LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
THE " PALL MALL GAZETTE " AND MR. GLADSTONE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR:']
you allow me, after a careful study of the issues between Mr. Gladstone and the Pall Mall Gazelle, to state the case as it appears to me ? I believe I can show that Mr. Gladstone has greatly understated his case on behalf of Russia. Put briefly but accurately, the original accusation of the Pall Mall Gazette was as follows :—" The proceedings of the Russians " in Turkistan " in 1873 " " are almost an exact parallel to the Turkish
atrocities,' differing only from them in some circumstances which make them less excusable." Let us see what these circum-
stances are, even on the showing of the Pall Mall Gazette. It is not necessary, at this time of day, to describe the Turkish atrocities. Suffice it to say that they consisted, for the most part, of the massacre of a peaceful and unarmed population, men, women, and children, with every circumstance of torture and of outrage which brutