriatic under the inspiring dictatorship of Manin
had given a remarkable example of orderly constitutional government in
time of siege.

It seemed to be the lot of the nationalists and democrats to produce
leaders who could thrill the imagination of men by lofty teachings and
sublime heroism; who could, in a word, achieve everything but success. A
poetess, who looked forth from Casa Guidi windows upon the tragi-comedy
of Florentine failure in those years, wrote that what was needed was a
firmer union, a more practical and intelligent activity, on the part
both of the people and of the future leader:

                   A land's brotherhood
     Is most puissant: men, upon the whole,
       Are what they can be,--nations, what they would.

     Will therefore to be strong, thou Italy!
       Will to be noble! Austrian Metternich
     Can fix no yoke unless the neck agree.

       *       *       *       *       *

       Whatever hand shall grasp this oriflamme,
     Whatever man (last peasant or first Pope
       Seeking to free his country) shall appear,
     Teach, lead, strike fire into the masses, fill
       These empty bladders with fine air, insphere
     These wills into a unity of will,
       And make of Italy a nation--dear
     And blessed be that man!

When Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned those lines she cannot have
surmised that two men were working their way up the rungs of the
political ladder in Piedmont and Prussia, whose keen intellects and
masterful wills were to weld their Fatherlands into indissoluble union
within the space of one momentous decade. These men were Cavour
and Bismarck.

It would far exceed the limits of space of this brief Introduction to
tell, except in the briefest outline, the story of the plodding
preparation and far-seeing diplomacy by which these statesmen raised
their respective countries from depths of humiliation to undreamt of
heights of triumph. The first thing was to restore the prestige of their
States. No people can be strong in action that has lost belief in its
own powers and has allowed its neighbours openly to flout it. The
history of the world has shown again and again that politicians who
allow their country to be regarded as _une quantite negligeable_
bequeath to some abler successor a heritage of struggle and
war--struggle for the nation to recover its self-respect, and war to
regain consideration and fair treatment from others. However much frothy
talkers in their clubs may decry the claims of national prestige, no
great statesman has ever underrated their importance. Certainly the
first aim both of Cavour and Bismarck was to restore self-respect and
confidence to their States after the humiliations and the dreary
isolation of those dark years, 1848-51. We will glance, first, at the
resurrection (_Risorgimento_) of the little Kingdom of Sardinia, which
was destined to unify Italy.

Charles Albert's abdication immediately after his defeat by the
Austrians left no alternative to his son and successor, Victor Emmanuel
II., but that of signing a disastrous peace with Austria. In a short
time the stout-hearted young King called to his councils Count Cavour,
the second son of a noble Piedmontese family, but of firmly Liberal
principles, who resolved to make the little kingdom the centre of
enlightenment and hope for despairing Italy. He strengthened the
constitution (the only one out of many granted in 1848 that survived the
time of reaction); he reformed the tariff in the direction of Free
Trade; and during the course of the Crimean War he persuaded his
sovereign to make an active alliance with France and England, so as to
bind them by all the claims of honour to help Sardinia in the future
against Austria. The occasion was most opportune; for Austria was then
suspected and disliked both by Russia and the Western Powers owing to
her policy of armed neutrality. Nevertheless the reward of Cavour's
diplomacy came slowly and incompletely. By skilfully vague promises
(never reduced to writing) Cavour induced Napoleon III. to take up arms
against Austria; but, after the great victory of Solferino (June 24,
1859), the French Emperor enraged the Italians by breaking off the
struggle before the allies recovered the great province of Venetia,
which he had pledged himself to do. Worse still, he required the cession
of Savoy and Nice to France, if the Central Duchies and the northern
part of the Papal States joined the Kingdom of Sardinia, as they now
did. Thus, the net result of Napoleon's intervention in Italy was his
acquisition of Savoy and Nice (at the price of Italian hatred), and the
gain of Lombardy and the central districts for the national cause

The agony of mind caused by this comparative failure undermined Cavour's
health; but in the last months of his life he helped to impel and guide
the revolutionary elements in Italy to an enterprise that ended in a
startling and momentous triumph. This was nothing less than the
overthrow of Bourbon rule in Sicily and Southern Italy by Garibaldi.
Thanks to Cavour's connivance, this dashing republican organised an
expedition of about 1000 volunteers near Genoa, set sail for Sicily, and
by a few blows shivered the chains of tyranny in that island. It is
noteworthy that British war-ships lent him covert but most important
help at Palermo and again in his crossing to the mainland; this timely
aid and the presence of a band of Britons in his ranks laid the
foundation of that friendship which has ever since united the two
nations. In Calabria the hero met with the feeblest resistance from the
Bourbon troops and the wildest of welcomes from the populace. At Salerno
he took tickets for Naples and entered the enemy's capital by railway
train (September 7). Then he purposed, after routing the Bourbon force
north of the city, to go on and attack the French at Rome and proclaim a
united Italy.

Cavour took care that he should do no such thing. The Piedmontese
statesman knew when to march onwards and when to halt. As his
compatriot, Manzoni, said of him, "Cavour has all the prudence and all
the imprudence of the true statesman." He had dared and won in 1855-59,
and again in secretly encouraging Garibaldi's venture. Now it was time
to stop in order to consolidate the gains to the national cause.

The leader of the red-shirts, having done what no king could do, was
thenceforth to be controlled by the monarchy of the north. Victor
Emmanuel came in as the _deus ex machina_; his troops pressed
southwards, occupying the eastern part of the Papal States in their
march, and joined hands with the Garibaldians to the north of Naples,
thus preventing the collision with France which the irregulars would
have brought about. Even as it was, Cavour had hard work to persuade
Napoleon that this was the only way of curbing Garibaldi and preventing
the erection of a South Italian Republic; but finally the French Emperor
looked on uneasily while the Pope's eastern territories were violated,
and while the cause of Italian Unity was assured at the expense of the
Pontiff whom France was officially supporting in Rome. A _plebiscite_,
or mass vote, of the people of Sicily, South Italy, and the eastern and
central parts of the Papal States, was resorted to by Cavour in order to
throw a cloak of legality over these irregular proceedings. The device
pleased Napoleon, and it resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of
annexation to Victor Emmanuel's kingdom. Thus, in March 1861, the
soldier-king was able amidst universal acclaim to take the title of King
of Italy. Florence was declared to be the capital of the realm (1864),
which embraced all parts of Italy except the Province of Venetia,
pertaining to Austria, and the "Patrimonium Petri"--that is, Rome and
its vicinity,--still held by the Pope and garrisoned by the French. The
former of these was to be regained for _la patria_ in 1866, the latter
in 1870, in consequence of the mighty triumphs then achieved by the
principle of nationality in Prussia and Germany. To these triumphs we
must now briefly advert.

No one who looked at the state of European politics in 1861, could have
imagined that in less than ten years Prussia would have waged three wars
and humbled the might of Austria and France. At that time she showed no
signs of exceptional vigour: she had as yet produced no leaders so
inspiring as Mazzini and Garibaldi, no statesman so able as Cavour. Her
new king, William, far from arousing the feelings of growing enthusiasm
that centred in Victor Emmanuel, was more and more distrusted and
disliked by Liberals for the policy of militarism on which he had just
embarked. In fact, the Hohenzollern dynasty was passing into a "Conflict
Time" with its Parliament which threatened to impair the influence of
Prussia abroad and to retard her recovery from the period of
humiliations through which she had recently passed.

A brief recital of those humiliations is desirable as showing, firstly,
the suddenness with which the affairs of a nation may go to ruin in
slack and unskilful hands, and, secondly, the immense results that can
be achieved in a few years by a small band of able men who throw their
whole heart into the work of national regeneration.

The previous ruler, Frederick William IV., was a gifted and learned man,
but he lacked soundness of judgment and strength of will--qualities
which are of more worth in governing than graces of the intellect. At
the time of the revolutionary outbreaks of 1848 he capitulated to the
Berlin mob and declared for a constitutional regime in which Prussia
should merge herself in Germany; but when the excesses of the democrats
had weakened their authority, he put them down by military force,
refused the German Crown offered him by the popularly elected German
Parliament assembled at Frankfurt-on-Main (April 1849); and thereupon
attempted to form a smaller union of States, namely, Prussia, Saxony,
and Hanover. This Three Kings' League, as it was called, soon came to
an end; for it did not satisfy the nationalists who wished to see
Germany united, the constitutionalists who aimed at the supremacy of
Parliament, or the friends of the old order of things. The vacillations
of Frederick William and the unpractical theorisings of the German
Parliament at Frankfurt having aroused general disgust, Austria found
little difficulty in restoring the power of the old Germanic
Confederation in September, 1850. Strong in her alliance with Russia,
she next compelled Frederick William to sign the Convention of Olmuetz
(Nov. 1850). By this humiliating compact he agreed to forbear helping
the German nationalists in Schleswig-Holstein to shake off the
oppressive rule of the Danes; to withdraw Prussian troops from
Hesse-Cassel and Baden, where strifes had broken out; and to acknowledge
the supremacy of the old Federal Diet under the headship of Austria.
Thus, it seemed that the Prussian monarchy was a source of weakness and
disunion for North Germany, and that Austria, backed up by the might of
Russia, must long continue to lord it over the cumbrous Germanic

But a young country squire, named Bismarck, even then resolved that the
Prussian monarchy should be the means of strengthening and binding
together the Fatherland. The resolve bespoke the patriotism of a sturdy,
hopeful nature; and the young Bismarck was nothing if not patriotic,
sturdy, and hopeful. The son of an ancient family in the Mark of
Brandenburg, he brought to his life-work powers inherited from a line of
fighting ancestors; and his mind was no less robust than his body. Quick
at mastering a mass of details, he soon saw into the heart of a problem,
and his solution of it was marked both by unfailing skill and by sound
common sense as to the choice of men and means. In some respects he
resembles Napoleon the Great. Granted that he was his inferior in the
width of vision and the versatility of gifts that mark a world-genius,
yet he was his equal in diplomatic resourcefulness and in the power of
dealing lightning strokes; while his possession of the priceless gift of
moderation endowed his greatest political achievements with a soundness
and solidity never possessed by those of the mighty conqueror who
"sought to give the _mot d'ordre_ to the universe." If the figure of the
Prussian does not loom so large on the canvas of universal history as
that of the Corsican--if he did not tame a Revolution, remodel society,
and reorganise a Continent--be it remembered that he made a United
Germany, while Napoleon the Great left France smaller and weaker than he
found her.

Bismarck's first efforts, like those of Cavour for Sardinia, were
directed to the task of restoring the prestige of his State. Early in
his official career, the Prussian patriot urged the expediency of
befriending Russia during the Crimean War, and he thus helped on that
_rapprochement_ between Berlin and St. Petersburg which brought the
mighty triumphs of 1866 and 1870 within the range of possibility. In
1857 Frederick William became insane; and his brother William took the
reins of Government as Regent, and early in 1861 as King. The new ruler
was less gifted than his unfortunate brother; but his homely common
sense and tenacious will strengthened Prussian policy where it had been
weakest. He soon saw the worth of Bismarck, employed him in high
diplomatic positions, and when the royal proposals for strengthening the
army were decisively rejected by the Prussian House of Representatives,
he speedily sent for Bismarck to act as Minister-President (Prime
Minister) and "tame" the refractory Parliament. The constitutional
crisis was becoming more and more acute when a great national question
came into prominence owing to the action of the Danes in
Schleswig-Holstein affairs.

Without entering into the very tangled web of customs, treaties, and
dynastic claims that made up the Schleswig-Holstein question, we may
here state that those Duchies were by ancient law very closely connected
together, that the King of Denmark was only Duke of Schleswig-Holstein,
and that the latter duchy, wholly German in population, formed part of
the Germanic Confederation. Latterly the fervent nationalists in
Denmark, while leaving Holstein to its German connections, had resolved
thoroughly to "Danify" Schleswig, the northern half of which was wholly
Danish, and they pressed on this policy by harsh and intolerant
measures, making it difficult or well-nigh impossible for the Germans to
have public worship in their own tongue and to secure German teachers
for their children in the schools. Matters were already in a very
strained state, when shortly before the death of King Frederick VII. of
Denmark (November, 1863) the Rigsraad at Copenhagen sanctioned a
constitution for Schleswig, which would practically have made it a part
of the Danish monarchy. The King gave his assent to it, an act which his
successor, Christian IX., ratified.

Now, this action violated the last treaty--that signed by the Powers at
London in 1852, which settled the affairs of the Duchies; and Bismarck
therefore had strong ground for appealing to the Powers concerned, as
also to the German Confederation, against this breach of treaty
obligations. The Powers, especially England and France, sought to set
things straight, but the efforts of our Foreign Minister, Lord John
Russell, had no effect. The German Confederation also refused to take
any steps about Schleswig as being outside its jurisdiction. Bismarck
next persuaded Austria to help Prussia in defeating Danish designs on
that duchy. The Danes, on the other hand, counted on the unofficial
expressions of sympathy which came from the people of Great Britain and
France at sight of a small State menaced by two powerful monarchies. In
fact, the whole situation was complicated by this explosion of feeling,
which seemed to the Danes to portend the armed intervention of the
Western States, especially England, on their behalf. As far as is known,
no official assurance to that effect ever went forth from London. In
fact, it is certain that Queen Victoria absolutely forbade any such
step; but the mischief done by sentimental orators, heedless
newspaper-editors, and factious busybodies, could not be undone. As Lord
John Russell afterwards stated in a short "Essay on the Policy of
England": "It pleased some English advisers of great influence to
meddle in this affair; they were successful in thwarting the British
Government, and in the end, with the professed view, and perhaps the
real intention, of helping Denmark, their friendship tended to deprive
her of Holstein and Schleswig altogether." This final judgment of a
veteran statesman is worth quoting as showing his sense of the mischief
done by well-meant but misguided sympathy, which pushed the Danes on to
ruin and embittered our relations with Prussia for many years.

Not that the conduct of the German Powers was flawless. On January 16,
1864, they sent to Copenhagen a demand for the withdrawal of the
constitution for Schleswig within two days. The Danish Foreign Minister
pointed out that, as the Rigsraad was not in session, this could not
possibly be done within two days. In this last step, then, the German
Powers were undoubtedly the aggressors[1]. The Prussian troops were
ready near the River Eider, and at once invaded Schleswig. The Danes
were soon beaten on the mainland; then a pause occurred, during which a
Conference of the Powers concerned was held at London. It has been
proved by the German historian, von Sybel, that the first serious
suggestion to Prussia that she should take both the Duchies came
secretly from Napoleon III. It was in vain that Lord John Russell
suggested a sensible compromise, namely, the partition of Schleswig
between Denmark and Germany according to the language-frontier inside
the Duchy. To this the belligerents demurred on points of detail, the
Prussian representative asserting that he would not leave a single
German under Danish rule. The war was therefore resumed, and ended in a
complete defeat for the weaker State, which finally surrendered both
Duchies to Austria and Prussia (1864)[2].

[1] Lord Wodehouse (afterwards Earl of Kimberley) was at that time sent
on a special mission to Copenhagen. When his official correspondence is
published, it will probably throw light on many points.

[2] Sybel, _Die Begruendung des deutschen Reiches_, vol. iii. pp.
299-344; Debidour, _Hist. diplomatique de l'Europe_, vol. ii. pp.
261-273; Lowe, _Life of Bismarck_, vol. i. chap. vi.; Headlam,
_Bismarck_, chap. viii.; Lord Malmesbury, _Memoirs of an ex-Minister_
pp. 584-593 (small edition); Spencer Walpole, _Life of Lord J. Russell_,
vol. ii. pp. 396-411.

In several respects the cause of ruin to Denmark in 1863-64 bears a
remarkable resemblance to that which produced war in South Africa in
1899, viz. high-handed action of a minority towards men whom they
treated as Outlanders, the stiff-necked obstinacy of the smaller State,
and reliance on the vehement but (probably) unofficial offers of help or
intervention by other nations.

The question of the sharing of the Duchies now formed one of the causes
of the far greater war between the victors; but, in truth, it was only
part of the much larger question, which had agitated Germany for
centuries, whether the balance of power should belong to the North or
the South. Bismarck also saw that the time was nearly ripe for settling
this matter once for all in favour of Prussia; but he had hard work even
to persuade his own sovereign; while the Prussian Parliament, as well as
public opinion throughout Germany, was violently hostile to his schemes
and favoured the claims of the young Duke of Augustenburg to the
Duchies--claims that had much show of right. Matters were patched up for
a time between the two German States, by the Convention of Gastein
(August 1865), while in reality each prepared for war and sought to
gain allies.

Here again Bismarck was successful. After vainly seeking to _buy_
Venetia from the Austrian Court, Italy agreed to side with Prussia
against that Power in order to wrest by force a province which she could
not hope to gain peaceably. Russia, too, was friendly to the Court of
Berlin, owing to the help which the latter had given her in crushing the
formidable revolt of the Poles in 1863. It remained to keep France
quiet. In this Bismarck thought he had succeeded by means of interviews
which he held with Napoleon III. at Biarritz (Nov. 1865). What there
occurred is not clearly known. That Bismarck played on the Emperor's
foible for oppressed nationalities, in the case of Italy, is fairly
certain; that he fed him with hopes of gaining Belgium, or a slice of
German land, is highly probable, and none the less so because he later
on indignantly denied in the Reichstag that he ever "held out the
prospect to anybody of ceding a single German village, or even as much
as a clover-field." In any case Napoleon seems to have promised to
observe neutrality--not because he loved Prussia, but because he
expected the German Powers to wear one another out and thus leave him
master of the situation. In common with most of the wiseacres of those
days he believed that Prussia and Italy would ultimately fall before the
combined weight of Austria and of the German States, which closely
followed her in the Confederation; whereupon he could step in and
dictate his own terms[3].

[3] Busch, _Our Chancellor_, vol. ii. p. 17 (Eng. edit.); Debidour,
_Histoire diplomatique de l'Europe (1814-1878)_, vol ii. pp. 291-293.
Lord Loftus in his _Diplomatic Reminiscences_ (vol. ii. p. 280) says:
"So satisfied was Bismarck that he could count on the neutrality of
France, that no defensive military measures were taken on the Rhine and
western frontier. He had no fears of Russia on the eastern frontier, and
was therefore able to concentrate the military might of Prussia against
Austria and her South German Allies."

Light has been thrown on the bargainings between Italy and Prussia by
the _Memoirs of General Govone_, who found Bismarck a hard bargainer.

Bismarck and the leaders of the Prussian army had few doubts as to the
result. They were determined to force on the war, and early in June 1866
brought forward proposals at the Frankfurt Diet for the "reform" of the
German Confederation, the chief of them being the exclusion of Austria,
the establishment of a German Parliament elected by manhood suffrage,
and the formation of a North German army commanded by the King
of Prussia.

A great majority of the Federal Diet rejected these proposals, and war
speedily broke out, Austria being supported by nearly all the German
States except the two Mecklenburgs.

The weight of numbers was against Prussia, even though she had the help
of the Italians operating against Venetia. On that side Austria was
completely successful, as also in a sea-fight near Lissa in the
Adriatic; but in the north the Hapsburgs and their German allies soon
found out that organisation, armament, and genius count for more than
numbers. The great organiser, von Roon, had brought Prussia's citizen
army to a degree of efficiency that surprised every one; and the
quick-firing "needle-gun" dealt havoc and terror among the enemy. Using
to the full the advantage of her central position against the German
States, Prussia speedily worsted their isolated and badly-handled
forces, while her chief armies overthrew those of Austria and Saxony in
Bohemia. The Austrian plan of campaign had been to invade Prussia by two
armies--a comparatively small force advancing from Cracow as a base into
Silesia, while another, acting from Olmuetz, advanced through Bohemia to
join the Saxons and march on Berlin, some 50,000 Bavarians joining them
in Bohemia for the same enterprise. This design speedily broke down
owing to the short-sighted timidity of the Bavarian Government, which
refused to let its forces leave their own territory; the lack of railway
facilities in the Austrian Empire also hampered the moving of two large
armies to the northern frontier. Above all, the swift and decisive
movements of the Prussians speedily drove the allies to act on the
defensive--itself a grave misfortune in war.

Meanwhile the Prussian strategist, von Moltke, was carrying out a far
more incisive plan of operations--that of sending three Prussian armies
into the middle of Bohemia, and there forming a great mass which would
sweep away all obstacles from the road to Vienna. This design received
prompt and skilful execution. Saxony was quickly overrun, and the
irruption of three great armies into Bohemia compelled the Austrians and
their Saxon allies hurriedly to alter their plans. After suffering
several reverses in the north of Bohemia, their chief array under
Benedek barred the way of the two northern Prussian armies on the
heights north of the town of Koeniggraetz. On the morning of July 3 the
defenders long beat off all frontal attacks with heavy loss; but about 2
P.M. the Army of Silesia, under the Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia,
after a forced march of twelve miles, threw itself on their right flank,
where Benedek expected no very serious onset. After desperate fighting
the Army of Silesia carried the village of Chlum in the heart of the
Austrian position, and compelled Austrians and Saxons to a hurried
retreat over the Elbe. In this the Austrian infantry was saved from
destruction by the heroic stand made by the artillery. Even so, the
allies lost more than 13,000 killed and wounded, 22,000 prisoners, and
187 guns[4].

[4] Sybel, _Die Begruendung des deutschen Reiches_, vol. v. pp. 174-205;
_Journals of Field Marshal Count von Blumenthal for 1866 and 1871_ (Eng.
edit.), pp. 37-44.

Koeniggraetz (or Sadowa, as it is often called) decided the whole
campaign. The invaders now advanced rapidly towards Vienna, and at the
town of Nikolsburg concluded the Preliminaries of Peace with Austria
(July 26), whereupon a mandate came from Paris, bidding them stop. In
fact, the Emperor of the French offered his intervention in a manner
most threatening to the victors. He sought to detach Italy from the
Prussian alliance by the offer of Venetia as a left-handed present from
himself--an offer which the Italian Government subsequently refused.

To understand how Napoleon III. came to change front and belie his
earlier promises, one must look behind the scenes. Enough is already
known to show that the Emperor's hand was forced by his Ministers and by
the Parisian Press, probably also by the Empress Eugenie. Though
desirous, apparently, of befriending Prussia, he had already yielded to
their persistent pleas urging him to stay the growth of the Protestant
Power of North Germany. On June 10, at the outbreak of the war, he
secretly concluded a treaty with Austria, holding out to her the
prospect of recovering the great province of Silesia (torn from her by
Frederick the Great in 1740) in return for a magnanimous cession of
Venetia to Italy. The news of Koeniggraetz led to a violent outburst of
anti-Prussian feeling; but Napoleon refused to take action at once, when
it might have been very effective.

The best plan for the French Government would have been to send to the
Rhine all the seasoned troops left available by Napoleon III.'s
ill-starred Mexican enterprise, so as to help the hard-pressed South
German forces, offering also the armed mediation of France to the
combatants. In that case Prussia must have drawn back, and Napoleon III.
could have dictated his own terms to Central Europe. But his earlier
leanings towards Prussia and Italy, the advice of Prince Napoleon
("Plon-Plon") and Lavalette, and the wheedlings of the Prussian
ambassador as to compensations which France might gain as a set-off to
Prussia's aggrandisement, told on the French Emperor's nature, always
somewhat sluggish and then prostrated by severe internal pain; with the
result that he sent his proposals for a settlement of the points in
dispute, but took no steps towards enforcing them. A fortnight thus
slipped away, during which the Prussians reaped the full fruits of their
triumph at Koeniggraetz; and it was not until July 29, three days after
the Preliminaries of Peace were signed, that the French Foreign
Minister, Drouyn de Lhuys, worried his master, then prostrate with pain
at Vichy, into sanctioning the following demands from victorious
Prussia: the cession to France of the Rhenish Palatinate (belonging to
Bavaria), the south-western part of Hesse Darmstadt, and that part of
Prussia's Rhine-Province lying in the valley of the Saar which she had
acquired after Waterloo. This would have brought within the French
frontier the great fortress of Mainz (Mayence); but the great mass of
these gains, it will be observed, would have been at the expense of
South German States, whose cause France proclaimed her earnest desire to
uphold against the encroaching power of Prussia.

Bismarck took care to have an official copy of these demands in writing,
the use of which will shortly appear; and having procured this precious
document, he defied the French envoy, telling him that King William,
rather than agree to such a surrender of German land, would make peace
with Austria and the German States on any terms, and invade France at
the head of the forces of a united Germany. This reply caused another
change of front at Napoleon's Court. The demands were disavowed and the
Foreign Minister, Drouyn de Lhuys, resigned[5].

[5] Sybel, _op. cit._ vol. v. pp. 365-374. Debidour, _op. cit._ vol. ii.
pp. 315-318. See too volume viii. of Ollivier's work, _L'Empire
liberal_, published in 1904; and M. de la Gorce's work, _Histoire du
second Empire_, vol. vi. (Paris 1903).

The completeness of Prussia's triumph over Austria and her German
allies, together with the preparations of the Hungarians for revolt,
decided the Court of Vienna to accept the Prussian terms which were
embodied in the Treaty of Prague (Aug. 23); they were, the direct
cession of Venetia to Italy; the exclusion of Austria from German
affairs and her acceptance of the changes there pending; the cession to
Prussia of Schleswig-Holstein; and the payment of 20,000,000 thalers
(about L3,000,000) as war indemnity. The lenience of these conditions
was to have a very noteworthy result, namely, the speedy reconciliation
of the two Powers: within twenty years they were firmly united in the
Triple Alliance with Italy (see Chapter X.).

Some difficulties stood in the way of peace between Prussia and her late
enemies in the German Confederation, especially Bavaria. These last were
removed when Bismarck privately disclosed to the Bavarian Foreign
Minister the secret demand made by France for the cession of the
Bavarian Palatinate. In the month of August, the South German States,
Bavaria, Wuertemberg and Baden, accepted Prussia's terms; whereby they
paid small war indemnities and recognised the new constitution of
Germany. Outwardly they formed a South German Confederation; but this
had a very shadowy existence; and the three States by secret treaties
with Prussia agreed to place their armies and all military arrangements,
in case of war, under the control of the King of Prussia. Thus within a
month from the close of "the Seven Weeks' War," the whole of Germany was
quietly but firmly bound to common action in military matters; and the
actions of France left little doubt as to the need of these timely

On those German States which stood in the way of Prussia's territorial
development and had shown marked hostility, Bismarck bore hard. The
Kingdom of Hanover, Electoral Hesse (Hesse-Cassel), the Duchy of Nassau,
and the Free City of Frankfurt were annexed outright, Prussia thereby
gaining direct contact with her Westphalian and Rhenish Provinces. The
absorption of Frankfurt-on-the-Main, and the formation of a new league,
the North German Confederation, swept away all the old federal
machinery, and marked out Berlin, not Vienna or Frankfurt, as the future
governing centre of the Fatherland. It was doubtless a perception of the
vast gains to the national cause which prompted the Prussian Parliament
to pass a Bill of Indemnity exonerating the King's Ministers for the
illegal acts committed by them during the "Conflict Time"
(1861-66)--acts which saved Prussia in spite of her Parliament.

Constitutional freedom likewise benefited largely by the results of the
war. The new North German Confederation was based avowedly on manhood
suffrage, not because either King William or Bismarck loved democracy,
but because after lately pledging themselves to it as the groundwork of
reform of the old Confederation, they could not draw back in the hour of
triumph. As Bismarck afterwards confessed to his Secretary, Dr. Busch,
"I accepted universal suffrage, but with reluctance, as a Frankfurt
tradition" (_i.e._ of the democratic Parliament of Frankfurt in
1848)[6]. All the lands, therefore, between the Niemen and the Main were
bound together in a Confederation based on constitutional principles,
though the governing powers of the King and his Ministers continued to
be far larger than is the case in Great Britain. To this matter we shall
recur when we treat of the German Empire, formed by the union of the
North and South German Confederations of 1866.

[6] Busch, _Our Chancellor_, vol. ii. p. 196 (English edit.).

Austria also was soon compelled to give way before the persistent
demands of the Hungarian patriots for their ancient constitution, which
happily blended monarchy and democracy. Accordingly, the centralised
Hapsburg monarchy was remodelled by the _Ausgleich_ (compromise) of
1867, and became the Dual-Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the two parts of
the realm being ruled quite separately for most purposes of government,
and united only for those of army organisation, foreign policy, and
finance. Parliamentary control became dominant in each part of the
Empire; and the grievances resulting from autocratic or bureaucratic
rule vanished from Hungary. They disappeared also from Hanover and
Hesse-Cassel, where the Guelf sovereigns and Electors had generally
repressed popular movements.

Greatest of all the results of the war of 1866, however, was the gain to
the national cause in Germany and Italy. Peoples that had long been
divided were now in the brief space of three months brought within sight
of the long-wished-for unity. The rush of these events blinded men to
their enduring import and produced an impression that the Prussian
triumph was like that of Napoleon I., too sudden and brilliant to last.
Those who hazarded this verdict forgot that his political arrangements
for Europe violated every instinct of national solidarity; while those
of 1866 served to group the hitherto divided peoples of North Germany
and Italy around the monarchies that had proved to be the only possible
rallying points in their respective countries. It was this harmonising
of the claims and aspirations of monarchy, nationality, and democracy
that gave to the settlement of 1866 its abiding importance, and fitted
the two peoples for the crowning triumph of 1870.



     "After the fatal year 1866, the Empire was in a state of
     decadence."--L. GREGOIRE, _Histoire de France_.

The irony of history is nowhere more manifest than in the curious
destiny which called a Napoleon III. to the place once occupied by
Napoleon I., and at the very time when the national movements,
unwittingly called to vigorous life by the great warrior, were attaining
to the full strength of manhood. Napoleon III. was in many ways a
well-meaning dreamer, who, unluckily for himself, allowed his dreams to
encroach on his waking moments. In truth, his sluggish but very
persistent mind never saw quite clearly where dreams must give way to
realities; or, as M. de Falloux phrased it, "He does not know the
difference between dreaming and thinking[7]." Thus his policy showed an
odd mixture of generous haziness and belated practicality.

[7] _Notes from a Diary, 1851-1872_, by Sir M.E. Grant Duff, vol. i. p.

Long study of his uncle's policy showed him, rightly enough, that it
erred in trampling down the feeling of nationality in Germany and
elsewhere. The nephew resolved to avoid this mistake and to pose as the
champion of the oppressed and divided peoples of Italy, Germany, Poland,
and the Balkan Peninsula--a programme that promised to appeal to the
ideal aspirations of the French, to embarrass the dynasties that had
overthrown the first Napoleon, and to yield substantial gains for his
nephew. Certainly it did so in the case of Italy; his championship of
the Roumanians also helped on the making of that interesting
Principality (1861) and gained the good-will of Russia; but he speedily
forfeited this by his wholly ineffective efforts on behalf of the Poles
in 1863. His great mistakes, however, were committed in and after the
year 1863, when he plunged into Mexican politics with the chimerical aim
of founding a Roman Catholic Empire in Central America, and favoured the
rise of Prussia in connection with the Schleswig-Holstein question. By
the former of these he locked up no small part of his army in Mexico
when he greatly needed it on the Rhine; by the latter he helped on the
rise of the vigorous North German Power.

As we have seen, he secretly advised Prussia to take both Schleswig and
Holstein, thereby announcing his wish for the effective union of Germans
with the one great State composed almost solely of Germans. "I shall
always be consistent in my conduct," he said. "If I have fought for the
independence of Italy, if I have lifted up my voice for Polish
nationality, I cannot have other sentiments in Germany, or obey other
principles." This declaration bespoke the doctrinaire rather than the
statesman. Untaught by the clamour which French Chauvinists and ardent
Catholics had raised against his armed support of the Italian national
cause in 1859, he now proposed to further the aggrandisement of the
Protestant North German Power which had sought to partition France
in 1815.

The clamour aroused by his leanings towards Prussia in 1864-66 was
naturally far more violent, in proportion as the interests of France
were more closely at stake. Prussia held the Rhine Province; and French
patriots, who clung to the doctrine of the "natural frontiers"--the
Ocean, Pyrenees, Alps, and Rhine--looked on her as the natural enemy.
They pointed out that millions of Frenchmen had shed their blood in the
Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars to win and to keep the Rhine boundary;
and their most eloquent spokesman, M. Thiers, who had devoted his
historical gifts to glorifying those great days, passionately declaimed
against the policy of helping on the growth of the hereditary foe.

We have already seen the results of this strife between the pro-Prussian
foibles of the Emperor and the eager prejudices of Frenchmen, whose love
of oppressed and divided nations grew in proportion to their distance
from France, and changed to suspicion or hatred in the case of her
neighbours. In 1866, under the breath of ministerial arguments and
oratorical onslaughts Napoleon III.'s policy weakly wavered, thereby
giving to Bismarck's statecraft a decisive triumph all along the line.
In vain did he in the latter part of that year remind the Prussian
statesman of his earlier promises (always discreetly vague) of
compensation for France, and throw out diplomatic feelers for Belgium,
or at any rate Luxemburg[8]. In vain did M. Thiers declare in the
Chamber of Deputies that France, while recognising accomplished facts in
Germany, ought "firmly to declare that we will not allow them to go
further" (March 14, 1867). Bismarck replied to this challenge of the
French orator by publishing five days later the hitherto secret military
alliances concluded with the South German States in August 1866.
Thenceforth France knew that a war with Prussia would be war with a
united Germany.

[8] In 1867 Bismarck's promises went so far as the framing of a secret
compact with France, one article of which stated that Prussia would not
object to the annexation of Belgium by France. The agreement was first
published by the _Times_ on July 25, 1870, Bismarck then divulging the
secret so as to inflame public opinion against France.

In the following year the Zollverein, or German Customs' Union (which
had been gradually growing since 1833), took a definitely national form
in a Customs' Parliament which assembled in April 1868, thus unifying
Germany for purposes of trade as well as those of war. This sharp rebuff
came at a time when Napoleon's throne was tottering from the utter
collapse of his Mexican expedition; when, too, he more than ever needed
popular support in France for the beginnings of a more constitutional
rule. Early in 1867 he sought to buy Luxemburg from Holland. This action
aroused a storm of wrath in Prussia, which had the right to garrison
Luxemburg; but the question was patched up by a Conference of the Powers
at London, the Duchy being declared neutral territory under the
guarantee of Europe; the fortifications of its capital were also to be
demolished, and the Prussian garrison withdrawn. This success for French
diplomacy was repeated in Italy, where the French troops supporting the
Pope crushed the efforts of Garibaldi and his irregulars to capture
Rome, at the sanguinary fight of Mentana (November 3, 1867). The
official despatch, stating that the new French rifle, the _chassepot_,
"had done wonders," spread jubilation through France and a sharp
anti-Gallic sentiment throughout Italy.

And while Italy heaved with longings for her natural capital, popular
feelings in France and North Germany made steadily for war.

Before entering upon the final stages of the dispute, it may be well to
take a bird's-eye view of the condition of the chief Powers in so far as
it explains their attitude towards the great struggle.

The condition of French politics was strangely complex. The Emperor had
always professed that he was the elect of France, and would ultimately
crown his political edifice with the corner-stone of constitutional
liberty. Had he done so in the successful years 1855-61, possibly his
dynasty might have taken root. He deferred action, however, until the
darker years that came after 1866. In 1868 greater freedom was allowed
to the Press and in the case of public meetings. The General Election of
the spring of 1869 showed large gains to the Opposition, and decided the
Emperor to grant to the Corps Legislatif the right of initiating laws
concurrently with himself, and he declared that Ministers should be
responsible to it (September 1869).

These and a few other changes marked the transition from autocracy to
the "Liberal Empire." One of the champions of constitutional principles,
M. Emile Ollivier, formed a Cabinet to give effect to the new policy,
and the Emperor, deeming the time ripe for consolidating his power on a
democratic basis, consulted the country in a _plebiscite_, or mass vote,
primarily as to their judgment on the recent changes, but implicitly as
to their confidence in the imperial system as a whole. His skill in
joining together two topics that were really distinct, gained him a
tactical victory. More than 7,350,000 affirmative votes were given, as
against 1,572,000 negatives; while 1,900,000 voters registered no vote.
This success at the polls emboldened the supporters of the Empire; and
very many of them, especially, it is thought, the Empress Eugenie,
believed that only one thing remained in order to place the Napoleonic
dynasty on a lasting basis--that was, a successful war.

Champions of autocracy pointed out that the growth of Radicalism
coincided with the period of military failures and diplomatic slights.
Let Napoleon III., they said in effect, imitate the policy of his uncle,
who, as long as he dazzled France by triumphs, could afford to laugh at
the efforts of constitution-mongers. The big towns might prate of
liberty; but what France wanted was glory and strong government. Such
were their pleas: there was much in the past history of France to
support them. The responsible advisers of the Emperor determined to take
a stronger tone in foreign affairs, while the out-and-out Bonapartists
jealously looked for any signs of official weakness so that they might
undermine the Ollivier Ministry and hark back to absolutism. When two
great parties in a State make national prestige a catchword of the
political game, peace cannot be secure: that was the position of France
in the early part of 1870[9].

[9] See Ollivier's great work, _L'Empire liberal_, for full details of
this time.

The eve of the Franco-German War was a time of great importance for the
United Kingdom. The Reform Bill of 1867 gave a great accession of power
to the Liberal Party; and the General Election of November 1868 speedily
led to the resignation of the Disraeli Cabinet and the accession of the
Gladstone Ministry to power. This portended change in other directions
than home affairs. The tradition of a spirited foreign policy died with
Lord Palmerston in 1865. With the entry of John Bright to the new
Cabinet peace at all costs became the dominant note of British
statesmanship. There was much to be said in favour of this. England
needed a time of rest in order to cope with the discontent of Ireland
and the problems brought about by the growth of democracy and
commercialism in the larger island. The disestablishment and partial
disendowment of the Protestant Church in Ireland (July 1869), the Irish
Land Act (August 1870), and the Education Act of 1870, showed the
preoccupation of the Ministry for home affairs; while the readiness with
which, a little later, they complied with all the wishes of the United
States in the "Alabama" case, equally proclaimed their pacific
intentions. England, which in 1860 had exercised so powerful an
influence on the Italian national question, was for five years a factor
of small account in European affairs. Far from pleasing the combatants,
our neutrality annoyed both of them. The French accused England of
"deserting" Napoleon III. in his time of need--a charge that has lately
been revived by M. Hanotaux. To this it is only needful to reply that
the French Emperor entered into alliance with us at the time of the
Crimean War merely for his own objects, and allowed all friendly feeling
to be ended by French threats of an invasion of England in 1858 and his
shabby treatment of Italy in the matter of Savoy and Nice a year later.
On his side, Bismarck also complained that our feeling for the German
cause went no further than "theoretical sympathy," and that "during the
war England never compromised herself so far in our favour as to
endanger her friendship with France. On the contrary." These vague and
enigmatic charges at bottom only express the annoyance of the combatants
at their failure to draw neutrals into the strife[10].

[10] Hanotaux, _Contemporary France_, vol. i. p. 9 (Eng. ed.);
_Bismarck: his Reflections and Reminiscences,_ vol. ii. p. 61. The
popular Prussian view about England found expression in the comic paper

Deutschland beziehe billige Sympathien Und Frankreich theures

The traditions of the United States, of course, forbade their
intervention in the Franco-Prussian dispute. By an article of their
political creed termed the Monroe Doctrine, they asserted their resolve
not to interfere in European affairs and to prevent the interference of
any strictly European State in those of the New World. It was on this
rather vague doctrine that they cried "hands off" from Mexico to the
French Emperor; and the abandonment of his _protege_, the so-called
Emperor Maximilian, by French troops, brought about the death of that
unhappy prince and a sensible decline in the prestige of his patron
(June 1867).

Russia likewise remembered Napoleon III.'s championship of the Poles in
1863, which, however Platonic in its nature, caused the Czar some
embarrassment. Moreover, King William of Prussia had soothed the Czar's
feelings, ruffled by the dethroning of three German dynasties in 1866,
by a skilful reply which alluded to his (King William's) desire to be of
service to Russian interests elsewhere--a hint which the diplomatists of
St. Petersburg remembered in 1870 to some effect.

For the rest, the Czar Alexander II. (1855-81) and his Ministers were
still absorbed in the internal policy of reform, which in the sixties
freed the serfs and gave Russia new judicial and local institutions,
doomed to be swept away in the reaction following the murder of that
enlightened ruler. The Russian Government therefore pledged itself to
neutrality, but in a sense favourable to Prussia. The Czar ascribed the
Crimean War to the ambition of Napoleon III., and remembered the
friendship of Prussia at that time, as also in the Polish Revolt of
1863[11]. Bismarck's policy now brought its reward.

[11] See Sir H. Rumbold's _Recollections of a Diplomatist_ (First
Series), vol. ii. p. 292, for the Czar's hostility to France in 1870.

The neutrality of Russia is always a matter of the utmost moment for the
Central Powers in any war on their western frontiers. Their efforts
against Revolutionary France in 1792-94 failed chiefly because of the
ambiguous attitude of the Czarina Catherine II.; and the collapse of
Frederick William IV.'s policy in 1848-51 was due to the hostility of
his eastern neighbour. In fact, the removal of anxiety about her open
frontier on the east was now worth a quarter of a million of men
to Prussia.

But the Czar's neutrality was in one matter distinctly friendly to his
uncle, King William of Prussia. It is an open secret that unmistakable
hints went from St. Petersburg to Vienna to the effect that, if Austria
drew the sword for Napoleon III. she would have to reckon with an
irruption of the Russians into her open Galician frontier. Probably this
accounts for the conduct of the Hapsburg Power, which otherwise is
inexplicable. A war of revenge against Prussia seemed to be the natural
step to take. True, the Emperor Francis Joseph had small cause to like
Napoleon III. The loss of Lombardy in 1859 still rankled in the breast
of every patriotic Austrian; and the suspicions which that enigmatical
ruler managed to arouse, prevented any definite agreement resulting from
the meeting of the two sovereigns at Salzburg in 1867.

The relations of France and Austria were still in the same uncertain
state before the War of 1870. The foreign policy of Austria was in the
hands of Count Beust, a bitter foe of Prussia; but after the concession
of constitutional rule to Hungary by the compromise (_Ausgleich_) of
1867, the Dual Monarchy urgently needed rest, especially as its army was
undergoing many changes. The Chancellor's action was therefore clogged
on all sides. Nevertheless, when the Luxemburg affair of 1867 brought
France and Prussia near to war, Napoleon began to make advances to the
Court of Vienna. How far they went is not known. Beust has asserted in
his correspondence with the French Foreign Minister, the Duc de Gramont
(formerly ambassador at Vienna), that they never were more than
discussions, and that they ended in 1869 without any written agreement.
The sole understanding was to the effect that the policy of both States
should be friendly and pacific, Austria reserving the right to remain
neutral if France were compelled to make war. The two Empires further
promised not to make any engagement with a third Power without informing
the other.

This statement is not very convincing. States do not usually bind
themselves in the way just described, unless they have some advantageous
agreement with the Power which has the first claim on their alliance. It
is noteworthy, however, that the Duc de Gramont, in the correspondence
alluded to above, admits that, as Ambassador and as Foreign Minister of
France, he never had to claim the support of Austria in the war with

[12] _Memoirs of Count Beust_, vol. ii. pp. 358-359 (Appendix D, Eng.

How are we to reconcile these statements with the undoubted fact that
the Emperor Napoleon certainly expected help from Austria and also from
Italy? The solution of the riddle seems to be that Napoleon, as also
Francis Joseph and Victor Emmanuel, kept their Foreign Ministers in the
dark on many questions of high policy, which they transacted either by
private letters among themselves, or through military men who had their
confidence. The French and Italian sovereigns certainly employed these
methods, the latter because he was far more French in sympathy than his

As far back as the year 1868, Victor Emmanuel made overtures to Napoleon
with a view to alliance, the chief aim of which, from his standpoint,
was to secure the evacuation of Rome by the French troops, and the gain
of the Eternal City for the national cause. Prince Napoleon lent his
support to this scheme, and from an article written by him we know that
the two sovereigns discussed the matter almost entirely by means of
confidential letters[13]. These discussions went on up to the month of
June 1869. Francis Joseph, on hearing of them, urged the French Emperor
to satisfy Italy, and thus pave the way for an alliance between the
three Powers against Prussia. Nothing definite came of the affair, and
chiefly, it would seem, owing to the influence of the Empress Eugenie
and the French clerics. She is said to have remarked: "Better the
Prussians in Paris than the Italian troops in Rome." The diplomatic
situation therefore remained vague, though in the second week of July
1870, the Emperor again took up the threads which, with greater firmness
and foresight, he might have woven into a firm design.

[13] _Revue des deux Mondes_ for April 1, 1878.

The understanding between the three Powers advanced only in regard to
military preparations. The Austrian Archduke Albrecht, the victor of
Custoza, burned to avenge the defeat of Koeniggraetz, and with this aim in
view visited Paris in February to March 1870. He then proposed to
Napoleon an invasion of North Germany by the armies of France, Austria,
and Italy. The French Emperor developed the plan by more specific
overtures which he made in the month of June; but his Ministers were so
far in the dark as to these military proposals that they were then
suggesting the reduction of the French army by 10,000 men, while
Ollivier, the Prime Minister, on June 30 declared to the French Chamber
that peace had never been better assured[14].

[14] Seignobos, _A Political History of Contemporary Europe_, vol. ii.
pp. 806-807 (Eng. edit.). Oncken, _Zeitalter des Kaisers Wilhelm_ (vol.
i. pp. 720-740), tries to prove that there was a deep conspiracy against
Prussia. I am not convinced by his evidence.

And yet on that same day General Lebrun, aide-de-camp to the Emperor,
was drawing up at Paris a confidential report of the mission with which
he had lately been entrusted to the Austrian military authorities. From
that report we take the following particulars. On arriving at Vienna, he
had three private interviews with the Archduke Albrecht, and set before
him the desirability of a joint invasion of North Germany in the autumn
of that year. To this the Archduke demurred, on the ground that such a
campaign ought to begin in the spring if the full fruits of victory were
to be gathered in before the short days came. Austria and Italy, he
said, could not place adequate forces in the field in less than six
weeks owing to lack of railways[15].

[15] _Souvenirs militaires_, by General B.L.J. Lebrun (Paris 1895), pp.

Developing his own views, the Archduke then suggested that it
would be desirable for France to undertake the war against
North Germany not later than the middle of March 1871, Austria
and Italy at the same time beginning their mobilisations, though not
declaring war until their armies were ready at the end of six weeks. Two
French armies should in the meantime cross the Rhine in order to sever
the South Germans from the Confederation of the North, one of them
marching towards Nuremberg, where it would be joined by the western army
of Austria and the Italian forces sent through Tyrol. The other Austrian
army would then invade Saxony or Lusatia in order to strike at Berlin.
He estimated the forces of the States hostile to Prussia as follows:--

   |                               |Men.        |Horses.   |Cannon.   |
   |France                         |309,000     |35,000    |972       |
   |Austria (exclusive of reserve) |360,000     |27,000    |1128      |
   |Italy                          |68,000      |5000      |180       |
   |Denmark                        |260,000 (?) |2000      |72        |

He thus reckoned the forces of the two German Confederations:--

   |                               |Men.        |Horses.   |Cannon.   |
   |North                          |377,000     |48,000    |1284      |
   |South                          |97,000      |10,000    |288       |

but the support of the latter might be hoped for. Lebrun again urged the
desirability of a campaign in the autumn, but the Archduke repeated that
it must begin in the spring. In that condition, as in his earlier
statement that France must declare war first, while her allies prepared
for war, we may discern a deep-rooted distrust of Napoleon III.

On June 14 the Archduke introduced Lebrun to the Emperor Francis Joseph,
who informed him that he wanted peace; but, he added, "if I make war, I
must be forced to it." In case of war Prussia might exploit the national
German sentiment existing in South Germany and Austria. He concluded
with these words, "But if the Emperor Napoleon, compelled to accept or
to declare war, came with his armies into South Germany, not as an enemy
but as a liberator, I should be forced on my side to declare that I
[would] make common cause with him. In the eyes of my people I could do
no other than join my armies to those of France. That is what I pray you
to say for me to the Emperor Napoleon; I hope that he will see, as I do,
my situation both in home and foreign affairs." Such was the report
which Lebrun drew up for Napoleon III. on June 30. It certainly led that
sovereign to believe in the probability of Austrian help in the spring
of 1871, but not before that time.

The question now arises whether Bismarck was aware of these proposals.
If warlike counsels prevailed at Vienna, it is probable that some
preparations would be made, and the secret may have leaked out in this
way, or possibly through the Hungarian administration. In any case,
Bismarck knew that the Austrian chancellor, Count Beust, thirsted for
revenge for the events of 1866[16]. If he heard any whispers of an
approaching league against Prussia, he would naturally see the advantage
of pressing on war at once, before Austria and Italy were ready to enter
the lists. Probably in this fact will be found one explanation of the
origin of the Franco-German War.

[Footnote 16: _Bismarck: his Reflections and Reminiscences_, vol. ii. p.

Before adverting to the proximate cause of the rupture, we may note that
Beust's despatch of July 11, 1870, to Prince Metternich, Austrian
ambassador at Paris, displayed genuine fear lest France should rush
blindly into war with Prussia; and he charged Metternich tactfully to
warn the French Government against such a course of action, which would
"be contrary to all that we have agreed upon. . . . Even if we wished, we
could not suddenly equip a respectably large force. . . . Our services are
gained to a certain extent [by France]; but we shall not go further
unless events carry us on; and we do not dream of plunging into war
because it might suit France to do so."

Again, however, the military men seem to have pushed on the
diplomatists. The Archduke Albrecht and Count Vitzthum went to Paris
charged with some promises of support to France in case of war.
Thereafter, Count Beust gave the assurance at Vienna that the Austrians
would be "faithful to our engagements, as they have been recorded in the
letters exchanged last year between the two sovereigns. We consider the
cause of France as ours, and we will contribute to the success of her
arms to the utmost of our power[17]."

[Footnote 17: _Memoirs of Count Beust,_ vol. ii. p. 359. _The Present
Position of European Politics_ p. 366 (1887). By the author of _Greater

In the midst of this maze of cross-purposes this much is clear: that
both Emperors had gone to work behind the backs of their Ministers, and
that the military chiefs of France and Austria brought their States to
the brink of war while their Ministers and diplomatists were unaware of
the nearness of danger.

As we have seen, King Victor Emmanuel II. longed to draw the sword for
Napoleon III., whose help to Italy in 1859-60 he so curiously overrated.
Fortunately for Italy, his Ministers took a more practical view of the
situation; but probably they too would have made common cause with
France had they received a definite promise of the withdrawal of French
troops from Rome and the satisfaction of Italian desires for the Eternal
City as the national capital. This promise, even after the outbreak of
war, the French Emperor declined to give, though his cousin, Prince
Napoleon, urged him vehemently to give way on that point[18].

[Footnote 18: See the _Rev. des deux Mondes_ for April 1, 1878, and
"Chronique" of the _Revue d'Histoire diplomatique_ for 1905, p. 298;
also W.H. Stillman, _The Union of Italy, 1815-1895_, p. 348.]

In truth, the Emperor could not well give way. An Oecumenical Council
sat at Rome from December 1869 to July 1870; its Ultramontane tendencies
were throughout strongly marked, as against the "Old Catholic" views;
and it was a foregone conclusion that the Council would vote the dogma
of the infallibility of the Pope in matters of religion--as it did on
the day before France declared war against Prussia. How, then, could the
Emperor, the "eldest son of the Church," as French monarchs have proudly
styled themselves, bargain away Rome to the Italian Government, already
stained by sacrilege, when this crowning aureole of grace was about to
encircle the visible Head of the Church? There was no escape from the
dilemma. Either Napoleon must go into war with shouts of "Judas" hurled
at him by all pious Roman Catholics; or he must try his fortunes without
the much-coveted help of Austria and Italy. He chose the latter
alternative, largely, it would seem, owing to the influence of his
vehemently Catholic Empress[19]. After the first defeats he sought to
open negotiations, but then it was too late. Prince Napoleon went to
Florence and arrived there on August 20; but his utmost efforts failed
to move the Italian Cabinet from neutrality.

[Footnote 19: For the relations of France to the Vatican, see _Histoire
du second Empire_, by M. De la Gorce, vol. vi. (Paris, 1903); also
_Histoire Contemporaine_ (_i.e._ of France in 1869-1875), by M. Samuel
Denis, 4 vols. The Empress Eugenie once said that she was "deux fois
Catholique," as a Spaniard and as French Empress. (Sir M.K. Grant Duff,
_Notes from a Diary, 1851-1872_, vol. i. p. 125.)]

Even this brief survey of international relations shows that Napoleon
III. was a source of weakness to France. Having seized on power by
perfidious means, he throughout his whole reign strove to dazzle the
French by a series of adventures, which indeed pleased the Parisians for
the time, but at the cost of lasting distrust among the Powers. Generous
in his aims, he at first befriended the German and Italian national
movements, but forfeited all the fruits of those actions by his
pettifogging conduct about Savoy and Nice, the Rhineland and Belgium;
while his final efforts to please French clericals and Chauvinists[20]
by supporting the Pope at Rome, lost him the support of States that
might have retrieved the earlier blunders. In brief, by helping on the
nationalists of North Germany and Italy he offended French public
opinion; and his belated and spasmodic efforts to regain popularity at
home aroused against him the distrust of all the Powers. Their feelings
about him may be summarised in the _mot_ of a diplomatist, "Scratch the
Emperor and you will find the political refugee."

[Footnote 20: Chauvinist is a term corresponding to our "Jingo." It is
derived from a man named Chauvin, who lauded Napoleon I. and French
glory to the skies.]

How different were the careers of Napoleon III. and of Bismarck! By
resolutely keeping before him the national aim, and that only, the
Prussian statesman had reduced the tangle of German affairs to
simplicity and now made ready for the crowning work of all. In his
_Reminiscences_ he avows his belief, as early as 1866, "that a war with
France would succeed the war with Austria lay in the logic of history";
and again, "I did not doubt that a Franco-German War must take place
before the construction of a United Germany could take place[21]." War
would doubtless have broken out in 1867 over the Luxemburg question, had
he not seen the need of delay for strengthening the bonds of union with
South Germany and assuring the increase of the armies of the Fatherland
by the adoption of Prussian methods; or, as he phrased it, "each year's
postponement of the war would add 100,000 trained soldiers to our
army[22]." In 1870 little was to be gained by delay. In fact, the
unionist movement in Germany then showed ominous signs of slackening. In
the South the Parliaments opposed any further approach to union with the
North; and the voting of the military budget in the North for that year
was likely to lead to strong opposition in the interests of the
overtaxed people. A war might solve the unionist problem which was
insoluble in time of peace; and a _casus belli _was at hand.

[Footnote 21: Bismarck, _Reminiscences_, vol. ii. pp. 41, 57 (Eng.

[Footnote 22: _Ib._ p. 58.]

Early in July 1870, the news leaked out that Prince Leopold of
Hohenzollern was the officially accepted candidate for the throne of
Spain, left vacant since the revolution which drove Queen Isabella into
exile in 1868[23]. At once a thrill of rage shot through France; and the
Duc de Gramont, Foreign Minister of the new Ollivier Ministry, gave
expression to the prevailing feeling in his answer to a question on the
subject in the Chamber of Deputies (July 6):--

[Footnote 23: The ex-queen Isabella died in Paris in April 1904.]

     We do not think that respect for the rights of a neighbouring
     people [Spain] obliges us to allow an alien Power [Prussia],
     by placing one of its princes on the throne of Charles V., to
     succeed in upsetting to our disadvantage the present
     equilibrium of forces in Europe, and imperil the interests
     and honour of France. We have the firm hope that this
     eventuality will not be realised. To hinder it, we count both
     on the wisdom of the German people and on the friendship of
     the Spanish people. If that should not be so, strong in your
     support and in that of the nation, we shall know how to
     fulfil our duty without hesitation and without weakness[24].

[Footnote 24: Sorel, _Hist. diplomatique de la Guerre Franco-Allemande_,
vol. i. p. 77.]

The opening phrases were inaccurate. The prince in question was Prince
Leopold of the Swabian and Roman Catholic branch of the Hohenzollern
family, who, as the Duc de Gramont knew, could by no possibility recall
the days when Charles V. reigned as Emperor in Germany and monarch in
Spain. This misstatement showed the intention of the French Ministry to
throw down the glove to Prussia--as is also clear from this statement in
Gramont's despatch of July 10 to Benedetti: "If the King will not advise
the Prince of Hohenzollern to withdraw, well, it is war forthwith, and
in a few days we are at the Rhine[25]."

[Footnote 25: Benedetti, _Ma Mission en Prusse_, p.34. This work
contains the French despatches on the whole affair.]

Nevertheless, those who were behind the scenes had just cause for anger
against Bismarck. The revelations of Benedetti, French ambassador at
Berlin, as well as the Memoirs of the King of Roumania (brother to
Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern) leave no doubt that the candidature of
the latter was privately and unofficially mooted in 1868, and again in
the spring of 1869 through a Prussian diplomatist, Werthern, and that it
met with no encouragement whatever from the Prussian monarch or the
prince himself. But early in 1870 it was renewed in an official manner
by the provisional Government of Spain, and (as seems certain) at the
instigation of Bismarck, who, in May-June, succeeded in overcoming the
reluctance of the prince and of King William. Bismarck even sought to
hurry the matter through the Spanish Cortes so as to commit Spain to the
plan; but this failed owing to the misinterpretation of a ciphered
telegram from Berlin at Madrid[26].

[Footnote 26: In a recent work, _Kaiser Wilhelm und die Begruendung des
Reichs, 1866-1871_, Dr. Lorenz tries to absolve Bismarck from complicity
in these intrigues, but without success. See _Reminiscences of the King
of Roumania_ (edited by S. Whitman), pp. 70, 86-87, 92-95; also
Headlam's _Bismarck_, p. 327.]

Such was the state of the case when the affair became known to the
Ollivier Ministry. Though not aware, seemingly, of all these details,
Napoleon's advisers were justified in treating the matter, not as a
private affair between the Hohenzollerns and Spain (as Germans then
maintained it was) but as an attempt of the Prussian Government to place
on the Spanish throne a prince who could not but be friendly to the
North German Power. In fact, the French saw in it a challenge to war;
and putting together all the facts as now known, we must pronounce that
they were almost certainly right. Bismarck undoubtedly wanted war; and
it is impossible to think that he did not intend to use this candidature
as a means of exasperating the French. The man who afterwards declared
that, at the beginning of the Danish disputes in 1863, he made up his
mind to have Schleswig-Holstein for Prussia[27], certainly saw in the
Hohenzollern candidature a step towards a Prusso-Spanish alliance or a
war with France that might cement German unity.

[Footnote 27: Busch, _Our Chancellor_, vol. i. p. 367.]

In any case, that was the outcome of events. The French papers at once
declaimed against the candidature in a way that aroused no less passion
on the other side of the Rhine. For a brief space, however, matters
seemed to be smoothed over by the calm good sense of the Prussian
monarch and his nephew. The King was then at Ems, taking the waters,
when Benedetti, the French ambassador, waited on him and pressed him
most urgently to request Prince Leopold to withdraw from the candidature
to the Spanish Crown. This the King declined to do in the way that was
pointed out to him, rightly considering that such a course would play
into the hands of the French by lowering his own dignity and the
prestige of Prussia. Moreover, he, rather illogically, held the whole
matter to be primarily one that affected the Hohenzollern family and
Spain. The young prince, however, on hearing of the drift of events,
solved the problem by declaring his intention not to accept the Crown of
Spain (July 12). The action was spontaneous, emanating from Prince
Leopold and his father Prince Antony, not from the Prussian monarch,
though, on hearing of their decision, he informed Benedetti that he
entirely approved it.

If the French Government had really wished for peace, it would have let
the matter end there. But it did not do so. The extreme
Bonapartists--_plus royalistes que le roi_--all along wished to gain
prestige for their sovereign by inflicting an open humiliation on King
William and through him on Prussia. They were angry that he had evaded
the snare, and now brought pressure to bear on the Ministry, especially
the Duc de Gramont, so that at 7 P.M. of that same day (July 12) he sent
a telegram to Benedetti at Ems directing him to see King William and
press him to declare that he "would not again authorise this
candidature." The Minister added: "The effervescence of spirits [at
Paris] is such that we do not know whether we shall succeed in mastering
it." This was true. Paris was almost beside herself. As M. Sorel says:
"The warm July evening drove into the streets a populace greedy of shows
and excitements, whose imagination was spoiled by the custom of
political quackery, for whom war was but a drama and history a
romance[28]." Such was the impulse which led to Gramont's new demand,
and it was made in spite of the remonstrances of the British ambassador,
Lord Lyons.

[Footnote 28: Sorel, _Hist. diplomatique de la Guerre Franco-Allemande_,
vol. i. chap. iv.; also for the tone of the French Press, Giraudeau, _La
Verite sur la Campagne de 1870_, pp. 46-60.

Ollivier tried to persuade Sir M.E. Grant Duff (_Notes from a Diary,
1873-1881_, vol. i. p. 45) that the French demand to King William was
quite friendly and natural.]

Viewing that demand in the clearer light of the present time, we must
say that it was not unreasonable in itself; but it was presented in so
insistent a way that King William declined to entertain it. Again
Gramont pressed Benedetti to urge the matter; but the utmost that the
King would do was to state: "He gives his approbation entirely and
without reserve to the withdrawal of the Prince of Hohenzollern: he
cannot do more." He refused to see the ambassador further on this
subject; but on setting out to return to Berlin--a step necessitated by
the growing excitement throughout Germany--he took leave of Benedetti
with perfect cordiality (July 14). The ambassador thereupon returned
to Paris.

Meanwhile, however, Bismarck had given the last flick to the restive
courses of the Press on both sides of the Rhine. In his _Reminiscences_
he has described his depression of spirits on hearing the news of the
withdrawal of Prince Leopold's candidature and of his nearly formed
resolve to resign as a protest against so tame a retreat before French
demands. But while Moltke, Roon, and he were dining together, a telegram
reached him from the King at Ems, dated July 13, 3.50 P.M., which gave
him leave to inform the ambassadors and the Press of the present state
of affairs. Bismarck saw his chance. The telegram could be cut down so
as to give a more resolute look to the whole affair. And, after gaining
Moltke's assurance that everything was ready for war, he proceeded to
condense it. The facts here can only be understood by a comparison of
the two versions. We therefore give the original as sent to Bismarck by
Abeken, Secretary to the Foreign Office, who was then at Ems:--

     His Majesty writes to me: "Count Benedetti spoke to me on the
     promenade, in order to demand from me, finally in a very
     importunate manner, that I should authorise him to telegraph
     at once that I bound myself for all future time never again
     to give my consent if the Hohenzollerns should renew their
     candidature. I refused at last somewhat sternly, as it is
     neither right nor possible to undertake engagements of this
     kind _a tout jamais_. Naturally I told him that I had as yet
     received no news, and as he was earlier informed about Paris
     and Madrid than myself, he could see clearly that my
     Government once more had no hand in the matter." His Majesty
     has since received a letter from the Prince. His Majesty
     having told Count Benedetti that he was awaiting news from
     the Prince, has decided, with reference to the above demand,
     upon the representation of Count Eulenburg and myself, not to
     receive Count Benedetti again, but only to let him be
     informed through an aide-de-camp: "That his Majesty had now
     received from the Prince confirmation of the news which
     Benedetti had already received from Paris, and had nothing
     further to say to the ambassador." His Majesty leaves it to
     your Excellency whether Benedetti's fresh demand and its
     rejection should not be at once communicated both to our
     ambassadors and to the Press.

Bismarck cut this down to the following:--

     After the news of the renunciation of the hereditary Prince
     of Hohenzollern had been officially communicated to the
     Imperial Government of France by the Royal Government of
     Spain, the French ambassador at Ems further demanded of his
     Majesty, the King, that he would authorise him to telegraph
     to Paris that his Majesty, the King, bound himself for all
     future time never again to give his consent if the
     Hohenzollerns should renew their candidature. His Majesty,
     the King, thereupon decided not to receive the French
     ambassador again, and sent to tell him through the
     aide-de-camp on duty that his Majesty had nothing further to
     communicate to the ambassador.

Efforts have been made to represent Bismarck's "editing" of the Ems
telegram as the decisive step leading to war; and in his closing years,
when seized with the morbid desire of a partly discredited statesman to
exaggerate his influence on events, he himself sought to perpetuate this
version. He claims that the telegram, as it came from Ems, described the
incident there "as a fragment of a negotiation still pending, and to be
continued at Berlin." This claim is quite untenable. A careful perusal
of the original despatch from Ems shows that the negotiation, far from
being "still pending," was clearly described as having been closed on
that matter. That Benedetti so regarded it is proved by his returning at
once to Paris. If it could have been "continued at Berlin," he most
certainly would have proceeded thither. Finally, the words in the
original as to the King refusing Benedetti "somewhat sternly" were
omitted, and very properly omitted, by Bismarck in his abbreviated
version. Had he included those words, he might have claimed to be the
final cause of the War of 1870. As it is, his claim must be set aside as
the offspring of senile vanity. His version of the original Ems despatch
did not contain a single offensive word, neither did it alter any
statement. Abeken also admitted that his original telegram was far too
long, and that Bismarck was quite justified in abbreviating it as
he did[29].

[Footnote 29: _Heinrich Abeken_, by Hedwig Abeken, p. 375. Bismarck's
successor in the chancellory, Count Caprivi, set matters in their true
light in a speech in the Reichstag shortly after the publication of
Bismarck's _Reminiscences_.

I dissent from the views expressed by the well-informed reviewer of
Ollivier's _L'Empire liberal_ (vol. viii.) in the _Times_ of May 27,
1904, who pins his faith to an interview of Bismarck with Lord Loftus on
July 13, 1870. Bismarck, of course wanted war; but so did Gramont, and I
hold that _the latter_ brought it about.]

If we pay attention, not to the present more complete knowledge of the
whole affair, but to the imperfect information then open to the German
public, war was the natural result of the second and very urgent demand
that came from Paris. The Duc de Gramont in dispatching it must have
known that he was playing a desperate game. Either Prussia would give
way and France would score a diplomatic triumph over a hated rival; or
Prussia would fight. The friends of peace in France thought matters
hopeless when that demand was sent in so insistent a manner. As soon as
Gladstone heard of the second demand of the Ollivier Ministry, he wrote
to Lord Granville, then Foreign Minister: "It is our duty to represent
the immense responsibility which will rest upon France, if she does not
at once accept as satisfactory and conclusive the withdrawal of the
candidature of Prince Leopold[30]."

[Footnote 30: J. Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. ii. p. 328.]

On the other hand, we must note that the conduct of the German Press at
this crisis was certainly provocative of war. The morning on which
Bismarck's telegram appeared in the official _North German Gazette_, saw
a host of violent articles against France, and gleeful accounts of
imaginary insults inflicted by the King on Benedetti. All this was to be
expected after the taunts of cowardice freely levelled by the Parisian
papers against Prussia for the last two days; but whether Bismarck
directly inspired the many sensational versions of the Ems affair that
appeared in North German papers on July 14 is not yet proven.

However that may be, the French Government looked on the refusal of its
last demand, the publication of Bismarck's telegram, and the insults of
the German Press as a _casus belli_. The details of the sitting of the
Emperor's Council at 10 P.M. on July 14, at which it was decided to call
out the French reserves, are not yet known. Ollivier was not present.
There had been a few hours of wavering on this question; but the tone of
the Parisian evening papers--it was the French national day--the loud
cries of the rabble for war, and their smashing the windows of the
Prussian embassy, seem to have convinced the Emperor and his advisers
that to draw back now would involve the fall of the dynasty. Report has
uniformly pointed to the Empress as pressing these ideas on her
consort, and the account which the Duc de Gramont later on gave to Lord
Malmesbury of her words at that momentous Council-meeting support
popular rumour. It is as follows:--

     Before the final resolve to declare war the Emperor, Empress,
     and Ministers went to St. Cloud. After some discussion
     Gramont told me that the Empress, a high-spirited and
     impressionable woman, made a strong and most excited address,
     declaring that "war was inevitable if the honour of France
     was to be sustained." She was immediately followed by Marshal
     Leboeuf, who, in the most violent tone, threw down his
     portfolio and swore that if war was not declared he would
     give it up and renounce his military rank. The Emperor gave
     way, and Gramont went straight to the Chamber to announce the
     fatal news[31].

[Footnote 31: This version has, I believe, not been refuted. Still, I
must look on it with suspicion. No Minister, who had done so much to
stir up the war-feeling, ought to have made any such confession--least
of all against a lady, who could not answer it. M. Seignobos in his
_Political History of Contemporary Europe_, vol. i. chap. vi. p. 184
(Eng edit.) says of Gramont: "He it was who embroiled France in the war
with Prussia." In the course of the parliamentary inquiry of 1872
Gramont convicted himself and his Cabinet of folly in 1870 by using
these words: "Je crois pouvoir declarer que si on avait eu un doute, un
seule doute, sur notre aptitude a la guerre, on eut immediatement arrete
la negociation" (_Enquete parlementaire_, I. vol. i. p. 108).]

On the morrow (July 15) the Chamber of Deputies appointed a Commission,
which hastily examined the diplomatic documents and reported in a sense
favourable to the Ollivier Ministry. The subsequent debate made strongly
for a rupture; and it is important to note that Ollivier and Gramont
based the demand for warlike preparations on the fact that King William
had refused to see the French ambassador, and held that that alone was a
sufficient insult. In vain did Thiers protest against the war as
inopportune, and demand to see all the necessary documents. The Chamber
passed the war supplies by 246 votes to 10; and Thiers had his windows
broken. Late on that night Gramont set aside a last attempt of Lord
Granville to offer the mediation of England in the cause of peace, on
the ground that this would be to the harm of France--"unless means were
found to stop the rapid mobilisation of the Prussian armies which were
approaching our frontier[32]." In this connection it is needful to state
that the order for mobilising the North German troops was not given by
the King of Prussia until late on July 15, when the war votes of the
French Chambers were known at Berlin.

[Footnote 32: Quoted by Sorel, _op. cit_. vol. i. p. 196.]

Benedetti, in his review of the whole question, passes the following
very noteworthy and sensible verdict: "It was public opinion which
forced the [French] Government to draw the sword, and by an irresistible
onset dictated its resolutions[33]." This is certainly true for the
public opinion of Paris, though not of France as a whole. The rural
districts which form the real strength of France nearly always cling to
peace. It is significant that the Prefects of French Departments
reported that only 16 declared in favour of war, while 37 were in doubt
on the matter, and 34 accepted war with regret. This is what might be
expected from a people which in the Provinces is marked by prudence
and thrift.

[Footnote 33: Benedetti, _Ma Mission en Prusse,_ p. 411.]

In truth, the people of modern Europe have settled down to a life of
peaceful industry, in which war is the most hateful of evils. On the
other hand, the massing of mankind in great cities, where thought is
superficial and feelings can quickly be stirred by a sensation-mongering
Press, has undoubtedly helped to feed political passions and national
hatred. A rural population is not deeply stirred by stories of slights
to ambassadors. The peasant of Brittany had no active dislike for the
peasant of Brandenburg. Each only asked to be left to till his fields in
peace and safety. But the crowds on the Parisian boulevards and in
_Unter den Linden_ took (and seemingly always will take) a very
different view of life. To them the news of the humiliation of the rival
beyond the Rhine was the greatest and therefore the most welcome of
sensations; and, unfortunately, the papers which pandered to their
habits set the tone of thought for no small part of France and Germany
and exerted on national policy an influence out of all proportion to its
real weight.

The story of the Franco-German dispute is one of national jealousy
carefully fanned for four years by newspaper editors and popular
speakers until a spark sufficed to set Western Europe in a blaze. The
spark was the Hohenzollern candidature, which would have fallen harmless
had not the tinder been prepared since Koeniggratz by journalists at
Paris and Berlin. The resulting conflagration may justly be described as
due partly to national friction and partly to the supposed interests of
the Napoleonic dynasty, but also to the heat engendered by a
sensational Press.

It is well that one of the chief dangers to the peace of the modern
world should be clearly recognised. The centralisation of governments
and of population may have its advantages; but over against them we must
set grave drawbacks; among those of a political kind the worst are the
growth of nervousness and excitability, and the craving for
sensation--qualities which undoubtedly tend to embitter national
jealousies at all times, and in the last case to drive weak dynasties or
Cabinets on to war. Certainly Bismarck's clever shifts to bring about a
rupture in 1870 would have failed had not the atmosphere both at Paris
and Berlin been charged with electricity[34].

[Footnote 34: Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern died at Berlin on June 8,
1905. He was born in 1835, and in 1861 married the Infanta of Portugal.]



     "The Chief of the General Staff had his eye fixed from the
     first upon the capture of the enemy's capital, the possession
     of which is of more importance in France than in other
     countries. . . . It is a delusion to believe that a plan of war
     may be laid for a prolonged period and carried out in every
     point."--VON MOLTKE, _The Franco-German War_.

In olden times, before the invention of long-range arms of precision,
warfare was decided mainly by individual bravery and strength. In the
modern world victory has inclined more and more to that side which
carefully prepares beforehand to throw a force, superior alike in
armament and numbers, against the vitals of its enemy. Assuming that the
combatants are fairly equal in physical qualities--and the spread of
liberty has undoubtedly lessened the great differences that once were
observable in this respect among European peoples--war becomes largely
an affair of preliminary organisation. That is to say, it is now a
matter of brain rather than muscle. Writers of the school of Carlyle may
protest that all modern warfare is tame when compared with the
splendidly rampant animalism of the Homeric fights. In the interests of
Humanity it is to be hoped that the change will go on until war becomes
wholly scientific and utterly unattractive. Meanwhile, the
soldier-caste, the politician, and the tax-payer have to face the fact
that the fortunes of war are very largely decided by humdrum costly
preparations in time of peace.

The last chapter set forth the causes that led to war in 1870. That
event found Germany fully prepared. The lessons of the campaign of 1866
had not been lost upon the Prussian General Staff. The artillery was
improved alike in _materiel_ and in drill-tactics, Napoleon I.'s plan of
bringing massed batteries to bear on decisive points being developed
with Prussian thoroughness. The cavalry learnt to scout effectively and
act as "the eyes and ears of an army," as well as to charge in brigades
on a wavering foe. Universal military service had been compulsory in
Prussia since 1813; but the organisation of territorial army corps now
received fuller development, so that each part of Prussia, including,
too, most of the North German Confederation, had its own small army
complete in all arms, and reinforced from the Reserve, and, at need,
from the Landwehr[35]. By virtue of the military conventions of 1866,
the other German States adopted a similar system, save that while
Prussians served for three years (with few exceptions in the case of
successful examinees), the South Germans served with the colours for a
shorter period. Those conventions also secured uniformity, or harmony,
in the railway arrangements for the transport of troops.

[Footnote 35: By the Prussian law of November 9, 1867, soldiers had to
serve three years with the colours, four in the reserve, and five in the
Landwehr. Three new army corps (9th, 10th, and 11th) were formed in the
newly annexed or confederated lands, Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Saxony, etc.
(Maurice, _The Franco-German War_, 1900).]

The General Staff of the North German Army had used these advantages to
the utmost, by preparing a most complete plan of mobilisation--so
complete, in fact, that the myriad orders had only to be drawn from
their pigeon-holes and dated in the last hours of July 15. Forthwith the
whole of the vast machinery started in swift but smooth working.
Reservists speedily appeared at their regimental depots, there found
their equipment, and speedily brought their regiments up to the war
footing; trains were ready, timed according to an elaborate plan, to
carry them Rhinewards; provisions and stores were sent forward, _ohne
Hast, ohne Rast_, as the Germans say; and so perfect were the plans on
rail, river, and road, that none of those blocks occurred which
frequently upset the plans of the French. Thus, by dint of plodding
preparation, a group of federal States gained a decisive advantage over
a centralised Empire which left too many things to be arranged in the
last few hours.

Herein lies the true significance of the War of 1870. All Governments
that were not content to jog along in the old military ruts saw the need
of careful organisation, including the eventual control of all needful
means of transport; and all that were wise hastened to adapt their
system to the new order of things, which aimed at assuring the swift
orderly movement of great masses of men by all the resources of
mechanical science. Most of the civilised States soon responded to the
new needs of the age; but a few (among them Great Britain) were content
to make one or two superficial changes and slightly increase the number
of troops, while leaving the all-important matter of organisation almost
untouched; and that, too, despite the vivid contrast which every one
could see between the machine-like regularity of the German mobilisation
and the chaos that reigned on the French side.

Outwardly, the French army appeared to be beyond the reach of criticism.
The troops had in large measure seen active service in the various wars
whereby Napoleon III. fulfilled his promise of 1852--"The Empire is
peace"; and their successes in the Crimea, Lombardy, Syria, and China,
everywhere in fact but Mexico, filled them with warlike pride. Armed
with the _chassepot_, a newer and better rifle than the needle-gun,
while their artillery (admittedly rather weak) was strengthened by the
_mitrailleuse_, they claimed to be the best in the world, and burned to
measure swords with the upstart forces of Prussia.


But there was a sombre reverse to this bright side. All thinking
Frenchmen, including the Emperor, were aware of grave defects--the lack
of training of the officers[36], and the want of adaptability in the
General Staff, which had little of that practical knowledge that the
German Staff secured by periods of service with the troops. Add to this
the leaven of republicanism working strongly in the army as in the
State, and producing distrust between officers and men; above all, the
lack of men and materials; and the outlook was not reassuring to those
who knew the whole truth. Inclusive of the levies of the year 1869,
which were not quite ready for active service, France would have by
August 1, 1870, as many as 567,000 men in her regular army; but of these
colonial, garrison, and other duties claimed as many as 230,000--a
figure which seems designed to include the troops that existed only on
paper. Not only the _personnel_ but the _materiel_ came far below what
was expected. General Leboeuf, the War Minister, ventured to declare
that all was ready even to the last button on the gaiters; but his boast
at once rang false when at scores of military depots neither gaiters,
boots, nor uniforms were ready for the reservists who needed them.

[Footnote 36: M. de la Gorce in his _Histoire du second Empire_, vol.
vi., tells how the French officers scouted study of the art of war,
while most of them looked on favouritism as the only means of promotion.
The warnings of Colonel Stoffel, French Military Attache at Berlin, were
passed over, as those of "a Prussomane, whom Bismarck had fascinated."]

Even where the organisation worked at its best, that best was slow and
confused. There were no territorial army corps in time of peace; and the
lack of this organisation led to a grievous waste of time and energy.
Regiments were frequently far away from the depots which contained the
reservists' equipment; and when these had found their equipment, they
often wandered widely before finding their regiments on the way to the
frontier. One general officer hunted about on the frontier for a command
which did not exist. As a result of this lack of organisation, and of
that control over the railways which the Germans had methodically
enforced, France lost the many advantages which her compact territory
and excellent railway system ought to have ensured over her more
straggling and poorer rival.

The loss of time was as fatal as it was singular under the rule of a
Napoleon whose uncle had so often shattered his foes by swift movements
of troops. In 1870 Napoleonic France had nothing but speed and dash on
which to count. Numbers were against her. In 1869 Marshal Leboeuf had
done away with the Garde Mobile, a sort of militia which had involved
only fifteen days' drill in the year; and the Garde Nationale of the
towns was less fit for campaigning than the re-formed Mobiles proved to
be later on in the war. Thus France had no reserves: everything rested
on the 330,000 men struggling towards the frontiers. It is doubtful
whether there were more than 220,000 men in the first line by August 6,
with some 50,000 more in reserve at Metz, etc.

Against them Germany could at once put into the field 460,000 infantry,
56,000 cavalry, with 1584 cannon; and she could raise these forces to
some 1,180,000 men by calling out all the reserves and Landwehr. These
last were men who had served their time and had not, as a rule, lost
their soldierly qualities in civil life. Nearly 400,000 highly trained
troops were ready to invade France early in August.

In view of these facts it seems incredible that Ollivier, the French
Prime Minister, could have publicly stated that he entered on war with a
light heart. Doubtless, Ministers counted on help from Austria or Italy,
perhaps from both; but, as it proved, they judged too hastily. As was
stated in Chapter I. of this work, Austria was not likely to move as
long as Russia favoured the cause of Prussia; for any threatening
pressure of the Muscovites on the open flank of the Hapsburg States,
Galicia, has sufficed to keep them from embarking on a campaign in the
West. In this case, the statesmen of Vienna are said to have known by
July 20 that Russia would quietly help Prussia; she informed the
Hapsburg Government that any increase in its armaments would be met by a
corresponding increase in those of Russia. The meaning of such a hint
was clear; and Austria decided not to seek revenge for Koeniggraetz unless
the French triumph proved to be overwhelming. As for Italy, her alliance
with France alone was very improbable for the reasons previously stated.

Another will o' the wisp which flitted before the ardent Bonapartists
who pushed on the Emperor to war, was that the South German States would
forsake the North and range their troops under the French eagles, as
they had done in the years 1805-12. The first plan of campaign drawn up
at Paris aimed at driving a solid wedge of French troops between the two
Confederations and inducing or compelling the South to join France; it
was hoped that Saxony would follow. As a matter of fact, very many of
the South Germans and Saxons disliked Prussian supremacy; Catholic
Bavaria looked askance at the growing power of Protestant Prussia.
Wuertemberg was Protestant, but far too democratic to wish for the
control of the cast-iron bureaucrats of Berlin. The same was even more
true of Saxony, where hostility to Prussia was a deep-rooted tradition;
some of the Saxon troops on leaving their towns even shouted _Napoleon
soll leben_[37]. It is therefore quite possible that, had France struck
quickly at the valleys of the Neckar and Main, she might have reduced
the South German States to neutrality. Alliance perhaps was out of the
question save under overwhelming compulsion; for France had alienated
the Bavarian and Hessian Governments by her claims in 1866, and the
South German people by her recent offensive treatment of the
Hohenzollern candidature. It is, however, safe to assert that if
Napoleon I. had ordered French affairs he would have swept the South
Germans into his net a month after the outbreak of war, as he had done
in 1805. But Nature had not bestowed warlike gifts on the nephew, who
took command of the French army at Metz at the close of July 1870. His
feeble health, alternating with periods of severe pain, took from him
all that buoyancy which lends life to an army and vigour to the
headquarters; and his Chief of Staff, Leboeuf, did not make good the
lack of these qualities in the nominal chief.

[Footnote 37: _I.e._ "Long live Napoleon." The author had this from an
Englishman who was then living in Saxony.]

All the initiative and vigour were on the east of the Rhine. The spread
of the national principle to Central and South Germany had recently met
with several checks; but the diplomatic blunders of the French
Government, the threats of their Press that the Napoleonic troops would
repeat the wonders of 1805; above all, admiration of the dignified
conduct of King William under what were thought to be gratuitous insults
from France, began to kindle the flame of German patriotism even in the
particularists of the South. The news that the deservedly popular Crown
Prince of Prussia, Frederick William, would command the army now
mustering in the Palatinate, largely composed of South Germans, sent a
thrill of joy through those States. Taught by the folly of her
stay-at-home strategy in 1866, Bavaria readily sent her large contingent
beyond the Rhine; and all danger of a French irruption into South
Germany was ended by the speedy massing of the Third German Army, some
200,000 strong in all, on the north of Alsace. For the French to cross
the Rhine at Speyer, or even at Kehl, in front of a greatly superior
army (though as yet they knew not its actual strength) was clearly
impossible; and in the closing hours of July the French headquarters
fell back on other plans, which, speaking generally, were to defend the
French frontier from the Moselle to the Rhine by striking at the
advanced German troops. At least, that seems to be the most natural
explanation of the sudden and rather flurried changes then made.

It was wise to hide this change to a strategic defensive by assuming a
tactical offensive; and on August 2 two divisions of Frossard's corps
attacked and drove back the advanced troops of the Second German Army
from Saarbruecken. The affair was unimportant: it could lead to nothing,
unless the French had the means of following up the success. This they
had not; and the advance of the First and Second German Armies,
commanded by General Steinmetz and Prince Frederick Charles, was soon to
deprive them of this position.

Meanwhile the Germans were making ready a weighty enterprise. The
muster of the huge Third Army to the north of Alsace enabled their
General Staff to fix August 4 for a general advance against that
frontier. It fell to this army, under the Crown Prince of Prussia,
Frederick William, to strike the first great blow. Early on August 4 a
strong Bavarian division advanced against the small fortified town of
Weissenburg, which lies deep down in the valley of the Lauter,
surrounded by lofty hills. There it surprised a weak French division,
the vanguard of MacMahon's army, commanded by General Abel Douay, whose
scouts had found no trace of the advancing enemy. About 10 A.M. Douay
fell, mortally wounded; another German division, working round the town
to the east, carried the strong position of the Geisberg; and these
combined efforts, frontal and on the flank, forced the French hastily to
retreat westwards over the hills to Woerth, after losing more than
2000 men.

The news of this reverse and of the large German forces ready to pour
into the north of Alsace led the Emperor to order the 7th French corps
at Belfort, and the 5th in and around Bitsch, to send reinforcements to
MacMahon, whose main force held the steep and wooded hills between the
villages of Woerth, Froeschweiler, and Reichshofen. The line of railway
between Strassburg and Bitsch touches Reichshofen; but, for some reason
that has never been satisfactorily explained, MacMahon was able to draw
up only one division from the side of Strassburg and Belfort, and not
one from Bitsch, which was within an easy march. The fact seems to be
that de Failly, in command at Bitsch, was a prey to conflicting orders
from Metz, and therefore failed to bring up the 5th corps as he should
have done. MacMahon's cavalry was also very defective in scouting, and
he knew nothing as to the strength of the forces rapidly drawing near
from Weissenburg and the east.

Certainly his position at Woerth was very strong. The French lines were
ranged along the steep wooded slope running north and south, with
buttress-like projections, intersected by gullies, the whole leading up
to a plateau on which stand the village of Froeschweiler and the hamlet
of Elsasshausen. Behind is the wood called the Grosser Wald, while the
hamlet is flanked on the south and in front by an outlying wood, the
Niederwald. Behind the Grosser Wald the ground sinks away to the valley
in which runs the Bitsch-Reichshofen railway. In front of MacMahon's
position lay the village of Woerth, deep in the valley of the Sauerbach.
The invader would therefore have to carry this village or cross the
stream, and press up the long open slopes on which were ranged the
French troops and batteries with all the advantages of cover and
elevation on their side. A poor general, having forces smaller than
those of his enemy, might hope to hold such a position. But there was
one great defect. Owing to de Failly's absence MacMahon had not enough
men to hold the whole of the position marked out by Nature for defence.

Conscious of its strength, the Prussian Crown Prince ordered the leaders
of his vanguard not to bring on a general engagement on August 6, when
the invading army had not at hand its full striking strength[38]. But
orders failed to hold in the ardour of the Germans under the attacks of
the French. Affairs of outposts along the Sauerbach early on that
morning brought on a serious fight, which up to noon went against the
invaders. At that time the Crown Prince galloped to the front, and
ordered an attack with all available forces. The fighting, hitherto
fierce but spasmodic between division and division, was now fed by a
steady stream of German reinforcements, until 87,000 of the invaders
sought to wrest from MacMahon the heights, with their woods and
villages, which he had but 54,000 to defend. The superiority of numbers
soon made itself felt. Pursuant to the Crown Prince's orders, parts of
two Bavarian corps began to work their way (but with one strangely long
interval of inaction) through the wood to the north of the French left
wing; on the Prussian 11th corps fell the severer task of winning their
way up the slopes south of Woerth, and thence up to the Niederwald and
Elsasshausen. When these woods were won, the 5th corps was to make its
frontal attack from Woerth against Froeschweiler. Despite the desperate
efforts of the French and their Turco regiments, and a splendid but
hopeless charge of two regiments of Cuirassiers and one of Lancers
against the German infantry, the Niederwald and Elsasshausen were won;
and about four o'clock the sustained fire of fifteen German batteries
against Froeschweiler enabled the 5th corps to struggle up that deadly
glacis in spite of desperate charges by the defenders.

[Footnote 38: See von Blumenthal's _Journals_, p. 87 (Eng. edit.): "The
battle which I had expected to take place on the 7th, and for which I
had prepared a good scheme for turning the enemy's right flank, came on
of itself to-day."]

Throughout the day the French showed their usual dash and devotion, some
regiments being cut to pieces rather than retire. But by five o'clock
the defence was outflanked on the two wings and crushed at the centre;
human nature could stand no more after eight hours' fighting; and after
a final despairing effort of the French Cuirassiers all their line gave
way in a general rout down the slopes to Reichshofen and towards
Saverne. Apart from the Wuertembergers held in reserve, few of the
Germans were in a condition to press the pursuit. Nevertheless the
fruits of victory were very great: 10,000 Frenchmen lay dead or wounded;
6000 unwounded prisoners were taken, with 28 cannon and 5 mitrailleuses.
Above all, MacMahon's fine army was utterly broken, and made no attempt
to defend any of the positions on the north of the Vosges. Not even a
tunnel was there blown up to delay the advance of the Germans. Hastily
gathering up the 5th corps from Bitsch--the corps which ought to have
been at Woerth--that gallant but unfortunate general struck out to the
south-west for the great camp at Chalons. The triumph, however, cost the
Germans dear. As many as 10,600 men were killed or wounded, the 5th
Prussian corps alone losing more than half that number. Their cavalry
failed to keep touch with the retreating French.

On that same day (August 6) a disaster scarcely less serious overtook
the French 2nd corps, which had been holding Saarbruecken. Convinced that
that post was too advanced and too weak in presence of the foremost
divisions of the First and Second German Armies now advancing rapidly
against it, General Frossard drew back his vanguard some mile and a half
to the line of steep hills between Spicheren and Forbach, just within
the French frontier. This retreat, as it seemed, tempted General Kameke
to attack with a single division, as he was justified in doing in order
to find the direction and strength of the retiring force. The attack,
when pushed home, showed that the French were bent on making a stand on
their commanding heights; and an onset on the Rothe Berg was stoutly
beaten off about noon.

But now the speedy advance and intelligent co-operation of other German
columns was instrumental in turning an inconsiderable repulse into an
important victory. General Goeben was not far off, and marching towards
the firing, sent to offer his help with the 8th corps. General von
Alvensleben, also, with the 3rd corps had reached Neunkirchen when the
sound of firing near Saarbruecken led him to push on for that place with
the utmost speed. He entrained part of his corps and brought it up in
time to strengthen the attack on the Rothe Berg and other heights nearer
to Forbach. Each battalion as it arrived was hurled forward, and General
von Francois, charging with his regiment, gained a lodgment half-way up
the broken slope of the Rothe Berg, which was stoutly maintained even
when he fell mortally wounded. Elsewhere the onsets were repelled by the
French, who, despite their smaller numbers, kept up a sturdy resistance
on the line of hills in the woods behind, and in the iron-works in front
of Forbach. Even when the Germans carried the top of the Rothe Berg,
their ranks were riddled by a cross fire; but by incredible exertions
they managed to bring guns to the summit and retaliate with effect[39].

[Footnote 39: For these details about the fighting at the Rothe Berg I
am largely indebted to my friend, Mr. Bernard Pares, M.A., who has made
a careful study of the ground there, as also at Woerth and Sedan.]

This, together with the outflanking movement which their increasing
numbers enabled them to carry out against the French left wing at
Forbach, decided the day; and Frossard's corps fell back shattered
towards the corps of Bazaine. It is noteworthy that this was but nine or
ten miles to the rear. Bazaine had ordered three divisions to march
towards the firing: one made for a wrong point and returned; the others
made half-hearted efforts, and thus left Frossard to be overborne by
numbers. The result of these disjointed movements was that both Frossard
and Bazaine hurriedly retired towards Metz, while the First and Second
German Armies now gathered up all their strength with the aim of
shutting up the French in that fortress. To this end the First Army made
for Colombey, east of Metz, while the leading part of the Second Army
purposed to cross the Moselle south of Metz, and circle round that
stronghold on the west.

It is now time to turn to the French headquarters. These two crushing
defeats on a single day utterly dashed Napoleon's plan of a spirited
defence of the north-east frontier, until such time as the levies of
1869 should be ready, or Austria and Italy should draw the sword. On
July 26 the Austrian ambassador assured the French Ministry that Austria
was pushing on her preparations. Victor Emmanuel was with difficulty
restrained by his Ministers from openly taking the side of France. On
the night of August 6 he received telegraphic news of the Battles of
Woerth and Forbach, whereupon he exclaimed, "Poor Emperor! I pity him,
but I have had a lucky escape." Austria also drew back, and thus left
France face to face with the naked truth that she stood alone and
unready before a united and triumphant Germany, able to pour treble her
own forces through the open portals of Lorraine and northern Alsace.

Napoleon III., to do him justice, had never cherished the wild dreams
that haunted the minds of his consort and of the frothy "Mamelukes"
lately in favour at Court; still less did the "silent man of destiny"
indulge in the idle boasts that had helped to alienate the sympathy of
Europe and to weld together Germany to withstand the blows of a second
Napoleonic invasion. The nephew knew full well that he was not the Great
Napoleon--he knew it before Victor Hugo in spiteful verse vainly sought
to dub him the Little. True, his statesmanship proved to be mere dreamy
philosophising about nationalities; his administrative powers, small at
the best, were ever clogged by his too generous desire to reward his
fellow-conspirators of the _coup d'etat_ of 1851; and his gifts for war
were scarcely greater than those of the other _Napoleonides_, Joseph and
Jerome. Nevertheless the reverses of his early life had strengthened
that fund of quiet stoicism, that energy to resist if not to dare, which
formed the backbone of an otherwise somewhat weak, shadowy, and
uninspiring character. And now, in the rapid fall of his fortunes, the
greatest adventurer of the nineteenth century showed to the full those
qualities of toughness and dignified reserve which for twenty years had
puzzled and imposed on that lively emotional people. By the side of the
downcast braggarts of the Court and the unstrung screamers of the
Parisian Press, his mien had something of the heroic. _Tout peut se
retablir_--"All may yet be set right"--such was the vague but dignified
phrase in which he summarised the results of August 6 to his people.

The military situation now required a prompt retirement beyond the
Moselle. The southerly line of retreat, which MacMahon and de Failly had
been driven to take, forbade the hope of their junction with the main
army at Metz in time to oppose a united front to the enemy. And it was
soon known that their flight could not be stayed at Nancy or even at
Toul. During the agony of suspense as to their movements and those of
their German pursuers, the Emperor daily changed his plans. First, he
and Leboeuf planned a retreat beyond the Moselle and Meuse; next,
political considerations bade them stand firm on the banks of the Nied,
some twelve miles east of Metz; and when this position seemed unsafe,
they ended the marchings and counter-marchings of their troops by taking
up a position at Colombey, nearer to Metz.

Meanwhile at Paris the Chamber of Deputies had overthrown the Ollivier
Ministry, and the Empress-Regent installed in office Count Palikao.
There was a general outcry against Leboeuf, and on the 12th the Emperor
resigned the command to Marshal Bazaine (Lebrun now acting as Chief of
Staff), with the injunction to retreat westwards to Verdun. For the
Emperor to order such a retreat in his own name was thought to be
inopportune. Bazaine was a convenient scapegoat, and he himself knew it.
Had he thrown an army corps into Metz and obeyed the Emperor's orders by
retreating on Verdun, things would certainly have gone better than was
now to be the case. In his printed defence Bazaine has urged that the
army had not enough provisions for the march, and, further, that the
outlying forts of Metz were not yet ready to withstand a siege--a
circumstance which, if true, partly explains Bazaine's reluctance to
leave the "virgin city[40]." Napoleon III. quitted it early on the 16th:
he and his escort were the last Frenchmen to get free of that death-trap
for many a week.

[Footnote 40: Bazaine gave this excuse in his _Rapport sommaire sur les
Operations de l'Armee du Rhin_; but as a staff-officer pointed out in
his incisive _Reponse_, this reason must have been equally cogent when
Napoleon (August 12) ordered him to retreat; and he was still bound to
obey the Emperor's orders.]

While Metz exercised this fatal fascination over the protecting army,
the First and Second German Armies were striding westwards to envelop
both the city and its guardians. Moltke's aim was to hold as many of the
French to the neighbourhood of the fortress, while his left wing swung
round it on the south. The result was the battle of Colombey on the east
of Metz (August 14). It was a stubborn fight, costing the Germans some
5000 men, while the French with smaller losses finally withdrew under
the eastern walls of Metz. But that heavy loss meant a great ultimate
gain to Germany. The vacillations of Bazaine, whose strategy was far
more faulty than that of Napoleon III. had been, together with the delay
caused by the defiling of a great part of the army through the narrow
streets of Metz, gave the Germans an opportunity such as had not
occurred since the year 1805, when Napoleon I. shut up an Austrian
army in Ulm.

The man who now saw the splendid chance of which Fortune vouchsafed a
glimpse, was Lieutenant-General von Alvensleben, Commander of the 3rd
corps, whose activity and resource had so largely contributed
to the victory of Spicheren-Forbach. Though the orders of his
Commander-in-Chief, Prince Frederick Charles, forbade an advance until
the situation in front was more fully known, the General heard enough to
convince himself that a rapid advance southwards to and over the Moselle
might enable him to intercept the French retreat on Verdun, which might
now be looked on as certain. Reporting his conviction to his chief as
also to the royal headquarters, he struck out with all speed on the
15th, quietly threw a bridge over the river, and sent on his advanced
guard as far as Pagny, near Gorze, while all his corps, about 33,000
strong, crossed the river about midnight. Soon after dawn, he pushed on
towards Gorze, knowing by this time that the other corps of the Second
Army were following him, while the 7th and 8th corps of the First Army
were about to cross the river nearly opposite that town.

This bold movement, which would have drawn on him sharp censure in case
of overthrow, was more than justifiable seeing the discouraged state of
the French troops, the supreme need of finding their line of retreat,
and the splendid results that must follow on the interception of that
retreat. The operations of war must always be attended with risk, and
the great commander is he whose knowledge of the principles of strategy
enables him quickly to see when the final gain warrants the running of
risks, and how they may be met with the least likelihood of disaster.

Alvensleben's advance was in accordance with Moltke's general plan of
operations; but that corps-leader, finding the French to be in force
between him and Metz, determined to attack them in order to delay their
retreat. The result was the battle of August 16, variously known as
Vionville, Rezonville, or Mars-la-Tour--a battle that defies brief
description, inasmuch as it represented the effort of the Third, or
Brandenburg, corps, with little help at first from others, to hold its
ground against the onsets of two French corps. Early in the fight
Bazaine galloped up, but he did not bring forward the masses in his
rear, probably because he feared to be cut off from Metz. Even so, all
through the forenoon, it seemed that the gathering forces of the French
must break through the thin lines audaciously thrust into that almost
open plain on the flank of their line of march. But Alvensleben and his
men held their ground with a dogged will that nothing could shatter. In
one sense their audacity saved them. Bazaine for a long time could not
believe that a single corps would throw itself against one of the two
roads by which his great army was about to retreat. He believed that the
northern road might also be in danger, and therefore did not launch at
Alvensleben the solid masses that must have swept him back towards the
Meuse. At noon four battalions of the German 10th corps struggled up
from the south and took their share of the hitherto unequal fight.

But the crisis of the fight came a little later. It was marked by one of
the most daring and effective strokes ever dealt in modern warfare. At 2
o'clock, when the advance of Canrobert's 6th corps towards Vionville
threatened to sweep away the wearied Brandenburgers, six squadrons of
the 7th regiment of Cuirassiers with a few Uhlans flung themselves on
the new lines of foemen, not to overpower them--that was impossible--but
to delay their advance and weaken their impact. Only half of the brave
horsemen returned from that ride of death, but they gained their end.

The mad charge drove deep into the French array about Rezonville, and
gave their leaders pause in the belief that it was but the first of a
series of systematic attacks on the French left. System rather than dash
was supposed to characterise German tactics; and the daring of their
enemies for once made the French too methodical. Bazaine scarcely
brought the 3rd corps and the Guard into action at all, but kept them
in reserve. As the afternoon sun waned, the whole weight of the German
10th corps was thrown into the fight about Vionville, and the vanguards
of the 8th and 9th came up from Gorze to threaten the French left.
Fearing that he might be cut off from Metz on the south--a fear which
had unaccountably haunted him all the day--Bazaine continued to feed
that part of his lines; and thus Alvensleben was able to hold the
positions near the southern road to Verdun, which he had seized in the
morning. The day closed with a great cavalry combat on the German left
wing in which the French had to give way. Darkness alone put an end to
the deadly strife. Little more than two German corps had sufficed to
stay the march of an army which potentially numbered in all more than
170,000 men.

On both sides the losses were enormous, namely, some 16,000 killed and
wounded. No cannon, standards, or prisoners were taken; but on that day
the army of Prince Frederick Charles practically captured the whole of
Bazaine's army. The statement may seem overdrawn, but it is none the
less true. The advance of other German troops on that night made
Bazaine's escape from Metz far more difficult than before, and very
early on the morrow he drew back his lines through Gravelotte to a
strong position nearer Metz. Thus, a battle, which in a tactical sense
seemed to be inconclusive, became, when viewed in the light of strategy,
the most decisive of the war. Had Bazaine used even the forces which he
had in the field ready to hand he must have overborne Alvensleben; and
the arrival of 170,000 good troops at Verdun or Chalons would have
changed the whole course of the war. The campaign would probably have
followed the course of the many campaigns waged in the valleys of the
Meuse and Marne; and Metz, held by a garrison of suitable size, might
have defied the efforts of a large besieging army for fully six months.
These conjectures are not fanciful. The duration of the food supply of a
garrison cut off from the outside world varies inversely with the size
of that garrison. The experiences of armies invading and defending the
East of France also show with general accuracy what might have been
expected if the rules of sound strategy had been observed. It was the
actual course of events which transcended experience and set all
probabilities at defiance.

The battle of Gravelotte, or St. Privat, on the 18th completed the work
so hardily begun by the 3rd German corps on the 16th. The need of
driving back Bazaine's army upon Metz was pressing, and his inaction on
the 17th gave time for nearly all the forces of the First and Second
German Armies to be brought up to the German positions, some nine miles
west of Metz, though one corps was left to the east of that fortress to
hinder any attempt of the French to break out on that side. Bazaine,
however, massed his great army on the west along a ridge stretching
north and south, and presenting, especially in the southern half, steep
slopes to the assailants. It also sloped away to the rear, thus enabling
the defenders (as was the case with Wellington at Waterloo) secretly to
reinforce any part of the line. On the French left wing, too, the slopes
curved inward, thus giving the defenders ample advantage against any
flanking movements on that side. On the north, between Amanvillers and
Ste. Marie-aux-Chenes, the defence had fewer strong points except those
villages, the Jaumont Wood, and the gradual slope of the ground away to
the little River Orne, which formed an open glacis. Bazaine massed his
reserves on the plateau of Plappeville and to the rear of his left wing;
but this cardinal fault in his dispositions--due to his haunting fear of
being cut off from Metz--was long hidden by the woods and slopes in the
rear of his centre. The position here and on the French left was very
strong, and at several parts so far concealed the troops that up to 11
A.M. the advancing Germans were in doubt whether the French would not
seek to break away towards the north-west. That so great an army would
remain merely on the defensive, a course so repugnant to the ardour of
the French nature and the traditions of their army, entered into the
thoughts of few.

Yet such was the case. The solution of the riddle is to be found in
Bazaine's despatch of August 17 to the Minister of War: "We are going to
put forth every effort to make good our supplies of all kinds in order
to resume our march in two days if that is possible[41]." That the army
was badly hampered by lack of stores is certain; but to postpone even
for a single day the march to Verdun by the northern road--that by way
of Briey--was fatal. Possibly, however, he hoped to deal the Germans so
serious a blow, if they attacked him on the 18th, as to lighten the
heavy task of cutting his way out on the 19th.

[Footnote 41: Bazaine, _Rapport sommaire, etc._ The sentence quoted
above is decisive. The defence which Bazaine and his few defenders later
on put forward, as well as the attacks of his foes, are of course mixed
up with theories evolved _after_ the event.]

If so, he nearly succeeded. The Germans were quite taken aback by the
extent and strength of his lines. Their intention was to outflank his
right wing, which was believed to stretch no further north than
Amanvillers; but the rather premature advance of Manstein's 9th corps
soon drew a deadly fire from that village and the heights on either
side, which crushed the artillery of that corps. Soon the Prussian
Guards and the 12th corps began to suffer from the fire poured in from
the trenches that crowned the hill. On the German right, General
Steinmetz, instead of waiting for the hoped-for flank attack on the
north to take effect, sent the columns of the First Army to almost
certain death in the defile in front of Gravelotte, and he persisted in
these costly efforts even when the strength of the French position on
that side was patent to all. For this the tough old soldier met with
severe censure and ultimate disgrace. In his defence, however, it may be
urged that when a great battle is raging with doubtful fortunes, the
duty of a commander on the attacking side is to busy the enemy at as
many points as possible, so that the final blow may be dealt with
telling effect on a vital point where he cannot be adequately
reinforced; and the bull-dog tactics of Steinmetz in front of
Gravelotte, which cost the assailants many thousands of men, at any rate
served to keep the French reserves on that side, and thereby weaken the
support available for a more important point at the crisis of the fight.
It so happened, too, that the action of Steinmetz strengthened the
strange misconception of Bazaine that the Germans were striving to cut
him off from Metz on the south.

The real aim of the Germans was exactly the contrary, namely, to pin his
whole army to Metz by swinging round their right flank on the villages
of St. Privat and Raucourt. Having some 40,000 men under Canrobert in
and between these villages, whose solid buildings gave the defence the
best of cover, Bazaine had latterly taken little thought for that part
of his lines, though it was dangerously far removed from his reserves.
These he kept on the south, under the misconception which clung to him
here as at Rezonville.

The mistake was to prove fatal. As we have said, the German plan was to
turn the French right wing in the more open country on the north. To
this end the Prussian Guards and the Saxons, after driving the French
outposts from Ste. Marie-aux-Chenes, brought all their strength to the
task of crushing the French at their chief stronghold on the right, St.
Privat. The struggle of the Prussian Guards up the open slope between
that village and Amanvillers left them a mere shadow of their splendid
array; but the efforts of the German artillery cost the defenders dear:
by seven o'clock St. Privat was in flames, and as the Saxons (the 12th
corps), wheeling round from the north after a long flank-march, closed
in on the outlying village of Raucourt, Canrobert saw that the day was
lost unless he received prompt aid from the Imperial Guard. Bourbaki,
however, brought up only some 3000 of these choice troops, and that too
late to save St. Privat from the persistent fury of the German onset.

As dusk fell over the scene of carnage the French right fell back in
some disorder, even from part of Amanvillers. Farther south, they held
their ground. On the whole they had dealt to their foes a loss of 20,159
men, or nearly a tenth of their total. Of the French forces engaged,
some 150,000 in number, 7853 were killed and wounded, and 4419 were
taken prisoners. The disproportion in the losses shows the toughness of
the French defence and the (in part) unskilful character of the German
attack. On this latter point the recently published _Journals_ of
Field-Marshal Count von Blumenthal supply some piquant details. He
describes the indignation of King William at the wastefulness of the
German tactics at Gravelotte: "He complained bitterly that the officers
of the higher grades appeared to have forgotten all that had been so
carefully taught them at manoeuvres, and had apparently all lost their
heads." The same authority supplies what may be in part an explanation
of this in his comment, written shortly before Gravelotte, that he
believed there might not be another battle in the whole war--a remark
which savours of presumption and folly. Gravelotte, therefore, cannot be
considered as wholly creditable to the victors. Still, the result was
that some 180,000 French troops were shut up within the outworks
of Metz[42].

[Footnote 42: For fuller details of these battles the student should
consult the two great works on the subject--the Staff Histories of the
war, issued by the French and German General Staffs; Bazaine, _L'Armee
du Rhin_, and _Episodes de la Guerre_; General Blumenthal's _Journals_;
_Aus drei Kriegen_, by Gen. von Lignitz; Maurice, _The Franco-German
War_; Hooper, _The Campaign of Sedan_; the War Correspondence of the
_Times_ and the _Daily News_, published in book form.]


With reference to M. Ollivier's statement (quoted on p. 55) that he
entered on war with a light heart, it should be added that he has since
explained his meaning to have been that the cause of France was just, that
of Prussia unjust.



     "Nothing is more rash and contrary to the principles of war
     than to make a flank-march before an army in position,
     especially when this army occupies heights before which it is
     necessary to defile."--NAPOLEON I.

The success of the German operations to the south and west of Metz
virtually decided the whole of the campaign. The Germans could now draw
on their vast reserves ever coming on from the Rhine, throw an iron ring
around that fortress, and thereby deprive France of her only great force
of regular troops. The throwing up of field-works and barricades went on
with such speed that the blockading forces were able in a few days to
detach a strong column towards Chalons-sur-Marne in order to help the
army of the Crown Prince of Prussia. That army in the meantime was in
pursuit of MacMahon by way of Nancy, and strained every nerve so as to
be able to strike at the southern railway lines out of Paris. It was,
however, diverted to the north-west by events soon to be described.

The German force detached from the neighbourhood of Metz consisted of
the Prussian Guards, the 4th and 12th corps, and two cavalry divisions.
This army, known as the Army of the Meuse, was placed under the command
of the Crown Prince of Saxony. Its aim was, in common with the Third
German Army (that of the Crown Prince of Prussia), to strike at MacMahon
before he received reinforcements. The screen of cavalry which preceded
the Army of the Meuse passed that river on the 22nd, when the bulk of
the forces of the Crown Prince of Prussia crossed not many miles farther
to the south. The two armies swept on westwards within easy distance of
one another; and on the 23rd their cavalry gleaned news of priceless
value, namely, that MacMahon's army had left Chalons. On the next day
the great camp was found deserted.

In fact, MacMahon had undertaken a task of terrible difficulty. On
taking over the command at Chalons, where Napoleon III. arrived from
Metz on the 16th, he found hopeless disorder not only among his own
beaten troops, but among many of the newcomers; the worst were the Garde
Mobile, many regiments of whom greeted the Emperor with shouts of _A
Paris_. To meet the Germans in the open plains of Champagne with forces
so incoherent and dispirited was sheer madness; and a council of war on
the 17th came to the conclusion to fall back on the capital and operate
within its outer forts--a step which might enable the army to regain
confidence, repress any rising in the capital, and perhaps inflict
checks on the Germans, until the provinces rose _en masse_ against the
invaders. But at this very time the Empress-Regent and the Palikao
Ministry at Paris came to an exactly contrary decision, on the ground
that the return of the Emperor with MacMahon's army would look like
personal cowardice and a mean desertion of Bazaine at Metz. The Empress
was for fighting _a outrance_, and her Government issued orders for a
national rising and the enrolling of bodies of irregulars, or
_francs-tireurs_, to harass the Germans[43].

[Footnote 43: See General Lebrun's _Guerre de 1870: Bazailles-Sedan_,
for an account of his corps of MacMahon's army.

In view of the events of the late Boer War, it is worth noting that the
Germans never acknowledged the _francs-tireurs_ as soldiers, and
forthwith issued an order ending with the words, "They are amenable to
martial law and liable to be sentenced to death" (Maurice,
_Franco-German War_, p. 215).]

Their decision was telegraphed to Napoleon III. at Chalons.
Against his own better judgment the Emperor yielded to political
considerations--that mill-stone around the neck of the French army in
1870--and decided to strike out to the north with MacMahon's army, and
by way of Montmedy stretch a hand to Bazaine, who, on his side, was
expected to make for that rendezvous. On the 21st, therefore, they
marched to Reims. There the Emperor received a despatch which Bazaine
had been able to get through the enemies' lines on the 19th, stating
that the Germans were making their way in on Metz, but that he (Bazaine)
hoped to break away towards Montmedy and so join MacMahon's army. (This,
it will be observed, was _after_ Gravelotte had been lost.) Napoleon
III. thereupon replied: "Received yours of the 19th at Reims; am going
towards Montmedy; shall be on the Aisne the day after to-morrow, and
there will act according to circumstances to come to your aid." Bazaine
did not receive this message until August 30, and then made only two
weak efforts to break out on the north (August 31-September 1). The
Marshal's action in sending that message must be pronounced one of the
most fatal in the whole war. It led the Emperor and MacMahon to a false
belief as to the position at Metz, and furnished a potent argument to
the Empress and Palikao at Paris to urge a march towards Montmedy at
all costs.

Doubtfully MacMahon led his straggling array from Reims in a
north-easterly direction towards Stenay on the Meuse. Rain checked his
progress, and dispirited the troops; but on the 27th August, while about
half-way between the Aisne and the Meuse, his outposts touched those of
the enemy. They were, in fact, those of the Prussian Crown Prince, whose
army was about to cross the northern roads over the Argonne, the line of
hills that saw the French stem the Prussian invasion in 1792. Far
different was the state of affairs now. National enthusiasm,
organisation, enterprise--all were on the side of the invaders. As has
been pointed out, their horsemen found out on the 23rd that the Chalons
camp was deserted; on the next day their scouts found out from a
Parisian newspaper that MacMahon was at Reims; and, on the day
following, newspaper tidings that had come round by way of London
revealed the secret that MacMahon was striving to reach Bazaine.

How it came about that this news escaped the eye of the censor has not
been explained. If it was the work of an English journalist, that does
not absolve the official censorship from the charge of gross
carelessness in leaving even a loophole for the transmission of
important secrets. Newspaper correspondents, of course, are the natural
enemies of Governments in time of war; and the experience of the year
1870 shows that the fate of Empires may depend on the efficacy of the
arrangements for controlling them. As a proof of the superiority of the
German organisation, or of the higher patriotism of their newspapers, we
may mention that no tidings of urgent importance leaked out through the
German Press. This may have been due to a solemn declaration made by
German newspaper editors and correspondents that they would never reveal
such secrets; but, from what we know of the fierce competition of
newspapers for priority of news, it is reasonable to suppose that the
German Government took very good care that none came in their way.

As a result of the excellent scouting of their cavalry and of the
slipshod Press arrangements of the French Government, the German Army of
the Meuse, on the 26th, took a general turn towards the north-west. This
movement brought its outposts near to the southernmost divisions of
MacMahon, and sent through that Marshal's staff the foreboding thrill
felt by the commander of an unseaworthy craft at the oncoming of the
first gust of a cyclone. He saw the madness of holding on his present
course and issued orders for a retreat to Mezieres, a fortress on the
Meuse below Sedan. Once more, however, the Palikao Ministry intervened
to forbid this salutary move--the only way out of imminent danger--and
ordered him to march to the relief of Bazaine. At this crisis Napoleon
III. showed the good sense which seemed to have deserted the French
politicians: he advised the Marshal not to obey this order if he thought
it dangerous. Nevertheless, MacMahon decided to yield to the supposed
interests of the dynasty, which the Emperor was ready to sacrifice to
the higher claims of the safety of France. Their roles were thus
curiously reversed. The Emperor reasoned as a sound patriot and a good
strategist. MacMahon must have felt the same promptings, but obedience
to the Empress and the Ministry, or chivalrous regard for Bazaine,
overcame his scruples. He decided to plod on towards the Meuse.

The Germans were now on the alert to entrap this army that exposed its
flank in a long line of march near to the Belgian frontier. Their
ubiquitous horsemen captured French despatches which showed them the
intended moves in MacMahon's desperate game; Moltke hurried up every
available division; and the elder of the two Alvenslebens had the honour
of surprising de Failly's corps amidst the woods of the Ardennes near
Beaumont, as they were in the midst of a meal. The French rallied and
offered a brisk defence, but finally fell back in confusion northwards
on Mouzon, with the loss of 2000 prisoners and 42 guns (August 30).

This mishap, the lack of provisions, and the fatigue and demoralisation
of his troops, caused MacMahon on the 31st to fall back on Sedan, a
little town in the valley of the Meuse. It is surrounded by ramparts
planned by the great Vauban, but, being commanded by wooded heights, it
no longer has the importance that it possessed before the age of
long-range guns of precision. The chief strength of the position for
defence lay in the deep loop of the river below the town, the dense
Garenne Wood to the north-east, and the hollow formed by the Givonne
brook on the east, with the important village of Bazeilles. It is
therefore not surprising that von Moltke, on seeing the French forces
concentrating in this hollow, remarked to von Blumenthal, Chief of the
Staff: "Now we have them in a trap; to-morrow we must cross over the
Meuse early in the morning."

The Emperor and MacMahon seem even then, on the afternoon of the 31st,
to have hoped to give their weary troops a brief rest, supply them with
provisions and stores from the fortress, and on the morrow, or the 2nd,
make their escape by way of Mezieres. Possibly they might have done so
on that night, and certainly they could have reached the Belgian
frontier, only some six miles distant, and there laid down their arms to
the Belgian troops whom the resourceful Bismarck had set on the _qui
vive._ To remain quiet even for a day in Sedan was to court disaster;
yet passivity characterised the French headquarters and the whole army
on that afternoon and evening. True, MacMahon gave orders for the bridge
over the Meuse at Donchery to be blown up, but the engine-driver who
took the engineers charged with this important task, lost his nerve when
German shells whizzed about his engine, and drove off before the powder
and tools could be deposited. A second party, sent later on, found that
bridge in the possession of the enemy. On the east side, above Sedan,
the Bavarians seized the railway bridge south of Bazeilles, driving off
the French who sought to blow it up[44].

[Footnote 44: Moltke, _The Franco-German War_, vol. i. p. 114. Hooper,
_The Campaign of Sedan_, p. 296.]

Over the Donchery bridge and two pontoon bridges constructed below that
village the Germans poured their troops before dawn of September 1, and
as the morning fog of that day slowly lifted, their columns were seen
working round the north of the deep loop of the Meuse, thus cutting off
escape on the west and north-west. Meanwhile, on the other side of the
town, von der Tann's Bavarians had begun the fight. Pressing in on
Bazeilles so as to hinder the retreat of the enemy (as had been so
effectively done at Colombey, on the east of Metz), they at first
surprised the sleeping French, but quickly drew on themselves a sharp
and sustained counter-attack from the marines attached to the 12th
French corps.

In order to understand the persistent vigour of the French on this side,
we must note the decisions formed by their headquarters on August 31 and
early on September 1. At a council of war held on the afternoon of the
31st no decision was reached, probably because the exhaustion of the
5th and 7th corps and the attack of the Bavarians on the 12th corps at
Bazeilles rendered any decided movement very difficult. The general
conclusion was that the army must have some repose; and Germans
afterwards found on the battlefield a French order--"Rest to-day for the
whole army." But already on the 30th an officer had come from Paris
determined to restore the morale of the army and break through towards
Bazaine. This was General de Wimpffen, who had gained distinction in
previous wars, and, coming lately from Algeria to Paris, was there
appointed to supersede de Failly in command of the 5th corps. Nor was
this all. The Palikao Ministry apparently had some doubts as to
MacMahon's energy, and feared that the Emperor himself hampered the
operations. De Wimpffen therefore received an unofficial mandate to
infuse vigour into the counsels at headquarters, and was entrusted with
a secret written order to take over the supreme command if anything were
to happen to MacMahon. On taking command of the 5th corps on the 30th,
de Wimpffen found it demoralised by the hurried retreat through Mouzon;
but neither this fact nor the exhaustion of the whole army abated the
determination of this stalwart soldier to break through towards Metz.

Early on September 1 the positions held by the French formed, roughly
speaking, a triangle resting on the right bank of the Meuse from, near
Bazeilles to Sedan and Glaire. Damming operations and the heavy rains of
previous days had spread the river over the low-lying meadows, thus
rendering it difficult, if not impossible, for an enemy to cross under
fire; but this same fact lessened the space by which the French could
endeavour to break through. Accordingly they deployed their forces
almost wholly along the inner slopes of the Givonne brook and of the
smaller stream that flows from the high land about Illy down to the
village of Floing and thence to the Meuse. The heights of Illy, crowned
by the Calvaire, formed the apex of the French position, while Floing
and Bazeilles formed the other corners of what was in many respects
good fighting-ground. Their strength was about 120,000 men, though many
of these were disabled or almost helpless from fatigue; that of the
Germans was greater on the whole, but three of their corps could not
reach the scene of action before 1 P.M. owing to the heaviness of the
roads[45]. At first, then, the French had a superiority of force and a
far more compact position, as will be seen by the accompanying plan.

[Footnote 45: Maurice, _The Franco-German War_, p. 235.]

We now resume the account of the battle. The fighting in and around
Bazeilles speedily led to one very important result. At 6 A.M. a
splinter of a shell fired by the assailants from the hills north-east of
that village, severely wounded Marshal MacMahon as he watched the
conflict from a point in front of the village of Balan. Thereupon he
named General Ducrot as his successor, passing over the claims of two
generals senior to him. Ducrot, realising the seriousness of the
position, prepared to draw off the troops towards the Calvaire of Illy
preparatory to a retreat on Mezieres by way of St. Menges. The news of
this impending retreat, which must be conducted under the hot fire of
the Germans now threatening the line of the Givonne, cut de Wimpffen to
the quick. He knew that the Crown Prince held a force to the south-west
of Sedan, ready to fall on the flank of any force that sought to break
away to Mezieres; and a temporary success of his own 5th corps against
the Saxons in la Moncelle strengthened his prepossession in favour of a
combined move eastwards towards Carignan and Metz. Accordingly, about
nine o'clock he produced the secret order empowering him to succeed
MacMahon should the latter be incapacitated. Ducrot at once yielded to
the ministerial ukase; the Emperor sought to intervene in favour of
Ducrot, only to be waved aside by the confident de Wimpffen; and thus
the long conflict between MacMahon and the Palikao Ministry ended in
victory for the latter--and disaster for France[46].

[Footnote 46: See Lebrun's _Guerre de 1870: Bazeilles-Sedan_, for these
disputes.] In hazarding this last statement we do not mean to imply
that a retreat on Mezieres would then have saved the whole army. It
might, however, have enabled part of it to break through either to
Mezieres or the Belgian boundary; and it is possible that Ducrot had the
latter objective in view when he ordered the concentration at Illy. In
any case, that move was now countermanded in favour of a desperate
attack on the eastern assailants. It need hardly be said that the result
of these vacillations was deplorable, unsteadying the defenders, and
giving the assailants time to bring up troops and cannon, and thereby
strengthen their grip on every important point. Especially valuable was
the approach of the 2nd Bavarian corps; setting out from Raucourt at 4
A.M. it reached the hills south of Sedan about 9, and its artillery
posted near Frenois began a terrible fire on the town and the French
troops near it.

About the same time the Second Division of the Saxons reinforced their
hard-pressed comrades to the north of la Moncelle, where, on de
Wimpffen's orders, the French were making a strong forward move. The
opportune arrival of these new German troops saved their artillery,
which had been doing splendid service. The French were driven back
across the Givonne with heavy loss, and the massed battery of 100 guns
crushed all further efforts at advance on this side. Meanwhile at
Bazeilles the marines had worthily upheld the honour of the French arms.
Despite the terrible artillery fire now concentrated on the village,
they pushed the German footmen back, but never quite drove them out.
These, when reinforced, renewed the fight with equal obstinacy; the
inhabitants themselves joined in with whatever weapons fury suggested to
them and as that merciless strife swayed to and fro amidst the roar of
artillery, the crash of walls, and the hiss of flame, war was seen in
all its naked ferocity.

Yet here again, as at all points, the defence was gradually overborne by
the superiority of the German artillery. About eleven o'clock the
French, despite their superhuman efforts, were outflanked by the
Bavarians and Saxons on the north of the village. Even then, when the
regulars fell back, some of the inhabitants went on with their mad
resistance; a great part of the village was now in flames, but whether
they were kindled by the Germans, or by the retiring French so as to
delay the victors, has never been cleared up. In either case, several of
the inhabitants perished in the flames; and it is admitted that the
Bavarians burnt some of the villagers for firing on them from the

[Footnote 47: M. Busch, _Bismarck in the Franco-German War_, vol. i. p.

In the defence of Bazeilles the French infantry showed its usual courage
and tenacity. Elsewhere the weary and dispirited columns were speedily
becoming demoralised under the terrific artillery fire which the Germans
poured in from many points of vantage. The Prussian Guards coming up
from Villers Cernay about 10 A.M. planted their formidable batteries so
as to sweep the Bois de Garenne and the ground about the Calvaire d'Illy
from the eastward; and about that time the guns of the 5th and 11th
German corps, that had early crossed the Meuse below Sedan, were brought
to bear on the west front of that part of the French position. The apex
of the defenders' triangle was thus severely searched by some 200 guns;
and their discharges, soon supported by the fire of skirmishers and
volleys from the troops, broke all forward movements of the French on
that side. On the south and south-east as many cannon swept the French
lines, but from a greater distance.

Up to nearly noon there seemed some chance of the French bursting
through on the north, and some of them did escape. Yet no well-sustained
effort took place on that side, apparently because, even after the loss
of Bazeilles at eleven o'clock, de Wimpffen clung to the belief that he
could cut his way out towards Carignan, if not by Bazeilles, then
perhaps by some other way, as Daigny or la Moncelle. The reasoning by
which he convinced himself is hard to follow; for the only road to
Carignan on that side runs through Bazeilles. Perhaps we ought to say
that he did not reason, but was haunted by one fixed notion; and the
history of war from the time of the Roman Varro down to the age of the
Austrian Mack and the French de Wimpffen shows that men whose brains
work in grooves and take no account of what is on the right hand and the
left, are not fit to command armies; they only yield easy triumphs to
the great masters of warfare--Hannibal, Napoleon the Great, and
von Moltke.

De Wimpffen, we say, paid little heed to the remonstrances of Generals
Douay and Ducrot at leaving the northern apex and the north-western
front of the defence to be crushed by weight of metal and of numbers. He
rode off towards Balan, near which village the former defenders of
Bazeilles were making a gallant and partly successful stand, and no
reinforcements were sent to the hills on the north. The villages of Illy
and Floing were lost; then the French columns gave ground even up the
higher ground behind them, so great was the pressure of the German
converging advance. Worst of all, skulkers began to hurry from the ranks
and seek shelter in the woods, or even under the ramparts of Sedan far
in the rear. The French gunners still plied their guns with steady
devotion, though hopelessly outmatched at all points, but it was clear
that only a great forward dash could save the day. Ducrot therefore
ordered General Margueritte with three choice cavalry regiments
(Chasseurs d'Afrique) and several squadrons of Lancers to charge the
advancing lines. Moving forward from the northern edge of the Bois de
Garenne to judge his ground, Margueritte fell mortally wounded. De
Bauffremont took his place, and those brave horsemen swept forward on a
task as hopeless as that of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, or that of
the French Cuirassiers at Woerth[48]. Their conduct was as glorious; but
the terrible power of the modern rifle was once more revealed. The
pounding of distant batteries they could brave; disordered but defiant
they swept on towards the German lines, but when the German infantry
opened fire almost at pistol range, rank after rank of the horsemen
went down as grass before the scythe. Here and there small bands of
horsemen charged the footmen on the flank, even in a few cases on their
rear, it is said; but the charge, though bravely renewed, did little
except to delay the German triumph and retrieve the honour of France.

[Footnote 48: Lebrun (_op. cit._ pp. 126-127; also Appendix D) maintains
that de Bauffremont then led the charge, de Gallifet leading only the
3rd Chasseurs d'Afrique.]

By about two o'clock the French cavalry was practically disabled, and
there now remained no Imperial Guard, as at Waterloo, to shed some rays
of glory over the disaster. Meanwhile, however, de Wimpffen had resolved
to make one more effort. Gathering about him a few of the best infantry
battalions in and about Sedan, he besought the Emperor to join him in
cutting a way out towards the east. The Emperor sent no answer to this
appeal; he judged that too much blood had already been needlessly shed.
Still, de Wimpffen persisted in his mad endeavour. Bursting upon the
Bavarians in the village of Balan, he drove them back for a space until
his men, disordered by the rush, fell before the stubborn rally of the
Bavarians and Saxons. With the collapse of this effort and the cutting
up of the French cavalry behind Floing, the last frail barriers to the
enemy's advance gave way. The roads to Sedan were now thronged with
masses of fugitives, whose struggles to pass the drawbridges into the
little fortress resembled an African battue; for King William and his
Staff, in order to hurry on the inevitable surrender, bade the 200 or
more pieces on the southern heights play upon the town. Still de
Wimpffen refused to surrender, and, despite the orders of his sovereign,
continued the hopeless struggle. At length, to stay the frightful
carnage, the Emperor himself ordered the white flag to be hoisted[49]. A
German officer went down to arrange preliminaries, and to his
astonishment was ushered into the presence of the Emperor. The German
Staff had no knowledge of his whereabouts. On hearing the news, King
William, who throughout the day sat on horseback at the top of the slope
behind Frenois, said to his son, the Crown Prince: "This is indeed a
great success; and I thank thee that thou hast contributed to it." He
gave his hand to his son, who kissed it, and then, in turn, to Moltke
and to Bismarck, who kissed it also. In a short time, the French General
Reille brought to the King the following autograph letter:--

     MONSIEUR MON FRERE--N'ayant pu mourir au milieu de mes
     troupes, il ne me reste qu'a remettre mon epee entre les
     mains de Votre Majeste.--Je suis de Votre Majeste le
     bon Frere


     SEDAN, _le 1er Septembre, 1870_.

[Footnote 49: Lebrun, _op. cit._ pp. 130 _et seq._ for the disputes
about surrender.]

The King named von Moltke to arrange the terms and then rode away to a
village farther south, it being arranged, probably at Bismarck's
suggestion, that he should not see the Emperor until all was settled.
Meanwhile de Wimpffen and other French generals, in conference with von
Moltke, Bismarck, and Blumenthal, at the village of Donchery, sought to
gain easy terms by appealing to their generosity and by arguing that
this would end the war and earn the gratitude of France. To all appeals
for permission to let the captive army go to Algeria, or to lay down its
arms in Belgium, the Germans were deaf,--Bismarck at length plainly
saying that the French were an envious and jealous people on whose
gratitude it would be idle to count. De Wimpffen then threatened to
renew the fight rather than surrender, to which von Moltke grimly
assented, but Bismarck again interposed to bring about a prolongation of
the truce. Early on the morrow, Napoleon himself drove out to Donchery
in the hope of seeing the King. The Bismarckian Boswell has given us a
glimpse of him as he then appeared: "The look in his light grey eyes was
somewhat soft and dreamy, like that of people who have lived too fast."
[In his case, we may remark, this was induced by the painful disease
which never left him all through the campaign, and carried him off three
years later.] "He wore his cap a little on the right, to which side his
head also inclined. His short legs were out of proportion to the long
upper body. His whole appearance was a little unsoldier-like. The man
looked too soft--I might say too spongy--for the uniform he wore."

Bismarck, the stalwart Teuton who had wrecked his policy at all points,
met him at Donchery and foiled his wish to see the King, declaring this
to be impossible until the terms of the capitulation were settled. The
Emperor then had a conversation with the Chancellor in a little cottage
belonging to a weaver. Seating themselves on two rush-bottomed chairs
beside the one deal table, they conversed on the greatest affairs of
State. The Emperor said he had not sought this war--"he had been driven
into it by the pressure of public opinion. I replied" (wrote Bismarck)
"that neither had any one with us wished for war--the King least of
all[50]." Napoleon then pleaded for generous terms, but admitted that
he, as a prisoner, could not fix them; they must be arranged with de
Wimpffen. About ten o'clock the latter agreed to an unconditional
surrender for the rank and file of the French army, but those officers
who bound themselves by their word of honour (in writing) not to fight
again during the present war were to be set free. Napoleon then had an
interview with the King. What transpired is not known, but when the
Emperor came out "his eyes" (wrote Bismarck) "were full of tears."

[Footnote 50: Busch, _Bismarck on the Franco-German War_, vol. i. p.
109. Contrast this statement with his later efforts (_Reminiscences_,
vol. ii. pp. 95-100) to prove that he helped to bring on war.]

The fallen monarch accepted the King's offer of the castle of
Wilhelmshoehe near Cassel for his residence up to the end of the war; it
was the abode on which Jerome Bonaparte had spent millions of thalers,
wrung from Westphalian burghers, during his brief sovereignty in
1807-1813. Thither his nephew set out two days after the catastrophe of
Sedan. And this, as it seems, was the end of a dynasty whose rise to
power dated from the thrilling events of the Bridge of Lodi, Arcola,
Rivoli, and the Pyramids. The French losses on September 1 were about
3000 killed, 14,000 wounded, and 21,000 prisoners. On the next day
there surrendered 83,000 prisoners by virtue of the capitulation, along
with 419 field-pieces and 139 cannon of the fortress. Some 3000 had
escaped, through the gap in the German lines on the north-east, to the
Belgian frontier, and there laid down their arms.

The news of this unparalleled disaster began to leak out at Paris late
on the 2nd; on the morrow, when details were known, crowds thronged into
the streets shouting "Down with the Empire! Long live the Republic!"
Power still remained with the Empress-Regent and the Palikao Ministry.
All must admit that the Empress Eugenie did what was possible in this
hopeless position. She appealed to that charming literary man, M.
Prosper Merimee, to go to his friend, M. Thiers (at whom we shall glance
presently), and beg him to form a Ministry that would save the Empire
for the young Prince Imperial. M. Thiers politely but firmly refused to
give a helping hand to the dynasty which he looked on as the author of
his country's ruin.

On that day the Empress also summoned the Chambers--the Senate and the
Corps Legislatif--a vain expedient, for in times of crisis the French
look to a man, not to Chambers. The Empire had no man at hand. General
Trochu, Governor of Paris, was suspected of being a Republican--at any
rate he let matters take their course. On the 4th, vast crowds filled
the streets; a rush was made to the Chamber, where various compromises
were being discussed; the doors were forced, and amid wild excitement a
proposal to dethrone the Napoleonic dynasty was put. Two Republican
deputies, Gambetta and Jules Favre, declared that the Hotel de Ville was
the fit place to declare the Republic. There, accordingly, it was
proclaimed, the deputies for the city of Paris taking office as the
Government of National Defence. They were just in time to prevent
Socialists like Blanqui, Flourens, and Henri Rochefort from installing
the "Commune" in power. The Empress and the Prince Imperial at once
fled, and, apart from a protest by the Senate, no voice was raised in
defence of the Empire. Jules Favre who took up the burden of Foreign
Affairs in the new Government of National Defence was able to say in his
circular note of September 6 that "the Revolution of September 4 took
place without the shedding of a drop of blood or the loss of liberty to
a single person[51]."

[Footnote 51: Gabriel Hanotaux, _Contemporary France_, vol. i. p. 14
(Eng. edit.)]

That fact shows the unreality of Bonapartist rule in France. At bottom
Napoleon III.'s ascendancy was due to several causes, that told against
possible rivals rather than directly in his favour. Hatred of the
socialists, whose rash political experiments had led to the bloody days
of street fighting in Paris in June 1848, counted for much. Added to
this was the unpopularity of the House of Orleans after the sordid and
uninteresting rule of Louis Philippe (1830-48). The antiquated royalism
of the Elder or Legitimist branch of that ill-starred dynasty made it
equally an impossibility. Louis Napoleon promised to do what his
predecessors, Monarchical and Republican, had signally failed to do,
namely, to reconcile the claims of liberty and order at home and uphold
the prestige of France abroad. For the first ten years the glamour of
his name, the skill with which he promoted the material prosperity of
France, and the successes of his early wars, promised to build up a
lasting power. But then came the days of failing health and tottering
prestige--of financial scandals, of the Mexican blunder, of the
humiliation before the rising power of Prussia. To retrieve matters he
toyed with democracy in France, and finally allowed his Ministers to
throw down a challenge to Prussia; for, in the words of a French
historian, the conditions on which he held power "condemned him to be

[Footnote 52: Said in 1852 by an eminent Frenchman to our countryman,
Nassau Senior (_Journals_, ii. _ad fin_).]

Failing at Sedan, he lost all; and he knew it. His reign, in fact, was
one long disaster for France. The canker of moral corruption began to
weaken her public life when the creatures of whom he made use in the
_coup d'etat _of 1851 crept into place and power. The flashy
sensationalism of his policy, setting the tone for Parisian society, was
fatal to the honest unseen drudgery which builds up a solid edifice
alike in public and in private life. Even the better qualities of his
nature told against ultimate success. As has been shown, his vague but
generous ideas on Nationality drew French policy away from the paths of
obvious self-interest after the year 1864, and gave an easy victory to
the keen and objective statecraft of Bismarck. That he loved France as
sincerely as he believed in the power of the Bonapartist tradition to
help her, can scarcely admit of doubt. His conduct during the war of
1870 showed him to be disinterested, while his vision was clearer than
that of the Generals about him. But in the field of high policy, as in
the moral events that make or mar a nation's life, his influence told
heavily against the welfare of France; and he must have carried into
exile the consciousness that his complex nature and ill-matched
strivings had but served to bring his dynasty and his country to an
unexampled overthrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may be well to notice here an event of world-wide importance, which
came as a sequel to the military collapse of France. Italians had always
looked to the day when Rome would be the national capital. The great
Napoleon during his time of exile at St. Helena had uttered the
prophetic words: "Italy isolated between her natural limits is destined
to form a great and powerful nation. . . . Rome will without doubt be
chosen by the Italians as their capital." The political and economic
needs of the present, coinciding herein with the voice of tradition,
always so strong in Italian hearts, pointed imperiously to Rome as the
only possible centre of national life.

As was pointed out in the Introduction, Pius IX. after the years of
revolution, 1848-49, felt the need of French troops in his capital, and
his harsh and reactionary policy (or rather, that of his masterful
Secretary of State, Antonelli) before long completely alienated the
feelings of his subjects.

After the master-mind of Cavour was removed by death, (June 1861), the
patriots struggled desperately, but in vain, to rid Rome of the presence
of foreign troops and win her for the national cause. Garibaldi's raids
of 1862 and 1867 were foiled, the one by Italian, the other by French
troops; and the latter case, which led to the sharp fight of Mentana,
effaced any feelings of gratitude to Napoleon III. for his earlier help,
which survived after his appropriation of Savoy and Nice. Thus matters
remained in 1867-70, the Pope relying on the support of French bayonets
to coerce his own subjects. Clearly this was a state of things which
could not continue. The first great shock must always bring down a
political edifice which rests not on its own foundations, but on
external buttresses. These were suddenly withdrawn by the war of 1870.
Early in August, Napoleon ordered all his troops to leave the Papal
States; and the downfall of his power a month later absolved Victor
Emmanuel from the claims of gratitude which he still felt towards his
ally of 1859.

At once the forward wing of the Italian national party took action in a
way that either forced, or more probably encouraged, Victor Emmanuel's
Government to step in under the pretext of preventing the creation of a
Roman Republic. The King invited Pius IX. to assent to the peaceful
occupation of Rome by the royal troops, and on receiving the expected
refusal, moved forward 35,000 soldiers. The resistance of the 11,000
Papal troops proved to be mainly a matter of form. The wall near the
Porta Pia soon crumbled before the Italian cannon, and after a brief
struggle at the breach, the white flag was hoisted at the bidding of the
Pope (Sept. 20).

Thus fell the temporal power of the Papacy. The event aroused
comparatively little notice in that year of marvels, but its results
have been momentous. At the time there was a general sense of relief, if
not of joy, in Italy, that the national movement had reached its goal,
albeit in so tame and uninspiring a manner. Rome had long been a prey to
political reaction, accompanied by police supervision of the most
exasperating kind. The _plebiscite_ as to the future government gave
133,681 votes for Victor Emmanuel's rule, and only 1507 negative

[Footnote 53: Countess Cesaresco, _The Liberation of Italy_, p. 411.]

Now, for the first time since the days of Napoleon I. and of the
short-lived Republic for which Mazzini and Garibaldi worked and fought
so nobly in 1849, the Eternal City began to experience the benefits of
progressive rule. The royal government soon proved to be very far from
perfect. Favouritism, the multiplication of sinecures, municipal
corruption, and the prosaic inroads of builders and speculators, soon
helped to mar the work of political reconstruction, and began to arouse
a certain amount of regret for the more picturesque times of the Papal
rule. A sentimental reaction of this kind is certain to occur in all
cases of political change, especially in a city where tradition and
emotion so long held sway.

The consciences of the faithful were also troubled when the _fiat_ of
the Pope went forth excommunicating the robber-king and all his chief
abettors in the work of sacrilege. Sons of the Church throughout Italy
were bidden to hold no intercourse with the interlopers and to take no
part in elections to the Italian Parliament which thenceforth met in
Rome. The schism between the Vatican and the King's Court and Government
was never to be bridged over; and even to-day it constitutes one of the
most perplexing problems of Italy.

Despite the fact that Rome and Italy gained little of that mental and
moral stimulus which might have resulted from the completion of the
national movement solely by the action of the people themselves, the
fact nevertheless remains that Rome needed Italy and Italy needed Rome.
The disappointment loudly expressed by idealists, sentimentalists, and
reactionaries must not blind us to the fact that the Italians, and above
all the Romans, have benefited by the advent of unity, political
freedom, and civic responsibility. It may well be that, in acting as the
leader of a constitutional people, the Eternal City will little by
little develop higher gifts than those nurtured under Papal tutelage,
and perhaps as beneficent to Humanity as those which, in the ancient
world, bestowed laws on Europe.

As Mazzini always insisted, political progress, to be sound, must be
based ultimately on moral progress. It is of its very nature slow, and
is therefore apt to escape the eyes of the moralist or cynic who dwells
on the untoward signs of the present. But the Rome for which Mazzini and
his compatriots yearned and struggled can hardly fail ultimately to rise
to the height of her ancient traditions and of that noble prophecy of
Dante: "_There_ is the seat of empire. There never was, and there never
will be, a people endowed with such capacity to acquire command, with
more vigour to maintain it, and more gentleness in its exercise, than
the Italian nation, and especially the Holy Roman people." The lines
with which Mr. Swinburne closed his "Dedication" of _Songs before
Sunrise_ to Joseph Mazzini are worthy of finding a place side by side
with the words of the mediaeval seer:--

     Yea, even she as at first,
     Yea, she alone and none other,
     Shall cast down, shall build up, shall bring home,
     Slake earth's hunger and thirst,
     Lighten, and lead as a mother;
     First name of the world's names, Rome.



     "[Greek: egigneto te logo men daemokratia, ergo de hupo tou
     protou andros archae]."

     "Thus Athens, though still in name a democracy, was in fact
     ruled by her greatest man."--THUCYDIDES, book ii. chap. 65.

The aim of this work being to trace the outlines only of those
outstanding events which made the chief States of the world what they
are to-day, we can give only the briefest glance at the remaining events
of the Franco-German War and the splendid though hopeless rally
attempted by the newly-installed Government of National Defence. Few
facts in recent history have a more thrilling interest than the details
of the valiant efforts made by the young Republic against the invaders.
The spirit in which they were made breathed through the words of M.
Picard's proclamation on September 4: "The Republic saved us from the
invasion of 1792. The Republic is proclaimed."

Inspiring as was this reference to the great and successful effort of
the First Republic against the troops of Central Europe in 1792, it was
misleading. At that time Prussia had lapsed into a state of weakness
through the double evils of favouritism and a facing-both-ways policy.
Now she felt the strength born of sturdy championship of a great
principle--that of Nationality--which had ranged nearly the whole of the
German race on her side. France, on the other hand, owing to the
shocking blunders of her politicians and generals during the war, had
but one army corps free, that of General Vinoy, which hastily retreated
from the neighbourhood of Mezieres towards Paris on September 2 to 4.
She therefore had to count almost entirely on the Garde Mobile, the
Garde Nationale, and Francs-tireurs; but bitter experience was to show
that this raw material could not be organised in a few weeks to
withstand the trained and triumphant legions of Germany.

Nevertheless there was no thought of making peace with the invaders. The
last message of Count Palikao to the Chambers had been one of defiance
to the enemy; and the Parisian deputies, nearly all of them Republicans,
who formed the Government of National Defence, scouted all faint-hearted
proposals. Their policy took form in the famous phrase of Jules Favre,
Minister of Foreign Affairs: "We will give up neither an inch of our
territory nor a stone of our fortresses." This being so, all hope of
compromise with the Germans was vain. Favre had interviews with Bismarck
at the Chateau de Ferrieres (September 19); but his fine oratory, even
his tears, made no impression on the Iron Chancellor, who declared that
in no case would an armistice be granted, not even for the election of a
National Assembly, unless France agreed to give up Alsace and a part of
Lorraine, allowing the German troops also to hold, among other places,
Strassburg and Toul.

Obviously, a self-constituted body like the provisional Government at
Paris could not accept these terms, which most deeply concerned the
nation at large. In the existing temper of Paris and France, the mention
of such terms meant war to the knife, as Bismarck must have known. On
their side, Frenchmen could not believe that their great capital, with
its bulwarks and ring of outer forts, could be taken; while the
Germans--so it seems from the Diary of General von Blumenthal--looked
forward to its speedy capitulation. One man there was who saw the
pressing need of foreign aid. M. Thiers (whose personality will concern
us a little later) undertook to go on a mission to the chief Powers of
Europe in the hope of urging one or more of them to intervene on behalf
of France.

The details of that mission are, of course, not fully known. We can
only state here that Russia now repaid Prussia's help in crushing the
Polish rebellion of 1863 by neutrality, albeit tinged with a certain
jealousy of German success. Bismarck had been careful to dull that
feeling by suggesting that she (Russia) should take the present
opportunity of annulling the provision, made after the Crimean War,
which prevented her from sending war-ships on to the Black Sea; and this
was subsequently done, under a thin diplomatic disguise, at the Congress
of London (March 1871). Bismarck's astuteness in supporting Russia at
this time therefore kept that Power quiet. As for Austria, she
undoubtedly wished to intervene, but did not choose to risk a war with
Russia, which would probably have brought another overthrow. Italy would
not unsheathe her sword for France unless the latter recognised her
right to Rome (which the Italian troops entered on September 20). To
this the young French Republic demurred. Great Britain, of course,
adhered to the policy of neutrality which she at first declared[54].

[Footnote 54: See Debidour, _Histoire diplomatique de l'Europe_, vol.
ii. pp. 412-415. For Bismarck's fears of intervention, especially that
of Austria, see his _Reminiscences_, vol. ii. p. 109 (English edit.);
Count Beust's _Aus drei Viertel-Jahrhunderten_, pt. ii. pp. 361, 395;
for Thiers' efforts see his _Notes_ on the years 1870-73 (Paris 1904).]

Accordingly, France had to rely on her own efforts. They were
surprisingly great. Before the complete investment of Paris (September
20), a Delegation of the Government of National Defence had gone forth
to Tours with the aim of stirring up the provinces to the succour of the
besieged capital. Probably the whole of the Government ought to have
gone there; for, shut up in the capital, it lost touch with the
provinces, save when balloons and carrier-pigeons eluded the German
sharpshooters and brought precious news[55]. The mistake was seen in
time to enable a man of wondrous energy to leave Paris by balloon on
October 7, to descend as a veritable _deus ex machina_ on the faltering
Delegation at Tours, and to stir the blood of France by his invective.
There was a touch of the melodramatic not only in his apparition but in
his speeches. Frenchmen, however, follow a leader all the better if he
is a good stage-manager and a clever actor. The new leader was both; but
he was something more.

[Footnote 55: M. Gregoire in his _Histoire de France_, vol. iv. p. 647,
states that 64 balloons left Paris during the siege, 5 were captured and
2 lost in the sea; 363 carrier-pigeons left the city and 57 came in. For
details of the French efforts see _Les Responsabilites de la Defense
rationale_, by H. Genevois; also _The People's War in France,
1870-1871_, by Col. L. Hale (The Pall Mall Military Series, 1904),
founded on Hoenig's _Der Volkskrieg an der Loire_.]

Leon Gambetta had leaped to the front rank at the Bar in the closing
days of 1868 by a passionate outburst against the _coup d'etat_,
uttered, to the astonishment of all, in a small Court of Correctional
Police, over a petty case of State prosecution of a small Parisian
paper. Rejecting the ordinary methods of defence, the young barrister
flung defiance at Napoleon III. as the author of the _coup d'etat_ and
of all the present degradation of France. The daring of the young
barrister, who thus turned the tables on the authorities and impeached
the head of the State, made a profound impression; it was redoubled by
the Southern intensity of his thought and expression. Disdaining all
forms of rhetoric, he poured forth a torrent of ideas, clothing them in
the first words that came to his facile tongue, enforcing them by blows
of the fist or the most violent gestures, and yet, again, modulating the
roar of passion to the falsetto of satire or the whisper of emotion. His
short, thick-set frame, vibrating with strength, doubled the force of
all his utterances. Nor did they lack the glamour of poetry and romance
that might be expected from his Italian ancestry. He came of a Genoese
stock that had for some time settled in the South of France. Strange
fate, that called him now to the front with the aim of repairing the
ills wrought to France by another Italian House! In time of peace his
power over men would have raised him to the highest positions had his
Bohemian exuberance of thought and speech been tameable. It was not. He
scorned prudence in moderation at all times, and his behaviour, when the
wave of Revolution at last carried him to power, gave point to the taunt
of Thiers--"c'est un fou furieux." Such was the man who now brought the
quenchless ardour of his patriotism to the task of rousing France. As
far as words and energy could call forth armies, he succeeded; but as he
lacked all military knowledge, his blind self-confidence was to cost
France dear.

Possibly the new levies of the Republic might at some point have pierced
the immense circle of the German lines around Paris (for at first the
besieging forces were less numerous than the besieged), had not the
assailants been strengthened by the fall of Metz (Oct. 27). This is not
the place to discuss the culpability of Bazaine for the softness shown
in the defence. The voluminous evidence taken at his trial shows that he
was very slack in the critical days at the close of August; it is also
certain that Bismarck duped him under the pretence that, on certain
conditions to be arranged with the Empress Eugenie, his army might be
kept intact for the sake of re-establishing the Empire[56]. The whole
scheme was merely a device to gain time and keep Bazaine idle, and the
German Chancellor succeeded here as at all points in his great game. On
October 27, then, 6000 officers, 173,000 rank and file, were constrained
by famine to surrender, along with 541 field-pieces and 800 siege guns.

[Footnote 56: Bazaine gives the details from his point of view in his
_Episodes de la Guerre de 1870 et le Blocus de Metz_ (Madrid, 1883). One
of the go-betweens was a man Regnier, who pretended to come from the
Empress Eugenie, then at Hastings; but Bismarck seems to have distrusted
him and to have dismissed him curtly. The adventuress, Mme. Humbert,
recently claimed that she had her "millions" from this Regnier. A sharp
criticism on Bazaine's conduct at Metz is given in a pamphlet, _Reponse
au Rapport sommaire sur les Operations de l'Armee du Rhin_, by one of
his Staff Officers. See, too, M. Samuel Denis in his recent work,
_Histoire Contemporaine_ (de France).]

This capitulation, the greatest recorded in the history of civilised
nations, dealt a death-blow to the hopes of France. Strassburg had
hoisted the white flag a month earlier; and the besiegers of these
fortresses were free to march westwards and overwhelm the new levies.
After gaining a success at Coulmiers, near Orleans (Nov. 9), the French
were speedily driven down the valley of the Loire and thence as far west
as Le Mans. In the North, at St. Quentin, the Germans were equally
successful, as also in Burgundy against that once effective free-lance,
Garibaldi, who came with his sons to fight for the Republic. The last
effort was made by Bourbaki and a large but ill-compacted army against
the enemy's communications in Alsace. By a speedy concentration the
Germans at Hericourt, near Belfort, defeated this daring move (imposed
by the Government of National Defence on Bourbaki against his better
judgment), and compelled him and his hard-pressed followers to pass over
into Switzerland (January 30, 1871).

Meanwhile Paris had already surrendered. During 130 days, and that too
in a winter of unusual severity, the great city had held out with a
courage that neither defeats, schisms, dearth of food, nor the
bombardment directed against its southern quarters could overcome.
Towards the close of January famine stared the defenders in the face,
and on the 28th an armistice was concluded, which put an end to the war
except in the neighbourhood of Belfort. That exception was due to the
determination of the Germans to press Bourbaki hard, while the French
negotiators were not aware of his plight. The garrison of Paris, except
12,000 men charged with the duty of keeping order, surrendered; the
forts were placed in the besiegers' hands. When that was done the city
was to be revictualled and thereafter pay a war contribution of
200,000,000 francs (L8,000,000). A National Assembly was to be freely
elected and meet at Bordeaux to discuss the question of peace. The
National Guards retained their arms, Favre maintaining that it would be
impossible to disarm them; for this mistaken weakness he afterwards
expressed his profound sorrow[57].

[Footnote 57: It of course led up to the Communist revolt. Bismarck's
relations to the disorderly elements in Paris are not fully known; but
he warned Favre on Jan. 26 to "provoke an _emeute_ while you have an
army to suppress it with" (_Bismarck in Franco-German War_, vol. ii.
p. 265).]

Despite the very natural protests of Gambetta and many others against
the virtual ending of the war at the dictation of the Parisian
authorities, the voice of France ratified their action. An overwhelming
majority declared for peace. The young Republic had done wonders in
reviving the national spirit: Frenchmen could once more feel the
self-confidence which had been damped by the surrenders of Sedan and
Metz; but the instinct of self-preservation now called imperiously for
the ending of the hopeless struggle. In the hurried preparations for the
elections held on February 8, few questions were asked of the candidates
except that of peace or war; and it soon appeared that a great majority
was in favour of peace, even at the cost of part of the eastern

Of the 630 deputies who met at Bordeaux on February 12, fully 400 were
Monarchists, nearly evenly divided between the Legitimists and
Orleanists; 200 were professed Republicans; but only 30 Bonapartists
were returned. It is not surprising that the Assembly, which met in the
middle of February, should soon have declared that the Napoleonic Empire
had ceased to exist, as being "responsible for the ruin, invasion, and
dismemberment of the country" (March 1). These rather exaggerated
charges (against which Napoleon III. protested from his place of exile,
Chislehurst) were natural in the then deplorable condition of France.
What is surprising and needs a brief explanation here, is the fact that
a monarchical Assembly should have allowed the Republic to be founded.

This paradoxical result sprang from several causes, some of them of a
general nature, others due to party considerations, while the personal
influence of one man perhaps turned the balance at this crisis in the
history of France. We will consider them in the order here named.

Stating the matter broadly, we may say that the present Assembly was not
competent to decide on the future constitution of France; and that vague
but powerful instinct, which guides representative bodies in such cases,
told against any avowedly partisan effort in that direction. The
deputies were fully aware that they were elected to decide the urgent
question of peace or war, either to rescue France from her long agony,
or to pledge the last drops of her life-blood in an affair of honour.
By an instinct of self-preservation, the electors, especially in the
country districts, turned to the men of property and local influence as
those who were most likely to save them from the frothy followers of
Gambetta. Accordingly, local magnates were preferred to the barristers
and pressmen, whose oratorical and literary gifts usually carry the day
in France; and more than 200 noblemen were elected. They were chosen not
on account of their nobility and royalism, but because they were certain
to vote against the _fou furieux_.

Then, too, the Royalists knew very well that time would be required to
accustom France to the idea of a King, and to adjust the keen rivalries
between the older and the younger branches of the Bourbon House.
Furthermore, they were anxious that the odium of signing a disastrous
peace should fall on the young Republic, not on the monarch of the
future. Just as the great Napoleon in 1814 was undoubtedly glad that the
giving up of Belgium and the Rhine boundary should devolve on his
successor, Louis XVIII., and counted on that as one of the causes
undermining the restored monarchy, so now the Royalists intended to
leave the disagreeable duty of ceding the eastern districts of France to
the Republicans who had so persistently prolonged the struggle. The
clamour of no small section of the Republican party for war _a outrance_
still played into the hands of the royalists and partly justified this
narrow partisanship. Events, however, were to prove here, as in so many
cases, that the party which undertook a pressing duty and discharged it
manfully, gained more in the end than those who shirked responsibility
and left the conduct of affairs to their opponents. Men admire those who
dauntlessly pluck the flower, safety, out of the nettle, danger.

Finally, the influence of one commanding personality was ultimately to
be given to the cause of the Republic. That strange instinct which in
times of crisis turns the gaze of a people towards the one necessary
man, now singled out M. Thiers. The veteran statesman was elected in
twenty-six Departments. Gambetta and General Trochu, Governor of Paris,
were each elected nine times over. It was clear that the popular voice
was for the policy of statesmanlike moderation which Thiers now summed
up in his person; and Gambetta for a time retired to Spain.

The name of Thiers had not always stood for moderation. From the time of
his youth, when his journalistic criticisms on the politics, literature,
art and drama of the Restoration period set all tongues wagging, to the
day when his many-sided gifts bore him to power under Louis Philippe, he
stood for all that is most beloved by the vivacious sons of France. His
early work, _The History of the French Revolution_, had endeared him to
the survivors of the old Jacobin and Girondin parties, and his eager
hostility to England during his term of office flattered the Chauvinist
feelings that steadily grew in volume during the otherwise dull reign of
Louis Philippe. In the main, Thiers was an upholder of the Orleans
dynasty, yet his devotion to constitutional principles, the ardour of
his Southern temperament,--he was a Marseillais by birth,--and the
vivacious egotism that never brooked contradiction, often caused sharp
friction with the King and the King's friends. He seemed born for
opposition and criticism. Thereafter, his conduct of affairs helped to
undermine the fabric of the Second Republic (1848-51). Flung into prison
by the minions of Louis Napoleon at the time of the _coup d'etat_, he
emerged buoyant as ever, and took up again the role that he loved
so well.

Nevertheless, amidst all the seeming vagaries of Thiers' conduct there
emerge two governing principles--a passionate love of France, and a
sincere attachment to reasoned liberty. The first was absolute and
unchangeable; the second admitted of some variations if the ruler did
not enhance the glory of France, and also (as some cynics said)
recognise the greatness of M. Thiers. For the many gibes to which his
lively talents and successful career exposed him, he had his revenge.
His keen glance and incisive reasoning generally warned him of the
probable fate of Dynasties and Ministries. Like Talleyrand, whom he
somewhat resembled in versatility, opportunism, and undying love of
France, he might have said that he never deserted a Government before it
deserted itself. He foretold the fall of Louis Philippe under the
reactionary Guizot Ministry as, later on, he foretold the fall of
Napoleon III. He blamed the Emperor for not making war on Prussia in
1866 with the same unanswerable logic that marked his opposition to the
mad rush for war in 1870. And yet the war spirit had been in some sense
strengthened by his own writings. His great work, _The History of the
Consulate and Empire_, which appeared from 1845 to 1862--the last eight
volumes came out during the Second Empire--was in the main a
glorification of the First Napoleon. Men therefore asked with some
impatience why the panegyrist of the uncle should oppose the supremacy
of the nephew; and the action of the crowd in smashing the historian's
windows after his great speech against the war of 1870 cannot be called
wholly illogical, even if it erred on the side of Gallic vivacity.

In the feverish drama of French politics Time sometimes brings an
appropriate Nemesis. It was so now. The man who had divided the energies
of his manhood between parliamentary opposition of a somewhat factious
type and the literary cultivation of the Napoleonic legend, was now in
the evening of his days called upon to bear a crushing load of
responsibility in struggling to win the best possible terms of peace
from the victorious Teuton, in mediating between contending factions at
Bordeaux and Paris, and, finally, in founding a form of government which
never enlisted his whole-hearted sympathy, save as the least
objectionable expedient then open to France.

For the present, the great thing was to gain peace with the minimum of
sacrifice for France. Who could drive a better bargain than Thiers, the
man who knew France so well, and had recently felt the pulse of the
Governments of Europe? Accordingly, on the 17th of February, the
Assembly named him Head of the Executive Power "until it is based upon
the French Constitution." He declined to accept this post until the
words "of the French Republic" were substituted for the latter clause.
He had every reason for urging this demand. Unlike the Republic of 1848,
the strength of which was chiefly, or almost solely, in Paris, the
Republic was proclaimed at Lyons, Marseilles, and Bordeaux, before any
news came of the overthrow of the Napoleonic dynasty at the capital[58].

[Footnote 58: Seignobos, _A Political History of Contemporary Europe_,
vol. i. p. 187 (Eng. edit.).]

He now entrusted three important portfolios, those for Foreign Affairs,
Home Affairs, and Public Instruction, to pronounced Republicans--Jules
Favre, Picard, and Jules Simon. Having pacified the monarchical majority
by appealing to them to defer all questions respecting the future
constitution until affairs were more settled, he set out to meet
Bismarck at Versailles.

A disadvantage which almost necessarily besets parliamentary
institutions had weakened the French case before the negotiations began.
The composition of the Assembly implied a strong desire for peace--a
fact which Thiers had needlessly emphasised before he left Bordeaux. On
the other hand, Bismarck was anxious to end the war. He knew enough to
be uneasy at the attitude of the neutral States; for public opinion was
veering round in England, Austria, and Italy to a feeling of keen
sympathy for France, and even Russia was restless at the sight of the
great military Empire that had sprung into being on her flank. The
recent proclamation of the German Empire at Versailles--an event that
will be treated in a later chapter--opened up a vista of great
developments for the Fatherland, not unmixed with difficulties and
dangers. Above all, sharp differences had arisen between him and the
military men at the German headquarters, who wished to "bleed France
white" by taking a large portion of French Lorraine (including its
capital Nancy), a few colonies, and part of her fleet. It is now known
that Bismarck, with the same moderation that he displayed after
Koeniggraetz, opposed these extreme claims, because he doubted the
advisability of keeping Metz, with its large French population. The
words in which he let fall these thoughts while at dinner with Busch on
February 21 deserve to be quoted:--

     If they (the French) gave us a milliard more (L40,000,000) we
     might perhaps let them have Metz. We would then take
     800,000,000 francs, and build ourselves a fortress a few
     miles further back, somewhere about Falkenberg or
     Saarbrueck--there must be some suitable spot thereabouts. We
     should thus make a clear profit of 200,000,000 francs.
     [N.B.--A milliard = 1,000,000,000 francs.] I do not like so
     many Frenchmen being in our house against their will. It is
     just the same with Belfort. It is all French there too. The
     military men, however, will not be willing to let Metz slip,
     and perhaps they are right[59].

[Footnote 59: Busch, _Bismarck in the Franco-German War_, vol. ii. p.

A sharp difference of opinion had arisen between Bismarck and Moltke on
this question, and the Emperor Wilhelm intervened in favour of Moltke.
That decided the question of Metz against Thiers despite his threat that
this might lead to a renewal of war. For Belfort, however, the French
statesman made a supreme effort. That fortress holds a most important
position. Strong in itself, it stands as sentinel guarding the gap of
nearly level ground between the spurs of the Vosges and those of the
Jura. If that virgin stronghold were handed over to Germany, she would
easily be able to pour her legions down the valley of the Doubs and
dominate the rich districts of Burgundy and the Lyonnais. Besides,
military honour required France to keep a fortress that had kept the
tricolour flying. Metz the Germans held, and it was impossible to turn
them out. Obviously the case of Belfort was on a different footing. In
his conference of February 24, Thiers at last defied Bismarck in these
words: "No; I will never yield Belfort and Metz in the same breath. You
wish to ruin France in her finances, in her frontiers. Well! Take her.
Conduct her administration, collect her revenues, and you will have to
govern her in the face of Europe--if Europe permits[60]."

[Footnote 60: G. Hanotaux, _Contemporary France_, vol i. p. 124 (Eng.
edit.). This work is the most detailed and authoritative that has yet
appeared on these topics. See, too, M. Samuel Denis' work, _Histoire

Probably this defiance had less weight with the Iron Chancellor than his
conviction, noticed above, that to bring two entirely French towns
within the German Empire would prove a source of weakness; beside which
his own motto, _Beati possidentes_, told with effect in the case of
Belfort. That stronghold was accordingly saved for France. Thiers also
obtained a reduction of a milliard from the impossible sum of six
milliards first named for the war indemnity due to Germany; in this
matter Jules Favre states that British mediation had been of some avail.
If so, it partly accounts for the hatred of England which Bismarck
displayed in his later years. The Preliminaries of Peace were signed at
Versailles on February 26.

One other matter remained. The Germans insisted that, if Belfort
remained to France, part of their army should enter Paris. In vain did
Thiers and Jules Favre point out the irritation that this would cause
and the possible ensuing danger. The German Emperor and his Staff made
it a point of honour, and 30,000 of their troops accordingly marched in
and occupied for a brief space the district of the Champs Elysees. The
terms of peace were finally ratified in the Treaty of Frankfurt (May 10,
1871), whereby France ceded Alsace and part of Lorraine, with a
population of some 1,600,000 souls, and underwent the other losses noted
above. Last but not least was the burden of supporting the German army
of occupation that kept its grip on the north-east of France until, as
the instalments came in, the foreign troops were proportionately drawn
away eastwards. The magnitude of these losses and burdens had already
aroused cries of anguish in France. The National Assembly at Bordeaux,
on first hearing the terms, passionately confirmed the deposition of
Napoleon III.; while the deputies from the ceded districts lodged a
solemn protest against their expatriation (March 1). Some of the
advanced Republican deputies, refusing to acknowledge the cession of
territory, resigned their seats in the Assembly. Thus there began a
schism between the Radicals, especially those of Paris, and the
Assembly, which was destined to widen into an impassable gulf. Matters
were made worse by the decision of the Assembly to sit, not at the
capital, but at Versailles, where it would be free from the commotions
of the great city. Thiers himself declared in favour of Versailles;
there the Assembly met for the first time on March 20, 1871.

A conflict between this monarchical Assembly and the eager Radicals of
Paris perhaps lay in the nature of things. The majority of the deputies
looked forward to the return of the King (whether the Comte de Chambord
of the elder Bourbons, or the Comte de Paris of the House of Orleans) as
soon as France should be freed from the German armies of occupation and
the spectre of the Red Terror. Some of their more impatient members
openly showed their hand, and while at Bordeaux began to upbraid Thiers
for his obstinate neutrality on this question. For his part, the wise
old man had early seen the need of keeping the parties in check. On
February 17 he begged them to defer questions as to the future form of
government, working meanwhile solely for the present needs of France,
and allowing future victory to be the meed of that party which showed
itself most worthy of trust. "Can there be any man" (he exclaimed) "who
would dare learnedly to discuss the articles of the Constitution, while
our prisoners are dying of misery far away, or while our people,
perishing of hunger, are obliged to give their last crust to the foreign
soldiers?" A similar appeal on March led to the informal truce on
constitutional questions known as the Compact of Bordeaux. It was at
best an uncertain truce, certain to be broken at the first sign of
activity on the Republican side.

That activity was now put forth by the "Reds" of Paris. It would take us
far too long to describe the origins of the municipal socialism which
took form in the Parisian Commune of 1871. The first seeds of that
movement had been sown by its prototype of 1792-93, which summed up all
the daring and vigour of the revolutionary socialism of that age. The
idea had been kept alive by the "National Workshops" of 1848, whose
institution and final suppression by the young Republic of that year had
been its own undoing.

History shows, then, that Paris, as the head of France, was accustomed
to think and act vigorously for herself in time of revolution. But
experience proved no less plainly that the limbs, that is, the country
districts, generally refused to follow the head in these fantastic
movements. Hence, after a short spell of St. Vitus' activity, there
always came a time of strife, followed only too often by torpor, when
the body reduced the head to a state of benumbed subjection. The triumph
of rural notions accounts for the reactions of 1831-47, and 1851-70.
Paris having once more regained freedom of movement by the fall of the
Second Empire on September 4, at once sought to begin her
politico-social experiments, and, as we pointed out, only the
promptitude of the "moderates," when face to face with the advancing
Germans, averted the catastrophe of a socialistic regime in Paris during
the siege. Even so, the Communists made two determined efforts to gain
power; the former of these, on October 31, nearly succeeded. Other towns
in the centre and south, notably Lyons, were also on the brink of
revolutionary socialism, and the success of the movement in Paris might
conceivably have led to a widespread trial of the communal experiment.
The war helped to keep matters in the old lines.

But now, the feelings of rage at the surrender of Paris and the cession
of the eastern districts of France, together with hatred of the
monarchical assembly that flouted the capital by sitting at the abode of
the old Kings of France, served to raise popular passion to fever heat.
The Assembly undoubtedly made many mistakes: it authorised the payment
of rents and all other obligations in the capital for the period of
siege as if in ordinary times, and it appointed an unpopular man to
command the National Guards of Paris. At the close of February the
National Guards formed a Central Committee to look after their interests
and those of the capital; and when the Executive of the State sent
troops of the line to seize their guns parked on Montmartre, the
Nationals and the rabble turned out in force. The troops refused to act
against the National Guards, and these murdered two Generals, Lecomte
and Thomas (March 18). Thiers and his Ministers thereupon rather tamely
retired to Versailles, and the capital fell into the hands of the
Communists. Greater firmness at the outset might have averted the
horrors that followed.

The Communists speedily consulted the voice of the people by elections
conducted in the most democratic spirit. In many respects their
programme of municipal reforms marked a great improvement on the type of
town-government prevalent during the Empire. That was, practically,
under the control of the imperial _prefets_. The Communists now asserted
the right of each town to complete self-government, with the control of
its officials, magistrates, National Guards, and police, as well as of
taxation, education, and many other spheres of activity. The more
ambitious minds looked forward to a time when France would form a
federation of self-governing Communes, whose delegates, deciding matters
of national concern, would reduce the executive power to complete
subservience. At bottom this Communal Federalism was the ideal of
Rousseau and of his ideal Cantonal State.

By such means, they hoped, the brain of France would control the body,
the rural population inevitably taking the position of hewers of wood
and drawers of water, both in a political and material sense.
Undoubtedly the Paris Commune made some intelligent changes which
pointed the way to reforms of lasting benefit; but it is very
questionable whether its aims could have achieved permanence in a land
so very largely agricultural as France then was. Certainly it started
its experiment in the worst possible way, namely, by defying the
constituted authorities of the nation at large, and by adopting the old
revolutionary calendar, and the red flag, the symbol of social
revolution. Thenceforth it was an affair of war to the knife.

The National Government, sitting at Versailles, could not at first act
with much vigour. Many of the line regiments sympathised with the
National Guards of Paris: these were 200,000 strong, and had command of
the walls and some of the posts to the south-west of Paris. The Germans
still held the forts to the north and east of the capital, and refused
to allow any attack on that side. It has even been stated that Bismarck
favoured the Communists; but this is said to have resulted from their
misreading of his promise to maintain a _friedlich_ (peaceful) attitude,
as if it were _freundlich_ (friendly)[61]. The full truth as to
Bismarck's relations to the Commune is not known. The Germans, however,
sent back a force of French prisoners, and these with other troops,
after beating back the Communist sortie of April 3, began to threaten
the defences of the city. The strife at once took on a savage character,
as was inevitable after the murder of two Generals in Paris. The
Versailles troops, treating the Communists as mere rebels, shot their
chief officers. Thereupon the Commune retaliated by ordering the capture
of hostages, and by seizing the Archbishop of Paris, and several other
ecclesiastics (April 5). It also decreed the abolition of the budget for
Public Worship and the confiscation of clerical and monastic property
_throughout France_--a proposal which aroused ridicule and contempt.

[Footnote 61: Debidour, _Histoire diplomatique de l'Europe_, vol. ii. p.

It would be tedious to dwell on the details of this terrible strife.
Gradually the regular forces overpowered the National Guards of Paris,
drove them from the southern forts, and finally (May 21) gained a
lodgment within the walls of Paris at the Auteuil gate. Then followed a
week of street-fighting and madness such as Europe had not seen since
the Peninsular War. "Room for the people, for the bare-armed fighting
men. The hour of the revolutionary war has struck." This was the placard
posted throughout Paris on the 22nd, by order of the Communist chief,
Delescluze. And again, "After the barricades, our houses; after our
houses, our ruins." Preparations were made to burn down a part of
Central Paris to delay the progress of the Versaillese. Rumour magnified
this into a plan of wholesale incendiarism, and wild stories were told
of _petroleuses_ flinging oil over buildings, and of Communist firemen
ready to pump petroleum. A squad of infuriated "Reds" rushed off and
massacred the Archbishop of Paris and six other hostages, while
elsewhere Dominican friars, captured regulars, and police agents fell
victims to the rage of the worsted party.

Madness seemed to have seized on the women of Paris. Even when the men
were driven from barricades by weight of numbers or by the capture of
houses on their flank, these creatures fought on with the fury of
despair till they met the death which the enraged linesmen dealt out to
all who fought, or seemed to have fought. Simpson, the British war
correspondent, tells how he saw a brutal officer tear the red cross off
the arm of a nurse who tended the Communist wounded, so that she might
be done to death as a fighter[62]. Both sides, in truth, were maddened
by the long and murderous struggle, which showed once again that no
strife is so horrible as that of civil war. On Sunday, May 28, the last
desperate band was cut down at the Cemetery Pere-Lachaise, and fighting
gave way to fusillades. Most of the chiefs perished without the pretence
of trial, and the same fate befel thousands of National Guards, who were
mown down in swathes and cast into trenches. In the last day of
fighting, and the horrible time that followed, 17,000 Parisians are said
to have perished[63]. Little by little, law reasserted her sway, but
only to doom 9600 persons to heavy punishment. Not until 1879 did
feelings of mercy prevail, and then, owing to Gambetta's powerful
pleading, an amnesty was passed for the surviving Communist prisoners.

[Footnote 62: _The Autobiography of William Simpson_ (London, 1903), p.

[Footnote 63: G. Hanotaux, _Contemporary France_, p. 225. For further
details see Lissagaray's _History of the Commune_; also personal details
in Washburne's _Recollections of a Minister to France_, 1869-1877, vol.
ii. chaps, ii.-vii.]

The Paris Commune affords the last important instance of a determined
rising in Europe against a civilised Government. From this statement we
of course except the fitful efforts of the Carlists in Spain; and it is
needless to say that the risings of the Bulgarians and other Slavs
against Turkish rule have been directed against an uncivilised
Government. The absence of revolts in the present age marks it off from
all that have preceded, and seems to call for a brief explanation.
Obviously, there is no lack of discontent, as the sequel will show.
Finland, portions of Caucasia, and all the parts of the once mighty
realm of Poland which have fallen to Russia and Prussia, now and again
heave with anger and resentment. But these feelings are suppressed. They
do not flame forth, as was the case in Poland as late as the year 1863.
What is the reason for this? Mainly, it would seem, the enormous powers
given to the modern organised State by the discoveries of mechanical
science and the triumphs of the engineer. Telegraphy now flashes to the
capital the news of a threatening revolt in the hundredth part of the
time formerly taken by couriers with their relays of horses. Fully as
great is the saving of time in the transport of large bodies of troops
to the disaffected districts. Thus, the all-important factors that make
for success--force, skill, and time--are all on the side of the central

[Footnote 64: See _Turkey in Europe_, by "Odysseus" (p. 130), for the
parallel instance of the enhanced power of the Sultan Abdul Hamid owing
to the same causes.]

The spread of constitutional rule has also helped to dispel
discontent--or, at least, has altered its character. Representative
government has tended to withdraw disaffection from the market-place,
the purlieus of the poor, and the fastnesses of the forest, and to focus
it noisily but peacefully in the columns of the Press and the arena of
Parliament. The appeal now is not so much to arms as to argument; and in
this new sphere a minority, provided that it is well organised and
persistent, may generally hope to attain its ends. Revolt, even if it
take the form of a refusal to pay taxes, is therefore an anachronism
under a democracy; unless, as in the case of the American Civil War, two
great sections of the country are irreconcilably opposed.

The fact, however, that there has been no widespread revolt in Russia
since the year 1863, shows that democracy has not been the chief
influence tending to dissolve or suppress discontent. As we shall see in
a later chapter, Russia has defied constitutionalism and ground down
alien races and creeds; yet (up to the year 1904) no great rising has
shaken her autocratic system to its base. This seems to prove that the
immunity of the present age in regard to insurrections is due rather to
the triumphs of mechanical science than to the progress of democracy.
The fact is not pleasing to contemplate; but it must be faced. So also
must its natural corollary: that the minority, if rendered desperate,
may be driven to arm itself with new and terrible engines of destruction
in order to shatter that superiority of force with which science has
endowed the centralised Governments of to-day.

Certain it is that desperation, perhaps brought about by a sense of
helplessness in face of an armed nation, was one of the characteristics
of the Paris Commune, as it was also of Nihilism in Russia. In fact the
Communist effort of 1871 may be termed a belated attempt on the part of
a daring minority to dominate France by seizing the machinery of
government at Paris. The success of the Extremists of 1793 and 1848 in
similar experiments--not to speak of the Communistic rising of Babeuf in
1797--was only temporary; but doubtless it encouraged the "Reds" of 1871
to make their mad bid for power. Now, however, the case was very
different. France was no longer a lethargic mass, dominated solely by
the eager brain of Paris. The whole country thrilled with political
life. For the time, the provinces held the directing power, which had
been necessarily removed from the capital; and--most powerful motive of
all--they looked on the Parisian experiment as gross treason to _la
patrie_, while she lay at the feet of the Germans. Thus, the very
motives which for a space lent such prestige and power to the
Communistic Jacobins of 1793 told against their imitators in 1871.

The inmost details of their attempt will perhaps never be fully known;
for too many of the actors died under the ruins of the building they had
so heedlessly reared. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Commune was far
from being the causeless outburst that it has often been represented. In
part it resulted from the determination of the capital to free herself
from the control of the "rurals" who dominated the National Assembly;
and in that respect it foreshadowed, however crudely, what will probably
be the political future of all great States, wherein the urban
population promises altogether to outweigh and control that of the
country. Further, it should be remembered that the experimenters of 1871
believed the Assembly to have betrayed the cause of France by ceding her
eastern districts, and to be on the point of handing over the Republic
to the Monarchists. A fit of hysteria, or hypochondria, brought on by
the exhausting siege and by exasperation at the triumphal entry of the
Germans, added the touch of fury which enabled the Radicals of Paris to
challenge the national authorities and thereafter to persist in their
defiance with French logicality and ardour.

France, on the other hand, looked on the Communist movement at Paris and
in the southern towns as treason to the cause of national unity, when
there was the utmost need of concord. Thus on both sides there were
deplorable misunderstandings. In ordinary times they might have been
cleared away by frank explanations between the more moderate leaders;
but the feverish state of the public mind forbade all thoughts of
compromise, and the very weakness brought on by the war sharpened the
fit of delirium which will render the spring months of the year 1871 for
ever memorable even in the thrilling annals of Paris.



The seemingly suicidal energy shown in the civil strifes at Paris served
still further to depress the fortunes of France. On the very day when
the Versailles troops entered the walls of Paris, Thiers and Favre
signed the treaty of peace at Frankfurt. The terms were substantially
those agreed on in the preliminaries of February, but the terms of
payment of the indemnity were harder than before. Resistance was
hopeless. In truth, the Iron Chancellor had recently used very
threatening language: he accused the French Government of bad faith in
procuring the release of a large force of French prisoners, ostensibly
for the overthrow of the Commune, but really in order to patch up
matters with the "Reds" of Paris and renew the war with Germany.
Misrepresentations and threats like these induced Thiers and Favre to
agree to the German demands, which took form in the Treaty of Frankfurt
(May 10, 1871).

Peace having been duly ratified on the hard terms[65], it remained to
build up France almost _de nova_. Nearly everything was wanting. The
treasury was nearly empty, and that too in face of the enormous demands
made by Germany. It is said that in February 1871, the unhappy man who
took up the Ministry of Finance, carried away all the funds of the
national exchequer in his hat. As Thiers confessed to the Assembly, he
had, for very patriotism, to close his eyes to the future and grapple
with the problems of every day as they arose. But he had faith in
France, and France had faith in him. The French people can perform
wonders when they thoroughly trust their rulers. The inexhaustible
wealth inherent in their soil, the thrift of the peasantry, and the
self-sacrificing ardour shown by the nation when nerved by a high ideal,
constituted an asset of unsuspected strength in face of the staggering
blows dealt to French wealth and credit. The losses caused by the war,
the Commune, and the cession of the eastern districts, involved losses
that have been reckoned at more than L614,000,000. Apart from the
1,597,000 inhabitants transferred to German rule, the loss of population
due to the war and the civil strifes has been put as high as 491,000

[Footnote 65: They included the right to hold four more Departments
until the third half milliard (L20,000,000, that is, L60,000,000 in all)
had been paid. A commercial treaty on favourable terms, those of the
"most favoured nation," was arranged, as also an exchange of frontier
strips near Luxemburg and Belfort. Germany acquired Elsass (Alsace) and
part of Lorraine, free of all their debts.

We may note here that the Anglo-French Treaty of Commerce arranged in
1860 with Napoleon largely by the aid of Cobden, was not renewed by the
French Republic, which thereafter began to exclude British goods.
Bismarck forced France at Frankfurt to concede favourable terms to
German products. England was helpless. For this subject, see _Protection
in France_, by H.O. Meredith (1905).]

[Footnote 66: Quoted by M. Hanotaux, _Contemporary France_, vol. i. pp.

Yet France flung herself with triumphant energy into the task of paying
off the invaders. At the close of June 1871, a loan for two milliards
and a quarter (L90,000,000) was opened for subscription, and proved to
be an immense success. The required amount was more than doubled. By
means of the help of international banks, the first half milliard of the
debt was paid off in July 1871, and Normandy was freed from the burden
of German occupation. We need not detail the dates of the successive
payments. They revealed the unsuspected vitality of France and the
energy of her Government and financiers. In March 1873, the arrangements
for the payment of the last instalment were made, and in the autumn of
that year the last German troops left Verdun and Belfort. For his great
services in bending all the powers of France to this great financial
feat, Thiers was universally acclaimed as the Liberator of the

Yet that very same period saw him overthrown. To read this riddle
aright, we must review the outlines of French internal politics. We have
already referred to the causes that sent up a monarchical majority to
the National Assembly, the schisms that weakened the action of that
majority, and the peculiar position held by M. Thiers, an Orleanist in
theory, but the chief magistrate of the French Republic. No more
paradoxical situation has ever existed; and its oddity was enhanced by
the usually clear-cut logicality of French political thought. Now, after
the war and the Commune, the outlook was dim, even to the keenest sight.
One thing alone was clear, the duty of all citizens to defer raising any
burning question until law, order, and the national finances were
re-established. It was the perception of this truth that led to the
provisional truce between the parties known as the Compact of Bordeaux.
Flagrantly broken by the "Reds" of Paris in the spring of 1871, that
agreement seemed doomed. The Republic itself was in danger of perishing
as it did after the socialistic extravagances of the Revolution of 1848.
But Thiers at once disappointed the monarchists by stoutly declaring
that he would not abet the overthrow of the Republic: "We found the
Republic established, as a fact of which we are not the authors; but I
will not destroy the form of government which I am now using to restore
order. . . . When all is settled, the country will have the liberty to
choose as it pleases in what concerns its future destinies[67]."
Skilfully pointing the factions to the future as offering a final reward
for their virtuous self-restraint, this masterly tactician gained time
in which to heal the worst wounds dealt by the war.

[Footnote 67: Speech of March 27, 1871.]

But it was amidst unending difficulties. The Monarchists, eager to
emphasise the political reaction set in motion by the extravagances of
the Paris Commune, wished to rid themselves at the earliest possible
time of this self-confident little bourgeois who seemed to stand alone
between them and the realisation of their hopes. Their more unscrupulous
members belittled his services and hinted that love of power alone led
him to cling to the Republic, and thus belie his political past. Then,
too, the Orleans princes, the Duc d'Aumale and the Prince de Joinville,
the surviving sons of King Louis Philippe, took their seats as deputies
for the Oise and Haute-Marne Departments, thus keeping the monarchical
ideal steadily before the eye of France. True, the Duc d'Aumale had
declared to the electorate that he was ready to bow before the will of
France whether it decided for a Constitutional Monarchy or a Liberal
Republic; and the loyalty with which he served his country was destined
to set the seal of honesty on a singularly interesting career. But there
was no guarantee that the Chamber would not take upon itself to
interpret the will of France and call from his place of exile in London
the Comte de Paris, son of the eldest descendant of Louis Philippe,
around whom the hopes of the Orleanists centred.

Had Thiers followed his earlier convictions and declared for such a
Restoration, it might quite conceivably have come about without very
much resistance. But early in the year 1871, or perhaps after the fall
of the Empire, he became convinced that France could not heal her
grievous wounds except under a government that had its roots deep in the
people's life. Now, the cause of monarchy in France was hopelessly
weakened by schisms. Legitimists and Orleanists were at feud ever since,
in 1830, Louis Philippe, so the former said, cozened the rightful heir
out of his inheritance; and the efforts now made to fuse the claims of
the two rival branches remained without result, owing to the stiff and
dogmatic attitude of the Comte de Chambord, heir to the traditions of
the elder branch. A Bonapartist Restoration was out of the question. Yet
all three sections began more and more to urge their claims. Thiers met
them with consummate skill. Occasionally they had reason to resent his
tactics as showing unworthy finesse; but oftener they quailed before the
startling boldness of his reminders that, as they constituted the
majority of the deputies of France, they might at once undertake to
restore the monarchy--if they could. "You do not, and you cannot, do so.
There is only one throne and it cannot have three occupants[68]." Or,
again, he cowed them by the sheer force of his personality: "If I were a
weak man, I would flatter you," he once exclaimed. In the last resort he
replied to their hints of his ambition and self-seeking by offering his
resignation. Here again the logic of facts was with him. For many months
he was the necessary man, and he and they knew it.

[Footnote 68: De Mazade, _Thiers_, p. 467. For a sharp criticism of
Thiers, see Samuel Denis' _Histoire Contemperaine_ (written from the
royalist standpoint).]

But, as we have seen, there came a time when the last hard bargains with
Bismarck as to the payment of the war debt neared their end; and the
rapier-play between the Liberator of the Territory and the parties of
the Assembly also drew to a close. In one matter he had given them just
cause for complaint. As far back as November 13, 1872 (that is, before
the financial problem was solved), he suddenly and without provocation
declared from the tribune of the National Assembly that it was time to
establish the Republic. The proposal was adjourned, but Thiers had
damaged his influence. He had broken the "Compact of Bordeaux" and had
shown his hand. The Assembly now knew that he was a Republican. Finally,
he made a dignified speech to the Assembly, justifying his conduct in
the past, appealing from the verdict of parties to the impartial
tribunal of History, and prophesying that the welfare of France was
bound up with the maintenance of the Conservative Republic. The Assembly
by a majority of fourteen decided on a course of action that he
disapproved, and he therefore resigned (May 24, 1873).

It seems that History will justify his appeal to her tribunal. Looking,
not at the occasional shifts that he used in order to disunite his
opponents, but rather at the underlying motives that prompted his
resolve to maintain that form of government which least divided his
countrymen, posterity has praised his conduct as evincing keen insight
into the situation, a glowing love for France before which all his
earliest predilections vanished, and a masterly skill in guiding her
from the abyss of anarchy, civil war, and bankruptcy that had but
recently yawned at her feet. Having set her upon the path of safety, he
now betook himself once more to those historical and artistic studies
which he loved better than power and office. It is given to few men not
only to write history but also to make history; yet in both spheres
Thiers achieved signal success. Some one has dubbed him "the greatest
little man known to history." Granting even that the paradox is tenable,
we may still assert that his influence on the life of France exceeded
that of many of her so-called heroes.

In fact, it would be difficult to point out in any country during the
Nineteenth Century, since the time of Bonaparte's Consulate, a work of
political, economic, and social renovation greater than that which went
on in the two years during which Thiers held the reins of power. Apart
from the unparalleled feat of paying off the Germans, the Chief of the
Executive breathed new vigour into the public service, revived national
spirit in so noteworthy a way as to bring down threats of war from
German military circles in 1872 (to be repeated more seriously in 1875),
and placed on the Statute Book two measures of paramount importance.
These were the reform of Local Government and the Army Bill.

These measures claim a brief notice. The former of them naturally falls
into two parts, dealing severally with the Commune and the Department.
These are the two all-important areas in French life. In rural districts
the Commune corresponds to the English parish; it is the oldest and
best-defined of all local areas. In urban districts it corresponds with
the municipality or township. The Revolutionists of 1790 and 1848 had
sought to apply the principle of manhood suffrage to communal
government; but their plans were swept away by the ensuing reactions,
and the dawn of the Third Republic found the Communes, both rural and
urban, under the control of the _prefets_ and their subordinates. We
must note here that the office of _prefet_, instituted by Bonaparte in
1800, was designed to link the local government of the Departments
closely to the central power: this magistrate, appointed by the
Executive at Paris, having almost unlimited control over local affairs
throughout the several Departments. Indeed, it was against the excessive
centralisation of the prefectorial system that the Parisian Communists
made their heedless and unmeasured protest. The question having thus
been thrust to the front, the Assembly brought forward (April 1871) a
measure authorising the election of Communal Councils elected by every
adult man who had resided for a year in the Commune. A majority of the
Assembly wished that the right of choosing mayors should rest with the
Communal Councils, but Thiers, browbeating the deputies by his favourite
device of threatening to resign, carried an amendment limiting this
right to towns of less than 20,000 inhabitants. In the larger towns, and
in all capitals of Departments, the mayors were to be appointed by the
central power. Thus the Napoleonic tradition in favour of keeping local
government under the oversight of officials nominated from Paris was to
some extent perpetuated even in an avowedly democratic measure.

Paris was to have a Municipal Council composed of eighty members elected
by manhood suffrage from each ward; but the mayors of the twenty
_arrondissements_, into which Paris is divided, were, and still are,
appointed by the State; and here again the control of the police and
other extensive powers are vested in the _Prefet_ of the Department of
the Seine, not in the mayors of the _arrondissements_ or the Municipal
Council. The Municipal or Communal Act of 1871, then, is a
compromise--on the whole a good working compromise--between the extreme
demands for local self-government and the Napoleonic tradition, now
become an instinct with most Frenchmen in favour of central control over
matters affecting public order[69].

[Footnote 69: On the strength of this instinct see Mr. Bodley's
excellent work, _France_, vol. i. pp. 32-42. etc. For the Act, see
Hanotaux _op. cit._ pp. 236-238.]

The matter of Army Reform was equally pressing. Here, again, Thiers had
the ground cleared before him by a great overturn, like that which
enabled Bonaparte in his day to remodel France, and the builders of
Modern Prussia--Stein, Scharnhorst, and Hardenberg--to build up their
State from its ruins. In particular, the inefficiency of the National
Guards and of the Garde Mobile made it easy to reconstruct the French
Army on the system of universal conscription in a regular army, the
efficiency of which Prussia had so startlingly displayed in the
campaigns of Koeniggraetz (Sadowa) and Sedan. Thiers, however, had no
belief in a short service system with its result of a huge force of
imperfectly trained troops: he clung to the old professional army; and
when that was shown to be inadequate to the needs of the new age, he
pleaded that the period of compulsory service should be, not three, but
five years. On the Assembly demurring to the expense and vital strain
for the people which this implied, he declared with passionate emphasis
that he would resign unless the five years were voted. They were voted
(June 10, 1872). At the same time, the exemptions, so numerous during
the Second Empire, were curtailed and the right of buying a substitute
was swept away. After five years' service with the active army were to
come four years with the reserve of the active army, followed by further
terms in the territorial army. The favour of one year's service instead
of five was to be accorded in certain well-defined cases, as, for
instance, to those who had distinguished themselves at the _Lycees_, or
highest grade public schools. Such was the law which was published on
July 27, 1872[70].

[Footnote 70: Hanotaux, _op. cit._ pp. 452-465.]

The sight of a nation taking on itself this heavy blood-tax (heavier
than that of Germany, where the time of service with the colours was
only for three years) aroused universal surprise, which beyond the Rhine
took the form of suspicion that France was planning a war of revenge.
That feeling grew in intensity in military circles in Berlin three years
later, as the sequel will show. Undaunted by the thinly-veiled threats
that came from Germany, France proceeded with the tasks of paying off
her conquerors and reorganising her own forces; so that Thiers on his
retirement from office could proudly point to the recovery of French
credit and prestige after an unexampled overthrow.

In feverish haste, the monarchical majority of the National Assembly
appointed Marshal MacMahon to the Presidency (May 24, 1873). They soon
found out, however, the impossibility of founding a monarchy. The Comte
de Paris, in whom the hopes of the Orleanists centred, went to the
extreme of self-sacrifice, by visiting the Comte de Chambord, the
Legitimist "King" of France, and recognising the validity of his claims
to the throne. But this amiable pliability, while angering very many of
the Orleanists, failed to move the monarch-designate by one
hair's-breadth from those principles of divine right against which the
more liberal monarchists always protested. "Henri V." soon declared that
he would neither accept any condition nor grant a single guarantee as to
the character of his future rule. Above all, he declared that he would
never give up the white flag of the _ancien regime_. In his eyes the
tricolour, which, shortly after the fall of the Bastille, Louis XVI. had
recognised as the flag of France, represented the spirit of the Great
Revolution, and for that great event he had the deepest loathing. As if
still further to ruin his cause, the Count announced his intention of
striving with all his might for the restoration of the Temporal Power of
the Pope. It is said that the able Bishop of Orleans, Mgr. Dupanloup, on
reading one of the letters by which the Comte de Chambord nailed the
white flag to the mast, was driven to exclaim, "There! That makes the
Republic! Poor France! All is lost."

Thus the attempts at fusion of the two monarchical parties had only
served to expose the weaknesses of their position and to warn France of
the probable results of a monarchical restoration. That the country had
well learnt the lesson appeared in the bye-elections, which in nearly
every case went in favour of Republican candidates. Another event that
happened early in 1873 further served to justify Thiers' contention that
the Republic was the only possible form of government. On January 9,
Napoleon III. died of the internal disease which for seven years past
had been undermining his strength. His son, the Prince Imperial, was at
present far too young to figure as a claimant to the throne.

It is also an open secret that Bismarck worked hard to prevent all
possibility of a royalist Restoration; and when the German ambassador at
Paris, Count Arnim, opposed his wishes in this matter, he procured his
recall and subjected him to a State prosecution. In fact, Bismarck
believed that under a Republic France would be powerless in war, and,
further, that she could never form that alliance with Russia which was
the bugbear of his later days. A Russian diplomatist once told the Duc
de Broglie that the kind of Republic which Bismarck wanted to see in
France was "_une Republique dissolvante_."

Everything therefore concurred to postpone the monarchical question, and
to prolong the informal truce which Thiers had been the first to bring
about. Accordingly, in the month of November, the Assembly extended the
Presidency of Marshal MacMahon to seven years--a period therefore known
as the Septennate.

Having now briefly shown the causes of the helplessness of the
monarchical majority in the matter that it had most nearly at heart, we
must pass over subsequent events save as they refer to that crowning
paradox--the establishment of a Republican Constitution. This was due to
the despair felt by many of the Orleanists of seeing a restoration
during the lifetime of the Comte de Chambord, and to the alarm felt by
all sections of the monarchists at the activity and partial success of
the Bonapartists, who in the latter part of 1874 captured a few seats.
Seeking above all things to keep out a Bonaparte, they did little to
hinder the formation of a Constitution which all of them looked on as
provisional. In fact, they adopted the policy of marking time until the
death of the Comte de Chambord--whose hold on life proved to be no less
tenacious than on his creed--should clear up the situation. Accordingly,
after many diplomatic delays, the Committee which in 1873 had been
charged to draw up the Constitution, presented its plan, which took form
in the organic laws of February 25, 1875. They may be thus summarised:--

The Legislature consists of two Assemblies--the Chamber of Deputies and
the Senate, the former being elected by "universal" (or, more properly,
_manhood_) suffrage. The composition of the Senate, as determined by a
later law, lies with electoral bodies in each of the Departments; these
bodies consist of the national deputies for that Department, the members
of their General Councils and District Councils, and delegates from the
Municipal Councils. Senators are elected for nine years; deputies to the
Chamber of Deputies for four years. The President of the Republic is
chosen by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies sitting together for
that purpose. He is chosen for seven years and is eligible for
re-election; he is responsible to the Chambers only in case of high
treason; he enjoys, conjointly with the members of the two Chambers, the
right of proposing laws; he promulgates them when passed and supervises
their execution; he disposes of the armed forces of France and has the
right of pardon formerly vested in the Kings of France. Conformably to
the advice of the Senate he may dissolve the Chamber of Deputies. Each
Chamber may initiate proposals for laws, save that financial measures
rest solely with the Chamber of Deputies.

The Chambers may decide that the Constitution shall be revised. In that
case, they meet together, as a National Assembly, to carry out such
revision, which is determined by the bare majority. Each
_arrondissement_, or district of a Department, elects one deputy. From
1885 to 1889 the elections were decided by each Department on a list,
but since that time the earlier plan has been revived. We may also add
that the seat of government was fixed at Versailles; four years later
this was altered in favour of Paris, but certain of the most important
functions, such as the election of a new President, take place at

Taken as a whole, this Constitution was a clever compromise between the
democratic and autocratic principles of government. Having its roots in
manhood suffrage, it delegated very extensive powers to the head of the
State. These powers are especially noteworthy if we compare them with
those of the Ministry. The President commissions such and such a senator
or deputy to form a Ministry (not necessarily representing the opinions
of the majority of the Chambers); and that Ministry is responsible to
the Chambers for the execution of laws and the general policy of the
Government; but the President is not responsible to the Chambers, save
in the single and very exceptional case of high treason to the State.
Obviously, the Assembly wished to keep up the autocratic traditions of
the past as well as to leave open the door for a revision of the
Constitution at any time favourable to the monarchical cause. That this
Constitution did not pave the way for the monarchy was due to several
causes. Some we have named above.

Another and perhaps a final cause was the unwillingness or inability of
Marshal MacMahon to bring matters to the test of force. Actuated,
perhaps, by motives similar to those which kept the Duke of Wellington
from pushing matters to an extreme in England in 1831, the Marshal
refused to carry out a _coup d'etat_ against the Republican majority
sent up to the Chamber of Deputies by the General Election of January
1876. Once or twice he seemed on the point of using force. Thus, in May
1877, he ventured to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies; but the
Republican party, led by the impetuous Gambetta, appealed to the country
with decisive results. That orator's defiant challenge to the Marshal,
either to submit or to resign (_se soumettre ou se demettre_) was taken
up by France, with the result that nearly all the Republican deputies
were re-elected. The President recognised the inevitable, and in
December of that year charged M. Dufaure to form a Ministry that
represented the Republican majority. In January 1879 even, some
senatorial elections went against the President, and he accordingly
resigned, January 30, 1879.

In the year 1887 the Republic seemed for a time to be in danger owing
to the intrigues of the Minister for War, General Boulanger. Making
capital out of the difficulties of France, the financial scandals
brought home to President Grevy, and his own popularity with the army,
the General seemed to be preparing a _coup d'etat_. The danger increased
when the Ministry had to resign office (May 1887). A "National party"
was formed, consisting of monarchists, Bonapartists, clericals, and even
some crotchety socialists--in fact, of all who hoped to make capital out
of the fell of the Parliamentary regime. The malcontents called for a
plebiscite as to the form of government, hoping by these means to thrust
in Boulanger as dictator to pave the way for the Comte de Paris up to
the throne of France. After a prolonged crisis, the scheme ignominiously
collapsed at the first show of vigour on the Republican side. When the
new Floquet Ministry summoned Boulanger to appear before the High Court
of Justice, he fled to Belgium, and shortly afterwards committed

The chief feature of French political life, if one reviews it in its
broad outlines, is the increase of stability. When we remember that that
veteran opportunist, Talleyrand, on taking the oath of allegiance to the
new Constitution of 1830, could say, "It is the thirteenth," and that no
regime after that period lasted longer than eighteen years, we shall be
chary of foretelling the speedy overthrow of the Third Republic at any
and every period of Ministerial crisis or political ferment. Certainly
the Republic has seen Ministries made and unmade in bewilderingly quick
succession; but these are at most superficial changes--the real work of
administration being done by the hierarchy of permanent officials first
established by the great Napoleon. Even so terrible an event as the
murder of President Sadi Carnot (June 1894) produced none of the fatal
events that British alarmists confidently predicted. M. Casimir Perier
was quietly elected and ruled firmly. The same may be said of his
successors, MM. Faure and Loubet. Sensible, businesslike men of
bourgeois origin, they typify the new France that has grown up since
the age when military adventurers could keep their heels on her neck
provided that they crowned her brow with laurels. That age would seem to
have passed for ever away. A well-known adage says: "It is the
unexpected that happens in French politics." To forecast their course is
notoriously unsafe in that land of all lands. That careful and sagacious
student of French life, Mr. Bodley, believes that the nation at heart
dislikes the prudent tameness of Parliamentary rule, and that "the day
will come when no power will prevent France from hailing a hero of her

[Footnote 71: Mr. Bodley, _France_, vol. i. _ad fin_.]

Doubtless the advent of a Napoleon the Great would severely test the
qualities of prudence and patience that have gained strength under the
shelter of democratic institutions. Yet it must always be remembered
that Democracy has until now never had a fair chance in France. The
bright hopes of 1789 faded away ten years later amidst the glamour of
military glory. As for the Republic of 1848, it scarcely outlived the
troubles of infancy. The Third Republic, on the other hand, has attained
to manhood. It has met and overcome very many difficulties; at the
outset parts of two valued provinces and a vast sum of treasure were
torn away. In those early days of weakness it also crushed a serious
revolt. The intrigues of Monarchists and Bonapartists were foiled.
Hardest task of all, the natural irritation of Frenchmen at playing a
far smaller part in the world was little by little allayed.

In spite of these difficulties, the Third Republic has now lasted a
quarter of a century. That is to say, it rests on the support of a
generation which has gradually become accustomed to representative
institutions--an advantage which its two predecessors did not enjoy. The
success of institutions depends in the last resort on the character of
those who work them; and the testimony of all observers is that the
character of Frenchmen has slowly but surely changed in the direction
which Thiers pointed out in the dark days of February 1871 as offering
the only means of a sound national revival--"Yes: I believe in the
future of France: I believe in it, but on condition that we have good
sense; that we no longer use mere words as the current coin of our
speech, but that under words we shall place realities; that we have not
only good sense, but good sense endowed with courage."

These are the qualities that have built up the France of to-day. The toil
has been enormous, and it has been doubled by the worries and
disappointments incident to Parliamentarism when grafted on to a
semi-military bureaucracy; but the toil and the disappointments have
played their part in purging the French nature of the frothy
sensationalism and eager irresponsibility that naturally resulted from
the Imperialism of the two Napoleons. France seems to be outgrowing the
stage of hobble-de-hoyish ventures, military or communistic, and to have
taken on the staid, sober, and self-respecting mien of manhood--a
process helped on by the burdens of debt and conscription resulting from
her juvenile escapades. In a word, she has attained to a full sense of
responsibility. No longer are her constructive powers hopelessly
outmatched by her critical powers. In the political sphere she has found
a due balance between the brain and the hand. From analysis she has
worked her way to synthesis.


The following are the Ministries of the Republic in 1870-1900:--1870,
Favre; 1871, Dufaure (1); 1873, De Broglie (1); 1874, Cissey; 1875,
Buffet; 1876, Dufaure (2); 1876, Simon; 1877, De Broglie (2); 1877, De
Rochebouet; 1877, Dufaure (3); 1879, Waddington; 1879, Freycinet (1);
1880, Ferry (1); 1881, Gambetta; 1882, Freycinet (2); 1882, Duclerc;
1883, Fallieres; 1883, Ferry (2); 1885, Brisson; 1886, Freycinet (3);
1886, Goblet; 1887, Rouvier; 1887, Tirard (1); 1888, Floquet; 1889,
Tirard (2); 1890, Freycinet (4); 1892, Loubet; 1892, Ribot (1); 1892,
Dupuy (1); 1893, Casimir Perier; 1894, Dupuy (2); 1895, Ribot (2); 1895,
Bourgeois; 1896, Meline; 1898, Brisson; 1898 Dupuy (3); 1899,



     "From the very beginning of my career my sole guiding-star
     has been how to unify Germany, and, that being achieved, how
     to strengthen, complete, and so constitute her unification
     that it may be preserved enduringly and with the goodwill of
     all concerned in it."--BISMARCK: Speech in the North German
     Reichstag, July 9, 1869.

On the 18th of January 1871, while the German cannon were still
thundering against Paris, a ceremony of world-wide import occurred in
the Palace of the Kings of France at Versailles. King William of Prussia
was proclaimed German Emperor. The scene lacked no element that could
appeal to the historic imagination. It took place in the Mirror Hall,
where all that was brilliant in the life of the old French monarchy used
to encircle the person of Louis XIV. And now, long after that dynasty
had passed away, and when the crown of the last of the Corsican
adventurers had but recently fallen beneath the feet of the Parisians,
the descendant of the Prussian Hohenzollerns celebrated the advent to
the German people of that unity for which their patriots had vainly
struggled for centuries.

The men who had won this long-deferred boon were of no common stamp.
King William himself, as is now shown by the publication of many of his
letters to Bismarck, had played a far larger share in the making of a
united Germany than was formerly believed. His plain good sense and
unswerving fortitude had many times marked out the path of safety and
kept his country therein. The policy of the Army Bill of 1860, which
brought salvation to Prussia in spite of her Parliament, was wholly his.
Bismarck's masterful grip of the helm of State in and after 1862 helped
to carry out that policy, just as von Roon's organising ability
perfected the resulting military machine; but its prime author was the
King, who now stood triumphant in the hall of his ancestral foes. Beside
and behind him on the dais, in front of the colours of all the German
States, were the chief princes of Germany--witnesses to the strength of
the national sentiment which the wars against the First Napoleon had
called forth, and the struggle with the nephew had now brought to
maturity. Among their figures one might note the stalwart form of the
Crown Prince, along with other members of the House of Prussia; the
Grand Duke of Baden, son-in-law of the Prussian King; the Crown Prince
of Saxony, and representatives of every reigning family of Germany.
Still more remarkable were some of the men grouped before the King and
princes. There was the thin war-worn face of Moltke; there, too, the
sturdy figure of Bismarck: the latter, wrote Dr. Russell, "looking pale,
but calm and self-possessed, elevated, as it were, by some internal

[Footnote 72: Quoted by C. Lowe, _Life of Bismarck_, vol. i. p. 615.]

The King announced the re-establishment of the German Empire; and those
around must have remembered that that venerable institution (which
differed so widely from the present one that the word "re-establishment"
was really misleading) had vanished but sixty-four years before at the
behests of the First Napoleon. Next, Bismarck read the Kaiser's
proclamation, stating his sense of duty to the German nation and his
hope that, within new and stronger boundaries, which would guarantee
them against attacks from France, they would enjoy peace and prosperity.
The Grand Duke of Baden then called for three cheers for the Emperor,
which were given with wild enthusiasm, and were taken up by the troops
far round the iron ring that encircled Paris.

Few events in history so much impress one, at first sight, with a sense
of strength, spontaneity, and inevitableness. And yet, as more is known
of the steps that led up to the closer union of the German States, that
feeling is disagreeably warped. Even then it was known that Bavaria and
Wuertemberg strongly objected to the closer form of union desired by the
northern patriots, which would have reduced the secondary States to
complete dependence on the federal Government. Owing to the great
reluctance of the Bavarian Government and people to give up the control
of their railways, posts and telegraphs, these were left at their
disposal, the two other Southern States keeping the direction of the
postal and telegraphic services in time of peace. Bavaria and Wuertemberg
likewise reserved the control of their armed forces, though in case of
war they were to be placed at the disposal of the Emperor--arrangements
which also hold good for the Saxon forces. In certain legal and fiscal
matters Bavaria also bargained for freedom of action.

What was not known then, and has leaked out in more or less authentic
ways, was the dislike, not only of most of the Bavarian people, but also
of its Government, to the whole scheme of imperial union. It is certain
that the letter which King Louis finally wrote to his brother princes to
propose that union was originally drafted by Bismarck; and rumour
asserts, on grounds not to be lightly dismissed, that the opposition of
King Louis was not withdrawn until the Bavarian Court favourite, Count
Holstein, came to Versailles and left it, not only with Bismarck's
letter, but also with a considerable sum of money for his royal master
and himself. Probably, however, the assent of the Bavarian monarch, who
not many years after became insane, was helped by the knowledge that if
he did not take the initiative, it would pass to the Grand Duke of
Baden, an ardent champion of German unity.

Whatever may be the truth as to this, there can be no doubt as to the
annoyance felt by Roman Catholic Bavaria and Protestant democratic
Wuertemberg at accepting the supremacy of the Prussian bureaucracy. This
doubtless explains why Bismarck was so anxious to hurry through the
negotiations, first, for the imperial union, and thereafter for the
conclusion of peace with France.

Even in a seemingly small matter he had met with much opposition, this
time from his master. The aged monarch clung to the title King of
Prussia; but if the title of Emperor was a political necessity, he
preferred the title "Emperor of Germany"; nevertheless, the Chancellor
tactfully but firmly pointed out that this would imply a kind of feudal
over-lordship of all German lands, and that the title "German Emperor",
as that of chief of the nation, was far preferable. In the end the King
yielded, but he retained a sore feeling against his trusted servant for
some time on this matter. It seems that at one time he even thought of
abdicating in favour of his son rather than "see the Prussian title
supplanted[73]." However, he soon showed his gratitude for the immense
services rendered by Bismarck to the Fatherland. On his next birthday
(March 22) he raised the Chancellor to the rank of Prince and appointed
him Chancellor of the Empire.

[Footnote 73: E. Marcks, _Kaiser Wilhelm I._ (Leipzig, 1900), pp.

It will be well to give here an outline of the Imperial Constitution. In
all essentials it was an extension, with few changes, of the North
German federal compact of the year 1866. It applied to the twenty-five
States of Germany--inclusive, that is, of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck,
but exclusive, for the present, of Elsass-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine).
In those areas imperial law takes precedence of local law (save in a few
specially reserved cases for Bavaria and the Free Cities). The same laws
of citizenship hold good in all parts of the Empire. The Empire controls
these laws, the issuing of passports, surveillance of foreigners and of
manufactures, likewise matters relating to emigration and colonisation.
Commerce, customs dues, weights and measures, coinage, banking
regulations, patents, the consular service abroad, and matters relating
to navigation also fall under its control. Railways, posts and
telegraphs (with the exceptions noted above) are subject to imperial
supervision, the importance of which during the war had been so
abundantly manifested.

The King of Prussia is _ipso facto_ German Emperor. He represents the
Empire among foreign nations; he has the right to declare war, conclude
peace, and frame alliances; but the consent of the Federal Council
(Bundesrath) is needed for the declaration of war in the name of the
Empire. The Emperor convenes, adjourns, and closes the sessions of the
Federal Council and the Imperial Diet (Reichstag). They are convened
every year. The Chancellor of the Empire presides in the Federal Council
and supervises the conduct of its business. Proposals of laws are laid
before the Reichstag in accordance with the resolutions of the Federal
Council, and are supported by members of that Council. To the Emperor
belongs the right of preparing and publishing the laws of the Empire:
they must be passed by the Bundesrath and Reichstag, and then receive
the assent of the Kaiser. They are then countersigned by the Chancellor,
who thereby becomes responsible for their due execution.

The members of the Bundesrath are appointed by the Federal Governments:
they are sixty-two in number, and now include those from the Reichstand
of Elsass-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine)[74]

[Footnote 74: Up to 1874 the government of Alsace-Lorraine was vested
solely in the Emperor and Chancellor. In 1874 the conquered lands
returned deputies to the Reichstag. In October 1879 they gained local
representative institutions, but under the strict control of the
Governor, Marshal von Manteuffel. This control has since been relaxed,
the present administration being quasi-constitutional.]

The Prussian Government nominates seventeen members; Bavaria six; Saxony
and Wuertemburg and Alsace-Lorraine four each; and so on. The Bundesrath
is presided over by the Imperial Chancellor. At the beginning of each
yearly session it appoints eleven standing committees to deal with the
following matters: (1) Army and fortifications; (2) the Navy; (3)
tariff, excise, and taxes; (4) commerce and trade; (5) railways, posts
and telegraphs; (6) civil and criminal law; (7) financial accounts; (8)
foreign affairs; (9) Alsace-Lorraine; (10) the Imperial Constitution;
(11) Standing Orders. Each committee is presided over by a chairman. In
each committee at least four States of the Empire must be represented,
and each State is entitled only to one vote. To this rule there are two
modifications in the case of the committees on the army and on foreign
affairs. In the former of these Bavaria has a permanent seat, while the
Emperor appoints the other three members from as many States: in the
latter case, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, and Wuertemberg only are
represented. The Bundesrath takes action on the measures to be proposed
to the Reichstag and the resolutions passed by that body; it also
supervises the execution of laws, and may point out any defects in the
laws or in their execution.

The members of the Reichstag, or Diet, are elected by universal (more
properly _manhood_) suffrage and by direct secret ballot, in proportion
to the population of the several States[75]. On the average, each of the
397 members represents rather more than 100,000 of the population. The
proceedings of the Reichstag are public; it has the right (concurrently
with those wielded by the Emperor and the Bundesrath) to propose laws
for the Empire. It sits for three years, but may be dissolved by a
resolution of the Bundesrath, with the consent of the Emperor. Deputies
may not be bound by orders and instructions issued by their
constituents. They are not paid.

[Footnote 75: Bismarck said in a speech to the Reichstag, on September
16, 1878: "I accepted universal suffrage, but with repugnance, as a
Frankfurt tradition."]

As has been noted above, important matters such as railway management,
so far as it relates to the harmonious and effective working of the
existing systems, and the construction of new lines needful for the
welfare and the defence of Germany, are under the Control of the
Empire--except in the case of Bavaria. The same holds good of posts and
telegraphs except in the Southern States. Railway companies are bound to
convey troops and warlike stores at uniform reduced rates. In fact, the
Imperial Government controls the fares of all lines subject to its
supervision, and has ordered the reduction of freightage for coal, coke,
minerals, wood, stone, manure, etc., for long distances, "as demanded by
the interests of agriculture and industry." In case of dearth, the
railway companies can be compelled to forward food supplies at specially
low rates.

Further, with respect to military affairs, the central authority
exercises a very large measure of control over the federated States. All
German troops swear the oath of allegiance to the Emperor. He appoints
all commanders of fortresses; the power of building fortresses within
the Empire is also vested in him; he determines the strength of the
contingents of the federated States, and in the last case may appoint
their commanding officers; he may even proclaim martial law in any
portion of the Empire, if public security demands it. The Prussian
military code applies to all parts of the Empire (save to Bavaria,
Wuertemberg, and Saxony in time of peace); and the military organisation
is everywhere of the same general description, especially as regards
length of service, character of the drill, and organisation in corps and
regiments. Every German, unless physically unfit, is subject to military
duty and cannot shift the burden on a substitute. He must serve for
seven years in the standing army: that is, three years in the field army
and four in the reserve; thereafter he takes his place in the

[Footnote 76: The three years are shortened to one year for those who
have taken a high place in the Gymnasia (highest of the public schools);
they feed and equip themselves and are termed "volunteers." Conscription
is the rule on the coasts for service in the German Navy. For the text
of the Imperial Constitution, see Lowe, _Life of Bismarck_, vol.
ii. App. F.]

The secondary States are protected in one important respect. The last
proviso of the Imperial Constitution stipulates that any proposal to
modify it shall fail if fourteen, or more, votes are cast against it in
the Federal Council. This implies that Bavaria, Wuertemberg, and Saxony,
if they vote together, can prevent any change detrimental to their
interests. On the whole, the new system is less centralised than that of
the North German Confederation had been; and many of the Prussian
Liberals, with whom the Crown Prince of Prussia very decidedly ranged
himself on this question, complained that the government was more
federal than ever, and that far too much had been granted to the
particularist prejudices of the Southern States[77]. To all these
objections Bismarck could unanswerably reply that it was far better to
gain this great end without bitterness, even if the resulting compact
were in some respects faulty, than to force on the Southern States a
more logically perfect system that would perpetuate the sore feeling
of the past.

[Footnote 77: J.W. Headlam, _Bismarck_, p. 367.]

Such in its main outlines is the new Constitution of Germany. On the
whole, it has worked well. That it has fulfilled all the expectations
aroused in that year of triumph and jubilation will surprise no one who
knows that absolute and lasting success is attained only in Utopias,
never in practical politics. In truth, the suddenness with which German
unity was finally achieved was in itself a danger.

The English reader will perhaps find it hard to realise this until he
remembers that the whole course of recorded history shows us the Germans
politically disunited, or for the most part engaged in fratricidal
strifes. When they first came within the ken of the historians of
Ancient Rome, they were a set of warring tribes who banded together only
under the pressure of overwhelming danger; and such was to be their fate
for well-nigh two thousand years. Their union under the vigorous rule of
the great Frankish chief whom the French call Charlemagne, was at best
nominal and partial. The Holy Roman Empire, which he founded in the year
800 by a mystically vague compact with the Pope, was never a close bond
of union, even in his stern and able hands. Under his weak successors
that imposing league rarely promoted peace among its peoples, while the
splendour of its chief elective dignity not seldom conduced to war.
Next, feudalism came in as a strong political solvent, and thus for
centuries Germany crumbled and mouldered away, until disunion seemed to
be the fate of her richest lands, and particularism became a rooted
instinct of her princes, burghers, and peasants. Then again South was
arrayed against North during and long after the time of the Reformation;
when the strife of creeds was stayed, the rivalry of the Houses of
Hapsburg and Hohenzollern added another cause of hatred.

As a matter of fact, it was reserved for the two Napoleons, uncle and
nephew, to force those divided peoples to comradeship in arms. The close
of the campaign of 1813 and that of 1814 saw North and South, Prussians
and Austrians, for the first time fighting heartily shoulder to shoulder
in a great war--for that of 1792-94 had only served to show their rooted
suspicion and inner hostility. Owing to reasons that cannot be stated
here, the peace of 1814-15 led up to no effective union: it even
perpetuated the old dualism of interests. But once more the hostility of
France under a Napoleon strengthened the impulse to German
consolidation, and on this occasion there was at hand a man who had
carefully prepared the way for an abiding form of political union; his
diplomatic campaign of the last seven years had secured Russia's
friendship and consequently Austria's reluctant neutrality; as for the
dislike of the Southern States to unite with the North, that feeling
waned for a few weeks amidst the enthusiasm caused by the German
triumphs. The opportunity was unexampled: it had not occurred even in
1814; it might never occur again; and it was certain to pass away when
the war fever passed by. How wise, then, to strike while the iron was
hot! The smaller details of the welding process were infinitely less
important than the welding itself.

One last consideration remains. If the opportunity was unexampled, so
also were the statesmanlike qualities of the man who seized it. The more
that we know concerning the narrowly Prussian feelings of King William,
the centralising pedantry of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and the petty
particularism of the Governments of Bavaria and Wuertemberg, the more
does the figure of Bismarck stand out as that of the one great statesman
of his country and era. However censurable much of his conduct may be,
his action in working up to and finally consummating German unity at the
right psychological moment stands out as one of the greatest feats of
statesmanship which history records.

But obviously a wedded life which had been preceded by no wooing, over
whose nuptials Mars shed more influence than Venus, could not be
expected to run a wholly smooth course. In fact, this latest instance in
ethnical lore of marriage by capture has on the whole led to a more
harmonious result than was to be expected. Possibly, if we could lift
the veil of secrecy which is wisely kept drawn over the weightiest
proceedings of the Bundesrath and its committees, the scene would appear
somewhat different. As it is, we can refer here only to some questions
of outstanding importance the details of which are fairly well known.

The first of these which subjected the new Empire to any serious strain
was a sharp religious struggle against the new claims of the Roman
Catholic hierarchy. Without detailing the many causes of friction that
sprang up between the new Empire and the Roman Catholic Church, we may
state that most of them had their roots in the activity shown by that
Church among the Poles of Prussian Poland (Posen), and also in the dogma
of Papal infallibility. Decreed by the Oecumenical Council at Rome on
the very eve of the outbreak of the Franco-German War, it seemed to be
part and parcel of that forward Jesuit policy which was working for the
overthrow of the chief Protestant States. Many persons--among them
Bismarck[78]--claimed that the Empress Eugenie's hatred of Prussia and
the warlike influence which she is said to have exerted on Napoleon III.
on that critical day, July 14, 1870, were prompted by Jesuitical
intrigues. However that may be (and it is a matter on which no
fair-minded man will dogmatise until her confidential papers see the
light) there is little doubt that the Pope at Rome and the Roman
hierarchy among the Catholics of Central and Eastern Europe did their
best to prevent German unity and to introduce elements of discord. The
dogma of the infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith and doctrine
was itself a cause of strife. Many of the more learned and moderate of
the German Catholics had protested against the new dogma, and some of
these "Old Catholics", as they were called, tried to avoid teaching it
in the Universities and schools. Their bishops, however, insisted that
it should be taught, placed some recalcitrants under the lesser ban, and
deprived them of their posts.

[Footnote 78: Busch, _Our Chancellor_, vol i. p. 139, where he quotes a
conversation of Bismarck of Nov. 1883. On the Roman Catholic policy in
Posen, see _ibid_. pp. 143-145.]

When these high-handed proceedings were extended even to the schools,
the Prussian Government intervened, and early in 1872 passed a law
ordaining that all school inspectors should be appointed by the King's
Government at Berlin. This greatly irritated the Roman Catholic
hierarchy and led up to aggressive acts on both sides, the German
Reichstag taking up the matter and decreeing the exclusion of the
Jesuits from all priestly and scholastic duties of whatever kind within
the Empire (July 1872). The strife waxed ever fiercer. When the Roman
Catholic bishops of Germany persisted in depriving "Old Catholics" of
professorial and other charges, the central Government retorted by the
famous "May Laws" of 1873. The first of these forbade the Roman Catholic
Church to intervene in civil affairs in any way, or to coerce officials
and citizens of the Empire. The second required of all ministers of
religion that they should have passed the final examination at a High
School, and also should have studied theology for three years at a
German University: it further subjected all seminaries to State
inspection. The third accorded fuller legal protection to dissidents
from the various creeds.

This anti-clerical policy is known as the "Kultur-Kampf", a term that
denotes a struggle for civilisation against the forces of reaction. For
some years the strife was of the sharpest kind. The Roman Catholic
bishops continued to ban the "Old Catholics", while the State refused to
recognise any act of marriage or christening performed by clerics who
disobeyed the new laws. The logical sequel to this was obvious, namely,
that the State should insist on the religious ceremony of marriage
being supplemented by a civil contract[79]. Acts to render this
compulsory were first passed by the Prussian Landtag late in 1873 and by
the German Reichstag in 1875.

[Footnote 79: Lowe, _Life of Bismarck_, vol. ii. p. 336, note.]

It would be alike needless and tedious to detail the further stages of
this bitter controversy, especially as several of the later "May Laws"
have been repealed. We may, however, note its significance in the
development of parties. Many of the Prussian nobles and squires (Junkers
the latter were called) joined issue with Bismarck on the Civil Marriage
Act, and this schism weakened Bismarck's long alliance with the
Conservative party. He enjoyed, however, the enthusiastic support of the
powerful National Liberal party, as well as the Imperialist and
Progressive groups. Differing on many points of detail, these parties
aimed at strengthening the fabric of the central power, and it was with
their aid in the Reichstag that the new institutions of Germany were
planted and took root. The General Election of 1874 sent up as many as
155 National Liberals, and they, with the other groups just named, gave
the Government a force of 240 votes--a good working majority as long as
Bismarck's aims were of a moderately Liberal character. This, however,
was not always the case even in 1874-79, when he needed their alliance.
His demand for a permanently large military establishment alienated his
allies in 1874, and they found it hard to satisfy the requirements of
his exacting and rigorous nature.

The harshness of the "May Laws" also caused endless friction. Out of
some 10,000 Roman Catholic priests in Prussia (to which kingdom alone
the severest of these laws applied) only about thirty bowed the knee to
the State. In 800 parishes the strife went so far that all religious
services came to an end. In the year 1875, fines amounting to 28,000
marks (L2800) were imposed, and 103 clerics or their supporters were
expelled from the Empire[80]. Clearly this state of things could not
continue without grave danger to the Empire; for the Church held on her
way with her usual doggedness, strengthened by the "protesting" deputies
from the Reichsland on the south-west, from Hanover (where the Guelph
feeling was still uppermost), as well as those from Polish Posen and
Danish Schleswig. Bismarck and the anti-clerical majority of the
Reichstag scorned any thoughts of surrender. Yet, slowly but surely,
events at the Vatican and in Germany alike made for compromise. In
February 1878, Pope Pius IX. passed away. That unfortunate pontiff had
never ceased to work against the interests of Prussia and Germany, while
his encyclicals since 1873 mingled threats of defiance of the May Laws
with insults against Prince Bismarck. His successor, Leo XIII.
(1878-1903), showed rather more disposition to come to a compromise, and
that, too, at a time when Bismarck's new commercial policy made the
support of the Clerical Centre in the Reichstag peculiarly acceptable.

[Footnote 80: Busch, _Our Chancellor_, vol. i. p. 122, quotes speeches
of his hero to prove that Bismarck himself disliked this Civil Marriage
Law. "From the political point of view I have convinced myself that the
State . . . is constrained by the dictates of self-defence to enact this
law in order to avert from a portion of His Majesty's subjects the evils
with which they are menaced by the Bishops' rebellion against the laws
and the State" (Speech of Jan. 17, 1873). In 1849 he had opposed civil

Bismarck's resolve to give up the system of Free Trade, or rather of
light customs dues, adopted by Prussia and the German Zollverein in
1865, is so momentous a fact in the economic history of the modern
world, that we must here give a few facts which will enable the reader
to understand the conditions attending German commerce up to the years
1878-79, when the great change came. The old order of things in Prussia,
as in all German States, was strongly protective--in fact, to such an
extent as often to prevent the passing of the necessaries of life from
one little State to its Lilliputian neighbours. The rise of the national
idea in Germany during the wars against the great Napoleon led to a more
enlightened system, especially for Prussia. The Prussian law of 1818
asserted the principle of imposing customs dues for revenue purposes,
but taxed foreign products to a moderate extent. On this basis she
induced neighbouring small German States to join her in a Customs Union
(Zollverein), which gradually extended, until by 1836 it included all
the States of the present Empire except the two Mecklenburgs, the Elbe
Duchies, and the three Free Cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Luebeck. That
is to say, the attractive force of the highly developed Prussian State
practically unified Germany for purposes of trade and commerce, and
that, too, thirty-eight years before political union was achieved.

This, be it observed, was on condition of internal Free Trade, but of
moderate duties being levied on foreign products. Up to 1840 these
import duties were on the whole reduced; after that date a protectionist
reaction set in; it was checked, however, by the strong wave of Free
Trade feeling which swept over Europe after the victory of that
principle in England in 1846-49. Of the new champions of Free Trade on
the Continent, the foremost in point of time was Cavour, for that
kingdom of Sardinia on which he built the foundations of a regenerated
and united Italy. Far more important, however, was the victory which
Cobden won in 1859-60 by inducing Napoleon III. to depart from the
almost prohibitive system then in vogue in France. The Anglo-French
Commercial Treaty of January 1860 seemed to betoken the speedy
conversion of the world to the enlightened policy of unfettered exchange
of all its products. In 1862 and 1865 the German Zollverein followed
suit, relaxing duties on imported articles and manufactured goods--a
process which was continued in its commercial treaties and tariff
changes of the years 1868 and 1869.

At this time Bismarck's opinions on fiscal matters were somewhat vague.
He afterwards declared that he held Free Trade to be altogether false.
But in this as in other matters he certainly let his convictions be
shaped by expediency. Just before the conclusion of peace with France he
so far approximated to Free Trade as to insist that the Franco-German
Commercial Treaty of 1862, which the war had of course abrogated--- war
puts an end to all treaties between the States directly engaged--should
now be again regarded as in force and as holding good up to the year
1887[81]. He even stated that he "would rather begin again the war of
cannon-balls than expose himself to a war of tariffs." France and
Germany, therefore, agreed to place one another permanently on "the most
favoured nation" footing. Yet this same man, who so much desired to keep
down the Franco-German tariff, was destined eight years later to
initiate a protectionist policy which set back the cause of Free Trade
for at least a generation.

[Footnote 81: For that treaty, and Austria's desire in 1862 to enter the
German Zollverein, see _The Diplomatic Reminiscences of Lord A. Loftus,
_vol. ii. pp. 250-251.]

What brought about this momentous change? To answer this fully would
take up a long chapter. We can only glance at the chief forces then at
work. Firstly, Germany, after the year 1873, passed through a severe and
prolonged economic crisis. It was largely due to the fever of
speculation induced by the incoming of the French milliards into a land
where gold had been none too plentiful. Despite the efforts of the
German Government to hold back a large part of the war indemnity for
purposes of military defence and substantial enterprises, the people
imagined themselves to be suddenly rich. Prices rapidly rose,
extravagant habits spread in all directions, and in the years 1872-73
company-promoting attained to the rank of a fine art, with the result
that sober, hard-working Germany seemed to be almost another England at
the time of the South Sea Bubble. Alluding to this time, Busch said to
Bismarck early in 1887: "In the long-run the [French] milliards were no
blessing, at least not for our manufacturers, as they led to
over-production. It was merely the bankers who benefited, and of these
only the big ones[82]."

[Footnote 82: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of his History, _by M. Busch,
vol. iii. p. 161 (English edition).]

The result happened that always happens when a nation mistakes money,
the means of commercial exchange, for the ultimate source of wealth.
After a time of inflation came the inevitable collapse. The unsound
companies went by the board; even sound ventures were in some cases
overturned. How grievously public credit suffered may be seen by the
later official admission, that liquidations and bankruptcies of public
companies in the following ten years inflicted on shareholders a total
loss of more than 345,000,000 marks (L17,250,000)[83].

[Footnote 83: German State Paper of June 28, 1884, quoted by Dawson,
_Bismarck and State Socialism_, App. B.]

Now, it was in the years 1876-77, while the nation lay deep in the
trough of economic depression, that the demand for "protection for home
industries" grew loud and persistent. Whether it would not have been
raised even if German finance and industry had held on its way in a
straight course and on an even keel, cannot of course be determined, for
the protectionist movement had been growing since the year 1872, owing
to the propaganda of the "Verein fuer Sozialpolitik" (Union for Social
Politics) founded in that year. But it is safe to say that the collapse
of speculation due to inflowing of the French milliards greatly
strengthened the forces of economic reaction.

Bismarck himself put it in this way: that the introduction of Free Trade
in 1865 soon produced a state of atrophy in Germany; this was checked
for a time by the French war indemnity; but Germany needed a permanent
cure, namely, Protection. It is true that his ideal of national life had
always been strict and narrow--in fact, that of the average German
official; but we may doubt whether he had in view solely the shelter of
the presumedly tender flora of German industry from the supposed deadly
blasts of British, Austrian, and Russian competition. He certainly hoped
to strengthen the fabric of his Empire by extending the customs system
and making its revenue depend more largely on that source and less on
the contributions of the federated States. But there was probably a
still wider consideration. He doubtless wished to bring prominently
before the public gaze another great subject that would distract it
from the religious feuds described above and bring about a
rearrangement of political parties. The British people has good reason
to know that the discussion of fiscal questions that vitally touch every
trade and every consumer, does act like the turning of a kaleidoscope
upon party groupings; and we may fairly well assume that so far-seeing a
statesman as Bismarck must have forecast the course of events.

Reasons of statecraft also warned him to build up the Empire four-square
while yet there was time. The rapid recovery of France, whose milliards
had proved somewhat of a "Greek gift" to Germany, had led to threats on
the part of the war party at Berlin, which brought from Queen Victoria,
as also from the Czar Alexander, private but pressing intimations to
Kaiser Wilhelm that no war of extermination must take place. This affair
and its results in Germany's foreign policy will occupy us in Chapter
XII. Here we may note that Bismarck saw in it a reason for suspecting
Russia, hating England, and jealously watching every movement in France.
Germany's future, it seemed, would have to be safeguarded by all the
peaceable means available. How natural, then, to tone down her internal
religious strifes by bringing forward another topic of still more
absorbing interest, and to aim at building up a self-contained
commercial life in the midst of uncertain, or possibly hostile,
neighbours. In truth, if we view the question in its broad issues in the
life of nations, we must grant that Free Trade could scarcely be
expected to thrive amidst the jealousies and fears entailed by the war
of 1870. That principle presupposes trust and good-will between nations;
whereas the wars of 1859, 1864, and 1870 left behind bitter memories and
rankling ills. Viewed in this light, Germany's abandonment of Free Trade
in 1878 was but the natural result of that forceful policy by which she
had cut the Gordian knot of her national problem.

The economic change was decided on in the year 1879, when the federated
States returned to "the time-honoured ways of 1823-65." Bismarck
appealed to the Reichstag to preserve at least the German market to
German industry. The chances of having a large export trade were on
every ground precarious; but Germany could, at the worst, support
herself. All interests were mollified by having moderate duties imposed
to check imports. Small customs dues were placed on corn and other food
supplies so as to please the agrarian party; imports of manufactured
goods were taxed for the benefit of German industries, and even raw
materials underwent small imposts. The Reichstag approved the change and
on July 7 passed the Government's proposals by 217 to 117: the majority
comprised the Conservatives, Clericals, the Alsace-Lorrainers, and a few
National Liberals; while the bulk of the last-named, hitherto Bismarck's
supporters on most topics, along with Radicals and Social Democrats,
opposed it. The new tariff came into force on January 1, 1880.

On the whole, much may be said in favour of the immediate results of the
new policy. By the year 1885 the number of men employed in iron and
steel works had increased by 35 per cent over the numbers of 1879; wages
also had increased, and the returns of shipping and of the export trade
showed a considerable rise. Of course, it is impossible to say whether
this would not have happened in any case owing to the natural tendency
to recovery from the deep depression of the years 1875-79. The duties on
corn did not raise its price, which appears strange until we know that
the foreign imports of corn were less than 8 per cent of the whole
amount consumed. In 1885, therefore, Bismarck gave way to the demands of
the agrarians that the corn duties should be raised still further, in
order to make agriculture lucrative and to prevent the streaming of
rural population to the towns. Again the docile Reichstag followed his
lead. But, two years later, it seemed that the new corn duties had
failed to check the fall of prices and keep landlords and farmers from
ruin; once more, then, the duties were raised, being even doubled on
certain food products. This time they undoubtedly had one important
result, that of making the urban population, especially that of the
great industrial centres, more and more hostile to the agrarians and to
the Government which seemed to be legislating in their interests. From
this time forward the Social Democrats began to be a power in the land.

And yet, if we except the very important item of rent, which in Berlin
presses with cruel weight on the labouring classes, the general trend of
the prices of the necessaries of life in Germany has been downwards, in
spite of all the protectionist duties. The evidence compiled in the
British official Blue-book on "British and Foreign Trade and Industry"
(1903. Cd. 1761, p. 226) yields the following results. By comparing the
necessary expenditure on food of a workman's family of the same size and
living under the same conditions, it appears that if we take that
expenditure for the period 1897-1901 to represent the number 100 we have
these results:--

     |  Period.  |  Germany. | United Kingdom. |
     | 1877-1881 |    112    |       140       |
     | 1882-1886 |    101    |       125       |
     | 1887-1891 |    103    |       106       |
     | 1892-1896 |     99    |        98       |
     | 1897-1901 |    100    |       100       |

Thus the fall in the cost of living of a British working man's family
has been 40 points, while that of the German working man shows a decline
of only 12 points. It is, on the whole, surprising that there has not
been more difference between the two countries[84].

[Footnote 84: In a recent work, _England and the English_ (London,
1904), Dr. Carl Peters says: "Considering that wages in England average
20 per cent higher in England than in Germany, that the week has only 54
working hours, and that all articles of food are cheaper, the
fundamental conditions of prosperous home-life are all round more
favourable in England than in Germany. And yet he [the British
working-man] does not derive greater comfort from them, for the simple
reason that a German labourer's wife is more economical and more
industrious than the English wife."] Before dealing with the new
social problems that resulted, at least in part, from the new duties on
food, we may point out that Bismarck and his successors at the German
Chancellory have used the new tariff as a means of extorting better
terms from the surrounding countries. The Iron Chancellor has always
acted on the diplomatic principle _do ut des_--"I give that you may
give"--with its still more cynical corollary--"Those who have nothing
to give will get nothing." The new German tariff on agricultural
products was stiffly applied against Austria for many years, to compel
her to grant more favourable terms to German manufactured goods. For
eleven years Austria-Hungary maintained their protective barriers; but
in 1891 German persistence was rewarded in the form of a treaty by which
the Dual Monarchy let in German goods on easier terms provided that the
corn duties of the northern Power were relaxed. The fiscal strife with
Russia was keener and longer, but had the same result (1894). Of a
friendlier kind were the negotiations with Italy, Belgium, and
Switzerland, which led to treaties with those States in 1891. It is
needless to say that in each of these cases the lowering of the corn
duties was sharply resisted by the German agrarians. We may here add
that the Anglo-German commercial treaty which expired in 1903 has been
extended for two years; and that Germany's other commercial treaties
were at the same time continued.

It is hazardous at present to venture on any definite judgment as to the
measure of success attained by the German protectionist policy.
Protectionists always point to the prosperity of Germany as the crowning
proof of its efficacy. In one respect they are, perhaps, fully justified
in so doing. The persistent pressure which Germany brought to bear on
the even more protectionist systems of Russia and Austria undoubtedly
induced those Powers to grant easier terms to German goods than they
would have done had Germany lost her bargaining power by persisting in
her former Free Trade tendencies. Her success in this matter is the best
instance in recent economic history of the desirability of holding back
something in reserve so as to be able to bargain effectively with a
Power that keeps up hostile tariffs. In this jealously competitive age
the State that has nothing more to offer is as badly off in economic
negotiations as one that, in affairs of general policy, has no armaments
wherewith to face a well-equipped foe. This consideration is of course
scouted as heretical by orthodox economists; but it counts for much in
the workaday world, where tariff wars and commercial treaty bargainings
unfortunately still distract the energies of mankind.

On the other hand, it would be risky to point to the internal prosperity
of Germany and the vast growth of her exports as proofs of the soundness
of protectionist theories. The marvellous growth of that prosperity is
very largely due to the natural richness of a great part of the country,
to the intelligence, energy, and foresight of her people and their
rulers, and to the comparatively backward state of German industry and
commerce up to the year 1870. Far on into the Nineteenth Century,
Germany was suffering from the havoc wrought by the Napoleonic wars and
still earlier struggles. Even after the year 1850, the political
uncertainties of the time prevented her enjoying the prosperity that
then visited England and France. Therefore, only since 1870 (or rather
since 1877-78, when the results of the mad speculation of 1873 began to
wear away) has she entered on the normal development of a modern
industrial State; and he would be an eager partisan who would put down
her prosperity mainly to the credit of the protectionist regime. In
truth, no one can correctly gauge the value of the complex
causes--economic, political, educational, scientific and
engineering--that make for the prosperity of a vast industrial
community. So closely are they intertwined in the nature of things, that
dogmatic arguments laying stress on one of them alone must speedily be
seen to be the merest juggling with facts and figures.

As regards the wider influences exerted by Germany's new protective
policy, we can here allude only to one; and that will be treated more
fully in the chapter dealing with the Partition of Africa. That policy
gave a great stimulus to the colonial movement in Germany, and, through
her, in all European States. As happened in the time of the old
Mercantile System, Powers which limited their trade with their
neighbours, felt an imperious need for absorbing new lands in the
tropics to serve as close preserves for the mother-country. Other
circumstances helped to impel Germany on the path of colonial expansion;
but probably the most important, though the least obvious, was the
recrudescence of that "Mercantilism" which Adam Smith had exploded.
Thus, the triumph of the national principle in and after 1870 was
consolidated by means which tended to segregate the human race in
masses, regarding each other more or less as enemies or rivals, alike in
the spheres of politics, commerce, and colonial expansion.

We may conclude our brief survey of German constructive policy by
glancing at the chief of the experiments which may be classed as akin to
State Socialism.

In 1882 the German Government introduced the Sickness Insurance Bill and
the Accident Insurance Bill, but they were not passed till 1884, and did
not take effect till 1885. For the relief of sickness the Government
relied on existing institutions organised for that object. This was very
wise, seeing that the great difficulty is how to find out whether a man
really is ill or is merely shamming illness. Obviously a local club can
find that out far better than a great imperial agency can. The local
club has every reason for looking sharply after doubtful cases as a
State Insurance Fund cannot do. As regards sickness, then, the Imperial
Government merely compelled all the labouring classes, with few
exceptions, to belong to some sick fund. They were obliged to pay in a
sum of not less than about fourpence in the pound of their weekly wages;
and this payment of the workman has to be supplemented by half as much,
paid by his employer--or rather, the employer pays the whole of the
premium and deducts the share payable by the workman from his wages.

Closely linked with this is the Accident Insurance Law. Here the brunt
of the payment falls wholly on the employer. He alone pays the premiums
for all his work-people; the amount varies according to (1) the man's
wage, (2) the risk incidental to the employment. The latter is
determined by the actuaries of the Government. If a man is injured (even
if it be by his own carelessness) he receives payments during the first
thirteen weeks from the ordinary Sick Fund. If his accident keeps him a
prisoner any longer, he is paid from the Accident Fund of the employers
of that particular trade, or from the Imperial Accident Fund. Here of
course the chance of shamming increases, particularly if the man knows
that he is being supported out of a general fund made up entirely by the
employers' payments. The burden on the employers is certainly very
heavy, seeing that for all kinds of accidents relief may be claimed; the
only exception is in cases where the injury can be shown to be wilfully
committed[85]. A British Blue-book issued on March 31, 1905, shows that
the enormous sum of L5,372,150 was paid in Germany in the year 1902 as
compensation to workmen for injuries sustained while at work.

[Footnote 85: For the account given above, as also that of the Old Age
Insurance Law, I am indebted to Mr. Dawson's excellent little work,
_Bismarck and State Socialism_ (Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1890). See also
the Appendix to _The German Empire of To-day_, by "Veritas" (1902).]

The burden of the employers does not end here. They have to bear their
share of Old Age Insurance. This law was passed in 1889, at the close of
the first year of the present Kaiser's reign. His father, the Emperor
Frederick, during his brief reign had not favoured the principles of
State Socialism; but the young Emperor William in November 1888
announced that he would further the work begun by _his grandfather_, and
though the difficulties of insurance for old age were very great, yet,
with God's help, they would prove not to be insuperable.

Certainly the effort was by far the greatest that had yet been made by
any State. The young Emperor and his Chancellor sought to build up a
fund whereby 12,000,000 of work-people might be guarded against the ills
of a penniless old age. Their law provided for all workmen (even men in
domestic service) whose yearly income did not exceed 2000 marks (L100).
Like the preceding laws, it was compulsory. Every youth who is
physically and mentally sound, and who earns more than a minimum wage,
must begin to put by a fixed proportion of that wage as soon as he
completes his sixteenth year. His employer is also compelled to
contribute the same amount for him. Mr. Dawson, in the work already
referred to, gives some figures showing what the joint payment of
employer and employed amount to on this score. If the workman earns L15
a year (_i.e._ about 6s. a week), the sum of 3s. 3-1/2d. is put by for
him yearly into the State Fund. If he earns L36 a year, the joint annual
payment will be 5s. 7-1/2d.; if he earns L78, it will be 7s. a year, and
so on. These payments are reckoned up in various classes, according to
the amounts; and according to the total amount is the final annuity
payable to the worker in the evening of his days. That evening is very
slow in coming for the German worker. For old age merely, he cannot
begin to draw his full pension until he has attained the ripe age of
seventy-one years. Then he will draw the full amount. He may anticipate
that if he be incapacitated; but in that case the pension will be on a
lower scale, proportioned to the amounts paid in and the length of time
of the payments.

The details of the measure are so complex as to cause a good deal of
friction and discontent. The calculation of the various payments alone
employs an army of clerks: the need of safeguarding against personation
and other kinds of fraud makes a great number of precautions necessary;
and thus the whole system becomes tied up with red tape in a way that
even the more patient workman of the Continent cannot endure.

In a large measure, then, the German Government has failed in its
efforts to cure the industrial classes of their socialistic ideas. But
its determination to attach them to the new German Empire, and to make
that Empire the leading industrial State of the Continent, has had a
complete triumph. So far as education, technical training, research, and
enlightened laws can make a nation great, Germany is surely on the high
road to national and industrial supremacy.

It is a strange contrast that meets our eyes if we look back to the
years before the advent of King William and Bismarck to power. In the
dark days of the previous reign Germany was weak, divided, and helpless.
In regard to political life and industry she was still almost in
swaddling-clothes; and her struggles to escape from the irksome
restraints of the old Confederation seemed likely to be as futile as
they had been since the year 1815. But the advent of the King and his
sturdy helper to power speedily changed the situation. The political
problems were grappled with one by one, and were trenchantly solved.
Union was won by Bismarck's diplomacy and Prussia's sword; and when the
longed-for goal was reached in seven momentous years, the same qualities
were brought to bear on the difficult task of consolidating that union.
Those qualities were the courage and honesty of purpose that the House
of Hohenzollern has always displayed since the days of the Great
Elector; added to these were rarer gifts, namely, the width of view, the
eagle foresight, the strength of will, the skill in the choice of means,
that made up the imposing personality of Bismarck. It was with an eye to
him, and to the astonishing triumphs wrought by his diplomacy over
France, that a diplomatist thus summed up the results of the year 1870:
"Europe has lost a mistress, but she has got a master."

After the lapse of a generation that has been weighted with the cuirass
of Militarism, we are able to appreciate the force of that remark.
Equally true is it that the formation of the German Empire has not added
to the culture and the inner happiness of the German people. The days
of quiet culture and happiness are gone; and in their place has come a
straining after ambitious aims which is a heavy drag even on the
vitality of the Teutonic race. Still, whether for good or for evil, the
unification of Germany must stand out as the greatest event in the
history of the Nineteenth Century.


The statement on page 135 that service in the German army is compulsory
for seven years, three in the field army and four in the reserve,
applies to the cavalry and artillery only. In the infantry the time of
service is two years with the colours and five years in the reserve.



     "Perhaps one fact which lies at the root of all the actions
     of the Turks, small and great, is that they are by nature
     nomads. . . . Hence it is that when the Turk retires from a
     country he leaves no more sign of himself than does a Tartar
     camp on the upland pastures where it has passed the
     summer."--_Turkey in Europe_, by "Odysseus."

The remark was once made that the Eastern Question was destined to
perplex mankind up to the Day of Judgment. Certainly that problem is
extraordinarily complex in its details. For a century and a half it has
distracted the statesmen and philanthropists of Europe; for it concerns
not only the ownership of lands of great intrinsic and strategic
importance, but also the welfare of many peoples. It is a question,
therefore, which no intelligent man ought to overlook.

For the benefit of the tiresome person who insists on having a
definition of every term, the Eastern Question may be briefly described
as the problem of finding a _modus vivendi_ between the Turks and their
Christian subjects and the neighbouring States. This may serve as a
general working statement. No one who is acquainted with the rules of
Logic will accept it as a definition. Definitions can properly apply
only to terms and facts that have a clear outline; and they can
therefore very rarely apply to the facts of history, which are of
necessity as many-sided as human life itself. The statement given above
is incomplete, inasmuch as it neither hints at the great difficulty of
reconciling the civic ideas of Christian and Turkish peoples, nor
describes the political problems arising out of the decay of the Ottoman
Power and the ambitions of its neighbours.

It will be well briefly to see what are the difficulties that arise out
of the presence of Christians under the rule of a great Moslem State.
They are chiefly these. First, the Koran, though far from enjoining
persecution of Christians, yet distinctly asserts the superiority of the
true believer and the inferiority of "the people of the book"
(Christians). The latter therefore are excluded from participation in
public affairs, and in practice are refused a hearing in the law courts.
Consequently they tend to sink to the position of hewers of wood and
drawers of water to the Moslems, these on their side inevitably
developing the defects of an exclusive dominant caste. This is so
especially with the Turks. They are one of the least gifted of the
Mongolian family of nations; brave in war and patient under suffering
and reverses, they nevertheless are hopelessly narrow-minded and
bigoted; and the Christians in their midst have fared perhaps worse than
anywhere else among the Mohammedan peoples.

M. de Lavelaye, who studied the condition of things in Turkey not long
after the war of 1877-78, thus summed up the causes of the social and
political decline of the Turks:--

The true Mussulman loves neither progress, novelty, nor education; the
Koran is enough for him. He is satisfied with his lot, therefore cares
little for its improvement, somewhat like a Catholic monk; but at the
same time he hates and despises the Christian _raya_, who is the
labourer. He pitilessly despoils, fleeces, and ill-treats him to the
extent of completely ruining and destroying those families, which are
the only ones who cultivate the ground; it was a state of war continued
in time of peace, and transformed into a regime of permanent spoliation
and murder. The wife, even when she is the only one, is always an
inferior being, a kind of slave, destitute of any intellectual culture;
and as it is she who trains the children--boys and girls--the bad
results are plainly seen.

Matters were not always and in all parts of Turkey so bad as this; but
they frequently became so under cruel or corrupt governors, or in times
when Moslem fanaticism ran riot. In truth, the underlying cause of
Turkey's troubles is the ignorance and fanaticism of her people. These
evils result largely from the utter absorption of all devout Moslems in
their creed and ritual. Texts from the Koran guide their conduct; and
all else is decided by fatalism, which is very often a mere excuse for
doing nothing[86]. Consequently all movements for reform are mere
ripples on the surface of Turkish life; they never touch its dull
depths; and the Sultan and officials, knowing this, cling to the old
ways with full confidence. The protests of Christian nations on behalf
of their co-religionists are therefore met with a polite compliance
which means nothing. Time after time the Sublime Porte has most solemnly
promised to grant religious liberty to its Christian subjects; but the
promises were but empty air, and those who made them knew it. In fact,
the firmans of reform now and again issued with so much ostentation have
never been looked on by good Moslems as binding, because the chief
spiritual functionary, the Sheikh-ul-Islam, whose assent is needed to
give validity to laws, has withheld it from those very ordinances. As he
has power to depose the Sultan for a lapse of orthodoxy, the result may
be imagined. The many attempts of the Christian Powers to enforce their
notions of religious toleration on the Porte have in the end merely led
to further displays of Oriental politeness.

[Footnote 86: "Islam continues to be, as it has been for twelve
centuries, the most inflexible adversary to the Western spirit"
_(History of Serbia and the Slav Provinces of Turkey,_ by L. von Ranke,
Eng. edit. p. 296).]

It may be asked: Why have not the Christians of Turkey united in order
to gain civic rights? The answer is that they are profoundly divided in
race and sentiment. In the north-east are the Roumanians, a
Romano-Slavonic race long ago Latinised in speech and habit of mind by
contact with Roman soldiers and settlers on the Lower Danube. South of
that river there dwell the Bulgars, who, strictly speaking, are not
Slavs but Mongolians. After long sojourn on the Volga they took to
themselves the name of that river, lost their Tartar speech, and became
Slav in sentiment and language. This change took place before the ninth
century, when they migrated to the south and conquered the districts
which they now inhabit. Their neighbours on the west, the Servians, are
Slavs in every sense, and look back with pride to the time of the great
Servian Kingdom, carved out by Stephen Dushan, which stretched
southwards to the _AEgean_ and the Gulf of Corinth (about 1350).

To the west of the present Kingdom of Servia dwell other Servians and
Slavs, who have been partitioned and ground down by various conquerors
and have kept fewer traditions than the Servians who won their freedom.
But from this statement we must except the Montenegrins, who in their
mountain fastnesses have ever defied the Turks. To the south of them is
the large but little-known Province of Albania, inhabited by the
descendants of the ancient Illyrians, with admixtures of Greeks in the
south, Bulgarians in the east, and Servians in the north-east. Most of
the Albanians forsook Christianity and are among the most fanatical and
warlike upholders of Islam; but in their turbulent clan-life they often
defy the authority of the Sultan, and uphold it only in order to keep
their supremacy over the hated and despised Greeks and Bulgars on their
outskirts. Last among the non-Turkish races of the Balkan Peninsula are
a few Wallachs in Central Macedonia, and Greeks; these last inhabit
Thessaly and the seaboard of Macedonia and of part of Roumelia. It is
well said that Greek influence in the Balkans extends no further inland
than that of the sea breezes.

Such is the medley of races that complicates the Eastern Question. It
may be said that Turkish rule in Europe survives owing to the racial
divisions and jealousies of the Christians. The Sultan puts in force the
old Roman motto, _Divide et impera_, and has hitherto done so, in the
main, with success. That is the reason why Islam dominates Christianity
in the south-east of Europe.

This brief explanation will show what are the evils that affect Turkey
as a whole and her Christian subjects in particular. They are due to the
collision of two irreconcilable creeds and civilisations, the Christian
and the Mohammedan. Both of them are gifted with vitality and
propagandist power (witness the spread of the latter in Africa and
Central Asia in our own day); and, while no comparison can be made
between them on ideal grounds and in their ethical and civic results, it
still remains true that Islam inspires its votaries with fanatical
bravery in war. There is the weakness of the Christians of south-eastern
Europe. Superior in all that makes for home life, civilisation, and
civic excellence, they have in time past generally failed as soldiers
when pitted against an equal number of Moslems. But the latter show no
constructive powers in time of peace, and have very rarely assimilated
the conquered races. Putting the matter baldly, we may say that it is a
question of the survival of the fittest between beavers and bears. And
in the Nineteenth Century the advantage has been increasingly with
the former.

These facts will appear if we take a brief glance at the salient
features of the European history of Turkey. After capturing
Constantinople, the capital of the old Eastern Empire, in the year 1453,
the Turks for a time rapidly extended their power over the neighbouring
Christian States, Bulgaria, Servia, and Hungary. In the year 1683 they
laid siege to Vienna; but after being beaten back from that city by the
valiant Sobieski, King of Poland, they gradually lost ground. Little by
little Hungary, Transylvania, the Crimea, and parts of the Ukraine
(South Russia) were wrenched from their grasp; and the close of the
eighteenth century saw their frontiers limited to the River Dniester and
the Carpathians[87]. Further losses were staved off only by the
jealousies of the Great Powers. Joseph II. of Austria came near to
effecting further conquests, but his schemes of partition fell through
amidst the wholesale collapse of his too ambitious policy. Napoleon
Bonaparte seized Egypt in 1798, but was forced by Great Britain to give
it back to Turkey (1801-2). In 1807-12 Alexander I. of Russia resumed
the conquering march of the Czars southward, captured Bessarabia, and
forced the Sultan to grant certain privileges to the Principalities of
Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1815 the Servians revolted against Turkish
rule: they had always remembered the days of their early fame, and in
1817 wrested from the Porte large rights of local self-government.

[Footnote 87: The story that Peter the Great of Russia left a clause in
his will, bidding Russia to go on with her southern conquests until she
gained Constantinople, is an impudent fiction of French publicists in
the year 1812, when Napoleon wished to keep Russia and Turkey at war. Of
course, Peter the Great gave a mighty impulse to Russian movements
towards Constantinople.]

Ten years later the intervention of England and France in favour of the
Greek patriots led to the battle of Navarino, which destroyed the
Turco-Egyptian fleet and practically secured the independence of Greece.
An even worse blow was dealt by the Czar Nicholas I. of Russia. In 1829,
at the close of a war in which his troops drove the Turks over the
Balkans and away from Adrianople, he compelled the Porte to sign a peace
at that city, whereby they acknowledged the almost complete independence
of Moldavia and Wallachia. These Danubian Principalities owned the
suzerainty of the Sultan and paid him a yearly tribute, but in other
respects were practically free from his control, while the Czar gained
for the time the right of protecting the Christians of the Eastern, or
Greek, Church in the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan also recognised the
independence of Greece. Further troubles ensued which laid Turkey for a
time at the feet of Russia. England and France, however, intervened to
raise her up; and they also thwarted the efforts of Mehemet Ali, the
rebellious Pacha of Egypt, to seize Syria from his nominal lord,
the Sultan.

Even this bare summary will serve to illustrate three important facts:
first, that Turkey never consolidated her triumph over the neighbouring
Christians, simply because she could not assimilate them, alien as they
were, in race, and in the enjoyment of a higher creed and civilisation;
second, that the Christians gained more and more support from kindred
peoples (especially the Russians) as these last developed their
energies; third, that the liberating process was generally (though not
in 1827) delayed by the action of the Western Powers (England and
France), which, on grounds of policy, sought to stop the aggrandisement
of Austria, or Russia, by supporting the Sultan's authority.

The policy of supporting the Sultan against the aggression of Russia
reached its climax in the Crimean War (1854-55), which was due mainly to
the efforts of the Czar Nicholas to extend his protection over the Greek
Christians in Turkey. France, England, and later on the Kingdom of
Sardinia made war on Russia--France, chiefly because her new ruler,
Napoleon III., wished to play a great part in the world, and avenge the
disasters of the Moscow campaign of 1812; England, because her
Government and people resented the encroachments of Russia in the East,
and sincerely believed that Turkey was about to become a civilised
State; and Sardinia, because her statesman Cavour saw in this action a
means of securing the alliance of the two western States in his
projected campaign against Austria. The war closed with the Treaty of
Paris, of 1856, whereby the signatory Powers formally admitted Turkey
"to participate in the advantages of the public law and system
of Europe."

This, however, merely signified that the signatory Powers would resist
encroachments on the territorial integrity of Turkey. It did not limit
the rights of the Powers, as specified in various "Capitulations," to
safeguard their own subjects residing in Turkey against Turkish misrule.
The Sultan raised great hopes by issuing a firman granting religious
liberty to his Christian subjects; this was inserted in the Treaty of
Paris, and thereby became part of the public law of Europe. The Powers
also became _collectively_ the guarantors of the local privileges of the
Danubian Principalities. Another article of the Treaty provided for the
exclusion of war-ships from the Black Sea. This of course applied
specially to Russia and Turkey[88].

[Footnote 88: For the treaty and the firman of 1856, see _The European
Concert in the Eastern Question, _by T.E. Holland; also Debidour,
_Histoire diplomatique de l'Europe _(1814-1878), vol. ii. pp. 150-152;
_The Eastern Question, _by the late Duke of Argyll, vol. i. chap. i.]

The chief diplomatic result of the Crimean War, then, was to substitute
a European recognition of religious toleration in Turkey for the control
over her subjects of the Greek Church which Russia had claimed. The
Sublime Porte was now placed in a stronger position than it had held
since the year 1770; and the due performance of its promises would
probably have led to the building up of a strong State. But the promises
proved to be mere waste-paper. The Sultan, believing that England and
France would always take his part, let matters go on in the old bad way.
The natural results came to pass. The Christians showed increasing
restiveness under Turkish rule. In 1860 numbers of them were massacred
in the Lebanon, and Napoleon III. occupied part of Syria with French
troops. The vassal States in Europe also displayed increasing vitality,
while that of Turkey waned. In 1861, largely owing to the diplomatic
help of Napoleon III., Moldavia and Wallachia united and formed the
Principality of Roumania. In 1862, after a short but terrible struggle,
the Servians rid themselves of the Turkish garrisons and framed a
constitution of the Western type. But the worst blow came in 1870.
During the course of the Franco-German War the Czar's Government (with
the good-will and perhaps the active connivance of the Court of Berlin)
announced that it would no longer be bound by the article of the Treaty
of Paris excluding Russian war-ships from the Black Sea. The Gladstone
Ministry sent a protest against this act, but took no steps to enforce
its protest. Our young diplomatist, Sir Horace Rumbold, then at St.
Petersburg, believed that she would have drawn back at a threat of
war[89]. Finally, the Russian declaration was agreed to by the Powers in
a Treaty signed at London on March 31, 1871.

[Footnote 89: Sir Horace Rumbold, _Recollections of a Diplomatist_
(First Series), vol. ii. p. 295.]

These warnings were all thrown away on the Porte. Its promises of
toleration to Christians were ignored; the wheels of government clanked
on in the traditional rusty way; governors of provinces and districts
continued, as of yore, to pocket the grants that were made for local
improvements; in defiance of the promises given in 1856, taxes continued
to be "farmed" out to contractors; the evidence of Christians against
Moslems was persistently refused a hearing in courts of justice[90]; and
the collectors of taxes gave further turns of the financial screw in
order to wring from the cultivators, especially from the Christians, the
means of satisfying the needs of the State and the ever-increasing
extravagance of the Sultan. Incidents which were observed in Bosnia by
an Oxford scholar of high repute, in the summer of 1875, will be found
quoted in an Appendix at the end of this volume.

[Footnote 90: As to this, see Reports: _Condition of Christians in
Turkey_ (1860). Presented to Parliament in 1861. Also Parliamentary
Papers, Turkey, No. 16 (1877).]

Matters came to a climax in the autumn of 1875 in Herzegovina, the
southern part of Bosnia. There after a bad harvest the farmers of taxes
and the Mohammedan landlords insisted on having their full quota; for
many years the peasants had suffered under agrarian wrongs, which cannot
be described here; and now this long-suffering peasantry, mostly
Christians, fled to the mountains, or into Montenegro, whose sturdy
mountaineers had never bent beneath the Turkish yoke[91]. Thence they
made forays against their oppressors until the whole of that part of
the Balkans was aflame with the old religious and racial feuds. The
Slavs of Servia, Bulgaria, and of Austrian Dalmatia also gave secret aid
to their kith and kin in the struggle against their Moslem overlords.
These peoples had been aroused by the sight of the triumph of the
national cause in Italy, and felt that the time had come to strike for
freedom in the Balkans. Turkey therefore failed to stamp out the revolt
in Herzegovina, fed as it was by the neighbouring Slav peoples; and it
was clear to all the politicians of Europe that the Eastern Question was
entering once more on an acute phase.

[Footnote 91: Efforts were made by the British Consul, Holmes, and other
pro-Turks, to assign this revolt to Panslavonic intrigues. That there
were some Slavonic emissaries at work is undeniable; but it is equally
certain that their efforts would have had no result but for the
existence of unbearable ills. It is time, surely, to give up the notion
that peoples rise in revolt merely owing to outside agitators. To revolt
against the warlike Turks has never been child's play.]

These events aroused varied feelings in the European States. The Russian
people, being in the main of Slavonic descent, sympathised deeply with
the struggles of their kith and kin, who were rendered doubly dear by
their membership in the Greek Church. The Panslavonic Movement, for
bringing the scattered branches of the Slav race into some form of
political union, was already gaining ground in Russia; but it found
little favour with the St. Petersburg Government owing to the
revolutionary aims of its partisans. Sympathy with the revolt in the
Balkans was therefore confined to nationalist enthusiasts in the towns
of Russia. Austria was still more anxious to prevent the spread of the
Balkan rising to the millions of her own Slavs. Accordingly, the
Austrian Chancellor, Count Andrassy, in concert with Prince Bismarck and
the Russian statesman, Prince Gortchakoff, began to prepare a scheme of
reforms which was to be pressed on the Sultan as a means of conciliating
the insurgents of Herzegovina. They comprised (1) the improvement of the
lot of the peasantry; (2) complete religious liberty; (3) the abolition
of the farming of taxes; (4) the application of the local taxation to
local needs; (5) the appointment of a Commission, half of Moslems, half
of Christians, to supervise the execution of these reforms and of others
recently promised by the Porte[92].

[Footnote 92: For the full text, see Hertslet, _The Map of Europe by
Treaty_, iv. pp. 2418-2429.]

These proposals would probably have been sent to the Porte before the
close of 1875 but for the diplomatic intervention of the British
Cabinet. Affairs at London were then in the hands of that skilful and
determined statesman, Disraeli, soon to become Lord Beaconsfield. It is
impossible to discuss fully the causes of that bias in his nature which
prejudiced him against supporting the Christians of Turkey. Those causes
were due in part to the Semitic instincts of his Jewish ancestry,--the
Jews having consistently received better treatment from the Turks than
from the Russians,--and in part to his staunch Imperialism, which saw in
Muscovite expansion the chief danger to British communications with
India. Mr. Bryce has recently pointed out in a suggestive survey of
Disraeli's character that tradition had great weight with him[93]. It is
known to have been a potent influence on the mind of Queen Victoria;
and, as the traditional policy at Whitehall was to support Turkey
against Russia, all the personal leanings, which count for so much, told
in favour of a continuance in the old lines, even though the
circumstances had utterly changed since the time of the Crimean War.

[Footnote 93: Bryce, _Studies in Contemporary Biography_ (1904).]

When, therefore, Disraeli became aware that pressure was about to be
applied to the Porte by the three Powers above named, he warned them
that he considered any such action to be inopportune, seeing that Turkey
ought to be allowed time to carry out a programme of reforms of recent
date. By an _irade_ of October 2, 1875, the Sultan had promised to _all_
his Christian subjects a remission of taxation and the right of choosing
not only the controllers of taxes, but also delegates to supervise their
rights at Constantinople.

In taking these promises seriously, Disraeli stood almost alone. But his
speech of November 9, 1875, at the Lord Mayor's banquet, showed that he
viewed the Eastern Question solely from the standpoint of British
interests. His acts spoke even more forcibly than his words. That was
the time when the dawn of Imperialism flushed all the eastern sky.
H.R.H. the Prince of Wales had just begun his Indian tour amidst
splendid festivities at Bombay; and the repetition of these in the
native States undoubtedly did much to awaken interest in our Eastern
Empire and cement the loyalty of its Princes and peoples. Next, at the
close of the month of November, came the news that the British
Government had bought the shares in the Suez Canal, previously owned by
the Khedive of Egypt, for the sum of L4,500,000[94]. The transaction is
now acknowledged by every thinking man to have been a master-stroke of
policy, justified on all grounds, financial and Imperial. In those days
it met with sharp censure from Disraeli's opponents. In a sense this was
natural; for it seemed to be part of a scheme for securing British
influence in the Levant and riding roughshod over the susceptibilities
of the French (the constructors of the canal) and the plans of Russia.
Everything pointed to the beginning of a period of spirited foreign
policy which would lead to war with Russia.

[Footnote 94: For details of this affair, see Chapter XV. of this work.]

Meanwhile the three Empires delayed the presentation of their scheme of
reforms for Turkey, and, as it would seem, out of deference to British
representations. The troubles in Herzegovina therefore went on unchecked
through the winter, the insurgents refusing to pay any heed to the
Sultan's promises, even though these were extended by the _irade_ of
December 12, offering religious liberty and the institution of electoral
bodies throughout the whole of European Turkey. The statesmen of the
Continent were equally sceptical as to the _bona fides_ of these offers,
and on January 31, 1876, presented to the Porte their scheme of reforms
already described. Disraeli and our Foreign Minister, Lord Derby, gave a
cold and guarded assent to the "Andrassy Note," though they were known
to regard it as "inopportune." To the surprise of the world, the Porte
accepted the Note on February 11, with one reservation.

This act of acceptance, however, failed to satisfy the insurgents. They
decided to continue the struggle. Their irreconcilable attitude
doubtless arose from their knowledge of the worthlessness of Turkish
promises when not backed by pressure from the Powers; and it should be
observed that the "Note" gave no hint of any such pressure[95]. But it
was also prompted by the hope that Servia and Montenegro would soon draw
the sword on their behalf--as indeed happened later on. Those warlike
peoples longed to join in the struggle against their ancestral foes; and
their rulers were nothing loth to do so. Servia was then ruled by Prince
Milan (1868-89), of that House of Obrenovitch which has been
extinguished by the cowardly murders of June 1903 at Belgrade. He had
recently married Nathalie Kechko, a noble Russian lady, whose
connections strengthened the hopes that he naturally entertained of
armed Muscovite help in case of a war with Turkey. Prince Nikita of
Montenegro had married his second daughter to a Russian Grand Duke,
cousin of the Czar Alexander II., and therefore cherished the same
hopes. It was clear that unless energetic steps were taken by the Powers
to stop the spread of the conflagration it would soon wrap the whole of
the Balkan Peninsula in flames. An outbreak of Moslem fanaticism at
Salonica (May 6), which led to the murder of the French and German
Consuls at that port, shed a lurid light on the whole situation and
convinced the Continental Powers that sterner measures must be adopted
towards the Porte.

[Footnote 95: See Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No. 5 (1877), for Consul
Freeman's report of March 17, 1877, of the outrages by the Turks in
Bosnia. The refugees declared they would "sooner drown themselves in the
Unna than again subject themselves to Turkish oppression." The Porte
denied all the outrages.]

Such was the position, and such the considerations, that led the three
Empires to adopt more drastic proposals. Having found, meanwhile, by
informal conferences with the Herzegovinian leaders, what were the
essentials to a lasting settlement, they prepared to embody them in a
second Note, the Berlin Memorandum, issued on May 13. It was drawn up by
the three Imperial Chancellors at Berlin, but Andrassy is known to have
given a somewhat doubtful consent. T his "Berlin Memorandum" demanded
the adoption of an armistice for two months; the repatriation of the
Bosnian exiles and fugitives; the establishment of a mixed Commission
for that purpose; the removal of Turkish troops from the rural districts
of Bosnia; the right of the Consuls of the European Powers to see to the
carrying out of all the promised reforms. Lastly, the Memorandum stated
that if within two months the three Imperial Courts did not attain the
end they had in view (viz. the carrying out of the needed reforms), it
would become necessary to take "efficacious measures" for that
purpose[96]. Bismarck is known to have favoured the policy of
Gortchakoff in this affair.

[Footnote 96: Hertslet, iv. pp. 2459-2463.]

The proposals of the Memorandum were at once sent to the British,
French, and Italian Governments for their assent. The two last
immediately gave it. After a brief delay the Disraeli Ministry sent a
decisive refusal and made no alternative proposal, though one of its
members, Sir Stafford Northcote, is known to have formulated a
scheme[97]. The Cabinet took a still more serious step: on May 24, it
ordered the British fleet in the Mediterranean to steam to Besika Bay,
near the entrance to the Dardanelles--the very position it had taken
before the Crimean War[98]. It is needless to say that this act not only
broke up the "European Concert," but ended all hopes of compelling
Turkey at once to grant the much-needed reforms. That compulsion would
have been irresistible had the British fleet joined the Powers in
preventing the landing of troops from Asia Minor in the Balkan
Peninsula. As it was, the Turks could draw those reinforcements without

[Footnote 97: _Sir Stafford Northcote, Earl of Iddesleigh_, by Andrew
Lang, vol. ii. p. 181.]

[Footnote 98: Our ambassador at Constantinople, Sir Henry Elliott, asked
(May 9) that a squadron should be sent there to reassure the British
subjects in Turkey; but as the fleet was not ordered to proceed thither
until after a long interval, and was kept there in great strength and
for many months, it is fair to assume that the aim of our Government was
to encourage Turkey.] The Berlin Memorandum was, of course, not
presented to Turkey, and partly owing to the rapid changes which then
took place at Constantinople. To these we must now advert.

The Sultan, Abdul Aziz, during his fifteen years of rule had
increasingly shown himself to be apathetic, wasteful, and indifferent to
the claims of duty. In the month of April, when the State repudiated its
debts, and officials and soldiers were left unpaid, his life of
luxurious retirement went on unchanged. It has been reckoned that of the
total Turkish debt of LT200,000,000, as much as LT53,000,000 was due to
his private extravagance[99]. Discontent therefore became rife,
especially among the fanatical bands of theological students at
Constantinople. These Softas, as they are termed, numbering some 20,000
or more, determined to breathe new life into the Porte--an aim which the
patriotic "Young Turkey" party already had in view. On May 11 large
bands of Softas surrounded the buildings of the Grand Vizier and the
Sheik-ul-Islam, and with wild cries compelled them to give up their
powers in favour of more determined men. On the night of May 29-30 they
struck at the Sultan himself. The new Ministers were on their side: the
Sheik-ul-Islam, the chief of the Ulemas, who interpret Mohammedan
theology and law, now gave sentence that the Sultan might be dethroned
for mis-government; and this was done without the least show of
resistance. His nephew, Murad Effendi, was at once proclaimed Sultan as
Murad V.; a few days later the dethroned Sultan was secretly murdered,
though possibly his death may have been due to suicide[100].

[Footnote 99: Gallenga, _The Eastern Question_, vol. ii. p. 99.]

[Footnote 100: For the aims of the Young Turkey party, see the _Life of
Midhat Pasha_, by his son; also an article by Midhat in the _Nineteenth
Century_ for June 1878.]

We may add here that Murad soon showed himself to be a friend to reform;
and this, rather than any incapacity for ruling, was probably the cause
of the second palace revolution, which led to his deposition on August
31. Thereupon his brother, the present ruler, Abdul Hamid, ascended the
throne. His appearance was thus described by one who saw him at his
first State progress through his capital: "A somewhat heavy and stern
countenance . . . narrow at the temples, with a long gloomy cast of
features, large ears, and dingy complexion. . . . It seemed to me the
countenance of a ruler capable of good or evil, but knowing his own mind
and determined to have his own way[101]." This forecast has been
fulfilled in the most sinister manner.

[Footnote 101: Gallenga, _The Eastern Question_, vol. ii. p. 126. Murad
died in the year 1904.]

If any persons believed in the official promise of June 1, that there
should be "liberty for all" in the Turkish dominions, they might have
been undeceived by the events that had just transpired to the south of
the Balkan Mountains. The outbreak of Moslem fanaticism, which at
Constantinople led to the dethronement of two Sultans in order to place
on the throne a stern devotee, had already deluged with blood the
Bulgarian districts near Philippopolis. In the first days of May, the
Christians of those parts, angered by the increase of misrule and fired
with hope by the example of the Herzegovinians, had been guilty of acts
of insubordination; and at Tatar Bazardjik a few Turkish officials were
killed. The movement was of no importance, as the Christians were nearly
all unarmed. Nevertheless, the authorities poured into the disaffected
districts some 18,000 regulars, along with hordes of irregulars, or
Bashi-Bazouks; and these, especially the last, proceeded to glut their
hatred and lust in a wild orgy which desolated the whole region with a
thoroughness that the Huns of Attila could scarcely have excelled (May
9-16). In the upper valley of the Maritza out of eighty villages, all
but fifteen were practically wiped out. Batak, a flourishing town of
some 7000 inhabitants, underwent a systematic massacre, culminating in
the butchery of all who had taken refuge in the largest church; of the
whole population only 2000 managed to escape[102].

[Footnote 102: Mr. Baring, a secretary of the British Legation at
Constantinople, after a careful examination of the evidence, gave the
number of Bulgarians slain as "not fewer than 12,000"; he opined that
163 Mussulmans were perhaps killed early in May. He admitted the Batak
horrors. Achmet Agha, their chief perpetrator, was at first condemned to
death by a Turkish commission of inquiry, but he was finally pardoned.
Shefket Pasha, whose punishment was also promised, was afterwards
promoted to a high command. Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 2 (1877), pp.
248-249; _ibid_. No. 15 (1877), No. 77, p. 58. Mr. Layard, successor to
Sir Henry Elliott at Constantinople, afterwards sought to reduce the
numbers slain to 3500. Turkey, No. 26 (1877), p. 54.]

It is painful to have to add that the British Government was indirectly
responsible for these events. Not only had it let the Turks know that it
deprecated the intervention of the European Powers in Turkey (which was
equivalent to giving the Turks _carte blanche_ in dealing with their
Christian subjects), but on hearing of the Herzegovina revolt, it
pressed on the Porte the need of taking speedy measures to suppress
them. The despatches of Sir Henry Elliott, our ambassador at
Constantinople, also show that he had favoured the use of active
measures towards the disaffected districts north of Philippopolis[103].

[Footnote 103: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 3 (1876), pp. 144, 173,

Of course, neither the British Government nor its ambassador foresaw the
awful results of this advice; but their knowledge of Turkish methods
should have warned them against giving it without adding the cautions so
obviously needed. Sir Henry Elliott speedily protested against the
measures adopted by the Turks, but then it was too late[104].
Furthermore, the contemptuous way in which Disraeli dismissed the first
reports of the Bulgarian massacres as "coffee-house babble" revealed his
whole attitude of mind on Turkish affairs; and the painful impression
aroused by this utterance was increased by his declaration of July 30
that the British fleet then at Besika Bay was kept there solely in
defence of British interests. He made a similar but more general
statement in the House of Commons on August 11. On the next morning the
world heard that Queen Victoria had been pleased to confer on him the
title of Earl of Beaconsfield. It is well known, on his own admission,
that he could no longer endure the strain of the late sittings in the
House of Commons and had besought Her Majesty for leave to retire. She,
however, suggested the gracious alternative that he should continue in
office with a seat in the House of Lords. None the less, the conferring
of this honour was felt by very many to be singularly inopportune.

[Footnote 104: See, _inter alia_, his letter of May 26, 1876, quoted in
_Life and Correspondence of William White_ (1902), pp. 99-100.]

For at this time tidings of the massacres at Batak and elsewhere began
to be fully known. Despite the efforts of Ministers to discredit them,
they aroused growing excitement; and when the whole truth was known, a
storm of indignation swept over the country as over the whole of Europe.
Efforts were made by the Turcophil Press to represent the new trend of
popular feeling as a mere party move and an insidious attempt of the
Liberal Opposition to exploit humanitarian sentiment; but this charge
will not bear examination. Mr. Gladstone had retired from the Liberal
Leadership early in 1875 and was deeply occupied in literary work; and
Lords Granville and Hartington, on whom devolved the duty of leading the
Opposition, had been very sparing of criticisms on the foreign policy of
the Cabinet. They, as well as Mr. Gladstone, had merely stated that the
Government, on refusing to join in the Berlin Memorandum, ought to have
formulated an alternative policy. We now know that Mr. Gladstone left
his literary work doubtfully and reluctantly[105].

[Footnote 105: J. Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. ii. pp. 548-549.]

Now, however, the events in Bulgaria shed a ghastly light on the whole
situation, and showed the consequences of giving the "moral support" of
Britain to the Turks. The whole question ceased to rest on the high and
dry levels of diplomacy, and became one of life or death for many
thousands of men and women. The conscience of the country was touched to
the quick by the thought that the presence of the British Mediterranean
fleet at Besika Bay was giving the same encouragement to the Turks as it
had done before the Crimean War, and that, too, when they had belied the
promises so solemnly given in 1856, and were now proved to be guilty of
unspeakable barbarities. In such a case, the British nation would have
been disgraced had it not demanded that no further alliance should be
formed. It was equally the duty of the leaders of the Opposition to
voice what was undoubtedly the national sentiment. To have kept silence
would have been to stultify our Parliamentary institutions. The parrot
cry that British interests were endangered by Russia's supposed designs
on Turkey, was met by the unanswerable reply that, if those designs
existed, the best way to check them was to maintain the European
Concert, and especially to keep in close touch with Austria, seeing that
that Power had as much cause as England to dread any southward extension
of the Czar's power. Russia might conceivably fight Turkey and Great
Britain; but she would not wage war against Austria as well. Therefore,
the dictates of humanity as well as those of common sense alike
condemned the British policy, which from the outset had encouraged the
Turks to resist European intervention, had made us in some measure
responsible for the Bulgarian massacres, and, finally, had broken up the
Concert of the Powers, from which alone a peaceful solution of the
Eastern Question could be expected.

The union of the Powers having been dissolved by British action, it was
but natural that Russia and Austria should come to a private
understanding. This came about at Reichstadt in Bohemia on July 8. No
definitive treaty was signed, but the two Emperors and their Chancellors
framed an agreement defining their spheres of influence in the Balkans
in case war should break out between Russia and Turkey. Francis Joseph
of Austria covenanted to observe a neutrality friendly to the Czar under
certain conditions that will be noticed later on. Some of those
conditions were distasteful to the Russian Government, which sounded
Bismarck as to his attitude in case war broke out between the Czar and
the Hapsburg ruler. Apparently the reply of the German Chancellor was
unfavourable to Russia[106], for it thereafter renewed the negotiations
with the Court of Vienna. On the whole, the ensuing agreement was a
great diplomatic triumph; for the Czar thereby secured the neutrality of
Austria--a Power that might readily have remained in close touch with
Great Britain had British diplomacy displayed more foresight.

[Footnote 106: Bismarck, _Reflections and Reminiscences_ vol. ii. chap,

The prospects of a great war, meanwhile, had increased owing to the
action of Servia and Montenegro. The rulers of those States, unable any
longer to hold in their peoples, and hoping for support from their
Muscovite kinsfolk, declared war on Turkey at the end of June. Russian
volunteers thronged to the Servian forces by thousands; but, despite the
leadership of the Russian General, Tchernayeff, they were soon overborne
by the numbers and fanatical valour of the Turks. Early in September,
Servia appealed to the Powers for their mediation; and, owing chiefly to
the efforts of Great Britain, terms for an armistice were proposed by
the new Sultan, Abdul Hamid, but of so hard a nature that the Servians
rejected them.

On the fortune of war still inclining against the Slavonic cause, the
Russian people became intensely excited; and it was clear that they
would speedily join in the war unless the Turks moderated their claims.
There is reason to believe that the Czar Alexander II. dreaded the
outbreak of hostilities with Turkey in which he might become embroiled
with Great Britain. The Panslavonic party in Russia was then permeated
by revolutionary elements that might threaten the stability of the
dynasty at the end of a long and exhausting struggle. But, feeling
himself in honour bound to rescue Servia and Montenegro from the results
of their ill-judged enterprise, he assembled large forces in South
Russia and sent General Ignatieff to Constantinople with the demand,
urged in the most imperious manner (Oct. 30), that the Porte should
immediately grant an armistice to those States. At once Abdul Hamid
gave way.

Even so, Alexander II. showed every desire of averting the horrors of
war. Speaking to the British ambassador at St. Petersburg on November
2, he said that the present state of affairs in Turkey "was intolerable,
and unless Europe was prepared to act with firmness and energy, he
should be obliged to act alone." But he pledged his word that he desired
no aggrandisement, and that "he had not the smallest wish or intention
to be possessed of Constantinople[107]." At this time proposals for a
Conference of the Powers at Constantinople were being mooted: they had
been put forth by the British Government on October 5. There seemed,
therefore, to be some hope of a compromise if the Powers reunited so as
to bring pressure to bear on Turkey; for, a week later, the Sultan
announced his intention of granting a constitution, with an elected
Assembly to supervise the administration. But hopes of peace as well as
of effective reform in Turkey were damped by the warlike speech of Lord
Beaconsfield at the Lord Mayor's banquet on November 9. He then used
these words. If Britain draws the sword "in a righteous cause; if the
contest is one which concerns her liberty, her independence, or her
Empire, her resources, I feel, are inexhaustible. She is not a country
that, when she enters into a campaign, has to ask herself whether she
can support a second or a third campaign." On the next day the Czar
replied in a speech at Moscow to the effect that if the forthcoming
Conference at Constantinople did not lead to practical results, Russia
would be forced to take up arms; and he counted on the support of his
people. A week later 160,000 Russian troops were mobilised.

[Footnote 107: Hertslet, iv. p. 2508.]

The issue was thus clear as far as concerned Russia. It was not so clear
for Great Britain. Even now, we are in ignorance as to the real intent
of Lord Beaconsfield's speech at the Guildhall. It seems probable that,
as there were divisions in his Cabinet, he may have wished to bring
about such a demonstration of public feeling as would strengthen his
hands in proposing naval and military preparations. The duties of a
Prime Minister are so complex that his words may be viewed either in an
international sense, or as prompted by administrative needs, or by his
relations to his colleagues, or, again, they may be due merely to
electioneering considerations. Whatever their real intent on this
occasion, they were interpreted by Russia as a defiance and by Turkey as
a promise of armed help.

On the other hand, if Lord Beaconsfield hoped to strengthen the
pro-Turkish feeling in the Cabinet and the country, he failed. The
resentment aroused by Turkish methods of rule and repression was too
deep to be eradicated even by his skilful appeals to Imperialist
sentiment. The Bulgarian atrocities had at least brought this much of
good: they rendered a Turco-British alliance absolutely impossible.

Lord Derby had written to this effect on August 29 to Sir Henry Elliott:
"The impression produced here by events in Bulgaria has completely
destroyed sympathy with Turkey. The feeling is universal and so strong
that even if Russia were to declare war against the Porte, Her Majesty's
Government would find it practically impossible to interfere[108]."

[Footnote 108: Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No. 6 (1877).]

The assembly of a Conference of the envoys of the Powers at
Constantinople was claimed to be a decisive triumph for British
diplomacy. There were indeed some grounds for hoping that Turkey would
give way before a reunited Europe. The pressure brought to bear on the
British Cabinet by public opinion resulted in instructions being given
to Lord Salisbury (our representative, along with Sir H. Elliott, at the
Conference) which did not differ much from the avowed aims of Russia and
of the other Powers. Those instructions stated that the Powers could not
accept mere promises of reform, for "the whole history of the Ottoman
Empire, since it was admitted into the European Concert under the
engagements of the Treaty of Paris [1856], has proved that the Porte is
unable to guarantee the execution of reforms in the provinces by Turkish
officials, who accept them with reluctance and neglect them with
impunity." The Cabinet, therefore, insisted that there must be "external
guarantees," but stipulated that no foreign armies must be introduced
into Turkey[109]. Here alone British Ministers were at variance with the
other Powers; and when, in the preliminary meetings of the Conference, a
proposal was made to bring Belgian troops in order to guarantee the
thorough execution of the proposed reforms, Lord Salisbury did not
oppose it. In pursuance of instructions from London, he even warned the
Porte that Britain would not give any help in case war resulted from its
refusal of the European proposals.

[Footnote 109: Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, ii. (1877), No. 1; also, in
part, in Hertslet, iv. p. 2517.]

It is well known that Lord Salisbury was far less pro-Turkish than the
Prime Minister or the members of the British embassy at Constantinople.
During a diplomatic tour that he had made to the chief capitals he
convinced himself "that no Power was disposed to shield Turkey--not even
Austria--if blood had to be shed for the _status quo_." (The words are
those used by his assistant, Mr., afterwards Sir, William White.) He had
had little or no difficulty in coming to an understanding with the
Russian plenipotentiary, General Ignatieff, despite the intrigues of Sir
Henry Elliott and his Staff to hinder it[110]. Indeed, the situation
shows what might have been effected in May 1876, had not the Turks then
received the support of the British Government.

[Footnote 110: _Sir William White: Life and Correspondence_, p. 117.]

Now, however, there were signs that the Turks declined to take the good
advice of the Powers seriously; and on December 23, when the "full"
meetings of the Conference began, the Sultan and his Ministers treated
the plenipotentiaries to a display of injured virtue and reforming zeal
that raised the situation to the level of the choicest comedy. In the
midst of the proceedings, after the Turkish Foreign Minister, Safvet
Pacha, had explained away the Bulgarian massacres as a myth woven by the
Western imagination, salvoes of cannon were heard, that proclaimed the
birth of a new and most democratic constitution for the whole of the
Turkish Empire. Safvet did justice to the solemnity of the occasion; the
envoys of the Powers suppressed their laughter; and before long, Lord
Salisbury showed his resentment at this display of oriental irony and
stubbornness by ordering the British Fleet to withdraw from
Besika Bay[111].

[Footnote 111: See Gallenga (_The Eastern Question_, vol. ii. pp.
255-258) as to the scepticism regarding the new constitution, felt alike
by foreigners and natives at Constantinople.]

But deeds and words were alike wasted on the Sultan and his Ministers.
To all the proposals and warnings of the Powers they replied by pointing
to the superior benefits about to be conferred by the new constitution.
The Conference therefore speedily came to an end (Jan. 20). It had
served its purpose. It had fooled Europe[112].

[Footnote 112: See Parl. Papers (1878), Turkey, No. 2, p. 114, for the
constitution; and p. 302 for Lord Salisbury's criticisms on it; also
_ibid_, pp. 344-345, for Turkey's final rejection of the proposals of
the Powers.]

The responsibility for this act of cynical defiance must be assigned to
one man. The Sultan had never before manifested a desire for any reform
whatsoever; and it was not until December 19, 1876, that he named as
Grand Vizier Midhat Pasha, who was known to have long been weaving
constitutional schemes. This Turkish Sieyes was thrust to the front in
time to promulgate that fundamental reform. His tenure of power, like
that of the French constitution-monger in 1799, ended when the scheme
had served the purpose of the real controller of events. Midhat
obviously did not see whither things were tending. On January 24, 1877,
he wrote to Said Pasha, stating that, according to the Turkish
ambassador at London (Musurus Pasha), Lord Derby congratulated the
Sublime Porte on the dissolution of the Conference, "which he considers
a success for Turkey[113]."

[Footnote 113: _Life of Midhat Pasha_, by Midhat Ali (1903), p. 142.
Musurus must have deliberately misrepresented Lord Derby.]

It therefore only remained to set the constitution in motion. After six
days, when no sign of action was forthcoming, Midhat wrote to the Sultan
in urgent terms, reminding him that their object in promulgating the
constitution "was certainly not merely to find a solution of the
so-called Eastern Question, nor to seek thereby to make a demonstration
that should conciliate the sympathies of Europe, which had been
estranged from us." This Note seems to have irritated the Sultan. Abdul
Hamid, with his small, nervous, exacting nature, has always valued
Ministers in proportion to their obedience, not to their power of giving
timely advice. In every independent suggestion he sees the germ of
opposition, and perhaps of a palace plot. He did so now. By way of
reply, he bade Midhat come to the Palace. Midhat, fearing a trap,
deferred his visit, until he received the assurance that the order for
the reforms had been issued. Then he obeyed the summons; at once he was
apprehended, and was hurried to the Sultan's yacht, which forthwith
steamed away for the Aegean (Feb. 5). The fact that he remained above
its waters, and was allowed to proceed to Italy, may be taken as proof
that his zeal for reform had been not without its uses in the game which
the Sultan had played against the Powers. The Turkish Parliament, which
assembled on March 1, acted with the subservience that might have been
expected after this lesson. The Sultan dissolved it on the outbreak of
war, and thereafter gave up all pretence of constitutional forms. As for
Midhat, he was finally lured back to Turkey and done to death. Such was
the end of the Turkish constitution, of the Turkish Parliament, and of
their contriver[114].

[Footnote 114: _Life of Midhat Pasha_, chaps. v.-vii. For the Sultan's
character and habits, see an article in the _Contemporary Review_ for
December 1896, by D. Kelekian.]

Even the dissolution of the Conference of the Powers did not bring about
war at once. It seems probable that the Czar hoped much from the
statesmanlike conduct of Lord Salisbury at Constantinople, or perhaps he
expected to secure the carrying out of the needed reforms by means of
pressure from the Three Emperors' League (see Chapter XII.). But, unless
the Russians gave up all interest in the fate of her kinsmen and
co-religionists in Turkey, war was now the more probable outcome of
events. Alexander had already applied to Germany for help, either
diplomatic or military; but these overtures, of whatever kind, were
declined by Bismarck--so he declared in his great speech of February 6,
1888. Accordingly, the Czar drew closer to Austria, with the result that
the Reichstadt agreement of July 8, 1876, now assumed the form of a
definitive treaty signed at Vienna between the two Powers on January
15, 1877.

The full truth on this subject is not known. M. Elie de Cyon, who claims
to have seen the document, states that Austria undertook to remain
neutral during the Russo-Turkish War, that she stipulated for a large
addition of territory if the Turks were forced to quit Europe; also that
a great Bulgaria should be formed, and that Servia and Montenegro should
be extended so as to become conterminous. To the present writer this
account appears suspect. It is inconceivable that Austria should have
assented to an expansion of these principalities which would bar her
road southward to Salonica[115].

[Footnote 115: Elie de Cyon, _Histoire de l'Entente franco-russe_, chap,
i.; and in _Nouvelle Revue_ for June 1, 1887. His account bears obvious
signs of malice against Germany and Austria.]

Another and more probable version was given by the Hungarian Minister,
M. Tisza, during the course of debates in the Hungarian Delegations in
the spring of 1887, to this effect:--(1) No Power should claim an
exclusive right of protecting the Christians of Turkey, and the Great
Powers should pronounce on the results of the war; (2) Russia would
annex no land on the right (south) bank of the Danube, would respect the
integrity of Roumania, and refrain from touching Constantinople; (3) if
Russia formed a new Slavonic State in the Balkans, it should not be at
the expense of non-Slavonic peoples; and she would not claim special
rights over Bulgaria, which was to be governed by a prince who was
neither Russian nor Austrian; (4) Russia would not extend her military
operations to the districts west of Bulgaria. These were the terms on
which Austria agreed to remain neutral; and in certain cases she claimed
to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina[116].

[Footnote 116: Debidour, _Hist. diplomatique de l'Europe_ (1814-1878),
vol. ii. p. 502.] Doubtless these, or indeed any, concessions to
Austria were repugnant to Alexander II. and Prince Gortchakoff; but her
neutrality was essential to Russia's success in case war broke out; and
the Czar's Government certainly acted with much skill in securing the
friendly neutrality of the Power which in 1854 had exerted so paralysing
a pressure on the Russian operations on the Lower Danube.

Nevertheless, Alexander II. still sought to maintain the European
Concert with a view to the exerting of pacific pressure upon Turkey.
Early in March he despatched General Ignatieff on a mission to the
capitals of the Great Powers; except at Westminster, that envoy found
opinion favourable to the adoption of some form of coercion against
Turkey, in case the Sultan still hardened his heart against good advice.
Even the Beaconsfield Ministry finally agreed to sign a Protocol, that
of March 31, 1877, which recounted the efforts of the six Great Powers
for the improvement of the lot of the Christians in Turkey, and
expressed their approval of the promises of reform made by that State on
February 13, 1876. Passing over without notice the new Turkish
Constitution, the Powers declared that they would carefully watch the
carrying out of the promised reforms, and that, if no improvement in the
lot of the Christians should take place, "they [the Powers] reserve to
themselves to consider in common as to the means which they may deem
best fitted to secure the wellbeing of the Christian populations, and
the interests of the general peace[117]." This final clause contained a
suggestion scarcely less threatening than that with which the Berlin
Memorandum had closed; and it is difficult to see why the British
Cabinet, which now signed the London Protocol, should have wrecked that
earlier effort of the Powers. In this as in other matters it is clear
that the Cabinet was swayed by a "dual control."

[Footnote 117: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 9 (1877), p. 2.]

But now it was all one whether the British Government signed the
Protocol or not. Turkey would have none of it. Despite Lord Derby's
warning that "the Sultan would be very unwise if he would not endeavour
to avail himself of the opportunity afforded him to arrange a mutual
disarmament," that potentate refused to move a hair's-breadth from his
former position. On the 12th of April the Turkish ambassador announced
to Lord Derby the final decision of his Government: "Turkey, as an
independent State, cannot submit to be placed under any surveillance,
whether collective or not. . . . No consideration can arrest the Imperial
Government in their determination to protest against the Protocol of the
31st March, and to consider it, as regards Turkey, as devoid of all
equity, and consequently of all binding character." Lord Derby thereupon
expressed his deep regret at this decision, and declared that he "did
not see what further steps Her Majesty's Government could take to avert
a war which appeared to have become inevitable[118]."

[Footnote 118: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 15 (1877), pp. 354-355.]

The Russian Government took the same view of the case, and on April
7-19, 1877, stated in a despatch that, as a pacific solution of the
Eastern Question was now impossible, the Czar had ordered his armies to
cross the frontiers of Turkey. The official declaration of war followed
on April 12-24. From the point of view of Lord Derby this seemed
"inevitable." Nevertheless, on May 1 he put his name to an official
document which reveals the curious dualism which then prevailed in the
Beaconsfield Cabinet. This reply to the Russian despatch contained the
assertion that the last answer of the Porte did not remove all hope of
deference on its part to the wishes and advice of Europe, and "that the
decision of the Russian Government is not one which can have their
concurrence or approval." We shall not be far wrong in assuming that,
while the hand that signed this document was the hand of Derby, the
spirit behind it was that of Beaconsfield.

In many quarters the action of Russia was stigmatised as the outcome of
ambition and greed, rendered all the more odious by the cloak of
philanthropy which she had hitherto worn. The time has not come when an
exhaustive and decisive verdict can be given on this charge. Few
movements have been free from all taint of meanness; but it is clearly
unjust to rail against a great Power, because, at the end of a war which
entailed frightful losses and a serious though temporary loss of
prestige, it determined to exact from the enemy the only form of
indemnity which was forthcoming, namely, a territorial indemnity.
Russia's final claims, as will be seen, were open to criticism at
several points; but the censure just referred to is puerile. It accords,
however, with most of the criticisms passed in London "club-land," which
were remarkable for their purblind cynicism.

No one who has studied the mass of correspondence contained in the
Blue-books relating to Turkey in 1875-77 can doubt that the Emperor
Alexander II. displayed marvellous patience in face of a series of
brutal provocations by Moslem fanatics and the clamour of his own people
for a liberating crusade. Bismarck, who did not like the Czar, stated
that he did not want war, but waged it "under stress of Panslavist
influence[119]." That some of his Ministers and Generals had less lofty
aims is doubtless true; but practically all authorities are now agreed
that the maintenance of the European Concert would have been the best
means of curbing those aims. Yet, despite the irritating conduct of the
Beaconsfield Cabinet, the Emperor Alexander sought to re-unite Europe
with a view to the execution of the needed reforms in Turkey. Even after
the successive rebuffs of the rejection of the Berlin Memorandum by
Great Britain and of the suggestions of the Powers at Constantinople by
Turkey, he succeeded in restoring the semblance of accord between the
Powers, and of leaving to Turkey the responsibility of finally and
insolently defying their recommendations. A more complete diplomatic
triumph has rarely been won. It was the reward of consistency and
patience, qualities in which the Beaconsfield Cabinet was
signally lacking.

[Footnote 119: _Bismarck: his Reflections and Reminiscences_, vol. ii.
p. 259 (Eng. ed.).] We may notice one other criticism: that Russia's
agreement with Austria implied the pre-existence of aggressive designs.
This is by no means conclusive. That the Czar should have taken the
precaution of coming to the arrangement of January 1877 with Austria
does not prove that he was desirous of war. The attitude of Turkey
during the Conference at Constantinople left but the slightest hope of
peace. To prepare for war in such a case is not a proof of a desire for
war, but only of common prudence.

Certain writers in France and Germany have declared that Bismarck was
the real author of the Russo-Turkish War. The dogmatism of their
assertions is in signal contrast with the thinness of their
evidence[120]. It rests mainly on the statement that the Three Emperors'
League (see Chapter XII.) was still in force; that Bismarck had come to
some arrangement for securing gains to Austria in the south-east as a
set-off to her losses in 1859 and 1866; that Austrian agents in Dalmatia
had stirred up the Herzegovina revolt of 1875; and that Bismarck and
Andrassy did nothing to avert the war of 1877. Possibly he had a hand in
these events--he had in most events of the time; and there is a
suspicious passage in his Memoirs as to the overtures made to Berlin in
the autumn of 1876. The Czar's Ministers wished to know whether, in the
event of a war with Austria, they would have the support of Germany. To
this the Chancellor replied, that Germany could not allow the present
equilibrium of the monarchical Powers to be disturbed: "The result . . .
was that the Russian storm passed from Eastern Galicia to the
Balkans[121]." Thereafter Russia came to terms with Austria as
described above.

[Footnote 120: Elie de Cyon, _op. cit._ chap. i.; also in _Nouvelle
Revue_ for 1880.]

[Footnote 121: Bismarck, _Recollections and Reminiscences_, vol. ii. p.
231 (Eng. ed.).]

But the passage just cited only proves that Russia might have gone to
war with Austria over the Eastern Question. In point of fact, she went
to war with Turkey, after coming to a friendly arrangement with Austria.
Bismarck therefore acted as "honest-broker" between his two allies; and
it has yet to be proved that Bismarck did not sincerely work with the
two other Empires to make the coercion of Turkey by the civilised Powers
irresistibly strong. In his speech of December 6, 1876, to the
Reichstag, the Chancellor made a plain and straightforward declaration
of his policy, namely, that of neutrality, but inclining towards
friendship with Austria. That, surely, did not drive Russia into war
with Turkey, still less entice her into it. As for the statement that
Austrian intrigues were the sole cause of the Bosnian revolt, it must
appear childish to all who bear in mind the exceptional hardships and
grievances of the peasants of that province. Finally, the assertion of a
newspaper, the _Czas_, that Queen Victoria wrote to Bismarck in April
1877 urging him to protest against an attack by Russia on Turkey, may be
dismissed as an impudent fabrication[122]. It was altogether opposed to
the habits of her late Majesty to write letters of that kind to the
Foreign Ministers of other Powers.

[Footnote 122: Busch, _Our Chancellor_, vol. ii. p. 126.]

Until documents of a contrary tenor come to light, we may say with some
approach to certainty that the responsibility for the war of 1877-78
rests with the Sultan of Turkey and with those who indirectly encouraged
him to set at naught the counsels of the Powers. Lord Derby and Lord
Salisbury had of late plainly warned him of the consequences of his
stubbornness; but the influence of the British embassy at Constantinople
and of the Turkish ambassador in London seems greatly to have weakened
the force of those warnings.

It must always be remembered that the Turk will concede religious
freedom and civic equality to the "Giaours" only under overwhelming
pressure. In such a case he mutters "Kismet" ("It is fate"), and gives
way; but the least sign of weakness or wavering on the part of the
Powers awakens his fanatical scruples. Then his devotion to the Koran
forbids any surrender. History has afforded several proofs of this, from
the time of the Battle of Navarino (1827) to that of the intervention
of the Western Powers on behalf of the slaughtered and harried
Christians of the Lebanon (1860). Unfortunately Abdul Hamid had now come
to regard the Concert of the Powers as a "loud-sounding nothing." With
the usual bent of a mean and narrow nature he detected nothing but
hypocrisy in its lofty professions, and self-seeking in its
philanthropic aims, together with a treacherous desire among influential
persons to make the whole scheme miscarry. Accordingly he fell back on
the boundless fund of inertia, with which a devout Moslem ruler blocks
the way to western reforms. A competent observer has finely remarked
that the Turk never changes; his neighbours, his frontiers, his
statute-books may change, but his ideas and his practice remain always
the same. He will not be interfered with; he will not improve[123]. To
this statement we must add that only under dire necessity will he allow
his Christian subjects to improve. The history of the Eastern Question
may be summed up in these assertions.

[Footnote 123: _Turkey in Europe_, by Odysseus, p. 139.]

Abdul Hamid II. is the incarnation of the reactionary forces which have
brought ruin to Turkey and misery to her Christian subjects. He owed his
crown to a recrudescence of Moslem fanaticism; and his reign has
illustrated the unsuspected strength and ferocity of his race and creed
in face of the uncertain tones in which Christendom has spoken since the
spring of the year 1876. The reasons which prompted his defiance a year
later were revealed by his former Grand Vizier, Midhat Pasha, in an
article in the _Nineteenth Century_ for June 1877. The following passage
is especially illuminating:--

     Turkey was not unaware of the attitude of the English
     Government towards her; the British Cabinet had declared in
     clear terms that it would not interfere in our dispute. This
     decision of the English Cabinet was perfectly well known to
     us, but we knew still better that the general interests of
     Europe and the particular interests of England were so bound
     up in our dispute with Russia that, in spite of all the
     Declarations of the English Cabinet, it appeared to us to be
     absolutely impossible for her to avoid interfering sooner or
     later in this Eastern dispute. This profound belief, added to
     the reasons we have mentioned, was one of the principal
     factors of our contest with Russia[124].

[Footnote 124: See, too, the official report of our pro-Turkish
Ambassador at Constantinople, Mr. Layard (May 30, 1877), as to the
difficulty of our keeping out of the war in its final stages (Parl.
Papers, Turkey, No. 26 (1877), p. 52).]

It appears, then, that the action of the British Government in the
spring and summer of 1876, and the well-known desire of the Prime
Minister to intervene in favour of Turkey, must have contributed to the
Sultan's decision to court the risks of war rather than allow any
intervention of the Powers on behalf of his Christian subjects.

The information that has come to light from various quarters serves to
strengthen the case against Lord Beaconsfield's policy in the years
1875-77. The letter written by Mr. White to Sir Robert Morier on January
16, 1877, and referred to above, shows that his diplomatic experience
had convinced him of the futility of supporting Turkey against the
Powers. In that letter he made use of these significant words:--"You
know me well enough. I did not come here (Constantinople) to deceive
Lord Salisbury or to defend an untenable Russophobe or pro-Turkish
policy. There will probably be a difference of opinion in the Cabinet as
to our future line of policy, and I shall not wonder if Lord Salisbury
should upset Dizzy and take his place or leave the Government on this
question. If he does the latter, the coach is indeed upset." Mr. White
also referred to the _personnel_ of the British Embassy at
Constantinople in terms which show how mischievous must have been its
influence on the counsels of the Porte.

A letter from Sir Robert Morier of about the same date proves that that
experienced diplomatist also saw the evil results certain to accrue
from the Beaconsfield policy:--"I have not ceased to din that into the
ears of the F.O. (Foreign Office), to make ourselves the _point d'appui_
of the Christians in the Turkish Empire, and thus take all the wind out
of the sails of Russia; and after the population had seen the difference
between an English and a Russian occupation [of the disturbed parts of
Turkey] it would jump to the eyes even of the blind, and we should
_debuter_ into a new policy at Constantinople with an immense
advantage[125]." This advice was surely statesmanlike. To support the
young and growing nationalities in Turkey would serve, not only to
checkmate the supposed aggressive designs of Russia, but also to array
on the side of Britain the progressive forces of the East. To rely on
the Turk was to rely on a moribund creature. It was even worse. It
implied an indirect encouragement to the "sick man" to enter on a strife
for which he was manifestly unequal, and in which we did not mean to
help him. But these considerations failed to move Lord Beaconsfield and
the Foreign Office from the paths of tradition and routine[126].

[Footnote 125: _Sir William White: Life and Correspondence_, pp.

[Footnote 126: For the power of tradition in the Foreign Office, see
_Sir William White: Life and Correspondence_, p. 119.]

Finally, in looking at the events of 1875-76 in their broad outlines, we
may note the verdict of a veteran diplomatist, whose conduct before the
Crimean War proved him to be as friendly to the interests of Turkey as
he was hostile to those of Russia, but who now saw that the situation
differed utterly from that which was brought about by the aggressive
action of Czar Nicholas I. in 1854. In a series of letters to the
_Times_ he pointed out the supreme need of joint action by all the
Powers who signed the Treaty of Paris; that that treaty by no means
prohibited their intervention in the affairs of Turkey; that wise and
timely intervention would be to the advantage of that State; that the
Turks had always yielded to coercion if it were of overwhelming
strength, but only on those terms; and that therefore the severance of
England from the European Concert was greatly to be deplored[127]. In
private this former champion of Turkey went even farther, and declared
on Sept. 10, 1876, that the crisis in the East would not have become
acute had Great Britain acted conjointly with the Powers[128]. There is
every reason to believe that posterity will endorse this judgment of
Lord Stratford de Redcliffe.

[Footnote 127: Letters of Dec. 31, 1875, May 16, 1876, and Sept. 9,
1876, republished with others in _The Eastern Question_, by Lord
Stratford de Redcliffe (1881).]

[Footnote 128: J. Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. ii. p. 555.]



     "Knowledge of the great operations of war can be acquired
     only by experience and by the applied study of the campaigns
     of all the great captains. Gustavus, Turenne, and Frederick,
     as well as Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar, have all acted on
     the same principles. To keep one's forces together, to bear
     speedily on any point, to be nowhere vulnerable,--such are
     the principles that assure victory."--NAPOLEON.

Despite the menace to Russia contained in the British Note of May 1,
1877, there was at present little risk of a collision between the two
Powers for the causes already stated. The Government of the Czar showed
that it desired to keep on friendly terms with the Cabinet of St. James,
for, in reply to a statement of Lord Derby that the security of
Constantinople, Egypt, and the Suez Canal was a matter of vital concern
for Great Britain, the Russian Chancellor, Prince Gortchakoff, on May 30
sent the satisfactory assurance that the two latter would remain outside
the sphere of military operations; that the acquisition of the Turkish
capital was "excluded from the views of His Majesty the Emperor," and
that its future was a question of common interest which could be settled
only by a general understanding among the Powers[129]. As long as Russia
adhered to these promises there could scarcely be any question of Great
Britain intervening on behalf of Turkey.

[Footnote 129: Hertslet, vol. iv. p. 2625.]

Thus the general situation in the spring of 1877 scarcely seemed to
warrant the hopes with which the Turks entered on the war. They stood
alone confronting a Power which had vastly greater resources in men and
treasure. Seeing that the Sultan had recently repudiated a large part of
the State debt, and could borrow only at exorbitant rates of interest,
it is even now mysterious how his Ministers managed to equip very
considerable forces, and to arm them with quick-firing rifles and
excellent cannon. The Turk is a born soldier, and will fight for nothing
and live on next to nothing when his creed is in question; but that does
not solve the problem how the Porte could buy huge stores of arms and
ammunition. It had procured 300,000 American rifles, and bought 200,000
more early in the war. On this topic we must take refuge in the domain
of legend, and say that the life of Turkey is the life of a phoenix: it
now and again rises up fresh and defiant among the flames.

As regards the Ottoman army, an English officer in its service,
Lieutenant W.V. Herbert, states that the artillery was very good,
despite the poor supply of horses; that the infantry was very good; the
regular cavalry mediocre, the irregular cavalry useless. He estimates
the total forces in Europe and Asia at 700,000; but, as he admits that
the battalions of 800 men rarely averaged more than 600, that total is
clearly fallacious. An American authority believes that Turkey had not
more than 250,000 men ready in Europe and that of these not more than
165,000 were north of the Balkans when the Russians advanced towards the
Danube[130]. Von Lignitz credits the Turks with only 215,000 regular
troops and 100,000 irregulars (Bashi Bazouks and Circassians) in the
whole Empire; of these he assigns two-thirds to European Turkey[131].

[Footnote 130: _The Campaign in Bulgaria_, by F.V. Greene, pt. ii. ch.
i.; W.V. Herbert, _The Defence of Plevna_, chaps, i.-ii.]

[Footnote 131: _Aus drei Kriegen_, by Gen. von Lignitz, p. 99.]

It seemed, then, that Russia had no very formidable task before her.
Early in May seven army corps began to move towards that great river.
They included 180 battalions of infantry, 200 squadrons of cavalry, and
800 guns--in all about 200,000 men. Their cannon were inferior to those
of the Turks, but this seemed a small matter in view of the superior
numbers which Russia seemed about to place in the field. The
mobilisation of her huge army, however, went on slowly, and produced by
no means the numbers that were officially reported. Our military attache
at the Russian headquarters, Colonel Wellesley, reported this fact to
the British Government; and, on this being found out, incurred
disagreeable slights from the Russian authorities[132].

[Footnote 132: _With the Russians in War and Peace_, by Colonel F.A.
Wellesley (1905), ch. xvii.]

Meanwhile Russia had secured the co-operation of Roumania by a
convention signed on April 16, whereby the latter State granted a free
passage through that Principality, and promised friendly treatment to
the Muscovite troops. The Czar in return pledged himself to "maintain
and defend the actual integrity of Roumania[133]." The sequel will show
how this promise was fulfilled. For the present it seemed that the
interests of the Principality were fully secured. Accordingly Prince
Charles (elder brother of the Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern, whose
candidature for the Crown of Spain made so much stir in 1870) took the
further step of abrogating the suzerainty of the Sultan over
Roumania (June 3).

[Footnote 133: Hertslet, vol. iv. p. 2577.]

Even before the declaration of independence Roumania had ventured on a
few acts of war against Turkey; but the co-operation of her army,
comprising 50,000 regulars and 70,000 National Guards, with that of
Russia proved to be a knotty question. The Emperor Alexander II., on
reaching the Russian headquarters at Plojeschti, to the north of
Bukharest, expressed his wish to help the Roumanian army, but insisted
that it must be placed under the commander-in-chief of the Russian
forces, the Grand Duke Nicholas. To this Prince Charles demurred, and
the Roumanian troops at first took no active part in the campaign.
Undoubtedly their non-arrival served to mar the plans of the Russian

[Footnote 134: _Reminiscences of the King of Roumania_, edited by S.
Whitman (1899), pp. 269, 274.] Delays multiplied from the outset. The
Russians, not having naval superiority in the Black Sea which helped to
gain them their speedy triumph in the campaign of 1828, could only
strike through Roumania and across the Danube and the difficult passes
of the middle Balkans. Further, as the Roumanian railways had but single
lines, the movement of men and stores to the Danube was very slow.
Numbers of the troops, after camping on its marshy banks (for the river
was then in flood), fell ill of malarial fever; above all, the
carelessness of the Russian Staff and the unblushing peculation of its
subordinates and contractors clogged the wheels of the military machine.
One result of it was seen in the bad bread supplied to the troops. A
Roumanian officer, when dining with the Grand Duke Nicholas, ventured to
compare the ration bread of the Russians with the far better bread
supplied to his own men at cheaper rates. The Grand Duke looked at the
two specimens and then--talked of something else[135]. Nothing could be
done until the flood subsided and large bodies of troops were ready to
threaten the Turkish line of defence at several points[136]. The Ottoman
position by no means lacked elements of strength. The first of these was
the Danube itself. The task of crossing a great river in front of an
active foe is one of the most dangerous of all military operations. Any
serious miscalculation of the strength, the position, or the mobility of
the enemy's forces may lead to an irreparable disaster; and until the
bridges used for the crossing are defended by _tetes de pont_ the
position of the column that has passed over is precarious.

[Footnote 135: Farcy, _La Guerre sur le Danube_, p. 73. For other
malpractices see Colonel F.A. Wellesley's _With the Russians in Peace
and War_, chs. xi. xii.]

[Footnote 136: _Punch_ hit off the situation by thus parodying the
well-known line of Horace: "Russicus expectat dum defluat amnis."]

The Danube is especially hard to cross, because its northern bank is for
the most part marshy, and is dominated by the southern bank. The German
strategist, von Moltke, who knew Turkey well, and had written the best
history of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828, maintained that the passage of
the Danube must cost the invaders upwards of 50,000 men. Thereafter,
they would be threatened by the Quadrilateral of fortresses--Rustchuk,
Shumla, Varna, and Silistria. Three of these were connected by railway,
which enabled the Turks to send troops quickly from the port of Varna to
any position between the mountain stronghold of Shumla and the riverine
fortress, Rustchuk.

Even the non-military reader will see by a glance at the map that this
Quadrilateral, if strongly held, practically barred the roads leading to
the Balkans on their eastern side. It also endangered the march of an
invading army through the middle of Bulgaria to the central passes of
that chain. Moreover, there are in that part only two or three passes
that can be attempted by an army with artillery. The fortress of Widdin,
where Osman Pasha was known to have an army of about 40,000 seasoned
troops, dominated the west of Bulgaria and the roads leading to the
easier passes of the Balkans near Sofia.

These being the difficulties that confronted the invaders in Europe, it
is not surprising that the first important battles took place in Asia.
On the Armenian frontier the Russians, under Loris Melikoff, soon gained
decided advantages, driving back the Turks with considerable losses on
Kars and Erzeroum. The tide of war soon turned in that quarter, but, for
the present, the Muscovite triumphs sent a thrill of fear through
Turkey, and probably strengthened the determination of Abdul-Kerim, the
Turkish commander-in-chief in Europe, to maintain a cautious defensive.

[Illustration: MAP OF BULGARIA.]

Much could be said in favour of a "Fabian" policy of delay. Large
Turkish forces were in the western provinces warring against Montenegro,
or watching Austria, Servia, and Greece. It is even said that
Abdul-Kerim had not at first more than about 120,000 men in the whole of
Bulgaria, inclusive of the army at Widdin. But obviously, if the
invaders so far counted on his weakness as to thrust their columns
across the Danube in front of forces that could be secretly and swiftly
strengthened by drafts from the south and west, they would expose
themselves to the gravest risks. The apologists of Abdul-Kerim claim
that such was his design, and that the signs of sluggishness which he at
first displayed formed a necessary part of a deep-laid scheme for luring
the Russians to their doom. Let the invaders enter Central Bulgaria in
force, and expose their flanks to Abdul-Kerim in the Quadrilateral, and
to Osman Pasha at Widdin; then the Turks, by well-concerted moves
against those flanks, would drive the enemy back on the Danube, and
perhaps compel a large part of his forces to lay down their arms. Such
is their explanation of the conduct of Abdul-Kerim.

As the Turkish Government is wholly indifferent to the advance of
historical knowledge, it is impossible even now to say whether this idea
was definitely agreed on as the basis of the plan of campaign. There are
signs that Abdul-Kerim and Osman Pasha adopted it, but whether it was
ever approved by the War Council at Constantinople is a different
question. Such a plan obviously implied the possession of great powers
of self-control by the Sultan and his advisers, in face of the initial
success of the Russians; and unless that self-control was proof against
panic, the design could not but break down at the crucial point. Signs
are not wanting that in the suggestions here tentatively offered, we
find a key that unlocks the riddle of the Danubian campaign of 1877.

At first Abdul-Kerim in the Quadrilateral, and Osman at Widdin,
maintained a strict defensive. The former posted small bodies of troops,
probably not more than 20,000 in all, at Sistova, Nicopolis, and other
neighbouring points. But, apart from a heavy bombardment of Russian and
Roumanian posts on the northern bank, neither commander did much to mar
the hostile preparations. This want of initiative, which contrasted with
the enterprise displayed by the Turks in 1854, enabled the invaders to
mature their designs with little or no interruption.

The Russian plan of campaign was to destroy or cripple the four small
Turkish ironclads that patrolled the lower reaches of the river, to
make feints at several points, and to force a passage at two
places--first near Ibrail into the Dobrudscha, and thereafter, under
cover of that diversion, from Simnitza to Sistova. The latter place of
crossing combined all the possible advantages. It was far enough away
from the Turkish Quadrilateral to afford the first essentials of safety;
it was known to be but weakly held; its position on the shortest line of
road between the Danube and a practicable pass of the Balkans--the
Shipka Pass--formed a strong recommendation; while the presence of an
island helped on the first preparations.

The flood of the Danube having at last subsided, all was ready by
midsummer. Russian batteries and torpedo-boats had destroyed two Turkish
armoured gunboats in the lower reaches of the river, and on June 22 a
Russian force crossed in boats from a point near Galatz to Matchin, and
made good their hold on the Dobrudscha.

Preparations were also ripe at Simnitza. In the narrow northern arm of
the river the boats and pontoons collected by the Russians were launched
with no difficulty, the island was occupied, and on the night of June
26-27, a Volhynian regiment, along with Cossacks, crossed in boats over
the broad arm of the river, there some 1000 yards wide, and gained a
foothold on the bank. Already their numbers were thinned by a dropping
fire from a Turkish detachment; but the Turks made the mistake of
trusting to the bullet instead of plying the bayonet. Before dawn broke,
the first-comers had been able to ensconce themselves under a bank until
other boats came up. Then with rousing cheers they charged the Turks and
pressed them back.

This was the scene which greeted the eyes of General Dragomiroff as his
boat drew near to the shore at 5 A.M. Half hidden by the morning mist,
the issue seemed doubtful. But at his side stood a general, fresh from
triumphs in Turkestan, who had begged to be allowed to come as volunteer
or aide-de-camp. When Dragomiroff, in an agony of suspense, lowered his
glass, the other continued to gaze, and at last exclaimed: "I
congratulate you on your victory." "Where do you see that?" asked
Dragomiroff "Where? on the faces of the soldiers. Look at them. Watch
them as they charge the enemy. It is a pleasure to see them." The
verdict was true. It was the verdict of Skobeleff[137].

[Footnote 137: Quoted from a report by an eye-witness, by "O.K." (Madame
Novikoff), _Skobeleff and the Slavonic Cause_, p. 38. The crossing was
planned by the Grand Duke Nicholas; see von Lignitz, _Aus drei
Kriegen_, p. 149.]

Such was the first appearance in European warfare of the greatest leader
of men that Russia has produced since the days of Suvoroff. The younger
man resembled that sturdy veteran in his passion for war, his ambition,
and that frank, bluff bearing which always wins the hearts of the
soldiery. The grandson of a peasant, whose bravery had won him promotion
in the great year, 1812; the son of a general whose prowess was
renowned--Skobeleff was at once a commander and a soldier. "Ah! he knew
the soul of a soldier as if he were himself a private." These were the
words often uttered by the Russians about Skobeleff; similar things had
been said of Suvoroff in his day. For champions such as these the
emotional Slavs will always pour out their blood like water. But, like
the captor of Warsaw, Skobeleff knew when to put aside the bayonet and
win the day by skill. Both were hard hitters, but they had a hold on the
principles of the art of war. The combination of these qualities was
formidable; and many Russians believe that, had the younger man, with
his magnificent physique and magnetic personality, enjoyed the length of
days vouchsafed to the diminutive Suvoroff, he would have changed the
face of two continents.

The United States attache to the Russian army in the Russo-Turkish War
afterwards spoke of his military genius as "stupendous," and prophesied
that, should he live twenty years longer, and lead the Russian armies in
the next Turkish war, he would win a place side by side with "Napoleon,
Wellington, Grant, and Moltke." To equate these four names is a mark of
transatlantic enthusiasm rather than of balanced judgment; but the
estimate, so far as it concerns Skobeleff, reflects the opinion of
nearly all who knew him[138].

[Footnote 138: F.V. Green, _Sketches of Army Life in Russia_, p. 142.]

Encouraged by the advent of Skobeleff and Dragomiroff, the Russians
assumed the offensive with full effect, and by the afternoon of that
eventful day, had mastered the rising ground behind Sistova. Here again
the Turkish defence was tame. The town was unfortified, but its
outskirts presented facilities for defence. Nevertheless, under the
pressure of the Russian attack and of artillery fire from the north
bank, the small Turkish garrison gave up the town and retreated towards
Rustchuk. At many points on that day the Russians treated their foes to
a heavy bombardment or feints of crossing, especially at Nicopolis and
Rustchuk; and this accounts for the failure of the defenders to help the
weak garrison on which fell the brunt of the attack. All things
considered, the crossing of the Danube must rank as a highly creditable
achievement, skilfully planned and stoutly carried out; it cost the
invaders scarcely 700 men[139].

[Footnote 139: Farcy, _La Guerre sur le Danube_, ch. viii.; _Daily News
Correspondence of the War of 1877-78_, ch. viii.]

They now threw a pontoon-bridge across the Danube between Simnitza and
Sistova; and by July 2 had 65,000 men and 244 cannon in and near the
latter town. Meanwhile, their 14th corps held the central position of
Babadagh in the Dobrudscha, thereby preventing any attack from the
north-east side of the Quadrilateral against their communications with
the south of Russia.

It may be questioned, however, whether the invaders did well to keep so
large a force in the Dobrudscha, seeing that a smaller body of light
troops patrolling the left bank of the lower Danube or at the _tete de
pont_ at Matchin would have answered the same purpose. The chief use of
the crossing at Matchin was to distract the attention of the enemy, an
advance through the unhealthy district of the Dobrudscha against the
Turkish Quadrilateral being in every way risky; above all, the retention
of a whole corps on that side weakened the main line of advance, that
from Sistova; and here it was soon clear that the Russians had too few
men for the enterprise in hand. The pontoon-bridge over the Danube was
completed by July 2--a fact which enabled those troops which were in
Roumania to be hurried forward to the front.

Obviously it was unsafe to march towards the Balkans until both flanks
were secured against onsets from the Quadrilateral on the east, and from
Nicopolis and Widdin on the west. At Nicopolis, twenty-five miles away,
there were about 10,000 Turks; and around Widdin, about 100 miles
farther up the stream, Osman mustered 40,000 more. To him Abdul-Kerim
now sent an order to march against the flank of the invaders.

Nor were the Balkan passes open to the Russians; for, after the crossing
of the Danube, Reuf Pasha had orders to collect all available troops for
their defence, from the Shipka Pass to the Slievno Pass farther east;
7000 men now held the Shipka; about 10,000 acted as a general reserve at
Slievno; 3000 were thrown forward to Tirnova, where the mountainous
country begins, and detachments held the more difficult tracks over the
mountains. An urgent message was also sent to Suleiman Pasha to
disengage the largest possible force from the Montenegrin war; and, had
he received this message in time, or had he acted with the needful speed
and skill, events might have gone very differently.

For some time the Turks seemed to be paralysed at all points by the
vigour of the Muscovite movements. Two corps, the 13th and 14th, marched
south-east from Sistova to the torrent of the Jantra, or Yantra, and
seized Biela, an important centre of roads in that district. This
secured them against any immediate attack from the Quadrilateral. The
Grand Duke Nicholas also ordered the 9th corps, under the command of
General Kruedener, to advance from Sistova and attack the weakly
fortified town of Nicopolis. Aided by the Roumanian guns on the north
bank of the Danube, this corps succeeded in overpowering the defence
and capturing the town, along with 7000 troops and 110 guns (July 16).

Thus the invaders seemed to have gained a secure base on the Danube,
from Sistova to Nicopolis, whence they could safely push forward their
vanguard to the Balkans. In point of fact their light troops had already
seized one of its more difficult passes--an exploit that will always
recall the name of that dashing leader, General Gurko. The plan now to
be described was his conception; it was approved by the Grand Duke
Nicholas. Setting out from Sistova and drawing part of his column from
the forces at Biela, Gurko first occupied the important town of Tirnova,
the small Turkish garrison making a very poor attempt to defend the old
Bulgarian capital (July 7). The liberators there received an
overwhelming ovation, and gained many recruits for the "Bulgarian
Legion." Pushing ahead, the Cossacks and Dragoons seized large supplies
of provisions stored by the Turks, and gained valuable news respecting
the defences of the passes.

The Shipka Pass, due south of Tirnova, was now strongly held, and
Turkish troops were hurrying towards the two passes north of Slievno,
some fifty miles farther east. Even so they had not enough men at hand
to defend all the passes of the mountain chain that formed their chief
line of defence. They left one of them practically undefended; this was
the Khainkoi Pass, having an elevation of 3700 feet above the sea.

A Russian diplomatist, Prince Tserteleff, who was charged to collect
information about the passes, found that the Khainkoi enjoyed an evil
reputation. "Ill luck awaits him who crosses the Khainkoi Pass," so ran
the local proverb. He therefore determined to try it; by dint of
questioning the friendly Bulgarian peasantry he found one man who had
been through it once, and that was two years before with an ox-cart.
Where an ox-cart could go, a light mountain gun could go. Accordingly,
the Prince and General Rauch went with 200 Cossacks to explore the pass,
set the men to work at the worst places, and, thanks to the secrecy
observed by the peasantry, soon made the path to the summit practicable
for cavalry and light guns. The Prince disguised himself as a Bulgarian
shepherd to examine the southern outlet; and, on his bringing a
favourable report, 11,000 men of Gurko's command began to thread the
intricacies of the defile.

Thanks to good food, stout hearts, jokes, and songs, they managed to get
the guns up the worst places. Then began the perils of the descent. But
the Turks knew nothing of their effort, else it might have ended far
otherwise. At the southern end 300 Turkish regulars were peacefully
smoking their pipes and cooking their food when the Cossack and Rifles
in the vanguard burst upon them, drove them headlong, and seized the
village of Khainkoi. A pass over the Balkans had been secured at the
cost of two men killed and three wounded. Gurko was almost justified in
sending to the Grand Duke Nicholas the proud vaunt that none but Russian
soldiers could have brought field artillery over such a pass, and in the
short space of three days (July 11-14)[140].

[Footnote 140: _General Gurko's Advance Guard In 1877_, by Colonel
Epauchin, translated by H. Havelock (The Wolseley Series, 1900), ch.
ii.; _The Daily News War Correspondence_ (1877), pp. 263-270.]

After bringing his column of 11,000 men through the pass, Gurko drove
off four Turkish battalions sent against him from the Shipka Pass and
Kazanlik. Next he sent out bands of Cossacks to spread terror
southwards, and delude the Turks into the belief that he meant to strike
at the important towns, Jeni Zagra and Eski Zagra, on the road to
Adrianople. Having thus caused them to loosen their grip on Kazanlik and
the Shipka, he wheeled his main force to the westward (leaving 3500 men
to hold the exit of the Khainkoi), and drove the Turks successively from
positions in front of the town, from the town itself, and then from the
village of Shipka. Above that place towered the mighty wall of the
Balkans, lessened somewhat at the pass itself, but presenting even there
a seemingly impregnable position.

Gurko, however, relied on the discouragement of the Turkish garrison
after the defeats of their comrades, and at seeing their positions
turned on the south while they were also threatened on the north. For
another Russian column had advanced from Tirnova up the more gradual
northern slopes of the Balkans, and now began to hammer at the defences
of the pass on that side. The garrison consisted of six and a half
battalions under Khulussi Pasha, and the wreckage of five battalions
already badly beaten by Gurko's column. These, with one battery of
artillery, held the pass and the neighbouring peaks, which they had in
part fortified.

In pursuance of a pre-arranged plan for a joint attack on July 17 of
both Russian forces, the northern body advanced up the slopes; but, as
Gurko's men were unable to make their diversion in time, the attack
failed. An isolated attempt by Gurko's force on the next day also
failed, the defenders disgracing themselves by tricking the Russians
with the white flag and firing upon them. But the Turks were now in
difficulties for want of food and water; or possibly they were seized
with panic. At any rate, while amusing the Russians with proposals of
surrender, they stole off in small bodies, early on July 19. The truth
was, ere long, found out by outposts of the north Russian forces;
Skobeleff and his men were soon at the summit, and there Gurko's
vanguard speedily joined them with shouts of joy.

Thus, within twenty-three days from the crossing of the Danube Gurko
seized two passes of the Balkans, besides capturing 800 prisoners and 13
guns. It is not surprising that a Turkish official despatch of July 21
to Suleiman summed up the position: "The existence of the Empire hangs
on a hair." And when Gurko's light troops proceeded to raid the valley
of the Maritsa, it seemed that the Turkish defence would collapse as
helplessly as in the memorable campaign of 1828. We must add here that
the Bulgarians now began to revenge themselves for the outrages of May
1876; and the struggle was sullied by horrible acts on both sides.

The impression produced by these dramatic strokes was profound and
widespread. The British fleet was sent to Besika Bay, a step
preparatory, as it seemed, to steaming up the Dardanelles to the Sea of
Marmora. At Adrianople crowds of Moslems fled away in wild confusion
towards Constantinople. There the frequent meetings of ministers at the
Sultan's palace testified to the extent of the alarm; and that nervous
despot wavered between the design of transferring the seat of government
to Brussa in Asia Minor, and that of unfurling the standard of the
Prophet and summoning all the faithful to rally to its defence against
the infidels. Finally he took courage from despair, and adopted the more
manly course. But first he disgraced his ministers. The War Minister and
Abdul-Kerim were summarily deposed, the latter being sent off as
prisoner to the island of Lemnos.

All witnesses agree that the War Minister, Redif Pasha, was incapable
and corrupt. The age and weakness of Abdul-Kerim might have excused his
comparative inaction in the Quadrilateral in the first half of July. It
is probable that his plan of campaign, described above, was sound; but
he lacked the vigour, and the authorities at Constantinople lacked the
courage, to carry it out thoroughly and consistently.

Mehemet Ali Pasha, a renegade German, who had been warring with some
success in Montenegro, assumed the supreme command on July 22; and
Suleiman Pasha, who, with most of his forces had been brought by sea
from Antivari to the mouth of the River Maritsa, now gathered together
all the available troops for the defence of Roumelia.

The Czar, on his side, cherished hopes of ending the war while Fortune
smiled on his standards. There are good grounds for thinking that he had
entered on it with great reluctance. In its early stages he let the
British Government know of his desire to come to terms with Turkey; and
now his War Minister, General Milutin, hinted to Colonel F.A. Wellesley,
British attache at headquarters, that the mediation of Great Britain
would be welcomed by Russia. That officer on July 30 had an interview
with the Emperor, who set forth the conditions on which he would be
prepared to accept peace with Turkey. They were--the recovery of the
strip of Bessarabia lost in 1856, and the acquisition of Batoum in Asia
Minor. Alexander II. also stated that he would not occupy Constantinople
unless that step were necessitated by the course of events; that the
Powers would be invited to a conference for the settlement of Turkish
affairs; and that he had no wish to interfere with the British spheres
of interest already referred to. Colonel Wellesley at once left
headquarters for London, but on the following day the aspect of the
campaign underwent a complete change, which, in the opinion of the
British Government, rendered futile all hope of a settlement on the
conditions laid down by the Czar.[141]

[Footnote 141: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 9 (1878), Nos. 2, 3. _With the
Russians in Peace and War_, by Colonel the Hon. F.A. Wellesley, ch. xx.]

For now, when the Turkish cause seemed irrevocably lost, the work of a
single brave man to the north of the Balkans dried up, as if by magic,
the flood of invasion, brought back victory to the standards of Islam,
and bade fair to overwhelm the presumptuous Muscovites in the waters of
the Danube. Moltke in his account of the war of 1828, had noted a
peculiarity of the Ottomans in warfare (a characteristic which they
share with the glorious defenders of Saragossa in 1808) of beginning the
real defence when others would abandon it as hopeless. This remark, if
not true of the Turkish army as a whole, certainly applies to that part
of it which was thrilled to deeds of daring by Osman Pasha.

More fighting had fallen to him perhaps than to any Turk of his time. He
was now forty years of age; his frame, slight and of middle height, gave
no promise of strength or capacity; neither did his face, until the
observer noted the power of his eyes to take in the whole situation
"with one slow comprehensive look[142]." This gave him a magnetic
faculty, the effect of which was not wholly marred by his disdainful
manners, curt speech, and contemptuous treatment of foreigners. Clearly
here was a cold, sternly objective nature like that of Bonaparte. He
was a good representative of the stolid Turk of the provinces, who, far
from the debasing influence of the Court, retains the fanaticism and
love of war on behalf of his creed that make his people terrible even in
the days of decline[143].

[Footnote 142: W.W. Herbert, _The Defence of Plevna_, p. 81.]

[Footnote 143: For these qualities, see _Turkey in Europe_, by
"Odysseus," p. 97.]

In accordance with the original design of Abdul-Kerim, Osman had for
some time remained passive at Widdin. On receiving orders from the
commander-in-chief, he moved eastwards on July 13, with 40,000 men, to
save Nicopolis. Finding himself too late to save that place he then laid
his plans for the seizure of Plevna. The importance of that town, as a
great centre of roads, and as possessing many advantages for defence on
the hills around, had been previously pointed out to the Russian Staff
by Prince Charles of Roumania, as indeed, earlier still, by Moltke.
Accordingly, the Grand Duke Nicholas had directed a small force of
cavalry towards that town. General Kruedener made the mistake of
recalling it in order to assist in the attack on Nicopolis on July
14-16, an unlucky move, which enabled Osman to occupy Plevna without
resistance on July 19[144]. On the 18th the Grand Duke Nicholas ordered
General Kruedener to occupy Plevna. Knowing nothing of Osman's
whereabouts, his vanguard advanced heedlessly on the town, only to meet
with a very decided repulse, which cost the Russians 3000 men (July 20).

[Footnote 144: Herbert, _The Defence of Plevna_, p. 129.]

Osman now entrenched himself on the open downs that stretch eastwards
from Plevna. As will be seen by reference to the map on page 213, his
position, roughly speaking, formed an ellipse pointing towards the
village of Grivitza. Above that village his engineers threw up two great
redoubts which dominated the neighbourhood. Other redoubts and trenches
screened Plevna on the north-east and south. Finally, the crowns of
three main slopes lying to the east of Plevna bristled with defensive
works. West of the town lay the deep vale of the little River Wid,
itself the chief defence on that side. We may state here that during the
long operations against Plevna the Russians had to content themselves
with watching this western road to Orkanye and Sofia by means of
cavalry; but the reinforcements from Sofia generally made their way in.
From that same quarter the Turks were also able to despatch forces to
occupy the town of Lovtcha, between Plevna and the Shipka Pass.

The Russian Staff, realising its error in not securing this important
centre of roads, and dimly surmising the strength of the entrenchments
which Osman was throwing up near to the base of their operations,
determined to attack Plevna at once. Their task proved to be one of
unexpected magnitude. Already the long curve of the outer Turkish lines
spread along slopes which formed natural glacis, while the ground
farther afield was so cut up by hollows as to render one combined
assault very difficult. The strength, and even the existence, of some of
Osman's works were unknown. Finally, the Russians are said to have had
only 32,000 infantry men at hand with two brigades of cavalry.

Nevertheless, Generals Kruedener and Schahofski received orders to attack
forthwith. They did so on July 31. The latter, with 12,000 men took two
of the outer redoubts on the south side, but had to fall back before the
deadly fire that poured on him from the inner works. Kruedener operated
against the still stronger positions on the north; but, owing to
difficulties that beset his advance, he was too late to make any
diversion in favour of his colleague. In a word, the attack was ill
planned and still worse combined. Five hours of desperate fighting
yielded the assailants not a single substantial gain; their losses were
stated officially to be 7336 killed and wounded; but this is certainly
below the truth. Turkish irregulars followed the retreating columns at
nightfall, and butchered the wounded, including all whom they found in a

This second reverse at Plevna was a disaster of the first magnitude. The
prolongation of the Russian line beyond the Balkans had left their base
and flanks too weak to stand against the terrible blows that Osman
seemed about to deal from his point of vantage. Plevna was to their
right flank what Biela was to their left. Troops could not be withdrawn
from the latter point lest the Turks from Shumla and Rustchuk should
break through and cut their way to the bridge at Sistova; and now
Osman's force threatened that spinal cord of the Russian communications.
If he struck how could the blow be warded off? For bad news poured in
from all quarters. From Armenia came the tidings that Mukhtar Pasha,
after a skilful retreat and concentration of force, had turned on the
Russians and driven them back in utter confusion.

From beyond the Balkans Gurko sent news that Suleiman's army was working
round by way of Adrianople, and threatened to pin him to the mountain
chain. In fact, part of Gurko's corps sustained a serious reverse at
Eski Zagra, and had to retreat in haste through the Khainkoi Pass; while
its other sections made their way back to the Shipka Pass, leaving a
rearguard to hold that important position (July 30-August 8). Thus, on
all sides, proofs accumulated that the invaders had attempted far too
much for their strength, and that their whole plan of campaign was more
brilliant than sound. Possibly, had not the 14th corps been thrown away
on the unhealthy Dobrudscha, enough men would have been at hand to save
the situation. But now everything was at stake.

The whole of the month of August was a time of grave crisis for the
Russians, and it is the opinion of the best military critics that the
Turks, with a little more initiative and power of combination, might
have thrown the Russians back on the Danube in utter disarray. From this
extremity the invaders were saved by the lack among the Turks of the
above-named gifts, on which, rather than on mere bravery, the issue of
campaigns and the fate of nations now ultimately depend. True to their
old renown, the Turks showed signal prowess on the field of battle, but
they lacked the higher intellectual qualities that garner the full
harvest of results.

Osman, either because he knew not that the Russians had used up their
last reserves at Plevna, or because he mistrusted the manoeuvring
powers of his men, allowed Kruedener quietly to draw off his shattered
forces towards Sistova, and made only one rather half-hearted move
against that all-important point. The new Turkish commander-in-chief,
Mehemet Ali, gathered a formidable array in front of Shumla and drove
the Russian army now led by the Cesarewich back on Biela, but failed to
pierce their lines. Finally, Suleiman Pasha, in his pride at driving
Gurko through the Khainkoi Pass, wasted time on the southern side, first
by harrying the wretched Bulgarians, and then by hurling his brave
troops repeatedly against the now almost impregnable position on the
Shipka Pass.

It is believed that jealousy of the neighbouring Turkish generals kept
Suleiman from adopting less wasteful and more effective tactics. If he
had made merely a feint of attacking that post, and had hurried with his
main body through the Slievno Pass on the east to the aid of Mehemet, or
through the western defiles of the Balkans to the help of the brave
Osman in his Plevna-Lovtcha positions, probably the gain of force to one
or other of them might have led to really great results. As it was,
these generals dealt heavy losses to the invaders, but failed to drive
them back on the Danube.

Moreover, Russian reinforcements began to arrive by the middle of
August, the Emperor having already, on July 22, called out the first ban
of the militia and three divisions of the reserve of the line, in all
some 224,000 men[145].

[Footnote 145: F.V. Greene, _The Campaign in Bulgaria_, p. 225.]

The bulk of these men did not arrive until September; and meanwhile the
strain was terrible. The war correspondence of Mr. Archibald Forbes
reveals the state of nervous anxiety in which Alexander II. was plunged
at this time. Forbes had been a witness of the savage tenacity of the
Turkish attack and the Russian defence on the hills commanding the
Shipka Pass. Finally, he had shared in the joy of the hard-pressed
defenders at the timely advent of a rifle battalion hastily sent up on
Cossack ponies, and the decisive charge of General Radetzky at the head
of two companies of reserves at a Turkish breastwork in the very crisis
of the fight (Aug. 24). Then, after riding post-haste northwards to the
Russian headquarters at Gornisstuden, he was at once taken to the Czar's
tent, and noted the look of eager suspense on his face until he heard
the reassuring news that Radetzky kept his seat firm on the pass.

The worst was now over. The Russian Guards, 50,000 strong, were near at
hand, along with the other reinforcements above named. The urgency of
the crisis also led the Grand Duke Nicholas to waive his claim that the
Roumanian troops should be placed under his immediate command.
Accordingly, early in August, Prince Charles led some 35,000 Roumanians
across the Danube, and was charged with the command of all the troops
around Plevna[146]. The hopes of the invaders were raised by Skobeleff's
capture, on September 3, of Lovtcha, a place half-way between Plevna and
the Balkans, which had ensured Osman's communications with Suleiman
Pasha. The Turkish losses at Lovtcha are estimated at nearly
15,000 men[147].

[Footnote 146: _Reminiscences of the King of Roumania_, p. 275.]

[Footnote 147: F.V. Greene, _op. cit._ p. 232.]

This success having facilitated the attack on Plevna from the south, a
general assault was ordered for September 11. In the meantime Osman also
had received large reinforcements from Sofia, and had greatly
strengthened his defences. So skilfully had outworks been thrown up on
the north-east of Plevna that what looked like an unimportant trench was
found to be a new and formidable redoubt, which foiled the utmost
efforts of the 3rd Roumanian division to struggle up the steep slopes on
that side. To their 4th division and to a Russian brigade fell an
equally hard task, that of advancing from the east against the two
Grivitza redoubts which had defied all assaults. The Turks showed their
usual constancy, despite the heavy and prolonged bombardment which
preluded the attack here and all along the lines. But the weight and
vigour of the onset told by degrees; and the Russian and Roumanian
supports finally carried by storm the more southerly of the two
redoubts. The Turks made desperate efforts to retrieve this loss. From
the northern redoubt and the rear entrenchments somewhat to the south
there came a galling fire which decimated the victors; for a time the
Turks succeeded in recovering the work, but at nightfall the advance of
other Russian and Roumanian troops ousted the Moslems. Thenceforth the
redoubt was held by the allies.

Meanwhile, to the south of the village of Grivitza the 4th and 9th
Russian Corps had advanced in dense masses against the cluster of
redoubts that crowned the heights south-east of Plevna; but their utmost
efforts were futile; under the fearful fire of the Turks the most solid
lines melted away, and the corps fell back at nightfall, with the loss
of 110 officers and 5200 men.

Only on the south and south-west did the assailants seriously imperil
Osman's defence at a vital point; and here again Fortune bestowed her
favours on a man who knew how to wrest the utmost from her, Michael
Dimitrievitch Skobeleff. Few men or women could look on his stalwart
figure, frank, bold features, and keen, kindling eyes without a thrill
of admiration. Tales were told by the camp-fires of the daring of his
early exploits in Central Asia; how, after the capture of Khiva in 1874,
he dressed himself in Turkoman garb, and alone explored the route from
that city to Igdy, as well as the old bed of the River Oxus; or again
how, at the capture of Khokand in the following year, his skill and
daring led to the overthrow of a superior force and the seizure of
fifty-eight guns. Thus, at thirty-two years of age he was the darling of
the troops; for his prowess in the field was not more marked than his
care and foresight in the camp. While other generals took little heed of
their men, he saw to their comforts and cheered them by his jokes. They
felt that he was the embodiment of the patriotism, love of romantic
exploit, and soaring ambition of the Great Russians.

They were right. Already, as will appear in a later chapter, he was
dreaming of the conquest of India; and, like Napoleon, he could not only
see visions but also master details, from the principles of strategy to
the routine of camp life, which made those visions realisable. If
ambition spurred him on towards Delhi, hatred of things Teutonic pointed
him to Berlin. Ill would it have fared with the peace of the world had
this champion of the Slavonic race lived out his life. But his fiery
nature wore out its tenement, the baser passions, so it is said,
contributing to hasten the end of one who lived his true life only
amidst the smoke of battle. In war he was sublime. Having recently came
from Central Asia, he was at first unattached to any corps, and roved
about in search of the fiercest fighting. His insight and skill had
warded off a deadly flank attack on Schahofski's shattered corps at
Plevna on July 30, and his prowess had contributed largely to the
capture of Lovtcha on September 3. War correspondents, who knew their
craft, turned to follow Skobeleff, wherever official reports might
otherwise direct them; and the lust of fighting laid hold of the grey
columns when they saw the "white general" approach.

On September 11 Prince Imeritinski and Skobeleff (the order should be
inverted) commanded the extreme left of the Russian line, attacking
Plevna from the south. Having four regiments of the line and four
battalions of sharpshooters--about 12,000 men in all--he ranged them at
the foot of the hill, whose summit was crowned by an all-important
redoubt-the "Kavanlik." There were four others that flanked the
approach. When the Russian guns had thoroughly cleared the way for an
assault, he ordered the bands to play and the two leading regiments to
charge up the slope. Keeping his hand firmly on the pulse of the battle,
he saw them begin to waver under the deadly fire of the Turks; at once
he sent up a rival regiment; the new mass carried on the charge until it
too threatened to die away. The fourth regiment struggled up into that
wreath of death, and with the like result.

[Illustration: Plan of Plevna.]

Then Skobeleff called on his sharpshooters to drive home the onset.
Riding on horseback before the invigorating lines, he swept on the
stragglers and waverers until all of them came under the full blast of
the Turkish flames vomited from the redoubt. There his sword fell,
shivered in his hand, and his horse rolled over at the very verge of the
fosse. Fierce as ever, the leader sprang to his feet, waved the stump in
air, and uttered a shout which put fresh heart into his men. With him
they swarmed into the fosse, up the bank, and fell on the defenders. The
bayonet did the rest, taking deadly revenge for the murderous volleys.

But Osman's engineers had provided against such an event. The redoubt
was dominated from the left and could be swept by cross fire from the
rear and right. On the morrow the Turks drew in large forces from the
north side and pressed the victors hard. In vain did Skobeleff send
urgent messages for reinforcements to make good the gaps in his ranks.
None were sent, or indeed could be sent. Five times his men beat off the
foe. The sixth charge hurled them first from the Kavanlik redoubt, and
thereafter from the flanking works and trenches out on to that fatal
slope. A war correspondent saw Skobeleff after this heart-breaking loss,
"his face black with powder and smoke, his eyes haggard and bloodshot,
and his voice quite gone. I never before saw such a picture of

[Footnote 148: _War Correspondence of the "Daily News,"_ pp. 479-483.
For another character-sketch of Skobeleff see the _Fortnightly Review_
of Oct. 1882, by W.K. Rose.]

Thus all the efforts of the Russians and Roumanians had failed to wrest
more than a single redoubt from the Moslems; and at that point they were
unable to make any advance against the inner works. The fighting of
September 11-12 is believed to have cost the allies 18,000 men killed
and wounded out of the 75,000 infantrymen engaged. The mistakes of July
31 had been again repeated. The number of assailants was too small for
an attack on so great an extent of fortified positions defended with
quick-firing rifles. Had the Russians, while making feints at other
points to hold the Turks there, concentrated their efforts either on the
two Grivitza redoubts, or on those about the Kavanlik work, they would
almost certainly have succeeded. As it was, they hurled troops in close
order against lines, the strength of which was not well known; and none
of their commanders but Skobeleff employed tactics that made the most of
their forces[149]. The depression at the Russian headquarters was now
extreme[150]. On September 13 the Emperor held a council of war at which
the Prince of Roumania, the Grand Duke Nicholas, General Milutin
(Minister of War), and three other generals were present. The Grand Duke
declared that the only prudent course was to retire to the Danube,
construct a _tete de pont_ guarding the southern end of their bridge
and, after receiving reinforcements, again begin the conquest of
Bulgaria. General Milutin, however, demurred to this, seeing that
Osman's army was not mobile enough to press them hard; he therefore
proposed to await the reinforcements in the positions around Plevna. The
Grand Duke thereupon testily exclaimed that Milutin had better be placed
in command, to which the Emperor replied: "No; you shall retain the
command; but the plan suggested by the Minister of War shall be carried

[Footnote 149: For an account of the battle, see Greene, _op. cit._ pt.
ii. chap. v.]

[Footnote 150: Gen. von. Lignitz, _Aus drei Kriegen_, p. 167.]

[Footnote 151: Col. F.A. Wellesley, _op. cit._ p. 281.]

The Emperor's decision saved the situation. The Turks made no combined
effort to advance towards Plevna in force; and Osman felt too little
trust in the new levies that reached him from Sofia to move into the
open and attack Sistova. Indeed, Turkish strategy over the whole field
of war is open to grave censure. On their side there was a manifest lack
of combination. Mehemet Ali pounded away for a month at the army of the
Czarewitch on the River Lom, and then drew back his forces (September
24). He allowed Suleiman Pasha to fling his troops in vain against the
natural stronghold of the Russians at the Shipka Pass, and had made no
dispositions for succouring Lovtcha. Obviously he should have
concentrated the Turkish forces so as to deal a timely and decisive blow
either on the Lom or on the Sofia-Plevna road. When he proved his
incapacity both as commander-in-chief and as commander of his own force,
Turkish jealousy against the _quondam_ German flared forth; and early in
October he was replaced by Suleiman. The change was greatly for the
worse. Suleiman's pride and obstinacy closed the door against larger
ideas, and it has been confidently stated that at the end of the
campaign he was bribed by the Russians to betray his cause. However that
may be, it is certain that the Turkish generals continued to fight, each
for his own hand, and thus lost the campaign.

It was now clear that Osman must be starved out from the position which
the skill of his engineers and the steadiness of his riflemen had so
speedily transformed into an impregnable stronghold. Todleben, the
Russian engineer, who had strengthened the outworks of Sevastopol, had
been called up to oppose trench to trench, redoubt to redoubt. Yet so
extensive were the Turkish works, and so active was Shevket Pasha's
force at Sofia in sending help and provisions, that not until October 24
was the line of investment completed, and by an army which now numbered
fully 120,000 men. By December 10 Osman came to the end of his resources
and strove to break out on the west over the River Wid towards Sofia.
Masking the movement with great skill, he inflicted heavy losses on the
besiegers. Slowly, however, they closed around him, and a last scene of
slaughter ended in the surrender of the 43,000 half-starved survivors,
with the 77 guns that had wrought such havoc among the invaders. Osman's
defence is open to criticism at some points, but it had cost Russia more
than 50,000 lives, and paralysed her efforts in Europe during
five months.

The operations around Plevna are among the most instructive in modern
warfare, as illustrating the immense power that quick-firing rifles
confer upon the defence. Given a nucleus of well-trained troops, with
skilled engineers, any position of ordinary strength can quickly be
turned into a stronghold that will foil the efforts of a far greater
number of assailants. Experience at Plevna showed that four or five
times as many men were needed to attack redoubts and trenches as in the
days of muzzle-loading muskets. It also proved that infantry fire is far
more deadly in such cases than the best served artillery. And yet a
large part of Osman's troops--perhaps the majority after August--were
not regulars. Doubtless that explains why (with the exception of an
obstinate but unskilful effort to break out on August 31) he did not
attack the Russians in the open after his great victories of July 31 and
September 11-12. On both occasions the Russians were so badly shaken
that, in the opinion of competent judges, they could easily have been
driven in on Nicopolis or Sistova, in which case the bridges at those
places might have been seized. But Osman did not do so, doubtless
because he knew that his force, weak in cavalry and unused to
manoeuvring, would be at a disadvantage in the open. Todleben, however,
was informed on good authority that, when the Turkish commander heard of
the likelihood of the investment of Plevna, he begged the Porte to allow
him to retire; but the assurance of Shevket Pasha, the commander of the
Turkish force at Sofia, that he could keep open communications between
that place and Plevna, decided the authorities at Constantinople to
order the continuance of defensive tactics[152].

[Footnote 152: A. Forbes, _Czar and Sultan_, p. 291. On the other hand,
W.V. Herbert (_op. cit._ p. 456) states that it was Osman's wish to
retire to Orkanye, on the road to Sofia, and that this was forbidden.
For remarks on this see Greene, _op. cit._ chap. viii.]

Whatever may have been the cause of this decision it ruined the Turkish
campaign. Adherence to the defensive spells defeat now, as it has always
done. Defeat comes more slowly now that quick-firing rifles quadruple
the power of the defence; but all the same it must come if the assailant
has enough men to throw on that point and then at other points. Or, to
use technical terms, while modern inventions alter tactics, that is, the
dispositions of troops on the field of battle--a fact which the Russians
seemed to ignore at Plevna--they do not change the fundamental
principles of strategy. These are practically immutable, and they doom
to failure the side that, at the critical points, persists in standing
on the defensive. A study of the events around Plevna shows clearly what
a brave but ill-trained army can do and what it cannot do under modern

From the point of view of strategy--that is, the conduct of the great
operations of a campaign--Osman's defence of Plevna yields lessons of
equal interest. It affords the most brilliant example in modern warfare
of the power of a force strongly intrenched in a favourable position to
"contain," that is, to hold or hold back, a greater force of the enemy.
Other examples are the Austrian defence of Mantua in 1796-97, which
hindered the young Bonaparte's invasion of the Hapsburg States;
Bazaine's defence of Metz in 1870; and Sir George White's defence of
Ladysmith against the Boers. We have no space in which to compare these
cases, in which the conditions varied so greatly. Suffice it to say that
Mantua and Plevna were the most effective instances, largely because
those strongholds lay near the most natural and easy line of advance for
the invaders. Metz and Ladysmith possessed fewer advantages in this
respect; and, considering the strength of the fortress and the size and
quality of his army, Bazaine's conduct at Metz must rank as the weakest
on record; for his 180,000 troops "contained" scarcely more than their
own numbers of Germans.

On the other hand, Osman's force brought three times its number of
Russians to a halt for five months before hastily constructed lines. In
the opinion of many authorities the Russians did wrong in making the
whole campaign depend on Plevna. When it was clear that Osman would
cling to the defensive, they might with safety have secretly detached
part of the besieging force to help the army of the Czarewitch to drive
back the Turks on Shumla. This would have involved no great risk; for
the Russians occupied the inner lines of what was, roughly speaking, a
triangle, resting on the Shipka Pass, the River Lom, and Plevna as its
extreme points. Having the advantage of the inner position, they could
quickly have moved part of their force at Plevna, battered in the
Turkish defence on the Lom, and probably captured the Slievno passes. In
that case they would have cleared a new line of advance to
Constantinople farther to the east, and made the possession of Plevna of
little worth. Its value always lay in its nearness to their main line of
advance, but they were not tied to that line. It is safe to say that, if
Moltke had directed their operations, he would have devised some better
plan than that of hammering away at the redoubts of Plevna.

In fact, the Russians made three great blunders: first, in neglecting to
occupy Plevna betimes; second, in underrating Osman's powers of defence;
third, in concentrating all their might on what was a very strong, but
not an essential, point of the campaign.

The closing scenes of the war are of little interest except in the
domain of diplomacy. Servia having declared war against Turkey
immediately after the fall of Plevna, the Turks were now hopelessly
outnumbered. Gurko forced his way over one of the western passes of the
Balkans, seized Sofia (January 4, 1878), and advancing quickly towards
Philippopolis, utterly routed Suleiman's main force near that town
(January 17). The Turkish commander-in-chief thus paid for his mistake
in seeking to defend a mountain chain with several passes by
distributing his army among those passes. Experience has proved that
this invites disaster at the hands of an enterprising foe, and that the
true policy is to keep light troops or scouts at all points, and the
main forces at a chief central pass and at a convenient place in the
rear, whence the invaders may be readily assailed before they complete
the crossing. As it was, Suleiman saw his main force, still nearly
50,000 strong, scatter over the Rhodope mountains; many of them reached
the Aegean Sea at Enos, whence they were conveyed by ship to the
Dardanelles. He himself was tried by court-martial and imprisoned for
fifteen years[153].

[Footnote 153: Sir N. Layard attributed to him the overthrow of Turkey.
See his letter of February 1, 1878, in _Sir W. White: Life and
Correspondence_, p. 127.] A still worse fate befell those of his
troops which hung about Radetzky's front below the Shipka Pass. The
Russians devised skilful moves for capturing this force. On January 5-8
Prince Mirsky threaded his way with a strong column through the deep
snows of the Travna Pass, about twenty-five miles east of the Shipka,
which he then approached; while Skobeleff struggled through a still more
difficult defile west of the central position. The total strength of the
Russians was 56,000 men. On the 8th, when their cannon were heard
thundering in the rear of the Turkish earthworks at the foot of the
Shipka Pass, Radetzky charged down on the Turkish positions in front,
while Mirsky assailed them from the east. Skobeleff meanwhile had been
detained by the difficulties of the path and the opposition of the Turks
on the west. But on the morrow his onset on the main Turkish positions
carried all before it. On all sides the Turks were worsted and laid down
their arms; 36,000 prisoners and 93 guns (so the Russians claim) were
the prize of this brilliant feat (January 9, 1878)[154].

[Footnote 154: Greene, _op. cit._ chap. xi. I have been assured by an
Englishman serving with the Turks that these numbers were greatly

In Roumelia, as in Armenia, there now remained comparatively few Turkish
troops to withstand the Russian advance, and the capture of
Constantinople seemed to be a matter of a few weeks. There are grounds
for thinking that the British Ministry, or certainly its chief, longed
to send troops from Malta to help in its defence. Colonel Wellesley,
British attache at the Russian headquarters, returned to London at the
time when the news of the crossing of the Balkans reached the Foreign
Office. At once he was summoned to see the Prime Minister, who inquired
eagerly as to the length of time which would elapse before the Russians
occupied Adrianople. The officer thought that that event might occur
within a month--an estimate which proved to be above the mark. Lord
Beaconsfield was deeply concerned to hear this and added, "If you can
only guarantee me six weeks, I see my way." He did not further explain
his meaning; but Colonel Wellesley felt sure that he wished to move
British troops from Malta to Constantinople[155]. Fortunately the
Russian advance to Adrianople was so speedy--their vanguard entered that
city on January 20--as to dispose of any such project. But it would seem
that only the utter collapse of the Turkish defence put an end to the
plans of part at least of the British Cabinet for an armed intervention
on behalf of Turkey.

[Footnote 155: _With the Russians in Peace and War_, by Colonel F.A.
Wellesley, p. 272.]

Here, then, as at so many points of their history, the Turks lost their
opportunity, and that, too, through the incapacity and corruption of
their governing class. The war of 1877 ended as so many of their wars
had ended. Thanks to the bravery of their rank and file and the mistakes
of the invaders, they gained tactical successes at some points; but they
failed to win the campaign owing to the inability of their Government to
organise soundly on a great scale, and the intellectual mediocrity of
their commanders in the sphere of strategy. Mr. Layard, who succeeded
Sir Henry Elliot at Constantinople early in 1878, had good reason for
writing, "The utter rottenness of the present system has been fully
revealed by the present war[156]." Whether Suleiman was guilty of
perverse obstinacy, or, as has often been asserted, of taking bribes
from the Russians, cannot be decided. What is certain is that he was
largely responsible for the final _debacle_.

[Footnote 156: _Sir William White: Life and Correspondence_, p. 128.]

But in a wider and deeper sense the Turks owed their misfortunes to
themselves--to their customs and their creed. Success in war depends
ultimately on the brain-power of the chief leaders and organisers; and
that source of strength has long ago been dried up in Turkey by adhesion
to a sterilising creed and cramping traditions. The wars of the latter
half of the nineteenth century are of unique interest, not only because
they have built up the great national fabrics of to-day, but also
because they illustrate the truth of that suggestive remark of the great
Napoleon, "The general who does great things is he who also possesses
qualities adapted for civil life."



     New hopes should animate the world; new light
     Should dawn from new revealings to a race
     Weighed down so long, forgotten so long.

     ROBERT BROWNING, _Paracelsus_.

The collapse of the Turkish defence in Roumelia inaugurated a time of
great strain and stress in Anglo-Russian relations. On December 13,
1877, that is, three days after the fall of Plevna, Lord Derby reminded
the Russian Government of its promise of May 30, 1876, that the
acquisition of Constantinople was excluded from the wishes and
intentions of the Emperor Alexander II., and expressed the earnest hope
that the Turkish capital would not be occupied, even for military
purposes. The reply of the Russian Chancellor (December 16) was
reserved. It claimed that Russia must have full right of action, which
is the right of every belligerent, and closed with a request for a
clearer definition of the British interests which would be endangered by
such a step. In his answer of January 13, 1878, the British Foreign
Minister specified the occupation of the Dardanelles as an event that
would endanger the good relations between England and Russia; whereupon
Prince Gortchakoff, on January 16, 1878, gave the assurance that this
step would not be taken unless British forces were landed at Gallipoli,
or Turkish troops were concentrated there.

So far this was satisfactory; but other signs seemed to betoken a
resolve on the part of Russia to gain time while her troops pressed on
towards Constantinople. The return of the Czar to St. Petersburg after
the fall of Plevna had left more power in the hands of the Grand Duke
Nicholas and of the many generals who longed to revenge themselves for
the disasters in Bulgaria by seizing Constantinople.

In face of the probability of this event, public opinion in England
underwent a complete change. Russia appeared no longer as the champion
of oppressed Christians, but as an ambitious and grasping Power. Mr.
Gladstone's impassioned appeals for non-intervention lost their effect,
and a warlike feeling began to prevail. The change of feeling was
perfectly natural. Even those who claimed that the war might have been
averted by the adoption of a different policy by the Beaconsfield
Cabinet, had to face the facts of the situation; and these were
extremely grave.

The alarm increased when it was known that Turkey, on January 3, 1878,
had appealed to the Powers for their mediation, and that Germany had
ostentatiously refused. It seemed probable that Russia, relying on the
support of Germany, would endeavour to force her own terms on the Porte.
Lord Loftus, British Ambassador at St. Petersburg, was therefore charged
to warn the Ministers of the Czar (January 16) that any treaty made
separately between Russia and Turkey, which affected the international
treaties of 1856 and 1871, would not be valid without the consent of all
the signatory Powers. Four days later the Muscovite vanguard entered
Adrianople, and it appeared likely that peace would soon be dictated at
Constantinople without regard to the interests of Great Britain
and Austria.

Such was the general position when Parliament met at Westminster on
January 17. The Queen's Speech contained the significant phrase that,
should hostilities be unfortunately prolonged, some unexpected
occurrence might render it incumbent to adopt measures of precaution.
Five days later it transpired that the Sultan had sent an appeal to
Queen Victoria for her mediation with a view to arranging an armistice
and the discussion of the preliminaries of peace. In accordance with
this appeal, the Queen telegraphed to the Emperor of Russia in
these terms:--

     I have received a direct appeal from the Sultan which I
     cannot leave without an answer. Knowing that you are
     sincerely desirous of peace, I do not hesitate to communicate
     this fact to you, in hope that you may accelerate the
     negotiations for the conclusion of an armistice which may
     lead to an honourable peace.

This communication was sent with the approval of the Cabinet. The nature
of the reply is not known. Probably it was not encouraging; for on the
next day (January 23) the British Admiralty ordered Admiral Hornby with
the Mediterranean fleet to steam up the Dardanelles to Constantinople.
On the following day this was annulled, and the Admiral was directed not
to proceed beyond Besika Bay[157]. The original order was the cause of
the resignation of Lord Carnarvon. The retirement of Lord Derby was also
announced, but he afterwards withdrew it, probably on condition that the
fleet did not enter the Sea of Marmora.

[Footnote 157: For the odd mistake in a telegram, which caused the
original order, see _Sir Stafford Northcote, Earl of Iddesleigh_, by
Andrew Lang, vol. ii. pp. 111-112.]

Light was thus thrown on the dissensions in the Cabinet, and the
vacillations in British policy. Disraeli once said in his whimsical way
that there were six parties in the Ministry. The first party wanted
immediate war with Russia; the second was for war in order to save
Constantinople; the third was for peace at any price; the fourth would
let the Russians take Constantinople and _then_ turn them out; the fifth
wanted to plant the cross on the dome of St. Sofia; "and then there are
the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who desire to
see something done, but don't know exactly what[158]." The coupling of
himself with the amiable Sir Stafford Northcote is a good instance of
Disraelian irony. It is fairly certain that he was for war with Russia;
that Lord Carnarvon constituted the third party, and Lord Derby
the fourth.

[Footnote 158: _Ibid_. pp. 105-106. For the telegrams between the First
Lord of the Admiralty, W.H. Smith, and Admiral Hornby, see _Life and
Times of W.H. Smith_, by Sir H. Maxwell, vol. i. chap. xi.]

On the day after the resignation of Lord Carnarvon, the British Cabinet
heard for the first time what were the demands of Russia. They included
the formation of a Greater Bulgaria, "within the limits of the Bulgarian
nationality," practically independent of the Sultan's direct control;
the entire independence of Roumania, Servia, and Montenegro; a
territorial and pecuniary indemnity to Russia for the expenses of the
war; and "an ulterior understanding for safeguarding the rights and
interests of Russia in the Straits."

The extension of Bulgaria to the shores of the Aegean seemed at that
time a mighty triumph for Russian influence; but it was the last item,
vaguely foreshadowing the extension of Russian influence to the
Dardanelles, that most aroused the alarm of the British Cabinet. Russian
control of those straits would certainly have endangered Britain's
connections with India by way of the Suez Canal, seeing that we then had
no foothold in Egypt. Accordingly, on January 28, the Ministry proposed
to Parliament the voting of an additional sum of L6,000,000 towards
increasing the armaments of the country. At once there arose strong
protests against this proposal, especially from the districts then
suffering from the prolonged depression of trade. The outcry was very
natural; but none the less it can scarcely be justified in view of the
magnitude of the British interests then at stake. Granted that the views
of the Czar were pacific, those of his generals at the seat of war were
very much open to question[159]. The long coveted prize of
Constantinople, or the Dardanelles, was likely to tempt them to
disregard official orders from St. Petersburg, unless they knew that
any imprudent step would bring on a European war. In any case, the vote
of L6,000,000 was a precautionary measure; and it probably had the
effect of giving pause to the enthusiasts at the Russian headquarters.

[Footnote 159: See the compromising revelations made by an anonymous
Russian writer in the _Revue de Paris_ for July 15, 1897. The authoress,
"O.K.," in her book, _The Friends and Foes of Russia_ (pp. 240-241),
states that only the autocracy could have stayed the Russian advance on
Constantinople. General U.S. Grant told her that if he had had such an
order, he would have put it in his pocket and produced it again when in

The preliminary bases of peace between Russia and Turkey were signed at
Adrianople (Jan. 31) on the terms summarised above, except that the
Czar's Ministers now withdrew the obnoxious clause about the Straits. A
line of demarcation was also agreed on between the hostile forces; it
passed from Derkos, a lake near the Black Sea, to the north of
Constantinople, in a southerly direction by the banks of the Karasou
stream as far as the Sea of Marmora. This gave to the Russians the lines
of Tchekmedje, the chief natural defence of Constantinople, and they
occupied this position on February 6. This fact was reported by Mr.
Layard, Sir Henry Elliot's successor at Constantinople, in alarmist
terms, and it had the effect of stilling the opposition at Westminster
to the vote of credit. Though official assurances of a reassuring kind
came from Prince Gortchakoff at St. Petersburg, the British Ministry on
February 7 ordered a part of the Mediterranean fleet to enter the Sea of
Marmora for the defence of British interests and the protection of
British subjects at Constantinople. The Czar's Government thereupon
declared that if the British fleet steamed up the Bosporus, Russian
troops would enter Constantinople for the protection of the Christian

This rivalry in philanthropic zeal was not pushed to its logical issue,
war. The British fleet stopped short of the Bosporus, but within sight
of the Russian lines. True, these were pushed eastwards slightly beyond
the limits agreed on with the Turks; but an arrangement was arrived at
between Lord Derby and Prince Gortchakoff (Feb. 19) that the Russians
would not occupy the lines of Bulair close to Constantinople, or the
Peninsula of Gallipoli commanding the Dardanelles, provided that British
forces were not landed in that important strait[160]. So matters rested,
both sides regarding each other with the sullenness of impotent wrath.
As Bismarck said, a war would have been a fight between an elephant
and a whale.

[Footnote 160: Hertslet, iv. p. 2670.]

The situation was further complicated by an invasion of Thessaly by the
Greeks (Feb. 3); but they were withdrawn at once on the urgent
remonstrance of the Powers, coupled with a promise that the claims of
Greece would be favourably considered at the general peace[161].

[Footnote 161: L. Sergeant, _Greece in the Nineteenth Century_ (1897),
ch. xi.]

In truth, all the racial hatreds, aspirations, and ambitions that had so
long been pent up in the south-east of Europe now seemed on the point of
bursting forth and overwhelming civilisation in a common ruin. Just as
the earth's volcanic forces now and again threaten to tear their way
through the crust, so now the immemorial feuds of Moslems and
Christians, of Greeks, Servians, Bulgars, Wallachs, and Turks, promised
to desolate the slopes of the Balkans, of Rhodope and the Pindus, and to
spread the lava tide of war over the half of the Continent. The Russians
and Bulgars, swarming over Roumelia, glutted their revenge for past
defeats and massacres by outrages well-nigh as horrible as that of
Batak. At once the fierce Moslems of the Rhodope Mountains rose in
self-defence or for vengeance. And while the Russian eagles perforce
checked their flight within sight of Stamboul, the Greeks and Armenians
of that capital--nay, the very occupants of the foreign
embassies--trembled at sight of the lust of blood that seized on the
vengeful Ottomans.

Nor was this all. Far away beyond the northern horizon the war cloud
hung heavily over the Carpathians. The statesmen of Vienna, fearing that
the terms of their bargain with Russia were now forgotten in the
intoxication of her triumph, determined to compel the victors to lay
their spoils before the Great Powers. In haste the Austrian and
Hungarian troops took station on the great bastion of the Carpathians,
and began to exert on the military situation the pressure which had been
so fatal to Russia in her Turkish campaign of 1854.

But though everything betokened war, there were forces that worked
slowly but surely for a pacific settlement. However threatening was the
attitude of Russia, her rulers really desired peace. The war had shown
once again the weakness of that Power for offence. Her strength lies in
her boundless plains, in the devotion of her millions of peasants to the
Czar, and in the patient, stubborn strength which is the outcome of long
centuries of struggle with the yearly tyrant, winter. Her weakness lies
in the selfishness, frivolity, corruption, and narrowness of outlook of
her governing class--in short, in their incapacity for organisation.
Against the steady resisting power of her peasants the great Napoleon
had hurled his legions in vain. That campaign of 1812 exhibited the
strength of Russia for defence. But when, in fallacious trust in that
precedent, she has undertaken great wars far from her base, failure has
nearly always been the result. The pathetic devotion of her peasantry
has not made up for the mental and moral defects of her governing
classes. This fact had fixed itself on every competent observer in 1877.
The Emperor Alexander knew it only too well. Now, early in 1878, it was
fairly certain that his army would succumb under the frontal attacks of
Turks and British, and the onset of the Austrians on their rear.

Therefore when, on Feb. 4, the Hapsburg State proposed to refer the
terms of peace to a Conference of the Powers at Vienna, the consent of
Russia was almost certain, provided that the prestige of the Czar
remained unimpaired. Three days later the place of meeting was changed
to Berlin, the Conference also becoming a Congress, that is, a meeting
where the chief Ministers of the Powers, not merely their Ambassadors,
would take part. The United Kingdom, France, and Italy at once signified
their assent to this proposal. As for Bismarck, he promised in a speech
to the Reichstag (Feb. 19) that he would act as an "honest broker"
between the parties most nearly concerned. There is little doubt that
Russia took this in a sense favourable to her claims, and she, too,

Nevertheless, she sought to tie the hands of the Congress by binding
Turkey to a preliminary treaty signed on March 3 at San Stefano, a
village near to Constantinople. The terms comprised those stated above
(p. 225), but they also stipulated the cession of frontier districts to
Servia and Montenegro, while Russia was to acquire the Roumanian
districts east of the River Pruth, Roumania receiving the Dobrudscha as
an equivalent. Most serious of all was the erection of Bulgaria into an
almost independent Principality, extending nearly as far south as Midia
(on the Black Sea), Adrianople, Salonica, and beyond Ochrida in Albania.
As will be seen by reference to the map (p. 239), this Principality
would then have comprised more than half of the Balkan Peninsula,
besides including districts on the AEgean Sea and around the town of
Monastir, for which the Greeks have never ceased to cherish hopes. A
Russian Commissioner was to supervise the formation of the government
for two years; all the fortresses on the Danube were to be razed, and
none others constructed; Turkish forces were required entirely to
evacuate the Principality, which was to be occupied by Russian troops
for a space of time not exceeding two years.

On her side, Turkey undertook to grant reforms to the Armenians, and
protect them from Kurds and Circassians, Russia further claimed
1,410,000,000 roubles as war indemnity, but consented to take the
Dobrudscha district (offered to Roumania, as stated above), and in Asia
the territories of Batoum, Kars, Ardahan, and Bayazid, in lieu of
1,100,000,000 roubles. The Porte afterwards declared that it signed this
treaty under persistent pressure from the Grand Duke Nicholas and
General Ignatieff, who again and again declared that otherwise the
Russians would advance on the capital[162].

[Footnote 162: For the text of the treaty see Parl. Papers, Turkey, No.
22 (1878); also _The European Concert in the Eastern Question_ by T.E.
Holland, pp. 335-348.]

At once, from all parts of the Balkan Peninsula, there arose a chorus of
protests against the Treaty of San Stefano. The Mohammedans of the
proposed State of Bulgaria protested against subjection to their former
helots. The Greeks saw in the treaty the death-blow to their hopes of
gaining the northern coasts of the Aegean and a large part of Central
Macedonia. They fulminated against the Bulgarians as ignorant peasants,
whose cause had been taken up recently by Russia for her own
aggrandisement[163]. The Servians were equally indignant. They claimed,
and with justice, that their efforts against the Turks should be
rewarded by an increase of territory which would unite to them their
kinsfolk in Macedonia and part of Bosnia, and place them on an equality
with the upstart State of Bulgaria. Whereas the treaty assigned to these
proteges of Russia districts inhabited solely by Servians, thereby
barring the way to any extension of that Principality.

[Footnote 163: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 31 (1878), Nos. 6-17, and
enclosures; _L'Hellenisme et la Macedonie_, by N. Kasasis (Paris, 1904);
L. Sergeant, _op. cit._ ch. xii.]

Still more urgent was the protest of the Roumanian Government. In return
for the priceless services rendered by his troops at Plevna, Prince
Charles and his Ministers were kept in the dark as to the terms arranged
between Russia and Turkey. The Czar sent General Ignatieff to prepare
the Prince for the news, and sought to mollify him by the hint that he
might become also Prince of Bulgaria--a suggestion which was scornfully
waved aside. The Government at Bukharest first learnt the full truth as
to the Bessarabia-Dobrudscha exchange from the columns of the _Journal
du St. Petersbourg_, which proved that the much-prized Bessarabian
territory was to be bargained away by the Power which had solemnly
undertaken to uphold the integrity of the Principality. The Prince, the
Cabinet, and the people unanimously inveighed against this proposal. On
Feb. 4 the Roumanian Chamber of Deputies declared that Roumania would
defend its territory to the last, by armed force if necessary; but it
soon appeared that none of the Powers took any interest in the matter,
and, thanks to the prudence of Prince Charles, the proud little nation
gradually schooled itself to accept the inevitable[164].

[Footnote 164: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 30 (1878); also _Reminiscences
of the King of Roumania_, chs. x. xi.]

The peace of Europe now turned on the question whether the Treaty of
San Stefano would be submitted as a whole to the Congress of the Powers
at Berlin; England claimed that it must be so submitted. This
contention, in its extreme form, found no support from any of the
Powers, not even from Austria, and it met with firm opposition from
Russia. She, however, assured the Viennese Court that the Congress would
decide which of the San Stefano terms affected the interests of Europe
and would pronounce on them. The Beaconsfield Cabinet later on affirmed
that "every article in the treaty between Russia and Turkey will be
placed before the Congress--not necessarily for acceptance, but in order
that it may be considered what articles require acceptance or
concurrence by the several Powers and what do not[165]."

[Footnote 165: Lord Derby to Sir H. Elliot, March 13, 1878. Turkey, No.
xxiv. (1878), No 9, p. 5.]

When this much was conceded, there remained no irreconcilable
difference, unless the treaty contained secret articles which Russia
claimed to keep back from the Congress. As far as we know, there were
none. But the fact is that the dispute, small as it now appears to us,
was intensified by the suspicions and resentment prevalent on both
sides. The final decision of the St. Petersburg Government was couched
in somewhat curt and threatening terms: "It leaves to the other Powers
the liberty of raising such questions at the Congress as they may think
it fit to discuss, and reserves to itself the liberty of accepting, or
not accepting, the discussion of these questions[166]."

[Footnote 166: _Ibid_. No. 15, p. 7.]

This haughty reply, received at Downing Street on March 27, again
brought the two States to the verge of war. Lord Beaconsfield, and all
his colleagues but one, determined to make immediate preparations for
the outbreak of hostilities; while Lord Derby, clinging to the belief
that peace would best be preserved by ordinary negotiations, resigned
the portfolio for foreign affairs (March 28); two days later he was
succeeded by the Marquis of Salisbury[167]. On April 1 the Prime
Minister gave notice of motion that the reserves of the army and militia
should be called out; and on the morrow Lord Salisbury published a note
for despatch to foreign courts summarising the grounds of British
opposition to the Treaty of San Stefano, and to Russia's contentions
respecting the Congress.

[Footnote 167: See p. 243 for Lord Derby's further reason for

Events took a still more threatening turn fifteen days later, when the
Government ordered eight Indian regiments, along with two batteries of
artillery, to proceed at once to Malta. The measure aroused strong
differences of opinion, some seeing in it a masterly stroke which
revealed the greatness of Britain's resources, while the more nervous of
the Liberal watch-dogs bayed forth their fears that it was the beginning
of a Strafford-like plot for undermining the liberties of England.

So sharp were the differences of opinion in England, that Russia would
perhaps have disregarded the threats of the Beaconsfield Ministry had
she not been face to face with a hostile Austria. The great aim of the
Czar's government was to win over the Dual Monarchy by offering a share
of the spoils of Turkey. Accordingly, General Ignatieff went on a
mission to the continental courts, especially to that of Vienna, and
there is little doubt that he offered Bosnia to the Hapsburg Power. That
was the least which Francis Joseph and Count Andrassy had the right to
expect, for the secret compact made before the war promised them as
much. In view of the enormous strides contemplated by Russia, they now
asked for certain rights in connection with Servia and Montenegro, and
commercial privileges that would open a way to Salonica[168]. But
Russia's aims, as expressed at San Stefano, clearly were to dominate the
Greater Bulgaria there foreshadowed, which would probably shut out
Austria from political and commercial influence over the regions north
of Salonica. Ignatieff's effort to gain over Austria therefore failed;
and it was doubtless Lord Beaconsfield's confidence in the certainty of
Hapsburg support in case of war that prompted his defiance alike of
Russia and of the Liberal party at home.

[Footnote 168: Debidour, _Hist. diplomatique de l'Europe_, vol. ii. p.

The Czar's Government also was well aware of the peril of arousing a
European war. Nihilism lifted its head threateningly at home; and the
Russian troops before Constantinople were dying like flies in autumn.
The outrages committed by them and the Bulgarians on the Moslems of
Roumelia had, as we have seen, led to a revolt in the district of Mount
Rhodope; and there was talk in some quarters of making a desperate
effort to cut off the invaders from the Danube[169]. The discontent of
the Roumanians might have been worked upon so as still further to
endanger the Russian communications. Probably the knowledge of these
plans and of the warlike preparations of Great Britain induced the
Russian Government to moderate its tone. On April 9 it expressed a wish
that Lord Salisbury would formulate a definite policy.

[Footnote 169: For these outrages, see Parl. Papers, Turkey (1878), Nos.
42 and 45, with numerous enclosures. The larger plans of the Rhodope
insurgents and their abettors at Constantinople are not fully known. An
Englishman, Sinclair, and some other free-lances were concerned in the
affair. The Rhodope district long retained a kind of independence, see
_Les Evenements politiques en Bulgarie_, by A.G. Drandar, Appendix.]

The new Foreign Minister speedily availed himself of this offer; and the
cause of peace was greatly furthered by secret negotiations which he
carried on with Count Shuvaloff. The Russian ambassador in London had
throughout bent his great abilities to a pacific solution of the
dispute, and, on finding out the real nature of the British objections
to the San Stefano Treaty, he proceeded to St. Petersburg to persuade
the Emperor to accept certain changes. In this he succeeded, and on his
return to London was able to come to an agreement with Lord Salisbury
(May 30), the chief terms of which clearly foreshadowed those finally
adopted at Berlin.

In effect they were as follows: The Beaconsfield Cabinet strongly
objected to the proposed wide extension of Bulgaria at the expense of
other nationalities, and suggested that the districts south of the
Balkans, which were peopled almost wholly by Bulgarians, should not be
wholly withdrawn from Turkish control, but "should receive a large
measure of administrative self-government . . . with a Christian
governor." To these proposals the Russian Government gave a conditional
assent. Lord Salisbury further claimed that the Sultan should have the
right "to canton troops on the frontiers of southern Bulgaria"; and that
the militia of that province should be commanded by officers appointed
by the Sultan with the consent of Europe. England also undertook to see
that the cause of the Greeks in Thessaly and Epirus received the
attention of all the Powers, in place of the intervention of Russia
alone on their behalf, as specified in the San Stefano Treaty.

Respecting the cession of Roumanian Bessarabia to Russia, on which the
Emperor Alexander had throughout insisted (see page 205), England
expressed "profound regret" at that demand, but undertook not to dispute
it at the Congress. On his side the Emperor Alexander consented to
restore Bayazid in Asia Minor to the Turks, but insisted on the
retention of Batoum, Kars, and Ardahan. Great Britain acceded to this,
but hinted that the defence of Turkey in Asia would thenceforth rest
especially upon her--a hint to prepare Russia for the Cyprus Convention.

For at this same time the Beaconsfield Cabinet had been treating
secretly with the Sublime Porte. When Lord Salisbury found out that
Russia would not abate her demands for Batoum, Ardahan, and Kars, he
sought to safeguard British interests in the Levant by acquiring
complete control over the island of Cyprus. His final instructions to
Mr. Layard to that effect were telegraphed on May 30, that is, on the
very day on which peace with Russia was practically assured[170]. The
Porte, unaware of the fact that there was little fear of the renewal of
hostilities, agreed to the secret Cyprus Convention on June 4; while
Russia, knowing little or nothing as to Britain's arrangement with the
Porte, acceded to the final arrangements for the discussion of Turkish
affairs at Berlin. It is not surprising that this manner of doing
business aroused great irritation both at St. Petersburg and
Constantinople. Count Shuvaloff's behaviour at the Berlin Congress when
the news came out proclaimed to the world that he considered himself
tricked by Lord Beaconsfield; while that statesman disdainfully sipped
nectar of delight that rarely comes to the lips even of the gods of

[Footnote 170: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 36 (1878). See, too, _ibid_.
No. 43.]

The terms of the Cyprus Convention were to the effect that, if Russia
retained the three districts in Asia Minor named above, or any of them
(as it was perfectly certain that she would); or if she sought to take
possession of any further Turkish territory in Asia Minor, Great Britain
would help the Sultan by force of arms. He, on his side assigned to
Great Britain the island of Cyprus, to be occupied and administered by
her. He further promised "to introduce necessary reforms, to be agreed
upon later between the two Powers, into the government, and for the
protection of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in these
territories." On July I Britain also covenanted to pay to the Porte the
surplus of revenue over expenditure in Cyprus, calculated upon the
average of the last five years, and to restore Cyprus to Turkey if
Russia gave up Kars and her other acquisitions[171].

[Footnote 171: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 36 (1878); Hertslet, vol. iv.
pp. 2722-2725; Holland, _op. cit._, pp. 354-356.]

Fortified by the secret understanding with Russia, and by the equally
secret compact with Turkey, the British Government could enter the
Congress of the Powers at Berlin with complete equanimity. It is true
that news as to the agreement with Russia came out in a London newspaper
which at once published a general description of the Anglo-Russian
agreement of May 30; and when the correctness of the news was stoutly
denied by Ministers, the original deed was given to the world by the
same newspaper on June 14; but again vigorous disclaimers and denials
were given from the ministerial bench in Parliament[172]. Thus, when
Lords Beaconsfield and Salisbury proceeded to Berlin for the opening of
the Congress (June 13), they were believed to hold the destinies of the
British Empire in their hands, and the world waited with bated breath
for the scraps of news that came from that centre of diplomacy.

[Footnote 172: Mr. Charles Marvin, a clerk in the Foreign Office, was
charged with this offence, but the prosecution failed (July 16) owing to
lack of sufficient evidence.]

On various details there arose sharp differences which the tactful
humour of the German Chancellor could scarcely set at rest. The fate of
nations seemed to waver in the balance when Prince Gortchakoff gathered
up his maps and threatened to hurry from the room, or when Lord
Beaconsfield gave pressing orders for a special train to take him back
to Calais; but there seemed good grounds for regarding these incidents
rather as illustrative of character, or of the electioneering needs of a
sensational age, than as throes in the birth of nationalities. The
"Peace with honour," which the Prime Minister on his return announced at
Charing Cross to an admiring crowd, had virtually been secured at
Downing Street before the end of May respecting all the great points in
dispute between England and Russia.

We know little about the inner history of the Congress of Berlin, which
is very different from the official Protocols that half reveal and half
conceal its debates. One fact and one incident claim attention as
serving to throw curious sidelights on policy and character
respectively. The Emperor William had been shot at and severely wounded
by a socialist fanatic, Dr. Nobiling, on June 2, 1878, and during the
whole time of the Congress the Crown Prince Frederick acted as regent of
the Empire. Limited as his powers were by law, etiquette, and Bismarck,
he is said to have used them on behalf of Austria and England. The old
Emperor thought so; for in a moment of confiding indiscretion he hinted
to the Princess Radziwill (a Russian by birth) that Russian interests
would have fared better at Berlin had he then been steering the ship of
State[173]. Possibly this explains why Bismarck always maintained that
he had done what he could for his Eastern neighbour, and that he really
deserved a Russian decoration for his services during the Congress.

[Footnote 173: Princess Radziwill, _My Recollections_ (Eng. ed. 1900),
p. 91.]

The incident, which flashes a search-light into character and discloses
the _recherche_ joys of statecraft, is also described in the sprightly
Memoirs of Princess Radziwill. She was present at a brilliant reception
held on the evening of the day when the Cyprus Convention had come to
light. Diplomatists and generals were buzzing eagerly and angrily when
the Earl of Beaconsfield appeared. A slight hush came over the wasp-like
clusters as he made his way among them, noting everything with his
restless, inscrutable eyes. At last he came near the Princess, once a
bitter enemy, but now captivated and captured by his powers of polite
irony. "What are you thinking of," she asked. "I am not thinking at
all," he replied, "I am enjoying myself[174]." After that one can
understand why Jew-baiting became a favourite sport in Russia throughout
the next two decades.

[Footnote 174: _Ibid_. p. 149.]

We turn now to note the terms of the Treaty of Berlin (July 13,
1878)[175]. The importance of this compact will be seen if its
provisions are compared with those of the Treaty of San Stefano, which
it replaced. Instead of the greater Bulgaria subjected for two years to
Russian control, the Congress ordained that Bulgaria proper should not
extend beyond the main chain of the Balkans, thus reducing its extent
from 163,000 square kilometres to 64,000, and its population from four
millions to a million and a half. The period of military occupation and
supervision of the new administration by Russia was reduced to nine
months. At the end of that time, and on the completion of the "organic
law," a Prince was to be elected "freely" by the population of the
Principality. The new State remained under the suzerainty of Turkey, the
Sultan confirming the election of the new Prince of Bulgaria, "with the
assent of the Powers."

[Footnote 175: For the Protocols, see Parl. Papers, Turkey (1878), No.
39. For the Treaty see _ibid_. No. 44; also _The European Concert in the
Eastern Question_, by T.E. Holland, pp. 277-307.]

Another important departure from the San Stefano terms was the creation
of the Province of Eastern Roumelia, with boundaries shown in the
accompanying map. While having a Christian governor, and enjoying the
rights of local self-government, it was to remain under "the direct
political and military authority of the Sultan, under conditions of
administrative autonomy." The Sultan retained the right of keeping
garrisons there, though a local militia was to preserve internal order.
As will be shown in the next chapter, this anomalous state of things
passed away in 1885, when the province threw off Turkish control and
joined Bulgaria.

The other Christian States of the Balkans underwent changes of the
highest importance. Montenegro lost half of her expected gains, but
secured access to the sea at Antivari. The acquisitions of Servia were
now effected at the expense of Bulgaria. These decisions were greatly in
favour of Austria. To that Power the occupation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina was now entrusted for an indefinite period in the interest
of the peace of Europe, and she proceeded forthwith to drive a wedge
between the Serbs of Servia and Montenegro. It is needless to say that,
in spite of the armed opposition of the Mohammedan people of those
provinces--which led to severe fighting in July to September of that
year--Austria's occupation has been permanent, though nominally they
still form part of the Turkish Empire.


Roumania and Servia gained complete independence and ceased to pay
tribute to the Sultan, but both States complained of the lack of support
accorded to them by Russia, considering the magnitude of their efforts
for the Slavonic cause. Roumania certainly fared very badly at the hands
of the Power for which it had done yeoman service in the war. The
pride of the Roumanian people brooked no thought of accepting the
Dobrudscha, a district in great part marshy and thinly populated, as an
exchange for a fertile district peopled by their kith and kin. They let
the world know that Russia appropriated their Bessarabian district by
force, and that they accepted the Dobrudscha as a war indemnity. By dint
of pressure exerted at the Congress their envoys secured a southern
extension of its borders at the expense of Bulgaria, a proceeding which
aroused the resentment of Russia.

The conduct of the Czar's Government in this whole matter was most
impolitic. It embittered the relations between the two States and drove
the Government of Prince Charles to rely on Austria and the Triple
Alliance. That is to say, Russia herself closed the door which had been
so readily opened for her into the heart of the Sultan's dominions in
1828, 1854, and 1877[176]. We may here remark that, on the motion of the
French plenipotentiaries at the Congress, that body insisted that Jews
must be admitted to the franchise in Roumania. This behest of the Powers
aroused violent opposition in that State, but was finally, though by no
means fully, carried out.

[Footnote 176: Frederick, Crown Prince of Germany, expressed the general
opinion in a letter written to Prince Charles after the Berlin Congress:
"Russia's conduct, after the manful service you did for that colossal
Empire, meets with censure on all sides." (_Reminiscences of the King of
Roumania_, p. 325).]

Another Christian State of the Peninsula received scant consideration at
the Congress. Greece, as we have seen, had recalled her troops from
Thessaly on the understanding that her claims should be duly considered
at the general peace. She now pressed those claims; but, apart from
initial encouragement given by Lord Salisbury, she received little or no
support. On the motion of the French plenipotentiary, M. Waddington, her
desire to control the northern shores of the Aegean and the island of
Crete was speedily set aside; but he sought to win for her practically
the whole of Thessaly and Epirus. This, however, was firmly opposed by
Lord Beaconsfield, who objected to the cession to her of the southern
and purely Greek districts of Thessaly and Epirus. He protested against
the notion that the plenipotentiaries had come to Berlin in order to
partition "a worn-out State" (Turkey). They were there to "strengthen an
ancient Empire--essential to the maintenance of peace."

"As for Greece," he said, "States, like individuals, which have a future
are in a position to be able to wait." True, he ended by expressing "the
hope and even the conviction" that the Sultan would accept an equitable
solution of the question of the Thessalian frontier; but the Congress
acted on the other sage dictum and proceeded to subject the Hellenes to
the educative influences of hope deferred. Protocol 13 had recorded the
opinion of the Powers that the northern frontier of Greece should follow
the courses of the Rivers Salammaria and Kalamas; but they finally
decided to offer their mediation to the disputants only in case no
agreement could be framed. The Sublime Porte, as we shall see, improved
on the procrastinating methods of the Nestors of European

[Footnote 177: See Mr. L. Sergeant's _Greece in the Nineteenth Century_
(1897), ch. xii., for the speeches of the Greek envoys at the Congress;
also that of Sir Charles Dilke in the House of Commons in the debate of
July 29-August 2, 1878, as to England's desertion of the Greek cause
after the ninth session (June 29) of the Berlin Congress.]

As regards matters that directly concerned Turkey and Russia, we may
note that the latter finally agreed to forego the acquisition of the
Bayazid district and the lands adjoining the caravan route from the
Shah's dominions to Erzeroum. The Czar's Government also promised that
Batoum should be a free port, and left unchanged the regulations
respecting the navigation of the Dardanelles and Bosporus. By a
subsequent treaty with Turkey of February 1879 the Porte agreed to pay
to Russia a war indemnity of about L32,000,000.

More important from our standpoint are the clauses relating to the good
government of the Christians of Turkey. By article 61 of the Treaty of
Berlin the Porte bound itself to carry out "the improvements and
reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by the
Armenians, and to guarantee their security against the Circassians and
Kurds." It even added the promise "periodically" to "make known the
steps taken to this effect to the Powers who will superintend their
application." In the next article Turkey promised to "maintain" the
principle of religious liberty and to give it the widest application.
Differences of religion were to be no bar to employment in any public
capacity, and all persons were to "be admitted, without distinction of
religion, to give evidence before the tribunals."

Such was the Treaty of Berlin (July 13, 1878). Viewed in its broad
outlines, it aimed at piecing together again the Turkish districts which
had been severed at San Stefano; the Bulgars and Serbs who there gained
the hope of effecting a real union of those races were now sundered once
more, the former in three divisions; while the Serbs of Servia, Bosnia,
and Montenegro were wedged apart by the intrusion of the Hapsburg Power.
Yet, imperfect though it was in several points, that treaty promised
substantial gains for the Christians of Turkey. The collapse of the
Sultan's power had been so complete, so notorious, that few persons
believed he would ever dare to disregard the mandate of the Great Powers
and his own solemn promises stated above. But no one could then foresee
the exhibition of weakness and cynicism in the policy of those Powers
towards Turkey, which disgraced the polity of Europe in the last decades
of the century. The causes that brought about that state of mental
torpor in the face of hideous massacres, and of moral weakness displayed
by sovereigns and statesmen in the midst of their millions of armed men,
will be to some extent set forth in the following chapters.

As regards the welfare of the Christians in Asia Minor, the Treaty of
Berlin assigned equal responsibilities to all the signatory Powers. But
the British Government had already laid itself under a special charge on
their behalf by the terms of the Cyprus Convention quoted above. Five
days before that treaty was signed the world heard with a gasp of
surprise that England had become practically mistress of Cyprus and
assumed some measure of responsibility for the good government of the
Christians of Asiatic Turkey. No limit of time was assigned for the
duration of the Convention, and apparently it still holds good so far as
relates to the material advantages accruing from the possession of
that island.

It is needless to say that the Cypriotes have benefited greatly by the
British administration; the value of the imports and exports nearly
doubled between 1878 and 1888. But this fact does not and cannot dispose
of the larger questions opened up as to the methods of acquisition and
of the moral responsibilities which it entailed. These at once aroused
sharp differences of opinion. Admiration at the skill and daring which
had gained for Britain a point of vantage in the Levant and set back
Russia's prestige in that quarter was chequered by protests against the
methods of secrecy, sensationalism, and self-seeking that latterly had
characterised British diplomacy.

One more surprise was still forthcoming. Lord Derby, speaking in the
House of Lords on July 18, gave point to these protests by divulging a
State secret of no small importance, namely, that one of the causes of
his retirement at the end of March was a secret proposal of the Ministry
to send an expedition from India to seize Cyprus and one of the Syrian
ports with a view to operations against Russia, and that, too, with _or
without_ the consent of the Sultan. Whether the Cabinet arrived at
anything like a decision in this question is very doubtful. Lord
Salisbury stoutly denied the correctness of his predecessor's statement.
The papers of Sir Stafford Northcote also show that the scheme at that
time came up for discussion, but was "laid aside[178]." Lord Derby,
however, stated that he had kept private notes of the discussion; and it
is improbable that he would have resigned on a question that was merely
mooted and entirely dismissed. The mystery in which the deliberations
of the Cabinet are involved, and very rightly involved, broods over this
as over so many topics in which Lord Beaconsfield was concerned.

[Footnote 178: _Sir Stafford Northcote_, vol. ii. p. 108.]

On another and far weightier point no difference of opinion is possible.
Viewed by the light of the Cyprus Convention, Britain's responsibility
for assuring a minimum of good government for the Christians of Asiatic
Turkey is undeniable. Unfortunately it admits of no denial that the
duties which that responsibility involves have not been discharged. The
story of the misgovernment and massacre of the Armenian Christians is
one that will ever redound to the disgrace of all the signatories of the
Treaty of Berlin; it is doubly disgraceful to the Power which framed the
Cyprus Convention.

A praiseworthy effort was made by the Beaconsfield Government to
strengthen British influence and the cause of reform by sending a
considerable number of well-educated men as Consuls to Asia Minor, under
the supervision of the Consul-General, Sir Charles Wilson. In the first
two years they effected much good, securing the dismissal of several of
the worst Turkish officials, and implanting hope in the oppressed Greeks
and Armenians. Had they been well supported from London, they might have
wrought a permanent change. Such, at least, is the belief of Professor
Ramsay after several years' experience in Asia Minor.

Unfortunately, the Gladstone Government, which came into power in the
spring of 1880, desired to limit its responsibilities on all sides,
especially in the Levant. The British Consuls ceased to be supported,
and after the arrival of Mr. (now Lord) Goschen at Constantinople in May
1880, as Ambassador Extraordinary, British influence began to suffer a
decline everywhere through Turkey, partly owing to the events soon to be
described. The outbreak of war in Egypt in 1882 was made a pretext by
the British Government for the transference of the Consuls to Egypt; and
thereafter matters in Asia Minor slid back into the old ruts. The
progress of the Greeks and Armenians, the traders of that land, suffered
a check; and the remarkable Moslem revival which the Sultan inaugurated
in that year (the year 1300 of the Mohammedan calendar) gradually led up
to the troubles and massacres which culminated in the years 1896 and
1897. We may finally note that when the Gladstone Ministry left the
field open in Asia Minor, the German Government promptly took
possession; and since 1883 the influence of Berlin has more and more
penetrated into the Sultan's lands in Europe and Asia[179].

[Footnote 179: See _Impressions of Turkey_, by Professor W.M. Ramsay
(1897), chap. vi.]

The collapse of British influence at Constantinople was hastened on by
the efforts made by the Cabinet of London, after Mr. Gladstone's
accession to office, on behalf of Greece. It soon appeared that Abdul
Hamid and his Ministers would pay no heed to the recommendations of the
Great Powers on this head, for on July 20, 1878, they informed Sir Henry
Layard of their "final" decision that no Thessalian districts would be
given up to Greece. Owing to pressure exerted by the Dufaure-Waddington
Ministry in France, the Powers decided that a European Commission should
be appointed to consider the whole question. To this the Beaconsfield
Government gave a not very willing assent.

The Porte bettered the example. It took care to name as the first place
of meeting of the Commissioners a village to the north of the Gulf of
Arta which was not discoverable on any map. When at last this mistake
was rectified, and the Greek envoys on two occasions sought to steam
into the gulf, they were fired on from the Turkish forts. After these
amenities, the Commission finally met at Prevesa, only to have its
report shelved by the Porte (January-March 1879). Next, in answer to a
French demand for European intervention, the Turks opposed various
devices taken from the inexhaustible stock of oriental subterfuges. So
the time wore on until, in the spring of 1880, the fall of the
Beaconsfield Ministry brought about a new political situation.

The new Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone, was known as the statesman who
had given the Ionian Isles to Greece, and who advocated the expulsion
of the Turks, "bag and baggage," from Europe. At once the despatches
from Downing Street took on a different complexion, and the substitution
of Mr. Goschen for Sir Henry Layard at Constantinople enabled the Porte
to hear the voice of the British people, undimmed by official checks. A
Conference of the Powers met at Berlin to discuss the carrying out of
their recommendations on the Greek Question, and of the terms of the
late treaty respecting Montenegro.

On this latter affair the Powers finally found it needful to make a
joint naval demonstration against the troops of the Albanian League who
sought to prevent the handing over of the seaport of Dulcigno to
Montenegro, as prescribed by the Treaty of Berlin. But, as happened
during the Concert of the Powers in the spring of 1876, a single
discordant note sufficed to impair the effect of the collective voice.
Then it was England which refused to employ any coercive measures; now
it was Austria and Germany, and finally (after the resignation of the
Waddington Ministry) France. When the Sultan heard of this discord in
the European Concert, his Moslem scruples resumed their wonted sway, and
the Albanians persisted in defying Europe.

The warships of the Powers might have continued to threaten the Albanian
coast with unshotted cannon to this day, had not the Gladstone Cabinet
proposed drastic means for bringing the Sultan to reason. The plan was
that the united fleet should steam straightway to Smyrna and land
marines for the sequestration of the customs' dues of that important
trading centre. Here again the Powers were not of one mind. The three
dissentients again hung back; but they so far concealed their refusal,
or reluctance, as to leave on Abdul Hamid's mind the impression that a
united Christendom was about to seize Smyrna[180]. This was enough. He
could now (October 10, 1880) bow his head resignedly before superior
force without sinning against the Moslem's unwritten but inviolable
creed of never giving way before Christians save under absolute
necessity. At once he ordered his troops to carry out the behests of the
Powers; and after some fighting, Dervish Pasha drove the Albanians out
of Dulcigno, and surrendered it to the Montenegrins (Nov.-Dec. 1880).
Such is the official account; but, seeing that the Porte knows how to
turn to account the fanaticism and turbulence of the Albanians[181], it
may be that their resistance all along was but a device of that
resourceful Government to thwart the will of Europe.

[Footnote 180: _Life of Gladstone_, by J. Morley, vol. iii. p. 9.]

[Footnote 181: See _Turkey in Europe_, by "Odysseus," p. 434.]

The same threat as to the seizure of the Turkish customs-house at Smyrna
sufficed to help on the solution of the Greek Question. The delays and
insults of the Turks had driven the Greeks to desperation, and only the
urgent remonstrances of the Powers availed to hold back the Cabinet of
Athens from a declaration of war. This danger by degrees passed away;
but, as usually happens where passions are excited on both sides, every
compromise pressed on the litigants by the arbiters presented great
difficulty. The Congress of Berlin had recommended the extension of
Greek rule over the purely Hellenic districts of Thessaly, assigning as
the new boundaries the course of the Rivers Salammaria and Kalamas, the
latter of which flows into the sea opposite the Island of Corfu.

Another Conference of the Powers (it was the third) met to decide the
details of that proposal; but owing to the change of Government in
France, along with other causes, the whole question proved to be very
intricate. In the end, the Powers induced the Sultan to sign the
Convention of May 24, 1881, whereby the course of the River Arta was
substituted for that of the Kalamas.

As a set-off to this proposal, which involved the loss of Jannina and
Prevesa for Greece, they awarded to the Hellenes some districts north of
the Salammaria which helped partially to screen the town of Larissa from
the danger of Turkish inroads[182]. To this arrangement Moslems and
Christians sullenly assented. On the whole the Greeks gained 13,200
square kilometres in territory and about 150,000 inhabitants, but their
failure to gain several Hellenic districts of Epirus rankled deep in the
popular consciousness and prepared the way for the events of 1885
and 1897.

[Footnote 182: _The European Concert in the Eastern Question_, by T.E.
Holland, pp. 60-69.]

These later developments can receive here only the briefest reference.
In the former year, when the two Bulgarias framed their union, the
Greeks threatened Turkey with war, but were speedily brought to another
frame of mind by a "pacific" blockade by the Powers. Embittered by this
treatment, the Hellenes sought to push on their cause in Macedonia and
Crete through a powerful Society, the "Ethnike Hetairia." The chronic
discontent of the Cretans at Turkish misrule and the outrages of the
Moslem troops led to grave complications in 1897. At the beginning of
that year the Powers intervened with a proposal for the appointment of a
foreign gendarmerie (January 1897). In order to defeat this plan the
Sultan stirred up Moslem fanaticism in the island, until the resulting
atrocities brought Greece into the field both in Thessaly and Crete.
During the ensuing strifes in Crete the Powers demeaned themselves by
siding against the Christian insurgents, and some Greek troops sent from
Athens to their aid. Few events in our age have caused a more painful
sensation than the bombardment of Cretan villages by British and French
warships. The Powers also proclaimed a "pacific" blockade of Crete
(March-May 1897). The inner reasons that prompted these actions are not
fully known. It may safely be said that they will need far fuller
justification than that which was given in the explanations of Ministers
at Westminster.

Meanwhile the passionate resentment felt by the Greeks had dragged the
Government of King George into war with Turkey (April 18, 1897). The
little kingdom was speedily overpowered by Turks and Albanians; and
despite the recall of their troops from Crete, the Hellenes were unable
to hold Phersala and other positions in the middle of Thessaly. The
Powers, however, intervened on May 12, and proceeded to pare down the
exorbitant terms of the Porte, allowing it to gain only small strips in
the north of Thessaly, as a "strategic rectification" of the frontier.
The Turkish demand of LT10,000,000 was reduced to T4,000,000
(September 18).

[Illustration: MAP OF THESSALY.]

This successful war against Greece raised the prestige of Turkey and
added fuel to the flames of Mohammedan bigotry. These, as we have seen,
had been assiduously fanned by Abdul Hamid II. ever since the year 1882,
when a Pan-Islam movement began. The results of this revival were
far-reaching, being felt even among the hill tribes on the Afghan-Punjab
border (see Chapter XIV.). Throughout the Ottoman Empire the Mohammedans
began to assert their superiority over Christians; and, as Professor
Ramsay has observed, "the means whereby Turkish power is restored is
always the same--massacre[183]."

[Footnote 183: _Impressions of Turkey_, by W.M. Ramsay, p. 139.]

It would be premature to inquire which of the European Powers must be
held chiefly responsible for the toleration of the hideous massacres of
the Armenians in 1896-97, and the atrocious misgovernment of Macedonia,
by the Turks. All the Great Powers who signed the Berlin Treaty are
guilty; and, as has been stated above, the State which framed the Cyprus
Convention is doubly guilty, so far as concerns the events in Armenia. A
grave share of responsibility also rests with those who succeeded in
handing back a large part of Macedonia to the Turks. But the writer who
in the future undertakes to tell the story of the decline of European
morality at the close of the nineteenth century, and the growth of
cynicism and selfishness, will probably pass still severer censures on
the Emperors of Germany and Russia, who, with the unequalled influence
which they wielded over the Porte, might have intervened with effect to
screen their co-religionists from unutterable wrongs, and yet, as far as
is known, raised not a finger on their behalf. The Treaty of Berlin,
which might have inaugurated an era of good government throughout the
whole of Turkey if the Powers had been true to their trust, will be
cited as damning evidence in the account of the greatest betrayal of a
trust which Modern History records.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE.--For the efforts made by the British Government on behalf of the
Armenians, the reader should consult the last chapter of Mr. James
Bryce's book, _Transcaucasia and Mount Ararat_ (new edition, 1896).
Further information may be expected in the _Life of Earl Granville_,
soon to appear, from the pen of Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice.



     "If you can help to build up these peoples into a bulwark of
     independent States and thus screen the 'sick man' from the
     fury of the northern blast, for God's sake do it."--SIR R.
     MORIER to SIR W. WHITE, _December 27, 1885_.

The failure which attended the forward Hellenic movement during the
years 1896-97 stands in sharp relief with the fortunes of the
Bulgarians. To the rise of this youngest, and not the least promising,
of European States, we must devote a whole chapter; for during a decade
the future of the Balkan Peninsula and the policy of the Great Powers
turned very largely on the emancipation of this interesting race from
the effective control of the Sultan and the Czar.

The rise of this enigmatical people affords a striking example of the
power of national feeling to uplift the downtrodden. Until the year
1876, the very name Bulgarian was scarcely known except as a
geographical term. Kinglake, in his charming work, _Eothen_, does not
mention the Bulgarians, though he travelled on horseback from Belgrade
to Sofia and thence to Adrianople. And yet in 1828, the conquering march
of the Russians to Adrianople had awakened that people to a passing
thrill of national consciousness. Other travellers,--for instance,
Cyprien Robert in the "thirties,"--noted their sturdy patience in toil,
their slowness to act, but their great perseverance and will-power, when
the resolve was formed.

These qualities may perhaps be ascribed to their Tatar (Tartar) origin.
Ethnically, they are closely akin to the Magyars and Turks, but, having
been long settled on the banks of the Volga (hence their name, Bulgarian
= Volgarian), they adopted the speech and religion of the Slavs. They
have lived this new life for about a thousand years[184]; and in this
time have been completely changed. Though their flat lips and noses
bespeak an Asiatic origin, they are practically Slavs, save that their
temperament is less nervous, and their persistence greater than that of
their co-religionists[185]. Their determined adhesion to Slav ideals and
rejection of Turkish ways should serve as a reminder to anthropologists
that peoples are not mainly to be judged and divided off by
craniological peculiarities. Measurement of skulls may tell us something
concerning the basal characteristics of tribes: it leaves untouched the
boundless fund of beliefs, thoughts, aspirations, and customs which
mould the lives of nations. The peoples of to-day are what their creeds,
customs, and hopes have made them; as regards their political life, they
have little more likeness to their tribal forefathers than the average
man has to the chimpanzee.

[Footnote 184: _The Peasant State: Bulgaria in 1894_, by E. Dicey, C.B.
(1904), p. 11.]

[Footnote 185: _Turkey in Europe_, by "Odysseus," pp. 28, 356, 367.]

The first outstanding event in the recent rise of the Bulgarian race was
the acquisition of spiritual independence in 1869-70. Hitherto they, in
common with nearly all the Slavs, had belonged to the Greek Church, and
had recognised the supremacy of its Patriarch at Constantinople, but, as
the national idea progressed, the Bulgarians sought to have their own
Church. It was in vain that the Greeks protested against this schismatic
attempt. The Western Powers and Russia favoured it; the Porte also was
not loth to see the Christians further divided. Early in the year 1870,
the Bulgarian Church came into existence, with an Exarch of its own at
Constantinople who has survived the numerous attempts of the Greeks to
ban him as a schismatic from the "Universal Church." The Bulgarians
therefore took rank with the other peoples of the Peninsula as a
religious entity., the Roumanian and Servian Churches having been
constituted early in the century. In fact, the Porte recognises the
Bulgarians, even in Macedonia, as an independent religious community, a
right which it does not accord to the Servians; the latter, in
Macedonia, are counted only as "Greeks[186]."

[Footnote 186: _Turkey in Europe_, by "Odysseus," pp. 280-283, 297; _The
Peasant State_, by E. Dicey, pp. 75-77.]

The Treaty of San Stefano promised to make the Bulgarians the
predominant race of the Balkan Peninsula for the benefit of Russia; but,
as we have seen, the efforts of Great Britain and Austria, backed by the
jealousies of Greeks and Servians, led to a radical change in those
arrangements. The Treaty of Berlin divided that people into three
unequal parts. The larger mass, dwelling in Bulgaria Proper, gained
entire independence of the Sultan, save in the matter of suzerainty; the
Bulgarians on the southern slopes of the Balkans acquired autonomy only
in local affairs, and remained under the control of the Porte in
military affairs and in matters of high policy; while the Bulgarians who
dwelt in Macedonia, about 1,120,000 in number, were led to hope
something from articles 61 and 62 of the Treaty of Berlin, but remained
otherwise at the mercy of the Sultan[187].

[Footnote 187: Recius, Kiepert, Ritter, and other geographers and
ethnologists, admit that the majority in Macedonia is Bulgarian.]

This unsatisfactory state of things promised to range the Principality
of Bulgaria entirely on the side of Russia, and at the outset the hope
of all Bulgarians was for a close friendship with the great Power that
had effected their liberation. These sentiments, however, speedily
cooled. The officers appointed by the Czar to organise the Principality
carried out their task in a high-handed way that soon irritated the
newly enfranchised people. Gratitude is a feeling that soon vanishes,
especially in political life. There, far more than in private life, it
is a great mistake for the party that has conferred a boon to remind
the recipient of what he owes, especially if that recipient be young and
aspiring. Yet that was the mistake committed everywhere throughout
Bulgaria. The army, the public service--everything--was modelled on
Russian lines during the time of the occupation, until the overbearing
ways of the officials succeeded in dulling the memory of the services
rendered in the war. The fact of the liberation was forgotten amidst the
irritation aroused by the constant reminders of it.

The Russians succeeded in alienating even the young German prince who
came, with the full favour of the Czar Alexander II., to take up the
reins of Government. A scion of the House of Hesse Darmstadt by a
morganatic marriage, Prince Alexander of Battenberg had been sounded by
the Russian authorities, with a view to his acceptance of the Bulgarian
crown. By the vote of the Bulgarian Chamber, it was offered to him on
April 29, 1879. He accepted it, knowing full well that it would be a
thorny honour for a youth of twenty-two years of age. His tall
commanding frame, handsome features, ability and prowess as a soldier,
and, above all, his winsome address, seemed to mark him out as a natural
leader of men; and he received a warm welcome from the Bulgarians in the
month of July.

His difficulties began at once. The chief Russian administrator,
Dondukoff Korsakoff, had thrust his countrymen into all the important
and lucrative posts, thereby leaving out in the cold the many
Bulgarians, who, after working hard for the liberation of their land,
now saw it transferred from the slovenly overlordship of the Turk to the
masterful grip of the Muscovite. The Principality heaved with
discontent, and these feelings finally communicated themselves to the
sympathetic nature of the Prince. But duty and policy alike forbade him
casting off the Russian influence. No position could be more trying for
a young man of chivalrous and ambitious nature, endowed with a strain of
sensitiveness which he probably derived from his Polish mother. He early
set forth his feelings in a private letter to Prince Charles of

Devoted with my whole heart to the Czar Alexander, I am anxious to do
nothing that can be called anti-Russian. Unfortunately the Russian
officials have acted with the utmost want of tact; confusion prevails in
every office, and peculation, thanks to Dondukoff's decrees, is all but
sanctioned. I am daily confronted with the painful alternative of having
to decide either to assent to the Russian demands or to be accused in
Russia of ingratitude and of "injuring the most sacred feelings of the
Bulgarians." My position is truly terrible.

The friction with Russia increased with time. Early in the year 1880,
Prince Alexander determined to go to St. Petersburg to appeal to the
Czar in the hope of allaying the violence of the Panslavonic intriguers.
Matters improved for a time, but only because the Prince accepted the
guidance of the Czar. Thereafter he retained most of his pro-Russian
Ministers, even though the second Legislative Assembly, elected in the
spring of that year, was strongly Liberal and anti-Russian. In April
1881 he acted on the advice of one of his Ministers, a Russian general
named Ehrenroth, and carried matters with a high hand: he dissolved the
Assembly, suspended the constitution, encouraged his officials to
browbeat the voters, and thereby gained a docile Chamber, which carried
out his behests by decreeing a Septennate, or autocratic rule for seven
years. In order to prop up his miniature czardom, he now asked the new
Emperor, Alexander III., to send him two Russian Generals. His request
was granted in the persons of Generals Soboleff and Kaulbars, who became
Ministers of the Interior and for War; a third, General Tioharoff, being
also added as Minister of Justice.

The triumph of Muscovite influence now seemed to be complete, until the
trio just named usurped the functions of the Bulgarian Ministers and
informed the Prince that they took their orders from the Czar, not from
him. Chafing at these self-imposed Russian bonds, the Prince now leant
more on the moderate Liberals, headed by Karaveloff; and on the
Muscovites intriguing in the same quarter, and with the troops, with a
view to his deposition, they met with a complete repulse. An able and
vigorous young Bulgarian, Stambuloff, was now fast rising in importance
among the more resolute nationalists. The son of an innkeeper of
Tirnova, he was sent away to be educated at Odessa; there he early
became imbued with Nihilist ideas, and on returning to the Danubian
lands, framed many plots for the expulsion of the Turks from Bulgaria.
His thick-set frame, his force of will, his eloquent, passionate speech,
and, above all, his burning patriotism, soon brought him to the front as
the leader of the national party; and he now strove with all his might
to prevent his land falling to the position of a mere satrapy of the
liberators. Better the puny autocracy of Prince Alexander than the very
real despotism of the nominees of the Emperor Alexander III.

The character of the new Czar will engage our attention in the following
chapter; here we need only say that the more his narrow, hard, and
overbearing nature asserted itself, the greater appeared the danger to
the liberties of the Principality. At last, when the situation became
unbearable, the Prince resolved to restore the Bulgarian constitution;
and he took this momentous step, on September 18, 1883, without
consulting the three Russian Ministers, who thereupon resigned[188].

[Footnote 188: For the scenes which then occurred, see _Le Prince
Alexandre de Battenberg en Bulgarie_, by A.G. Drandar, pp. 169 _et
seq_.; also A. Koch, _Fuerst Alexander von Bulgarien_, pp. 144-147.

For the secret aims of Russia, see _Documents secrets de la Politique
russe en Orient_, by R. Leonoff (Berlin, 1893), pp. 49-65. General
Soboleff, _Der erste Fuerst von Bulgarian_ (Leipzig, 1896), has given a
highly coloured Russian account of all these incidents.]

At once the Prince summoned Karaveloff, and said to him: "My dear
Karaveloff--For the second time I swear to thee that I will be entirely
submissive to the will of the people, and that I will govern in full
accordance with the constitution of Tirnova. Let us forget what passed
during the _coup d'etat_ [of 1881], and work together for the
prosperity of the country." He embraced him; and that embrace was the
pledge of a close union of hearts between him and his people[189].

[Footnote 189: See Laveleye's _The Balkan Peninsula_, pp. 259-262, for
an account of Karaveloff.]

The Czar forthwith showed his anger at this act of independence, and,
counting it a sign of defiance, allowed or encouraged his agents in
Bulgaria to undermine the power of the Prince, and procure his
deposition. For two years they struggled in vain. An attempt by the
Russian Generals Soboleff and Kaulbars to kidnap the Prince by night
failed, owing to the loyalty of Lieutenant Martinoff, then on duty at
his palace; the two ministerial plotters forthwith left Bulgaria[190].

[Footnote 190: J.G.C. Minchin, _The Growth of Freedom in the Balkan
Peninsula_ (1886) p. 237. The author, Consul-General for Servia in
London, had earlier contributed many articles to the _Times_ and
_Morning Advertiser_ on Balkan affairs.]

Even now the scales did not fall from the eyes of the Emperor Alexander
III. Bismarck was once questioned by the faithful Busch as to the
character of that potentate. The German Boswell remarked that he had
heard Alexander III. described as "stupid, exceedingly stupid";
whereupon the Chancellor replied: "In a general way that is saying too
much[191]." Leaving to posterity the task of deciding that question, we
may here point out that Muscovite policy in the years 1878-85 achieved a
truly remarkable feat in uniting all the liberated races of the Balkan
Peninsula against their liberators. By the terms of the Treaty of San
Stefano, Russia had alienated the Roumanians, Servians, and Greeks; so
that when the Princes of those two Slav Principalities decided to take
the kingly title (as they did in the spring of 1881 and 1882
respectively), it was after visits to Berlin and Vienna, whereby they
tacitly signified their friendliness to the Central Powers.

[Footnote 191: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of his History_, by Dr. M.
Busch (Note of January 5, 1886), vol. iii. p. 150 (English edition).]

In the case of Servia this went to the length of alliance. On June 25,
1881, the Foreign Minister, M. Mijatovich, concluded with
Austria-Hungary a secret convention, whereby Servia agreed to
discourage any movement among the Slavs of Bosnia, while the Dual
Monarchy promised to refrain from any action detrimental to Servian
hopes for what is known as old Servia. The agreement was for eight
years; but it was not renewed in 1889[192]. The fact, however, that such
a compact could be framed within three years of the Berlin Congress,
shows how keen was the resentment of the Servian Government at the
neglect of its interests by Russia, both there and at San Stefano.

[Footnote 192: The treaty has not been published; for this general
description of it I am indebted to the kindness of M. Mijatovich

The gulf between Bulgaria and Russia widened more slowly, but with the
striking sequel that will be seen. The Dondukoffs, Soboleffs, and
Kaulbars first awakened and then estranged the formerly passive and
docile race for whose aggrandisement Russia had incurred the resentment
of the neighbouring peoples. Under Muscovite tutelage the "ignorant
Bulgarian peasants" were developing a strong civic and political
instinct. Further, the Czar's attacks, now on the Prince, and then on
the popular party, served to bind these formerly discordant elements
into an alliance. Stambuloff, the very embodiment of young Bulgaria in
tenacity of purpose and love of freedom, was now the President of the
Sobranje, or National Assembly, and he warmly supported Prince Alexander
so long as he withstood Russian pretensions. At the outset the strifes
at Sofia had resembled a triangular duel, and the Russian agents could
readily have disposed of the third combatant had they sided either with
the Prince or with the Liberals. By browbeating both they simplified the
situation to the benefit both of the Prince and of the nascent liberties
of Bulgaria.

Alexander III. and his Chancellor, de Giers, had also tied their hands
in Balkan affairs by a treaty which they framed with Austria and
Germany, and signed and ratified at the meeting of the three Emperors at
Skiernewice (September 1884--see Chapter XII.). The most important of
its provisions from our present standpoint was that by which, in the
event of two of the three Empires disagreeing on Balkan questions, the
casting vote rested with the third Power. This gave to Bismarck the same
role of arbiter which he had played at the Berlin Congress.

But in the years 1885 and 1886, the Czar and his agents committed a
series of blunders, by the side of which their earlier actions seemed
statesmanlike. The welfare of the Bulgarian people demanded an early
reversal of the policy decided on at the Congress of Berlin (1878),
whereby the southern Bulgarians were divided from their northern
brethren in order that the Sultan might have the right to hold the
Balkan passes in time of war. That is to say, the Powers, especially
Great Britain and Austria, set aside the claims of a strong racial
instinct for purely military reasons. The breakdown of this artificial
arrangement was confidently predicted at the time; and Russian agents at
first took the lead in preparing for the future union. Skobeleff,
Katkoff, and the Panslavonic societies of Russia encouraged the
formation of "gymnastic societies" in Eastern Roumelia, and the youth of
that province enrolled themselves with such ardour that by the year 1885
more than 40,000 were trained to the use of arms. As for the protests of
the Sultan and those of his delegates at Philippopolis, they were
stilled by hints from St. Petersburg, or by demands for the prompt
payment of Turkey's war debt to Russia. All the world knew that, thanks
to Russian patronage, Eastern Roumelia had slipped entirely from the
control of Abdul Hamid.

By the summer of 1885, the unionist movement had acquired great
strength. But now, at the critical time, when Russia should have led
that movement, she let it drift, or even, we may say, cast off the
tow-rope. Probably the Czar and his Ministers looked on the Bulgarians
as too weak or too stupid to act for themselves. It was a complete
miscalculation; for now Stambuloff and Karaveloff had made that aim
their own, and brought to its accomplishment all the skill and zeal
which they had learned in a long career of resistance to Turkish and
Russian masters. There is reason to think that they and their
coadjutors at Philippopolis pressed on events in the month of September
1885, because the Czar was then known to disapprove any
immediate action.

In order to understand the reason for this strange reversal of Russia's
policy, we must scrutinise events more closely. The secret workings of
that policy have been laid bare in a series of State documents, the
genuineness of which is not altogether established. They are said to
have been betrayed to the Bulgarian patriots by a Russian agent, and
they certainly bear signs of authenticity. If we accept them (and up to
the present they have been accepted by well-informed men) the truth is
as follows:--

Russia would have worked hard for the union of Eastern Roumelia to
Bulgaria, provided that the Prince abdicated and his people submitted
completely to Russian control. Quite early in his reign Alexander III.
discovered in them an independence which his masterful nature ill
brooked. He therefore postponed that scheme until the Prince should
abdicate or be driven out. As one of the Muscovite agents phrased it in
the spring of 1881, the union must not be brought about until a Russian
protectorate should be founded in the Principality; for if they made
Bulgaria too strong, it would become "a second Roumania," that is, as
"ungrateful" to Russia as Roumania had shown herself after the seizure
of her Bessarabian lands. In fact, the Bulgarians could gain the wish of
their hearts only on one condition--that of proclaiming the Emperor
Alexander Grand Duke of the greater State of the future[193].

[Footnote 193: _Documents secrets de la Politique russe en Orient,_ ed.
by R. Leonoff (Berlin, 1893), pp. 8, 48. This work is named by M. Malet
in his _Bibliographie_ on the Eastern Question on p. 448, vol. ix., of
the _Histoire Generale of _MM. Lavisse and Rambaud. I have been assured
of its genuineness by a gentleman well versed in the politics of the
Balkan States.]

The chief obstacles in the way of Russia's aggrandisement were the
susceptibilities of "the Battenberger," as her agents impertinently
named him, and the will of Stambuloff. When the Czar, by his malevolent
obstinacy, finally brought these two men to accord, it was deemed
needful to adopt various devices in order to shatter the forces which
Russian diplomacy had succeeded in piling up in its own path. But here
again we are reminded of the Horatian precept--

     Vis consili expers mole ruit sua.

To the hectorings of Russian agents the "peasant State" offered an ever
firmer resistance, and by the summer of 1885 it was clear that bribery
and bullying were equally futile.

Of course the Emperor of all the Russias had it in his power to harry
the Prince in many ways. Thus in the summer of 1885, when a marriage was
being arranged between him and the Princess Victoria, daughter of the
Crown Princess of Germany, the Czar's influence at Berlin availed to
veto an engagement which is believed to have been the heartfelt wish of
both the persons most nearly concerned. In this matter Bismarck, true to
his policy of softening the Czar's annoyance at the Austro-German
alliance by complaisance in all other matters, made himself Russia's
henchman, and urged his press-trumpet, Busch, to write newspaper
articles abusing Queen Victoria as having instigated this match solely
with a view to the substitution of British for Russian influence in
Bulgaria[194]. The more servile part of the German Press improved on
these suggestions, and stigmatised the Bulgarian Revolution of the
ensuing autumn as an affair trumped up at London. So far is it possible
for minds of a certain type to read their own pettiness into events.

[Footnote 194: For Bismarck's action and that of the Emperor William I.
in 1885, see _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of his History_, by M. Busch,
vol. iii. pp. 171, 180, 292, also p. 335. Russian agents came to
Stambuloff in the summer of 1885 to say that "Prince Alexander must be
got rid of before he can ally himself with the German family regnant."
Stambuloff informed the Prince of this. See _Stambuloff_, by A.H.
Beaman, p. 52.]

Meanwhile, if we may credit the despatches above referred to, the
Russian Government was seeking to drag Bulgaria into fratricidal strife
with Roumania over some trifling disputes about the new border near
Silistria. That quarrel, if well managed, promised to be materially
advantageous to Russia and mentally soothing to her ruler. It would
weaken the Danubian States and help to bring them back to the heel of
their former protector. Further, seeing that the behaviour of King
Charles to his Russian benefactors was no less "ungrateful" than that of
Prince Alexander, it would be a fit Nemesis for these _ingrats_ to be
set by the ears. Accordingly, in the month of August 1885, orders were
issued to Russian agents to fan the border dispute; and on August 12/30
the Director of the Asiatic Department at St. Petersburg wrote the
following instructions to the Russian Consul-General at Rustchuk:--

     You remember that the union [of the two Bulgarias] must not
     take place until after the abdication of Prince Alexander.
     However, the ill-advised and hostile attitude of King Charles
     of Roumania [to Russia] obliges the imperial government to
     postpone for some time the projected union of Eastern
     Roumelia to the Principality, as well as the abdication and
     expulsion of the Prince of Bulgaria. In the session of the
     Council of [Russian] Ministers held yesterday it was decided
     to beg the Emperor to call Prince Alexander to Copenhagen or
     to St. Petersburg in order to inform him that, according to
     the will of His Majesty, Bulgaria must defend by armed force
     her rights over the points hereinbefore mentioned[195].

[Footnote 195: R. Leonoff, _op. cit._ pp. 81-84.]

The despatch then states that Russia will keep Turkey quiet and will
eventually make war on Roumania; also, that if Bulgaria triumphs over
Roumania, the latter will pay her in territory or money, or in both.
Possibly, however, the whole scheme may have been devised to serve as a
decoy to bring Prince Alexander within the power of his imperial
patrons, who, in that case, would probably have detained and
dethroned him.

Further light was thrown on the tortuous course of Russian diplomacy by
a speech of Count Eugen Zichy to the Hungarian Delegations about a year
later. He made the startling declaration that in the summer of 1885
Russia concluded a treaty with Montenegro with the aim of dethroning
King Milan and Prince Alexander, and the division of the Balkan States
between Prince Nicholas of Montenegro and the Karageorgevich Pretender
who has since made his way to the throne at Belgrade. The details of
these schemes are not known, but the searchlight thrown upon them from
Buda-Pesth revealed the shifts of the policy of those "friends of
peace," the Czar Alexander III. and his Chancellor, de Giers.

Prince Alexander may not have been aware of these schemes in their full
extent, but he and his friends certainly felt the meshes closing around
them. There were only two courses open, either completely to submit to
the Czar (which, for the Prince, implied abdication) or to rely on the
Bulgarian people. The Prince took the course which would have been taken
by every man worthy of the name. It is, however, almost certain that he
did not foresee the events at Philippopolis. He gave his word to a
German officer, Major von Huhn, that he had not in the least degree
expected the unionist movement to take so speedy and decisive a step
forward as it did in the middle of September. The Prince, in fact, had
been on a tour throughout Europe, and expressed the same opinion to the
Russian Chancellor, de Giers, at Franzensbad.

But by this time everything was ready at Philippopolis. As the men of
Eastern Roumelia were all of one mind in this matter, it was the easiest
of tasks to surprise the Sultan's representative, Gavril Pasha, to
surround his office with soldiers, and to request him to leave the
province (September 18). A carriage was ready to conduct him towards
Sofia. In it sat a gaily dressed peasant girl holding a drawn sword.
Gavril turned red with rage at this insult, but he mounted the vehicle,
and was driven through the town and thence towards the Balkans.

Such was the departure of the last official of the Sultan from the land
which the Turks had often drenched with blood; such was the revenge of
the southern Bulgarians for the atrocities of 1876. Not a drop of blood
was shed; and Major von Huhn, who soon arrived at Philippopolis, found
Greeks and Turks living contentedly under the new government. The word
"revolution" is in such cases a misnomer. South Bulgaria merely returned
to its natural state[196]. But nothing will convince diplomatists that
events can happen without the pulling of wires by themselves or their
rivals. In this instance they found that Prince Alexander had made the

[Footnote 196: _The Struggle of the Bulgarians for National
Independence_, by Major A. von Huhn, chap. ii. See, too, Parl. Papers,
Turkey, No. 1 (1886), p. 83.]

At first, however, the Prince doubted whether he should accept the crown
of a Greater Bulgaria which the men of Philippopolis now
enthusiastically offered to him. Stambuloff strongly urged him to
accept, even if he thereby still further enraged the Czar: "Sire," he
said, "two roads lie before you: the one to Philippopolis and as far
beyond as God may lead; the other to Sistova and Darmstadt. I counsel
you to take the crown the nation offers you." On the 20th the Prince
announced his acceptance of the crown of a united Bulgaria. As he said
to the British Consul at Philippopolis, he would have been a "sharper"
(_filou_) not to side with his people[197].

[Footnote 197: _Stambuloff_, by A.H. Beaman, chap. iii.; Parl. Papers,
_ibid_. p. 81.]

Few persons were prepared for the outburst of wrath of the Czar at
hearing this news. Early in his reign he had concentrated into a single
phrase--"silly Pole"--the spleen of an essentially narrow nature at
seeing a kinsman and a dependant dare to think and act for himself[198].
But on this occasion, as we can now see, the Prince had marred Russia's
plans in the most serious way. Stambuloff and he had deprived her of her
unionist trump card. The Czar found his project of becoming Grand Duke
of a Greater Bulgaria blocked by the action of this same hated kinsman.
Is it surprising that his usual stolidity gave way to one of those fits
of bull-like fury which aroused the fear of all who beheld them?
Thenceforth between the Emperor Alexander and Prince Alexander the
relations might be characterised by the curt phrase which Palafox hurled
at the French from the weak walls of Saragossa--"War to the knife." Like
Palafox, the Prince now had no hope but in the bravery of his people.

[Footnote 198: _Bismarck: Reflections and Reminiscences_, vol. ii. p.
116 (Eng. ed.).]

In the ciphered telegrams of September 19 and 20, which the Director of
the Asiatic Department at St. Petersburg sent to the Russian
Consul-General at Rustchuk, the note of resentment and revenge was
clearly sounded. The events in Eastern Roumelia had changed "all our
intentions." The agent was therefore directed to summon the chief
Russian officers in Bulgaria and ask them whether the "young" Bulgarian
officers could really command brigades and regiments, and organise the
artillery; also whether that army could alone meet the army of "a
neighbouring State." The replies of the officers being decidedly in the
negative, they were ordered to leave Bulgaria[199]. Nelidoff, the
Russian ambassador at Constantinople, also worked furiously to spur on
the Sultan to revenge the insult inflicted on him by Prince Alexander.

[Footnote 199: R. Leonoff, _op. cit._ Nos. 75, 77.]

Sir William White believed that the _volte face_ in Russian policy was
due solely to Nelidoff's desire to thwart the peaceful policy of the
Russian Chancellor, de Giers, who at that time chanced to be absent in
Tyrol, while the Czar also was away at Copenhagen[200]. But it now
appears that the Russian Foreign Office took Nelidoff's view, and bade
him press Turkey to restore the "legal order" of things in Eastern
Roumelia. Further, the Ministers of the Czar found that Servia, Greece,
and perhaps also Roumania, intended to oppose the aggrandisement of
Bulgaria; and it therefore seemed easy to chastise "the Battenberger"
for his wanton disturbance of the peace of Europe.

[Footnote 200: _Sir William White: Memoirs and Correspondence_, by H.
Sutherland Edwards, pp. 231-232.]

Possibly Russia would herself have struck at Bulgaria but for the
difficulties of the general situation. How great these were will be
realised by a perusal of the following chapters, which deal with the
spread of Nihilism in Russia, the formation of the Austro-German
alliance, and the favour soon shown to it by Italy, the estrangement of
England and the Porte owing to the action taken by the former in Egypt,
and the sharp collision of interests between Russia and England at
Panjdeh on the Afghan frontier. When it is further remembered that
France fretted at the untoward results of M. Ferry's forward policy in
Tonquin; that Germany was deeply engaged in colonial efforts; and that
the United Kingdom was distracted by those efforts, by the failure of
the expedition to Khartum, and by the Parnellite agitation in
Ireland--the complexity of the European situation will be sufficiently
evident. Assuredly the events of the year 1885 were among the most
distracting ever recorded in the history of Europe.

This clash of interests among nations wearied by war, and alarmed at the
apparition of the red spectre of revolution in their midst, told by no
means unfavourably on the fortunes of the Balkan States. The dominant
facts of the situation were, firstly, that Russia no longer had a free
hand in the Balkan Peninsula in face of the compact between the three
Emperors ratified at Skiernewice in the previous autumn (see Chapter
XII.); and, secondly, that the traditional friendship between England
and the Porte had been replaced by something like hostility. Seeing that
the Sultan had estranged the British Government by his very suspicious
action during the revolts of Arabi Pasha and of the Mahdi, even those
who had loudly proclaimed the need of propping up his authority as
essential to the stability of our Eastern Empire now began to revise
their prejudices.

Thus, when Lord Salisbury came to office, if not precisely to power, in
June 1885, he found affairs in the East rapidly ripening for a change of
British policy--a change which is known to have corresponded with his
own convictions. Finally, the marriage of Princess Beatrice to Prince
Henry of Battenberg, on July 23, 1885, added that touch of personal
interest which enabled Court circles to break with the traditions of the
past and to face the new situation with equanimity. Accordingly the
power of Britain, which in 1876-78 had been used to thwart the growth of
freedom in the Balkan Peninsula, was now put forth to safeguard the
union of Bulgaria. During these critical months Sir William White acted
as ambassador at Constantinople, and used his great knowledge of the
Balkan peoples with telling effect for this salutary purpose.

Lord Salisbury advised the Sultan not to send troops into Southern
Bulgaria; and the warning chimed in with the note of timorous cunning
which formed the undertone of that monarch's thought and policy.
Distracted by the news of the warlike preparations of Servia and Greece,
Abdul Hamid looked on Russia's advice in a contrary sense as a piece of
Muscovite treachery. About the same time, too, there were rumours of
palace plots at Constantinople; and the capricious recluse of Yildiz
finally decided to keep his best troops near at hand. It appears, then,
that Nihilism in Russia and the spectre of conspiracy always haunting
the brain of Abdul Hamid played their part in assuring the liberties
of Bulgaria.

Meanwhile the Powers directed their ambassadors at Constantinople to
hold a preliminary Conference at which Turkey would be represented. The
result was a declaration expressing formal disapproval of the violation
of the Treaty of Berlin, and a hope that all parties concerned would
keep the peace. This mild protest very inadequately reflected the
character of the discussions which had been going on between the several
Courts. Russia, it is known, wished to fasten the blame for the
revolution on Prince Alexander; but all public censure was vetoed
by England.

Probably her action was as effective in still weightier matters. A
formal Conference of the ambassadors of the Powers met at Constantinople
on November 5; and there again Sir William White, acting on instructions
from Lord Salisbury, defended the Bulgarian cause, and sought to bring
about a friendly understanding between the Porte and "a people occupying
so important a position in the Sultan's dominions." Lord Salisbury also
warned the Turkish ambassador in London that if Turkey sought to expel
Prince Alexander from Eastern Roumelia, she would "be making herself the
instrument of those who desired the fall of the Ottoman Empire[201]."

[Footnote 201: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 1 (1886), pp. 214-215. See,
too, _ibid_. pp. 197 _et seq_. for Lord Salisbury's instructions to Sir
William White for the Conference. In view of them it is needless to
waste space in refuting the arguments of the Russophil A.G. Drandar,
_op. cit._ p. 147, that England sought to make war between the
Balkan States.]

This reference to the insidious means used by Russia for bringing the
Turks to a state of tutelage, as a preliminary to partition, was an
effective reminder of the humiliations which they had undergone at the
hands of Russia by the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi (1833). France also
showed no disposition to join the Russian and Austrian demand that the
Sultan should at once re-establish the _status quo_; and by degrees the
more intelligent Turks came to see that a strong Bulgaria, independent
of Russian control, might be an additional safeguard against the
Colossus of the North. Russia's insistence on the exact fulfilment of
the Treaty of Berlin helped to open their eyes, and lent force to Sir
William White's arguments as to the need of strengthening that treaty by
"introducing into it a timely improvement[202]."

[Footnote 202: _Ibid_. pp. 273-274, 288, for Russia's policy; p. 284 for
Sir W. White's argument.]

Owing to the opposition offered by Great Britain, and to some extent by
France, to the proposed restoration of the old order of things in
Eastern Roumelia, the Conference came to an end at the close of
November, the three Imperial Powers blaming Sir William White for his
obstructive tactics. The charges will not bear examination, but they
show the irritation of those Governments at England's championship of
the Bulgarian cause[203]. The Bulgarians always remember the names of
Lord Salisbury and Sir William White as those of friends in need.

[Footnote 203: _Ibid_. pp. 370-372.]

In the main, however, the consolidation of Bulgaria was achieved by her
own stalwart sons. While the Imperial Powers were proposing to put back
the hands of the clock, an alarum sounded forth, proclaiming the advent
of a new era in the history of the Balkan peoples. The action which
brought about this change was startling alike in its inception, in the
accompanying incidents, and still more in its results.

Where Abdul Hamid forebore to enter, even as the mandatory of the
Continental Courts, there Milan of Servia rushed in. As an excuse for
his aggression, the Kinglet of Belgrade alleged the harm done to Servian
trade by a recent revision of the Bulgarian tariff. But the Powers
assessed this complaint and others at their due value, and saw in his
action merely the desire to seize a part of Western Bulgaria as a
set-off to the recent growth of that Principality. On all sides his
action in declaring war against Prince Alexander (November 14) met with
reprobation, even on the part of his guide and friend, Austria. A recent
report of the Hungarian Committee on Foreign Affairs contained a
recommendation which implied that he ought to receive compensation; and
this seemed to show the wish of the more active part of the Dual
Monarchy peacefully but effectively to champion his cause[204].

[Footnote 204: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 1 (1886), p. 250.]

Nevertheless, the King decided to carve out his fortunes by his own
sword. He had some grounds for confidence. If a Bulgarian _fait
accompli_ could win tacit recognition from the Powers, why should not a
Servian triumph over Bulgaria force their hands once more? Prince
Alexander was unsafe on his throne; thanks to the action of Russia his
troops had very few experienced officers; and in view of the Sultan's
resentment his southern border could not be denuded of troops. Never did
a case seem more desperate than that of the "Peasant State," deserted
and flouted by Russia, disliked by the Sultan, on bad terms with
Roumania, and publicly lectured by the Continental Powers for her
irregular conduct. Servia's triumph seemed assured.

But now there came forth one more proof of the vitalising force of the
national principle. In seven years the downtrodden peasants of Bulgaria
had become men, and now astonished the world by their prowess. The
withdrawal of the Russian officers left half of the captaincies vacant;
but they were promptly filled up by enthusiastic young lieutenants.
Owing to the blowing up of the line from Philippopolis to Adrianople,
only five locomotives were available for carrying back northwards the
troops which had hitherto been massed on the southern border; and these
five were already overstrained. Yet the engineers now worked them still
harder and they did not break down[205]. The hardy peasants tramped
impossibly long distances in their longing to meet the Servians. The
arrangements were carried through with a success which seems miraculous
in an inexperienced race. The explanation was afterwards rightly
discerned by an English visitor to Bulgaria. "This is the secret of
Bulgarian independence--everybody is in grim earnest. The Bulgarians do
not care about amusements[206]." In that remark there is food for
thought. Inefficiency has no place among a people that looks to the
welfare of the State as all in all. Breakdowns occur when men think more
about "sport" and pleasure than about doing their utmost for
their country.

[Footnote 205: A. von Huhn, _op. cit._ p. 105.]

[Footnote 206: E.A.B. Hodgetts, _Round about Armenia_, p. 7.]

The results of this grim earnestness were to astonish the world. The
Servians at first gained some successes in front of Widdin and
Slivnitza; but the defenders of the latter place (an all-important
position north-west of Sofia) hurried up all possible forces. Two
Bulgarian regiments are said to have marched 123 kilometres in thirty
hours in order to defend that military outwork of their capital; while
others, worn out with marching, rode forward on horseback, two men to
each horse, and then threw themselves into the fight. The Bulgarian
artillery was well served, and proved to be very superior to that of
the Servians.

Thus, on the first two days of conflict at Slivnitza, the defenders beat
back the Servians with some loss. On the third day (November 19), after
receiving reinforcements, they took the offensive, with surprising
vigour. A talented young officer, Bendereff, led their right wing, with
bands playing and colours flying, to storm the hillsides that dominated
the Servian position. The hardy peasants scaled the hills and delivered
the final bayonet charge so furiously that there and on all sides the
invaders fled in wild panic, and scarcely halted until they reached
their own frontier.

Thenceforth King Milan had hard work to keep his men together. Many of
them were raw troops; their ammunition was nearly exhausted; and their
_morale_ had vanished utterly. Prince Alexander had little difficulty in
thrusting them forth from Pirot, and seemed to have before him a clear
road to Belgrade, when suddenly he was brought to a halt by a menace
from the north[207].

[Footnote 207: Drandar, _Evenements politiques en Bulgarie_, pp. 89-116;
von Huhn, _op. cit._ chaps. x. xi.]

A special envoy sent by the Hapsburgs, Count Khevenhueller, came in haste
to the headquarters of the Prince on November 28, and in imperious terms
bade him grant an armistice to Servia, otherwise Austrian troops would
forthwith cross the frontier to her assistance. Before this threat
Alexander gave way, and was blamed by some of his people for this act of
complaisance. But assuredly he could not well have acted otherwise. The
three Emperors, of late acting in accord in Balkan questions, had it in
their power to crush him by launching the Turks against Philippopolis,
or their own troops against Sofia. He had satisfied the claims of
honour; he had punished Servia for her peevish and unsisterly jealousy.
Under his lead the Bulgarians had covered themselves with glory, and had
leaped at a bound from political youth to manhood. Why should he risk
their new-found unity merely in order to abase Servia? The Prince never
acted more prudently than when he decided not to bring into the field
the Power which, as he believed, had pushed on Servia to war[208].

[Footnote 208: Drandar, _op. cit._ chap. iii.; Kuhn, _op. cit._ chap.

Had he known that the Russian Chancellor, de Giers, on hearing of
Austria's threat to Bulgaria, informed the Court of Vienna of the Czar's
condign displeasure if that threat were carried into effect, perhaps he
would have played a grand game, advancing on Belgrade, dethroning the
already unpopular King Milan, and offering to the Czar the headship of a
united Servo-Bulgarian State. He might thus have appeased that
sovereign, but at the cost of a European war. Whether from lack of
information, or from a sense of prudence and humanity, the Prince held
back and decided for peace with Servia. Despite many difficulties thrown
in the way by King Milan, this was the upshot of the ensuing
negotiations. The two States finally came to terms by the Treaty of
Bukharest, where, thanks to the good sense of the negotiators and the
efforts of Turkey to compose these strifes, peace was assured on the
basis of the _status quo ante bellum_ (March 3, 1886).

Already the Porte had manifested its good-will towards Bulgaria in the
most signal manner. This complete reversal of policy may be assigned to
several causes. Firstly, Prince Alexander, on marching against the
Servians, had very tactfully proclaimed that he did so on behalf of the
existing order of things, which they were bent on overthrowing. His
actions having corresponded to his words, the Porte gradually came to
see in him a potent defender against Russia. This change in the attitude
of the Sultan was undoubtedly helped on by the arguments of Lord
Salisbury to the Turkish ambassador at London. He summarised the whole
case for a recognition of the union of the two Bulgarias in the
following remarks (December 23, 1885):--

     Every week's experience showed that the Porte had little to
     dread from the subserviency of Bulgaria to foreign influence,
     if only Bulgaria were allowed enjoyment of her unanimous
     desires, and the Porte did not gratuitously place itself in
     opposition to the general feeling of the people. A Bulgaria,
     friendly to the Porte, and jealous of foreign influence,
     would be a far surer bulwark against foreign aggression than
     two Bulgarias, severed in administration, but united in
     considering the Porte as the only obstacle to their national

[Footnote 209: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 1 (1886), p. 424.]

Events served to reveal the soundness of this statesmanlike
pronouncement. At the close of the year Prince Alexander returned from
the front to Sofia and received an overwhelming ovation as the champion
of Bulgarian liberties. Further, he now found no difficulty in coming to
an understanding with the Turkish Commissioners sent to investigate the
state of opinion in Southern Bulgaria. Most significant of all was the
wrath of the Czar at the sight of his popularity, and the utter collapse
of the Russian party at Sofia.

Meanwhile the Powers found themselves obliged little by little to
abandon their pedantic resolve to restore the Treaty of Berlin. Sir
Robert Morier, British ambassador at St. Petersburg, in a letter of
December 27, 1885, to Sir William White, thus commented on the causes
that assured success to the Bulgarian cause:

     The very great prudence shown by Lord Salisbury, and the
     consummate ability with which you played your part, have made
     it a successful game; but the one crowning good fortune,
     which we mainly owe to the incalculable folly of the Servian
     attack, has been that Prince Alexander's generalship and the
     fighting capacities of his soldiers have placed our rival
     action [his own and that of Sir W. White] in perfect harmony
     with the crushing logic of fact. The rivalry is thus
     completely swamped in the bit of cosmic work so successfully
     accomplished. A State has been evolved out of the protoplasm
     of Balkan chaos.

Sir Robert Morier finally stated that if Sir William White succeeded in
building up an independent Bulgaria friendly to Roumania, he would have
achieved the greatest feat of diplomacy since Sir James Hudson's
statesmanlike moves at Turin in the critical months of 1859-60 gained
for England a more influential position in Italy than France had secured
by her aid in the campaign of Solferino. The praise is overstrained,
inasmuch as it leaves out of count the statecraft of Bismarck in the
years 1863-64 and 1869-70; but certainly among the _peaceful_ triumphs
of recent years that of Sir William White must rank very high.

If, however, we examine the inner cause of the success of the diplomacy
of Hudson and White we must assign it in part to the mistakes of the
liberating Powers, France and Russia. Napoleon III., by requiring the
cession of Savoy and Nice, and by revealing his design to Gallicise the
Italian Peninsula, speedily succeeded in alienating the Italians. The
action of Russia, in compelling Bulgaria to give up the Dobrudscha as an
equivalent to the part of Bessarabia which she took from Roumania, also
strained the sense of gratitude of those peoples; and the conduct of
Muscovite agents in Bulgaria provoked in that Principality feelings
bitterer than those which the Italians felt at the loss of Savoy and
Nice. So true is it that in public as in private life the manner in
which a wrong is inflicted counts for more than the wrong itself. It was
on this sense of resentment (misnamed "ingratitude" by the "liberators")
that British diplomacy worked with telling effect in both cases. It
conferred on the "liberated" substantial benefits; but their worth was
doubled by the contrast which they offered to the losses or the
irritation consequent on the actions of Napoleon III. and of
Alexander III.

To the present writer it seems that the great achievements of Sir
William White were, first, that he kept the Sultan quiet (a course, be
it remarked, from which that nervous recluse was never averse) when
Nelidoff sought to hound him on against Bulgaria; and, still more, that
he helped to bring about a good understanding between Constantinople and
Sofia. In view of the hatred which Abdul Hamid bore to England after
her intervention in Egypt in 1882, this was certainly a great diplomatic
achievement; but possibly Abdul Hamid hoped to reap advantages on the
Nile from his complaisance to British policy in the Balkans.

The outcome of it all was the framing of a Turco-Bulgarian Convention
(February 1, 1886) whereby the Porte recognised Prince Alexander as
Governor of Eastern Roumelia for a term of five years; a few border
districts in Rhodope, inhabited by Moslems, were ceded to the Sultan,
and (wonder of wonders!) Turkey and Bulgaria concluded an offensive and
defensive alliance. In case of foreign aggression on Bulgaria, Turkish
troops would be sent thither to be commanded by the Prince; if Turkey
were invaded, Bulgarian troops would form part of the Sultan's army
repelling the invader. In other respects the provisions of the Treaty of
Berlin remained in force for Southern Bulgaria[210].

[Footnote 210: Parl. Papers, Turkey, No. 2 (1886).]

On that same day, as it chanced, the Salisbury Cabinet resigned office,
and Mr. Gladstone became Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery taking the
portfolio for Foreign Affairs. This event produced little variation in
Britain's Eastern policy, and that statement will serve to emphasise the
importance of the change of attitude of the Conservative party towards
those affairs in the years 1878-85--a change undoubtedly due in the main
to the Marquis of Salisbury.

In the official notes of the Earl of Rosebery there is manifest somewhat
more complaisance to Russia, as when on February 12 he instructed Sir
William White to advise the Porte to modify its convention with Bulgaria
by abandoning the stipulation as to mutual military aid. Doubtless this
advice was sound. It coincided with the known opinions of the Court of
Vienna; and at the same time Russia formally declared that she could
never accept that condition[211]. As Germany took the same view the
Porte agreed to expunge the obnoxious clause. The Government of the Czar
also objected to the naming of Prince Alexander in the Convention. This
unlooked-for slight naturally aroused the indignation of the Prince;
but as the British Government deferred to Russian views on this matter,
the Convention was finally signed at Constantinople on April 5, 1886.
The Powers, including Turkey, thereby recognised "the Prince of
Bulgaria" (not named) as Governor of Eastern Roumelia for a term of five
years, and referred the "Organic Statute" of that province to revision
by a joint Conference.

[Footnote 211: _Ibid_. pp. 96-98.]

The Prince submitted to this arrangement, provisional and humiliating
though it was. But the insults inflicted by Russia bound him the more
closely to his people; and at the united Parliament, where 182 members
out of the total 300 supported his Ministers, he advocated measures that
would cement the union. Bulgarian soon became the official language
throughout South Bulgaria, to the annoyance of the Greek and Turkish
minorities. But the chief cause of unrest continued to be the intrigues
of Russian agents.

The anger of the Czar at the success of his hated kinsman showed itself
in various ways. Not content with inflicting every possible slight and
disturbing the peace of Bulgaria through his agents, he even menaced
Europe with war over that question. At Sevastopol on May 19, he declared
that circumstances might compel him "to defend by force of arms the
dignity of the Empire"--a threat probably aimed at Bulgaria and Turkey.
On his return to Moscow he received an enthusiastic welcome from the
fervid Slavophils of the old Russian capital, the Mayor expressing in
his address the hope that "the cross of Christ will soon shine on St.
Sofia" at Constantinople. At the end of June the Russian Government
repudiated the clause of the Treaty of Berlin constituting Batoum a free
port[212]. Despite a vigorous protest by Lord Rosebery against this
infraction of treaty engagements, the Czar and M. de Giers held to their
resolve, evidently by way of retort to the help given from London to the
union of the two Bulgarias.

[Footnote 212: Parl. Papers, Russia (1886), p. 828.]

The Dual Monarchy, especially Hungary, also felt the weight of Russia's
displeasure in return for the sympathy manifested for the Prince at
Pesth and Vienna; and but for the strength which the friendship of
Germany afforded, that Power would almost certainly have encountered war
from the irate potentate of the North.

Turkey, having no champion, was in still greater danger; her conduct in
condoning the irregularities of Prince Alexander was as odious to
Alexander III. as the atrocities of her Bashi-bazouks ten years before
had been to his more chivalrous sire. It is an open secret that during
the summer of 1886 the Czar was preparing to deal a heavy blow. The
Sultan evaded it by adroitly shifting his ground and posing as a
well-wisher of the Czar, whereupon M. Nelidoff, the Russian ambassador
at Constantinople, proposed an offensive and defensive alliance, and
went to the length of suggesting that they should wage war against
Austria and England in order to restore the Sultan's authority over
Bosnia and Egypt at the expense of those intrusive Powers. How far
negotiations went on this matter and why they failed is not known. The
ordinary explanation, that the Czar forbore to draw the sword because of
his love of peace, hardly tallies with what is now known of his
character and his diplomacy. It is more likely that he was appeased by
the events now to be described, and thereafter attached less importance
to a direct intervention in Balkan affairs.

No greater surprise has happened in this generation than the kidnapping
of Prince Alexander by officers of the army which he had lately led to
victory. Yet the affair admits of explanation. Certain of their number
nourished resentment against him for his imperfect recognition of their
services during the Servian War, and for the introduction of German
military instructors at its close. Among the malcontents was Bendereff,
the hero of Slivnitza, who, having been guilty of discourtesy to the
Prince, was left unrewarded. On this discontented knot of men Russian
intriguers fastened themselves profitably, with the result that one
regiment at least began to waver in its allegiance.

A military plot was held in reserve as a last resort. In the first
place, a Russian subject, Captain Nabokoff, sought to simplify the
situation by hiring some Montenegrin desperadoes, and by seeking to
murder or carry off the Prince as he drew near to Bourgas during a tour
in Eastern Bulgaria. This plan came to light through the fidelity of a
Bulgarian peasant, whereupon Nabokoff and a Montenegrin priest were
arrested (May 18). At once the Russian Consul at that seaport appeared,
demanded the release of the conspirators, and, when this was refused,
threatened the Bulgarian authorities if justice took its course. It is
not without significance that the Czar's warlike speech at Sevastopol
startled the world on the day after the arrest of the conspirators at
Bourgas. Apparently the arrest of Nabokoff impelled the Czar of all the
Russias to uphold the dignity of his Empire by hurling threats against a
State which protected itself from conspiracy. The champion of order in
Russia thereby figured as the abettor of plotters in the Balkans.

The menaces of the Northern Power availed to defer the trial of the
conspirators, and the affair was still undecided when the conspirators
at Sofia played their last card. Bendereff was at that time acting as
Minister of War, and found means to spread broadcast a rumour that
Servia was arming as if for war. Sending northwards some faithful troops
to guard against this baseless danger, he left the capital at the mercy
of the real enemy.

On August 21, when all was ready, the Struma Regiment hastily marched
back by night to Sofia, disarmed the few faithful troops there in
garrison, surrounded the palace of the Prince, while the ringleaders
burst into his bedchamber. He succeeded in fleeing through a corridor
which led to the garden, only to be met with levelled bayonets and cries
of hatred. The leaders thrust him into a corner, tore a sheet out of the
visitors' book which lay on a table close by, and on it hastily scrawled
words implying abdication; the Prince added his signature, along with
the prayer, "God save Bulgaria." At dawn the mutineers forced him into a
carriage, Bendereff and his accomplices crowding round to dismiss him
with jeers and screen him from the sight of the public. Thence he was
driven at the utmost speed through byways towards the Danube. There the
conspirators had in readiness his own yacht, which they had seized, and
carried him down the stream towards Russian territory.

The outburst of indignation with which the civilised world heard of this
foul deed had its counterpart in Bulgaria. So general and so keen was
the reprobation (save in the Russian and Bismarckian Press) that the
Russian Government took some steps to dissociate itself from the plot,
while profiting by its results. On August 24, when the Prince was put on
shore at Reni, the Russian authorities kept him under guard, and that,
too, despite an order of the Czar empowering him to "continue his
journey exactly as he might please." Far from this, he was detained for
some little time, and then was suffered to depart by train only in a
northerly direction. He ultimately entered Austrian territory by way of
Lemberg in Galicia, on August 27. The aim of the St. Petersburg
Government evidently was to give full time for the conspirators at Sofia
to consolidate their power[213].

[Footnote 213: A. von Huhn, _op. cit._ chap. iv.]

Meanwhile, by military display, the distribution of money, and a _Te
Deum_ at the Cathedral for "liberation from Prince Battenberg," the
mutineers sought to persuade the men of Sofia that peace and prosperity
would infallibly result from the returning favour of the Czar. The
populace accepted the first tokens of his good-will and awaited
developments. These were not promising for the mutineers. The British
Consul at Philippopolis, Captain Jones, on hearing of the affair,
hurried to the commander of the garrison, General Mutkuroff, and
besought him to crush the plotters[214]. The General speedily enlisted
his own troops and those in garrison elsewhere on the side of the
Prince, with the result that a large part of the army refused to take
the oath of allegiance to the new Russophil Ministry, composed of
trimmers like Bishop Clement and Zankoff. Karaveloff also cast in his
influence against them.

[Footnote 214: See Mr. Minchin's account in the _Morning Advertiser_ for
September 23, 1886.]

Above all, Stambuloff worked furiously for the Prince; and when a mitred
Vicar of Bray held the seals of office and enjoyed the official counsels
of traitors and place-hunters, not all the prayers of the Greek Church
and the gold of Russian agents could long avail to support the
Government against the attacks of that strong-willed, clean-handed
patriot. Shame at the disgrace thus brought on his people doubled his
powers; and, with the aid of all that was best in the public life of
Bulgaria, he succeeded in sweeping Clement and his Comus rout back to
their mummeries and their underground plots. So speedy was the reverse
of fortune that the new Provisional Government succeeded in thwarting
the despatch of a Russian special Commissioner, General Dolgorukoff,
through whom Alexander III. sought to bestow the promised blessings on
that "much-tried" Principality.

The voice of Bulgaria now made itself heard. There was but one cry--for
the return of Prince Alexander. At once he consented to fulfil his
people's desire; and, travelling by railway through Bukharest, he
reached the banks of the Danube and set foot on his yacht, not now a
prisoner, but the hero of the German, Magyar, and Balkan peoples. At
Rustchuk officers and deputies bore him ashore shoulder-high to the
enthusiastic people. He received a welcome even from the Consul-General
for Russia--a fact which led him to take a false step. Later in the day,
when Stambuloff was not present, he had an interview with this agent,
and then sent a telegram to the Czar, announcing his return, his thanks
for his friendly reception by Russia's chief agent, and his readiness to
accept the advice of General Dolgorukoff. The telegram ended thus:--

     I should be happy to be able to give to Your Majesty the
     definitive proof of the devotion with which I am animated
     towards Your august person. The monarchical principle forces
     me to re-establish the reign of law (_la legalite_) in
     Bulgaria and Roumelia. Russia having given me my crown, I am
     ready to give it back into the hands of its Sovereign.

To this the Czar sent the following telegraphic reply, and allowed it to
appear at once in the official paper at St. Petersburg:--

     I have received Your Highness's telegram. I cannot approve
     your return to Bulgaria, as I foresee the sinister
     consequences that it may bring on Bulgaria, already so much
     tried. The mission of General Dolgorukoff is now inopportune.
     I shall abstain from it in the sad state of things to which
     Bulgaria is reduced so long as you remain there. Your
     Highness will understand what you have to do. I reserve my
     judgment as to what is commanded me by the venerated memory
     of my father, the interests of Russia, and the peace of the

[Footnote 215: A. von Huhn, _The Kidnapping of Prince Alexander_, chap.
xi. (London, 1887). Article III. of the Treaty of Berlin ran thus: "The
Prince of Bulgaria shall be freely elected by the population and
confirmed by the Sublime Porte, with the assent of the Powers." Russia
had no right to _choose_ the Prince, and her _assent_ to his election
was only that of _one_ among the six Great Powers. The mistake of Prince
Alexander is therefore inexplicable.]

What led the Prince to use the extraordinary words contained in the last
sentence of his telegram can only be conjectured. The substance of his
conversation with the Russian Consul-General is not known; and until the
words of that official are fully explained he must be held open to the
suspicion of having played on the Prince a diplomatic version of the
confidence trick. Another version, that of M. Elie de Cyon, is that he
acted on instructions from the Russian Chancellor, de Giers, who
believed that the Czar would relent. On the contrary, he broke loose,
and sent the answer given above[216].

[Footnote 216: _Histoire de l'Entente franco-russe_, by Elie de Cyon, p.

It is not surprising that, after receiving the Czar's retort, the Prince
seemed gloomy and depressed where all around him were full of joy. At
Tirnova and Philippopolis he had the same reception; but an attempt to
derail his train on the journey to Sofia showed that the malice of his
foes was still unsated. The absence of the Russian and German Consuls
from the State reception accorded to the Prince at the capital on
September 3 showed that he had to reckon with the hostility or
disapprobation of those Governments; and there was the ominous fact that
the Russian agent at Sofia had recently intervened to prevent the
punishment of the mutineers and Bishop Clement. Few, however, were
prepared for what followed. On entering his palace, the Prince called
his officers about him and announced that, despairing of overcoming the
antipathy of the Czar to him, he must abdicate. Many of them burst into
tears, and one of them cried, "Without your Highness there is no

This action, when the Prince seemed at the height of popularity, caused
intense astonishment. The following are the reasons that probably
dictated it. Firstly, he may have felt impelled to redeem the pledges
which he too trustfully made to the Czar in his Rustchuk telegram, and
of which that potentate took so unchivalrous an advantage. Secondly, the
intervention of Russia to protect the mutineers from their just
punishment betokened her intention to foment further plots. In this
intervention, strange to say, she had the support of the German
Government, Bismarck using his influence at Berlin persistently against
the Prince, in order to avert the danger of war, which once or twice
seemed to be imminent between Russia and Germany.

Further, we may note that Austria and the other States had no desire to
court an attack from the Eastern Power, on account of a personal affair
between the two Alexanders. Great Britain also was at that time too
hampered by domestic and colonial difficulties to be able to do more
than offer good wishes.

Thus the weakness or the weariness of the States friendly to Bulgaria
left the Czar a free hand in the personal feud on which he set such
store. Accordingly, on September 7, the Prince left Bulgaria amidst the
lamentations of that usually stolid people and the sympathy of manly
hearts throughout the world. At Buda-Pesth and London there were
ominous signs that the Czar must not push his triumph further. Herr
Tisza at the end of the month assured the Hungarian deputies that, if
the Sultan did not choose to restore the old order of things in Southern
Bulgaria, no other Power had the right to intervene there by force of
arms. Lord Salisbury, also, at the Lord Mayor's banquet, on November 9,
inveighed with startling frankness against the "officers debauched by
foreign gold," who had betrayed their Prince. He further stated that all
interest in foreign affairs centred in Bulgaria, and expressed the
belief that the freedom of that State would be assured.

These speeches were certainly intended as a warning to Russia and a
protest against her action in Bulgaria. After the departure of Prince
Alexander, the Czar hit upon the device of restoring order to that
"much-tried" country through the instrumentality of General Kaulbars, a
brother of the General who had sought to kidnap Prince Alexander three
years before. It is known that the despatch of the younger Kaulbars was
distasteful to the more pacific and Germanophil chancellor, de Giers,
who is said to have worked against the success of his mission. Such at
least is the version given by his private enemies, Katkoff and de
Cyon[217]. Kaulbars soon succeeded in adding to the reputation of his
family. On reaching Sofia, on September 25, he ordered the liberation of
the military plotters still under arrest, and the adjournment of the
forthcoming elections for the Sobranje; otherwise Russia would not
regard them as legal. The Bulgarian Regents, Stambuloff at their head,
stoutly opposed these demands and fixed the elections for October the
10th; whereupon Kaulbars treated the men of Sofia, and thereafter of all
the chief towns, to displays of bullying rhetoric, which succeeded in
blotting out all memories of Russian exploits of nine years before[218].

[Footnote 217: Elie de Cyon, _Histoire de l'Entente franco-russe_, pp.

[Footnote 218: The Russophil Drandar (_op. cit._ p. 214) calls these
demands "remarqueblement moderees et sages"! For further details of
Kaulbars' electioneering devices see Minchin, _op. cit._ pp. 327-330.]

Despite his menace, that 100,000 Russian troops were ready to occupy
Bulgaria, despite the murder of four patriots by his bravos at Dubnitza,
Bulgaria flung back the threats by electing 470 supporters of
independence and unity, as against 30 Russophils and 20 deputies of
doubtful views. The Sobranje met at Tirnova, and, disregarding his
protest, proceeded to elect Prince Waldemar of Denmark; it then
confirmed Stambuloff in his almost dictatorial powers. The Czar's
influence over the Danish Royal House led to the Prince promptly
refusing that dangerous honour, which it is believed that Russia then
designed for the Prince of Mingrelia, a dignitary of Russian Caucasia.

The aim of the Czar and of Kaulbars now was to render all government
impossible; but they had to deal with a man far more resolute and astute
than Prince Alexander. Stambuloff and his countrymen fairly wearied out
Kaulbars, until that imperial agent was suddenly recalled (November 19).
He also ordered the Russian Consuls to withdraw.

It is believed that the Czar recalled him partly because of the obvious
failure of a hectoring policy, but also owing to the growing
restlessness of Austria-Hungary, England, and Italy at Russia's
treatment of Bulgaria. For several months European diplomacy turned on
the question of Bulgaria's independence; and here Russia could not yet
count on a French alliance. As has been noted above, Alexander III. and
de Giers had tied their hands by the alliance contracted at Skiernewice
in 1884; and the Czar had reason to expect that the Austro-German
compact would hold good against him if he forced on his solution of the
Balkan Question.

Probably it was this consideration which led him to trust to underground
means for assuring the dependence of Bulgaria. If so, he was again
disappointed. Stambuloff met his agents everywhere, above ground and
below ground. That son of an innkeeper at Tirnova now showed a power of
inspiring men and controlling events equal to that of the innkeeper of
the Pusterthal, Andreas Hofer. The discouraged Bulgarians everywhere
responded to his call; at Rustchuk they crushed a rising of Russophil
officers, and Stambuloff had nine of the rebels shot (March 7, 1887).
Thereafter he acted as dictator and imprisoned numbers of suspects. His
countrymen put up with the loss of civic freedom in order to secure the
higher boon of national independence.

In the main, however, the freedom of Bulgaria from Russian control was
due to events transpiring in Central Europe. As will appear in Chapter
XII. of this work, the Czar and de Giers became convinced, early in the
year 1887, that Bismarck was preparing for war against France, and they
determined to hold aloof from other questions, in order to be free to
checkmate the designs of the war party at Berlin. The organ usually
inspired by de Giers, the _Nord_, uttered an unmistakable warning on
February 20, 1887, and even stated that, with this aim in view, Russia
would let matters take their course in Bulgaria.

Thus, once again, the complexities of the general situation promoted the
cause of freedom in the Balkans; and the way was cleared for a resolute
man to mount the throne at Sofia. In the course of a tour to the
European capitals, a Bulgarian delegation found that man. The envoys
were informed that Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg, a grandson of Louis
Philippe on the spindle-side, would welcome the dangerous honour. He was
young, ambitious, and, as events were to prove, equally tactful and
forceful according to circumstances. In vain did Russia seek to prevent
his election by pushing on the Sultan to intervene. Abdul Hamid was not
the man to let himself long be the catspaw of Russia, and now invited
the Powers to name one or two candidates for the throne of Bulgaria.
Stambuloff worked hard for the election of Prince Ferdinand; and on July
7, 1887, he was unanimously elected by the Sobranje. Alone among the
Great Powers, Russia protested against his election and threw many
difficulties in his path. In order to please the Czar, the Sultan added
his protest; but this act was soon seen to be merely a move in the
diplomatic game.

Limits of space, however, preclude the possibility of noting later
events in the history of Bulgaria, such as the coolness that clouded the
relations of the Prince to Stambuloff, the murder of the latter, and the
final recognition of the Prince by the Russian Government after the
"conversion" of his little son, Boris, to the Greek Church (Feb. 1896).
In this curious way was fulfilled the prophetic advice given by Bismarck
to the Prince not long after his acceptance of the crown of Bulgaria:
"Play the dead (_faire mort_). . . . Let yourself be driven gently by the
stream, and keep yourself, as hitherto, above water. Your greatest ally
is time--force of habit. Avoid everything that might irritate your
enemies. Unless you give them provocation, they cannot do you much harm,
and in course of time the world will become accustomed to see you on the
throne of Bulgaria[219]."

[Footnote 219: _Personal Reminiscences of Prince Bismarck_, by S.
Whitman, p. 179.]

Time has worked on behalf of Bulgaria, and has helped to strengthen this
Benjamin of the European family. Among the events which have made the
chief States of to-day, none are more remarkable than those which
endowed a population of downtrodden peasants with a passionate desire
for national existence. Thanks to the liberating armies of Russia, to
the prowess of Bulgarians themselves, to the inspiring personality of
Prince Alexander and the stubborn tenacity of Stambuloff, the young
State gained a firm grip on life. But other and stranger influences were
at work compelling that people to act for itself; these are to be found
in the perverse conduct of Alexander III. and of his agents. The policy
of Russia towards Bulgaria may be characterised by a remark made by Sir
Robert Morier to Sir M. Grant Duff in 1888: "Russia is a great
bicephalic creature, having one head European, and the other Asiatic,
but with the persistent habit of turning its European face to the East,
and its Asiatic face to the West[220]." Asiatic methods, put in force
against Slavised Tartars, have certainly played no small part in the
upbuilding of this youngest of the European States.

[Footnote 220: Sir M. Grant Duff, _Notes from a Diary (1886-88)_, vol.
ii. p. 139.]

In taking leave of the Balkan peoples, we may note the strange tendency
of events towards equipoise in the Europe of the present age. Thirty
years ago the Turkish Empire seemed at the point of dissolution. To-day
it is stronger than ever; and this cause is to be found, not so much in
the watchful cunning of Abdul Hamid, as in the vivifying principle of
nationality, which has made of Bulgaria and Roumania two strong barriers
against Russian aggression in that quarter. The feuds of those States
have been replaced by something like friendship, which in its turn will
probably ripen into alliance. Together they could put 250,000 good
troops in the field--that is, a larger force than that which the Turks
had in Europe during the war with Russia. Turkey is therefore fully as
safe as she was under Abdul Aziz.

An enlightened ruler could consolidate her position still further. Just
as Austria has gained in strength by having Venetia as a friendly and
allied land, rather than a subject province heaving with discontent, so,
too, it is open to the Porte to secure the alliance of the Balkan States
by treating them in an honourable way, and by according good government
to Macedonia.

Possibly the future may see the formation of a federation of all the
States of European Turkey. If so, Russia will lose all foothold in a
quarter where she formerly had the active support of three-fourths of
the population. However that may be, it is certain that her mistakes in
and after the year 1878 have profoundly modified the Eastern Question.
They have served to cancel those which, as it seems to the present
writer, Lord Beaconsfield committed in the years 1876-77; and the
skilful diplomacy of Lord Salisbury and Sir William White has regained
for England the prestige which she then lost among the rising peoples of
the Peninsula.

The final solution of the tangled racial problems of Mace donia cannot
be long deferred, in spite of the timorous selfishness of the Powers who
incurred treaty obligations for the welfare of that land; and, when that
question can be no longer postponed or explained away, it is to be hoped
that the British people, taking heed of the lessons of the past, will
insist on a solution that will conform to the claims of humanity, which
have been proved to be those of enlightened statesmanship[221].

[Footnote 221: For the recent developments of the Macedonian Question,
see _Turkey in Europe_, by "Odysseus" (1900); _the Middle Eastern
Question_, by V. Chirol, 18s. net (Murray); _A Tour in Macedonia_, by
G.F. Abbot (1903); _The Burden of the Balkans_, by Miss Edith Durham
(1904); _The Balkans from Within_, by R. Wyon (1904); _The Balkan
Question_, edited by L. Villari (1904); _Critical Times in Turkey_, by
G. King-Lewis (1904); _Pro Macedonia_, by V. Berard (Paris, 1904); _La
Peninsule balkanique_, by Capitaine Lamouche (Paris, 1899).]



                  THE HOUSE OF ROMANOFF

                        Catharine II.
                   |                   |
              Alexander I.         Nicholas I.
             (1801-1825.)         (1825-1855.)
                         |             |             |            |
                   Alexander II.   Constantine.   Nicholas.   Michael.
      |            |            |        |            |           |
     Nicholas. Alexander III. Alexis.  Marie.      Sergius.      Paul.
     (Died in   (1881-1894.)         (Duchess of (Assassinated
     1865.)        |                 Edinburgh.) Feb. 17, 1905.)
              Nicholas II.

The Whig statesman, Charles James Fox, once made the profound though
seemingly paradoxical assertion that the most dangerous part of a
Revolution was the Restoration that ended it. In a similar way we may
hazard the statement that the greatest danger brought about by war lies
in the period of peace immediately following. Just as the strain
involved by any physical effort is most felt when the muscles and nerves
resume their normal action, so, too, the body politic is liable to
depression when once the time of excitement is over and the artificial
activities of war give place to the tiresome work of paying the bill.
England after Waterloo, France and Germany after the war of 1870, afford
examples of this truth; but never perhaps has it been more signally
illustrated than in the Russia of 1878-82.

There were several reasons why the reaction should be especially sharp
in Russia. The Slav peoples that form the great bulk of her population
are notoriously sensitive. Shut up for nearly half the year by the
rigours of winter, they naturally develop habits of brooding
introspection or coarse animalism--witness the plaintive strains of
their folk-songs, the pessimism that haunts their literature, and the
dram-drinking habits of the peasantry. The Muscovite temperament and the
Muscovite climate naturally lead to idealist strivings against the
hardships of life or a dull grovelling amongst them. Melancholy or vodka
is the outcome of it all.

The giant of the East was first aroused to a consciousness of his
strength by the invasion of Napoleon the Great. The comparative ease
with which the Grand Army was engulfed left on the national mind of
Russia a consciousness of pride never to be lost even amidst the cruel
disappointments of the Crimean War. Holy Russia had once beaten back the
forces of Europe marshalled by the greatest captain of all time. She was
therefore a match for the rest of the Continent. Such was the belief of
every patriotic Muscovite. As for the Turks, they were not worthy of
entering the lists against the soldiers of the Czar. Did not every
decade bring further proofs of the decline of the Ottomans in governing
capacity and military prowess? They might harry Bulgarian peasants and
win laurels over the Servian militia. But how could that bankrupt State
and its undisciplined hordes hold up against the might of Russia and the
fervour of her liberating legions?

After the indulgence of these day dreams the disillusionment caused by
the events at Plevna came the more cruelly. One general after another
became the scapegoat for the popular indignation. Then the General
Staff was freely censured, and whispers went round that the Grand Duke
Nicholas, brother of the Czar, was not only incompetent to conduct a
great war, but guilty of underhand dealings with the contractors who
defrauded the troops and battened on the public funds. Letters from the
rank and file showed that the bread was bad, the shoes were rotten, the
rifles outclassed by those of the Turks, and that trenching-tools were
lacking for many precious weeks[222]. Then, too, the Bulgarian peasants
were found to be in a state of comfort superior to that of the bulk of
their liberators--a discovery which aroused in the Russian soldiery
feelings like those of the troops of the old French monarchy when they
fought side by side with the soldiers of Washington for the triumph of
democracy in the New World. In both cases the lessons were stored up, to
be used when the champions of liberty returned home and found the old
order of things clanking on as slowly and rustily as ever.

[Footnote 222: _Russia Before and After the War_, translated by E.F.
Taylor (London, 1880), chap. xvi.: "We have been cheated by blockheads,
robbed by people whose incapacity was even greater than their

Finally, there came the crushing blow of the Treaty of Berlin. The
Russian people had fought for an ideal: they longed to see the cross
take the place of the crescent which for five centuries had flashed
defiance to Christendom from the summit of St. Sofia at Constantinople.
But Britain's ironclads, Austria's legions, and German diplomacy barred
the way in the very hour of triumph; and Russia drew back. To the Slav
enthusiasts of Moscow even the Treaty of San Stefano had seemed a
dereliction of a sacred duty; that of Berlin seemed the most
cowardly of betrayals. As the Princess Radziwill confesses in her
_Recollections_--that event made Nihilism possible.

As usual, the populace, whether reactionary Slavophils or Liberals of
the type of Western Europe, vented its spleen on the Government. For a
time the strongest bureaucracy in Europe was driven to act on the
defensive. The Czar returned stricken with asthma and prematurely aged
by the privations and cares of the campaign. The Grand Duke Nicholas was
recalled from his command, and, after bearing the signs of studied
hostility of the Czarevitch, was exiled to his estates in February 1879.
The Government inspired contempt rather than fear; and a new spirit of
independence pervaded all classes. This was seen even as far back as
February 1878, in the acquittal of Vera Zazulich, a lady who had shot
the Chief of the Police at St. Petersburg, by a jury consisting of
nobles and high officials; and the verdict, given in the face of damning
evidence, was generally approved. Similar crimes occurred nearly every
week[223]. Everything therefore, favoured the designs of those who
sought to overthrow all government. In a word, the outcome of the war
was Nihilism.

[Footnote 223: _Ibid_. chap. xvii. The Government thereafter dispensed
with the ordinary forms of justice for political crimes and judged them
by special Commissions.]

The father of this sombre creed was a wealthy Russian landlord named
Bakunin; or rather, he shares this doubtful honour with the Frenchman
Prudhon. Bakunin, who was born in 1814, entered on active life in the
time of soulless repression inaugurated by the Czar Nicholas I.
(1825-1855). Disgusted by Russian bureaucracy, the youth eagerly drank
in the philosophy of Western Europe, especially that of Hegel. During a
residence at Paris, he embraced and developed Prudhon's creed that
"property is theft," and sought to prepare the way for a crusade against
all Governments by forming the Alliance of Social Democracy (1869),
which speedily became merged in the famous "Internationale." Driven
successively from France and Central Europe, he was finally handed over
to the Russians and sent to Siberia; thence he escaped to Japan and came
to England, finally settling in Switzerland. His writings and speeches
did much to rouse the Slavs of Austria, Poland, and Russia to a sense of
their national importance, and of the duty of overthrowing the
Governments that cramped their energies.

As in the case of Prudhon his zeal for the non-existent and hatred of
the actual bordered on madness, as when he included most of the results
of art, literature, and science in his comprehensive anathemas.
Nevertheless his crusade for destruction appealed to no small part of
the sensitive peoples of the Slavonic race, who, differing in many
details, yet all have a dislike of repression and a longing to have
their "fling[224]." A union in a Panslavonic League for the overthrow of
the Houses of Romanoff, Hapsburg, and Hohenzollern promised to satisfy
the vague longings of that much-baffled race, whose name, denoting
"glorious," had become the synonym for servitude of the lowest type.
Such was the creed that disturbed Eastern and Central Europe throughout
the period 1847-78, now and again developing a kind of iconoclastic
frenzy among its votaries.

[Footnote 224: For this peculiarity and a consequent tendency to
extremes, see Prof. G. Brandes _Impressions of Russia_, p. 22.]

This revolutionary creed absorbed another of a different kind. The
second creed was scientific and self-centred; it had its origin in the
Liberal movement of the sixties, when reforms set in, even in
governmental circles. The Czar, Alexander II., in 1861 freed the serfs
from the control of their lords, and allotted to them part of the plots
which they had hitherto worked on a servile tenure. For various reasons,
which we cannot here detail, the peasants were far from satisfied with
this change, weighted, as it was, by somewhat onerous terms, irksome
restrictions, and warped sometimes by dishonest or hostile officials.
Limited powers of local government were also granted in 1864 to the
local Zemstvos or land-organisations; but these again failed to satisfy
the new cravings for a real system of self-government; and the Czar,
seeing that his work produced more ferment than gratitude, began at the
close of the sixties to fall back into the old absolutist ways[225].

[Footnote 225: See Wallace's _Russia_, 2 vols.; _Russia under the
Tzars_, by "Stepniak," vol. ii. chap. xxix.; also two lectures on
Russian affairs by Prof. Vinogradoff, in _Lectures on the History of the
Nineteenth Century_ (Camb. 1902).]

At that time, too, a band of writers, of whom the novelist Turgenieff
is the best known, were extolling the triumphs of scientific research
and the benefits of Western democracy. He it was who adapted to
scientific or ethical use the word "Nihilism" (already in use in France
to designate Prudhon's theories), so as to represent the revolt of the
individual against the religious creed and patriarchal customs of old
Russia. "The fundamental principle of Nihilism," says "Stepniak," "was
absolute individualism. It was the negation, in the name of individual
liberty, of all the obligations imposed upon the individual by society,
by family life, and by religion[226]."

[Footnote 226: _Underground Russia_, by "Stepniak," Introduction, p. 4.
Or, as Turgenieff phrased it in one of his novels: "a Nihilist is a man
who submits to no authority, who accepts not a single principle upon
faith merely, however high such a principle may stand in the eyes of
men." In short, a Nihilist was an extreme individualist and

For a time these disciples of Darwin and Herbert Spencer were satisfied
with academic protests against autocracy; but the uselessness of such
methods soon became manifest; the influence of professors and
philosophic Epicureans could never permeate the masses of Russia and
stir them to their dull depths. What "the intellectuals" needed was a
creed which would appeal to the many.

This they gained mainly from Bakunin. He had pointed the way to what
seemed a practical policy, the ownership of the soil of Russia by the
Mirs, the communes of her myriad villages. As to methods, he advocated a
propaganda of violence. "Go among the people," he said, and convert them
to your aims. The example of the Paris Communists in 1871 enforced his
pleas; and in the subsequent years thousands of students, many of them
of the highest families, quietly left their homes, donned the peasants'
garb, smirched their faces, tarred their hands, and went into the
villages or the factories in the hope of stirring up the thick
sedimentary deposit of the Russian system[227]. In many cases their
utmost efforts ended in failure, the tragi-comedy of which is finely
set forth in Turgenieff's _Virgin Soil_. Still more frequently their
goal proved to be--Siberia. But these young men and women did not toil
for nought. Their efforts hastened the absorption of philosophic
Nihilism in the creed of Prudhon and Bakunin. The Nihilist of
Turgenieff's day had been a hedonist of the clubs, or a harmless weaver
of scientific Utopias; the Nihilist of the new age was that most
dangerous of men, a desperado girt with a fighting creed.

[Footnote 227: _Russia in Revolution_, by G.H. Perriss, pp. 204-206,
210-214; Arnaudo, _I Nihilismo_ (Turin, 1879). See, too, the chapters
added by Sir D.M. Wallace to the new edition of his work
_Russia_ (1905).]

The fusing of these two diverse elements was powerfully helped on by the
white heat of indignation that glowed throughout Russia when details of
the official peculation and mismanagement of the war with Turkey became
known. Everything combined to discredit the Government; and enthusiasts
of all kinds felt that the days for scientific propaganda and stealthy
agitation were past. Voltaire must give way to Marat. It was time for
the bomb and the dagger to do their work.

The new Nihilists organised an executive committee for the removal of
the most obnoxious officials. Its success was startling. To name only a
few of their chief deeds: on August 15, 1878, a Chief of the Police was
slain near one of the Imperial Palaces at the capital; and, in February
1879, the Governor of Kharkov was shot, the Nihilists succeeding in
announcing his condemnation by placards mysteriously posted up in every
large town. In vain did the Government intervene and substitute a
military Commission in place of trial by jury. Exile and hanging only
made the Nihilists more daring, and on more than one occasion the Czar
nearly fell a victim to their desperadoes.

The most astounding of these attempts was the explosion of a mine under
the banqueting-hall of the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg on the
evening of February 17, 1880, when the Imperial family escaped owing to
a delay in the arrival of the Grand Duke of Hesse. Ten soldiers were
killed and forty-eight wounded in and near the guard-room.

The Czar answered outrage by terrorism. A week after this outrage he
issued a ukase suspending the few remaining rights of local
self-government hitherto spared by the reaction, and vesting practically
all executive powers in a special Commission, presided over by General
Loris Melikoff. This man was an Armenian by descent, and had
distinguished himself as commander in the recent war in Asia, the
capture of Kars being largely due to his dispositions. To these warlike
gifts, uncommon in the Armenians of to-day, he added administrative
abilities of a high order. Enjoying in a peculiar degree the confidence
of Alexander II., he was charged with the supervision of all political
trials and a virtual control of all the Governors-General of the Empire.
Thereupon the central committee of the Nihilists proclaimed war _a
outrance_ until the Czar conceded to a popularly elected National
Assembly the right to reform the life of Russia.

Here was the strength of the Nihilist party. By violent means it sought
to extort what a large proportion of the townsfolk wished for and found
no means of demanding in a lawful manner. Loris Melikoff, gifted with
the shrewdness of his race, saw that the Government would effect little
by terrorism alone. Wholesale arrests, banishment, and hangings only
added to the number of the disaffected, especially as the condemned went
to their doom with a calm heroism that inspired the desire of imitation
or revenge. Repression must clearly be accompanied by reforms that would
bridge over the gulf ever widening between the Government and the
thinking classes of the people. He began by persuading the Emperor to
release several hundreds of suspects and to relax the severe measures
adopted against the students of the Universities. Lastly, he sought to
induce the Czar to establish representative institutions, for which even
the nobles were beginning to petition. Little by little he familiarised
him with the plan of extending the system of the Zemstvos, so that there
should be elective councils for towns and provinces, as well as
delegations from the provincial _noblesse_. He did not propose to
democratise the central Government. In his scheme the deputies of
nobles and representatives of provinces and towns were to send delegates
to the Council of State, a purely consultative body which Alexander I.
had founded in 1802.

Despite the tentative nature of these proposals, and the favourable
reception accorded to them by the Council of State, the Czar for several
days withheld his assent. On March 9 he signed the ukase, only to
postpone its publication until March 12. Not until the morning of March
13 did he give the final order for its publication in the _Messager
Officiel_. It was his last act as lawgiver. On that day (March 1, and
Sunday, in the Russian calendar) he went to the usual military parade,
despite the earnest warnings of the Czarevitch and Loris Melikoff as to
a rumoured Nihilist plot. To their pleadings he returned the answer,
"Only Providence can protect me, and when it ceases to do so, these
Cossacks cannot possibly help." On his return, alongside of the
Catharine Canal, a bomb was thrown under his carriage; the explosion
tore the back off the carriage, injuring some of his Cossack escort, but
leaving the Emperor unhurt. True to his usual feelings of compassion, he
at once alighted to inquire after the wounded. This act cost him his
life. Another Nihilist quickly approached and flung a bomb right at his
feet. As soon as the smoke cleared away, Alexander was seen to be
frightfully mangled and lying in his blood. He could only murmur,
"Quick, home; carry to the Palace; there die." There, surrounded by his
dearest ones, Alexander II. breathed his last.

In striking down the liberator of the serfs when on the point of
recurring to earlier and better methods of rule, the Nihilists had dealt
the death-blow to their own cause. As soon as the details of the outrage
were known, the old love for the Czar welled forth: his imperfections in
public and private life, the seeming weakness of his foreign policy, and
his recent use of terrorism against the party of progress were
forgotten; and to the sensitive Russian nature, ever prone to extremes,
his figure stood forth as the friend of peace, and the would-be
reformer, hindered in his efforts by unwise advisers and an
untoward destiny.

       *       *       *       *       *

His successor was a man cast in a different mould. It is one of the
peculiarities of the recent history of Russia that her rulers have
broken away from the policy of their immediate predecessors, to recur to
that which they had discarded. The vague and generous Liberalism of
Alexander I. gave way in 1825 to the stern autocracy of his brother,
Nicholas I. This being shattered by the Crimean War, Alexander II.
harked back to the ideals of his uncle, and that, too, in the wavering
and unsatisfactory way which had brought woe to that ruler and unrest to
the people. Alexander III., raised to the throne by the bombs of the
revolutionaries, determined to mould his policy on the principles of
autocracy and orthodoxy. To pose as a reformer would have betokened fear
of the Nihilists; and the new ruler, gifted with a magnificent physique,
a narrow mind, and a stern will, ever based his conduct on elementary
notions that appealed to the peasant and the common soldier. In 1825
Nicholas I. had cowed the would-be rebels at his capital by a display of
defiant animal courage. Alexander III. resolved to do the like. He had
always been noted for a quiet persistence on which arguments fell in
vain. The nickname, "bullock," which his father early gave him
(shortened by his future subjects to "bull"), sufficiently summed up the
supremacy of the material over the mental that characterised the new
ruler. Bismarck, who knew him, had a poor idea of his abilities, and
summed up his character by saying that he looked at things from the
point of view of a Russian peasant[228]. That remark supplies a key to
Russian politics during the years 1881-94.

[Footnote 228: _Reminiscences of Bismarck_, by S. Whitman, p. 114;
_Bismarck: some Secret Pages of his History_, by M. Busch, vol. iii.
p. 150.]

At first, when informed by Melikoff that the late Czar was on the point
of making the constitutional experiment described above, Alexander III.
exclaimed, "Change nothing in the orders of my father. This shall count
as his will and testament." If he had held to this generous resolve the
world's history would perhaps have been very different. Had he published
his father's last orders; had he appealed to the people, like another
Antony over the corpse of Caear, the enthusiastic Slav temperament
would have eagerly responded to this mark of Imperial confidence.
Loyalty to the throne and fury against the Nihilists would have been the
dominant feelings of the age, impelling all men to make the wisest use
of the thenceforth sacred bequest of constitutional freedom.

The man who is believed to have blighted these hopes was Pobyedonosteff,
the Procureur of the highest Ecclesiastical Court of the Empire. To him
had been confided the education of the present Czar; and the fervour of
his orthodoxy, as well as the clear-cut simplicity of his belief in old
Muscovite customs, had gained complete ascendancy over the mind of his
pupil. Different estimates have been formed as to the character of
Pobyedonosteff. In the eyes of some he is a conscientious zealot who
believes in the mission of Holy Russia to vivify an age corrupted by
democracy and unbelief; others regard him as the Russian Macchiavelli,
straining his beliefs to an extent which his reason rejects, in order to
gain power through the mechanism of the autocracy and the Greek Church.
The thin face, passionless gaze, and coldly logical utterance bespeak
the politician rather than the zealot; yet there seems to be good reason
for believing that he is a "fanatic by reflection," not by
temperament[229]. A volume of _Reflections_ which he has given to the
world contains some entertaining judgments on the civilisation of the
West. It may be worth while to select a few, as showing the views of the
man who, through his pupil, influenced the fate of Russia and of
the world.

[Footnote 229: _Russia under Alexander III._, by H. von
Samson-Himmelstierna, Eng. ed. ch. vii.]

     Parliament is an institution serving for the satisfaction of
     the personal ambition, vanity, and self-interest of its
     members. The institution of Parliament is indeed one of the
     greatest illustrations of human delusion. . . . On the pediment
     of this edifice is inscribed, "All for the public good." This
     is no more than a lying formula: Parliamentarism is the
     triumph of egoism--its highest expression. . . .

     From the day that man first fell, falsehood has ruled the
     world--ruled it in human speech, in the practical business of
     life, in all its relations and institutions. But never did
     the Father of Lies spin such webs of falsehood of every kind
     as in this restless age. . . . The press is one of the falsest
     institutions of our time.

In the chapter "Power and Authority" the author holds up to the gaze of
a weary world a refreshing vision of a benevolent despotism which will
save men in spite of themselves.

     Power is the depository of truth, and needs, above all
     things, men of truth, of clear intellects, of strong
     understandings, and of sincere speech, who know the limits of
     "yes" and "no," and never transcend them, etc[230].

[Footnote 230: _Pobyedonosteff; his Reflections_, Eng. ed.]

To this Muscovite Laud was now entrusted the task of drafting a
manifesto in the interests of "power" and "truth."

Meanwhile the Nihilists themselves had helped on the cause of reaction.
Even before the funeral of Alexander II. their executive committee had
forwarded to his successor a document beseeching him to give up
arbitrary power and to take the people into his confidence. While
purporting to impose no conditions, the Nihilist chiefs urged him to
remember that two measures were needful preliminaries to any general
pacification, namely, a general amnesty of all political offenders, as
being merely "executors of a hard civic duty"; and "the convocation of
representatives of all the Russian people for a revision and reform of
all the private laws of the State, according to the will of the nation."
In order that the election of this Assembly might be a reality, the Czar
was pressed to grant freedom of speech and of public meetings[231].

[Footnote 231: The whole document is printed in the Appendix to
"Stepniak's" _Underground Russia_.]

It is difficult to say whether the Nihilists meant this document as an
appeal, or whether the addition of the demand of a general amnesty was
intended to anger the Czar and drive him into the arms of the
reactionaries. In either case, to press for the immediate pardon of his
father's murderers appeared to Alexander III. an unpardonable insult.
Thenceforth between him and the revolutionaries there could be no truce.
As a sop to quiet the more moderate reformers, he ordered the
appointment of a Commission, including a few members of Zemstvos, and
even one peasant, to inquire into the condition of public-houses and the
excessive consumption of vodka. Beyond this humdrum though useful
question the imperial reformer did not deign to move.

After a short truce, the revolutionaries speedily renewed their efforts
against the chief officials who were told off to crush them; but it soon
became clear that they had lost the good-will of the middle class. The
Liberals looked on them, not merely as the murderers of the liberating
Czar, but as the destroyers of the nascent constitution; and the masses
looked on unmoved while five of the accomplices in the outrage of March
13 were slowly done to death. In the next year twenty-two more suspects
were arrested on the same count; ten were hanged and the rest exiled to
Siberia. Despite these inroads into the little band of desperadoes, the
survivors compassed the murder of the Public Prosecutor as he sat in a
cafe at Odessa (March 30, 1882). On the other hand, the official police
were helped for a time by zealous loyalists, who formed a "Holy Band"
for secretly countermining the Nihilist organisation. These amateur
detectives, however, did little except appropriate large donations,
arrest a few harmless travellers and no small number of the secret
police force. The professionals thereupon complained to the Czar, who
suppressed the "Holy Band."

The events of the years 1883 and 1884 showed that even the army, on
which the Czar was bestowing every care, was permeated with Nihilism,
women having by their arts won over many officers to the revolutionary
cause. Poland, also, writhing with discontent under the Czar's stern
despotism, was worked on with success by their emissaries; and the
ardour of the Poles made the recruits especially dangerous to the
authorities, ever fearful of another revolt in that unhappy land.
Finally, the Czar was fain to shut himself up in nearly complete
seclusion in his palace at Gatchina, near St. Petersburg, or in his
winter retreat at Livadia, on the southern shores of the Crimea.

These facts are of more than personal and local importance. They
powerfully affected the European polity. These were the years which saw
the Bulgarian Question come to a climax; and the impotence of Russia
enabled that people and their later champions to press on to a solution
which would have been impossible had the Czar been free to strike as he
undoubtedly willed. For the present he favoured the cause of peace
upheld by his chancellor, de Giers; and in the autumn of the year 1884,
as will be shown in the following chapter, he entered into a compact at
Skiernewice, which virtually allotted to Bismarck the arbitration on all
urgent questions in the Balkans. As late as November 1885, we find Sir
Robert Morier, British ambassador at the Russian Court, writing
privately and in very homely phrase to his colleague at Constantinople,
Sir William White: "I am convinced Russia does not want a general war in
Europe about Turkey now, and that she is really suffering from a
gigantic _Katzenjammer_ (surfeit) caused by the last war[232]." It is
safe to say that Bulgaria largely owes her freedom from Russian control
to the Nihilists.

[Footnote 232: _Memoirs and Correspondence of Sir William White_, edited
by H.S. Edwards, ch. xviii.]

For the Czar the strain of prolonged warfare against unseen and
desperate foes was terrible. Surrounded by sentries, shadowed by secret
police, the lonely man yet persisted in governing with the assiduity and
thoroughness of the great Napoleon. He tried to pry into all the affairs
of his vast empire; and, as he held aloof even from his chief Ministers,
he insisted that they should send to him detailed reports on all the
affairs of State, foreign and domestic, military and naval, religious
and agrarian. What wonder that the Nihilists persisted in their efforts,
in the hope that even his giant strength must break down under the
crushing burdens of toil and isolation. That he held up so long shows
him to have been one of the strongest men and most persistent workers
known to history. He had but one source of inspiration, religious zeal,
and but one form of relaxation, the love of his devoted Empress.

It is needless to refer to the later phases of the revolutionary
movement. Despite their well-laid plans, the revolutionaries gradually
lost ground; and in 1892 even Stepniak confessed that they alone could
not hope to overthrow the autocracy. About that time, too, their party
began to split in twain, a younger group claiming that the old terrorist
methods must be replaced by economic propaganda of an advanced
socialistic type among the workers of the towns. For this new departure
and its results we must refer our readers to the new materials brought
to light by Sir D. Mackenzie Wallace in the new edition of his work
_Russia_ (1905).

Here we can point out only a few of the more general causes that
contributed to the triumph of the Czar. In the first place, the
difficulties in the way of common action among the proletariat of Russia
are very great. Millions of peasants, scattered over vast plains, where
the great struggle is ever against the forces of nature, cannot
effectively combine. Students of history will observe that even where
the grievances are mainly agrarian, as in the France of 1789, the first
definite outbreak is wont to occur in great towns. Russia has no Paris,
eager to voice the needs of the many.

Then again, the Russian peasants are rooted in customs and superstitions
which cling about the Czar with strange tenacity and are proof against
the reasoning of strangers. Their rising could, therefore, be very
partial; besides which, the land is for the most part unsuited to the
guerilla tactics that so often have favoured the cause of liberty in
mountainous lands. The Czar and his officials know that the strength of
their system lies in the ignorance of the peasants, in the soldierly
instincts of their immense army, and in the spread of railways and
telegraphs, which enables the central power to crush the beginnings of
revolt. Thus the Czar's authority, resting incongruously on a faith dumb
and grovelling as that of the Dark Ages, and on the latest developments
of mechanical science, has been able to defy the tendencies of the age
and the strivings of Russian reformers.

       *       *       *       *       *

The aim of this work prescribes a survey of those events alone which
have made modern States what they are to-day; but the victory of
absolutism in Russia has had so enormous an influence on the modern
world--not least in the warping of democracy in France--that it will be
well to examine the operation of other forces which contributed to the
set back of reform in that Empire, especially as they involved a change
in the relations of the central power to alien races in general, and to
the Grand Duchy of Finland in particular.

These forces, or ideals, may be summed up in the old Slavophil motto,
"Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality." These old Muscovite ideals had lent
strength to Nicholas I. in his day; and his grandson now determined to
appeal to the feeling of Nationality in its narrowest and strongest
form. That instinct, which Mazzini looked on as the means of raising in
turn all the peoples of the world to the loftier plane of Humanity, was
now to be the chief motive in the propulsion of the Juggernaut car of
the Russian autocracy.

The first to feel the weight of the governmental machine were the Jews.
Rightly or wrongly, they were thought to be concerned in the peculations
that disgraced the campaign of 1877 and in the plot for the murder of
Alexander II. In quick succession the officials and the populace found
out that outrages on the Jews would not be displeasing at headquarters.
The secret once known, the rabble of several towns took the law into
their own hands. In scores of places throughout the years 1881 and 1882,
the mob plundered and fired their shops and houses, beat the wretched
inmates, and in some cases killed them outright. At Elisabetgrad and
Kiev the Jewish quarters were systematically pillaged and then given
over to the flames. The fury reached its climax at the small town of
Balta; the rabble pillaged 976 Jewish houses, and, not content with
seizing all the wealth that came to hand, killed eight of the traders,
besides wounding 211 others.

Doubtless these outrages were largely due to race-hatred as well as to
spite on the part of the heedless, slovenly natives against the keen and
grasping Hebrews. The same feelings have at times swept over Roumania,
Austria, Germany, and France. Jew-baiting has appealed even to nominally
enlightened peoples as a novel and profitable kind of sport; and few of
its votaries have had the hypocritical effrontery to cloak their conduct
under the plea of religious zeal. The movement has at bottom everywhere
been a hunt after Jewish treasure, embittered by the hatred of the clown
for the successful trader, of the individualist native for an alien,
clannish, and successful community. In Russia religious motives may
possibly have weighed with the Czar and the more ignorant and bigoted of
the peasantry; but levelling and communistic ideas certainly accounted
for the widespread plundering--witness the words often on the lips of
the rioters: "We are breakfasting on the Jews; we shall dine on the
landlords, and sup on the priests." In 1890 there appeared a ukase
ordering the return of the Jews to those provinces and districts where
they had been formerly allowed to settle--that is, chiefly in the South
and West; and all foreign Jews were expelled from the Empire. It is
believed that as many as 225,000 Jewish families left Russia in the
sixteen months following[233].

[Footnote 233: Rambaud, _Histoire de la Russie_, ch. xxxviii.; Lowe,
_Alexander III. of Russia_, ch. viii.; H. Frederic, _The New Exodus_;
Professor Errera, _The Russian Jews_.]

The next onslaught was made against a body of Christian dissenters, the
humble community known as Stundists. These God-fearing peasants had
taken a German name because the founder of their sect had been converted
at the _Stunden_, or hour-long services, of German Lutherans long
settled in the south of Russia; they held a simple evangelical faith;
their conduct was admittedly far better than that of the peasants, who
held to the mass of customs and superstitions dignified by the name of
the orthodox Greek creed; and their piety and zeal served to spread the
evangelical faith, especially among the more emotional people of South
Russia, known as Little Russians.

Up to the year 1878, Alexander II. refrained from persecuting them,
possibly because he felt some sympathy with men who were fast raising
themselves and their fellows above the old level of brutish ignorance.
But in that year the Greek Church pressed him to take action. If he
chastised them with whips, his son lashed them with scorpions. He saw
that they were sapping the base of one of the three pillars that
supported the imperial fabric--Orthodoxy, in the Russian sense. Orders
went forth to stamp out the heretic pest. At once all the strength of
the governmental machine was brought to bear on these non-resisting
peasants. Imprisonment, exile, execution--such was their lot. Their
communities, perhaps the happiest then to be found in rural Russia, were
broken up, to be flung into remote corners of Transcaucasia or Siberia,
and there doomed to the regime of the knout or the darkness of the
mines[234]. According to present appearances the persecutors have
succeeded. The evangelical faith seems to have been almost stamped out
even in South Russia; and the Greek Church has regained its hold on the
allegiance, if not on the beliefs and affections, of the masses.

[Footnote 234: See an article by Count Leo Tolstoy in the _Contemporary
Review_ for November 1895; also a pamphlet on "The Stundists," with
Preface by Rev. J. Brown, D.D.]

To account for this fact, we must remember the immense force of
tradition and custom among a simple rural folk, also that very many
Russians sincerely believe that their institutions and their national
creed were destined to regenerate Europe. See, they said in effect,
Western Europe oscillates between papal control and free thought; its
industries, with their _laissez faire_ methods, raise the few to
enormous wealth and crush the many into a new serfdom worse than the
old. For all these evils Russia has a cure; her autocracy saves her from
the profitless wrangling of Parliaments; her national Church sums up the
beliefs and traditions of nobles and peasants; and at the base of her
social system she possesses in the "Mir" a patriarchal communism against
which the forces of the West will beat in vain. Looking on the Greek
Church as a necessary part of the national life, they sought to wield
its powers for nationalising all the races of that motley Empire.
"Russia for the Russians," cried the Slavophils. "Let us be one people,
with one creed. Let us reverence the Czar as head of the Church and of
the State. In this unity lies our strength." However defective the
argument logically, yet in the realm of sentiment, in which the Slavs
live, move, and have their being, the plea passed muster. National pride
was pressed into the service of the persecutors; and all dissenters,
whether Roman Catholics of Poland, Lutherans of the Baltic Provinces, or
Stundists of the Ukraine, felt the remorseless grinding of the State
machine, while the Greek Church exalted its horn as it had not done for
a century past.

Other sides of this narrowly nationalising policy were seen in the
determined repression of Polish feelings, of the Germans in the Baltic
provinces, and of the Armenians of Transcaucasia. Finally, remorseless
pressure was brought to bear on that interesting people, the Finns. We
can here refer only to the last of these topics. The Germans in the
Provinces of Livonia, Courland, and Esthonia formed the majority only
among the land-holding and merchant classes; and the curbing of their
semi-feudal privileges wore the look of a democratic reform.

       *       *       *       *       *

The case was far different with the Finns. They are a non-Aryan people,
and therefore differ widely from the Swedes and Russians. For centuries
they formed part of the Swedish monarchy, deriving thence in large
measure their literature, civilisation, and institutions. To this day
the Swedish tongue is used by about one-half of their gentry and
burghers. On the annexation of Finland by Alexander I., in consequence
of the Franco-Russian compact framed at Tilsit in 1807, he made to their
Estates a solemn promise to respect their constitution and laws. Similar
engagements have been made by his successors. Despite some attempts by
Nicholas I. to shelve the constitution of the Grand Duchy, local
liberties remained almost intact up to a comparatively recent time. In
the year 1869 the Finns gained further guarantees of their rights.
Alexander II. then ratified the laws of Finland, and caused a statement
of the relations between Finland and Russia to be drawn up.

In view of the recent struggle between the Czar and the Finnish people,
it may be well to give a sketch of their constitution. The sovereign
governs, not as Emperor of Russia, but as Grand Duke of Finland. He
delegates his administrative powers to a Senate, which is presided over
by a Governor-General. This important official, as a matter of fact, has
always been a Russian; his powers are, or rather were[235], shared by
two sections of the Finnish Senate, each composed of ten members
nominated by the Grand Duke. The Senate prepares laws and ordinances
which the Grand Duke then submits to the Diet. This body consists of
four Orders--nobles, clergy, burghers, and peasants. Since 1886 it has
enjoyed to a limited extent the right of initiating laws. The Orders sit
and vote separately. In most cases a resolution that is passed by three
of them becomes law, when it has received the assent of the Grand Duke.
But the assent of a majority in each of the four Orders is needed in the
case of a proposal that affects the constitution of the Grand Duchy and
the privileges of the Orders. In case a Bill is accepted by two Orders
and is rejected by the other two, a deadlock is averted by each of the
Orders appointing fifteen delegates; these sixty delegates, meeting
without discussion, vote by ballot, and a bare majority carries the day.
Measures are then referred to the Grand Duke, who, after consulting the
Senate, gives or witholds his assent[236].

[Footnote 235: A law of the autumn of 1902 altered this. It delegated
the administration to the Governor-General, _assisted by_ the Senate.]

[Footnote 236: For the constitution of Finland and its relation to
Russia, see _A Precis of the Public Law of Finland_, by L. Mechelin,
translated by C.J. Cooke (1889); _Pour la Finlande_, par Jean Deck;
_Pour la Finlande, La Constitution du Grand Duche de Finlande_ (Paris,
1900). J.R. Danielsson, _Finland's Union with the Russian Empire_
(Borga, 1891).]

A very important clause of the law of 1869 declares that "Fundamental
laws can be made, altered, explained, or repealed, only on the
representation of the Emperor and Grand Duke, and with the consent of
all the Estates." This clause sharply marked off Finland from Russia,
where the power of the Czar is theoretically unlimited. New taxes may
not be imposed nor old taxes altered without the consent of the Finnish
Diet; but, strange to say, the customs dues are fixed by the Government
(that is, by the Grand Duke and the Senate) without the co-operation of
the Diet. Despite the archaic form of its representation, the Finnish
constitution (an offshoot of that of Sweden) has worked extremely well;
and in regard to civil freedom and religious toleration, the Finns take
their place among the most progressive communities of the world.
Moreover, the constitution is no recent and artificial creation; it
represents customs and beliefs that are deeply ingrained in a people
who, like their Magyar kinsmen, cling firmly to the old, even while they
hopefully confront the facts of the present. There was every ground for
hope. Between the years 1812 and 1886 the population grew from 900,000
to 2,300,000, and the revenue from less than 7,000,000 marks (a Finnish
mark = about ten pence) to 40,000,000 marks.

Possibly this prosperity prompted in the Russian bureaucracy the desire
to bring the Grand Duchy closely into line with the rest of the Empire.
On grounds other than constitutional, the bureaucrats had a case. They
argued that while the revenue of Finland was increasing faster than that
of Russia Proper, yet the Grand Duchy bore no share of the added
military burdens. It voted only 17 per cent of its revenue for military
defence as against 28 per cent set apart in the Russian Budget. The fact
that the Swedish and Finnish languages, as well as Finnish money, were
alone used on the railways of the Grand Duchy, even within a few miles
of St. Petersburg, also formed a cause of complaint. When, therefore,
the Slavophils began to raise a hue and cry against everything that
marred the symmetry of the Empire, an anti-Finnish campaign lay in the
nature of things. Historical students discovered that the constitution
was the gift of the Czars, and that their goodwill had been grossly
misused by the Finns. Others, who could not deny the validity of the
Finnish constitution, claimed that even constitutions and laws must
change with changing circumstances; that a narrow particularism was out
of place in an age of railways and telegraphs; and that Finland must
take its fair share in the work of national defence[237].

[Footnote 237: See for the Russian case d'Elenew, _Les Pretentions des
Separatistes finlandais_ (1895); also _La Conquete de la Finlande_, by
K. Ordine (1889)--answered by J.R. Danielsson, _op. cit._; also
_Russland und Finland vom russischen Standpunkte aus betrachtet_, by
"Sarmatus" (1903).]

Little by little Alexander III. put in force this Slavophil creed
against Finland. His position as Grand Duke gave him the right of
initiating laws; but he overstepped his constitutional powers by
imposing various changes. In January 1890 he appointed three committees,
sitting at St. Petersburg, to bring the coinage, the customs system, and
the postal service of Finland into harmony with those of Russia. In June
there appeared an imperial ukase assimilating the postal service of
Finland to that of Russia--an illegal act which led to the resignation
of the Finnish Ministers. In May 1891 the "Committee for Finnish
Affairs," sitting at St. Petersburg, was abolished; and that year saw
other efforts curbing the liberty of the Press, and extending the use of
the Russian language in the government of the Grand Duchy.

The trenches having now been pushed forward against the outworks of
Finnish freedom, an assault was prepared against the ramparts--the
constitution itself. The assailants discovered in it a weak point, a
lack of clearness in the clauses specifying the procedure to be followed
in matters where common action had to be taken in Finland and in Russia.
They saw here a chance of setting up an independent authority, which,
under the guise of _interpreting_ the constitution, could be used for
its suspension and overthrow. A committee, consisting of six Russians
and four Finns, was appointed at the close of the year 1892 to codify
laws and take the necessary action. It sat at St. Petersburg; but the
opposition of the Finnish members, backed up by the public opinion of
the whole Duchy, sufficed to postpone any definite decision. Probably
this time of respite was due to the reluctance felt by Alexander III. in
his closing days to push matters to an extreme.

The alternating tendencies so well marked in the generations of the
Romanoff rulers made themselves felt at the accession of Nicholas II.
(Nov. 1, 1894). Lacking the almost animal force which carried Alexander
III. so far in certain grooves, he resembles the earlier sovereigns of
that name in the generous cosmopolitanism and dreamy good nature which
shed an autumnal haze over their careers. Unfortunately the reforming
Czars have been without the grit of the crowned Boyars, who trusted in
Cossack, priest, and knout; and too often they have bent before the
reactionary influences always strong at the Russian Court. To this
peculiarity in the nature of Nicholas II. we may probably refer the
oscillations in his Finnish policy. In the first years of his reign he
gradually abated the rigour of his father's regime, and allowed greater
liberty of the Press in Finland. The number of articles suppressed sank
from 216 in the year 1893 to 40 in 1897[238].

[Footnote 238: _Pour la Finlande_, par Jean Deck, p. 36.]

The hopes aroused by this display of moderation soon vanished. Early in
1898 the appointment of General Kuropatkin to the Ministry for War for
Russia foreboded evil to the Grand Duchy. The new Minister speedily
counselled the exploitation of the resources of Finland for the benefit
of the Empire. Already the Russian General Staff had made efforts in
this direction; and now Kuropatkin, supported by the whole weight of the
Slavophil party, sought to convince the Czar of the danger of leaving
the Finns with a separate military organisation. A military committee,
in which there was only one Finn, the Minister Procope, had for some
time been sitting at St. Petersburg, and finally gained over Nicholas
II. to its views. He is said to have formed his final decision during
his winter stay at Livadia in the Crimea, owing to the personal
intervention of Kuropatkin, and that too in face of a protest from the
Finnish Minister, Procope, against the suspension by imperial ukase of a
fundamental law of the Grand Duchy. The Czar must have known of the
unlawfulness of the present procedure, for on November 6/18, 1894,
shortly after his accession, he signed the following declaration:--

     . . . We have hereby desired to confirm and ratify the
     religion, the fundamental laws, the rights and privileges of
     every class in the said Grand Duchy, in particular, and all
     its inhabitants high and low in general, which they,
     according to the constitution of this country, had enjoyed,
     promising to preserve the same steadfastly and in full

[Footnote 239: _The Rights of Finland_, p. 4 (Stockholm 1899). See too
for the whole question _Finland and the Tsars, 1809-1899_, by J.R.
Fisher (London, 2nd Edit. 1900).]

The military system of Finland having been definitely organised by the
Finnish law of 1878, that statute clearly came within the scope of those
"fundamental laws" which Nicholas II. had promised to uphold in full
force. We can imagine, then, the astonishment which fell on the Finnish
Diet and people on the presentation of the famous Imperial Manifesto of
February 3/15, 1899. While expressing a desire to leave purely Finnish
affairs to the consideration of the Government and Diet of the Grand
Duchy, the Czar warned his Finnish subjects that there were others that
could not be so treated, seeing that they were "closely bound up with
the needs of the whole Empire." As the Finnish constitution pointed out
no way of treating such subjects, it was needful now to complete the
existing institutions of the Duchy. The Manifesto proceded as follows:--

     Whilst maintaining in full force the now prevailing statutes
     which concern the promulgation of local laws touching
     exclusively the internal affairs of Finland, We have found it
     necessary to reserve to Ourselves the ultimate decision as to
     which laws come within the scope of the general legislation
     of the Empire. With this in view, We have with Our Royal Hand
     established and confirmed the fundamental statutes for the
     working out, revision, and promulgation of laws issued for
     the Empire, including the Grand Duchy of Finland, which are
     proclaimed simultaneously herewith[240].

[Footnote 240: _The Rights of Finland_, pp. 6-7 also in _Pour la
Finlande_, par J. Deck, p. 43.]

The accompanying enactments made it clear that the Finnish Diet would
thenceforth have only consultative duties in respect to any measure
which seemed to the Czar to involve the interests of Russia as well as
of Finland. In fact, the proposals of February 15 struck at the root of
the constitution, subjecting it in all important matters to the will of
the autocrat at St. Petersburg. At once the Finns saw the full extent of
the calamity. They observed the following Sunday as a day of mourning;
the people of Helsingfors, the capital, gathered around the statue of
Alexander II., the organiser of their liberties, as a mute appeal to the
generous instincts of his grandson. Everywhere, even in remote villages,
solemn meetings of protest were held; but no violent act marred the
impressiveness of these demonstrations attesting the surprise and grief
of a loyal people.

By an almost spontaneous impulse a petition was set on foot begging the
Czar to reconsider his decision. If ever a petition deserved the name
"national," it was that of Finland. Towns and villages signed almost _en
masse_. Ski-runners braved the hardships of a severe winter in the
effort to reach remote villages within the Arctic Circle; and within
five days (March 10-14) 529,931 names were signed, the marks of
illiterates being rejected. All was in vain. The Czar refused to receive
the petition, and ordered the bearers of it to return home[241].

[Footnote 241: _The Rights of Finland_, pp. 23-30.]

The Russian Governor-General of Finland then began a brisk campaign
against the Finnish newspapers. Four were promptly suppressed, while
there were forty-three cases of "suspension" in the year 1899 alone. The
public administration also underwent a drastic process of russification,
Finnish officials and policemen being in very many cases ousted by
Muscovites. Early in the year 1901 local postage stamps gave place to
those of the Empire. Above all, General Kuropatkin was able almost
completely to carry out his designs against the Finnish army, the law of
1901 practically abolishing the old constitutional force and compelling
Finns to serve in any part of the Empire--in defiance of the old
statutes which limited their services to the Grand Duchy itself.

The later developments of this interesting question fall without the
scope of this volume. We can therefore only state that the steadfast
opposition of the Finns to these illegal proceedings led to still
harsher treatment, and that the few concessions granted since the
outbreak of the Japanese War have apparently failed to soothe the
resentment aroused by the former unprovoked attacks upon the liberties
of Finland.

       *       *       *       *       *

One fact, which cannot fail to elicit the attention of thoughtful
students of contemporary history, is the absence of able leaders in the
popular struggles of the age. Whether we look at the orderly resistance
of the Finns, the efforts of the Russian revolutionaries, or the fitful
efforts now and again put forth by the Poles, the same discouraging
symptom is everywhere apparent. More than once the hour seemed to have
struck for the overthrow of the old order, but no man appeared. Other
instances might of course be cited to show that the adage about the
hour and the man is more picturesque than true. The democratic movements
of 1848-49 went to pieces largely owing to the coyness of the requisite
hero. Or rather, perhaps, we ought to say that the heroes were there, in
the persons of Cavour and Garibaldi, Bismarck and Moltke; but no one was
at hand to set them in the places which they filled so ably in 1858-70.
Will the future see the hapless, unguided efforts of to-day championed
in an equally masterful way? If so, the next generation may see strange
things happen in Russia, as also elsewhere.

Two suggestions may be advanced, with all diffidence, as to the reasons
for the absence of great leaders in the movements of to-day. As we noted
in the chapter dealing with the suppression of the Paris Commune of
1871, the centralised Governments now have a great material advantage in
dealing with local disaffection owing to their control of telegraphs,
railways, and machine-guns. This fact tells with crushing force, not
only at the time of popular rising, but also on the men who work to that
end. Little assurance was needed in the old days to compass the
overthrow of Italian Dukes and German Translucencies. To-day he would be
a man of boundlessly inspiring power who could hopefully challenge Czar
or Kaiser to a conflict. The other advantage which Governments possess
is in the intellectual sphere. There can be no doubt that the mere size
of the States and Governments of the present age exercises a deadening
effect on the minds of individuals. As the vastness of London produces
inertia in civic affairs, so, too, the great Empires tend to deaden the
initiative and boldness of their subjects. Those priceless qualities are
always seen to greatest advantage in small States like the Athens of
Pericles, the England of Elizabeth, or the Geneva of Rousseau; they are
stifled under the pyramidal mass of the Empire of the Czars; and as a
result there is seen a respectable mediocrity, equal only to the task of
organising street demonstrations and abortive mutinies. It may be that
in the future some commanding genius will arise, able to free himself
from the paralysing incubus, to fire the dull masses with hope, and to
turn the very vastness of the governmental machine into a means of
destruction. But, for that achievement, he will need the magnetism of a
Mirabeau, the savagery of a Marat, and the organising powers of a



     "International policy is a fluid element which, under certain
     conditions, will solidify, but, on a change of atmosphere,
     reverts to its original condition."--Bismarck's _Reflections
     and Reminiscences._

It is one thing to build up a system of States: it is quite another
thing to guarantee their existence. As in the life of individuals, so in
that of nations, longevity is generally the result of a sound
constitution, a healthy environment, and prudent conduct. That the new
States of Europe possessed the first two of these requisites will be
obvious to all who remember that they are co-extensive with those great
limbs of Humanity, nations. Yet even so they needed protection from the
intrigues of jealous dynasties and of dispossessed princes or priests,
which have so often doomed promising experiments to failure. It is
therefore essential to our present study to observe the means which
endowed the European system with stability.

Here again the master-builder was Bismarck. As he had concentrated all
the powers of his mind on the completion of German unity (with its
natural counterpart in Italy), so, too, he kept them on the stretch for
its preservation. For two decades his policy bestrode the continent like
a Colossus. It rested on two supporting ideas. The one was the
maintenance of alliance with Russia, which had brought the events of the
years 1863-70 within the bounds of possibility; the other aim was the
isolation of France. Subsidiary notions now and again influenced him, as
in 1884 when he sought to make bad blood between Russia and England in
Central Asian affairs (see Chapter XIV.), or to busy all the Powers in
colonial undertakings: but these considerations were secondary to the
two main motives, which at one point converged and begot a haunting fear
(the realisation of which overclouded his last years) that Russia and
France would unite against Germany.

In order, as he thought, to obviate for ever a renewal of the "policy of
Tilsit" of the year 1807, he sought to favour the establishment of the
Republic in France. In his eyes, the more Radical it was the better: and
when Count von Arnim, the German ambassador at Paris, ventured to
contravene his instructions in this matter, he subjected him to severe
reproof and finally to disgrace. However harsh in his methods, Bismarck
was undoubtedly right in substance. The main consideration was that
which he set forth in his letter of December 20, 1872, to the
Count:--"We want France to leave us in peace, and we have to prevent
France finding an ally if she does not keep the peace. As long as France
has no allies she is not dangerous to Germany." A monarchical reaction,
he thought, might lead France to accord with Russia or Austria. A
Republic of the type sought for by Gambetta could never achieve that
task. Better, then, the red flag waving at Paris than the

Still more important was it to bring about complete accord between the
three empires. Here again the red spectre proved to be useful. Various
signs seemed to point to socialism as the common enemy of them all. The
doctrines of Bakunin, Herzen, and Lassalle had already begun to work
threateningly in their midst, and Bismarck discreetly used this
community of interest in one particular to bring about an agreement on
matters purely political. In the month of September 1872 he realised one
of his dearest hopes. The Czar, Alexander II., and the Austrian Emperor,
Francis Joseph, visited Berlin, where they were most cordially received.
At that city the chancellors of the three empires exchanged official
memoranda--there seems to have been no formal treaty[242]--whereby they
agreed to work together for the following purposes: the maintenance of
the boundaries recently laid down, the settlement of problems arising
from the Eastern Question, and the repression of revolutionary movements
in Europe.

[Footnote 242: In his speech of February 19, 1878, Bismarck said, "The
_liaison_ of the three Emperors, which is habitually designated an
alliance, rests on no written agreement and does not compel any one of
the three Emperors to submit to the decisions of the two others."]

Such was the purport of the Three Emperors' League of 1872. There is
little doubt that Bismarck had worked on the Czar, always nervous as to
the growth of the Nihilist movement in Russia, in order to secure his
adhesion to the first two provisions of the new compact, which certainly
did not benefit Russia. The German Chancellor has since told us that, as
early as the month of September 1870, he sought to form such a league,
with the addition of the newly-united Italian realm, in order to
safeguard the interests of monarchy against republicans and
revolutionaries[243]. After the lapse of two years his wish took effect,
though Italy as yet did not join the cause of order. The new league
stood forth as the embodiment of autocracy and a terror to the
dissatisfied, whether revengeful Gauls, Danes, or Poles, intriguing
cardinals--it was the time of the "May Laws"--or excited men who waved
the red flag. It was a new version of the Holy Alliance formed after
Waterloo by the monarchs of the very same Powers, which, under the plea
of watching against French enterprises, succeeded in bolstering up
despotism on the Continent for a whole generation.

[Footnote 243: Debidour, _Histoire diplomatique de l'Europe_, vol. ii.
pp. 458-59; Bismarck, _Reflections and Reminiscences_, vol. ii.
ch. xxix.]

Fortunately for the cause of liberty, the new league had little of the
solidity of its predecessor. Either because the dangers against which it
guarded were less serious, or owing to the jealousies which strained its
structure from within, signs of weakness soon appeared, and the imposing
fabric was disfigured by cracks which all the plastering of
diplomatists failed to conceal. An eminent Russian historian, M.
Tatischeff, has recently discovered the hidden divulsive agency. It
seems that, not long after the formation of the Three Emperors' League,
Germany and Austria secretly formed a separate compact, whereby the
former agreed eventually to secure to the latter due compensation in the
Balkan Peninsula for her losses in the wars of 1859 and 1866 (Lombardy,
Venetia, and the control of the German Confederation, along with

[Footnote 244: _The Emperor Alexander II.: His Life and Reign_, by S.S.
Tatischeff (St. Petersburg, 1903), Appendix to vol. ii.]

That is, the two Central Powers in 1872 secretly agreed to take action
in the way in which Austria advanced in 1877-78, when she secured
Herzegovina. When and to what extent Russian diplomatists became aware
of this separate agreement is not known, but their suspicion or their
resentment appears to have prompted them to the unfriendly action
towards Germany which they took in the year 1875. According to the
Bismarck _Reflections and Reminiscences_, the Russian Chancellor, Prince
Gortchakoff, felt so keenly jealous of the rapid rise of the German
Chancellor to fame and pre-eminence as to spread "the lie" that Germany
was about to fall upon France. Even the uninitiated reader might feel
some surprise that the Russian Chancellor should have endangered the
peace of Europe and his own credit as a statesman for so slight a
motive; but it now seems that Bismarck's assertion must be looked on as
a "reflection," not as a "reminiscence."

The same remark may perhaps apply to his treatment of the "affair of
1875," which largely determined the future groupings of the Powers. At
that time the recovery of France from the wounds of 1870 was well nigh
complete; her military and constitutional systems were taking concrete
form; and in the early part of the year 1875 the Chambers decreed a
large increase to the armed forces in the form of "the fourth
battalions." At once the military party at Berlin took alarm, and
through their chief, Moltke, pressed on the Emperor William the need of
striking promptly at France. The Republic, so they argued, could not
endure the strain which it now voluntarily underwent; the outcome must
be war; and war at once would be the most statesmanlike and merciful
course. Whether the Emperor in any way acceded to these views is not
known. He is said to have more than once expressed a keen desire to end
his reign in peace.

The part which Bismarck played at this crisis is also somewhat obscure.
If the German Government wished to attack France, the natural plan would
have been to keep that design secret until the time for action arrived.
But it did not do so. Early in the month of April, von Radowitz, a man
of high standing at the Court of Berlin, took occasion to speak to the
French ambassador, de Gontaut-Biron, at a ball, and warned him in the
most significant manner of the danger of war owing to the increase of
French armaments. According to de Blowitz, the Paris correspondent of
the _Times_ (who had his information direct from the French Premier, the
Duc Decazes), Germany intended to "bleed France white" by compelling her
finally to pay ten milliards of francs in twenty instalments, and by
keeping an army of occupation in her Eastern Departments until the last
half-milliard was paid. The French ambassador also states in his account
of these stirring weeks that Bismarck had mentioned to the Belgian envoy
the impossibility of France keeping up armaments, the outcome of which
must be war[245].

[Footnote 245: De Blowitz, _Memoirs_, ch. v.; _An Ambassador of the
Vanquished_ (ed. by the Duc de Broglie), pp. 180 _et seq_. Probably the
article "Krieg in Sicht," published in the _Berlin Post_ of April 15,
1875, was "inspired."]

As Radowitz continued in favour with Bismarck, his disclosure of German
intentions seems to have been made with the Chancellor's approval; and
we may explain his action as either a threat to compel France to reduce
her army, a provocation to lead her to commit some indiscretion, or a
means of undermining the plans of the German military party. Leaving
these questions on one side, we may note that Gontaut-Biron's report to
the Duc Decazes produced the utmost anxiety in official circles at
Paris. The Duke took the unusual step of confiding the secret to
Blowitz, showed him the document, along with other proofs of German
preparations for war, and requested him to publish the chief facts in
the _Times_. Delane, the editor of the _Times_, having investigated the
affair, published the information on May 4. It produced an immense
sensation. The Continental Press denounced it as an impudent fabrication
designed to bring on war. We now know that it was substantially correct.
Meanwhile Marshal MacMahon and the Duc Decazes had taken steps to
solicit the help of the Czar if need arose. They despatched to St.
Petersburg General Leflo, armed with proofs of the hostile designs of
the German military chiefs. A perusal of them convinced Alexander II. of
the seriousness of the situation; and he assured Leflo of his resolve to
prevent an unprovoked attack on France. He was then about to visit his
uncle, the German Emperor; and there is little doubt that his influence
at Berlin helped to end the crisis.

Other influences were also at work, emanating from Queen Victoria and
the British Government. It is well known that Her late Majesty wrote to
the Emperor William stating that it would be "easy to prove that her
fears [of a Franco-German war] were not exaggerated[246]." The source of
her information is now known to have been unexceptionable. It reached
our Foreign Office through the medium of German ambassadors. Such is the
story imparted by Lord Odo Russell, our Ambassador at Berlin, to his
brother, and by him communicated to Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff. It
concerns an interview between Gortchakoff and Bismarck in which the
German Chancellor inveighed against the Russian Prince for blurting out,
at a State banquet held the day before, the news that he had received a
letter from Queen Victoria, begging him to work in the interests of
peace. Bismarck thereafter sharply upbraided Gortchakoff for this
amazing indiscretion. Lord Odo Russell was present at their interview
in order to support the Russian Chancellor, who parried Bismarck's
attack by affecting a paternal interest in his health:--

     "Come, come, my dear Bismarck, be calm. You know that I am
     very fond of you. I have known you since your childhood. But
     I do not like you when you are hysterical. Come, you are
     going to be hysterical. Pray be calm: come, come, my dear
     fellow." A short time after this interview Bismarck
     complained to Odo of "the preposterous folly and ignorance of
     the English and all other Cabinets, who had mistaken stories
     got up for speculations on the Bourse for the true policy of
     the German Government." "Then will you," asked Odo, "censure
     your four ambassadors who have misled us and the other
     Powers?" Bismarck made no reply[247].

[Footnote 246: _Bismarck: his Reflections_, etc., vol. ii. pp. 191-193,
249-153 (Eng. ed.); the _Bismarck Jahrbuch_, vol. iv. p. 35.]

[Footnote 247: Sir M. Grant Duff, _Notes from a Diary, 1886-88_, vol. i.
p. 129. See, too, other proofs of the probability of an attack by
Germany on France in Professor Geffcken's _Frankreich, Russland, und der
Dreibund_, pp. 90 _et seq._]

It seems, then, that the German Chancellor had no ground for suspicion
against the Crown Princess as having informed Queen Victoria of the
suggested attack on France; but thenceforth he had an intense dislike of
these august ladies, and lost no opportunity of maligning them in
diplomatic circles and through the medium of the Press. Yet, while
nursing resentful thoughts against Queen Victoria, her daughter, and the
British Ministry, the German Chancellor reserved his wrath mainly for
his personal rival at St. Petersburg. The publication of Gortchakoff's
circular despatch of May 10, 1875, beginning with the words, "Maintenant
la paix est assuree," was in his eyes the crowning offence.

The result was the beginning of a good understanding between Russia and
France, and the weakening of the Three Emperors' League[248]. That
league went to pieces for a time amidst the disputes at the Berlin
Congress on the Eastern Question, where Germany's support of Austria's
resolve to limit the sphere of Muscovite influence robbed the Czar of
prospective spoils and placed a rival Power as "sentinel on the
Balkans." Further, when Germany favoured Austrian interests in the many
matters of detail that came up for settlement in those States, the rage
in Russian official circles knew no bounds. Newspapers like the _Journal
de St. Petersbourg_, the _Russki Mir_, and the _Golos_, daily poured out
the vials of their wrath against everything German; and that prince of
publicists, Katkoff, with his coadjutor, Elie de Cyon, moved heaven and
earth in the endeavour to prove that Bismarck alone had pushed Russia on
to war with Turkey, and then had intervened to rob her of the fruits of
victory. Amidst these clouds of invective, friendly hands were thrust
forth from Paris and Moscow, and the effusive salutations of would-be
statesmen marked the first beginnings of the present alliance. A Russian
General--Obretchoff--went to Paris and "sounded the leading personages
in Paris respecting a Franco-Russian alliance[249]."

[Footnote 248: _Histoire de l'Entente franco-russe_, by Elie de Cyon,
ch. i. (1895).]

[Footnote 249: _Our Chancellor_, by M. Busch, vol. ii. pp. 137-138.]

Clearly, it was high time for the two Central Powers to draw together.
There was little to hinder their _rapprochement_. Bismarck's clemency to
the Hapsburg Power in the hour of Prussia's triumph in 1866 now bore
fruit; for when Russia sent a specific demand that the Court of Berlin
must cease to support Austrian interests or forfeit the friendship of
Russia, the German Chancellor speedily came to an understanding with
Count Andrassy in an interview at Gastein on August 27-28, 1879. At
first it had reference only to a defensive alliance against an attack by
Russia, Count Andrassy, then about to retire from his arduous duties,
declining to extend the arrangement to an attack by another
Power--obviously France. The plan of the Austro-German alliance was
secretly submitted by Bismarck to the King of Bavaria, who signified his
complete approval[250]. It received a warm welcome from the Hapsburg
Court; and, when the secret leaked out, Bismarck had enthusiastic
greetings on his journey to Vienna and thence northwards to Berlin. The
reason is obvious. For the first time in modern history the centre of
Europe seemed about to form a lasting compact, strong enough to impose
respect on the restless extremities. That of 1813 and 1814 had aimed
only at the driving of Napoleon I. from Germany. The present alliance
had its roots in more abiding needs.

[Footnote 250: _Bismarck: Reflections and Reminiscences_, vol. ii. pp.

Strange to say, the chief obstacle was Kaiser Wilhelm himself. The old
sovereign had very many claims on the gratitude of the German race, for
his staunchness of character, singleness of aim, and homely good sense
had made the triumphs of his reign possible. But the newer light of
to-day reveals the limitations of his character. He never saw far ahead,
and even in his survey of the present situation Prussian interests and
family considerations held far too large a space. It was so now. Against
the wishes of his Chancellor, he went to meet the Czar at Alexandrovo;
and while the Austro-German compact took form at Gastein and Vienna,
Czar and Kaiser were assuring each other of their unchanging friendship.
Doubtless Alexander II. was sincere in these professions of affection
for his august uncle; but Bismarck paid more heed to the fact that
Russia had recently made large additions to her army, while dense clouds
of her horsemen hung about the Polish border, ready to flood the
Prussian plains. He saw safety only by opposing force to force. As he
said to his secretary, Busch: "When we [Germany and Austria] are united,
with our two million soldiers back to back, they [the Russians], with
their Nihilism, will doubtless think twice before disturbing the peace."
Finally the Emperor William agreed to the Austro-German compact,
provided that the Czar should be informed that if he attacked Austria he
would be opposed by both Powers[251].

[Footnote 251: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of his History_, by M.
Busch, vol. ii. p. 404; _Bismarck: Reflections and Reminiscences_, vol.
ii. p. 268.]

It was not until November 5, 1887, that the terms of the treaty were
made known, and then through the medium of the _Times_. The official
publication did not take place until February 3, 1888, at Berlin,
Vienna, and Buda-Pesth. The compact provides that if either Germany or
Austria shall be attacked by Russia, each Power must assist its
neighbour with all its forces. If, however, the attack shall come from
any other Power, the ally is pledged merely to observe neutrality; and
not until Russia enters the field is the ally bound to set its armies in
motion. Obviously the second case implies an attack by France on
Germany; in that case Austria would remain neutral, carefully watching
the conduct of Russia. As far as is known, the treaty does not provide
for joint action, or mutual support, in regard to the Eastern Question,
still less in matters further afield.

In order to give pause to Russia, Bismarck even indulged in a passing
flirtation with England. At the close of 1879, Lord Dufferin, then
British ambassador at St. Petersburg, was passing through Berlin, and
the Chancellor invited him to his estate at Varzin, and informed him
that Russian overtures had been made to France through General
Obretcheff, "but Chanzy [French ambassador at St. Petersburg], having
reported that Russia was not ready, the French Government became less
disposed than ever to embark on an adventurous policy[252]."

[Footnote 252: _The Life of the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava_, by Sir A.
Lyall (1905), vol. i. p. 304.]

To the end of his days Bismarck maintained that the Austro-German
alliance did not imply the lapse of the Three Emperors' League, but that
the new compact, by making a Russian attack on Austria highly dangerous,
if not impossible, helped to prolong the life of the old alliance.
Obviously, however, the League was a mere "loud-sounding nothing" (to
use a phrase of Metternich's) when two of its members had to unite to
guard the weakest of the trio against the most aggressive. In the spirit
of that statesmanlike utterance of Prince Bismarck, quoted as motto at
the head of this chapter, we may say that the old Triple Alliance slowly
dissolved under the influence of new atmospheric conditions. The three
Emperors met for friendly intercourse in 1881, 1884, and 1885; and at or
after the meeting of 1884, a Russo-German agreement was formed, by
which the two Powers promised to observe a friendly neutrality in case
either was attacked by a third Power. Probably the Afghan question, or
Nihilism, brought Russia to accept Bismarck's advances; but when the
fear of an Anglo-Russian war passed away, and the revolutionists were
curbed, this agreement fell to the ground; and after the fall of
Bismarck the compact was not renewed[253].

[Footnote 253: On October 24, 1896, the _Hamburger Nachrichten_, a paper
often inspired by Bismarck, gave some information (all that is known)
about this shadowy agreement.]

       *       *       *       *       *

It will be well now to turn to the events which brought Italy into line
with the Central Powers and thus laid the foundation of the Triple
Alliance of to-day.

The complex and uninteresting annals of Italy after the completion of
her unity do not concern us here. The men whose achievements had
ennobled the struggle for independence passed away in quick succession
after the capture of Rome for the national cause. Mazzini died in March
1872 at Pisa, mourning that united Italy was so largely the outcome of
foreign help and monarchical bargainings. Garibaldi spent his last years
in fulminating against the Government of Victor Emmanuel. The
soldier-king himself passed away in January 1878, and his relentless
opponent, Pius IX., expired a month later. The accession of Umberto I.
and the election of Leo XIII. promised at first to assuage the feud
between the Vatican and the Quirinal, but neither the tact of the new
sovereign nor the personal suavity of the Pope brought about any real
change. Italy remained a prey to the schism between Church and State. A
further cause of weakness was the unfitness of many parts of the
Peninsula for constitutional rule. Naples and the South were a century
behind the North in all that made for civic efficiency, the taint of
favouritism and corruption having spread from the governing circles to
all classes of society. Clearly the time of wooing had been too short
and feverish to lead up to a placid married life.

During this period of debt and disenchantment came news of a slight
inflicted by the Latin sister of the North. France had seized Tunis, a
land on which Italian patriots looked as theirs by reversion, whereas
the exigencies of statecraft assigned it to the French. It seems that
during the Congress of Berlin (June-July 1878) Bismarck and Lord
Salisbury unofficially dropped suggestions that their Governments would
raise no objections to the occupation of Tunis by France. According to
de Blowitz, Bismarck there took an early opportunity of seeing Lord
Beaconsfield and of pointing out the folly of England quarrelling with
Russia, when she might arrange matters more peaceably and profitably
with her. England, said he, should let Russia have Constantinople and
take Egypt in exchange; "France would not prove inexorable--besides, one
might give her Tunis or Syria[254]." Another Congress story is to the
effect that Lord Salisbury, on hearing of the annoyance felt in France
at England's control over Cyprus, said to M. Waddington at Berlin: "Do
what you like with Tunis; England will raise no objections." A little
later, the two Governments came to a written understanding that France
might occupy Tunis at a convenient opportunity.

[Footnote 254: De Blowitz, _Memoirs_, ch. vi., also Busch, _Our
Chancellor_, vol. ii. pp. 92-93.]

The seizure of Tunis by France aroused all the more annoyance in Italy
owing to the manner of its accomplishment. On May 11, 1881, when a large
expedition was being prepared in her southern ports, M. Barthelemy de
St. Hilaire disclaimed all idea of annexation, and asserted that the
sole aim of France was the chastisement of a troublesome border tribe,
the Kroumirs; but on the entry of the "red breeches" into Kairwan and
the collapse of the Moslem resistance, the official assurance proved to
be as unsubstantial as the inroads of the Kroumirs. Despite the protests
that came from Rome and Constantinople, France virtually annexed that
land, though the Sultan's representative, the Bey, still retains the
shadow of authority[255].

[Footnote 255: It transpired later on that Barthelemy de St. Hilaire did
not know of the extent of the aims of the French military party, and
that these subsequently gained the day; but this does not absolve the
Cabinet and him of bad faith. Later on France fortified Bizerta, in
contravention (so it is said) of an understanding with the British
Government that no part of that coast should be fortified.]

In vain did King Umberto's ministers appeal to Berlin for help against
France. They received the reply that the affair had been virtually
settled at the time of the Berlin Congress[256]. The resentment produced
by these events in Italy led to the fall of the Cairoli Ministry, which
had been too credulous of French assurances; and Depretis took the helm
of State. Seeing that Bismarck had confessed his share in encouraging
France to take Tunis, Italy's _rapprochement_ to Germany might seem to
be unnatural. It was so. In truth, her alliance with the Central Powers
was based, not on good-will to them, but on resentment against France.
The Italian Nationalists saw in Austria the former oppressor, and still
raised the cry of _Italia irredenta _for the recovery of the Italian
districts of Tyrol, Istria, and Dalmatia. In January 1880, we find
Bismarck writing: "Italy must not be numbered to-day among the
peace-loving and conservative Powers, who must reckon with this fact. . . .
We have much more ground to fear that Italy will join our adversaries
than to hope that she will unite with us, seeing that we have no more
inducements to offer her[257]."

[Footnote 256: _Politische Geschichte der Gegenwart_, for 1881, p. 176;
quoted by Lowe, _Life of Bismarck_, vol. ii. p. 133.]

[Footnote 257: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages_, etc., vol. iii. p. 291.]

This frame of mind changed after the French acquisition of Tunis.

     Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

should have been the feeling of MM. Waddington and Ferry when Bismarck
encouraged them to undertake that easiest but most expensive of
conquests. The nineteenth century offers, perhaps, no more successful
example of Macchiavellian statecraft. The estrangement of France and
Italy postponed at any rate for a whole generation, possibly for the
present age, that war of revenge in which up to the spring of 1881 the
French might easily have gained the help of Italy. Thenceforth they had
to reckon on her hostility. The irony of the situation was enhanced by
the fact that the Tunis affair, with the recriminations to which it led,
served to bring to power at Paris the very man who could best have
marshalled the French people against Germany.

Gambetta was the incarnation of the spirit of revenge. On more than one
occasion he had abstained from taking high office in the shifting
Ministries of the seventies; and it seems likely that by this
calculating coyness he sought to keep his influence intact, not for the
petty personal ends which have often been alleged, but rather with a
view to the more effective embattling of all the national energies
against Germany. Good-will to England and to the Latin peoples,
hostility to the Power which had torn Elsass-Lothringen from
France--such was the policy of Gambetta. He had therefore protested,
though in vain, against the expedition to Tunis; and now, on his
accession to power (November 9, 1881), he found Italy sullenly defiant,
while he and his Radical friends could expect no help from the new
autocrat of all the Russias. All hope of a war of revenge proved to be
futile; and he himself fell from power on January 26, 1882[258]. The
year to which he looked forward with high hopes proved to be singularly
fatal to the foes of Germany. The armed intervention of Britain in Egypt
turned the thoughts of Frenchmen from the Rhine to the Nile. Skobeleff,
the arch enemy of all things Teutonic, passed away in the autumn; and
its closing days witnessed the death of Gambetta at the hands of
his mistress.

[Footnote 258: Seignobos, _A Political History of Contemporary Europe_,
vol. i. p. 210 (Eng. Ed.).]

The resignation of Gambetta having slackened the tension between Germany
and France, Bismarck displayed less desire for the alliance of Italy.
Latterly, as a move in the German parliamentary game, he had coquetted
with the Vatican; and as a result of this off-hand behaviour, Italy was
slow in coming to accord with the Central Powers. Nevertheless, her
resentment respecting Tunis overcame her annoyance at Bismarck's
procedure; and on May 20, 1882, treaties were signed which bound Italy
to the Central Powers for a term of five years. Their conditions have
not been published, but there are good grounds for thinking that the
three allies reciprocally guaranteed the possession of their present
territories, agreed to resist attack on the lands of any one of them,
and stipulated the amount of aid to be rendered by each in case of
hostilities with France or Russia, or both Powers combined. Subsequent
events would seem to show that the Roman Government gained from its
northern allies no guarantee whatever for its colonial policy, or for
the maintenance of the balance of power in the Mediterranean[259].

[Footnote 259: For the Triple Alliance see the _Rev. des deux Mondes_,
May 1, 1883; also Chiala, _Storia contemporanea--La Triplice e la
Duplice Alleanza_ (1898).]

Very many Italians have sharply questioned the value of the Triple
Alliance to their country. Probably, when the truth comes fully to
light, it will be found that the King and his Ministers needed some
solid guarantee against the schemes of the Vatican to drive the monarchy
from Rome. The relations between the Vatican and the Quirinal were very
strained in the year 1882; and the alliance of Italy with Austria
removed all fear of the Hapsburgs acting on behalf of the Jesuits and
other clerical intriguers. The annoyance with which the clerical party
in Italy received the news of the alliance shows that it must have
interfered with their schemes. Another explanation is that Italy
actually feared an attack from France in 1882 and sought protection from
the Central Powers. We may add that on the renewal of the Triple
Alliance in 1891, Italy pledged herself to send two corps through Tyrol
to fight the French on their eastern frontier if they attacked Germany.
But it is said that that clause was omitted from the treaty on its last
renewal, in 1902.

The accession of Italy to the Austro-German Alliance gave pause to
Russia. The troubles with the Nihilists also indisposed Alexander III.
from attempting any rash adventures, especially in concert with a
democratic Republic which changed its Ministers every few months. His
hatred of the Republic as the symbol of democracy equalled his distrust
of it as a political kaleidoscope; and more than once he rejected the
idea of a _rapprochement_ to the western Proteus because of "the absence
of any personage authorised to assume the responsibility for a treaty of
alliance[260]." These were the considerations, doubtless, which led him
to dismiss the warlike Ignatieff, and to entrust the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs to a hard-headed diplomatist, de Giers (June 12, 1882). His
policy was peaceful and decidedly opposed to the Slavophil propaganda of
Katkoff, who now for a time lost favour.

[Footnote 260: Elie de Cyon, _op. cit._ p. 38.]

For the present, then, Germany was safe. Russia turned her energies
against England and achieved the easy and profitable triumphs in Central
Asia which nearly brought her to war with the British Government (see
Chapter xiv.).

In the year 1884 Bismarck gained another success in bringing about the
signature of a treaty of alliance between the three Empires. It was
signed on March 24, 1884, at Berlin, but was not ratified until
September, during a meeting of the three Emperors at Skiernewice. M.
Elie de Cyon gives its terms as follows:

(1) If one of the three contracting parties makes war on a fourth Power,
the other two will maintain a benevolent neutrality. (To this Bismarck
sought to add a corollary, that if two of them made war on a fourth
Power, the third would equally remain neutral; but the Czar is said to
have rejected this, in the interests of France.) (2) In case of a
conflict in the Balkan Peninsula, the three Powers shall consult their
own interests; and in the case of disagreement the third Power shall
give a casting vote. (A protocol added here that Austria might annex
Bosnia and Herzegovina, and occupy Novi-Bazar.) (3) The former special
treaties between Russia and Germany, or Russia and Austria, are
annulled. (4) The three Powers will supervise the execution of the terms
of the Treaty of Berlin respecting Turkey; and if the Porte allows a
fourth Power (evidently England) to enter the Dardanelles, it will
incur the hostility of one of the three Powers (Russia). (5) They will
not oppose the union of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia "if it comes about
by the force of circumstances"; and will not allow Turkey to fortify the
Balkan Passes. Finally, by Article 6, they forbid any one of the
contracting Powers to occupy the Balkan Principalities. The compact held
good only for three years.

If these terms are correctly stated, the treaty was a great triumph for
Austria and Germany at the expense of Russia. It is not surprising that
the Czar finally broke away from the constraint imposed by the
Skiernewice compact. As we have seen, his conduct towards Bulgaria in
1885-86 brought him very near to a conflict with the Central Powers. The
mystery is why he ever joined them on terms so disadvantageous. The
explanation would seem to be that, like the King of Italy, he felt an
alliance with the "conservative" Powers of Central Europe to be some
safeguard against the revolutionary elements then so strong in Russia.

In the years 1886-87 that danger became less acute, and the dictates of
self-interest in foreign affairs resumed their normal sway. At the
beginning of the year 1887 Katkoff regained his influence over the mind
of the Czar by convincing him that the troubles in the Balkan Peninsula
were fomented by the statesmen of Berlin and Vienna in order to distract
his attention from Franco-German affairs. Let Russia and France join
hands, said Katkoff in effect, and then Russia would have a free hand in
Balkan politics and could lay down the law in European matters

In France the advantage of a Russian alliance was being loudly asserted
by General Boulanger--then nearing the zenith of his popularity--as also
by that brilliant leader of society, Mme. Adam, and a cluster of
satellites in the Press. Even de Giers bowed before the idea of the
hour, and allowed the newspaper which he inspired, _Le Nord_, to use
these remarkable words (February 20, 1887):

     Henceforth Russia will watch the events on the Rhine, and
     relegates the Eastern Question to the second place. The
     interests of Russia forbid her, in case of another
     Franco-German war, observing the same benevolent neutrality
     which she previously observed. The Cabinet of St. Petersburg
     will in no case permit a further weakening of France. In
     order to keep her freedom of action for this case, Russia
     will avoid all conflict with Austria and England, and will
     allow events to take their course in Bulgaria.

Thus, early in the year 1887, the tendency towards that equilibrium of
the Powers, which is the great fact of recent European history, began to
exercise a sedative effect on Russian policy in Bulgaria and in Central
Asia. That year saw the delimitation of the Russo-Afghan border, and the
adjustment in Central Asian affairs of a balance corresponding to the
equilibrium soon to be reached in European politics. That, too, was the
time when Bulgaria began firmly and successfully to assert her
independence and to crush every attempt at a rising on the part of her
Russophil officers. This was seen after an attempt which they made at
Rustchuk, when Stambuloff condemned nine of them to death. The Russian
Government having recalled all its agents from Bulgaria, the task of
saving these rebels devolved on the German Consuls, who were then doing
duty for Russia. Their efforts were futile, and Katkoff used their
failure as a means of poisoning the Czar's mind not only against
Germany, but also against de Giers, who had suggested the supervision of
Russian interests by German Consuls[261].

[Footnote 261: Elie de Cyon, _op. cit._ p. 274.]

Another incident of the spring-tide of 1887 kindled the Czar's anger
against the Teutons more fiercely and with more reason. On April 20, a
French police commissioner, Schnaebele, was arrested by two German
agents or spies on the Alsacian border in a suspiciously brutal manner,
and thrown into prison. Far from soothing the profound irritation which
this affair produced in France, Bismarck poured oil upon the flames a
few days later by a speech which seemed designed to extort from France a
declaration of war. That, at least, was the impression produced on the
mind of Alexander III., who took the unusual step of sending an
autograph letter to the Emperor William I. He, in his turn, without
referring the matter to Bismarck, gave orders for the instant release of
Schnaebele[262]. Thus the incident closed; but the disagreeable
impression which it created ended all chance of renewing the Three
Emperors' League. The Skiernewice compact, which had been formed for
three years, therefore came to an end.

[Footnote 262: See the _Nouvelle Revue_ for April 15, 1890, for Cyon's
version of the whole affair, which is treated with prudent brevity by
Oncken, Blum, and Delbrueck.]

Already, if we may trust the imperfect information yet available, France
and Russia had sought to break up the Triple Alliance. In the closing
weeks of 1886 de Giers sought to entice Italy into a compact with Russia
with a view to an attack on the Central States (her treaty with them
expired in the month of May following), and pointed to Trieste and the
Italian districts of Istria as a reward for this treachery. The French
Government is also believed to have made similar overtures, holding out
the Trentino (the southern part of Tyrol) as the bait. Signor Depretis,
true to the policy of the Triple Alliance, repelled these offers--an act
of constancy all the more creditable seeing that Bismarck had on more
than one occasion shown scant regard for the interests of Italy.

Even now he did little to encourage the King's Government to renew the
alliance framed in 1882. Events, however, again brought the Roman
Cabinet to seek for support. The Italian enterprise in Abyssinia had
long been a drain on the treasury, and the annihilation of a force by
those warlike mountaineers on January 26, 1887, sent a thrill of horror
through the Peninsula. The internal situation was also far from
promising. The breakdown of attempts at a compromise between the
monarchy and Pope Leo XIII. revealed the adamantine hostility of the
Vatican to the King's Government in Rome. A prey to these
discouragements, King Umberto and his advisers were willing to renew
the Triple Alliance (March 1887), though on terms no more advantageous
than before. Signor Depretis, the chief champion of the alliance, died
in July; but Signor Crispi, who thereafter held office, proved to be no
less firm in its support. After a visit to Prince Bismarck at his abode
of Friedrichsruh, near Hamburg, the Italian Prime Minister came back a
convinced Teutophil, and announced that Italy adhered to the Central
Powers in order to assure peace to Europe.

Crispi also hinted that the naval support of England might be
forthcoming if Italy were seriously threatened; and when the naval
preparations at Toulon seemed to portend a raid on the ill-protected
dockyard of Spezzia, British warships took up positions at Genoa in
order to render help if it were needed. This incident led to a
discussion in the _Neue Freie Presse_ of Vienna, owing to a speech made
by Signor Chiala at Rome. Mr. Labouchere also, on February 10, 1888,
sharply questioned Sir James Fergusson in the House of Commons on the
alleged understanding between England and Italy. All information,
however, was refused[263].

[Footnote 263: Hansard, vol. cccxii. pp. 1180 _et seq._; Chiala, _La
Triplice e la Duplice Alleanza_, app. ii.; Mr. Stillman, _Francesco
Crispi_ (p. 177), believes in the danger to Spezzia.]

Next to nothing, then, is known on the interesting question how far the
British Government went in framing an agreement with Italy, and through
her, with the Triple Alliance. We can only conjecture the motives which
induced the Salisbury Cabinet to make a strategic turn towards that
"conservative" alliance, and yet not definitely join it. The isolation
of England proved, in the sequel, to be not only a source of annoyance
to the Continental Powers but of weakness to herself, because her
statesmen failed to use to the full the potential advantages of their
position at the middle of the see-saw. Bismarck's dislike of England was
not incurable; he was never a thorough-going "colonial"; and it is
probable that the adhesion of England to his league would have
inaugurated a period of mutual good-will in politics, colonial policy,
and commerce. The abstention of England has in the sequel led German
statesmen to show all possible deference to Russia, generally at the
expense of British interests.

The importance of this consideration becomes obvious when the dangers of
the year 1887 are remembered. The excitement caused in Russia and France
by the Rustchuk and Schnaebele affairs, the tension in Germany produced
by the drastic proposals of a new Army Bill, and, above all, the
prospect of the triumph of Boulangist militarism in France, kept the
Continent in a state of tension for many months. In May, Katkoff nearly
succeeded in persuading the Czar to dismiss de Giers and adopt a warlike
policy, in the belief that a strong Cabinet was about to be formed at
Paris with Boulanger as the real motive power. After a long ministerial
crisis the proposed ministerial combination broke down; Boulanger was
shelved, and the Czar is believed to have sharply rebuked Katkoff for
his presumption[264]. This disappointment of his dearest hopes preyed on
the health of that brilliant publicist and hastened his end, which
occurred on August 1, 1887.

[Footnote 264: This version (the usual one) is contested by Cyon, who
says that Katkoff's influence over the Czar was undermined by a mean
German intrigue.]

The seed which Katkoff had sown was, however, to bring forth fruit.
Despite the temporary discomfiture of the Slavophils, events tended to
draw France and Russia more closely together. The formal statement of
Signor Crispi that the Triple Alliance was a great and solid fact would
alone have led to some counter move; and all the proofs of the
instability of French politics furnished by the Grevy-Wilson scandals
could not blind Russian statesmen to the need of some understanding with
a great Power[265].

[Footnote 265: See the Chauvinist pamphlets, _Echec et Mat a la
Politique de l'Ennemi de la France_, by "un Russe" (Paris, 1887); and
_Necessite de l'Alliance franco-russe_, by P. Pader (Toulouse, 1888).]

Bismarck sought to give the needed hand-grip. In November 1887, during
an interview with the Czar at Berlin, he succeeded in exposing the
forgery of some documents concerning Bulgaria which had prejudiced
Alexander against him. He followed up this advantage by secretly
offering the Cabinet of St. Petersburg a guarantee of German support in
case of an attack from Austria; but it does not appear that the Czar
placed much trust in the assurance, especially when Bismarck made his
rhetorical fanfare of February 6, 1888, in order to ensure the raising
of a loan of 28,000,000 marks for buying munitions of war.

That speech stands forth as a landmark in European politics. In a
simple, unadorned style the German Chancellor set forth the salient
facts of the recent history of his land, showing how often its peace had
been disturbed, and deducing the need for constant preparation in a
State bordered, as Germany was, by powerful neighbours:--"The pike in
the European pool prevent us from becoming carp; but we must fulfil the
designs of Providence by making ourselves so strong that the pike can do
no more than amuse us." He also traced the course of events which led to
the treaties with Austria and Italy, and asserted that by their
formation and by the recent publication of the treaty of 1882 with
Austria the German Government had not sought in any way to threaten
Russia. The present misunderstandings with that Power would doubtless
pass away; but seeing that the Russian Press had "shown the door to an
old, powerful, and effective friend, which we were, we shall not knock
at it again."

Bismarck's closing words--"We Germans fear God and nothing else in the
world; and it is the fear of God which makes us seek peace and ensue
it"--carried the Reichstag with him, with the result that the proposals
of the Government were adopted almost unanimously, and Bismarck received
an overwhelming ovation from the crowd outside. These days marked the
climax of the Chancellor's career and the triumph of the policy which
led to the Triple Alliance.

The question, which of the two great hostile groups was the more sincere
in its championship of peace principles, must remain one of the riddles
of the age. Bismarck had certainly given much provocation to France in
the Schnaebele affair; but in the year 1888 the chief danger to the
cause of peace came from Boulanger and the Slavophils of Russia. The
Chancellor, having carried through his army proposals, posed as a
peacemaker; and Germany for some weeks bent all her thoughts on the
struggle between life and death which made up the ninety days' reign of
the Emperor Frederick III. Cyon and other French writers have laboured
to prove that Bismarck's efforts to prevent his accession to the throne,
on the ground that he was the victim of an incurable disease, betokened
a desire for immediate war with France.

It appears, however, that the contention of the Chancellor was strictly
in accord with one of the fundamental laws of the Empire. His attitude
towards France throughout the later phases of the Boulanger affair was
coldly "correct," while he manifested the greatest deference towards the
private prejudices of the Czar when the Empress Frederick allowed the
proposals of marriage between her daughter and Prince Alexander of
Battenberg to be renewed. Knowing the unchangeable hatred of the Czar
for the ex-Prince of Bulgaria, Bismarck used all his influence to thwart
the proposal, which was defeated by the personal intervention of the
present Kaiser[266]. According to our present information, then, German
policy was sincerely peaceful, alike in aim and in tone, during the
first six months of the year; and the piling up of armaments which then
went on from the Urals to the Pyrenees may be regarded as an
unconsciously ironical tribute paid by the Continental Powers to the
cause of peace.

[Footnote 266: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages, etc._ vol. iii. p. 335.]

       *       *       *       *       *

A change came over the scene when William II. ascended the throne of
Germany (June 15, 1888). At once he signalised the event by issuing a
proclamation to the army, in which occurred the words: "I swear ever to
remember that the eyes of my ancestors look down upon me from the other
world, and that I shall one day have to render account to them of the
glory and honour of the army." The navy received his salutation on that
same day; and not until three days later did a proclamation go forth to
his people. Men everywhere remembered that "Frederick the Noble" had
first addressed his people, and then his army and navy. The inference
was unavoidable that the young Kaiser meant to be a Frederick the Great
rather than a "citizen Emperor," as his father had longed to be known.
The world has now learnt to discount the utterances of the most
impulsive of Hohenzollern rulers; but in those days, when it knew not
his complex character, such an army order seemed to portend the advent
of another Napoleon.

Not only France but Russia felt some alarm. True, the young Kaiser
speedily paid a visit to his relative at St. Petersburg; but it soon
appeared that the stolid and very reserved Alexander III. knew not what
to make of the versatile personality that now controlled the policy of
Central Europe. It was therefore natural that France and Russia should
take precautionary measures; and we now know that these were begun in
the autumn of that year.

In the first instance, they took the form of loans. A Parisian
financier, M. Hoskier, Danish by descent, but French by naturalisation
and sympathy, had long desired to use the resources of Paris as a means
of cementing friendship, and, if possible, alliance with Russia. For
some time he made financial overtures at St. Petersburg, only to find
all doors closed against him by German capitalists. But in the spring of
the year 1888 the Berlin Bourse had been seized by a panic at the
excessive amount of Russian securities held by German houses; large
sales took place, and thenceforth it seemed impossible for Russia to
raise money at Berlin or Frankfurt except on very hard terms.

Now was the opportunity for which the French houses had been waiting and
working. In October 1888, Hoskier received an invitation to repair to
St. Petersburg secretly, in order to consider the taking up of a loan of
500,000,000 francs at 4 per cent, to replace war loans contracted in
1877 at 5 per cent. At once he assured the Russian authorities that his
syndicate would accept the offer, and though the German financiers
raged and plotted against him, the loan went to Paris. This was the
beginning of a series of loans launched by Russia at Paris, and so
successfully that by the year 1894 as much as four milliards of francs
(L160,000,000) is said to have been subscribed in that way[267]. Thus
the wealth of France enabled Russia to consolidate her debt on easier
terms, to undertake strategic railways, to build a new navy, and arm her
immense forces with new and improved weapons. It is well known that
Russia could not otherwise have ventured on these and other costly
enterprises; and one cannot but admire the skill which she showed in
making so timely a use of Gallic enthusiasm, as well as the
statesmanlike foresight of the French in piling up these armaments on
the weakest flank of Germany.

[Footnote 267: E. Daudet, _Histoire diplomatique de l'Alliance
franco-russe_, pp. 270-279.]

Meanwhile the Boulangist bubble had burst. After his removal from the
army on the score of insubordination, "le brav' general" entered into
politics, and, to the surprise of all, gained an enormous majority in
the election for a district of Paris (January 1889). It is believed
that, had he rallied his supporters and marched against the Elysee, he
might have overthrown the parliamentary Republic. But, like Robespierre
at the crisis of his career, he did not strike--he discoursed of reason
and moderation. For once the authorities took the initiative; and when
the new Premier, Tirard, took action against him for treason, he fled to
Brussels on the appropriate date of the 1st of April. Thenceforth, the
Royalist-Bonapartist-Radical hybrid, known as Boulangism, ceased to
scare the world; and its challenging snorts died away in sounds which
were finally recognised as convulsive brayings. How far the Slavophils
of Russia had a hand in goading on the creature is not known. Elie de
Cyon, writing at a later date, declared that he all along saw through
and distrusted Boulanger. Disclaimers of this kind were plentiful in the
following years[268].

[Footnote 268: De Cyon, _op. cit._ pp. 394 _et seq._]

After the exposure of that hero of the Boulevards, it was natural that
the Czar should decline to make a binding compact with France; and he
signalised the isolation of Russia by proposing a toast to the Prince of
Montenegro as "the only sincere and faithful friend of Russia."
Nevertheless, the dismissal of Bismarck by William II., in March 1890,
brought about a time of strain and friction between Russia and Germany
which furthered the prospects of a Franco-Russian _entente_. Thenceforth
peace depended on the will of a young autocrat who now and again gave
the impression that he was about to draw the sword for the satisfaction
of his ancestral _manes_. A sharp and long-continued tariff war between
Germany and Russia also embittered the relations between the two Powers.

Rumours of war were widespread in the year 1891. Wild tales were told as
to a secret treaty between Germany and Belgium for procuring a passage
to the Teutonic hosts through that neutralised kingdom, and thus turning
the new eastern fortresses which France had constructed at enormous
cost[269]. Parts of Northern France were to be the reward of King
Leopold's complaisance, and the help of England and Turkey was to be
secured by substantial bribes[270]. The whole scheme wears a look of
amateurish grandiosity; but, on the principle that there is no smoke
without fire (which does not always hold good for diplomatic smoke),
much alarm was felt at Paris. The renewal of the Triple Alliance in June
1891, for a term of six years, was followed up a month later by a visit
of the Emperor William to England, during which he took occasion at the
Guildhall to state his desire "to maintain the historical friendship
between these our two nations" (July 10). Balanced though this assertion
was by an expression of a hope in the peaceful progress of all peoples,
the words sent an imaginative thrill to the banks of the Seine and
the Neva.

[Footnote 269: In the French Chamber of Deputies it was officially
stated in 1893, that in two decades France had spent the sum of
L614,000,000 on her army and the new fortresses, apart from that on
strategic railways and the fleet.]

[Footnote 270: Notovich, _L'Empereur Alexandre III._ ch. viii.]

The outcome of it all was the visit of the French Channel Fleet to
Cronstadt at the close of July; and the French statesman M. Flourens
asserts that the Czar himself took the initiative in this matter[271].
The fleet received an effusive welcome, and, to the surprise of all
Europe, the Emperor visited the flagship of Admiral Gervais and remained
uncovered while the band played the national airs of the two nations.
Few persons ever expected the autocrat of the East to pay that tribute
to the _Marseillaise_. But, in truth, French democracy was then entering
on a new phase at home. Politicians of many shades of opinion had begun
to cloak themselves with "opportunism"--a conveniently vague term, first
employed by Gambetta, but finally used to designate any serviceable
compromise between parliamentary rule, autocracy, and flamboyant
militarism. The Cronstadt _fetes_ helped on the warping process.

[Footnote 271: L.E. Flourens, _Alexandre III.: sa Vie, son Oeuvre_, p.

Whether any definite compact was there signed is open to doubt. The
_Times_ correspondent, writing on July 31 from St. Petersburg, stated
that Admiral Gervais had brought with him from Paris a draft of a
convention, which was to be considered and thereafter signed by the
Russian Ministers for Foreign Affairs, War, and the Navy, but not by the
Czar himself until the need for it arose. Probably, then, no alliance
was formed, but military and naval conventions were drawn up to serve as
bases for common action if an emergency should arise. These agreements
were elaborated in conferences held by the Russian generals, Vanoffski
and Obrucheff, with the French generals, Saussier, Miribel, and
Boisdeffre. A Russian loan was soon afterwards floated at Paris amidst
great enthusiasm.

For the present the French had to be satisfied with this exchange of
secret assurances and hard cash. The Czar refused to move further,
mainly because the scandals connected with the Panama affair once more
aroused his fears and disgust. De Cyon states that the degrading
revelations which came to light, at the close of 1891 and early in 1892,
did more than anything to delay the advent of a definite alliance. The
return visit of a Russian squadron to French waters was therefore
postponed to the month of October 1893, when there were wild rejoicings
at Toulon. The Czar and President exchanged telegrams, the former
referring to "the bonds which unite the two countries."

It appeared for a time that Russia meant to keep her squadron in the
Mediterranean; and representations on this subject are known to have
been made by England and Italy, which once again drew close together. A
British squadron visited Italian ports--an event which seemed to
foreshadow the entrance of the Island Power to the Triple Alliance. The
Russian fleet, however, left the Mediterranean, and the diplomatic
situation remained unchanged. Despite all the passionate wooing of the
Gallic race, no contract of marriage took place during the life of
Alexander III. He died on November 1, 1894, and his memory was extolled
in many quarters as that of the great peacemaker of the age.

How far he deserved this praise, to which every statesman of the first
rank laid claim, is matter for doubt. It is certain that he disliked war
on account of the evil results accruing from the Russo-Turkish conflict;
but whether his love of peace rested on grounds other than prudential
will be questioned by those who remember his savage repression of
non-Russian peoples in his Empire, his brutal treatment of the
Bulgarians and of their Prince, his underhand intrigues against Servia
and Roumania, and the favour which he showed to the commander who
violated international law at Panjdeh. That the French should enshrine
his memory in phrases to which their literary skill gives a world-wide
vogue is natural, seeing that he ended their days of isolation and saved
them from the consequences of Boulangism; but it still has to be proved
that, apart from the Schnaebele affair, Germany ever sought a quarrel
with France during the reign of Alexander III.; and it may finally
appear that the Triple Alliance was the genuinely conservative league
which saved Europe from the designs of the restless Republic and the
exacting egotism of Alexander III.

Another explanation of the Franco-Russian _entente_ is fully as tenable
as the theory that the Czar based his policy on the seventh beatitude. A
careful survey of the whole of that policy in Asia, as well as in
Europe, seems to show that he drew near to the Republic in order to
bring about an equilibrium in Europe which would enable him to throw his
whole weight into the affairs of the Far East. Russian policy has
oscillated now towards the West, now towards the East; but old-fashioned
Russians have always deplored entanglement in European affairs, and have
pointed to the more hopeful Orient. Even during the pursuit of
Napoleon's shattered forces in their retreat from Moscow in 1812, the
Russian Commander, Kutusoff, told Sir Robert Wilson that Napoleon's
overthrow would benefit, not the world at large, but only England[272].
He failed to do his utmost, largely because he looked forward to peace
with France and a renewal of the Russian advance on India.

[Footnote 272: _The French Invasion of Russia_, by Sir R. Wilson, p.

The belief that England was the enemy came to be increasingly held by
leading Russians, especially, of course, after the Crimean War and the
Berlin Congress. Russia's true mission, they said, lay in Asia. There,
among those ill-compacted races, she could easily build up an Empire
that never could be firmly founded on tough, recalcitrant Bulgars or
warlike Turks. The Triple Alliance having closed the door to Russia on
the West, there was the greater temptation to take the other alternative
course--that line of least resistance which led towards Afghanistan and
Manchuria. The value of an understanding with France was now clear to
all. As we have seen, it guarded Russia's exposed frontier in Poland,
and poured into the exchequer treasures which speedily took visible form
in the Siberian railway, as well as the extensions of the lines leading
to Merv and Tashkend.

But this eastern trend of Russian policy can scarcely be called
peaceful. The Panjdeh incident (March 29, 1885) would have led any other
Government than that of Mr. Gladstone to declare war on the aggressor.
Events soon turned the gaze of the Russians towards Manchuria, and the
Franco-Russian agreement enabled them to throw their undivided energies
in that direction (see Chapter XX.). It was French money which enabled
Russia to dominate Manchuria, and, for the time, to overawe Japan. In
short, the Dual Alliance peacefully conducted the Muscovites to
Port Arthur.

       *       *       *       *       *

The death of Alexander III. in November 1894 brought to power a very
different personality, kindlier and more generous, but lacking the
strength and prudence of the deceased ruler. Nicholas II. had none of
that dislike of Western institutions which haunted his father. The way
was therefore open for a more binding compact with France, the need for
which was emphasised by the events of the years 1894-95 in the Far East.
But the manner in which it came about is still but dimly known. Members
of the House of Orleans are said to have taken part in the overtures,
perhaps with the view of helping on the hypnotising influence which
alliance with the autocracy of the East exerts on the democracy of
the West.

The Franco-Russian _entente_ ripened into an alliance in the year 1895.
So, at least, we may judge from the reference to Russia as "notre allie"
by the Prime Minister, M. Ribot, in the debate of June 10, 1895.
Nicholas II., at the time of his visit to Paris in 1896, proclaimed his
close friendship with the Republic; and during the return visit of
President Faure to Cronstadt and St. Petersburg he gave an even more
significant sign that the two nations were united by something more than
sentiment and what Carlyle would have called the cash-nexus. On board
the French warship _Pothuau_ he referred in his farewell speech to the
"nations amies et alliees" (August 26, 1897).

The treaty has never been made public, but a version of it appeared in
the _Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung_ of September 21, 1901, and in the Paris
paper, _La Liberte_ five days later. Mr. Henry Norman gives the
following summary of the information there unofficially communicated.
After stating that the treaty contains no direct reference to Germany,
he proceeds: "It declares that if either nation is attacked, the other
will come to its assistance with the whole of its military and naval
forces, and that peace shall only be concluded in concert and by
agreement between the two. No other _casus belli_ is mentioned, no term
is fixed to the duration of the treaty, and the whole instrument
consists of only a few clauses[273]."

[Footnote 273: H. Norman, M.P., _All the Russias_, p. 390 (Heinemann,
1902). See the articles on the alliance as it affects Anglo-French
relations by M. de Pressense in the _Nineteenth Century_ for February
and November 1896; also Mr. Spenser Wilkinson's _The Nation's
Awakening_, ch. v.]

Obviously France and Russia cannot help one another with all their
forces unless the common foe were Germany, or the Triple Alliance as a
whole. In that case alone would such a clause be operative. The pressure
of France and Russia on the flanks of the German Empire would be
terrible; and it is inconceivable that Germany would attack France,
knowing that such action would bring the weight of Russia upon her
weakest frontier. It is, however, conceivable that the three central
allies might deem the strain of an armed peace to be unendurable and
attack France or Russia. To such an attack the Dual Alliance would
oppose about equal forces, though now hampered by the weakening of the
Empire in the Far East.

Another account, also unofficial and discreetly vague, was given to the
world by a diplomatist at the time when the Armenian outrages had for a
time quickened the dull conscience of Christendom[274]. Assuming that
the Sick Man of the East was at the point of death, the anonymous writer
hinted at the profitable results obtainable by the Continental States
if, leaving England out of count, they arranged the Eastern Question _a
l'aimable_ among themselves. The Dual Alliance, he averred, would not
meet the needs of the situation; for it did not contemplate the
partition of Turkey or a general war in the East.

[Footnote 274: _L'Alliance Franco-russe devant la Crise Orientale_, par
un Diplomate etranger. (Paris, Plon. 1897).]

     Both parties [France and Russia] have examined the course to
     be taken in the case of aggression by one or more members of
     the Triple Alliance; an understanding has been arrived at on
     the great lines of general policy; but of necessity they did
     not go further. If the Russian Government could not undertake
     to place its sword at the service of France with a view to a
     revision of the Treaty of Frankfurt--a demand, moreover,
     which France did not make--it cannot claim that France should
     mobilise her forces to permit it to extend its territory in
     Europe or in Asia. They know that very well on the banks of
     the Neva.

To this interesting statement we may add that France and Russia have
been at variance on the Eastern Question. Thus, when, in order to press
her rightful claims on the Sultan, France determined to coerce him by
the seizure of Mitylene, if need be, the Czar's Government is known to
have discountenanced this drastic proceeding. Speaking generally, it is
open to conjecture whether the Dual Alliance refers to other than
European questions. This may be inferred from the following fact. On the
announcement of the Anglo-Japanese compact early in 1902, by which
England agreed to intervene in the Far Eastern Question if another Power
helped Russia against Japan, the Governments of St. Petersburg and Paris
framed a somewhat similar convention whereby France definitely agreed to
take action if Russia were confronted by Japan and a European or
American Power in these quarters. No such compact would have been needed
if the Franco-Russian alliance had referred to the problems of the
Far East.

Another "disclosure" of the early part of 1904 is also noteworthy. The
Paris _Figaro_ published official documents purporting to prove that
the Czar Nicholas II., on being sounded by the French Government at the
time of the Fashoda incident, declared his readiness to abide by his
engagements in case France took action against Great Britain. The
_Figaro_ used this as an argument in favour of France actively
supporting Russia against Japan, if an appeal came from St. Petersburg.
This contention would now meet with little support in France. The events
of the Russo-Japanese War and the massacre of workmen in St. Petersburg
on January 22, 1905, have visibly strained Franco-Russian relations.
This is seen in the following speech of M. Anatole France on February 1,
1905, with respect to his interview with the Premier, M. Combes:--

     At the beginning of this war I had heard it said very vaguely
     that there existed between France and Russia firm and fast
     engagements, and that, if Russia came to blows with a second
     Power, France would have to intervene. I asked M. Combes,
     then Prime Minister, whether anything of the kind existed. M.
     Combes thought it due to his position not to give a precise
     answer; but he declared to me in the clearest way that so
     long as he was Minister we need not fear that our sailors and
     our soldiers would be sent to Japan. My own opinion is that
     this folly is not to be apprehended under any Ministry. (_The
     Times_. February 3.)

At present, then, everything tends to show that the Franco-Russian
alliance refers solely to European questions and is merely a defensive
agreement in view of a possible attack from one or more members of the
Triple Alliance. Seeing that the purely defensive character of the
latter has always been emphasised, doubts are very naturally expressed
in many quarters as to the use of these alliances. The only tangible
advantage gained by any one of the five Powers is that Russia has had
greater facilities for raising loans in France and in securing her hold
on Manchuria. On the other hand, Frenchmen complain that the alliance
has entailed an immense financial responsibility, which is dearly bought
by the cessation of those irritating frontier incidents of the
Schnaebele type which they had to put up with from Bismarck in the days
of their isolation[275].

[Footnote 275: See an article by Jules Simon in the _Contemporary
Review_, May 1894.]

Italy also questions the wisdom of her alliance with the Central Powers
which brings no obvious return except in the form of slightly enhanced
consideration from her Latin sister. In cultured circles on both sides
of the Maritime Alps there is a strong feeling that the present
international situation violates racial instincts and tradition; and, as
we have already seen, Italy's attitude towards France is far different
now from what it was in 1882. It is now practically certain that
Italians would not allow the King's Government to fight France in the
interests of the Central Powers. Their feelings are quite natural. What
have Italians in common with Austrians and Prussians? Little more, we
may reply, than French republicans with the subjects of the Czar. In
truth both of these alliances rest, not on whole-hearted regard or
affection, but on fear and on the compulsion which it exerts.

To this fact we may, perhaps, largely attribute the _malaise_ of Europe.
The Greek philosopher Empedocles looked on the world as the product of
two all-pervading forces, love and hate, acting on blind matter: love
brought cognate particles together and held them in union; hate or
repulsion kept asunder the unlike or hostile elements. We may use the
terms of this old cosmogony in reference to existing political
conditions, and assert that these two elemental principles have drawn
Europe apart into two hostile masses; with this difference, that the
allies for the most part are held together, not so much by mutual regard
as by hatred of their opposites. From this somewhat sweeping statement
we must mark off one exception. There were two allies who came together
with the ease which betokens a certain amount of affinity. Thanks to the
statesmanlike moderation of Bismarck after Koeniggraetz, Austria willingly
entered into a close compact with her former rival. At least that was
the feeling among the Germans and Magyars of the Dual Monarchy. The
Austro-German alliance, it may be predicted, will hold good while the
Dual Monarchy exists in its present form; but even in that case fear of
Russia is the one great binding force where so much else is centrifugal.
If ever the Empire of the Czar should lose its prestige, possibly the
two Central Powers would drift apart.

Although there are signs of weakness in both alliances, they will
doubtless remain standing as long as the need which called them into
being remains. Despite all the efforts made on both sides, the military
and naval resources of the two great leagues are approximately equal. In
one respect, and in one alone, Europe has benefited from these
well-matched efforts. The uneasy truce that has been dignified by the
name of peace since the year 1878 results ultimately from the fact that
war will involve the conflict of enormous citizen armies of nearly
equal strength.

So it has come to this, that in an age when the very conception of
Christendom has vanished, and ideal principles have been well-nigh
crushed out of life by the pressure of material needs, peace again
depends on the once-derided principle of the balance of power. That it
should be so is distressing to all who looked to see mankind win its way
to a higher level of thought on international affairs. The level of
thought in these matters could scarcely be lower than it has been since
the Armenian massacres. The collective conscience of Europe is as torpid
as it was in the eighteenth century, when weak States were crushed or
partitioned, and armed strength came to be the only guarantee of safety.

At the close of this volume we shall glance at some of the influences
which the Tantalus toil of the European nations has exerted on the life
of our age. It is not for nothing that hundreds of millions of men are
ever striving to provide the sinews of war, and that rulers keep those
sinews in a state of tension. The result is felt in all the other organs
of the body politic. Certainly the governing classes of the Continent
must be suffering from atrophy of the humorous instinct if they fail to
note the practical nullity of the efforts which they and their subjects
have long put forth. Perhaps some statistical satirist of the twentieth
century will assess the economy of the process which requires nearly
twelve millions of soldiers for the maintenance of peace in the most
enlightened quarter of the globe.


In the _Echo de Paris_ of July 3, 1905, the Comte de Nion published
documents which further prove the importance of the services rendered by
Great Britain to France at the time of the war scare of May 1875. They
confirm the account as given in this chapter, but add a few more
details. See, too, corroborative evidence in the _Times_ for July
4, 1905.


It has been stated, apparently on good authority, that the informal
conversations which went on during the Congress of Berlin between the
plenipotentiaries of the Powers (see _ante_, p. 328) furnished Italy
with an assurance that, in the event of France expanding in North
Africa, Italy should find "compensation" in Tripoli. Apparently this
explains her recent action there (October 1911).



     "The Germans have reached their day, the English their
     mid-day, the French their afternoon, the Italians their
     evening, the Spanish their night; but the Slavs stand on the
     threshold of the morning."--MADAME NOVIKOFF ("O.K.")--_The
     Friends and Foes of Russia_.

The years 1879-85 which witnessed the conclusion of the various
questions opened up by the Treaty of Berlin and the formation of the
Triple Alliance mark the end of a momentous period in European history.
The quarter of a century which followed the Franco-Austrian War of 1859
in Northern Italy will always stand out as one of the most momentous
epochs in State-building that the world has ever seen. Italy, Denmark,
Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Turkey, assumed their present form. The
Christians of the Balkan Peninsula made greater strides towards liberty
than they had taken in the previous century. Finally, the new diplomatic
grouping of the Powers helped to endow these changes with a permanence
which was altogether wanting to the fitful efforts of the period
1815-59. That earlier period was one of feverish impulse and picturesque
failure; the two later decades were characterised by stern organisation
and prosaic success.

It generally happens to nations as to individuals that a period devoted
to recovery from internal disorders is followed by a time of great
productive and expansive power. The introspective epoch gives place to
one of practical achievement. Faust gives up his barren speculations
and feels his way from thought to action. From "In the beginning was the
Word" he wins his way onward through "the Thought" and "the Might,"
until he rewrites the dictum "In the beginning was the Deed." That is
the change which came over Germany and Europe in the years 1850-80. The
age of the theorisers of the _Vor-Parlament_ at Frankfurt gave place to
the age of Bismarck. The ideals of Mazzini paled in the garish noonday
of the monarchical triumph at Rome.

Alas! too, the age of great achievement, that of the years 1859-85,
makes way for a period characterised by satiety, torpor, and an
indefinable _malaise_. Europe rests from the generous struggles of the
past, and settles down uneasily into a time of veiled hostility and
armed peace. Having framed their State systems and covering alliances,
the nations no longer give heed to constitutions, rights of man, or
duties of man; they plunge into commercialism, and search for new
markets. Their attitude now is that of Ancient Pistol when he exclaims

                  "The world's mine oyster,
     Which I with sword will open."

In Europe itself there is little to chronicle in the years 1885-1900,
which are singularly dull in regard to political achievement. No popular
movement (not even those of the distressed Cretans and Armenians) has
aroused enough sympathy to bring it to the goal. The reason for this
fact seems to be that the human race, like the individual, is subject to
certain alternating moods which may be termed the enthusiastic and the
practical; and that, during the latter phase, the material needs of life
are so far exalted at the expense of the higher impulses that small
struggling communities receive not a tithe of the sympathy which they
would have aroused in more generous times.

The fact need not beget despair. On the contrary, it should inspire the
belief that, when the fit passes away, the healthier, nobler mood will
once more come; and then the world will pulsate with new life, making
wholesome use of the wealth previously stored up but not assimilated. It
is significant that Gervinus, writing in 1853, spoke of that epoch as
showing signs of disenchantment and exhaustion in the political sphere.
In reality he was but six years removed from the beginning of an age of
constructive activity the like of which has never been seen.

Further, we may point out that the ebb in the tide of human affairs
which set in about the year 1885 was due to specific causes operating
with varied force on different peoples. First in point of time, at the
close of the year 1879, came the decision of Bismarck and of the German
Reichstag to abandon the cause of Free Trade in favour of a narrow
commercial nationalism. Next came the murder of the Czar Alexander II.
(March 1881), and the grinding down of the reformers and of all alien
elements by his stern successor. Thus, the national impulse, which had
helped on that of democracy in the previous generation, now lent its
strength to the cause of economic, religious, and political reaction in
the two greatest of European States.

In other lands that vital force frittered itself away in the frothy
rhetoric of Deroulede and the futile prancings of Boulanger, in the
gibberings of _Italia Irredenta_, or in the noisy obstruction of Czechs
and Parnellites in the Parliaments of Vienna and London. Everything
proclaimed that the national principle had spent its force and could now
merely turn and wobble until it came to rest.

A curious series of events also served to discredit the party of
progress in the constitutional States. Italian politics during the
ascendancy of Depretis, Mancini, and Crispi became on the one side a
mere scramble for power, on the other a nervous edging away from the
gulf of bankruptcy ever yawning in front. France, too, was slow to
habituate herself to parliamentary institutions, and her history in the
years 1887 to 1893 is largely that of a succession of political scandals
and screechy recriminations, from the time of the Grevy-Wilson affair to
the loathsome end of the Panama Company. In the United Kingdom the
wheels of progress lurched along heavily after the year 1886, when
Gladstone made his sudden strategic turn towards the following of
Parnell. Thus it came about that the parties of progress found
themselves almost helpless or even discredited; and the young giant of
Democracy suddenly stooped and shrivelled as if with premature decay.

The causes of this seeming paralysis were not merely political and
dynamic: they were also ethical. The fervour of religious faith was
waning under the breath of a remorseless criticism and dogmatic
materialism. Already, under their influence, the teachers of the earlier
age, Carlyle, Tennyson, and Browning, had lost their joyousness and
spontaneity; and the characteristic thinkers of the new age were chiefly
remarkable for the arid formalism with which they preached the gospel of
salvation for the strong and damnation to the weak. The results of the
new creed were not long in showing themselves in the political sphere.
If the survival of the fittest were the last word of philosophy, where
was the need to struggle on behalf of the weak and oppressed? In that
case, it might be better to leave them to the following clutch of the
new scientific devil; while those who had charged through to the head of
the rout enjoyed themselves with utmost abandon. Such was, and is, the
deduction from the new gospel (crude enough, doubtless, in many
respects), which has finally petrified in the lordly egotism of Nietzche
and in the unlovely outlines of one or two up-to-date Utopias.

These fashions will have their day. Meanwhile it is the duty of the
historian to note that self-sacrifice and heroism have a hard struggle
for life in an age which for a time exalted Herbert Spencer to the
highest pinnacle of greatness, which still riots in the calculating
selfishness of Nietzsche and raves about Omar Khayyam.

Seeing, then, that the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century in
Europe were almost barren of great formative movements such as had
ennobled the previous decades, we may well leave that over-governed,
over-drilled continent weltering in its riches and discontent, its
militarism and moral weakness, in order to survey events further afield
which carried on the State-building process to lands as yet chaotic or
ill-organised. There, at least, we may chronicle some advance, hampered
though it has been by the moral languor or laxity that has warped the
action of Europeans in their new spheres.

The transference of human interest from European history to that of Asia
and Africa is certainly one of the distinguishing features of the years
in question. The scene of great events shifts from the Rhine and the
Danube to the Oxus and the Nile. The affairs of Rome, Alsace, and
Bulgaria being settled for the present, the passions of great nations
centre on Herat and Candahar, Alexandria and Khartum, the Cameroons,
Zanzibar, and Johannesburg, Port Arthur and Korea. The United States,
after recovering from the Civil War and completing their work of
internal development, enter the lists as a colonising Power, and drive
forth Spain from two of her historic possessions. Strife becomes keen
over the islands of the Pacific. Australia seeks to lay hands on New
Guinea, and the European Powers enter into hot discussions over
Madagascar, the Carolines, Samoa, and many other isles.

In short, these years saw a repetition of the colonial strifes that
marked the latter half of the eighteenth century. Just as Europe, after
solving the questions arising out of the religious wars, betook itself
to marketing in the waste lands over the seas, so too, when the impulses
arising from the incoming of the principles of democracy and nationality
had worn themselves out, the commercial and colonial motive again came
uppermost. And, as in the eighteenth century, so too after 1880 there
was at hand an economic incentive spurring on the Powers to annexation
of new lands. France had recurred to protective tariffs in 1870.
Germany, under Bismarck, followed suit ten years later; and all the
continental Powers in turn, oppressed by armaments and girt around with
hostile tariffs, turned instinctively to the unclaimed territories
oversea as life-saving annexes for their own overstocked
industrial centres.

       *       *       *       *       *

It will be convenient to begin the recital of extra-European events by
considering the expansion of Russia and Great Britain in Central Asia.
There, it is true, the commercial motive is less prominent than that of
political rivalry; and the foregoing remarks apply rather to the recent
history of Africa than to that of Central Asia. But, as the plan of this
work is to some extent chronological, it seems better to deal first with
events which had their beginning further back than those which relate to
the partition of Africa.

The two great colonising and conquering movements of recent times are
those which have proceeded from London and Moscow as starting-points. In
comparison with them the story of the enterprise of the Portuguese and
Dutch has little more than the interest that clings around an almost
vanished past. The halo of romance that hovers over the exploits of
Spaniards in the New World has all but faded away. Even the more solid
achievements of the gallant sons of France in a later age are of small
account when compared with the five mighty commonwealths that bear
witness to the strength of the English stock and the adaptability of its
institutions, or with the portentous growth of the Russian Empire
in Asia.

The methods of expansion of these two great colonial Empires are
curiously different; and students of Ancient History will recall a
similar contrast in the story of the expansion of the Greek and Latin
races. The colonial Empire of England has been sown broadcast over the
seas by adventurous sailors, the freshness and spontaneity of whose
actions recall corresponding traits in the maritime life of Athens.
Nursed by the sea, and filled with the love of enterprise and freedom
which that element inspires, both peoples sought wider spheres for their
commerce, and homes more spacious and wealthy than their narrow cradles
offered; but, above all, they longed to found a microcosm of Athens or
England, with as little control from the mother-land as might be.

The Russian Empire, on the other hand, somewhat resembles that of Rome
in its steady, persistent extension of land boundaries by military and
governmental methods. The Czars, like the Consuls and Emperors of Rome,
set to work with a definite purpose, and brought to bear on the
shifting, restless tribes beyond their borders the pressure of an
unchanging policy and of a well-organised administration. Both States
relied on discipline and civilisation to overcome animal strength and
barbarism; and what they won by the sword, they kept by means of a good
system of roads and by military colonies. In brief, while Ancient Greece
and Modern England worked through sailors and traders, Rome and Russia
worked through soldiers, road-makers, and proconsuls. The Sea Powers
trusted mainly to individual initiative and civic freedom; the Land
Powers founded their empires on organisation and order. The dominion of
the former was sporadic and easily dissolvable; that of the latter was
solid, and liable to be destroyed only by some mighty cataclysm. The
contrast between them is as old and ineffaceable as that which subsists
between the restless sea and the unchanging plain.

While the comparison between England and Athens is incomplete, and at
some points fallacious, that between the Czars and the Caesars is in many
ways curiously close and suggestive. As soon as the Roman eagles soared
beyond the mighty ring of the Alps and perched securely on the slopes of
Gaul and Rhaetia, the great Republic had the military advantage of
holding the central position as against the mutually hostile tribes of
Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. Thanks to that advantage, to her
organisation, and to her military colonies, she pushed forward an
ever-widening girdle of empire, finally conferring the blessings of the
_pax Romana_ on districts as far remote as the Tyne, the Lower Rhine and
Danube, the Caucasus, and the Pillars of Hercules.

Russia also has used to the full the advantages conferred by a central
position, an inflexible policy, and a military-agrarian system well
adapted to the needs of the nomadic peoples on her borders. In the
fifteenth century, her polity emerged victorious from the long struggle
with the Golden Horde of Tartars [I keep the usual spelling, though
"Tatars" is the correct form]; and, as the barbarous Mongolians lost
their hold on the districts of the middle Volga, the power of the Czars
began its forward march, pressing back Asiatics on the East and Poles on
the West. In 1556, Ivan the Terrible seized Astrakan at the mouth of the
Volga, and victoriously held Russia's natural frontiers on the East, the
Ural Mountains, and the northern shore of the Caspian Sea. We shall deal
in a later chapter with her conquest of Siberia, and need only note here
that Muscovite pioneers reached the shores of the Northern Pacific as
early as the year 1636.

Russia's conquests at the expense of Turks, Circassians, and Persians is
a subject alien to this narrative; and the tragic story of the overthrow
of Poland at the hand of the three partitioning Powers, Russia, Prussia,
and Austria, does not concern us here.

It is, however, needful to observe the means by which she was able to
survive the dire perils of her early youth and to develop the colonising
and conquering agencies of her maturer years. They may be summed up in
the single word, "Cossacks."

The Cossacks are often spoken of as though they were a race. They are
not; they are bands or communities, partly military, partly nomadic or
agricultural, as the case may be. They can be traced back to bands of
outlaws who in the time of Russia's weakness roamed about on the verge
of her settlements, plundering indifferently their Slavonic kinsmen, or
the Tartars and Turks farther south. They were the "men of the plain,"
who had fled from the villages of the Slavs, or (in fewer cases) from
the caravans of the Tartars, owing to private feuds, or from love of a
freer and more lucrative life than that of the village or the
encampment. In this debatable land their numbers increased until, Slavs
though they mainly were, they became a menace to the growing power of
the Czars. Ivan the Terrible sent expeditions against them, transplanted
many of their number, and compelled those who remained in the space
between the rivers Don and Ural to submit to his authority, and to give
military service in time of war in return for rights of pasturage and
tillage in the districts thenceforth recognised as their own. Some of
them transferred their energies to Asia; and it was a Cossack outlaw,
Jermak, who conquered a great part of Siberia. The Russian pioneers, who
early penetrated into Siberia or Turkestan, found it possible at a later
time to use these children of the plain as a kind of protective belt
against the warlike natives. The same use was made of them in the South
against Turks. Catharine II. broke the power of the "Zaporoghians"
(Cossacks of the Dnieper), and settled large numbers of them on the
River Kuban to fight the Circassians.

In short, out of the driftwood and wreckage of their primitive social
system the Russians framed a bulwark against the swirling currents of
the nomad world outside. In some respects the Cossacks resemble the
roving bands of Saxons and Franks who pushed forward roughly but
ceaselessly the boundaries of the Teutonic race[276]. But, whereas those
offshoots soon came to have a life of their own, apart from the parent
stems, Russia, on the other hand, has known how to keep a hold on her
boisterous youth, turning their predatory instincts against her worst
neighbours, and using them as hardy irregulars in her wars.

[Footnote 276: See Caesar, _Gallic War_, bk. vi., for an account of the
formation, at the tribal meeting, of a roving band.]

Considering the number of times that the Russian Government crushed the
Cossack revolts, broke up their self-made organisation, and transplanted
unruly bands to distant parts, their almost invariable loyalty to the
central authority is very remarkable. It may be ascribed either to the
veneration which they felt for the Czar, to the racial sentiment which
dwells within the breast of nearly every Slav, or to their proximity to
alien peoples whom they hated as Mohammedans or despised as godless
pagans. In any case, the Russian autocracy gained untold advantages from
the Cossack fringe on the confines of the Empire.

Some faint conception of the magnitude of that gain may be formed, if,
by way of contrast, we try to picture the Teutonic peoples always acting
together, even through their distant offshoots; or, again, if by a
flight of fancy we can imagine the British Government making a wise use
of its old soldiers and the flotsam and jetsam of our cities for the
formation of semi-military colonies on the most exposed frontiers of the
Empire. That which our senators have done only in the case of the
Grahamstown experiment of 1819, Russia has done persistently and
successfully with materials far less promising--a triumph of
organisation for which she has received scant credit.

The roving Cossacks have become practically a mounted militia, highly
mobile in peace and in war. Free from taxes, and enjoying certain
agrarian or pastoral rights in the district which they protect, their
position in the State is fully assured. At times the ordinary Russian
settlers are turned into Cossacks. Either by that means, or by migration
from Russia, or by a process of accretion from among the conquered
nomads, their ranks are easily recruited; and the readiness with which
Tartars and Turkomans are absorbed into this cheap and effective militia
has helped to strengthen Russia alike in peace and war. The source of
strength open to her on this side of her social system did not escape
the notice of Napoleon--witness his famous remark that within fifty
years Europe would be either Republican or Cossack[277].

[Footnote 277: For the Cossacks, see D.M. Wallace's _Russia_, vol. ii.
pp. 80-95; and Vladimir's _Russia on the Pacific_, pp. 46-49. The former
points out that their once democratic organisation has vanished under
the autocracy; and that their officers, appointed by the Czar, own most
of the land, formerly held in common.]

The firm organisation which Central Europe gained under the French
Emperor's hammer-like blows served to falsify the prophecy; and the
stream of Russian conquest, dammed up on the west by the
newly-consolidated strength of Prussia and Austria, set strongly towards
Asia. Pride at her overthrow of the great conqueror in 1812 had
quickened the national consciousness of Russia; and besides this
praiseworthy motive there was another perhaps equally potent, namely,
the covetousness of her ruling class. The Memoirs written by her
bureaucrats and generals reveal the extravagance, dissipation, and
luxury of the Court circles. Fashionable society had as its main
characteristic a barbaric and ostentatious extravagance, alike in
gambling and feasting, in the festivals of the Court or in the scarcely
veiled debauchery of its devotees. Baron Loewenstern, who moved in its
higher ranks, tells of cases of a license almost incredible to those who
have not pried among the garbage of the Court of Catharine II. This
recklessness, resulting from the tendency of the Muscovite nature, as of
the Muscovite climate, to indulge in extremes, begot an imperious need
of large supplies of money; and, ground down as were the serfs on the
broad domains of the nobles, the resulting revenues were all too scanty
to fill up the financial void created by the urgent needs of St.
Petersburg, Gatchina, or Monte Carlo. Larger domains had to be won in
order to outvie rivals or stave off bankruptcy; and these new domains
could most easily come by foreign conquest.

For an analogous reason, the State itself suffered from land hunger. Its
public service was no less corrupt than inefficient. Large sums
frequently vanished, no one knew whither; but one infallible cure for
bankruptcy was always at hand, namely, conquests over Poles, Turks,
Circassians, or Tartars. To this Catharine II. had looked when she
instituted the vicious practice of paying the nobles for their services
at Court; and during her long career of conquest she greatly developed
the old Muscovite system of meeting the costs of war out of the domains
of the vanquished, besides richly dowering the Crown, and her generals
and favoured courtiers. One of the Russian Ministers, referring to the
notorious fact that his Government made war for the sake of booty as
well as glory, said to a Frenchman, "We have remained somewhat Asiatic
in that respect[278]." It is not always that a Minister reveals so
frankly the motives that help to mould the policy of a great State.

[Footnote 278: Quoted by Vandal, _Napoleon I. et Alexandre,_ vol. i. p.

The predatory instinct, once acquired, does not readily pass away.
Alexander I. gratified it by forays in Circassia, even at the time when
he was face to face with the might of the great Napoleon; and after the
fall of the latter, Russia pushed on her confines in Georgia until they
touched those of Persia. Under Nicholas I. little territory was added
except the Kuban coast on the Black Sea, Erivan to the south of Georgia,
and part of the Kirghiz lands in Turkestan.

The reason for this quiescence was that almost up to the verge of the
Crimean War Nicholas hoped to come to an understanding with England
respecting an eventual partition of the Turkish Empire, Austria also
gaining a share of the spoils. With the aim of baiting these proposals,
he offered, during his visit to London in 1844, to refrain from any
movement against the Khanates of Central Asia, concerning which British
susceptibilities were becoming keen. His Chancellor, Count Nesselrode,
embodied these proposals in an important Memorandum, containing a
promise that Russia would leave the Khanates of Turkestan as a neutral
zone in order to keep the Russian and British possessions in Asia "from
dangerous contact[279]."

[Footnote 279: Quoted on p. 14 of _A Diplomatic Study on the Crimean
War,_ issued by the Russian Foreign Office, and attributed to Baron
Jomini (Russian edition, 1879; English edition, 1882).]

For reasons which we need not detail, British Ministers rejected these
overtures, and by degrees England entered upon the task of defending the
Sultan's dominions, largely on the assumption that they formed a
necessary bulwark of her Indian Empire. It is not our purpose to
criticise British policy at that time. We merely call attention to the
fact that there seemed to be a prospect of a friendly understanding with
Russia respecting Turkey, Asia Minor, Egypt, and Central Asia; and that
the British Government decided to maintain the integrity of Turkey by
attacking the Power which seemed about to impugn it. As a result, Turkey
secured a new lease of life by the Crimean War, while Alexander II.
deemed himself entirely free to press on Asiatic conquests from which
his father had refrained. Thus, the two great expanding Powers entered
anew on that course of rivalry in Asia which has never ceased, and which
forms to-day the sole barrier to a good understanding between them.

After the Crimean War circumstances favoured the advance of the Russian
arms. England, busied with the Sepoy Mutiny in India, cared little what
became of the rival Khans of Turkestan; and Lord Lawrence,
Governor-General of India in 1863-69, enunciated the soothing doctrine
that "Russia might prove a safer neighbour than the wild tribes of
Central Asia." The Czar's emissaries therefore had easy work in
fomenting the strifes that constantly arose in Bokhara, Khiva, and
Tashkend, with the result that in 1864 the last-named was easily
acquired by Russia. We may add here that Tashkend is now an important
railway centre in the Russian Central Asian line, and that large stores
of food and material are there accumulated, which may be utilised in
case Russia makes a move against Afghanistan or Northern India.

In 1868 an outbreak of Mohammedan fanaticism in Bokhara brought the
Ameer of that town into collision with the Russians, who thereupon
succeeded in taking Samarcand. The capital of the empire of Tamerlane,
"the scourge of Asia," now sank to the level of an outpost of Russian
power, and ultimately to that of a mart for cotton. The Khan of Bokhara
fell into a position of complete subservience, and ceded to the
conquerors the whole of his province of Samarcand[280].

[Footnote 280: For an account of Samarcand and Bokhara, see _Russia in
Central Asia,_ by Hon. G. (Lord) Curzon (1889); A. Vambery's _Travels in
Central Asia_ (1867-68); Rev. H. Lansdell, _Russian Central Asia,_ 2
vols. (1885); E. Schuyler, _Journey in Russian Turkestan,_ etc., 2 vols.
(1876); E. O'Donovan, _The Merv Oasis,_ 2 vols. (1883).]

It is believed that the annexation of Samarcand was contrary to the
intentions of the Czar. Alexander II. was a friend of peace; and he had
no desire to push forward his frontiers to the verge of Afghanistan,
where friction would probably ensue with the British Government. Already
he had sought to allay the irritation prevalent in Russophobe circles in
England. In November 1864, his Chancellor, Prince Gortchakoff, issued a
circular setting forth the causes that impelled the Russians on their
forward march. It was impossible, he said, to keep peace with
uncivilised and predatory tribes on their frontiers. Russia must press
on until she came into touch with a State whose authority would
guarantee order on the boundaries. The argument was a strong one; and it
may readily be granted that good government, civilisation, and commerce
have benefited by the extension of the _pax Russica_ over the
slave-hunting Turkomans and the inert tribes of Siberia.

Nevertheless, as Gortchakoff's circular expressed the intention of
refraining from conquest for the sake of conquest, the irritation in
England became very great when the conquest of Tashkend, and thereafter
of Samarcand, was ascribed, apparently on good grounds, to the ambition
of the Russian commanders, Tchernaieff and Kaufmann respectively. On the
news of the capture of Samarcand reaching London, the Russian ambassador
hastened to assure the British Cabinet that his master did not intend to
retain his conquest. Nevertheless, it was retained. The doctrine of
political necessity proved to be as expansive as Russia's boundaries;
and, after the rapid growth of the Indian Empire under Lord Dalhousie,
the British Government could not deny the force of the plea.

This mighty stride forward brought Russia to the northern bounds of
Afghanistan, a land which was thenceforth to be the central knot of
diplomatic problems of vast magnitude. It will therefore be well, in
beginning our survey of a question which was to test the efficacy of
autocracy and democracy in international affairs, to gain some notion
of the physical and political conditions of the life of that people.

As generally happens in a mountainous region in the midst of a great
continent, their country exhibits various strata of conquest and
settlement. The northern district, sloping towards Turkestan, is
inhabited mainly by Turkomans who have not yet given up their roving
habits. The rugged hill country bordering on the Punjab is held by
Pathans and Ghilzais, who are said by some to be of the same stock as
the Afghans. On the other hand, a well-marked local legend identifies
the Afghans proper with the lost ten tribes of Israel; and those who
love to speculate on that elusive and delusive subject may long use
their ingenuity in speculating whether the oft-quoted text as to the
chosen people possessing the gates of their enemies is more applicable
to the sea-faring and sea-holding Anglo-Saxons or to the
pass-holding Afghans.

That elevated plateau, ridged with lofty mountains and furrowed with
long clefts, has seen Turkomans, Persians, and many other races sweep
over it; and the mixture of these and other races, perhaps including
errant Hebrews, has there acquired the sturdiness, tenacity, and
clannishness that mark the fragments of three nations clustering
together in the Alpine valleys; while it retains the turbulence and
fierceness of a full-blooded Asiatic stock. The Afghan problem is
complicated by these local differences and rivalries; the north cohering
with the Turkomans, Herat and the west having many affinities and
interests in common with Persia, Candahar being influenced by
Baluchistan, while the hill tribes of the north-east bristle with local
peculiarities and aboriginal savagery. These districts can be welded
together only by the will of a great ruler or in the white heat of
religious fanaticism; and while Moslem fury sometimes unites all the
Afghan clans, the Moslem marriage customs result fully as often in a
superfluity of royal heirs, which gives rein to all the forces that make
for disruption. Afghanistan is a hornet's nest; and yet, as we shall see
presently, owing to geographical and strategical reasons, it cannot be
left severely alone. The people are to the last degree clannish; and
nothing but the grinding pressure of two mighty Empires has endowed them
with political solidarity.

It is not surprising that British statesmen long sought to avoid all
responsibility for the internal affairs of such a land. As we have seen,
the theory which found favour with Lord Lawrence was that of intervening
as little as possible in the affairs of States bordering on India, a
policy which was termed "masterly inactivity" by the late Mr. J.W.S.
Wyllie. It was the outcome of the experience gained in the years
1839-42, when, after alienating Dost Mohammed, the Ameer of Afghanistan,
by its coolness, the Indian Government rushed to the other extreme and
invaded the country in order to tear him from the arms of the more
effusive Russians.

The results are well known. Overweening confidence and military
incapacity finally led to the worst disaster that befell a British army
during the nineteenth century, only one officer escaping from among the
4500 troops and 12,000 camp followers who sought to cut their way back
through the Khyber Pass[281]. A policy of non-intervention in the
affairs of so fickle and savage a people naturally ensued, and was
stoutly maintained by Lords Canning, Elgin, and Lawrence, who held sway
during and after the great storm of the Indian Mutiny. The worth of that
theory of conduct came to be tested in 1863, on the occasion of the
death of Dost Mohammed, who had latterly recovered Herat from Persia,
and brought nearly the whole of the Afghan clans under his sway. He had
been our friend during the Mutiny, when his hostility might readily have
turned the wavering scales of war; and he looked for some tangible
return for his loyal behaviour in preventing the attempt of some of his
restless tribesmen to recover the once Afghan city of Peshawur.

[Footnote 281: Sir J.W. Kaye, _History of the War in Afghanistan_, 5
vols. (1851-78).]

To his surprise and disgust he met with no return whatever, even in a
matter which most nearly concerned his dynasty and the future of
Afghanistan. As generally happens with Moslem rulers, the aged Ameer
occupied his declining days with seeking to provide against the troubles
that naturally resulted from the oriental profusion of his marriages.
Dost Mohammed's quiver was blessed with the patriarchal equipment of
sixteen sons--most of them stalwart, warlike, and ambitious. Eleven of
them limited their desires to parts of Afghanistan, but five of them
aspired to rule over all the tribes that go to make up that seething
medley. Of these, Shere Ali was the third in age but the first in
capacity, if not in prowess. Moreover, he was the favourite son of Dost
Mohammed; but where rival mothers and rival tribes were concerned, none
could foresee the issue of the pending conflict[282].

[Footnote 282: G.B. Malleson, _History of Afghanistan_, p. 421.]

Dost Mohammed sought to avert it by gaining the effective support of the
Indian Government for his Benjamin. He pleaded in vain. Lord Canning,
Governor-General of India at the time of the Mutiny, recognised Shere
Ali as heir-apparent, but declined to give any promise of support either
in arms or money. Even after the Mutiny was crushed, Lord Canning and
his successor, Lord Elgin, adhered to the former decision, refusing even
a grant of money and rifles for which father and son pleaded.

As we have said, Dost Mohammed died in 1863; but even when Shere Ali was
face to face with formidable family schisms and a widespread revolt,
Lord Lawrence clung to the policy of recognising only "_de facto_
Powers," that is, Powers which actually existed and could assert their
authority. All that he offered was to receive Shere Ali in conference,
and give him good advice; but he would only recognise him as Ameer of
Afghanistan if he could prevail over his brothers and their tribesmen.
He summed it up in this official letter of April 17, 1866, sent to the
Governor of the Punjab:--

It should be our policy to show clearly that we will not interfere in
the struggle, that we will not aid either party, that we will leave the
Afghans to settle their own quarrels, and that we are willing to be on
terms of amity and good-will with the nation and with their rulers _de
facto_. Suitable opportunities can be taken to declare that these are
the principles which will guide our policy; and it is the belief of the
Governor-General that such a policy will in the end be appreciated[283].

[Footnote 283: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), p. 10. For a
defence of this policy of "masterly inactivity," see Mr. Bosworth
Smith's _Life of Lord Lawrence_, vol. ii. pp. 570-590; also Mr. J.W.S.
Wyllie's _Essays on the External Policy of India_.]

The Afghans did not appreciate it. Shere All protested that it placed a
premium on revolt; he also complained that the Viceroy not only gave him
no help, but even recognised his rival, Ufzul, when the latter captured
Cabul. After the death of Ufzul and the assumption of authority at Cabul
by a third brother, Azam, Shere Ali by a sudden and desperate attempt
drove his rival from Cabul (September 8, 1868) and practically ended the
schisms and strifes which for five years had rent Afghanistan in twain.
Then, but then only, did Lord Lawrence consent to recognise him as Ameer
of the whole land, and furnish him with L60,000 and a supply of arms. An
act which, five years before, would probably have ensured the speedy
triumph of Shere Ali and his lasting gratitude to Great Britain, now
laid him under no sense of obligation[284]. He might have replied to
Lord Lawrence with the ironical question with which Dr. Johnson declined
Lord Chesterfield's belated offer of patronage: "Is not a patron, my
lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the
water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help?"

[Footnote 284: The late Duke of Argyll in his _Eastern Question_ (vol.
ii. p. 42) cited the fact of this offer of money and arms as a proof
that Lord Lawrence was not wedded to the theory of "masterly
inactivity," and stated that the gift helped Shere Ali to complete his
success. It is clear, however, that Lord Lawrence waited to see whether
that success was well assured before the offer was made.

The Duke of Argyll proves one thing, that the action of Lord Lawrence in
September 1868 was not due to Sir Henry Rawlinson's despatch from London
(dated July 20, 1868) in favour of more vigorous action. It was due to
Lawrence's perception of the change brought about by Russian action in
the Khanate of Bokhara, near the Afghan border.]

Moreover, there is every reason to think that Shere Ali, with the
proneness of orientals to refer all actions to the most elemental
motives, attributed the change of front at Calcutta solely to fear. That
was the time when the Russian capture of Samarcand cowed the Khan of
Bokhara and sent a thrill through Central Asia. In the political
psychology of the Afghans, the tardy arrival at Cabul of presents from
India argued little friendship for Shere Ali, but great dread of the
conquering Muscovites.

Such, then, was the policy of "masterly inactivity" in 1863-68, cheap
for India, but excessively costly for Afghanistan. Lord Lawrence
rendered incalculable services to India before and during the course of
the Mutiny, but his conduct towards Shere Ali is certainly open to
criticism. The late Duke of Argyll, Secretary of State for India in the
Gladstone Ministry (1868-74), supported it in his work, _The Eastern
Question,_ on the ground that the Anglo-Afghan treaty of 1855 pledged
the British not to interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan[285]. But
uncalled for interference is one thing; to refuse even a slight measure
of help to an ally, who begs it as a return for most valuable services,
is quite another thing.

[Footnote 285: The Duke of Argyll, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 226 (London,
1879). For the treaty, see Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878),
p. 1.]

Moreover, the Viceroy himself was brought by the stern logic of events
implicitly to give up his policy. In one of his last official
despatches, written on January 4, 1869, he recognised the gain to Russia
that must accrue from our adherence to a merely passive policy in
Central Asian affairs. He suggested that we should come to a "clear
understanding with the Court of St. Petersburg as to its projects and
designs in Central Asia, and that it might be given to understand in
firm but courteous language, that it cannot be permitted to interfere in
the affairs of Afghanistan, or in those of any State which lies
contiguous to our frontier."

This sentence tacitly implied a change of front; for any prohibition to
Russia to interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan virtually involved
Britain's claim to exercise some degree of suzerainty in that land. The
way therefore seemed open for a new departure, especially as the new
Governor-General, Lord Mayo, was thought to favour the more vigorous
ideas latterly prevalent at Westminster. But when Shere Ali met the new
Viceroy in a splendid Durbar at Umballa (March 1869) and formulated his
requests for effective British support, in case of need, they were, in
the main, refused[286].

[Footnote 286: Sir W.W. Hunter, _The Earl of Mayo_, p. 125 (Oxford,
1891); the Duke of Argyll, _op. cit._ vol. ii, p. 252.]

We may here use the words in which the late Duke of Argyll summed up the
wishes of the Ameer and the replies of Lord Mayo:--

He (the Ameer) wanted to have an unconditional treaty, offensive and
defensive. He wanted to have a fixed subsidy. He wanted to have a
dynastic guarantee. He would have liked sometimes to get the loan of
English officers to drill his troops, or to construct his
forts--provided they retired the moment they had done this work for him.
On the other hand, officers "resident" in his country as political
agents of the British Government were his abhorrence.

Lord Mayo's replies, or pledges, were virtually as follows:--

The first pledge (says the Duke of Argyll) was that of non-interference
in his (the Ameer's) affairs. The second pledge was that "we would
support his independence." The third pledge was "that we would not force
European officers, or residents, upon him against his wish[287]."

[Footnote 287: Argyll, _op. cit._ vol. i. Preface, pp. xxiii.-xxvi.]

There seems to have been no hopeless contrariety between the views of
the Ameer and the Viceroy save in one matter that will be noted
presently. It is also of interest to learn from the Duke's narrative,
which claims to be official in substance, however partisan it may be in
form, that there was no difference of opinion on this important subject
between Lord Mayo and the Gladstone Ministry, which came to power
shortly after his departure for India. The new Viceroy summed up his
views in the following sentence, written to the Duke of Argyll: "The
safe course lies in watchfulness, and friendly intercourse with
neighbouring tribes."

Apparently, then, there was a fair chance of arriving at an agreement
with the Ameer. But the understanding broke down on the question of the
amount of support to be accorded to Shere Ali's dynasty. That ruler
wished for an important modification of the Anglo-Afghan treaty of 1855,
which had bound his father to close friendship with the old Company
without binding the Company to intervene in his favour. That, said Shere
Ali, was a "dry friendship." He wanted a friendship more fruitful than
that of the years 1863-67, and a direct support to his dynasty whenever
he claimed it. The utmost concession that Lord Mayo would grant was that
the British Government would "view with severe displeasure any attempt
to disturb your position as Ruler of Cabul, and rekindle civil

[Footnote 288: Argyll, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 263.]

It seems that Shere Ali thought lightly of Britain's "displeasure," for
he departed ill at ease. Not even the occasional presents of money and
weapons that found their way from Calcutta to Cabul could thenceforth
keep his thoughts from turning northwards towards Russia. At Umballa he
had said little about that Power; and the Viceroy had very wisely
repressed any feelings of anxiety that he may have had on that score.
Possibly the strength and cheeriness of Lord Mayo's personality would
have helped to assuage the Ameer's wounded feelings; but that genial
Irishman fell under the dagger of a fanatic during a tour in the Andaman
Islands (February 1872). His death was a serious event. Shere Ali
cherished towards him feelings which he did not extend to his successor,
Lord Northbrook (1872-76).

Yet, during that vice-royalty, the diplomatic action of Great Britain
secured for the Ameer the recognition of his claims over the northern
part of Afghanistan, as far as the banks of the Upper Oxus. In the
years 1870-72 Russia stoutly contested those claims, but finally
withdrew them, the Emperor declaring at the close of the latter year
"that such a question should not be a cause of difference between the
two countries, and he was determined it should not be so." It is further
noteworthy that Russian official communications more than once referred
to the Ameer of Afghanistan as being "under the protection of the Indian

[Footnote 289: Argyll, _op. cit._ vol. ii. pp. 289, 292. For the Czar's
assurance that "extension of territory" was "extension of weakness," see
Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), p. 101.]

These signal services of British diplomacy counted for little at Cabul
in comparison with the question of the dynastic guarantee which we
persistently withheld. In the spring of 1873, when matters relating to
the Afghan-Persian frontier had to be adjusted, the Ameer sent his Prime
Minister to Simla with the intention of using every diplomatic means for
the extortion of that long-delayed boon.

The time seemed to favour his design. Apart from the Persian boundary
questions (which were settled in a manner displeasing to the Ameer),
trouble loomed ahead in Central Asia. The Russians were advancing on
Khiva; and the Afghan statesman, during his stay at Simla, sought to
intimidate Lord Northbrook by parading this fact. He pointed out that
Russia would easily conquer Khiva and then would capture Merv, near the
western frontier of Afghanistan, "either in the current year or the
next." Equally obvious was his aim in insisting that "the interests of
the Afghan and English Governments are identical," and that "the border
of Afghanistan is in truth the border of India." These were ingenious
ways of working his intrenchments up to the hitherto inaccessible
citadel of Indian border policy. The news of the Russian advance on
Khiva lent strength to his argument.

[Illustration: AFGHANISTAN]

Yet, when he came to the question of the guarantee of Shere Ali's
dynasty, he again met with a rebuff. In truth, Lord Northbrook and his
advisers saw that the Ameer was seeking to frighten them about Russia
in order to improve his own family prospects in Afghanistan; and, paying
too much attention, perhaps, to the oriental artfulness of the method of
request, and too little to the importance of the questions then at
stake, he decided to meet the Ameer in regard to non-essentials, though
he failed to satisfy him on the one thing held to be needful at the
palace of Cabul.

Anxious, however, to consult the Home Government on a matter of such
importance, now that the Russians were known to be at Khiva, Lord
Northbrook telegraphed to the Duke of Argyll on July 24, 1873:--

Ameer of Cabul alarmed at Russian progress, dissatisfied with general
assurance, and anxious to know how far he may rely on our help if
invaded. I propose assuring him that if he unreservedly accepts and acts
on our advice in all external relations, we will help him with money,
arms, and troops, if necessary, to expel unprovoked aggression. We to be
the judge of the necessity. Answer by telegraph quickly.

The Gladstone Ministry was here at the parting of the ways. The Ameer
asked them to form an alliance on equal terms. They refused, believing,
as it seems, that they could keep to the old one-sided arrangement of
1855, whereby the Ameer promised effective help to the Indian
Government, if need be, and gained only friendly assurance in return.
The Duke of Argyll telegraphed in reply on July 26:--

Cabinet thinks you should inform Ameer that we do not at all share his
alarm, and consider there is no cause for it; but you may assure him we
shall maintain our settled policy in favour of Afghanistan if he abides
by our advice in external affairs[290].

[Footnote 290: Argyll, _op. cit._ vol. ii. 331. The Gladstone Cabinet
clearly weakened Lord Northbrook's original proposal, and must therefore
bear a large share of responsibility for the alienation of the Ameer
which soon ensued. The Duke succeeded in showing up many inaccuracies in
the versions of these events afterwards given by Lord Lytton and Lord
Cranbrook; but he was seemingly quite unconscious of the consequences
resulting from adherence to an outworn theory.]

This answer, together with a present of L100,000 and 20,000 rifles, was
all that the Ameer gained; his own shrewd sense had shown him long
before that Britain must in any case defend Afghanistan against Russia.
What he wanted was an official recognition of his own personal position
as ruler, while he acted, so to speak, as the "Count of the Marches" of
India. The Gladstone Government held out no hopes of assuring the future
of their _Mark-graf_ or of his children after him. The remembrance of
the disaster in the Khyber Pass in 1841 haunted them, as it had done
their predecessors, like a ghost, and scared them from the course of
action which might probably have led to the conclusion of a close
offensive and defensive alliance between India and Afghanistan.

Such a consummation was devoutly to be hoped for in view of events which
had transpired in Central Asia. Khiva had been captured by the Russians.
This Khanate intervened between Bokhara and the Caspian Sea, which the
Russians used as their base of operations on the west. The plea of
necessity was again put forward, and it might have been urged as
forcibly on geographical and strategic grounds as on the causes that
were alleged for the rupture. They consisted mainly of the frontier
incidents that are wont to occur with restless, uncivilised neighbours.
The Czar's Government also accused the Khivans of holding some Russian
subjects in captivity, and of breaking their treaty of 1842 with Russia
by helping the Khirgiz Horde in a recent revolt against their
new masters.

Russia soon had ready three columns, which were to converge on Khiva:
one was stationed on the River Ural, a second at the rising port of
Krasnovodsk on the Caspian Sea, and a third, under General Kaufmann, at
Tashkend. So well were their operations timed that, though the distances
to be traversed varied from 480 to 840 miles, in parts over a waterless
desert, yet the three chief forces arrived almost simultaneously at
Khiva and met with the merest show of resistance (June 1873). Setting
the young Khan on the throne of his father, they took from him his
ancestral lands of the right bank of the Amu Daria (Oxus) and imposed
on him a crushing war indemnity of 2,200,000 roubles, which assured his
entire dependence on his new creditors. They further secured their hold
on these diminished territories by erecting two forts on the river[291].
The Czar's Government was content with assuring its hold upon Khiva,
without annexing the Khanate outright, seeing that it had disclaimed any
such intention[292]. All the same, Russia was now mistress of nearly the
whole of Central Asia; and the advance of roads and railways portended
further conquests at the expense of Persia and the few remaining
Turkoman tribes.

[Footnote 291: J. Popowski, _The Rival Powers in Central Asia_, p. 47
(Eng. edit).; A. Vambery, _The Coming Struggle for India_, p. 21; A.R.
Colquhoun, _Russia against India_, pp. 24-26; Lavisse and Rambaud,
_Histoire Generale_, vol. xii. pp. 793-794.]

[Footnote 292: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), p. 101.]

In order to estimate the importance of these facts, it must be
remembered that the teachings of Geography and History concur in showing
the practicability of an invasion of India from Central Asia. Touching
first the geographical facts, we may point out that India and
Afghanistan stand in somewhat the same relation to the Asiatic continent
that Italy and Switzerland hold to that of Europe. The rich lands and
soft climate of both Peninsulas have always been an irresistible
attraction to the dwellers among the more barren mountains and plains of
the North; and the lie of the land on the borders of both of these
seeming Eldorados favours the advance of more virile peoples in their
search for more genial conditions of life. Nature, which enervates the
defenders in their sultry plains, by her rigorous training imparts a
touch of the wolf to the mountaineers or plain-dwellers of the North;
and her guides (rivers and streams) conduct the hardy seekers for the
sun by easy routes up to the final mountain barriers. Finally, those
barriers, the Alps and the Hindu Koosh, are notched by passes that are
practicable for large armies, as has been seen now and again from the
times of Alexander the Great and Hannibal to those of Nadir Shah
and Napoleon.

In these conditions, physical and climatic, is to be found the reason
for the success that has so often attended the invasions of Italy and
India. Only when the Romans organised all the forces of their Peninsula
and the fresh young life beyond, were the defensive powers of Italy
equal to her fatally attractive powers. Only when Britain undertook the
defence of India, could her peoples feel sure of holding the North-West
against the restless Pathans and Afghans; and the situation was wholly
changed when a great military Empire pushed its power to the river-gates
of Afghanistan.

The friendship of the Ameer was now a matter of vital concern; and yet,
as we have seen, Lord Northbrook alienated him, firstly by giving an
unfavourable verdict in regard to the Persian boundary in the district
of Seistan, and still more so by refusing to grant the long-wished-for
guarantee of his dynasty.

The year 1873 marks a fatal turning-point in Anglo-Afghan relations.
Yakub Khan told Lord Roberts at Cabul in 1879 that his father, Shere
Ali, had been thoroughly disgusted with Lord Northbrook in 1873, "and at
once made overtures to the Russians, with whom constant intercourse had
since been kept up[293]."

[Footnote 293: Lord Roberts, _Forty-one Years in India_, vol. ii. p.
247; also _Life of Abdur Rahman_, by Mohammed Khan, 2 vols. (1900), vol.
i. p. 149.]

In fact, all who are familiar with the events preceding the first Afghan
War (1839-42) can now see that events were fast drifting into a position
dangerously like that which led Dost Mohammed to throw himself into the
arms of Russia. At that time also the Afghan ruler had sought to gain
the best possible terms for himself and his dynasty from the two rivals;
and, finding that the Russian promises were far more alluring than those
emanating from Calcutta, he went over to the Muscovites. At bottom that
had been the determining cause of the first Afghan War; and affairs were
once more beginning to revolve in the same vicious circle. Looking back
on the events leading up to the second Afghan War, we can now see that a
frank compliance with the demands of Shere Ali would have been far less
costly than the non-committal policy which in 1873 alienated him.
Outwardly he posed as the aggrieved but still faithful friend. In
reality he was looking northwards for the personal guarantee which never
came from Calcutta.

It should, however, be stated that up to the time of the fall of the
Gladstone Ministry (February 1874), Russia seemed to have no desire to
meddle in Afghan affairs. The Russian Note of January 21, 1874, stated
that the Imperial Government "continued to consider Afghanistan as
entirely beyond its sphere of action[294]." Nevertheless, that
declaration inspired little confidence. The Russophobes, headed by Sir
Henry Rawlinson and Sir Bartle Frere, could reply that they distrusted
Russian disclaimers concerning Afghanistan, when the plea of necessity
had so frequently and so speedily relegated to oblivion the earlier
"assurances of intention."

[Footnote 294: Argyll, _Eastern Question_, vol. ii. p. 347. See,
however, the letters that passed between General Kaufmann, Governor of
Turkestan, and Cabul in 1870-74, in Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 1
(1881), pp. 2-10.]

Such was the state of affairs when, in February 1874, Disraeli came to
power at Westminster with Lord Salisbury as Secretary of State for
India. The new Ministry soon showed the desire to adopt a more spirited
foreign policy than their predecessors, who had fretted public opinion
by their numerous acts of complaisance or surrender. Russia soon gave
cause for complaint. In June 1874 the Governor of the trans-Caspian
province issued a circular, warning the nomad Turkomans of the Persian
border-lands against raiding; it applied to tribes inhabiting districts
within what were considered to be the northern boundaries of Persia.
This seemed to contravene the assurances previously given by Russia that
she would not extend her possessions in the southern part of Central
Asia[295]. It also foreshadowed another stride forward at the expense of
the Turkoman districts both of Persia and Afghanistan.

[Footnote 295: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), p. 107.]

As no sufficient disclaimer appeared, the London partisans of the
Indian "forward policy" sought to induce Lord Derby and Lord Salisbury
to take precautionary measures. Their advice was summed up in the Note
of January 11, 1875, written by that charming man and able
administrator, Sir Bartle Frere. Its chief practical recommendation was,
firstly, the despatch of British officers to act as political agents at
Cabul, Candahar, and Herat; and, secondly, the occupation of the
commanding position of Quetta, in Baluchistan, as an outpost commanding
the chief line of advance from Central Asia into India[296].

[Footnote 296: General Jacob had long before advocated the occupation of
this strong flanking position. It was supported by Sir C. Dilke in his
_Greater Britain_ (1867).]

This Note soon gained the ear of the Cabinet; and on January 22, 1875,
Lord Salisbury urged Lord Northbrook to take measures to procure the
assent of the Ameer to the establishment of British officers at Candahar
and Herat (not at Cabul)[297]. The request placed Lord Northbrook in an
embarrassing position, seeing that he knew full well the great
reluctance of the Ameer at all times to receive any British Mission. On
examining the evidence as to the Ameer's objection to receive British
Residents, the viceroy found it to be very strong, while there is ground
for thinking that Ministers and officials in London either ignored it or
sought to minimise its importance. The pressure which they brought to
bear on Lord Northbrook was one of the causes that led to his
resignation (February 1876). He believed that he was in honour bound by
the promise, given to the Ameer at the Umballa Conference, not to impose
a British Resident on him against his will.

[Footnote 297: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), pp. 128-129.]

He was succeeded by a man of marked personality, Lord Lytton. The only
son of the celebrated novelist, he inherited decided literary gifts,
especially an unusual facility of expression both in speech and writing,
in prose and verse. Any tendency to redundance in speech is generally
counted unfavourable to advancement in diplomatic circles, where
Talleyrand's _mot_ as to language being a means of _concealing_ thought
still finds favour. Owing, however, to the influence of his uncle, then
British Ambassador at Washington, but far more to his own talents,
Lytton rose rapidly in the diplomatic service, holding office in the
chief embassies, until Disraeli discerned in the brilliant speaker and
writer the gifts that would grace the new imperial policy in the East.

In ordinary times the new Viceroy would probably have crowned the new
programme with success. His charm and vivacity of manner appealed to
orientals all the more by contrast with the cold and repellent behaviour
that too often characterises Anglo-Indian officials in their dealings
with natives. Lytton's mind was tinged with the eastern glow that lit up
alike the stories, the speeches, and the policy of his chief. It is
true, the imperialist programme was as grandiosely vague as the meaning
of _Tancred_ itself; but in a land where forms and words count for much
the lack of backbone in the new policy was less observed and commented
on than by the matter-of-fact islanders whom it was designed to glorify.

The apotheosis of the new policy was the proclamation of Queen Victoria
as Empress of India (July 1, 1877), an event which was signalised by a
splendid Durbar at Delhi on January 1, 1878. The new title warned the
world that, however far Russia advanced in Central Asia, England nailed
the flag of India to her masthead. It was also a useful reminder to the
small but not uninfluential Positivist school in England that their
"disapproval" of the existence of a British Empire in India was wholly
Platonic. Seeing also that the name "Queen" in Hindu (_Malika_) was one
of merely respectable mediocrity in that land of splendour, the new
title, "Kaisar-i-Hind," helped to emphasise the supremacy of the British
Raj over the Nizam and Gaekwar. In fact, it is difficult now to take
seriously the impassioned protests with which a number of insulars
greeted the proposal.

Nevertheless, in one sense the change of title came about most
inopportunely. Fate willed that over against the Durbar at Delhi there
stood forth the spectral form of Famine, bestriding the dusty plains of
the Carnatic. By the glint of her eyes the splendours of Delhi shone
pale, and the viceregal eloquence was hushed in the distant hum of her
multitudinous wailing. The contrast shocked all beholders, and unfitted
them for a proper appreciation of the new foreign policy.

That policy may also be arraigned on less sentimental grounds. The year
1876 witnessed the re-opening of the Eastern Question in a most
threatening manner, the Disraeli Ministry taking up what may be termed
the Palmerstonian view that the maintenance of Turkey was essential to
the stability of the Indian Empire. As happened in and after 1854,
Russia, when thwarted in Europe, sought for her revenge in the lands
bordering on India. No district was so favourable to Muscovite schemes
as the Afghan frontier, then, as now, the weakest point in Great
Britain's imperial armour. Thenceforth the Afghan Question became a
pendant of the Eastern Question.

Russia found ready to hand the means of impressing the Ameer with a
sense of her irresistible power. The Czar's officials had little
difficulty in picking a quarrel with the Khanate of Khokand. Under the
pretext of suppressing a revolt (which Vambery and others consider to
have been prepared through Muscovite agencies) they sent troops,
ostensibly with the view of favouring the Khan. The expedition gained a
complete success, alike over the rebels and the Khan himself, who
thenceforth sank to the level of pensioner of his liberators (1876). It
is significant that General Kaufmann at once sent to the Ameer at Cabul
a glowing account of the Russian success[298]; and the news of this
communication increased the desire of the British Government to come to
a clear understanding with the Ameer.

[Footnote 298: Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1881), pp. 12-14;
Shere Ali's letters to him (some of them suspicious) and the replies are
also printed.]

Unfortunately our authorities set to work in a way that increased his
irritation. Lord Salisbury on February 28, 1876, instructed Lord Lytton
to offer slightly larger concessions to Shere Ali; but he refused to go
further than to allow "a frank recognition (not a guarantee) of a _de
facto_ order in the succession" to the throne of Afghanistan, and
undertook to defend his dominions against external attack "only in some
clear case of unprovoked aggression." On the other hand, the British
Government stated that "they must have, for their own agents, undisputed
access to [the] frontier positions [of Afghanistan][299]." Thus, while
granting very little more than before, the new Ministry claimed for
British agents and officers a right of entry which wounded the pride of
a suspicious ruler and a fanatical people.

[Footnote 299: Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1881), pp. 156-159.]

To sum up, we gave Shere Ali no help while he was struggling for power
with his rivals; and after he had won the day, we pinned him to the
terms of a one-sided alliance. In the matter of the Seistan frontier
dispute with Persia, British arbitration was insolently defied by the
latter Power, yet we urged the Ameer to accept the Shah's terms.
According to Lord Napier of Magdala, he felt the loss of the once Afghan
district of Seistan more keenly than anything else, and thenceforth
regarded us as weak and untrustworthy[300].

[Footnote 300: _Ibid_. pp. 225-226.]

The Ameer's irritation increased at the close of the year when the
Viceroy concluded an important treaty with the Khan of Khelat in
Baluchistan. It would take us too far from our main path to turn aside
into the jungle of Baluchee politics. Suffice it to say that the long
series of civil strifes in that land had come to an end largely owing to
the influence of Major (afterwards Sir Robert) Sandeman. His fine
presence, masterful personality, frank, straightforward, and kindly
demeanour early impressed the Khan and his turbulent Sirdars. In two
Missions which he undertook to Khelat in the years 1875 and 1876, he
succeeded in stilling their internal feuds and in clearing away the
misunderstandings which had arisen with the Indian Government. But he
saw still further ahead. Detecting signs of foreign intrigue in that
land, he urged that British mediation should, if possible, become
permanent. His arguments before long convinced the new Viceroy, Lord
Lytton, who had at first doubted the advisability of the second Mission;
and in the course of a tour along the north-west frontier, he held at
Jacobabad a grand Durbar, which was attended by the Khan of Khelat and
his once rebellious Sirdars. There on December 8, 1876, he signed a
treaty with the Khan, whereby the British Government became the final
arbiter in all disputes between him and his Sirdars, obtained the right
of stationing British troops in certain parts of Baluchistan, and of
constructing railways and telegraphs. Three lakhs of rupees were given
to the Khan, and his yearly subsidy of Rs. 50,000 was doubled[301].

[Footnote 301: _Sir Robert Sandeman_, by T.H. Thornton, chaps, ix.-x.;
Parl. Papers relating to the Treaty . . . of 8th Dec. 1876; _The Forward
Policy and its Results_, by R.I. Bruce; _Lord Lytton's Indian
Administration,_ by Lady Betty Balfour, chap. iii.

The Indian rupee is worth sixteen pence.]

The Treaty of Jacobabad is one of the most satisfactory diplomatic
triumphs of the present age. It came, not as the sequel to a sanguinary
war, but as a sign of the confidence inspired in turbulent and sometimes
treacherous chiefs by the sterling qualities of those able frontier
statesmen, the Napiers, the Lawrences, General Jacob, and Major
Sandeman. It spread the _pax Britannica_ over a land as large as Great
Britain, and quietly brought a warlike people within the sphere of
influence of India. It may be compared with Bonaparte's Act of Mediation
in Switzerland (1803), as marking the triumph of a strong organising
intelligence over factious groups, to which it imparted peace and order
under the shelter of a generally beneficent suzerainty. Before long a
strong garrison was posted at Quetta, and we gained the right to enlist
Baluchee troops of excellent fighting powers. The Quetta position is a
mountain bastion which strengthens the outer defences of India, just as
the Alps and Juras, when under Napoleon's control, menaced any invaders
of France.

This great advantage was weighted by one considerable drawback. The
victory of British influence in Baluchistan aroused the utmost
resentment of Shere Ali, who now saw his southern frontier outflanked by
Britain. Efforts were made in January-February 1877 to come to an
understanding; but, as Lord Lytton insisted on the admission of British
Residents to Afghanistan, a long succession of interviews at Peshawur,
between the Ameer's chief adviser and Sir Lewis Pelly, led to no other
result than an increase of suspicion on both sides. The Viceroy
thereupon warned the Ameer that all supplies and subsidies would be
stopped until he became amenable to advice and ceased to maltreat
subjects known to be favourable to the British alliance. As a retort the
Ameer sought to call the border tribes to a _Jehad_, or holy war,
against the British, but with little success. He had no hold over the
tribes between Chitral and the Khyber Pass; and the incident served only
to strengthen the Viceroy's aim of subjecting them to Britain. In the
case of the Jowakis we succeeded, though only after a campaign which
proved to be costly in men and money.

In fact, Lord Lytton was now convinced of the need of a radical change
of frontier policy. He summed up his contentions in the following
phrases in his despatches of the early summer of 1877:--"Shere Ali has
irrevocably slipped out of our hands; . . . I conceive that it is rather
the disintegration and weakening, than the consolidation and
establishment, of the Afghan power at which we must now begin to aim."
As for the mountain barrier, in which men of the Lawrence school had
been wont to trust, he termed it "a military mouse-trap," and he stated
that Napoleon I. had once for all shown the futility of relying on a
mountain range that had several passes[302]. These assertions show what
perhaps were the weak points of Lord Lytton in practical politics--an
eager and impetuous disposition, too prone to be dazzled by the very
brilliance of the phrases which he coined.

[Footnote 302: Lady B. Balfour, _op. cit._ pp.166-185, 247-148.]

At the close of his despatch of April 8, 1878, to Lord Cranbrook (Lord
Salisbury's successor at the India Office) he sketched out, as "the best
arrangement," a scheme for breaking up the Cabul power and bringing
about "the creation of a West Afghan Khanate, including Merv, Maimena,
Balkh, Candahar, and Herat, under some prince of our own selection, who
would be dependent on our support. With Western Afghanistan thus
disposed of, and a small station our own, close to our frontier in the
Kurram valley, the destinies of Cabul itself would be to us a matter of
no importance[303]."

[Footnote 303: _Ibid_. pp. 246-247.]

This, then, was the new policy in its widest scope. Naturally it met
with sharp opposition from Lord Lawrence and others in the India Council
at Whitehall. Besides involving a complete change of front, it would
naturally lead to war with the Ameer, and (if the intentions about Merv
were persisted in) with Russia as well. And for what purpose? In order
that we might gain an advanced frontier and break in pieces the one
important State which remained as a buffer between India and Russian
Asia. In the eyes of all but the military men this policy stood
self-condemned. Its opponents pointed out that doubtless Russian
intrigues were going on at Cabul; but they were the result of the marked
hostility between England and Russia in Europe, and a natural retort to
the sending of Indian troops to Malta. Besides, was it true that British
influence at Cabul was permanently lost? Might it not be restored by
money and diplomacy? Or if these means failed, could not affairs be so
worked at Cabul as to bring about the deposition of the Ameer in favour
of some claimant who would support England? In any case, the extension
of our responsibilities to centres so remote as Balkh and Herat would
overstrain the already burdened finances of India, and impair her power
of defence at vital points.

These objections seem to have had some weight at Whitehall, for by the
month of August the Viceroy somewhat lowered his tone; he gave up all
hope of influencing Merv, and consented to make another effort to win
back the Ameer, or to seek to replace him by a more tractable prince.
But, failing this, he advised, though with reluctance on political
grounds, the conquest and occupation of so much of Afghan territory as
would "be absolutely requisite for the permanent maintenance of our
North-West frontier[304]."

[Footnote 304: Lady B. Balfour, _op. cit._ p. 255. For a defence of this
on military grounds see Lord Roberts' _Forty-One Years in India_, vol.
ii, p. 187; and Thorburn's _Asiatic Neighbours_, chap. xiv.]

But by this time all hope of peace had become precarious. On June 13,
the day of opening of the Congress of Berlin, a Russian Mission, under
General Stolieteff, left Samarcand for Cabul. The Ameer is said to have
heard this news with deep concern, and to have sought to prevent it
crossing the frontier. The Russians, however, refused to turn back, and
entered Cabul on July 22[305]. As will be seen by reference to
Skobeleff's "Plan for the Invasion of India" (Appendix II.), the Mission
was to be backed up by columns of troops; and, with the aim of
redoubling the pressure of Russian diplomacy in Europe, the Minister for
War at St. Petersburg had issued orders on April 25, 1878, for the
despatch of three columns of troops which were to make a demonstration
against India. The chief force, 12,000 strong, with 44 guns and a rocket
battery, was to march from Samarcand and Tashkend on Cabul; the second,
consisting of only 1700 men, was to stir up the mountain tribes of the
Chitral district to raid the north of the Punjab; while the third, of
the same strength, moved from the middle part of the Amu Daria (Oxus)
towards Merv and Herat. The main force set out from Tashkend on June 13,
and after a most trying march reached the Russo-Bokharan border, only to
find that its toils were fruitless owing to the signature of the Treaty
of Berlin (July 13). The same disappointing news dispelled the dreams of
conquest which had nerved the other columns in their burning march.

[Footnote 305: Parl Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), pp.242-243;
_ibid._ Central Asia, No. 1, pp.165 _et seq._]

Thus ended the scheme of invasion of India to which Skobeleff had
lately given shape and body. In January 1877, while in his Central Asian
command, he had drawn up a detailed plan, the important parts of which
will be found in the Appendices of this volume. During the early spring
of 1878, when the Russian army lay at San Stefano, near Constantinople,
he drew up another plan of the same tenour. It seems certain that the
general outline of these projects haunted the minds of officers and men
in the expeditions just referred to; for the columns withdrew northwards
most slowly and reluctantly[306].

[Footnote 306: For details see _Russia's Advance towards India_, by "an
Indian Officer," vol. ii. pp.109 _et seq._]

A perusal of Skobeleff's plan will show that he relied also on a
diplomatic Mission to Cabul and on the despatch of the Afghan pretender,
Abdur Rahman, from Samarcand to the Afghan frontier. Both of these
expedients were adopted in turn; the former achieved a startling but
temporary success.

As has been stated above, General Stolieteff's Mission entered Cabul on
July 22. The chief himself returned on August 24; but other members of
his Mission remained several weeks longer. There seem to be good grounds
for believing that the Ameer, Shere Ali, signed a treaty with
Stolieteff; but as to its purport we have no other clue than the draft
which purports to be written out from memory by a secret agent of the
Indian Government. Other Russian documents, some of which Lord Granville
afterwards described as containing "some very disagreeable passages . . .
written subsequently to the Treaty of Berlin," were found by Lord
Roberts; and the Russian Government found it difficult to give a
satisfactory explanation of them[307].

[Footnote 307: The alleged treaty is printed, along with the other
documents, in Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1881), pp. 17-30. See
also Lord Roberts' _Forty-one Years in India_, vol. ii. p.477.]

In any case the Government of India could not stand by and witness the
intrusion of Muscovite influence into Afghanistan. Action, however, was
very difficult owing to the alienation of the Ameer. His resentment had
now settled into lasting hatred. As a test question Lord Lytton sought
to impose on him the reception of a British Mission. On August 8 he
received telegraphic permission from London to make this demand. The
Ameer, however, refused to allow a single British officer to enter the
country; and the death of his son and heir on August 17 enabled him to
decline to attend to affairs of State for a whole month.

His conduct in this matter was condoned by the champions of "masterly
inactivity" in this country, who proceeded to accuse the Viceroy of
haste in sending forward the British Mission to the frontier before the
full time of mourning was over[308]. We now know, however, that this
sympathy was misplaced. Shere Ali's grief did not prevent him seeing
officers of the Russian Mission after his bereavement, and (as it seems)
signing an alliance with the emissaries of the Czar. Lord Lytton was
better informed as to the state of things at Cabul than were his very
numerous critics, one of whom, under the shield of anonymity,
confidently stated that the Russian Mission to Cabul was either an
affair of etiquette or a means of warding off a prospective attack from
India on Russian Turkestan; that the Ameer signed no treaty with the
Mission, and was deeply embarrassed by its presence; while Lord Lytton's
treatment of the Ameer was discourteous[309].

[Footnote 308: Duke of Argyll, _The Eastern Question, _vol. ii. pp.

[Footnote 309: _The Causes of the Afghan War, _pp. 305 _et seq._]

In the light of facts as now known, these charges are seen to be the
outcome of a vivid imagination or of partisan malice. There can be no
doubt that Shere Ali had played us false. Apart from his intrigues with
Russia, he had condoned the murder of a British officer by keeping the
murderer in office, and had sought to push on the frontier tribes into a
holy war. Finally, he sent orders to stop the British Mission at Ali
Musjid, the fort commanding the entrance to the Khyber Pass. This
action, which occurred on September 22, must be pronounced a deliberate
insult, seeing that the progress of that Mission had been so timed as
that it should reach Cabul after the days of mourning were over. In the
Viceroy's view, the proper retort would have been a declaration of war;
but again the Home Government imposed caution, urging the despatch of an
ultimatum so as to give time for repentance at Cabul. It was sent on
November 2, with the intimation that if no answer reached the frontier
by November 20, hostilities would begin. No answer came until a later
date, and then it proved to be of an evasive character.

Such, in brief outline, were the causes of the second Afghan War. In the
fuller light of to-day it is difficult to account for the passion which
the discussion of them aroused at the time. But the critics of the
Government held strong ground at two points. They could show, first,
that the war resulted in the main from Lord Beaconsfield's persistent
opposition to Russia in the Eastern Question, also that the Muscovite
intrigues at Cabul were a natural and very effective retort to the showy
and ineffective expedient of bringing Indian troops to Malta; in short,
that the Afghan War was due largely to Russia's desire for revenge.

Secondly, they fastened on what was undoubtedly a weak point in the
Ministerial case, namely, that Lord Beaconsfield's speech at the Lord
Mayor's Banquet, on November 9, 1878, laid stress almost solely on the
need for acquiring a scientific frontier on the north-west of India. In
the parliamentary debate of December 9 he sought to rectify this mistake
by stating that he had never asserted that a new frontier was the object
of the war, but rather a possible consequence. His critics refused to
accept the correction. They pinned him to his first words. If this were
so, they said, what need of recounting our complaints against Shere Ali?
These were merely the pretexts, not the causes, of a war which was to be
waged solely in the cold-blooded quest for a scientific frontier. Perish
India, they cried, if her fancied interests required the sacrifice of
thousands of lives of brave hillmen on the altar of the new Imperialism.

These accusations were logically justifiable against Ministers who dwelt
largely on that frigid abstraction, the "scientific frontier," and laid
less stress on the danger of leaving an ally of Russia on the throne of
Afghanistan. The strong point of Lord Lytton's case lay in the fact that
the policy of the Gladstone Ministry had led Shere Ali to side with
Russia; but this fact was inadequately explained, or, at least, not in
such a way as to influence public opinion. The popular fancy caught at
the phrase "scientific frontier"; and for once Lord Beaconsfield's
cleverness in phrase-making conspired to bring about his overthrow.

But the logic of words does not correspond to the logic of facts. Words
are for the most part simple, downright, and absolute. The facts of
history are very rarely so. Their importance is very often relative, and
is conditioned by changing circumstances. It was so with the events that
led up to the second Afghan War. They were very complex, and could not
be summed up, or disposed of, by reference to a single formula.
Undoubtedly the question of the frontier was important; but it did not
become of supreme importance until, firstly, Shere Ali became our enemy,
and, secondly, showed unmistakable signs of having a close understanding
with Russia. Thenceforth it became a matter of vital import for India to
have a frontier readibly defensible against so strong a combination as
that of Russia and Afghanistan.

It would be interesting to know what Mr. Gladstone and his supporters
would have done if they had come into power in the summer of 1878. That
they blamed their opponents on many points of detail does not prove that
they would not have taken drastic means to get rid of Shere Ali. In the
unfortunate state into which affairs had drifted in 1878, how was that
to be effected without war? The situation then existing may perhaps best
be summed up in the words which General Roberts penned at Cabul on
November 22, 1879, after a long and illuminating conversation with the
new Ameer concerning his father's leanings towards Russia: "Our recent
rupture with Shere Ali has, in fact, been the means of unmasking and
checking a very serious conspiracy against the peace and security of our
Indian Empire[310]."

[Footnote 310: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1880), p. 171.]

Given the situation actually existing in 1878, the action of the British
Government is justifiable as regards details. The weak point of the
Beaconsfield policy was this: that the situation need not have existed.
As far as can be judged from the evidence hitherto published (if we
except some wild talk on the part of Muscovite Chauvinists), Russia
would not have interfered in Afghanistan except in order to paralyse
England's action in Turkish affairs. As has been pointed out above, the
Afghan trouble was a natural sequel to the opposition offered by
Disraeli to Russia from the time of the re-opening of the Balkan problem
in 1875-76; and the consideration of the events to be described in the
following chapter will add one more to the many proofs already existing
as to the fatefulness of the blunder committed by him when he wrecked
the Berlin Memorandum, dissolved the Concert of the Powers, and rendered
hopeless a peaceful solution of the Eastern Question.



     "The Forward Policy--in other words, the policy of
     endeavouring to extend our influence over, and establish law
     and order on, that part of the [Indian] Border, where
     anarchy, murder, and robbery up to the present time have
     reigned supreme, a policy which has been attended with the
     happiest results in Baluchistan and on the Gilgit
     frontier--is necessitated by the incontrovertible fact that a
     great Military Power is now within striking distance of our
     Indian possessions, and in immediate contact with a State for
     the integrity of which we have made ourselves
     responsible."--LORD ROBERTS: Speech in the House of Lords,
     March 7, 1898.

The operations at the outset of the Afghan War ended with so easy a
triumph for the British arms that it is needless to describe them in
much detail. They were planned to proceed at three points on the
irregular arc of the south-eastern border of Afghanistan. The most
northerly column, that of General Sir Samuel Browne, had Peshawur as its
base of supplies. Some 16,000 strong, it easily captured the fort of Ali
Musjid at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, then threaded that defile with
little or no opposition, and pushed on to Jelalabad. Around that town
(rendered famous by General Sale's defence in 1841-2) it dealt out
punishment to the raiding clans of Afridis.

The column of the centre, acting from Kohat as a base against the Kurram
Valley, was commanded by a general destined to win renown in the later
phases of the war. Major-General Roberts represented all that was
noblest and most chivalrous in the annals of the British Army in India.
The second son of General Sir Abraham Roberts, G.C.B., and born at
Cawnpore in 1832, he inherited the traditions of the service which he
was to render still more illustrious. His frame, short and slight,
seemed scarcely to fit him for warlike pursuits; and in ages when great
stature and sturdy sinews were alone held in repute, he might have been
relegated to civil life; but the careers of William III., Luxemburg,
Nelson, and Roberts show that wiriness is more essential to a commander
than animal strength, and that mind rather than muscle determines the
course of campaigns. That the young aspirant for fame was not deficient
in personal prowess appeared at Khudaganj, one of the battles of the
Mutiny, when he captured a standard from two sepoys, and, later on the
same day, cut down a third sepoy. But it was his clear insight into men
and affairs, his hold on the principles of war, his alertness of mind,
and his organising power, that raised him above the crowd of meritorious
officers who saved India for Britain in those stormy days.

His achievements as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General at Delhi and
elsewhere at that time need not be referred to here; for he himself has
related them in clear, life-like, homely terms which reveal one of the
sources of his personal influence. Englishmen admire a man who is active
without being fussy, who combines greatness with simplicity, whose
kindliness is as devoid of ostentation as his religion is of
mawkishness, and with whom ambition is ever the handmaid of patriotism.
The character of a commander perhaps counts for more with British troops
than with any others, except the French; and the men who marched with
Roberts from Cabul to Candahar, and from Paardeberg to Bloemfontein,
could scarcely have carried out those feats of endurance for a general
who did not possess both their trust and their love.

The devotion of the Kurram column to its chief was soon put to the test.
After advancing up that valley, girt on both sides with lofty mountains
and scored with numerous gulleys, the force descried the Peiwar Kotal
Pass at its head--a precipitous slope furrowed only in one place where a
narrow zigzag path ran upwards through pines and giant boulders. A
reconnaissance proved that the Afghans held the upper part in force; and
for some time Roberts felt the gravest misgivings. Hiding these
feelings, especially from his native troops, he spent a few days in
reconnoitring this formidable position. These efforts resulted in the
discovery by Major Collett of another practicable gorge further to the
north leading up to a neighbouring height, the Peiwar Spingawi, whence
the head of the Kotal might possibly be turned.

To divide a column, comprising only 889 British and 2415 native troops,
and that too in face of the superior numbers of the enemy, was a risky
enterprise, but General Roberts determined to try the effect of a night
march up to the Spingawi. He hoped by an attack at dawn on the Afghan
detachment posted there, to turn the main position on the Kotal, and
bring about its evacuation. This plan had often succeeded against
Afghans. Their characteristics both in peace and war are distinctly
feline. Prone to ease and enjoyment at ordinary times, yet, when stirred
by lust of blood or booty, they are capable of great feats of swift
fierce onset; but, like all men and animals dominated by sudden
impulses, their bravery is fitful, and is apt to give way under
persistent attack, or when their rear is threatened. The cat-like,
stalking instinct has something of strategic caution, even in its
wildest moods; it likes to be sure of the line of retreat[311].

[Footnote 311: General [Sir] J.L. Vaughan, in a Lecture on "Afghanistan
and the Military Operations therein" (December 6, 1878), said of the
Afghans: "When resolutely attacked they rarely hold their ground with
any tenacity, and are always anxious about their rear."]

The British commander counted on exploiting these peculiarities to the
full by stalking the enemy on their left flank, while he left about 1000
men to attack them once more in front. Setting out at nightfall of
December 1, he led the remainder northwards through a side valley, and
then up a gully on the side of the Spingawi. The ascent through pine
woods and rocks, in the teeth of an icy wind, was most trying; and the
movement came near to failure owing to the treachery of two Pathan
soldiers in the ranks, who fired off their rifles in the hope of warning
the Afghans above them. The reports, it afterwards transpired, were
heard by a sentry, who reported the matter to the commander of the
Afghan detachment; he, for his part, did nothing. Much alarm was felt in
the British column when the shots rang out in the darkness; a native
officer hard by came up at once, and, by smelling the rifles of all his
men, found out the offenders; but as they were Mohammedans, he said
nothing, in the hope of screening his co-religionists. Later on, these
facts transpired at a court-martial, whereupon the elder of the two
offenders, who was also the first to fire, was condemned to death, and
the younger to a long term of imprisonment. The defaulting officer
likewise received due punishment[312].

[Footnote 312: Lord Roberts, _Forty-One Years in India_, vol. ii. p. 130
_et seq_.; Major J.A.S. Colquhoun, _With the Kurram Field Force,
1878-79_, pp. 101-102.]

After this alarming incident, the 72nd Highlanders were sent forward to
take the place of the native regiment previously leading; and once more
the little column struggled on through the darkness up the rocky path.
Their staunchness met its reward. At dawn the Highlanders and 5th
Gurkhas charged the Afghan detachment in its entrenchments and
breastworks of trees, and were soon masters of the Spingawi position. A
long and anxious time of waiting now ensued, caused by the failure of
the first frontal attack on the Kotal; but Roberts' pressure on the
flank of the main Afghan position and another frontal attack sent the
enemy flying in utter rout, leaving behind guns and waggons. The Kurram
column had driven eight Afghan regiments and numbers of hillmen from a
seemingly impregnable position, and now held the second of the outer
passes leading towards Cabul (December 2, 1878). The Afghans offered but
slight resistance at the Shutargardan Pass further on, and from that
point the invaders looked down on valleys that conducted them easily to
the Ameer's capital[313].

[Footnote 313: Lord Roberts, _op. cit._, vol. ii. pp. 135-149; S.H.
Shadbolt, _The Afghan Campaigns of 1878-80_, vol. i. pp. 21-25
(with plan).]

Meanwhile equal success was attending the 3rd British column, that of
General Biddulph, which operated from Quetta. It occupied Sibi and the
Khojak Pass; and on January 8, 1879, General Stewart and the vanguard
reached Candahar, which they entered in triumph. The people seemed to
regard their entry with indifference. This was but natural. Shere Ali
had ruined his own cause. Hearing of the first defeats he fled from
Cabul in company with the remaining members of the Russian Mission still
at that city (December 13), and made for Afghan Turkestan in the hope of
inducing his northern allies to give active aid.

He now discovered his error. The Czar's Government had been most active
in making mischief between England and the Ameer, especially while the
diplomatic struggle was going on at Berlin; but after the signature of
the Treaty of Berlin (July 13, 1878), the natural leaning of Alexander
II. towards peace and quietness began by degrees to assert itself. The
warlike designs of Kaufmann and his officials in Turkestan received a
check, though not so promptly as was consistent with strict neutrality.

Gradually the veil fell from the ex-Ameer's eyes. On the day of his
flight (December 13), he wrote to the "Officers of the British
Government," stating that he was about to proceed to St. Petersburg,
"where, before a Congress, the whole history of the transactions between
myself and yourselves will be submitted to all the Powers[314]." But
nine days later he published a firman containing a very remarkable
letter purporting to come from General Stolieteff at Livadia in the
Crimea, where he was staying with the Czar. After telling him that the
British desired to come to terms with him (the Ameer) through the
intervention of the Sultan, the letter proceeded as follows:--

     But the Emperor's desire is that you should not admit the
     English into your country, and like last year, you are to
     treat them with deceit and deception until the present cold
     season passes away. Then the Almighty's will will be made
     manifest to you, that is to say, the [Russian] Government
     having repeated the Bismillah, the Bismillah will come to
     your assistance. In short you are to rest assured that
     matters will end well. If God permits, we will convene a
     Government meeting at St. Petersburg, that is to say, a
     Congress, which means an assemblage of Powers. We will then
     open an official discussion with the English Government, and
     either by force of words and diplomatic action we will
     entirely cut off all English communications and interference
     with Afghanistan, or else events will end in a mighty and
     important war. By the help of God, by spring not a symptom or
     a vestige of trouble and dissatisfaction will remain in

[Footnote 314: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 7, (1879), p. 9. He also
states on p. 172 that the advice of the Afghan officials who accompanied
Shere Ali in his flight was (even in April-May 1879) favourable to a
Russian alliance, and that they advised Yakub in this sense. See
Kaufmann's letters to Yakub, in Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No.
9 (1879).]

It is impossible to think that the Czar had any knowledge of this
treacherous epistle, which, it is to be hoped, originated with the
lowest of Russian agents, or emanated from some Afghan chief in their
pay. Nevertheless the fact that Shere Ali published it shows that he
hoped for Russian help, even when the British held the keys of his
country in their hands. But one hope after another faded away, and in
his last days he must have come to see that he had been merely the
catspaw of the Russian bear. He died on February 21, 1879, hard by the
city of Bactra, the modern Balkh.

That "mother of cities" has seen strange vicissitudes. It nourished the
Zoroastrian and Buddhist creeds in their youth; from its crowded
monasteries there shone forth light to the teeming millions of Asia,
until culture was stamped out under the heel of Genghis Khan, and later,
of Timur. In a still later day it saw the dawning greatness of that most
brilliant but ill-starred of the Mogul Emperors, Aurungzebe. Its fallen
temples and convents, stretching over many a mile, proclaim it to be
the city of buried hopes. There was, then, something fitting in the
place of Shere Ali's death. He might so readily have built up a powerful
Afghan State in friendly union with the British Raj; he chose otherwise,
and ended his life amidst the wreckage of his plans and the ruin of his
kingdom. This result of the trust which he had reposed in Muscovite
promises was not lost on the Afghan people and their rulers.

There is no need to detail the events of the first half of the year 1879
in Afghanistan. On the assembly of Parliament in February, Lord
Beaconsfield declared that our objects had been attained in that land
now that the three chief mountain highways between Afghanistan and India
were completely in our power. It remained to find a responsible ruler
with whom a lasting peace could be signed. Many difficulties were in the
way owing to the clannish feuds of the Afghans and the number of
possible claimants for the crown. Two men stood forth as the most likely
rulers, Shere Ali's rebellious son, Yakub Khan, who had lately been
released from his long confinement, and Abdur Rahman, son of Ufzal Khan,
who was still kept by the Russians in Turkestan under some measure of
constraint, doubtless in the hope that he would be a serviceable trump
card in the intricate play of rival interests certain to ensue at Cabul.

About February 20, Yakub sent overtures for peace to the British
Government; and, as the death of his father at that time greatly
strengthened his claim, it was favourably considered at London and
Calcutta. Despite one act at least of flagrant treachery, he was
recognised as Ameer. On May 8 he entered the British camp at Gandarnak,
near Jelalabad; and after negotiations, a treaty was signed there, May
26. It provided for an amnesty, the control of the Ameer's foreign
policy by the British Government, the establishment of a British
Resident at Cabul, the construction of a telegraph line to that city,
the grant of commercial facilities, and the cession to India of the
frontier districts of Kurram, Pishin, and Sibi (the latter two are near
Quetta). The British Government retained control over the Khyber and
Michnee Passes and over the neighbouring tribes (which had never
definitely acknowledged Afghan rule). It further agreed to pay to the
Ameer and his successors a yearly subsidy of six lakhs of rupees (nearly

[Footnote 315: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 23; Roberts,
_op. cit._ pp. 170-173.]

General Roberts and many others feared that the treaty had been signed
too hastily, and that the Afghans, "an essentially arrogant and
conceited people," needed a severer lesson before they acquiesced in
British suzerainty. But no sense of foreboding depressed Major Sir Louis
Cavagnari, the gallant and able officer who had carried out so much of
the work on the frontier, when he proceeded to take up his abode at
Cabul as British Resident (July 24). The chief danger lay in the Afghan
troops, particularly the regiments previously garrisoned at Herat, who
knew little or nothing of British prowess, and whose fanaticism was
inflamed by arrears of pay. Cavagnari's Journal kept at Cabul ended on
August 19 with the statement that thirty-three Russians were coming up
the Oxus to the Afghan frontier. But the real disturbing cause seems to
have been the hatred of the Afghan troops to foreigners.

Failure to pay was so usual a circumstance in Afghanistan as scarcely to
account for the events that ensued. Yet it furnished the excuse for an
outbreak. Early on September 3, when assembled for what proved to be the
farce of payment at Bala Hissar (the citadel), three regiments mutinied,
stoned their officers, and then rushed towards the British Embassy.
These regiments took part in the first onset against an unfortified
building held by the Mission and a small escort. A steady musketry fire
from the defenders long held them at bay; but, when joined by townsfolk
and other troops, the mutineers set fire to the gates, and then,
bursting in, overpowered the gallant garrison. The Ameer made only
slight efforts to quell this treacherous outbreak, and, while defending
his own palaces by faithful troops, sent none to help the envoy. These
facts, as reported by trustworthy witnesses, did not correspond to the
magniloquent assurances of fidelity that came from Yakub himself[316].

[Footnote 316: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 1 (1880), pp. 32-42,

Arrangements were at once made to retrieve this disaster, but staff and
transport arrangements caused serious delay. At length General Roberts
was able to advance up the Kurram Valley and carry the Shutargardan Pass
by storm, an exploit fully equal to his former capture of the Peiwar
Kotal in the same mountain range. Somewhat further on he met the Ameer,
and was unfavourably impressed with him: "An insignificant-looking
man, . . . with a receding forehead, a conical-shaped head, and no chin to
speak of, . . . possessed moreover of a very shifty eye." Yakub justified
this opinion by seeking on various pretexts to delay the British
advance, and by sending to Cabul news as to the numbers of the
British force.

All told it numbered only 4000 fighting men with 18 cannon.
Nevertheless, on nearing Cabul, it assailed a strong position at
Charasia, held by 13 regular regiments of the enemy and some 10,000
irregulars. The charges of Highlanders (the 72nd and 92nd), Gurkhas, and
Punjabis proved to be irresistible, and drove the Afghans from two
ridges in succession. This feat of arms, which bordered on the
miraculous, served to reveal the feelings of the Ameer in a manner
equally ludicrous and sinister. Sitting in the British camp, he watched
the fight with great eagerness, then with growing concern, until he
finally needed all his oriental composure for the final compliment which
he bestowed on the victor. Later on it transpired that he and his
adherents had laid careful plans for profiting by the defeat of the
venturesome little force, so as to ensure its annihilation[317].

[Footnote 317: Roberts, _op. cit._ vol. ii. pp. 213-224; Hensman, _The
Afghan War of 1878-1880_.]

The brilliant affair at Charasia served to bring out the conspicuous
gallantry of two men, who were later on to win distinction in wider
fields, Major White and Colour-Sergeant Hector Macdonald. White carried
a ridge at the head of a body of 50 Highlanders. When the enemy fled to
a second ridge, he resolved to spare the lives of his men by taking a
rifle and stalking the enemy alone, until he suddenly appeared on their
flank. Believing that his men were at his back, the Afghans turned
and fled.

On October 9 Roberts occupied the Siah Sang ridge, overlooking Cabul,
and on the next day entered the citadel, Bala Hissar, to inspect the
charred and blood-stained ruins of the British Embassy. In the embers of
a fire he and his staff found numbers of human bones. On October 12
Yakub came to the General to announce his intention of resigning the
Ameership, as "he would rather be a grass-cutter in the English camp
than ruler of Afghanistan." On the next day the British force entered
the city itself in triumph, and Roberts put the Ameer's Ministers under
arrest. The citizens were silent but respectful, and manifested their
satisfaction when he proclaimed that only those guilty of the
treacherous attack on the Residency would be punished. Cabul itself was
much more Russian than English. The Afghan officers wore Russian
uniforms, Russian goods were sold in the bazaars, and Russian money was
found in the Treasury. It is evident that the Czar's officials had long
been pushing on their designs, and that further persistency on the part
of England in the antiquated policy of "masterly inactivity" would have
led to Afghanistan becoming a Muscovite satrapy.

The pendulum now swung sharply in favour of India. To that land Roberts
despatched the ex-Ameer on December 1, on the finding of the Commission
that he had been guilty of criminal negligence (if not worse) at the
time of the massacre of Cavagnari and his escort. Two Afghan Sirdars,
whose guilt respecting that tragedy had been clearly proven, were also
deported and imprisoned. This caused much commotion, and towards the
close of the year the preaching of a fanatic, whose name denoted
"fragrance of the universe," stirred up hatred to the conquerors.

Bands of tribesmen began to cluster around Cabul, and an endeavour to
disperse them led to a temporary British reverse not far from the
Sherpur cantonments where Roberts held his troops. The situation was
serious. As generally happens with Asiatics, the hillmen rose by
thousands at the news, and beset the line of communications with India.
Sir Frederick Roberts, however, staunchly held his ground at the Sherpur
camp, beating off one very serious attack of the tribesmen on December
20-23. On the next day General Gough succeeded in breaking through from
Gandamak to his relief. Other troops were hurried up from India, and
this news ended the anxiety which had throbbed through the Empire at the
news of Roberts being surrounded near Cabul.

Now that the league of hillmen had been for the time broken up, it
became more than ever necessary to find a ruler for Afghanistan, and
settle affairs with all speed. This was also desirable in view of the
probability of a general election in the United Kingdom in the early
part of the year 1880, the Ministry wishing to have ready an Afghan
settlement to act as a soporific drug on the ravening Cerberus of
democracy at home. Unhappily, the outbreak of the Zulu War on January
11, 1880, speedily followed by the disaster of Isandlana, redoubled the
complaints in the United Kingdom, with the result that matters were more
than ever pressed on in Afghanistan.

Some of the tribes clamoured for the return of Yakub, only to be
informed by General Roberts that such a step would never be allowed. In
the midst of this uncertainty, when the hour for the advent of a strong
man seemed to have struck, he opportunely appeared. Strange to say, he
came from Russian Turkestan.

As has been stated above, Abdur Rahman, son of Ufzal Khan, had long
lived there as a pensioner of the Czar; his bravery and skill in
intrigue had been well known. The Russian writer, Petrovsky, described
him as longing, above all things, to get square with the English and
Shere Ali. It was doubtless with this belief in the exile's aims that
the Russians gave him L2500 and 200 rifles. His advent in Afghanistan
seemed well calculated to add to the confusion there and to the
difficulties of England. With only 100 followers he forded the Oxus and,
early in 1880, began to gather around him a band in Afghan Turkestan.
His success was startlingly rapid, and by the end of March he was master
of all that district[318].

[Footnote 318: See his adventures in _The Life of Abdur Rahman, _by
Sultan Mohammed Khan, vol. ii, chaps, v., vi. He gave out that he came
to expel the English (pp. 173-175).]

But the political results of this first success were still more
surprising. Lord Lytton, Sir Frederick Roberts, and Mr. Lepel Griffin
(political commissioner in Afghanistan) soon saw the advantage of
treating with him for his succession to the throne of Cabul. The
Viceroy, however, true to his earlier resolve to break up Afghanistan,
added the unpleasant condition that the districts of Candahar and Herat
must now be severed from the north of Afghanistan. Abdur Rahman's first
request that the whole land should form a neutral State under the joint
protection of Great Britain and Russia was decisively negatived on the
ground that the former Power stood pledged by the Treaty of Gandamak not
to allow the intervention of any foreign State in Afghan affairs. A
strong man like Abdur Rahman appreciated the decisiveness of this
statement; and, while holding back his hand with the caution and
suspicion natural to Afghans, he thenceforth leant more to the British
side, despite the fact that Lord Lytton had recognised a second Shere
Ali as "Wali," or Governor of Candahar and its district[319]. On April
19, Sir Donald Stewart routed a large Afghan force near Ghaznee, and
thereafter occupied that town. He reached Cabul on May 5. It appeared
that the resistance of the natives was broken.

[Footnote 319: Roberts, _op. cit._ vol. ii. pp. 315-323.]

Such was the state of affairs when the General Election of April 1880
installed Mr. Gladstone in power in place of Lord Beaconsfield. As has
been hinted above, Afghan affairs had helped to bring about this change;
and the world now waited to see what would be the action of the party
which had fulminated against the "forward policy" in India. As is
usually the case after ministerial changes, the new Prime Minister
disappointed the hopes of his most ardent friends and the fears of his
bitterest opponents. The policy of "scuttle" was, of course, never
thought of; but, as the new Government stood pledged to limit its
responsibilities in India as far as possible, one great change took
place. Lord Lytton laid down his Viceroyalty when the full results of
the General Election manifested themselves; and the world saw the
strange sight of a brilliant and powerful ruler, who took precedence of
ancient dynasties in India, retiring into private life at the bidding of
votes silently cast in ballot-boxes far away in islands of the north.

No more startling result of the working of the democratic system has
ever been seen in Imperial affairs; and it may lead the student of Roman
History to speculate what might have been the results in that ancient
Empire if the populace of Italy could honestly have discharged the like
duties with regard to the action of their proconsuls. Roman policy might
have lacked some of its stateliness and solidity, but assuredly the
government of the provinces would have improved. Whatever may be said as
to the evils of change brought about by popular caprice, they are less
serious than those which grow up under the shadow of an uncriticised and
irresponsible bureaucracy.

Some time elapsed before the new Viceroy, Lord Ripon, could take up the
reins of power. In that interval difficulties had arisen with Abdur
Rahman, but on July 20 the British authorities at Cabul publicly
recognised him as Ameer of Northern Afghanistan. The question as to the
severance of Candahar from Cabul, and the amount of the subsidy to be
paid to the new ruler, were left open and caused some difference of
opinion; but a friendly arrangement was practically assured a few
days later.

For many reasons this was desirable. As far back as April 11, 1880, Mr.
(now Sir) Lepel Griffin had announced in a Durbar at Cabul that the
British forces would withdraw from Afghanistan when the Government
considered that a satisfactory settlement had been made; that it was the
friend, not the enemy, of Islam, and would keep the sword for its
enemies. The time had now come to make good these statements. In the
closing days of July Abdur Rahman was duly installed in power at Cabul,
and received 19-1/2 lakhs of rupees (L190,500)[320]. Meanwhile his
champions prepared to evacuate that city and to avenge a disaster which
had overtaken their arms in the Province of Candahar. On July 29 news
arrived that a British brigade had been cut to pieces at Maiwand.

[Footnote 320: _The Life of Abdur Rahman_, vol. ii. pp. 197-98. For
these negotiations and the final recognition, see Parl. Papers,
Afghanistan, No. 1 (1881), pp. 16-51.]

The fact that we supported the Sirdar named Shere Ali at Candahar seemed
to blight his authority over the tribesmen in that quarter. All hope of
maintaining his rule vanished when tidings arrived that Ayub Khan, a
younger brother of the deported Yakub, was marching from the side of
Herat to claim the crown. Already the new pretender had gained the
support of several Afghan chiefs around Herat, and now proclaimed a
_jehad_, or holy war, against the infidels holding Cabul. With a force
of 7500 men and 10 guns he left Herat on June 15, and moved towards the
River Helmand, gathering around him numbers of tribesmen and

[Footnote 321: "A ghazi is a man who, purely for the sake of his
religion, kills an unbeliever, Kaffir, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, or
Christian, in the belief that in so doing he gains a sure title to
Paradise" (R.I. Bruce, _The Forward Policy_, p. 245).]

In order to break this gathering cloud of war betimes, the Indian
Government ordered General Primrose, who commanded the British garrison
at Candahar, to despatch a brigade to the Helmand. Accordingly,
Brigadier-General Burrows, with 2300 British and Indian troops, marched
out from Candahar on July 11. On the other side of the Helmand lay an
Afghan force, acting in the British interest, sent thither by the
Sirdar, Shere Ali. Two days later the whole native force mutinied and
marched off towards Ayub Khan. Burrows promptly pursued them, captured
their six guns, and scattered the mutineers with loss.

Even so his position was most serious. In front of him, at no great
distance, was a far superior force flushed with fanaticism and the hope
of easy triumph; the River Helmand offered little, if any, protection,
for at that season it was everywhere fordable; behind him stretched
twenty-five miles of burning desert. By a speedy retreat across this
arid zone to Khushk-i-Nakhud, Burrows averted the disaster then
imminent, but his anxiety to carry out the telegraphic orders of the
Commander-in-chief, and to prevent Ayub's force from reaching Ghaznee,
led him into an enterprise which proved to be far beyond his strength.

Hearing that 2000 of the enemy's horsemen and a large number of ghazis
had hurried forward in advance of the main body to Maiwand, he
determined to attack them there. At 6.30 A.M. on July 27 he struck camp
and moved forwards with his little force of 2599 fighting men. Daring
has wrought wonders in Indian warfare, but rarely has any British
commander undertaken so dangerous a task as that to which Burrows set
his hand on that morning.

During his march he heard news from a spy that the Afghan main body was
about to join their vanguard; but, either because he distrusted the
news, or hoped even at the last to "pluck the flower, safety, out of the
nettle, danger," he pushed on and sought to cut through the line of the
enemy's advance as it made for Maiwand. About 10 A.M. his column passed
the village of Khig and, crossing a dried watercourse, entered a parched
plain whereon the fringe of the enemy's force could dimly be seen
through the thick and sultry air. Believing that he had to deal with no
large body of men, Burrows pushed on, and two of Lieutenant Maclaine's
guns began to shell their scattered groups. Like wasps roused to fury,
the ghazis rushed together as if for a charge, and lines of Afghan
regulars came into view. The deceitful haze yielded up its secret.
Burrows' brigade stood face to face with 15,000 Afghans. Moreover some
influence, baleful to England, kept back those Asiatics from their
usually heedless rush. Their guns came up and opened fire on Burrows'
line. Even the white quivering groups of their ghazis forebore to charge
with their whetted knives, but clung to a gully which afforded good
cover 500 yards away from the British front and right flank; there the
Afghan regulars galled the exposed khaki line, while their cannon, now
numbering thirty pieces, kept up a fire to which Maclaine's twelve guns
could give no adequate reply.

[Illustration: Battle of Maiwand]

It has been stated by military critics that Burrows erred in letting the
fight at the outset become an affair of artillery, in which he was
plainly the weaker. Some of his guns were put out of action; and in that
open plain there was no cover for the fighting line, the reserves, or
the supporting horse. All of them sustained heavy losses from the
unusually accurate aim of the Afghan gunners. But the enemy had also
suffered under our cannonade and musketry; and it is consonant with the
traditions of Indian warfare to suppose that a charge firmly pushed home
at the first signs of wavering in the hostile mass would have retrieved
the day. Plassey and Assaye were won by sheer boldness. Such a chance is
said to have occurred about noon at Maiwand. However that may be,
Burrows decided to remain on the defensive, perhaps because the hostile
masses were too dense and too full of fight to warrant the adoption of
dashing tactics.

After the sun passed his zenith the enemy began to press on the front
and flanks. Burrows swung round his wings to meet these threatening
moves; but, as the feline and predatory instincts of the Afghans kindled
more and more at the sight of the weak, bent, and stationary line, so
too the _morale_ of the defenders fell. The British and Indian troops
alike were exhausted by the long march and by the torments of thirst in
the sultry heat. Under the fire of the Afghan cannon and the frontal and
flank advance of the enemy, the line began to waver about 2 P.M., and
two of the foremost guns were lost. A native regiment in the centre,
Jacob's Rifles, fled in utter confusion and spread disorder on the
flanks, where the 1st Bombay Grenadiers and the 66th line regiment had
long maintained a desperate fight. General Nuttall now ordered several
squadrons of the 3rd Light Cavalry and 3rd Sind Horse to recover the
guns and stay the onrushing tide, but their numbers were too small for
the task, and the charge was not pressed home. Finally the whole mass of
pursued and pursuers rolled towards the village of Khig and its outlying

There a final stand was made. Colonel Galbraith and about one hundred
officers and men of the 66th threw themselves into a garden enclosure,
plied the enemy fiercely with bullets, and time after time beat back
every rush of the ghazis, now rioting in that carnival of death.
Surrounded by the flood of the Afghan advance, the little band fought
on, hopeless of life, but determined to uphold to the last the honour
of their flag and country. At last only eleven were left. These heroes
determined to die in the open; charging out on the masses around, they
formed square, and back to back stood firing on the foe. Not until the
last of them fell under the Afghan rifles did the ghazis venture to
close in with their knives, so dauntless had been the bearing of this

[Footnote 322: Report of General Primrose in Parl. Papers, Afghanistan,
No. 3 (1880), p. 156.]

They had not fought in vain. Their stubborn stand held back the Afghan
pursuit and gave time for the fugitives to come together on the way back
to Candahar. Had the pursuit been pushed on with vigour few, if any,
could have survived. Even so, Maiwand was one of the gravest disasters
ever sustained by our Indian army. It cost Burrows' force nearly half
its numbers; 934 officers and men were killed and 175 wounded. The
strange disproportion between these totals may serve as a measure of the
ferocity of Afghans in the hour of victory. Of the non-combatants 790
fell under the knives of the ghazis. The remnant struggled towards
Candahar, whence, on the 28th, General Primrose despatched a column to
the aid of the exhausted survivors. In the citadel of that fortress
there mustered as many as 4360 effectives as night fell. But what were
these in face of Ayub's victorious army, now joined by tribesmen eager
for revenge and plunder[323]?

[Footnote 323: S.H. Shadbolt, _The Afghan Campaigns of_ 1878-80, pp.
96-100. Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 2 (1880), p. 21; No. 3, pp.
103-5; Lord Roberts, _op. cit._ vol. ii. pp. 333-5; Hensman, _op. cit._
pp. 553-4.]

In face of this disaster, the British generals in Northern Afghanistan
formed a decision commendable alike for its boldness and its sagacity.
They decided to despatch at once all available troops from Cabul to the
relief of the beleaguered garrison at Candahar. General Sir Frederick
Roberts had handed over the command at Cabul to Sir Donald Stewart, and
was about to operate among the tribes on the Afghan frontier when the
news of the disaster sent him hurrying back to confer with the new
commander-in-chief. Together they recommended the plan named above.

It involved grave dangers: for affairs in the north of Afghanistan were
unsettled; and to withdraw the rest of our force from Cabul to the
Khyber would give the rein to local disaffection. The Indian authorities
at Simla inclined to the despatch of the force at Quetta, comprising
seven regiments of native troops, from Bombay. The route was certainly
far easier; for, thanks to the toil of engineers, the railway from the
Indus Valley towards Quetta had been completed up to a point in advance
of Sibi; and the labours of Major Sandeman, Bruce, and others, had kept
that district fairly quiet[324]. But the troops at Quetta and Pishin
were held to be incapable of facing a superior force of victorious
Afghans. At Cabul there were nine regiments of infantry, three of
cavalry, and three mountain-batteries, all of them British or picked
Indian troops. On August 3, Lord Ripon telegraphed his permission for
the despatch of the Cabul field-force to Candahar. It amounted to 2835
British (the 72nd and 92nd Highlanders and 2nd battalion of the 60th
Rifles, and 9th Lancers), 7151 Indian troops, together with 18 guns. On
August 9 it struck camp and set out on a march which was destined to
be famous.

[Footnote 324: _Colonel Sandeman: His Life and Work on our Indian
Frontier,_ by T.H. Thornton; R.I. Bruce, _The Forward Policy and its
Results_ (1900), chaps. iv. v.; _Candahar in 1879; being the Diary of
Major Le Mesurier, R.E._ (1880). The last had reported in 1879 that the
fortifications of Candahar were weak and the citadel in bad repair.]

Fortunately before it left the Cabul camp on August 9, matters were
skilfully arranged by Mr. Griffin with Abdur Rahman, on terms which will
be noticed presently. In spite of one or two suspicious incidents, his
loyalty to the British cause now seemed to be assured, and that, too, in
spite of the remonstrances of many of his supporters. He therefore sent
forward messengers to prepare the way for Roberts' force. They did so by
telling the tribesmen that the new Ameer was sending the foreign army
out of the land by way of Candahar! This pleasing fiction in some
measure helped on the progress of the force, and the issue of events
proved it to be no very great travesty of the truth.

Every possible device was needed to ensure triumph over physical
obstacles. In order to expedite the march through the difficult country
between Cabul and Candahar, no wheeled guns or waggons went with the
force. As many as 8000 native bearers or drivers set out with the force,
but very many of them deserted, and the 8255 horses, mules and donkeys
were thenceforth driven by men told off from the regiments. The line of
march led at first through the fertile valley of the River Logar, where
the troops and followers were able to reap the ripening crops and
subsist in comfort. Money was paid for the crops thus appropriated.
After leaving this fertile district for the barren uplands, the question
of food and fuel became very serious; but it was overcome by ingenuity
and patience, though occasional times of privation had to be faced, as,
for instance, when only very small roots were found for the cooking of
corn and meat. A lofty range, the Zamburak Kotal, was crossed with great
toil and amidst biting cold at night-time; but the ability of the
commander, the forethought and organising power of his Staff, and the
hardihood of the men overcame all trials and obstacles.

The army then reached the more fertile districts around Ghazni, and on
August 15 gained an entry without resistance to that once formidable
stronghold. Steady marching brought the force eight days later to the
hill fort of Kelat-i-Ghilzai, where it received a hearty welcome from
the British garrison of 900 men. Sir Frederick Roberts determined to
take on these troops with him, as he needed all his strength to cope
with the growing power of Yakub. After a day's rest (well earned, seeing
that the force had traversed 225 miles in 14 days), the column set forth
on its last stages, cheered by the thought of rescuing their comrades at
Candahar, but more and more oppressed by the heat, which, in the lower
districts of South Afghanistan, is as fierce as anywhere in the world.
Mr. Hensman, the war correspondent of the _Daily News,_ summed up in one
telling phrase the chief difficulties of the troops. "The sun laughed to
scorn 100 deg. F. in the shade." On the 27th the commander fell with a sharp
attack of fever.

Nevertheless he instructed the Indian cavalry to push on to Robat and
open up heliographic communication with Candahar. It then transpired
that the approach of the column had already changed the situation.
Already, on August 23, Ayub had raised the siege and retired to the
hills north of the city. That relief came none too soon appeared on the
morning of the 31st, when the thin and feeble cheering that greeted the
rescuers on their entrance to the long beleaguered town told its sad
tale of want, disease, and depression of heart. The men who had marched
313 miles in 22 days--an average of 14-1/4 miles a day--felt a thrill of
sympathy, not unmixed with disgust in some cases, at the want of spirit
too plainly discernible among the defenders. The Union Jack was not
hoisted on the citadel until the rescuers were near at hand[325].
General Roberts might have applied to them Hecuba's words to Priam:--

     Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis
     Tempus eget.

As for the _morale_ of the relieving force, it now stood at the zenith,
as was seen on the following day. Framing his measures so as to
encourage Ayub to stand his ground, Roberts planned his attack in the
way that had already led to success, namely, a frontal attack more
imposing than serious, while the enemy's flank was turned and his
communications threatened. These moves were carried out by Generals Ross
and Baker with great skill. Under the persistent pressure of the British
onset the Afghans fell back from position to position, north-west of
Candahar; until finally Major White with the 92nd, supported by Gurkhas
and the 23rd Pioneers, drove them back to their last ridge, the Baba
Wali Kotal, swarmed up its western flank, and threw the whole of the
hostile mass in utter confusion into the plain beyond. Owing to the very
broken nature of the ground, few British and Indian horsemen were at
hand to reap the full fruits of victory; but many of Ayub's regulars and
ghazis fell under their avenging sabres. The beaten force deserved no
mercy. When the British triumph was assured, the Afghan chief ordered
his prisoner, Lieutenant Maclaine, to be butchered; whereupon he himself
and his suite took to flight. The whole of his artillery, twenty-seven
pieces, including the two British guns lost at Maiwand, fell into the
victor's hands. In fact, Ayub's force ceased to exist; many of his
troops at once assumed the garb of peaceful cultivators, and the
Pretender himself fled to Herat[326].

[Footnote 325: Roberts, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 357.]

[Footnote 326: Parl. Papers, Afghanistan, No. 3 (1880), p. 82. Hensman,
_The Afghan War;_ Shadbolt, _op. cit._ pp. 108-110. The last reckons
Ayub's force at 12,800, of whom 1200 were slain.]

Thus ended an enterprise which, but for the exercise of the highest
qualities on the part of General Roberts, his Staff, the officers, and
rank and file, might easily have ended in irretrievable disaster. This
will appear from the following considerations. The question of food and
water during a prolonged march in that parched season of the year might
have caused the gravest difficulties; but they were solved by a wise
choice of route along or near water-courses where water could generally
be procured. The few days when little or no water could be had showed
what might have happened. Further, the help assured by the action of the
Ameer's emissaries among the tribesmen was of little avail after the
valley of the Logar was left behind. Many of the tribes were actively
hostile, and cut off stragglers and baggage-animals.

Above and beyond these daily difficulties, there was the problem as to
the line of retreat to be taken in case of a reverse inflicted by the
tribes _en route._ The army had given up its base of operations; for at
the same time the remaining British and Indian regiments at Cabul were
withdrawn to the Khyber Pass. True, there was General Phayre's force
holding Quetta, and endeavouring to stretch out a hand towards Candahar;
but the natural obstacles and lack of transport prevented the arrival of
help from that quarter. It is, however, scarcely correct to say that
Roberts had no line of retreat assured in case of defeat[327]. No
serious fighting was to be expected before Candahar; for the Afghan
plundering instinct was likely to keep Ayub near to that city, where the
garrison was hard pressed. After leaving Ghazni, the Quetta route became
the natural way of retirement.

[Footnote 327: Shadbolt, _op. cit._ p. 107.]

As it happened, the difficulties were mainly those inflicted by the
stern hand of Nature herself; and their severity may be gauged by the
fact that out of a well-seasoned force of less than 10,000 fighting men
as many as 940 sick had at once to go into hospital at Candahar. The
burning days and frosty nights of the Afghan uplands were more fatal
than the rifles of Ayub and the knives of the ghazis. As Lord Roberts
has modestly admitted, the long march gained in dramatic effect because
for three weeks he and his army were lost to the world, and, suddenly
emerging from the unknown, gained a decisive triumph. But, allowing for
this element of picturesqueness, so unusual in an age when the daily din
of telegrams dulls the perception of readers, we may still maintain that
the march from Cabul to Candahar will bear comparison with any similar
achievement in modern history.

The story of British relations with Afghanistan is one which
illustrates the infinite capacity of our race to "muddle through" to
some more or less satisfactory settlement. This was especially the case
in the spring and summer of 1880, when the accession of Mr. Gladstone to
power and the disaster of Maiwand changed the diplomatic and military
situation. In one sense, and that not a cryptic one, these events served
to supplement one another. They rendered inevitable the entire
evacuation of Afghanistan. That, it need hardly be said, was the policy
of Mr. Gladstone, of the Secretary for India, Lord Hartington (now Duke
of Devonshire), and of Lord Ripon.

On one point both parties were agreed. Events had shown how undesirable
it was to hold Cabul and Central Afghanistan. The evacuation of all
these districts was specified in Lord Lytton's last official Memorandum,
that which he signed on June 7, 1880, as certain to take place as soon
as the political arrangements at Cabul were duly settled. The retiring
Viceroy, however, declared that in his judgment the whole Province of
Candahar must be severed from the Cabul Power, whether Abdur Rahman
assented to it or not[328]. Obviously this implied the subjection of
Candahar to British rule in some form. General Roberts himself argued
stoutly for the retention of that city and district; and so did most of
the military men. Lord Wolseley, on the other hand, urged that it would
place an undesirable strain upon the resources of India, and that the
city could readily be occupied from the Quetta position, if ever the
Russians advanced to Herat. The Cabinet strongly held this opinion. The
exponents of Whig ideas, Lord Hartington and the Duke of Argyll, herein
agreeing with the exponents of a peaceful un-Imperial commercialism, Mr.
Bright and Mr. Chamberlain. Consequently the last of the British troops
were withdrawn from Candahar on April 15, 1881.

[Footnote 328: Lady B. Balfour, _op. cit._ pp. 430, 445. On June 8 Lord
Ripon arrived at Simla and took over the Viceroyalty from Lord Lytton;
the latter was raised to an earldom.]

The retirement was more serious in appearance than in reality. The war
had brought some substantial gains. The new frontier acquired by the
Treaty of Gandamak--and the terms of that compact were practically void
until Roberts' victory at Candahar gave them body and life--provided
ample means for sending troops easily to the neighbourhood of Cabul,
Ghazni, and Candahar; and experience showed that troops kept in the hill
stations on the frontier preserved their mettle far better than those
cantoned in or near the unhealthy cities just named. The Afghans had
also learnt a sharp lesson of the danger and futility of leaning on
Russia; and to this fact must be attributed the steady adherence of the
new Ameer to the British side.

Moreover, the success of his rule depended largely on our evacuation of
his land. Experience has shown that a practically independent and united
Afghanistan forms a better barrier to a Russian advance than an
Afghanistan rent by the fanatical feuds that spring up during a foreign
occupation. Finally, the great need of India after the long famine was
economy. A prosperous and contented India might be trusted to beat off
any army that Russia could send; a bankrupt India would be the
breeding-ground of strife and mutiny; and on these fell powers Skobeleff
counted as his most formidable allies[329].

[Footnote 329: See Appendix; also Lord Hartington's speeches in the
House of Commons, March 25-6, 1881]

It remained to be seen whether Abdur Rahman could win Candahar and
Herat, and, having won them, keep them. At first Fortune smiled on his
rival, Ayub. That pretender sent a force from Herat southwards against
the Ameer's troops, defeated them, and took Candahar (July 1881). But
Abdur Rahman had learnt to scorn the shifts of the fickle goddess. With
a large force he marched to that city, bought over a part of Ayub's
following, and then utterly defeated the remainder. This defeat was the
end of Ayub's career. Flying back to Herat, he found it in the hands of
the Ameer's supporters, and was fain to seek refuge in Persia. Both of
these successes seem to have been due to the subsidies which the new
Ameer drew from India[330].

[Footnote 330: Abdur Rahman's own account (_op. cit._ ch. ix.) ascribes
his triumph to his own skill and to Ayub's cowardice.]

We may here refer to the last scene in which Ayub played a part before
Englishmen. Foiled of his hopes in Persia, he finally retired to India.
At a later day he appeared as a pensioner on the bounty of that
Government at a review held at Rawal Pindi in the Punjab in honour of
the visit of H.R.H. Prince Victor. The Prince, on being informed of his
presence, rode up to his carriage and saluted the fallen Sirdar. The
incident profoundly touched the Afghans who were present. One of them
said: "It was a noble act. It shows that you English are worthy to be
the rulers of this land[331]."

[Footnote 331: _Eighteen Years in the Khyber Pass (1879-1898)_, by
Colonel Sir R. Warburton, p. 213. The author's father had married a
niece of the Ameer Dost Mohammed.]

The Afghans were accustomed to see the conquered crushed and scorned by
the conqueror. Hence they did not resent the truculent methods resorted
to by Abdur Rahman in the consolidation of his power. In his relentless
grip the Afghan tribes soon acquired something of stability. Certainly
Lord Lytton never made a wiser choice than that of Abdur Rahman for the
Ameership; and, strange to say, that choice obviated the evils which the
Viceroy predicted as certain to accrue from the British withdrawal from
Candahar[332]. Contrasting the action of Great Britain towards himself
with that of Russia towards Shere Ali in his closing days, the new Ameer
could scarcely waver in his choice of an alliance. And while he held the
Indian Government away at arm's length, he never wavered at heart.

[Footnote 332: Lord Lytton's speech in the House of Lords, Jan. 1881.]

       *       *       *       *       *

For in the meantime Russia had resumed her southward march, setting to
work with the doggedness that she usually displays in the task of
avenging slights and overbearing opposition. The penury of the
exchequer, the plots of the Nihilists, and the discontent of the whole
people after the inglorious struggle with Turkey, would have imposed on
any other Government a policy of rest and economy. To the stiff
bureaucracy of St. Petersburg these were so many motives for adopting a
forward policy in Asia. Conquests of Turkoman territory would bring
wealth, at least to the bureaucrats and generals; and military triumphs
might be counted on to raise the spirit of the troops, silence the talk
about official peculations during the Turkish campaign, and act in the
manner so sagaciously pointed out by Henry IV. to Prince Hal:--

                          Therefore, my Harry,
     Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
     With foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne out,
     May waste the memory of the former days.

In the autumn of 1878 General Lomakin had waged an unsuccessful campaign
against the Tekke Turkomans, and finally fell back with heavy losses on
Krasnovodsk, his base of operations on the Caspian Sea. In the summer of
1879 another expedition set out from that port to avenge the defeat.
Owing to the death of the chief, Lomakin again rose to the command. His
bad dispositions at the climax of the campaign led him to a more serious
disaster. On coming up to the fortress of Denghil Tepe, near the town of
Geok Tepe, he led only 1400 men, or less than half of his force, to
bombard and storm a stronghold held by some 15,000 Turkomans, and
fortified on the plan suggested by a British officer, Lieutenant
Butler[333]. Preluding his attack by a murderous cannonade, he sent
round his cavalry to check the flight of the faint-hearted among the
garrison; and, before his guns had fully done their work, he ordered the
whole line to advance and carry the walls by storm. At once the Turkoman
fire redoubled in strength, tore away the front of every attacking
party, and finally drove back the assailants everywhere with heavy loss
(Sept. 9, 1879). On the morrow the invaders fell back on the River Atrek
and thence made their way back to the Caspian in sore straits[334].

[Footnote 333: This officer wrote to the _Globe_ on January 25, 1881,
stating that he had fortified two other posts east of Denghil Tepe. This
led Skobeleff to push on to Askabad after the capture of that place; but
he found no strongholds. See Marvin's _Russian Advance towards
India_, p. 85.]

[Footnote 334: Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1880), pp. 167-173,

The next year witnessed the advent of a great soldier on the scene.
Skobeleff, the stormy petrel of Russian life, the man whose giant frame
was animated by a hero's soul, who, when pitched from his horse in the
rush on one of the death-dealing redoubts at Plevna, rose undaunted to
his feet, brandished his broken sword in the air and yelled at the enemy
a defiance which thrilled his broken lines to a final mad charge over
the rampart--Skobeleff was at hand. He had culled his first laurels at
Khiva and Khokand, and now came to the shores of the Caspian to carry
forward the standards which he hoped one day to plant on the walls of
Delhi. That he cherished this hope is proved by the Memorandum which
will be found in the Appendix of this volume. His disclaimer of any such
intention to Mr. Charles Marvin (which will also be found there) shows
that under his frank exterior there lay hidden the strain of Oriental
duplicity so often found among his countrymen in political life.

At once the operations felt the influence of his active, cheery, and
commanding personality. The materials for a railway which had been lying
unused at Bender were now brought up; and Russia found the money to set
about the construction of a railway from Michaelovsk to the Tekke
Turkoman country--an undertaking which was destined wholly to change the
conditions of warfare in South Turkestan and on the Afghan border. By
the close of the year more than forty miles were roughly laid down, and
Skobeleff was ready for his final advance from Kizil Arvat towards
Denghil Tepe.

Meanwhile the Tekkes had gained reinforcements from their kinsmen in the
Merv oasis, and had massed nearly 40,000 men--so rumour ran--at their
stronghold. Nevertheless, they offered no serious resistance to the
Russian advance, doubtless because they hoped to increase the
difficulties of his retreat after the repulse which they determined to
inflict at their hill fortress. But Skobeleff excelled Lomakin in skill
no less than in prowess and magnetic influence. He proceeded to push his
trenches towards the stronghold, so that on January 23, 1881, his men
succeeded in placing 2600 pounds of gunpowder under the south-eastern
corner of the rampart. Early on the following day the Russians began the
assault; and while cannon and rockets wrought death and dismay among the
ill-armed defenders, the mighty shock of the explosion tore away fifty
yards of their rampart.

At once the Russian lines moved forward to end the work begun by
gunpowder. With the blare of martial music and with ringing cheers, they
charged at the still formidable walls. A young officer, Colonel
Kuropatkin, who has since won notoriety in other lands, was ready with
twelve companies to rush into the breach. Their leading files swarmed up
it before the Tekkes fully recovered from the blow dealt by the hand of
western science; but then the brave nomads closed in on foes with whom
they could fight, and brought the storming party to a standstill.
Skobeleff was ready for the emergency. True to his Plevna tactics of
ever feeding an attack at the crisis with new troops, he hurled forward
two battalions of the line and companies of dismounted Cossacks. These
pushed on the onset, hewed their way through all obstacles, and soon met
the smaller storming parties which had penetrated at other points. By 1
p.m. the Russian standard waved in triumph from the central hill of the
fortress, and thenceforth bands of Tekkes began to stream forth into the
desert on the further side.

Now Skobeleff gave to his foes a sharp lesson, which, he claimed, was
the most merciful in the end. He ordered his men, horse and foot alike,
to pursue the fugitives and spare no one. Ruthlessly the order was
obeyed. First, the flight of grape shot from the light guns, then the
bayonet, and lastly the Cossack lance, strewed the plain with corpses
of men, women, and children; darkness alone put an end to the butchery,
and then the desert for eleven miles eastwards of Denghil Tepe bore
witness to the thoroughness of Muscovite methods of warfare. All the men
within the fortress were put to the sword. Skobeleff himself estimated
the number of the slain at 20,000[335]. Booty to the value of L600,000
fell to the lot of the victors. Since that awful day the once predatory
tribes of Tekkes have given little trouble. Skobeleff sent his righthand
man, Kuropatkin, to occupy Askabad, and reconnoitre towards Merv. But
these moves were checked by order of the Czar.

[Footnote 335: _Siege and Assault of Denghil Tepe_. By General Skobeleff
(translated). London, 1881.]

A curious incident, told to Lord Curzon, illustrates the dread in which
Russian troops have since been held. At the opening of the railway to
Askabad, five years later, the Russian military bands began to play. At
once the women and children there present raised cries and shrieks of
dread, while the men threw themselves on the ground. They imagined that
the music was a signal for another onslaught like that which preluded
the capture of their former stronghold[336].

[Footnote 336: _Russia in Central Asia in 1889_. By the Hon. G.N. Curzon
(1889), p. 83.]

This victory proved to be the last of Skobeleff's career. The Government
having used their knight-errant, now put him on one side as too
insubordinate and ambitious for his post. To his great disgust, he was
recalled. He did not long survive. Owing to causes that are little
known, among which a round of fast-living is said to have played its
part, he died suddenly from failure of the heart at his residence near
Moscow (July 7 1882). Some there were who whispered dark things as to
his militant notions being out of favour with the new Czar, Alexander
III.; others pointed significantly to Bismarck. Others again prattled of
Destiny; but the best comment on the death of Skobeleff would seem to be
that illuminating saying of Novalis--"Character is Destiny." Love of
fame prompted in him the desire one day to measure swords with Lord
Roberts in the Punjab; but the coarser strain in his nature dragged him
to earth at the age of thirty-nine.

The accession of Alexander III., after the murder of his father on March
13, 1881, promised for a short time to usher in a more peaceful policy;
but, in truth, the last important diplomatic assurance of the reign of
Alexander II. was that given by the Minister M. de Giers, to Lord
Dufferin, as to Russia's resolve not to occupy Merv. "Not only do we not
want to go there, but, happily, there is nothing which can require us to
go there."

In spite of a similar assurance given on April 5 to the Russian
ambassador in London, both the need and the desire soon sprang into
existence. Muscovite agents made their way to the fruitful oasis of
Merv; and a daring soldier, Alikhanoff, in the guise of a merchant's
clerk, proceeded thither early in 1882, skilfully distributed money to
work up a Russian party, and secretly sketched a plan of the fortress.
Many chiefs and traders opposed Russia bitterly, for our brilliant and
adventurous countryman, O'Donovan, while captive there, sought to open
their eyes to the coming danger. But England's influence had fallen to
zero since Skobeleff's victory and her own withdrawal from

[Footnote 337: C. Marvin, _Merv, the Queen of the World_ (1881); E.
O'Donovan, _The Merv Oasis_, 2 vols. (1882-83), and _Merv_ (1883).]

In 1882 a Russian Engineer officer, Lessar, in the guise of a scientific
explorer, surveyed the route between Merv and Herat, and found that it
presented far fewer difficulties than had been formerly reported to
exist[338]. Finally, in 1884, the Czar's Government sought to revenge
itself for Britain's continued occupation of Egypt by fomenting trouble
near the Afghan border. Alikhanoff then reappeared, not in disguise,
browbeat the hostile chieftains at Merv by threats of a Russian
invasion, and finally induced them to take an oath of allegiance to
Alexander III. (Feb. 12, 1884)[339].

[Footnote 338: See his reports in Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 1
(1884), pp. 26, 36, 39, 63, 96, 106.]

[Footnote 339: _Ibid_. p. 119.]

There was, however, some reason for Russia's violation of her repeated
promises respecting Merv. In practical politics the theory of
compensation has long gained an assured footing; and, seeing that
Britain had occupied Egypt partly as the mandatory of Europe, and now
refused to evacuate that land, the Russian Government had a good excuse
for retaliation. As has happened at every time of tension between the
two Empires since 1855, the Czar chose to embarrass the Island Power by
pushing on towards India. As a matter of fact, the greater the pressure
that Russia brought to bear on the Afghan frontier, the greater became
the determination of England not to withdraw from Egypt. Hence, in the
years 1882-4, both Powers plunged more deeply into that "vicious circle"
in which the policy of the Crimean War had enclosed them, and from which
they have never freed themselves.

The fact is deplorable. It has produced endless friction and has
strained the resources of two great Empires; but the allegation of
Russian perfidy in the Merv affair may be left to those who look at
facts solely from the insular standpoint. In the eyes of patriotic
Russians England was the offender, first by opposing Muscovite policy
tooth and nail in the Balkans, secondly by seizing Egypt, and thirdly by
refusing to withdraw from that commanding position. The important fact
to notice is that after each of these provocations Russia sought her
revenge on that flank of the British Empire to which she was guided by
her own sure instincts and by the shrieks of insular Cassandras. By
moving a few sotnias of Cossacks towards Herat she compelled her rival
to spend a hundredfold as much in military preparations in India.

It is undeniable that Russia's persistent breach of her promises in
Asiatic affairs exasperated public opinion, and brought the two Empires
to the verge of war. Conduct of that description baffles the resources
of diplomacy, which are designed to arrange disputes. Unfortunately,
British foreign affairs were in the hands of Lord Granville, whose
gentle reproaches only awakened contempt at St. Petersburg. The recent
withdrawal of Lord Dufferin from St. Petersburg to Constantinople, on
the plea of ill-health, was also a misfortune; but his appointment to
the Viceroyalty of India (September 1884) placed at Calcutta a
Governor-General superior to Lord Ripon in diplomatic experience.

There was every need for the exercise of ability and firmness both at
Westminster and Calcutta. The climax in Russia's policy of lance-pricks
was reached in the following year; and it has been assumed, apparently
on good authority, that the understanding arrived at by the three
Emperors in their meeting at Skiernewice (September 1884) implied a
tacit encouragement of Russia's designs in Central Asia, however much
they were curbed in the Balkan Peninsula. This was certainly the aim of
Bismarck, and that he knew a good deal about Russian movements is clear
from his words to Busch on November 24, 1884: "Just keep a sharp
look-out on the news from Afghanistan. Something will happen there

[Footnote 340: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of his History_, vol. iii.
pp. 124, 133 (Eng. ed.).]

This was clearly more than a surmise. At that time an Anglo-Russian
Boundary Commission was appointed to settle the many vexed questions
concerning the delimitation of the Russo-Afghan boundary. General Sir
Peter Lumsden proceeded to Sarrakhs, expecting there to meet the Russian
Commissioners by appointment in the middle of October 1884. On various
pretexts the work of the Commission was postponed in accordance with
advices sent from St. Petersburg. The aim of this dilatory policy soon
became evident. That was the time when (as will appear in Chapter XVI.)
the British expedition was slowly working its way towards Khartum in the
effort to unravel the web of fate then closing in on the gallant Gordon.
The news of his doom reached England on February 5, 1885. Then it was
that Russia unmasked her designs. They included the appropriation of the
town and district of Panjdeh, which she herself had previously
acknowledged to be in Afghan territory. In vain did Lord Granville
protest; in vain did he put forward proposals which conceded very much
to the Czar, but less than his Ministers determined to have. All that he
could obtain was a promise that the Russians would not advance further
during the negotiations.

On March 13, Mr. Gladstone officially announced that an agreement to
this effect had been arrived at with Russia. The Foreign Minister at St.
Petersburg, M. de Giers, on March 16 assured our ambassador, Sir Edward
Thornton, that that statement was correct. On March 26, however, the
light troops of General Komaroff advanced beyond the line of demarcation
previously agreed on, and on the following day pushed past the Afghan
force holding positions in front of Panjdeh. The Afghans refused to be
drawn into a fight, but held their ground; thereupon, on March 29,
Komaroff sent them an ultimatum ordering them to withdraw beyond
Panjdeh. A British staff-officer requested him to reconsider and recall
this demand, but he himself was waived aside. Finally, on March 30,
Komaroff attacked the Afghan position, and drove out the defenders with
the loss of 900 men. The survivors fell back on Herat, General Lumsden
and his escort retired in the same direction, and Russia took possession
of the coveted prize[341].

[Footnote 341: See Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1885), for General
Lumsden's refutation of Komaroff's misstatements; also for the general
accounts, _ibid_. No. 5 (1885), pp. 1-7.]

The news of this outrage reached England on April 7, and sent a thrill
of indignation through the breasts of the most peaceful. Twenty days
later Mr. Gladstone proposed to Parliament to vote the sum of
L11,000,000 for war preparations. Of this sum all but L4,500,000 (needed
for the Sudan) was devoted to military and naval preparations against
Russia; and we have the authority of Mr. John Morley for saying that
this vote was supported by Liberals "with much more than a mechanical
loyalty[342]." Russia had achieved the impossible; she had united
Liberals of all shades of thought against her, and the joke about
"Mervousness" was heard no more.

[Footnote 342: J. Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. iii. p. 184.]

Nevertheless the firmness of the Government resembled that of Bob
Acres: it soon oozed away. Ministers deferred to the Czar's angry
declaration that he would allow no inquiry into the action of General
Komaroff. This alone was a most mischievous precedent, as it tended to
inflate Russian officers with the belief that they could safely set at
defiance the rules of international law. Still worse were the signs of
favour showered on the violator of a truce by the sovereign who gained
the reputation of being the upholder of peace. From all that is known
semi-officially with respect to the acute crisis of the spring of 1885,
it would appear that peace was due solely to the tact of Sir Robert
Morier, our ambassador at St. Petersburg, and to the complaisance of the
Gladstone Cabinet.

Certainly this quality carried Ministers very far on the path of
concession. When negotiations were resumed, the British Government
belied its former promises of firmness in a matter that closely
concerned our ally, and surrendered Panjdeh to Russia, but on the
understanding that the Zulfikar Pass should be retained by the Afghans.
It should be stated, however, that Abdur Rahman had already assured Lord
Dufferin, during interviews which they had at Rawal Pindi early in
April, of his readiness to give up Panjdeh if he could retain that pass
and its approaches. The Russian Government conceded this point; but
their negotiators then set to work to secure possession of heights
dominating the pass. It seemed that Lord Granville was open to
conviction even on this point.

Such was the state of affairs when, on June 9, 1885, Mr. Gladstone's
Ministry resigned owing to a defeat on a budget question. The accession
of Lord Salisbury to power after a brief interval helped to clear up
these disputes. The crisis in Bulgaria of September 1885 (see Chapter
X.) also served to distract the Russian Government, the Czar's chief
pre-occupation now being to have his revenge on Prince Alexander of
Battenberg. Consequently the two Powers came to a compromise about the
Zulfikar Pass[343]. There still remained several questions outstanding,
and only after long and arduous surveys, not unmixed with disputes, was
the present boundary agreed on in a Protocol signed on July 22, 1887. We
may here refer to a prophecy made by one of Bismarck's _confidantes_,
Bucher, at the close of May 1885: "I believe the [Afghan] matter will
come up again in about five years, when the [Russian] railways are

[Footnote 343: Parl. Papers, Central Asia, No. 4 (1885), pp. 41-72.]

[Footnote 344: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages,_ etc., vol. iii. p. 135.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus it was that Russia secured her hold on districts dangerously near
to Herat. Her methods at Panjdeh can only be described as a deliberate
outrage on international law. It is clear that Alexander III. and his
officials cared nothing for the public opinion of Europe, and that they
pushed on their claims by means which appealed with overpowering force
to the dominant motive of orientals--fear. But their action was based on
another consideration. Relying on Mr. Gladstone's well-known love of
peace, they sought to degrade the British Government in the eyes of the
Asiatic peoples. In some measure they succeeded. The prestige of Britain
thenceforth paled before that of the Czar; and the ease and decisiveness
of the Russian conquests, contrasting with the fitful advances and
speedy withdrawals of British troops, spread the feeling in Central Asia
that the future belonged to Russia.

Fortunately, this was not the light in which Abdur Rahman viewed the
incident. He was not the man to yield to intimidation. That "strange,
strong creature," as Lord Dufferin called him, "showed less emotion than
might have been expected," but his resentment against Russia was none
the less keen[345]. Her pressure only served to drive him to closer
union with Great Britain. Clearly the Russians misunderstood Abdur
Rahman. Their miscalculation was equally great as regards the character
of the Afghans and the conditions of life among those mountain clans.
Russian officers and administrators, after pushing their way easily
through the loose rubble of tribes that make up Turkestan, did not
realise that they had to deal with very different men in Afghanistan. To
ride roughshod over tribes who live in the desert and have no natural
rallying-point may be very effective; but that policy is risky when
applied to tribes who cling to their mountains.

[Footnote 345: In his _Life_ (vol. i, pp. 244-246) he also greatly
blames British policy.]

The analogy of Afghanistan to Switzerland may again serve to illustrate
the difference between mountaineers and plain-dwellers. It was only when
the Hapsburgs or the French threatened the Swiss that they formed any
effective union for the defence of the Fatherland. Always at variance in
time of peace, the cantons never united save under the stress of a
common danger. The greater the pressure from without, the closer was the
union. That truth has been illustrated several times from the age of the
legendary Tell down to the glorious efforts of 1798. In a word, the
selfsame mountaineers who live disunited in time of peace, come together
and act closely together in war, or under threat of war.

Accordingly, the action of England in retiring from Candahar,
contrasting as it did with Russia's action at Panjdeh, marked out the
line of true policy for Abdur Rahman. Thenceforth he and his tribesmen
saw more clearly than ever that Russia was the foe; and it is noteworthy
that under the shadow of the northern peril there has grown up among
those turbulent clans a sense of unity never known before. Unconsciously
Russia has been playing the part of a Napoleon I.; she has ground
together some at least of the peoples of Central Asia with a
thoroughness which may lead to unexpected results if ever events favour
a general rising against the conqueror.

Amidst all his seeming vacillations of policy, Abdur Rahman was governed
by the thought of keeping England, and still more Russia, from his land.
He absolutely refused to allow railways and telegraphs to enter his
territories; for, as he said: "Where Europeans build railways, their
armies quickly follow. My neighbours have all been swallowed up in this
manner. I have no wish to suffer their fate."

His judgment was sound. Skobeleff conquered the Tekkes by his railway;
and the acquisition of Merv and Panjdeh was really the outcome of the
new trans-Caspian line, which, as Lord Curzon has pointed out,
completely changed the problem of the defence of India. Formerly the
natural line of advance for Russia was from Orenburg to Tashkend and the
upper Oxus; and even now that railway would enable her to make a
powerful diversion against Northern Afghanistan[346]. But the route from
Krasnovodsk on the Caspian to Merv and Kushk presents a shorter and far
easier route, leading, moreover, to the open side of Afghanistan, Herat,
and Candahar. Recent experiments have shown that a division of troops
can be sent in eight days from Moscow to Kushk within a short distance
of the Afghan frontier. In a word, Russia can operate against
Afghanistan by a line (or rather by two lines) far shorter and easier
than any which Great Britain can use for its defence[347].

[Footnote 346: See Col. A. Durand's _The Making of a Frontier_ (1899),
pp. 41-43.]

[Footnote 347: Colquhoun, _Russia against India_, p. 170. Lord Curzon in
1894 went over much of the ground between Sarrakhs and Candahar and
found it quite easy for an army (except in food supply).]

It is therefore of the utmost importance to prevent her pushing on her
railways into that country. This is the consideration which inspired Mr.
Balfour's noteworthy declaration of May 11, 1905, in the House of

     As transport is the great difficulty of an invading army, we
     must not allow anything to be done which would facilitate
     transport. It ought in my opinion to be considered as an act
     of direct aggression upon this country that any attempt
     should be made to build a railway, in connection with the
     Russian strategic railways, within the territory of

It is fairly certain that the present Ameer, Habibulla, who succeeded
his father in 1901, holds those views. This doubtless was the reason
why, early in 1905, he took the unprecedented step of _inviting_ the
Indian Government to send a Mission to Cabul. In view of the increase of
Russia's railways in Central Asia there was more need than ever of
coming to a secret understanding with a view to defence against
that Power.

Finally, we may note that Great Britain has done very much to make up
for her natural defects of position. The Panjdeh affair having relegated
the policy of "masterly inactivity" to the limbo of benevolent
futilities, the materials for the Quetta railway, which had been in
large part sent back to Bombay in the year 1881, were now brought back
again; and an alternative route was made to Quetta. The urgent need of
checkmating French intrigues in Burmah led to the annexation of that
land (November 1885); and the Kurram Valley, commanding Cabul, which the
Gladstone Government had abandoned, was reoccupied. The Quetta district
was annexed to India in 1887 under the title of British Baluchistan. The
year 1891 saw an important work undertaken in advance of Quetta, the
Khojak tunnel being then driven through a range close by the Afghan
frontier, while an entrenched camp was constructed near by for the
storage of arms and supplies. These positions, and the general hold
which Britain keeps over the Baluchee clans, enable the defenders of
India to threaten on the flank any advance by the otherwise practicable
route from Candahar to the Indus.

Certainly there is every need for careful preparations against any such
enterprise. Lord Curzon, writing before Russia's strategic railways were
complete, thought it feasible for Russia speedily to throw 150,000 men
into Afghanistan, feed them there, and send on 90,000 of them against
the Indus[348]. After the optimistic account of the problem of Indian
defence given by Mr. Balfour in the speech above referred to, it is well
to remember that, though Russia cannot invade India until she has
conquered Afghanistan, yet for that preliminary undertaking she has the
advantages of time and position nearly entirely on her side. Further,
the completion of her railways almost up to the Afghan frontier (the
Tashkend railway is about to be pushed on to the north bank of the Oxus,
near Balkh) minimises the difficulties of food supply and transport in
Afghanistan, on which the Prime Minister laid so much stress.

[Footnote 348: _Op. cit._ p. 307. Other authorities differ as to the
practicability of feeding so large a force even in the comparatively
fertile districts of Herat and Candahar.]

It is, however, indisputable that the security of India has been greatly
enhanced by the steady pushing on of that "Forward Policy," which all
friends of peace used to decry. The Ameer, Abdur Rahman, irritated by
the making of the Khojak tunnel, was soothed by Sir Mortimer Durand's
Mission in 1893; and in return for an increase of subsidy and other
advantages, he agreed that the tribes of the debatable borderland--the
Waziris, Afridis, and those of the Swat and Chitral valleys--should be
under the control of the Viceroy. Russia showed her annoyance at this
Mission by seeking to seize an Afghan town, Murghab; but the Ameer's
troops beat them off[349]. Lord Lansdowne claimed that this right of
permanently controlling very troublesome tribes would end the days of
futile "punitive expeditions." In the main he was right. The peace and
security of the frontier depend on the tact with which some few scores
of officers carry on difficult work of which no one ever hears[350].

[Footnote 349: _Life of Abdur Rahman,_ vol. i. p. 287.]

[Footnote 350: For this work see _The Life of Sir R. Sandeman_; Sir R.
Warburton, _Eighteen Years in the Khyber_; Durand, _op. cit._; Bruce,
_The Forward Policy and its Results_; Sir James Willcock's _From Cabul
to Kumassi_; S.S. Thorburn, _The Punjab in Peace and War_.]

In nearly all cases they have succeeded in their heroic toil. But the
work of pacification was disturbed in the year 1895 by a rising in the
Chitral Valley, which cut off in Chitral Fort a small force of Sikhs and
loyal Kashmir troops with their British officers. Relieving columns from
the Swat Valley and Gilgit cut their way through swarms of hillmen and
relieved the little garrison after a harassing leaguer of forty-five
days[351]. The annoyance evinced by Russian officers at the success of
the expedition and the retention of the whole of the Chitral district
(as large as Wales) prompts the conjecture that they had not been
strangers to the original outbreak. In this year Russia and England
delimited their boundaries in the Pamirs.

[Footnote 351: _The Relief of Chitral_, by Captains G.J. and F.E.
Younghusband (1895).]

The year 1897 saw all the hill tribes west and south of Peshawur rise
against the British Raj. Moslem fanaticism, kindled by the Sultan's
victories over the Greeks, is said to have brought about the explosion,
though critics of the Calcutta Government ascribe it to official
folly[352]. With truly Roman solidity the British Government quelled the
risings, the capture of the heights of Dargai by the "gay Gordons"
showing the sturdy hillmen that they were no match for our best troops.
Since then the "Forward Policy" has amply justified itself, thousands of
fine troops being recruited from tribes which were recently daring
marauders, ready for a dash into the plains of the Punjab at the bidding
of any would-be disturber of the peace of India. In this case, then,
Britain has transformed a troublesome border fringe into a
protective girdle.

[Footnote 352: See _The Punjab in Peace and War_, by S.S. Thorburn, _ad

       *       *       *       *       *

Whether the Russian Government intends in the future to invade India is
a question which time alone can answer. Viewing her Central Asian policy
from the time of the Crimean War, the student must admit that it bears
distinct traces of such a design. Her advance has always been most
conspicuous in the years succeeding any rebuff dealt by Great Britain,
as happened after that war, and still more, after the Berlin Congress.
At first, the theory that a civilised Power must swallow up restless
raiding neighbours could be cited in explanation of such progress; but
such a defence utterly fails to account for the cynical aggression at
Panjdeh and the favour shown by the Czar to the general who violated a
truce. Equally does it fail to explain the pushing on of strategic
railways since the time of the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty
of 1902. Possibly Russia intends only to exert upon that Achilles heel
of the British Empire the terrible but nominally pacific pressure which
she brings to bear on the open frontiers of Germany and Austria; and
the constant discussion by her officers of plans of invasion of India
may be wholly unofficial. At the same time we must remember that the
idea has long been a favourite one with the Russian bureaucracy; and the
example of the years 1877-81 shows that that class is ready and eager to
wipe out by a campaign in Central Asia the memory of a war barren of
fame and booty. But that again depends on more general questions,
especially those of finance (now a very serious question for Russia,
seeing that she has drained Paris and Berlin of all possible loans) and
of alliance with some Great Power, or Powers, anxious to effect the
overthrow of Great Britain.

If Great Britain be not enervated by luxury; if she be not led astray
from the paths of true policy by windy talk about "splendid isolation";
if also she can retain the loyal support of the various peoples of
India,--she may face the contingency of such an invasion with firmness
and equanimity. That it will come is the opinion of very many
authorities of high standing. A native gentleman of high official rank,
who brings forward new evidence on the subject, has recently declared it
to be "inevitable[353]." Such, too, is the belief of the greatest
authority on Indian warfare. Lord Roberts closes his Autobiography by
affirming that an invasion is "inevitable in the end. We have done much,
and may do still more to delay it; but when that struggle comes, it will
be incumbent upon us, both for political and military reasons, to make
use of all the troops and war material that the Native States can place
at our disposal."

[Footnote 353: See _The Nineteenth Century and After_ for May 1905.]


On May 22, 1905, the _Times_ published particulars concerning the
Anglo-Afghan Treaty recently signed at Cabul. It renewed the compact
made with the late Ameer, whereby he agreed to have no relations with
any foreign Power except Great Britain, the latter agreeing to defend
him against foreign aggression. The subsidy of L120,000 a year is to be
continued, but the present Ameer, Habibulla, henceforth receives a title
equivalent to "King" and is styled "His Majesty."



It will be well to begin the story of the expansion of the nations of
Europe in Africa by a brief statement of the events which brought
Britain to her present position in Egypt. As we have seen, the French
conquest of Tunis, occurring a year earlier, formed the first of the
many expeditions which inaugurated "the partition of Africa"--a topic
which, as regards the west, centre, and south of that continent, will
engage our attention subsequently. In this chapter and the following it
will be convenient to bring together the facts concerning the valley of
the Nile, a district which up to a recent time has had only a slight
connection with the other parts of that mighty continent. In his quaint
account of that mysterious land, Herodotus always spoke of it as
distinct from Libya; and this aloofness has characterised Lower Egypt
almost down to the present age, when the events which we are about to
consider brought it into close touch with the equatorial regions.

The story of the infiltration of British influence into Egypt is one of
the most curious in all history. To this day, despite the recent
agreement with France (1904), the position of England in the valley of
the Lower Nile is irregular, in view of the undeniable fact that the
Sultan is still the suzerain of that land. What is even stranger, it
results from the gradual control which the purse-holder has imposed on
the borrower. The power that holds the purse-strings counts for much in
the political world, as also elsewhere. Both in national and domestic
affairs it ensures, in the last instance, the control of the earning
department over the spending department. It is the _ultima ratio_ of
Parliaments and husbands.

In order fully to understand the relations of Egypt to Turkey and to the
purse-holders of the West, we must glance back at the salient events in
her history for the past century. The first event that brought the land
of the Pharaohs into the arena of European politics was the conquest by
Bonaparte in 1798. He meant to make Egypt a flourishing colony, to have
the Suez Canal cut, and to use Alexandria and Suez as bases of action
against the British possessions in India. This daring design was foiled
by Nelson's victory at the Nile, and by the Abercromby-Hutchinson
expedition of 1801, which compelled the surrender of the French army
left by Bonaparte in Egypt. The three years of French occupation had no
great political results except the awakening of British statesmanship to
a sense of the value of Egypt for the safeguarding of India. They also
served to weaken the power of the Mamelukes, a Circassian military caste
which had reduced the Sultan's authority over Egypt to a mere shadow.
The ruin of this warlike cavalry was gradually completed by an Albanian
soldier of fortune named Mohammed Ali, who, first in the name of the
Sultan, and later in defiance of his power, gradually won the allegiance
of the different races of Egypt and made himself virtually ruler of the
land. This powerful Pasha conquered the northern part of the Sudan, and
founded Khartum as the southern bulwark of his realm (1823). He seems to
have grasped the important fact that, as Egypt depends absolutely on the
waters poured down by the Nile in its periodic floods, her rulers must
control that river in its upper reaches--an idea also held by the ablest
of the Pharaohs. To secure this control, what place could be so suitable
as Khartum, at the junction of the White and Blue Niles?

Mohammed Ali was able to build up an army and navy, which in 1841 was on
the point of overthrowing Turkish power in Syria, when Great Britain
intervened, and by the capture of Acre compelled the ambitious Pasha to
abandon his northern schemes and own once more the suzerainty of the
Porte. The Sultan, however, acknowledged that the Pashalic of Egypt
should be hereditary in his family. We may remark here that England and
France had nearly come to blows over the Syrian question of that year;
but, thanks to the firm demeanour of Lord Palmerston, their rivalry
ended, as in 1801, in the triumph of British influence and the assertion
of the nominal ascendancy of the Sultan in Egypt. Mohammed was to pay
his lord L363,000 a year. He died in 1849.

No great event took place during the rule of the next Pashas, or
Khedives as they were now termed, Abbas I. (1849-54), and Said
(1854-63), except that M. de Lesseps, a French engineer, gained the
consent of Said in 1856 to the cutting of a ship canal, the northern
entrance to which bears the name of that Khedive. Owing to the rivalry
of Britain and France over the canal it was not finished until 1869,
during the rule of Ismail (1863-79). We may note here that, as the
concession was granted to the Suez Canal Company only for ninety-nine
years, the canal will become the property of the Egyptian Government in
the year 1968.

The opening of the canal placed Egypt once more on one of the greatest
highways of the world's commerce, and promised to bring endless wealth
to her ports. That hope has not been fulfilled. The profits have gone
almost entirely to the foreign investors, and a certain amount of trade
has been withdrawn from the Egyptian railways. Sir John Stokes, speaking
in 1887, said he found in Egypt a prevalent impression that the country
had been injured by the canal[354].

[Footnote 354: Quoted by D.A. Cameron, _Egypt in the Nineteenth
Century_, p. 242.]

Certainly Egypt was less prosperous after its opening, but probably
owing to another and mightier event which occurred at the beginning of
Ismail's rule. This was the American Civil War. The blockade of the
Southern States by the federal cruisers cut off from Lancashire and
Northern France the supplies of raw cotton which are the life-blood of
their industries. Cotton went up in price until even the conservative
fellahin of Egypt saw the desirability of growing that strange new
shrub--the first instance on record of a change in their tillage that
came about without compulsion. So great were the profits reaped by
intelligent growers that many fellahin bought Circassian and Abyssinian
wives, and established harems in which jewels, perfumes, silks, and
mirrors were to be found. In a word, Egypt rioted in its new-found
wealth. This may be imagined from the totals of exports, which in three
years rose from L4,500,000 to considerably more than L13,000,000[355].

[Footnote 355: _Egypt and the Egyptian Question_, by Sir D. Mackenzie
Wallace (1883), pp. 318-320.]

But then came the end of the American Civil War. Cotton fell to its
normal price, and ruin stared Egypt in the face. For not only merchants
and fellahin, but also their ruler, had plunged into expenditure, and on
the most lavish scale. Nay! Believing that the Suez Canal would bring
boundless wealth to his land, Ismail persisted in his palace-building
and other forms of oriental extravagance, with the result that in the
first twelve years of his reign, that is, by the year 1875, he had spent
more than L100,000,000 of public money, of which scarcely one-tenth had
been applied to useful ends. The most noteworthy of these last were the
Barrage of the Nile in the upper part of the Delta, an irrigation canal
in Upper Egypt, the Ibrahimiyeh Canal, and the commencement of the Wady
Haifa-Khartum railway. The grandeur of his views may be realised when it
is remembered that he ordered this railway to be made of the same gauge
as those of South Africa, because "it would save trouble in the end."

As to the sudden fall in the price of cotton, his only expedient for
making good the loss was to grow sugar on a great scale, but this was
done so unwisely as to increase the deficits. As a natural consequence,
the Egyptian debt, which at his accession stood at L3,000,000, reached
the extraordinary sum of L89,000,000 in the year 1876, and that, too,
despite the increase of the land tax by one-half. All the means which
oriental ingenuity has devised for the systematic plunder of a people
were now put in force; so that Sir Alfred Milner (now Lord Milner),
after unequalled opportunities of studying the Egyptian Question,
declared: "There is nothing in the financial history of any country,
from the remotest ages to the present time, to equal this carnival of
extravagance and oppression[356]."

[Footnote 356: _England in Egypt_, by Sir Alfred Milner (Lord Milner),
1892, pp. 216-219. (The Egyptian L is equal to L1:0:6.) I give the
figures as pounds sterling.]

The Khedive himself had to make some sacrifices of a private nature, and
one of these led to an event of international importance. Towards the
close of the year 1875 he decided to sell the 177,000 shares which he
held in the Suez Canal Company. In the first place he offered them
secretly to the French Government for 100,000,000 francs; and the
Foreign Minister, the Duc Decazes, it seems, wished to buy them; but the
Premier, M. Buffet, and other Ministers hesitated, perhaps in view of
the threats of war from Germany, which had alarmed all responsible men.
In any case, France lost her chance[357]. Fortunately for Great Britain,
news of the affair was sent to one of her ablest journalists, Mr.
Frederick Greenwood, who at once begged Lord Derby, then Minister for
Foreign Affairs, to grant him an interview. The result was an urgent
message from Lord Derby to Colonel Staunton, the British envoy in Egypt,
to find out the truth from the Khedive himself. The tidings proved to be
correct, and the Beaconsfield Cabinet at once sanctioned the purchase of
the shares for the sum of close on L4,000,000.

[Footnote 357: _La Question d'Egypte_, by C. de Freycinet (1905), p.

It is said that the French envoy to Egypt was playing billiards when he
heard of the purchase, and in his rage he broke his cue in half. His
anger was natural, quite apart from financial considerations. In that
respect the purchase has been a brilliant success; for the shares are
now worth more than L30,000,000, and yield an annual return of about a
million sterling; but this monetary gain is as nothing when compared
with the influence which the United Kingdom has gained in the affairs of
a great undertaking whereby M. de Lesseps hoped to assure the ascendancy
of France in Egypt.

The facts of history, it should be noted, lent support to this
contention of "the great Frenchman." The idea of the canal had
originated with Napoleon I., and it was revived with much energy by the
followers of the French philosopher, St. Simon, in the years
1833-37[358]. The project, however, then encountered the opposition of
British statesmen, as it did from the days of Pitt to those of
Palmerston. This was not unnatural; for it promised to bring back to the
ports of the Mediterranean the preponderant share in the eastern trade
which they had enjoyed before the discovery of the route by the Cape of
Good Hope. The political and commercial interests of England were bound
up with the sea route, especially after the Cape was definitively
assigned to her by the Peace of Paris of 1814; but she could not see
with indifference the control by France of a canal which would divert
trade once more to the old overland route. That danger was now averted
by the financial _coup_ just noticed--an affair which may prove to have
been scarcely less important in a political sense than Nelson's victory
at the Nile.

[Footnote 358: _La Question d'Egypte_, by C. de Freycinet, p. 106.]

In truth, the Sea Power has made up for her defects of position as
regards Egypt by four great strokes--the triumph of her great admiral,
the purchase of Ismail's canal shares, the repression of Arabi's revolt,
and Lord Kitchener's victory at Omdurman. The present writer has not
refrained from sharp criticism on British policy in the period
1870-1900; and the Egyptian policy of the Cabinets of Queen Victoria has
been at times open to grave censure; but, on the whole, it has come out
well, thanks to the ability of individuals to supply the qualities of
foresight, initiative, and unswerving persistence, in which Ministers
since the time of Chatham have rarely excelled.

The sale of Ismail's canal shares only served to stave off the
impending crash which would have formed the natural sequel to this new
"South Sea Bubble." All who took part in this carnival of folly ought to
have suffered alike, Ismail and his beys along with the stock-jobbers
and dividend-hunters of London and Paris. In an ordinary case these last
would have lost their money; but in this instance the borrower was weak
and dependent, while the lenders were in a position to stir up two
powerful Governments to action. Nearly the whole of the Egyptian loans
was held in England and France; and in 1876, when Ismail was floating
swiftly down stream to the abyss of bankruptcy, the British and French
bondholders cast about them for means to secure their own safety. They
organised themselves for the protection of their interests. The Khedive
consented to hear the advice of their representatives, Messrs. Goschen
and Joubert; but it was soon clear that he desired merely a comfortable
liquidation and the continuance of his present expenditure.

That year saw the institution of the "Caisse de la Dette," with power to
receive the revenue set aside for the service of the debt, and to
sanction or forbid new loans; and in the month of November 1876 the
commission of bondholders took the form of the "Dual Control." In 1878 a
Commission was appointed with power to examine the whole of the Egyptian
administration. It met with the strongest opposition from the Khedive,
until in the next year means were found to bring about his abdication by
the act of the Sultan (June 26, 1879). His successor was his son Tewfik

On their side the bondholders had to submit to a reduction of rates of
interest to a uniform rate of 4 per cent on the Unified Debt. Even so,
it was found in the year 1881--a prosperous year--that about half of the
Egyptian revenue, then L9,229,000, had to be diverted to the payment of
that interest[359]. Again, one must remark that such a situation in an
overtaxed country would naturally end in bankruptcy; but this was
prevented by foreign control, which sought to cut down expenditure in
all directions. As a natural result, many industries suffered from the
lack of due support; for even in the silt-beds formed by the Nile (and
they are the real Egypt) there is need of capital to bring about due
results. In brief, the popular discontent gave strength to a movement
which aimed at ousting foreign influences of every kind, not only the
usurers and stock-jobbers that sucked the life-blood of the land, but
even the engineers and bankers who quickened its sluggish circulation.
This movement was styled a national movement; and its abettors raised
that cry of "Egypt for Egyptians," which has had its counterpart
wherever selfish patriots seek to keep all the good things of the land
to themselves. The Egyptian troubles of the year 1882 originated partly
in feelings of this narrow kind, and partly in the jealousies and
strifes of military cliques.

[Footnote 359: _England in Egypt_, etc. p. 222. See there for details as
to the Dual Control; also de Freycinet, _op. cit_. chap. ii., and _The
Expansion of Egypt_, by A. Silva White, chap. vi.]

Sir D. Mackenzie Wallace, after carefully investigating the origin of
the "Arabi movement," came to the conclusion that it was to be found in
the determination of the native Egyptian officers to force their way to
the higher grades of that army, hitherto reserved for Turks or
Circassians. Said and Ismail had favoured the rise of the best soldiers
of the fellahin class (that is, natives), and several of them, on
becoming colonels, aimed at yet higher posts. This aroused bitter
resentment in the dominant Turkish caste, which looked on the fellahin
as born to pay taxes and bear burdens. Under the masterful Ismail these
jealousies were hidden; but the young and inexperienced Tewfik, the
nominee of the rival Western Powers, was unable to bridle the restless
spirits of the army, who looked around them for means to strengthen
their position at the expense of their rivals. These jealousies were
inflamed by the youthful caprice of Tewfik. At first he extended great
favour to Ali Fehmi, an officer of fellah descent, only to withdraw it
owing to the intrigues of a Circassian rival. Ali Fehmi sought for
revenge by forming a cabal with other fellah colonels, among whom a
popular leader soon came to the front. This was Arabi Bey.

Arabi's frame embodied the fine animal qualities of the better class of
fellahin, but to these he added mental gifts of no mean order. After
imbibing the rather narrow education of a devout Moslem, he formed some
acquaintance with western thought, and from it his facile mind selected
a stock of ideas which found ready expression in conversation. His soft
dreamy eyes and fluent speech rarely failed to captivate men of all
classes[360]. His popularity endowed the discontented camarilla with new
vigour, enabling it to focus all the discontented elements, and to
become a movement of almost national import. Yet Arabi was its
spokesman, or figure-head, rather than the actual propelling power. He
seems to have been to a large extent the dupe of schemers who pushed him
on for their own advantage. At any rate it is significant that after his
fall he declared that British supremacy was the one thing needful for
Egypt; and during his old age, passed in Ceylon, he often made similar

[Footnote 360: Sir D.M. Wallace, _Egypt and the Egyptian Question_, p.

[Footnote 361: Mr. Morley says (_Life of Gladstone_, vol. iii. p. 73)
that Arabi's movement "was in truth national as well as military; it was
anti-European, and above all, it was in its objects anti-Turk."--In view
of the evidence collected by Sir D.M. Wallace, and by Lord Milner
(_England in Egypt_), I venture to question these statements. The
movement clearly was military and anti-Turk in its beginning. Later on
it sought support in the people, and became anti-European and to some
extent national; but to that extent it ceased to be anti-Turk. Besides,
why should the Sultan have encouraged it? How far it genuinely relied on
the populace must for the present remain in doubt; but the evidence
collected by Mr. Broadley, _How We Defended Arabi_ (1884), seems to show
that Arabi and his supporters were inspired by thoroughly patriotic and
enlightened motives.]

The Khedive's Ministers, hearing of the intrigues of the discontented
officers, resolved to arrest their chiefs; but on the secret leaking
out, the offenders turned the tables on the authorities, and with
soldiers at their back demanded the dismissal of the Minister of War and
the redress of their chief grievance--the undue promotion of Turks and

The Khedive felt constrained to yield, and agreed to the appointment of
a Minister of War who was a secret friend of the plotters. They next
ventured on a military demonstration in front of the Khedive's palace,
with a view to extorting the dismissal of the able and energetic Prime
Minister, Riaz Pasha. Again Tewfik yielded, and consented to the
appointment of the weak and indolent Sherif Pasha. To consolidate their
triumph the mutineers now proposed measures which would please the
populace. Chief among them was a plan for instituting a consultative
National Assembly. This would serve as a check on the Dual Control and
on the young Khedive, whom it had placed in his present
ambiguous position.

A Chamber of Notables met in the closing days of 1881, and awakened
great hopes, not only in Egypt, but among all who saw hope in the
feeling of nationality and in a genuine wish for reform among a Moslem
people. What would have happened had the Notables been free to work out
the future of Egypt, it is impossible to say. The fate of the Young
Turkish party and of Midhat's constitution of December 1877 formed by no
means a hopeful augury. In the abstract there is much to be said for the
two chief demands of the Notables--that the Khedive's Ministers should
be responsible to the people's representatives, and that the Dual
Control of Great Britain and France should be limited to the control of
the revenues set apart for the purposes of the Egyptian public debt. The
petitioners, however, ignored the fact that democracy could scarcely be
expected to work successfully in a land where not one man in a hundred
had the least notion what it meant, and, further, that the Western
Powers would not give up their coign of vantage at the bidding of
Notables who really represented little more than the dominant military
party. Besides, the acts of this party stamped it as oriental even while
it masqueraded in the garb of western democracy. Having grasped the
reins of government, the fellahin colonels proceeded to relegate their
Turkish and Circassian rivals to service at Khartum--an ingenious form
of banishment. Against this and other despotic acts the representatives
of Great Britain and France energetically protested, and, seeing that
the Khedive was helpless, they brought up ships of war to make a
demonstration against the _de facto_ governors of Egypt.

It should be noted that these steps were taken by the Gladstone and
Gambetta Cabinets, which were not likely to intervene against a
genuinely democratic movement merely in the interests of British and
French bondholders. On January 7, 1882, the two Cabinets sent a Joint
Note to the Khedive assuring him of their support and of their desire to
remove all grievances, external and internal alike, that threatened the
existing order[362].

[Footnote 362: For Gambetta's despatches see de Freycinet, _op. cit._
pp. 209 _et seq_.]

While, however, the Western Powers sided with the Khedive, the other
European States, including Turkey, began to show signs of impatience and
annoyance at any intervention on their part. Russia saw the chance of
revenge on England for the events of 1878, and Bismarck sought to gain
the favour of the Sultan. As for that potentate, his conduct was as
tortuous as usual. From the outset he gave secret support to Arabi's
party, probably with the view of undermining the Dual Control and the
Khedive's dynasty alike. He doubtless saw that Turkish interests might
ultimately be furthered even by the men who had imprisoned or disgraced
Turkish officers and Ministers.

Possibly the whole question might have been peaceably solved had
Gambetta remained in power; for he was strongly in favour of a joint
Anglo-French intervention in case the disorders continued. The Gladstone
Government at that time demurred to such intervention, and claimed that
it would come more legally from Turkey, or, if this were undesirable,
from all the Powers; but this divergence of view did not prevent the two
Governments from acting together on several matters. Gambetta, however,
fell from power at the end of January 1882, and his far weaker
successor, de Freycinet, having to face a most complex parliamentary
situation in France and the possible hostility of the other Powers, drew
back from the leading position which Gambetta's bolder policy had
accorded to France. The vacillations at Paris tended alike to weaken
Anglo-French action and to encourage the Arabi party and the Sultan. As
matters went from bad to worse in Egypt, the British Foreign Minister,
Lord Granville, proposed on May 24 that the Powers should sanction an
occupation of Egypt by Turkish troops. To this M. de Freycinet demurred,
and, while declaring that France would not send an expedition, proposed
that a European Conference should be held on the Egyptian Question.

The Gladstone Cabinet at once agreed to this, and the Conference met for
a short time at the close of June, but without the participation of
Turkey[363]. For the Sultan, hoping that the divisions of the Powers
would enable him to restore Turkish influence in Egypt, now set his
emissaries to work to arouse there the Moslem fanaticism which he has so
profitably exploited in all parts of his Empire. A Turkish Commission
had been sent to inquire into matters--with the sole result of enriching
the chief commissioner. In brief, thanks to the perplexities and
hesitations of the Western Powers and the ill-humour manifested by
Germany and Russia, Europe was helpless, and the Arabi party felt that
they had the game in their own hands. Bismarck said to his secretary,
Busch, on June 8: "They [the British] set about the affair in an awkward
way, and have got on a wrong track by sending their ironclads to
Alexandria, and now, finding that there is nothing to be done, they want
the rest of Europe to help them out of their difficulty by means of a

[Footnote 363: Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, iii. p. 79.]

[Footnote 364: _Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of his History_, vol. iii.
p. 51.]

Already, on May 27, the Egyptian malcontents had ventured on a great
military demonstration against the Khedive, which led to Arabi being
appointed Minister of War. His followers also sought to inflame the
hatred to foreigners for which the greed of Greek and Jewish usurers was
so largely responsible. The results perhaps surpassed the hopes of the
Egyptian nationalists. Moslem fanaticism suddenly flashed into flame.
On the nth of June a street brawl between a Moslem and a Maltese led to
a fierce rising. The "true believers" attacked the houses of the
Europeans, secured a great quantity of loot, and killed about fifty of
them, including men from the British squadron. The English party that
always calls out for non-intervention made vigorous efforts at that
time, and subsequently, to represent this riot and massacre as a mere
passing event which did not seriously compromise the welfare of Egypt;
but Sir Alfred Milner in his calm and judicial survey of the whole
question states that the fears then entertained by Europeans in Egypt
"so far from being exaggerated, . . . perhaps even fell short of the
danger which was actually impending[365]."

[Footnote 365: _England in Egypt_, p. 16. For details of the massacre
and its preconcerted character, sec Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 4 (1884).]

The events at Alexandria and Tantah made armed intervention inevitable.
Nothing could be hoped for from Turkey. The Sultan's special envoy,
Dervish Pasha, had arrived in Egypt only a few days before the outbreak;
and after that occurrence Abdul Hamid thought fit to send a decoration
to Arabi. Encouraged by the support of Turkey and by the well-known
jealousies of the Powers, the military party now openly prepared to defy
Europe. They had some grounds for hope. Every one knew that France was
in a very cautious mood, having enough on her hands in Tunis and
Algeria, while her relations to England had rapidly cooled[366].
Germany, Russia, and Austria seemed to be acting together according to
an understanding arrived at by the three Emperors after their meeting at
Danzig in 1881; and Germany had begun that work of favouring the Sultan
which enabled her to supplant British influence at Constantinople.
Accordingly, few persons, least of all Arabi, believed that the
Gladstone Cabinet would dare to act alone and strike a decisive blow.
But they counted wrongly. Gladstone's toleration in regard to foreign
affairs was large-hearted, but it had its limits. He now declared in
Parliament that Arabi had thrown off the mask and was evidently working
to depose the Khedive and oust all Europeans from Egypt; England would
intervene to prevent this--if possible with the authority of Europe,
with the support of France, and the co-operation of Turkey; but, if
necessary, alone[367].

[Footnote 366: For the reasons of de Freycinet's caution, see his work,
ch. iii., especially pp. 236 _et seq_.]

[Footnote 367: See, too, Gladstone's speech of July 25, 1882, in which
he asserted that there was not a shred of evidence to support Arabi's
claim to be the leader of a national party; also, his letter of July 14
to John Bright, quoted by Mr. Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. iii. pp.
84-85. Probably Gladstone was misinformed.]

Even this clear warning was lost on Arabi and his following. Believing
that Britain was too weak, and her Ministry too vacillating, to make
good these threats, they proceeded to arm the populace and strengthen
the forts of Alexandria. Sir Beauchamp Seymour, now at the head of a
strong squadron, reported to London that these works were going on in a
threatening manner, and on July 6 sent a demand to Arabi that the
operations should cease at once. To this Arabi at once acceded.
Nevertheless, the searchlight, when suddenly turned on, showed that work
was going on at night. A report of an Egyptian officer was afterwards
found in one of the forts, in which he complained of the use of the
electric light by the English as distinctly discourteous. It may here be
noted that M. de Freycinet, in his jaundiced survey of British action at
this time, seeks to throw doubt on the resumption of work by Arabi's
men. But Admiral Seymour's reports leave no loophole for doubt. Finally,
on July 10, the admiral demanded, not only the cessation of hostile
preparations, but the surrender of some of the forts into British hands.
The French fleet now left the harbour and steamed for Port Said. Most of
the Europeans of Alexandria had withdrawn to ships provided for them;
and on the morrow, when the last of the twenty-four hours of grace
brought no submission, the British fleet opened fire at 7 A.M.

The ensuing action is of great interest as being one of the very few
cases in modern warfare where ships have successfully encountered modern
forts. The seeming helplessness of the British unarmoured ships before
Cronstadt during the Crimean War, their failure before the forts of
Sevastopol, and the uselessness of the French navy during the war of
1870, had spread the notion that warships could not overpower modern
fortifications. Probably this impression lay at the root of Arabi's
defiance. He had some grounds for confidence. The British fleet
consisted of eight battleships (of which only the _Inflexible_ and
_Alexandra_ were of great fighting power), along with five unarmoured
vessels. The forts mounted 33 rifled muzzle-loading guns, 3 rifled
breech-loaders, and 120 old smooth-bores. The advantage in gun-power lay
with the ships, especially as the sailors were by far the better
marksmen. Yet so great is the superiority of forts over ships that the
engagement lasted five hours or more (7 A.M. till noon) before most of
the forts were silenced more or less completely. Fort Pharos continued
to fire till 4 P.M. On the whole, the Egyptian gunners stood manfully to
their guns. Considering the weight of metal thrown against the forts,
namely, 1741 heavy projectiles and 1457 light, the damage done to them
was not great, only 27 cannon being silenced completely, and 5
temporarily. On the other hand, the ships were hit only 75 times and
lost only 6 killed and 27 wounded. The results show that the
comparatively distant cannonades of to-day, even with great guns, are
far less deadly than the old sea-fights when ships were locked yard-arm
to yard-arm.


Had Admiral Seymour at once landed a force of marines and bluejackets,
all the forts would probably have been surrendered at once. For some
reason not fully known, this was not done. Spasmodic firing began again
in the morning, but a truce was before long arranged, which proved to be
only a device for enabling Arabi and his troops to escape. The city,
meanwhile, was the scene of a furious outbreak against Europeans, in
which some 400 or 500 persons perished. Damage, afterwards assessed at
L7,000,000, was done by fire and pillage. It was not till the 14th
that the admiral, after receiving reinforcements, felt able to send
troops into the city, when a few severe examples cowed the plunderers
and restored order. The Khedive, who had shut himself up in his palace
at Ramleh, now came back to the seaport under the escort of a British
force, and thenceforth remained virtually, though not in name, under
British protection.

The bombardment of Alexandria brought about the resignation of that
sturdy Quaker, and friend of peace, Mr. John Bright from the Gladstone
Ministry; but everything tends to show (as even M. de Freycinet admits)
that the crisis took Ministers by surprise. Nothing was ready at home
for an important campaign; and it would seem that hostilities resulted,
firstly, from the violence of Arabi's supporters in Alexandria, and,
secondly, from their persistence in warlike preparations which might
have endangered the safety of Admiral Seymour's fleet. The situation was
becoming like that of 1807 at the Dardanelles, when the Turks gave
smooth promises to Admiral Duckworth, all the time strengthening their
forts, with very disagreeable results. Probably the analogy of 1807,
together with the proven perfidy of Arabi's men, brought on hostilities,
which the British Ministers up to the end were anxious to avoid.

In any case, the die was now cast, and England entered questioningly on
a task, the magnitude and difficulty of which no one could then foresee.
She entered on it alone, and that, too, though the Gladstone Ministry
had made pressing overtures for the help of France, at any rate as
regarded the protection of the Suez Canal. To this extent, de Freycinet
and his colleagues were prepared to lend their assistance; but, despite
Gambetta's urgent appeal for common action with England at that point,
the Chamber of Deputies still remained in a cautiously negative mood,
and to that frame of mind M. Clemenceau added strength by a speech
ending with a glorification of prudence. "Europe," he said, "is covered
with soldiers; every one is in a state of expectation; all the Power
are reserving their future liberty of action; do you reserve the
liberty of action of France." The restricted co-operation with England
which the Cabinet recommended found favour with only seventy-five
deputies; and, when face to face with a large hostile majority, de
Freycinet and his colleagues resigned (July 29, 1882)[368]. Prudence,
fear of the newly-formed Triple Alliance, or jealousy of England, drew
France aside from the path to which her greatest captains, thinkers, and
engineers had beckoned her in time past. Whatever the predominant motive
may have been, it altered the course of history in the valley of
the Nile.

[Footnote 368: De Freycinet, _op, cit._ pp. 311-312.]

After the refusal of France to co-operate with England even to the
smallest extent, the Conference of the Powers became a nullity, and its
sessions ceased despite the lack of any formal adjournment[369]. Here,
as on so many other occasions, the Concert of the Powers displayed its
weakness; and there can be no doubt that the Sultan and Arabi counted on
that weakness in playing the dangerous game which brought matters to the
test of the sword. The jealousies of the Powers now stood fully
revealed. Russia entered a vigorous protest against England's action at
Alexandria; Italy evinced great annoyance, and at once repelled a
British proposal for her co-operation; Germany also showed much
resentment, and turned the situation to profitable account by
substituting her influence for that of Britain in the counsels of the
Porte. The Sultan, thwarted in the midst of his tortuous intrigues for a
great Moslem revival, showed his spleen and his diplomatic skill by
loftily protesting against Britain's violation of international law, and
thereafter by refusing (August 1) to proclaim Arabi a rebel against the
Khedive's authority. The essential timidity of Abdul Hamid's nature in
presence of superior force was shown by a subsequent change of front. On
hearing of British successes, he placed Arabi under the ban
(September 8).

[Footnote 369: For its proceedings, see Parl. Papers, Egypt, 1882
(Conference on Egyptian Affairs).]

Meanwhile, the British expedition of some 10,000 men, despatched to
Egypt under the command of Sir Garnet Wolseley made as though it would
attack Arabi from Alexandria as a base. But on nearing that port at
nightfall it steered about and occupied Port Said (August 15). Kantara
and Ismailia, on the canal, were speedily seized; and the Seaforth
Highlanders by a rapid march occupied Chalouf and prevented the cutting
of the freshwater canal by the rebels. Thenceforth the little army had
the advantage of marching near fresh water, and by a route on which
Arabi was not at first expecting them. Sir Garnet Wolseley's movements
were of that quick and decisive order which counts for so much against
orientals. A sharp action at Tel-el-Mahuta obliged Arabi's forces, some
10,000 strong, to abandon entrenchments thrown up at that point
(August 24).

Four days later there was desperate fighting at Kassassin Lock on the
freshwater canal. There the Egyptians flung themselves in large numbers
against a small force sent forward under General Graham to guard that
important point. The assailants fought with the recklessness begotten by
the proclamation of a holy war against infidels, and for some time the
issue remained in doubt. At length, about sundown, three squadrons of
the Household Cavalry, and the 7th Dragoon Guards, together with four
light guns, were hastily sent forward from the main body in the rear to
clinch the affair. General Drury Lowe wheeled this little force round
the left flank of the enemy, and, coming up unperceived in the gathering
darkness, charged with such fury as to scatter the hostile array in
instant rout[370]. The enemy fell back on the entrenchments at
Tel-el-Kebir, while the whole British force (including a division from
India) concentrated at Kassassin, 17,400 strong, with 61 guns and
6 Gatlings.

[Footnote 370: _History of the Campaign in Egypt_ (War Office), by Col.
J.F. Maurice, pp. 62-65.]

The final action took place on September 13, at Tel-el-Kebir. There
Arabi had thrown up a double line of earthworks of some strength,
covering about four miles, and lay with a force that has been estimated
at 20,000 to 25,000 regulars and 7000 irregulars. Had the assailants
marched across the desert and attacked these works by day, they must
have sustained heavy losses. Sir Garnet therefore determined to try the
effect of a surprise at dawn, and moved his men forward after sunset of
the 12th until they came within striking distance of the works. After a
short rest they resumed their advance shortly before the time when the
first streaks of dawn would appear on the eastern sky. At about 500
yards from the works, the advance was dimly silhouetted against the
paling orient. Shortly before five o'clock, an Egyptian rifle rang out a
sharp warning, and forthwith the entrenchments spurted forth smoke and
flame. At once the British answered by a cheer and a rush over the
intervening ground, each regiment eager to be the first to ply the
bayonet. The Highlanders, under the command of General Graham, were
leading on the left, and therefore won in this race for glory; but on
all sides the invaders poured almost simultaneously over the works. For
several minutes there was sharp fighting on the parapet; but the British
were not to be denied, and drove before them the defenders as a kind of
living screen against the fire that came from the second entrenchments;
these they carried also, and thrust the whole mass out into the
desert[371]. There hundreds of them fell under the sabres of the British
cavalry which swept down from the northern end of the lines; but the
pursuit was neither prolonged nor sanguinary. Sir Garnet Wolseley was
satisfied with the feat of dissolving Arabi's army into an armed or
unarmed rabble by a single sharp blow, and now kept horses and men for
further eventualities.

[Footnote 371: _Life, Letters, and Diaries of General Sir Gerald Graham_
(1901). J.F. Maurice, _op. cit._ pp. 84-95.]

By one of those flashes of intuition that mark the born leader of men,
the British commander perceived that the whole war might be ended if a
force of cavalry pushed on to Cairo and demanded the surrender of its
citadel at the moment when the news of the disaster at Tel-el-Kebir
unmanned its defenders. The conception must rank as one of the most
daring recorded in the annals of war. In the ancient capital of Egypt
there were more than 300,000 Moslems, lately aroused to dangerous
heights of fanaticism by the proclamation of a "holy war" against
infidels. Its great citadel, towering some 250 feet above the city,
might seem to bid defiance to all the horsemen of the British army.
Finally, Arabi had repaired thither in order to inspire vigour into a
garrison numbering some 10,000 men. Nevertheless, Wolseley counted on
the moral effect of his victory to level the ramparts of the citadel and
to abase the mushroom growth of Arabi's pride.

His surmise was more than justified by events. While his Indian
contingent pushed on to occupy Zagazig, Sir Drury Lowe, with a force
mustering fewer than 500 sabres, pressed towards Cairo by a desert road
in order to summon it on the morrow. After halting at Belbeis the
troopers gave rein to their steeds; and a ride of nearly 40 miles
brought them to the city about sundown. Rumour magnified their numbers;
while the fatalism that used to nerve the Moslem in his great days now
predisposed him to bow the knee and mutter _Kismet_ at the advent of the
seemingly predestined masters of Egypt. To this small, wearied, but
lordly band Cairo surrendered, and Arabi himself handed over his sword.
On the following day the infantry came up and made good this
precarious conquest.

In presence of this startling triumph the Press of the Continent sought
to find grounds for the belief that Arabi, and Cairo as well, had been
secretly bought over by British gold. It is somewhat surprising to find
M. de Freycinet[372] repeating to-day this piece of spiteful silliness,
which might with as much reason be used to explain away the victories of
Clive and Coote, Outram and Havelock. The slanders of continental
writers themselves stand in need of explanation. It is to be found in
their annoyance at discovering that England had an army which could
carry through a difficult campaign to a speedy and triumphant
conclusion. Their typical attitude had been that of Bismarck, namely,
of exultation at her difficulties and of hope of her discomfiture. Now
their tone changed to one of righteous indignation at the irregularity
of her conduct in acting on behalf of Europe without any mandate from
the Powers, and in using the Suez Canal as a base of operations.

[Footnote 372: _Op. cit._ p. 316.]

In this latter respect Britain's conduct was certainly open to
criticism[373]. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether Arabi would
have provoked her to action had he not been tacitly encouraged by the
other Powers, which, while professing their wish to see order restored
in Egypt, in most cases secretly sought to increase her difficulties in
undertaking that task. As for the Sultan, he had now trimmed his sails
by declaring Arabi a rebel to the Khedive's authority; and in due course
that officer was tried, found guilty, and exiled to Ceylon early in
1883. The conduct of France, Germany, and Russia, if we may judge by the
tone of their officially inspired Press, was scarcely more
straightforward, and was certainly less discreet. On all sides there
were diatribes against Britain's high-handed and lawless behaviour, and
some German papers affected to believe that Hamburg might next be chosen
for bombardment by the British fleet. These outbursts, in the case of
Germany, may have been due to Bismarck's desire to please Russia, and
secondarily France, in all possible ways. It is doubtful whether he
gained this end. Certainly he and his underlings in the Press widened
the gulf that now separated the two great Teutonic peoples.

[Footnote 373: It is said, however, that Arabi had warned M. de Lesseps
that "the defence of Egypt requires the temporary destruction of the
Canal" (Traill, _England, Egypt, and the Sudan_, p. 57). The status of
the Canal was defined in 1885. _Ibid_. p. 59.]

The annoyance of France was more natural. She had made the Suez Canal,
and had participated in the Dual Control; but her mistake in not sharing
in the work of restoring order was irreparable. Every one in Egypt saw
that the control of that country must rest with the Power which had
swept away Arabi's Government and re-established the fallen authority
of the Khedive. A few persons in England, even including one member of
the Gladstone Administration, Mr. Courtney, urged a speedy withdrawal;
but the Cabinet, which had been unwillingly but irresistibly drawn thus
far by the force of circumstances, could not leave Egypt a prey to
anarchy; and, clearly, the hand that repressed anarchy ruled the country
for the time being. It is significant that on April 4, 1883, more than
2600 Europeans in Egypt presented a petition begging that the British
occupation might be permanent[374].

[Footnote 374: Sir A. Milner, _England in Egypt_, p. 31.]

Mr. Gladstone, however, and others of his Cabinet, had declared that it
would be only temporary, and would, in fact, last only so long as to
enable order and prosperity to grow up under the shadow of new and
better institutions. These pledges were given with all sincerity, and
the Prime Minister and his colleagues evidently wished to be relieved
from what was to them a disagreeable burden. The French in Egypt, of
course, fastened on these promises, and one of their newspapers, the
_Journal Egyptien_, printed them every day at the head of its front
columns[375]. Mr. Gladstone, who sought above all things for a friendly
understanding with France, keenly felt, even to the end of his career,
that the continued occupation of Egypt hindered that most desirable
consummation. He was undoubtedly right. The irregularity of England's
action in Egypt hampered her international relations at many points; and
it may be assigned as one of the causes that brought France into
alliance with Russia.

[Footnote 375: H.F. Wood, _Egypt under the British_, p. 59 (1896).]

What, then, hindered the fulfilment of Mr. Gladstone's pledges? In the
first place, the dog-in-the-manger policy of French officials and
publicists increased the difficulties of the British administrators who
now, in the character of advisers of the Khedive, really guided him and
controlled his Ministers. The scheme of administration adopted was in
the main that advised by Lord Dufferin in his capacity of Special
Envoy. The details, however, are too wide and complex to be set forth
here. So also are those of the disputes between our officials and those
of France. Suffice it to say that by shutting up the funds of the
"Caisse de la Dette," the French administrators of that great reserve
fund hoped to make Britain's position untenable and hasten her
evacuation. In point of fact, these and countless other pin-pricks
delayed Egypt's recovery and furnished a good reason why Britain should
not withdraw[376].

[Footnote 376: The reader should consult for full details Sir A. Milner,
_England in Egypt_ (1892); Sir D.M. Wallace, _The Egyptian Question_
(1883), especially chaps, xi.-xiii.; and A. Silva White, _The Expansion
of Egypt_ (1899), the best account of the Anglo-Egyptian administration,
with valuable Appendices on the "Caisse," etc.

A far more favourable light is thrown on the conduct of Arabi and his
partisans by Mr. A.M. Broadley in his work _How We Defended
Arabi_ (1884).]

But above and beyond these administrative details, there was one
all-compelling cause, the war-cloud that now threatened the land of the
Pharaohs from that home of savagery and fanaticism, the Sudan.


For new light on the nationalist movement in Egypt and the part which
Arabi played in it, the reader should consult _How we defended Arabi_,
by A.M. Broadley (London, 1884). The same writer in his _Tunis, Past and
Present_ (2 vols. 1882) has thrown much light on the Tunis Question and
on the Pan-Islamic movement in North Africa.



     What were my ideas in coming out? They were these: _Agreed
     abandonment of Sudan, but extricate the garrisons_; and these
     were the instructions of the Government (Gordon's _Journal_,
     October 8, 1885).

It is one of the peculiarities of the Moslem faith that any time of
revival is apt to be accompanied by warlike fervour somewhat like that
which enabled its early votaries to sweep over half of the known world
in a single generation. This militant creed becomes dangerous when it
personifies itself in a holy man who can make good his claim to be
received as a successor of the Prophet. Such a man had recently appeared
in the Sudan. It is doubtful whether Mohammed Ahmed was a genuine
believer in his own extravagant claims, or whether he adopted them in
order to wreak revenge on Rauf Pasha, the Egyptian Governor of the
Sudan, for an insult inflicted by one of his underlings. In May 1881,
while living near the island of Abba in the Nile, he put forward his
claim to be the Messiah or Prophet, foretold by the founder of that
creed. Retiring with some disciples to that island, he gained fame by
his fervour and asceticism. His followers named him "El Mahdi," the
leader, but his claims were scouted by the Ulemas of Khartum, Cairo, and
Constantinople, on the ground that the Messiah of the Moslems was to
arise in the East. Nevertheless, while the British were crushing Arabi's
movement, the Mahdi stirred the Sudan to its depths, and speedily shook
the Egyptian rule to its base[377].

[Footnote 377: See the Report of the Intelligence Department of the War
Office, printed in _The Journals of Major-General C.G. Gordon at
Khartum_, Appendix to Bk. iv.]

There was every reason to fear a speedy collapse. In the years 1874-76
the Province of the White Nile had known the benefits of just and
tactful rule under that born leader of men, Colonel Gordon; and in the
three following years, as Governor-General of the Sudan, he gained
greater powers, which he felt to be needful for the suppression of the
slave-trade and other evils. Ill-health and underhand opposition of
various kinds caused him to resign his post in 1879. Then, to the
disgust of all, the Khedive named as his successor Rauf Pasha, whom
Gordon had recently dismissed for maladministration of the Province of
Harrar, on the borders of Abyssinia[378]. Thus the Sudan, after
experiencing the benefits of a just and able government, reeled back
into the bad old condition, at the time when the Mahdi was becoming a
power in the land. No help was forthcoming from Egypt in the summer of
1882, and the Mahdi's revolt rapidly made headway even despite several
checks from the Egyptian troops.

[Footnote 378: See Gordon's letter of April 1880, quoted in the
Introduction to _The Journals of Major-General C.G. Gordon at Khartum_
(1885), p. xvii.]

Possibly, if Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues had decided to crush it in
that autumn, the task might have been easy. But, far from doing so, they
sought to dissuade the Khedive from attempting to hold the most
disturbed districts, those of Kordofan and Darfur, beyond Khartum. This
might have been the best course, if the evacuation could have been
followed at once and without risk of disaster at the hands of the
fanatics. But Tewfik willed otherwise. Against the advice of Lord
Dufferin, he sought to reconquer the Sudan, and that, too, by wholly
insufficient forces. The result was a series of disasters, culminating
in the extermination of Hicks Pasha's Egyptian force by the Mahdi's
followers near El Obeid, the capital of Kordofan (November 5, 1883).

The details of the disaster are not fully known. Hicks Pasha was
appointed, on August 20, 1883, by the Khedive to command the expedition
into that province. He set out from Omdurman on September 9, with 10,000
men, 4 Krupp guns and 16 light guns, 500 horses and 5500 camels. His
last despatch, dated October 3, showed that the force had been greatly
weakened by want of water and provisions, and most of all by the spell
cast on the troops by the Mahdi's claim to invincibility. Nevertheless,
Hicks checked the rebels in two or three encounters, but, according to
the tale of one of the few survivors, a camel-driver, the force finally
succumbed to a fierce charge on the Egyptian square at the close of an
exhausting march, prolonged by the treachery of native guides. Nearly
the whole force was put to the sword. Hicks Pasha perished, along with
five British and four German officers, and many Egyptians of note. The
adventurous newspaper correspondents, O'Donovan and Vizetelly, also met
their doom (November 5, 1883)[379].

[Footnote 379: Gordon's _Journals_, pp. 347-351; also Parl. Papers,
Egypt, No. 12 (1884), pp. 85 and 127-131 for another account. See, too,
Sir F.R. Wingate's _Mahdism_, chaps. i.-iii., for the rise of the Mahdi
and his triumph over Hicks.]

This catastrophe decided the history of the Sudan for many years. The
British Government was in no respect responsible for the appointment of
General Hicks to the Kordofan command. Lord Dufferin and Sir E. Malet
had strongly urged the Khedive to abandon Kordofan and Darfur; but it
would seem that the desire of the governing class at Cairo to have a
hand in the Sudan administration overbore these wise remonstrances, and
hence the disaster near El Obeid with its long train of evil
consequences[380]. It was speedily followed by another reverse at Tokar
not far from Suakim, where the slave-raiders and tribesmen of the Red
Sea coast exterminated another force under the command of Captain

[Footnote 380: J. Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. iii. p. 146; Sir A.
Lyall, _Life of Lord Dufferin_, vol. ii. chap. ii.]

The Gladstone Ministry and the British advisers of the Khedive, among
whom was Sir Evelyn Baring (the present Lord Cromer), again urged the
entire evacuation of the Sudan, and the limitation of Egyptian authority
to the strong position of the First Cataract at Assuan. This policy then
received the entire approval of the man who was to be alike the hero and
the martyr of that enterprise[381]. But how were the Egyptian garrisons
to be withdrawn? It was a point of honour not to let them be slaughtered
or enslaved by the cruel fanatics of the Mahdi. Yet under the lead of
Egyptian officers they would almost certainly suffer one of these fates.
A way of escape was suggested--by a London evening newspaper in the
first instance. The name of Gordon was renowned for justice and
hardihood all through the Sudan. Let this knight-errant be sent--so said
this Mentor of the Press--and his strange power over men would
accomplish the impossible. The proposal carried conviction everywhere,
and Lord Granville, who generally followed any strong lead, sent for
the General.

[Footnote 381: Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. iii. p. 147.]

Charles George Gordon, born at Woolwich in 1833, was the scion of a
staunch race of Scottish fighters. His great-grandfather served under
Cope at Prestonpans; his grandfather fought in Boscawen's expedition at
Louisburg and under Wolfe at Quebec. His father attained the rank of
Lieutenant-General. From his mother, too, he derived qualities of
self-reliance and endurance of no mean order. Despite the fact that she
had eleven children, and that three of her sons were out at the Crimea,
she is said never to have quailed during that dark time. Of these sons,
Charles George was serving in the Engineers; he showed at his first
contact with war an aptitude and resource which won the admiration of
all. "We used always to send him out to find what new move the Russians
were making"--such was the testimony of one of his superior officers. Of
his subsequent duties in delimiting the new Bessarabian frontier and his
miraculous career in China we cannot speak in detail. By the consent of
all, it was his soldierly spirit that helped to save that Empire from
anarchy at the hands of the Taeping rebels, whose movement presented a
strange medley of perverted Christianity, communism, and freebooting.
There it was that his magnetic influence over men first had free play.
Though he was only thirty years of age, his fine physique, dauntless
daring, and the spirit of unquestionable authority that looked out from
his kindly eyes, gained speedy control over the motley set of officers
and the Chinese rank and file--half of them ex-rebels--that formed the
nucleus of the "ever victorious army." What wonder that he was
thenceforth known as "Chinese Gordon"?

In the years 1865-71, which he spent at Gravesend in supervising the
construction of the new forts at the mouth of the river, the religious
and philanthropic side of his character found free play. His biographer,
Mr. Hake, tells of his interest in the poor and suffering, and, above
all, in friendless boys, who came to idolise his manly yet sympathetic
nature. Called thereafter by the Khedive to succeed Sir Samuel Baker in
the Governorship of the Sudan, he grappled earnestly with the fearful
difficulties that beset all who have attempted to put down the
slave-trade in its chief seat of activity. Later on he expressed the
belief that "the Sudan is a useless possession, ever was so, ever will
be so." These words, and certain episodes in his official career in
India and in Cape Colony, revealed the weak side of a singularly noble
nature. Occasionally he was hasty and impulsive in his decisions, and
the pride of his race would then flash forth. During his cadetship at
Woolwich he was rebuked for incompetence, and told that he would never
make an officer. At once he tore the epaulets from his shoulders and
flung them at his superior's feet. A certain impatience of control
characterised him throughout life. No man was ever more chivalrous, more
conscientious, more devoted, or abler in the management of inferiors;
but his abilities lay rather in the direction of swift intuitions and
prompt achievement than in sound judgment and plodding toil. In short,
his qualities were those of a knight-errant, not those of a statesman.
The imperious calls of conscience and of instinct endowed him with
powers uniquely fitted to attract and enthral simple straightforward
natures, and to sway orientals at his will. But the empire of
conscience, instinct, and will-power consorts but ill with those
diplomatic gifts of effecting a timely compromise which go far to make
for success in life. This was at once the strength and the weakness of
Gordon's being. In the midst of a _blase_, sceptical age, his
personality stood forth, God-fearing as that of a Covenanter, romantic
as that of a Coeur de Lion, tender as that of a Florence Nightingale. In
truth, it appealed to all that is most elemental in man.

At that time Gordon was charged by the King of the Belgians to proceed
to the Congo River to put down the slave-trade. Imagination will persist
in wondering what might have been the result if he had carried out this
much-needed duty. Possibly he might have acquired such an influence as
to direct the "Congo Free State" to courses far other than those to
which it has come. He himself discerned the greatness of the
opportunity. In his letter of January 6, 1884, to H.M. Stanley, he
stated that "no such efficacious means of cutting at root of slave-trade
ever was presented as that which God has opened out to us through the
kind disinterestedness of His Majesty."

The die was now cast against the Congo and for the Nile. Gordon had a
brief interview with four members of the Cabinet--Lords Granville,
Hartington, Northbrooke, and Sir Charles Dilke,--Mr. Gladstone was
absent at Hawarden; and they forthwith decided that he should go to the
Upper Nile. What transpired in that most important meeting is known only
from Gordon's account of it in a private letter:--

     At noon he, Wolseley, came to me and took me to the
     Ministers. He went in and talked to the Ministers, and came
     back and said, "Her Majesty's Government want you to
     undertake this. Government are determined to evacuate the
     Sudan, for they will not guarantee future government. Will
     you go and do it?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Go in." I went
     in and saw them. They said, "Did Wolseley tell you our
     orders?" I said, "Yes." I said, "You will not guarantee
     future government of the Sudan, and you wish me to go up to
     evacuate now?" They said, "Yes," and it was over, and I left
     at 8 P.M. for Calais.

Before seeing the Ministers, Gordon had a long interview with Lord
Wolseley, who in the previous autumn had been named Baron Wolseley of
Cairo. That conversation is also unknown to us, but obviously it must
have influenced Gordon's impressions as to the scope of the duties
sketched for him by the Cabinet. We turn, then, to the "Instructions to
General Gordon," drawn up by the Ministry on Jan. 18, 1884. They
directed him to "proceed at once to Egypt, to report to them on the
military situation in the Sudan, and on the measures which it may be
advisable to take for the security of the Egyptian garrisons still
holding positions in that country and for the safety of the European
population in Khartum." He was also to report on the best mode of
effecting the evacuation of the interior of the Sudan and on measures
that might be taken to counteract the consequent spread of the
slave-trade. He was to be under the instructions of H.M.'s
Consul-General at Cairo (Sir Evelyn Baring). There followed this
sentence: "You will consider yourself authorised and instructed to
perform such other duties as the Egyptian Government may desire to
entrust to you, and as may be communicated to you by Sir Evelyn

[Footnote 382: Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 2 (1884), p. 3.]

After receiving these instructions, Gordon started at once for Egypt,
accompanied by Colonel Stewart. At Cairo he had an interview with Sir
Evelyn Baring, and was appointed by the Khedive Governor-General of the
Sudan. The firman of Jan. 26 contained these words: "We trust that you
will carry out our good intentions for the establishment of justice and
order, and that you will assure the peace and prosperity of the people
of the Sudan by maintaining the security of the roads," etc. It
contained not a word about the evacuation of the Sudan, nor did the
Khedive's proclamation of the same date to the Sudanese. The only
reference to evacuation was in his letter of the same date to Gordon,
beginning thus: "You are aware that the object of your arrival here and
of your mission to the Sudan is to carry into execution the evacuation
of those territories and to withdraw our troops, civil officials, and
such of the inhabitants, together with their belongings, as may wish to
leave for Egypt. . . ." After completing this task he was to "take the
necessary steps for establishing an organised Government in the
different provinces of the Sudan for the maintenance of order and the
cessation of all disasters and incitement to revolt[383]." How Gordon,
after sending away all the troops, was to pacify that enormous territory
His Highness did not explain.

[Footnote 383: Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 12 (1884), pp. 27, 28.]

There is almost as much ambiguity in the "further instructions" which
Sir Evelyn Baring drew up on January 25 at Cairo. After stating that the
British and Egyptian Governments had agreed on the necessity of
"evacuating" the Sudan, he noted the fact that Gordon approved of it and
thought it should on no account be changed; the despatch proceeds:--

     You consider that it may take a few months to carry it out
     with safety. You are further of opinion that "the restoration
     of the country should be made to the different petty Sultans
     who existed at the time of Mohammed Ali's conquest, and whose
     families still exist"; and that an endeavour should be made
     to form a confederation of those Sultans. In this view the
     Egyptian Government entirely concur. It will of course be
     fully understood that the Egyptian troops are not to be kept
     in the Sudan merely with a view to consolidating the powers
     of the new rulers of the country. But the Egyptian Government
     has the fullest confidence in your judgment, your knowledge
     of the country, and your comprehension of the general line of
     policy to be pursued. You are therefore given full
     discretionary power to retain the troops for such reasonable
     period as you may think necessary, in order that the
     abandonment of the country may be accomplished with the least
     possible risk to life and property. A credit of L100,000 has
     been opened for you at the Finance Department[384]. . . .

[Footnote 384: Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 6 (1884), p. 3.]

In themselves these instructions were not wholly clear. An officer who
is allowed to use troops for the settlement or pacification of a vast
tract of country can hardly be the agent of a policy of mere
"abandonment." Neither Gordon nor Baring seems at that time to have felt
the incongruity of the two sets of duties, but before long it flashed
across Gordon's mind. At Abu Hammed, when nearing Khartum, he
telegraphed to Baring: "I would most earnestly beg that evacuation but
not abandonment be the programme to be followed." Or, as he phrased it,
he wanted Egypt to recognise her "moral control and suzerainty" over the
Sudan[385]. This, of course, was an extension of the programme to which
he gave his assent at Cairo; it differed _toto caelo_ from the policy of
abandonment laid down at London.

[Footnote 385: Egypt, No. 12 (1884), p. 133.]

Even now it is impossible to see why Ministers did not at once simplify
the situation by a clear statement of their orders to Gordon, not of
course as Governor-General of the Sudan, but as a British officer
charged by them with a definite duty. At a later date they sought to
limit him to the restricted sphere sketched out at London; but then it
was too late to bend to their will a nature which, firm at all times,
was hard as adamant when the voice of conscience spoke within. Already
it had spoken, and against "abandonment."

There were other confusing elements in the situation. Gordon believed
that the "full discretionary power" granted to him by Sir E. Baring was
a promise binding on the British Government; and, seeing that he was
authorised to perform such other duties as Sir Evelyn Baring would
communicate to him, he was right. But Ministers do not seem to have
understood that this implied an immense widening of the original
programme. Further, Sir Evelyn Baring used the terms "evacuation" and
"abandonment" as if they were synonymous; while in Gordon's view they
were very different. As we shall see, his nature, at once conscientious,
vehement, and pertinacious, came to reject the idea of abandonment as
cowardly and therefore impossible.

Lastly, we may note that Gordon was left free to announce the
forthcoming evacuation of the Sudan, or not, as he judged best[386]. He
decided to keep it secret. Had he kept it entirely so for the present,
he would have done well; but he is said to have divulged it to one or
two officials at Berber; if so, it was a very regrettable imprudence,
which compromised the defence of that town. But surely no man was ever
charged with duties so complex and contradictory. The qualities of
Nestor, Ulysses, and Achilles combined in one mortal could scarcely have
availed to untie or sever that knot.

[Footnote 386: _Ibid_. p. 27.]

The first sharp collision between Gordon and the Home Government
resulted from his urgent request for the employment of Zebehr Pasha as
the future ruler of the Sudan. A native of the Sudan, this man had risen
to great wealth and power by his energy and ambition, and figured as a
kind of king among the slave-raiders of the Upper Nile, until, for some
offence against the Egyptian Government, he was interned at Cairo. At
that city Gordon had a conference with Zebehr in the presence of Sir E.
Baring, Nubar Pasha, and others. It was long and stormy, and gave the
impression of undying hatred felt by the slaver for the slave-liberator.
This alone seemed to justify the Gladstone Ministry in refusing Gordon's
request[387]. Had Zebehr gone with Gordon, he would certainly have
betrayed him--so thought Sir Evelyn Baring.

[Footnote 387: _Ibid_. pp. 38-41.]

Setting out from Cairo and travelling quickly up the Nile, Gordon
reached Khartum on February 18, and received an enthusiastic welcome
from the discouraged populace. At once he publicly burned all
instruments of torture and records of old debts; so that his popularity
overshadowed that of the Mahdi. Again he urged the despatch of Zebehr
as his "successor," after the withdrawal of troops and civilians from
the Sudan. But, as Sir Evelyn Baring said in forwarding Gordon's request
to Downing Street, it would be most dangerous to place them together at
Khartum. It should further be noted that Gordon's telegrams showed his
belief that the Mahdi's power was overrated, and that his advance in
person on Khartum was most unlikely[388]. It is not surprising, then,
that Lord Granville telegraphed to Sir E. Baring on February 22 that the
public opinion of England "would not tolerate the appointment of Zebehr
Pasha[389]." Already it had been offended by Gordon's proclamation at
Khartum that the Government would not interfere with the buying and
selling of slaves, though, as Sir Evelyn Baring pointed out, the
re-establishment of slavery resulted quite naturally from the policy of
evacuation; and he now strongly urged that Gordon should have "full
liberty of action to complete the execution of his general plans[390]."

[Footnote 388: Egypt, No. 12 (1884), pp. 74, 82, 88.]

[Footnote 389: _Ibid_. p. 95.]

[Footnote 390: _Ibid_. p. 94.]

Here it is desirable to remember that the Mahdist movement was then
confined almost entirely to three chief districts--Kordofan, parts of
the lands adjoining the Blue Nile, and the tribes dwelling west and
south-west of Suakim. For the present these last were the most
dangerous. Already they had overpowered and slaughtered two Egyptian
forces; and on February 22 news reached Cairo of the fall of Tokar
before the valiant swordsmen of Osman Digna. But this was far away from
the Nile and did not endanger Gordon. British troops were landed at
Suakim for the protection of that port, but this step implied no change
of policy respecting the Sudan. The slight impression which two
brilliant but costly victories, those of El Teb and Tamai, made on the
warlike tribes at the back of Suakim certainly showed the need of
caution in pushing a force into the Sudan when the fierce heats of
summer were coming on[391].

[Footnote 391: For details of these battles, see Sir F. Wingate's
_Mahdism_, chap, iii., and _Life of Sir Gerald Graham_ (1901).]

The first hint of any change of policy was made by Gordon in his
despatch of Feb. 26, to Sir E. Baring. After stating his regret at the
refusal of the British Government to allow the despatch of Zebehr as his
successor, he used these remarkable words:--

You must remember that when evacuation is carried out, Mahdi will come
down here, and, by agents, will not let Egypt be quiet. Of course my
duty is evacuation, and the best I can for establishing a quiet
government. The first I hope to accomplish. The second is a more
difficult task, and concerns Egypt more than me. If Egypt is to be
quiet, Mahdi must be smashed up. Mahdi is most unpopular, and with care
and time could be smashed. Remember that once Khartum belongs to Mahdi,
the task will be far more difficult; yet you will, for safety of Egypt,
execute it. If you decide on smashing Mahdi, then send up another
L100,000 and send up 200 Indian troops to Wady Haifa, and send officer
up to Dongola under pretence to look out quarters for troops. Leave
Suakim and Massowah alone. I repeat that evacuation is possible, but you
will feel effect in Egypt, and will be forced to enter into a far more
serious affair in order to guard Egypt. At present, it would be
comparatively easy to destroy Mahdi[392].

[Footnote 392: Egypt, No. 12 (1884), p. 115.]

This statement arouses different opinions according to the point of view
from which we regard it. As a declaration of general policy it is no
less sound than prophetic; as a despatch from the Governor-General of
the Sudan to the Egyptian Government, it claimed serious attention; as a
recommendation sent by a British officer to the Home Government, it was
altogether beyond his powers. Gordon was sent out for a distinct aim; he
now proposed to subordinate that aim to another far vaster aim which lay
beyond his province. Nevertheless, Sir E. Baring on February 28, and on
March 4, urged the Gladstone Ministry even now to accede to Gordon's
request for Zebehr Pasha as his successor, on the ground that some
Government must be left in the Sudan, and Zebehr was deemed at Cairo to
be the only possible governor. Again the Home Government refused, and
thereby laid themselves under the moral obligation of suggesting an
alternate course. The only course suggested was to allow the despatch of
a British force up the Nile, if occasion seemed to demand it[393].

[Footnote 393: Egypt, No. 12 (1884) p. 119.]

In this connection it is well to remember that the question of Egypt and
the Sudan was only one of many that distracted the attention of
Ministers. The events outside Suakim alone might give them pause before
they plunged into the Sudan; for that was the time when Russia was
moving on towards Afghanistan; and the agreement between the three
Emperors imposed the need of caution on a State as isolated and
unpopular as England then was. In view of the designs of the German
colonial party (see Chapter XVII.) and the pressure of the Irish
problem, the Gladstone Cabinet was surely justified in refusing to
undertake any new responsibilities, except on the most urgent need.
Vital interests were at stake in too many places to warrant a policy of
Quixotic adventure up the Nile.

Nevertheless, it is regrettable that Ministers took up on the Sudan
problem a position that was logically sound but futile in the sphere of
action. Gordon's mission, according to Earl Granville, was a peaceful
one, and he inquired anxiously what progress had been made in the
withdrawal of the Egyptian garrisons and civilians. This question he
put, even in the teeth of Gordon's positive statement in a telegram of
March 8:--

If you do not send Zebehr, you have no chance of getting the garrisons
away; . . . Zebehr here would be far more powerful than the Mahdi, and he
would make short work of the Mahdi[394].

[Footnote 394: _Ibid_. p. 145.]

A week earlier Gordon had closed a telegram with the despairing words:--

I will do my best to carry out my instructions, but I feel conviction I
shall be caught in Khartum[395].

[Footnote 395: _Ibid_. p. 152.]

It is not surprising that Ministers were perplexed by Gordon's
despatches, or that Baring telegraphed to Khartum that he found it very
difficult to understand what the General wanted. All who now peruse his
despatches must have the same feeling, mixed with one of regret that he
ever weakened his case by the proposal to "smash the Mahdi." Thenceforth
the British Government obviously felt some distrust of their envoy; and
in this disturbing factor, and the duality of Gordon's duties, we may
discern one cause at least of the final disaster.

On March 11, the British Government refused either to allow the
appointment of Zebehr, or to send British or Indian troops from Suakim
to Berber. Without wishing to force Gordon's hand prematurely, Earl
Granville urged the need of evacuation at as early a date as might be
practicable. On March 16, after hearing ominous news as to the spread of
the Mahdi's power near to Khartum and Berber, he advised the evacuation
of the former city at the earliest possible date[396]. We may here note
that the rebels began to close round it on March 18.

[Footnote 396: _Ibid_. pp. 158, 162, 166.]

Earl Granville's advice directly conflicted with Gordon's sense of
honour. As he stated, on or about March 20, the fidelity of the people
of Khartum, while treachery was rife all around, bound him not to leave
them until he could do so "under a Government which would give them some
hope of peace." Here again his duty as Governor of the Sudan, or his
extreme conscientiousness as a man, held him to his post despite the
express recommendations of the British Government. His decision is ever
to be regretted; but it redounds to his honour as a Christian and a
soldier. At bottom, the misunderstanding between him and the Cabinet
rested on a divergent view of duty. Gordon summed up his scruples in his
telegram to Baring:--

You must see that you could not recall me, nor could I possibly obey,
until the Cairo _employes_ get out from all the places. I have named men
to different places, thus involving them with the Mahdi. How could I
look the world in the face if I abandoned them and fled? As a gentleman,
could you advise this course?

Earl Granville summed up his statement of the case in the words:--

The Mission of General Gordon, as originally designed and decided upon,
was of a pacific nature and in no way involved any movement of British
forces. . . . He was, in addition, authorised and instructed to perform
such other duties as the Egyptian Government might desire to entrust to
him and as might be communicated by you to him. . . . Her Majesty's
Government, bearing in mind the exigencies of the occasion, concurred in
these instructions [those of the Egyptian Government], which virtually
altered General Gordon's Mission from one of advice to that of
executing, or at least directing, the evacuation not only of Khartum but
of the whole Sudan, and they were willing that General Gordon should
receive the very extended powers conferred upon him by the Khedive to
enable him to effect his difficult task. But they have throughout joined
in your anxiety that he should not expose himself to unnecessary
personal risk, or place himself in a position from which retreat would
be difficult[397].

[Footnote 397: Egypt, No. 13 (1884), pp. 5, 6. Earl Granville made the
same statement in his despatch of April 23. See, too, _The Life of Lord

He then states that it is clear that Khartum can hold out for at least
six months, if it is attacked, and, seeing that the British occupation
of Egypt was only "for a special and temporary purpose," any expedition
into the Sudan would be highly undesirable on general as well as
diplomatic grounds.

Both of these views of duty are intelligible as well as creditable to
those who held them. But the former view is that of a high-souled
officer; the latter, that of a responsible and much-tried Minister and
diplomatist. They were wholly divergent, and divergence there
spelt disaster.

On hearing of the siege of Khartum, General Stephenson, then commanding
the British forces in Egypt, advised the immediate despatch of a brigade
to Dongola--a step which would probably have produced the best results;
but that advice was overruled at London for the reasons stated above.
Ministers seem to have feared that Gordon might use the force for
offensive purposes. An Egyptian battalion was sent up the Nile to
Korosko in the middle of May; but the "moral effect" hoped for from that
daring step vanished in face of a serious reverse. On May 19, the
important city of Berber was taken by the Mahdists[398].

[Footnote 398: Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 25 (1884), pp. 129-131.]

Difficult as the removal of about 10,000 to 15,000[399] Egyptians from
Khartum had always been--and there were fifteen other garrisons to be
rescued--it was now next to impossible, unless some blow were dealt at
the rebels in that neighbourhood. The only effective blow would be that
dealt by British or Indian troops, and this the Government refused,
though Gordon again and again pointed out that a small well-equipped
force would do far more than a large force. "A heavy, lumbering column,
however strong, is nowhere in this land (so he wrote in his _Journals_
on September 24). . . . It is the country of the irregular, not of the
regular." A month after the capture of Berber a small British force left
Siut, on the Nile, for Assuan; but this move, which would have sent a
thrill through the Sudan in March, had little effect at midsummer. Even
so, a prompt advance on Dongola and thence on Berber would probably have
saved the situation at the eleventh hour.

[Footnote 399: This is the number as estimated by Gordon in his
_Journals_ (Sept. 10, 1884), p. 6.]

But first the battle of the routes had to be fought out by the military
authorities. As early as April 25, the Government ordered General
Stephenson to report on the best means of relieving Gordon; after due
consideration of this difficult problem he advised the despatch of
10,000 men to Berber from Suakim in the month of September. Preparations
were actually begun at Suakim; but in July experts began to favour the
Nile route. In that month Lord Wolseley urged the immediate despatch of
a force up that river, and he promised that it should be at Dongola by
the middle of October. Even so, official hesitations hampered the
enterprise, and it was not until July 29 that the decision seems to have
been definitely formed in favour of the Nile route. Even on August 8,
Lord Hartington, then War Minister, stated that help would be sent to
Gordon, _if it proved to be necessary_[400]. On August 26, Lord Wolseley
was appointed to the command of the relief expedition gathering on the
Nile, but not until October 5 did he reach Wady Haifa, below the
Second Cataract.

[Footnote 400: Morley, _Life of Gladstone_, vol. iii. p. 164.]

Meanwhile the web of fate was closing in on Khartum. In vain did Gordon
seek to keep communications open. All that he could do was to hold
stoutly to that last bulwark of civilisation. There were still some
grounds for hope. The Mahdi remained in Kordofan, want of food
preventing his march northwards in force. Against his half-armed
fanatics the city opposed a strong barrier. "Crows' feet" scattered on
the ground ended their mad rushes, and mines blew them into the air by
hundreds. Khartum seemed to defy those sons of the desert. The fire of
the steamers drove them from the banks and pulverised their forts[401].
The arsenal could turn out 50,000 Remington cartridges a week. There was
every reason, then, for holding the city; for, as Gordon jotted down in
his _Journal_ on September 17, if the Mahdi took Khartum, it would need
a great force to stay his propaganda. Here and there in those pathetic
records of a life and death struggle we catch a glimpse of Gordon's hope
of saving Khartum for civilisation. More than once he noted the ease of
holding the Sudan from the Nile as base. With forts at the cataracts and
armed steamers patrolling the clear reaches of the river, the defence of
the Sudan, he believed, was by no means impossible[402].

[Footnote 401: For details, see _Letters from Khartum_, by Frank Power.]

[Footnote 402: _Journal_, p. 35, etc.]

On September 10 he succeeded in sending away down stream by steamer
Colonel Stewart and Messrs. Power and Herbin; but unfortunately they
were wrecked and murdered by Arabs near Korti. The advice and help of
that gallant officer would have been of priceless service to the
relieving force. On September 10, when the _Journals_ begin, Gordon was
still hopeful of success, though food was scarce.

[Illustration: MAP OF THE NILE.]

At this time the rescue expedition was mustering at Wady Haifa, a point
which the narrowing gorge of the Nile marks out as one of the natural
defences of its lower valley. There the British and Egyptian Governments
were collecting a force that soon amounted to 2570 British troops and
some Egyptians, who were to be used solely for transport and portage
duties. A striking tribute to the solidarity of the Empire was the
presence of 350 Canadians, mostly French, whose skill in working boats
up rapids won admiration on all sides. The difficulties of the Nile
route were soon found to be far greater than had been imagined. Indeed
many persons still believe that the Suakim-Berber route would have been
far preferable. The Nile was unfortunately lower than usual, and many
rapids, up which small steamers had been hauled when the waters ran deep
and full, were impassable even for the whale-boats on which the
expedition depended for its progress as far as Korti. Many a time all
the boats had to be hauled up the banks and carried by Canadians or
Egyptians to the next clear reaches. The letters written by Gordon in
1877 in a more favourable season were now found to be misleading, and in
part led to the miscalculation of time which was to prove so disastrous.

Another untoward fact was the refusal of the authorities to push on the
construction of the railway above Sarras. It had been completed from
Wady Haifa up to that point, and much work had been done on it for about
fifteen miles further. But, either from lack of the necessary funds, or
because the line could not be completed in time, the construction was
stopped by Lord Wolseley's orders early in October. Consequently much
time was lost in dragging the boats and their stores up or around the
difficult rapids above Semneh[403].

[Footnote 403: See Gordon's letters of the year 1877, quoted in the
Appendix of A. Macdonald's _Too Late for Gordon and Khartum_ (1887);
also chap. vi. of that book.]

Meanwhile a large quantity of stores had been collected at Dongola and
Debbeh; numbers of boats were also there, so that a swift advance of a
vanguard thence by the calmer reaches farther up the Nile seemed to
offer many chances of success. It was in accord with Gordon's advice to
act swiftly with small columns; but, for some reason, the plan was not
acted on, though Colonel Kitchener, who had collected those stores,
recommended it. Another argument for speedy action was the arrival on
November 14, of a letter from Gordon, dated ten days before, in which he
stated that he could hold out for forty days, but would find it hard to
do so any longer.

The advance of the main body to Dongola was very slow, despite the
heroic toil of all concerned. We now know that up to the middle of
September the Gladstone Ministry cherished the belief that the force
need not advance beyond Dongola. Their optimism was once again at fault.
The Mahdists were pressing on the siege of Khartum, and had overpowered
and slaughtered faithful tribes farther down the river. Such was the
news sent by Gordon and received by Lord Wolseley on December 31 at
Korti. The "secret and confidential" part of Gordon's message was to the
effect that food was running short, and the rescuers must come quickly;
they should come by Metammeh or Berber, and inform Gordon by the
messenger when they had taken Berber.

The last entries in Gordon's _Journals_ or in that part which has
survived, contain the following statements:--

December 13. ". . . All that is absolutely necessary is for fifty of the
expeditionary force to get on board a steamer and come up to Halfeyeh,
and thus let their presence be felt; this is not asking much, but it
must happen at once; or it will (as usual) be too late."

December 14. [After stating that he would send down a steamer with the
"Journal" towards the expeditionary force]. . . . "Now mark this, if the
expeditionary force, and I ask for no more than two hundred men, does
not come in ten days _the town may fall_; and I have done my best for
the honour of our country. Good bye."

Owing to lack of transport and other difficulties, the vanguard of the
relieving force could not begin its march from the new Nile base, near
Korti, until December 30. Thence the gallant Sir Herbert Stewart led a
picked column of men with 1800 camels across the desert towards
Metammeh. Lord Wolseley remained behind to guard the new base of
operations. At Abu Klea wells, when nearing the Nile, the column was
assailed by a great mass of Arabs. They advanced in five columns, each
having a wedge-shaped head designed to pierce the British square. With a
low murmuring cry or chant they rushed on in admirable order,
disregarding the heavy losses caused by the steady fire of three faces
of the square. Their leaders soon saw the weak place in the defence,
namely, at one of the rear corners, where belated skirmishers were still
running in for shelter, where also one of the guns jammed at the
critical moment. One of their Emirs, calmly reciting his prayers, rode
in through the gap thus formed, and for ten minutes bayonet and spear
plied their deadly thrusts at close quarters. Thanks to the firmness of
the British infantry, every Arab that forced his way in perished; but in
this _melee_ there perished a stalwart soldier whom England could ill
spare, Colonel Burnaby, hero of the ride to Khiva. Lord Charles
Beresford, of the Naval Brigade, had a narrow escape while striving to
set right the defective cannon. In all we lost 65 killed and 60 wounded,
a proportion which tells its own tale as to the fighting[404].

[Footnote 404: Sir C.W. Wilson, _From Korti to Khartum_, pp. 28-35; also
see Hon. R. Talbot's article on "Abu Klea," in the _Nineteenth Century_
for January 1886.]

Two days later, while the force was beating off an attack of the Arabs
near Metammeh, General Stewart received a wound which proved to be
mortal. The command now devolved on Sir Charles Wilson of the Royal
Engineers. After repelling the attacks of other Mahdists and making good
his position on the Nile, the new commander came into touch with
Gordon's steamers, which arrived there on the 21st, with 190 Sudanese.
Again, however, the advance of other Arabs from Omdurman caused a delay
until a fortified camp or zariba could be formed. Wilson now had but
1322 unwounded men; and he saw that the Mahdists were in far greater
force than Lord Wolseley or General Gordon had expected. Not until
January 24 could the commander steam away southwards with 20 men of the
Sussex regiment and the 190 Sudanese soldiers on the two largest of
Gordon's boats--his "penny steamers" as he whimsically termed them.

The sequel is well known. After overcoming many difficulties caused by
rocks and sandbanks, after running the gauntlet of the Mahdist fire,
this forlorn hope neared Khartum on the 28th, only to find that the
place had fallen. There was nothing for it but to put about and escape
while it was possible. Sir Charles Wilson has described the scene: "The
masses of the enemy with their fluttering banners near Khartum, the long
rows of riflemen in the shelter-trenches at Omdurman, the numerous
groups of men on Tuti [Island], the bursting of shells, and the water
torn up by hundreds of bullets, and occasionally heavier shot, made an
impression never to be forgotten. Looking out over the stormy scene, it
seemed almost impossible that we should escape[405]."

[Footnote 405: Sir C.W. Wilson, _op. cit._ pp. 176-177.]

Weighed down by grief at the sad failure of all their strivings, the
little band yet succeeded in escaping to Metammeh. They afterwards found
out that they were two days too late. The final cause of the fall of
Khartum is not fully known. The notion first current, that it was due to
treachery, has been discredited. Certainly the defenders were weakened
by privation and cowed by the Mahdist successes. The final attack was
also given at a weak place in the long line of defence; but whether the
defenders all did their best, or were anxious to make terms with the
Mahdi, will probably never be known. The conduct of the assailants in at
once firing on the relieving force forbids the notion that they all
along intended to get into Khartum by treachery just before the approach
of the steamers. Had that been their aim, they would surely have added
one crowning touch of guile, that of remaining quiet until Wilson and
his men landed at Khartum. The capture of the town would therefore seem
to be due to force, not to treachery.

All these speculations are dwarfed by the overwhelming fact that Gordon
perished. Various versions have been given of the manner of his death.
One that rests on good authority is that he died fighting. Another
account, which seems more consistent with his character, is that, on
hearing of the enemy's rush into the town, he calmly remarked: "It is
all finished; to-day Gordon will be killed." In a short time a chief of
the Baggara Arabs with a few others burst in and ordered him to come to
the Mahdi. Gordon refused. Thrice the Sheikh repeated the command.
Thrice Gordon calmly repeated his refusal. The sheikh then drew his
sword and slashed at his shoulder. Gordon still looked him steadily in
the face. Thereupon the miscreant struck at his neck, cut off his head,
and carried it to the Mahdi[406].

[Footnote 406: A third account given by Bordeini Bey, a merchant of
Khartum, differs in many details. It is printed by Sir F.R. Wingate in
his _Mahdism_, p. 171.]

Whatever may be the truth as to details, it is certain that no man ever
looked death in the face so long and so serenely as Gordon. For him life
was but duty--duty to God and duty to man. We may fitly apply to him the
noble lines which Tennyson offered to the memory of another
steadfast soul--

     He, that ever following her commands,
     On with toil of heart and knees and hands,
     Thro' the long gorge to the far light has won
     His path upward, and prevail'd,
     Shall find the toppling crags of Duty scaled
     Are close upon the shining table-lands
     To which our God Himself is moon and sun.


Shortly before the publication of this work, Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice
published his _Life of Earl Granville_, some of the details of which
tend somewhat to modify the account of the relations subsisting between
the Earl and General Gordon. See too the issue of the _Times_ of
December 10, 1905 (Weekly Edition), for a correction of some of the
statements, made in the _Life of Earl Granville_, by Lord Cromer (Sir
Evelyn Baring).]



     "The Sudan, if once proper communication was established,
     would not be difficult to govern. The only mode of improving
     the access to the Sudan, seeing the impoverished state of
     Egyptian finances, and the mode to do so without an outlay of
     more than L10,000, is by the Nile."--_Gordon's Journals_
     (Sept. 19, 1884).

It may seem that an account of the fall of Khartum is out of place in a
volume which deals only with formative events. But this is not so. The
example of Gordon's heroism was of itself a great incentive to action
for the cause of settled government in that land. For that cause he had
given his life, and few Britons were altogether deaf to the mute appeal
of that lonely struggle. Then again, the immense increase to the Mahdi's
power resulting from the capture of the arsenal of Khartum constituted
(as Gordon had prophesied) a serious danger to Egypt. The continued
presence of British troops at Wady Haifa, and that alone, saved the
valley of the Lower Nile from a desolating flood of savagery. This was a
fact recognised by every one at Cairo, even by the ultra-Gallic party.
Egypt alone has rarely been able to hold at bay any great downward
movement of the tribes of Ethiopia and Nubia; and the danger was never
so great as in and after 1885. The Mahdi's proclamations to the faithful
now swelled with inconceivable pride. To a wavering sheikh he sent the
warning: "If you live long enough you will see the troops of the Mahdi
spreading over Europe, Rome, and Constantinople, after which there will
be nothing left for you but hell and damnation." The mistiness of the
geography was hidden by the vigour of the theology, and all the sceptics
of Nubia hastened to accept the new prophet.

But his time of tyranny soon drew to a close. A woman of Khartum, who
had been outraged by him or his followers, determined to wreak her
vengeance. On June 14, 1885, she succeeded in giving him slow poison,
which led him to his death amidst long-drawn agonies eight days later.
This ought to have been the death of Mahdism as well, but superstitions
die hard in that land of fanatics. The Mahdi's factotum, an able
intriguer named Abdullah Taashi, had previously gained from his master a
written declaration that he was to be Khalifa after him; he now produced
this document, and fortified its influence by describing in great detail
a vision in which the ghost of the Mahdi handed him a sacred hair of
inestimable worth, and an oblong-shaped light which had come direct from
the hands of the true Prophet, who had received it from the hands of the
angel Gabriel, to whom it had been entrusted by the Almighty.

This silly story was eagerly believed by the many, the questioning few
also finding it well to still their doubts in presence of death or
torture. Piety and politics quickly worked hand in hand to found the
impostor's authority. A mosque began to rise over the tomb of the Mahdi
in his chosen capital, Omdurman; and his successor gained the support
and the offerings of the thousands of pilgrims who came to visit that
wonder-working shrine. Such was the basis of the new rule, which spread
over the valley of the Upper and Middle Nile, and carried terror nearly
to the borders of Egypt[407].

[Footnote 407: Wingate, _Mahdism_, pp. 228-233.]

There law and order slowly took root under the shadow of the British
administration, but Egypt ceased to control the lands south of Wady
Halfa. Mr. Gladstone announced that decision in the House of Commons on
May 11, 1885; and those who discover traces of the perfidy of Albion
even in the vacillations of her policy, maintain that that declaration
was made with a view to an eventual annexation of the Sudan by England.
Their contention would be still more forcible if they would prove that
the Gladstone Ministry deliberately sacrificed Gordon at Khartum in
order to increase the Mahdi's power and leave Egypt open to his blows,
thereby gaining one more excuse for delaying the long-promised
evacuation of the Nile delta by the redcoats. This was the _outcome_ of
events; and those who argue backwards should have the courage of their
convictions and throw all the facts of the case into their syllogisms.

All who have any knowledge of the trend of British statesmanship in the
eighties know perfectly well that the occupation of Egypt was looked on
as a serious incubus. The Salisbury Cabinet sought to give effect to the
promises of evacuation, and with that aim in view sent Sir Henry
Drummond Wolff to Constantinople in the year 1887 for the settlement of
details. The year 1890 was ultimately fixed, provided that no danger
should accrue to Egypt from such action, and that Great Britain should
"retain a treaty-right of intervention if at any time either the
internal peace or external security [of Egypt] should be seriously
threatened." To this last stipulation the Sultan seemed prepared to
agree. Austria, Germany, and Italy notified their complete agreement
with it; but France and Russia refused to accept the British offer with
this proviso added, and even influenced the Sultan so that he too
finally opposed it. Their unfriendly action can only be attributed to a
desire of humiliating Great Britain, and of depriving her of any
effective influence in the land which, at such loss of blood and
treasure to herself, she had saved from anarchy. Their opposition
wrecked the proposal, and the whole position therefore remained
unchanged. British officials continued to administer Egypt in spite of
opposition from the French in all possible details connected with the
vital question of finance[408].

[Footnote 408: _England in Egypt_, by Sir Alfred Milner, pp. 145-153.]

Other incidents that occurred during the years intervening between the
fall of Gordon and the despatch of Sir Herbert Kitchener's expedition
need not detain us here[409]. The causes which led to this new departure
will be more fitly considered when we come to notice the Fashoda
incident; but we may here remark that they probably arose out of the
French and Belgian schemes for the partition of Central Africa. A desire
to rescue the Sudan from a cruel and degrading tyranny and to offer a
tardy reparation to the memory of Gordon doubtless had some weight with
Ministers, as it undoubtedly had with the public. Indeed, it is doubtful
whether the _vox populi_ would have allowed the expedition but for these
more sentimental considerations. But, in the view of the present writer,
the Sudan expedition presents the best instance of foresight, resolve,
and able execution that is to be found in the recent annals of Britain.

[Footnote 409: For the Sudan in this period see Wingate's _Mahdism_;
Slatin's _Fire and Sword in the Sudan_; C. Neufeld's _A Prisoner of the

With the hour had come the man. During the dreary years of the "mark
time" policy Colonel Kitchener had gained renown as a determined fighter
and able organiser. For some time he acted as governor of Suakim, and
showed his powers of command by gaining over some of the neighbouring
tribes and planning an attack on Osman Digna which came very near to
success. Under him and many other British officers the Egyptians and
Sudanese gradually learnt confidence, and broke the spell of
invincibility that so long had rested with the Dervish hordes. On all
sides the power of the Khalifa was manifestly waning. The powerful
Hadendowa tribe, near Suakim, which had given so much trouble in
1883-84, became neutral. On the Nile also the Dervishes lost ground. The
Anglo-Egyptian troops wrested from them the post of Sarras, some thirty
miles south of Wady Halfa; and the efforts of the fanatics to capture
the wells along desert routes far to the east of the river were bloodily
repulsed. As long as Sarras, Wady Halfa, and those wells were firmly
held, Egypt was safe.

At Gedaref, not very far from Omdurman, the Khalifa sustained a severe
check from the Italians (December 1893), who thereupon occupied the town
of Kassala. It was not to be for any length of time. In all their
enterprises against the warlike Abyssinians they completely failed; and,
after sustaining the disastrous defeat of Adowa (March 1, 1896), the
whole nation despaired of reaping any benefit from the Hinterland of
their colony around Massowah. The new Cabinet at Rome resolved to
withdraw from the districts around Kassala. On this news being
communicated to the British Ministers, they sent a request to Rome that
the evacuation of Kassala might be delayed until Anglo-Egyptian troops
could be despatched to occupy that important station. In this way the
intended withdrawal of the Italians served to strengthen the resolve of
the British Government to help the Khedive in effecting the recovery of
the Sudan[410].

[Footnote 410: See _articles_ by Dr. E.J. Dillon and by Jules Simon in
the _Contemporary Review_ for April and May 1896. Kassala was handed
over to an Egyptian force under Colonel Parsons in December 1897. _The
Egyptian Sudan_, by H.S.L. Alford and W.D. Sword (1898).]

Preparations for the advance southwards went forward slowly and
methodically through the summer and autumn of 1896. For the present the
operations were limited to the recapture of Dongola. Sir Herbert
Kitchener, then the Sirdar of the Egyptian army, was placed in command.
Under him were men who had proved their worth in years of desultory
fighting against the Khalifa--Broadwood, Hunter, Lewis, Macdonald,
Maxwell, and many others. The training had been so long and severe as to
weed out all weaklings; and the Sirdar himself was the very incarnation
of that stern but salutary law of Nature which ordains the survival of
the fittest. Scores of officers who failed to come up to his
requirements were quietly removed; and the result was seen in a finely
seasoned body of men, apt at all tasks, from staff duties to railway
control. A comparison of the Egyptian army that fought at Omdurman with
that which thirteen years before ran away screaming from a tenth of its
number of Dervishes affords the most impressive lesson of modern times
of the triumph of mind over matter, of western fortitude over the weaker
side of eastern fatalism.

Such a building up of character as this implies could not take place in
a month or two, for the mind of Egyptians and Sudanese was at first an
utter blank as to the need of prompt obedience and still prompter
action. An amusing case of their incredible slackness has been recorded.
On the first parade of a new camel transport corps before Lord
Kitchener, the leading driver stopped his animal, and therefore all that
followed, immediately in front of the Sirdar, in order to light a
cigarette. It is needless to say, the cigarette was not lighted, but the
would-be smoker had his first lesson as to the superiority of the claims
of collectivism over the whims of the individual[411].

[Footnote 411: _Sudan Campaign_, 1896-97, by "An Officer," p. 20.]

As will be seen by reference to the map on page 477, the decision to
limit the campaign to Dongola involved the choice of the Nile route. If
the blow had been aimed straight at Khartum, the Suakim-Berber route, or
even that by way of Kassala, would have had many advantages. Above all,
the river route held out the prospect of effective help from gunboats in
the final attacks on Berber, Omdurman, and Khartum. Seeing, however,
that the greater part of the river's course between Sarras and Dongola
was broken up by rapids, the railway and the camel had at first to
perform nearly the whole of the transport duties for which the Nile was
there unsuited. The work of repairing the railway from Wady Haifa to
Sarras, and thenceforth of constructing it through rocky wastes, amidst
constant risk of Dervish raids, called into play every faculty of
ingenuity, patience, and hardihood. But little by little the line crept
on; the locomotives carried the piles of food, stores, and ammunition
further and further south, until on June 6, 1897, the first blow was
dealt by the surprise and destruction of the Dervish force at Ferket.

There a halt was called; for news came in that an unprecedented
rain-storm further north had washed away the railway embankments from
some of the gulleys. To make good the damage would take thirty days, it
was said. The Sirdar declared that the line must be ready in twelve
days; he went back to push on the work; in twelve days the line was
ready. As an example of the varied difficulties that were met and
overcome, we may mention one. The work of putting together a steamer,
which had been brought up in sections, was stopped because an
all-important nut had been lost in transit. At once the Sirdar ordered
horsemen to patrol the railway line--and the nut was found. At last the
vessel was ready; but on her trial trip she burst a cylinder and had to
be left behind[412]. Three small steamers and four gunboats were,
however, available for service in the middle of September, when the
expedition moved on.

[Footnote 412: _Ibid_, p. 54.]

By this time the effective force numbered about 12,000 men. The
Dervishes had little heart for fighting to the north of Dongola; and
even at that town the Dervishes made but a poor stand, cowed as they
were by the shells of the steamers and perplexed by the enveloping moves
which the Sirdar ordered; 700 were taken in Dongola, and the best 300 of
these were incorporated in the Sirdar's Sudanese regiments (Sept.
23, 1896).

Thus ended the first part of the expedition. Events had justified
Gordon's statement that a small well-equipped expedition could speedily
overthrow the Mahdi--that is, in the days of his comparative weakness
before the capture of Khartum. The ease with which Dongola had been
taken and the comparative cheapness of the expedition predisposed the
Egyptian Government and the English public to view its extension
southwards with less of disfavour.

Again the new stride forward had to be prepared for by careful
preparations at the base. The question of route also caused delay. It
proved to be desirable to begin a new railway from Wady Haifa across the
desert to Abu Hamed at the northern tip of the deep bend which the Nile
makes below Berber. To drive a line into a desert in order to attack an
enemy holding a good position beyond seemed a piece of fool-hardiness.
Nevertheless it was done, and at the average rate of about 1 1/4 miles a
day. In due course General Hunter pushed on and captured Abu Hamed, the
inhabitants of which showed little fight, being thoroughly weary of
Dervish tyranny (August 6, 1897).

The arrival of gunboats after a long struggle with the rapids below Abu
Hamed gave Hunter's little force a much-needed support; and before he
could advance further, news reached him that the Dervishes had abandoned
Berber. This step caused general surprise, and it has never been fully
explained. Some have averred that a panic seized the wives of the
Dervish garrison at Berber, and that when they rushed out of the town
southwards their husbands followed them[413]. Certain it is that family
feelings, which the Dervishes so readily outraged in others, played a
leading part in many of their movements. Whatever the cause may have
been, the abandonment of Berber greatly facilitated the work of Sir
Herbert Kitchener. A strong force soon mustered at that town, and the
route to the Red Sea was reopened by a friendly arrangement with the
local sheikhs.

[Footnote 413: _The Downfall of the Dervishes_, by E.N. Bennett, M.A.,
p. 23.]

The next important barrier to the advance was the river Atbara. Here the
Dervishes had a force some 18,000 strong; but before long the Sirdar
received timely reinforcement of a British brigade, consisting of the
Cameron and Seaforth Highlanders and the Lincolnshire and Warwickshire
regiments, under General Gatacre. Various considerations led the Sirdar
to wait until he could strike a telling blow. What was most to be
dreaded was the adoption of Parthian tactics by the enemy. Fortunately
they had constructed a zariba (a camp surrounded by thorn-bushes) on the
north bank of the Atbara at a point twenty miles above its confluence
with the Nile. At last, on April 7, 1898, after trying to tempt the
enemy to a battle in the open, the Sirdar moved forward his 14,000 men
in the hope of rushing the position soon after dawn of the following
day, Good Friday.

Before the first streaks of sunrise tinged the east, the assailants
moved forward to a ridge overlooking the Dervish position; but very few
heads were seen above the thorny rampart in the hollow opposite. It was
judged to be too risky at once to charge a superior force that clung to
so strong a shelter; and for an hour and a half the British and Egyptian
guns plied the zariba in the hope of bringing the fanatics out to fight.
Still they kept quiet; and their fortitude during this time of carnage
bore witness to their bravery and discipline[414].

[Footnote 414: _The Egyptian Sudan: its Loss and Recovery,_ by H.S.L.
Alford and W.D. Sword, ch. iv.]

At 7.45 the Sirdar ordered the advance. The British brigade held the
left wing, the Camerons leading in line formation, while behind them in
columns were ranged the Warwicks, Seaforths, and Lincolns, to add weight
to the onset. Macdonald's and Maxwell's Egyptian and Sudanese Brigades,
drawn up in lines, formed the centre and right. Squadrons of Egyptian
horse and a battery of Maxims confronted the Dervish horsemen ranged
along; the front of a dense scrub to the left of the zariba. As the
converging lines advanced, they were met by a terrific discharge;
fortunately it was aimed too high, or the loss would have been fearful.
Then the Highlanders and Sudanese rushed in, tore apart the thorn bushes
and began a fierce fight at close quarters. From their shelter trenches,
pits, and huts the Dervishes poured in spasmodic volleys, or rushed at
their assailants with spear or bayonet. Even at this the fanatics of the
desert were no match for the seasoned troops of the Sirdar; and soon the
beaten remnant streamed out through the scrub or over the dry bed of the
Atbara. About 2500 were killed, and 2000, including Mahmud, the
commander, were taken prisoners. Those who attempted to reach the
fertile country round Kassala were there hunted down or captured by the
Egyptian garrison that lately had arrived there.

As on previous occasions, the Sirdar now waited some time until the
railway could be brought up to the points lately conquered. More
gunboats were also constructed for the final stage of the expedition.
The dash at Omdurman and Khartum promised to tax to the uttermost the
strength of the army; but another brigade of British troops, commanded
by Colonel Lyttelton, soon joined the expedition, bringing its effective
strength up to 23,000 men. General Gatacre received the command of the
British division. Ten gunboats, five transport steamers, and eight
barges promised to secure complete command of the river banks and to
provide means for transporting the army and all needful stores to the
western bank of the Nile whenever the Sirdar judged it to be advisable.
The midsummer rains in the equatorial districts now made their influence
felt, and in the middle of August the Nile covered the sandbanks and
rocks that made navigation dangerous at the time of "low Nile." In the
last week of that month all was ready for the long and carefully
prepared advance. The infantry travelled in steamers or barges as far as
the foot of the Shabluka, or Sixth Cataract, and this method of advance
left the Dervishes in some doubt by which bank the final advance
would be made.

By an unexpected piece of good fortune the Dervishes had evacuated the
rocky heights of the Shabluka gorge. This was matter for rejoicing.
There the Nile, which above and below is a mile wide, narrows to a
channel of little more than a hundred yards in width. It is the natural
defence of Khartum on the north. The strategy of the Khalifa was here
again inexplicable, as also was his abandonment of the ridge at Kerreri,
some seven miles north of Omdurman. Mr. Bennett Burleigh in his account
of the campaign states that the Khalifa had repaired thither once a year
to give thanks for the triumph about to be gained there.

At last on September 1, on topping the Kerreri ridge, the invaders
caught their first glimpse of Omdurman. Already the gunboats were
steaming up to the Mahdist capital to throw in their first shells. They
speedily dismounted several guns, and one of the shells tore away a
large portion of the gaudy cupola that covered the Mahdi's tomb. Apart
from this portent, nothing of moment was done on that day; but it seems
probable that the bombardment led the Khalifa to hazard an attack on the
invaders in the desert on the side away from the Nile. Nearer to the
Sirdar's main force the skirmishing of the 21st Lancers, new to war but
eager to "win their spurs," was answered by angry but impotent charges
of the Khalifa's horse and foot, until at sunset both sides retired for
the night's rest.

The Anglo-Egyptian force made a zariba around the village of el-Gennuaia
on the river bank; and there, in full expectation of a night attack,
they sought what slumber was to be had. What with a panic rush of
Sudanese servants and the stampede of an angry camel, the night wore
away uneasily; but there was no charge of Dervishes such as might have
carried death to the heart of that small zariba. It is said that the
Sirdar had passed the hint to some trusty spies to pretend to be
deserters and warn the enemy that _he_ was going to attack them by
night. If this be so, spies have never done better service.

When the first glimmer of dawn came on September 2, every man felt
instinctively that the Khalifa had thrown away his last chance. Yet few
were prepared for the crowning act of madness. Every one feared that he
would hold fast to Omdurman and fight the new crusaders from house to
house. Possibly the seeming weakness of the zariba tempted him to a
concentric attack from the Kerreri Hills and the ridge which stretches
on both sides of the steep slopes of the hill, Gebel Surgham. A glance
at the accompanying plan will show that the position was such as to
tempt a confident enemy. The Sirdar also manoeuvred so as to bring on an
attack. He sent out the Egyptian cavalry and camel corps soon after dawn
to the plain lying between Gebel Surgham and Omdurman to lure on the
Khalifa's men.

The device was completely successful. Believing that they could catch
the horsemen in the rocky ridge alongside of Gebel Surgham, the
Dervishes came forth from their capital in swarms, pressed them hard,
and inflicted some losses. Retiring in good order, the cavalry drew on
the eager hordes, until about 6.30 A.M. the white glint of their
gibbehs, or tunics, showed thickly above the tawny slopes on either side
of Gebel Surgham. On they came in unnumbered throngs, until, pressing
northwards along the sky-line, their lines also topped the Kerreri Hills
to the north of the zariba. Their aim was obvious: they intended to
surround the invaders, pen them up in their zariba, and slaughter them
there. To all who did not know the value of the central position in war
and the power of modern weapons, the attack seemed to promise complete
success. The invaders were 1300 miles away from Cairo and defeat would
mean destruction.

Religious zeal lent strength to the onset. From the converging crescent
of the Mahdists a sound as of a dim murmur was wafted to the zariba.
Little by little it deepened to a hoarse roar, as the host surged on,
chanting the pious invocations that so often had struck terror into the
Egyptians. Now they heard the threatening din with hearts unmoved; nay,
with spirits longing for revenge for untold wrongs and insults. Thus for
some minutes in that vast amphitheatre the discipline and calm
confidence of the West stood quietly facing the fanatic fury of the
East. Two worlds were there embattled: the world of Mohammedanism and
the world of Christian civilisation; the empire of untutored force and
the empire of mind.

At last, after some minutes of tense expectancy, the cannon opened fire,
and speedily gaps were seen in the white masses. Yet the crescent never
slackened its advance, except when groups halted to fire their muskets
at impossible ranges. Waving their flags and intoning their prayers, the
Dervishes charged on in utter scorn of death; but when their ranks came
within range of the musketry fire, they went down like swathes of grass
under the scythe. Then was seen a marvellous sight. When the dead were
falling their fastest, a band of about 150 Dervish horsemen formed
near the Khalifa's dark-green standard in the centre and rushed across
the fire zone, determined to snatch at triumph or gain the sensuous joys
of the Moslem paradise. None of them rode far.



Only on the north, where the camel-corps fell into an awkward plight
among the rocks of the Kerreri slope, had the attack any chance of
success; and there the shells of one of the six protecting gunboats
helped to check the assailants. On this side, too, Colonel Broadwood and
his Egyptian cavalry did excellent service by leading no small part of
the Dervish left away from the attack on the zariba. At the middle of
the fiery crescent the assailants did some execution by firing from a
dip in the ground some 400 yards away; but their attempts to rush the
intervening space all ended in mere slaughter. Not long after eight
o'clock the Khalifa, seeing the hopelessness of attempting to cross the
zone of fire around el-Gennuaia, now thickly strewn with his dead, drew
off the survivors beyond the ridge of Gebel Surgham; and those who had
followed Broadwood's horse also gave up their futile pursuit, and began
to muster on the Kerreri ridge.

The Sirdar now sought to force on a fight in the open; and with this aim
in view commanded a general advance on Omdurman. In order, as it would
seem, to keep a fighting formation that would impose respect on the
bands of Dervishes on the Kerreri Hills, he adopted the formation known
as echelon of brigades from the left. Macdonald's Sudanese brigade,
which held the northern face of the zariba, was therefore compelled to
swing round and march diagonally towards Gebel Surgham; and, having a
longer space to cover than the other brigades, it soon fell behind them.

For the present, however, the brunt of the danger fell, not on
Macdonald, but on the vanguard. The 21st Lancers had been sent forward
over the ridge between Gebel Surgham and the Nile with orders to
reconnoitre, and, if possible, to head the Dervishes away from their
city. Throwing out scouts, they rode over the ridge, but soon
afterwards came upon a steep and therefore concealed khor or gulley
whence a large body of concealed Dervishes poured a sharp fire[415]. At
once Colonel Martin ordered his men to dash at the enemy. Eagerly the
troopers obeyed the order and jumped their horses down the slope into
the mass of furious fanatics below; these slashed to pieces every one
that fell, and viciously sought to hamstring the horses from behind.
Pushing through the mass, the lancers scrambled up the further bank,
re-formed, and rushed at the groups beyond; after thrusting these aside,
they betook themselves to less dramatic but more effective methods.
Dismounting, they opened a rapid and very effective fire from their
carbines on the throngs that still clustered in or near the gulley. The
charge, though a fine display of British pluck, cost the horsemen dear:
out of a total of 320 men 60 were killed and wounded; 119 horses were
killed or made useless[416].

[Footnote 415: Some accounts state that the Lancers had no scouts, but
"an officer" denies this (_Sudan Campaign_, 1896-99, p. 198).]

[Footnote 416: The general opinion of the army was that the charge of
the Lancers "was magnificent, but was not war." See G.W. Steevens' _With
Kitchener to Khartum_, ch. xxxii.]

Meanwhile, Macdonald's brigade, consisting of one Egyptian and three
Sudanese battalions, stood on the brink of disaster. The bands from the
Kerreri Hills were secretly preparing to charge its rear, while masses
of the Khalifa's main following turned back, rounded the western spurs
of Gebel Surgham, and threatened to envelop its right flank. The Sirdar,
on seeing the danger, ordered Wauchope's brigade to turn back to the
help of Macdonald, while Maxwell's Sudanese, swarming up the eastern
slopes of Gebel Surgham, poured deadly volleys on the Khalifa's
following. Collinson's division and the camel corps were ordered to
advance from the neighbourhood of the zariba and support Macdonald on
that side. Before these dispositions were complete, that sturdy Scotsman
and his Sudanese felt the full weight of the Khalifa's onset. Excited
beyond measure, Macdonald's men broke into spasmodic firing as the enemy
came on; the deployment into line was thereby disordered, and it needed
all Macdonald's power of command to make good the line. His steadiness
stiffened the defence, and before the potent charm of western discipline
the Khalifa's onset died away.

But now the storm cloud gathering in the rear burst with unexpected
fury. Masses of men led by the Khalifa's son, the Sheikh ed Din, rushed
down the Kerreri slopes and threatened to overwhelm the brigade. Again
there was seen a proof of the ascendancy of mind over brute force. At
once Macdonald ordered the left part of his line to wheel round, keeping
the right as pivot, so that the whole speedily formed two fronts
resembling a capital letter V, pointing outwards to the two hostile
forces. Those who saw the movement wondered alike at the masterly
resolve, the steadiness of execution, and the fanatical bravery which
threatened to make it all of no avail. On came the white swarms of Arabs
from the north, until the Sudanese firing once more became wild and
ineffective; but, as the ammunition of the blacks ran low and they
prepared to trust to the bayonet, the nearest unit of the British
division, the Lincolns, doubled up, prolonged Macdonald's line to the
right, and poured volley upon volley obliquely into the surging flood.
It slackened, stood still, and then slowly ebbed. Macdonald's coolness
and the timely arrival of the Lincolns undoubtedly averted a serious

[Footnote 417: See Mr. Winston Churchill's _The River War_, vol. ii. pp.
160-163, for the help given by the Lincolns.]

Meanwhile, the Khalifa's main force had been held in check and decimated
by the artillery now planted on Gebel Surgham and by the fire of the
brigades on or near its slopes; so that about eleven o'clock the
Sirdar's lines could everywhere advance. After beating off a desperate
charge of Baggara horsemen from the west, Macdonald unbent his brigade
and drove back the sullen hordes of ed Din to the western spurs of the
Kerreri Hills, where they were harassed by Broadwood's horse. All was
now ended, except at the centre of the Khalifa's force, where a
faithful band clustered about the dark-green standard of their leader
and chanted defiance to the infidels till one by one they fell. The
chief himself, unworthy object of this devotion, fled away on a swift
dromedary some time before the last group of stalwarts bit the sand.

[Illustration: KHARTUM.]

Despite the terrible heat and the thirst of his men, the Sirdar allowed
only a brief rest before he resumed the march on Omdurman. Leaving no
time for the bulk of the Dervish survivors to reach their capital, he
pushed on at the head of Maxwell's brigade, while once more the shells
of the gunboats spread terror in the city. The news brought by a few
runaways and the sight of the Khalifa's standard carried behind the
Egyptian ensign dispelled all hopes of resisting the disciplined
Sudanese battalions; and, in order to clinch matters, the Sirdar with
splendid courage rode at the head of the brigade to summon the city to
surrender. Through the clusters of hovels on the outskirts he rode on
despite the protests of his staff against any needless exposure of his
life. He rightly counted on the effect which such boldness on the part
of the chief must have on an undecided populace. Fanatics here and there
fired on the conquerors, but the news of the Khalifa's cowardly flight
from the city soon decided the wavering mass to bow before the
inscrutable decrees of fate, and ask for backsheesh from the victors.

Thus was Omdurman taken. Neufeld, an Austrian trader, and some Greeks
and nuns who had been in captivity for several years, were at once set
free. It was afterwards estimated that about 10,000 Dervishes perished
in the battle; very many died of their wounds upon the field or were
bayoneted owing to their persistence in firing on the victors. This
episode formed the darkest side of the triumph; but it was malignantly
magnified by some Continental journals into a wholesale slaughter. This
is false. Omdurman will bear comparison with Skobeleff's victory at
Denghil Tepe at all points.

Two days after his triumph the Sirdar ordered a parade opposite the
ruins of the palace in Khartum where Gordon had met his doom. The
funeral service held there in memory of the dead hero was, perhaps, the
most affecting scene that this generation has witnessed. Detachments of
most of the regiments of the rescue force formed a semicircle round the
Sirdar; and by his side stood a group of war-worn officers, who with him
had toiled for years in order to see this day. The funeral service was
intoned; the solemn assembly sang Gordon's favourite hymn, "Abide with
me," and the Scottish pipes wailed their lament for the lost chieftain.
Few eyes were undimmed by tears at the close of this service, a slight
but affecting reparation for the delays and blunders of fourteen years
before. Then the Union Jack and the Egyptian Crescent flag were hoisted
and received a salute of 21 guns.

The recovery of the Sudan by Egypt and Great Britain was not to pass
unchallenged. All along France had viewed the reconquest of the valley
of the upper Nile with ill-concealed jealousy, and some persons have
maintained that the French Government was not a stranger to designs
hatched in France for helping the Khalifa[418]. Now that these questions
have been happily buried by the Anglo-French agreement of the year 1904,
it would be foolish to recount all that was said amidst the excitements
of the year 1898. Some reference must, however, be made to the Fashoda
incident, which for a short space threatened to bring Great Britain and
France to an open rupture.

[Footnote 418: See an unsigned article in the _Contemporary Review_ for
Dec. 1897.]

On September 5, a steamer, flying the white flag, reached Omdurman. The
ex-Dervish captain brought the news that at Fashoda he had been fired
upon by white men bearing a strange flag. The Sirdar divined the truth,
namely, that a French expedition under Major (now Colonel) Marchand must
have made its way from the Congo to the White Nile at Fashoda with the
aim of annexing that district for France.

Now that the dust of controversy has cleared away, we can see facts in
their true proportions, especially as the work recently published by M.
de Freycinet and the revelations of Colonel Marchand have thrown more
light on the affair. Briefly stated, the French case is as follows. Mr.
Gladstone on May 11, 1885, declared officially that Egypt limited her
sway to a line drawn through Wady Haifa. The authority of the Khedive
over the Sudan therefore ceased, though this did not imply the cessation
of the Sultan's suzerainty in those regions. Further, England had acted
as if the Sudan were no man's land by appropriating the southernmost
part in accordance with the Anglo-German agreement of July I, 1890; and
Uganda became a British Protectorate in August 1894. The French
protested against this extension of British influence over the Upper
Nile; and we must admit that, in regard to international law, they were
right. The power to will away that district lay with the Sultan, the
Khedive's claims having practically lapsed. Germany, it is true, agreed
not to contest the annexation of Uganda, but France did contest it.

The Republic also entered a protest against the Anglo-Congolese
Convention of May 12, 1894, whereby, in return for the acquisition of
the right bank of the Upper Nile, England ceded to the Congo Free State
the left bank[419]. That compact was accordingly withdrawn, and on
August 14, 1894, France secured from the Free State the recognition of
her claims to the left bank of the Nile with the exception of the Lado
district below the Albert Nyanza. This action on the part of France
implied a desire on her part to appropriate these lands, and to contest
the British claim to the right bank. In regard to law, she was justified
in so doing; and had she, acting as the mandatory of the Sultan, sent an
expedition from the Congo to the Upper Nile, her conduct in proclaiming
a Turco-Frankish condominium would have been unexceptionable. That of
Britain was open to question, seeing that we practically ignored the
Sultan[420] and acted (so far as is known) on our own initiative in
reversing the policy of abandonment officially announced in May 1885.
From the standpoint of equity, however, the Khedive had the first claim
to the territories then given up under stress of circumstances; and the
Power that helped him to regain the heritage of his sires obviously had
a strong claim to consideration so long as it acted with the full
consent of that potentate.

[Footnote 419: Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 2 (1898), pp. 13-14.]

[Footnote 420: The Earl of Kimberley's reply of Aug. 14, 1894, to M.
Hanotaux, is very weak on this topic. Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 2 (1898),
pp. 14-15.]

The British Cabinet, that of Lord Rosebery, frankly proclaimed its
determination to champion the claims of the Khedive against all comers,
Sir Edward Grey declaring officially in the debate of March 28, 1895,
that the despatch of a French expedition to the Upper Nile would be "an
unfriendly act[421]." We know now, through the revelations made by
Colonel Marchand in the _Matin_ of June 20, 1905, that in June 1895 he
had pressed the French Government to intervene in that quarter; but it
did little, relying (so M. de Freycinet states) on the compact of August
14, 1894, and not, apparently, on any mandate from the Sultan. If so, it
had less right to intervene than the British Government had in virtue of
its close connection with the Khedive. As a matter of fact, both Powers
lacked an authoritative mandate and acted in accordance with their own
interests. It is therefore futile to appeal to law, as M. de
Freycinet has done.

[Footnote 421: _Ibid_. p. 18.]

It remained to see which of the two would act the more efficiently. M.
Marchand states that his plan of action was approved by the French
Minister for the Colonies, M. Berthelot, on November 16, 1895; but
little came of it until the news of the preparations for the
Anglo-Egyptian Expedition reached Paris. It would be interesting to hear
what Lord Rosebery and Sir Edward Grey would say to this. For the
present we may affirm with some confidence that the tidings of the
Franco-Congolese compact of August 1894 and of expeditions sent under
Monteil and Liotard towards the Nile basin must have furnished the real
motive for the despatch of the Sirdar's army on the expedition to
Dongola. That event in its turn aroused angry feelings at Paris, and M.
Berthelot went so far as to inform Lord Salisbury that he would not hold
himself responsible for events that might occur if the expedition up the
Nile were persisted in. After giving this brusque but useful warning of
the importance which France attached to the Upper Nile, M. Berthelot
quitted office, and M. Bourgeois, the Prime Minister, took the portfolio
for foreign affairs. He pushed on the Marchand expedition; so also did
his successor, M. Hanotaux, in the Meline Cabinet which speedily

Marchand left Marseilles on June 25, 1896, to join his expeditionary
force, then being prepared in the French Congo. It is needless to detail
the struggles of the gallant band. After battling for two years with the
rapids, swamps, forests, and mountains of Eastern Congoland and the
Bahr-el-Ghazal, he brought his flotilla down to the White Nile, thence
up its course to Fashoda, where he hoisted the tricolour (July 12,
1898). His men strengthened the old Egyptian fort, and beat off an
attack of the Dervishes.

Nevertheless they had only half succeeded, for they relied on the
approach of a French Mission from the east by way of Abyssinia. A Prince
of the House of Orleans had been working hard to this end, but owing to
the hostility of the natives of Southern Abyssinia that expedition had
to fall back on Kukong. A Russian officer, Colonel Artomoroff, had
struggled on down the River Sobat, but he and his band also had to
retire[422]. The purport of these Franco-Russian designs is not yet
known; but even so, we can see that the situation was one of great
peril. Had the French and Russian officers from Abyssinia joined hands
with Marchand at Fashoda, their Governments might have made it a point
of honour to remain, and to claim for France a belt of territory
extending from the confines of the French Congo eastwards to Obock on
the Red Sea.

[Footnote 422: _Marchand l'Africain_, by C. Castellani, pp. 279-280. The
author reveals his malice by the statement (p. 293) that the Sirdar,
after the battle of Omdurman, ordered 14,000 Dervish wounded to be

As it was, Marchand and his heroic little band were in much danger from
the Dervishes when the Sirdar and his force steamed up to Fashoda. The
interview between the two chiefs at that place was of historic interest.
Sir Herbert Kitchener congratulated the Major on his triumph of
exploration, but claimed that he must plant the flag of the Khedive at
Fashoda. M. Marchand declared that he would hoist it himself over the
village. "Over the fort, Major," replied the Sirdar. "I cannot permit
it," exclaimed the Major, "as the French flag is there." A reference by
the Sirdar to his superiority of force produced no effect, the French
commander stating that if it were used he and his men would die at their
posts. He, however, requested the Sirdar to let the matter be referred
to the Government at Paris, to which Sir Herbert assented. After
exchanging courteous gifts they parted, the Sirdar leaving an Egyptian
force in the village, and lodging a written protest against the presence
of the French force[423]. He then proceeded up stream to the Sobat
tributary, on the banks of which at Nassar he left half of a Sudanese
battalion to bar the road on that side to geographical explorers
provided with flags. He then returned to Khartum.

[Footnote 423: Parl. Papers, Egypt, No. 2 (1898), p. 9; No. 3 (1898),
pp. 3-4.]

The sequel is well known. Lord Salisbury's Government behaved with
unexpected firmness, asserting that the overthrow of the Mahdi brought
again under the Egyptian flag all the lands which that leader had for a
time occupied. The claim was not wholly convincing in the sphere of
logic; but the victory of Omdurman gave it force. Clearly, then, whether
Major Marchand was an emissary of civilisation or a pioneer of French
rule, he had no _locus standi_ on the Nile. The French Government before
long gave way and recalled Major Marchand, who returned to France by way
of Cairo. This tame end to what was a heroic struggle to extend French
influence greatly incensed the major; and at Cairo he made a speech,
declaring that for the present France was worsted in the valley of the
Nile, but the day might come when she would be supreme.

It is generally believed that France gave way at this juncture partly
because her navy was known to be unequal to a conflict with that of
Great Britain, but also because Franco-German relations were none of the
best. Or, in the language of the Parisian boulevards: "How do we know
that while we are fighting the British for the Nile valley, Germany will
not invade Lorraine?" As to the influences emanating from St. Petersburg
contradictory statements have been made. Rumour asserted that the Czar
sought to moderate the irritation in France and to bring about a
peaceful settlement of the dispute; and this story won general
acceptance. The astonishment was therefore great when, in the earl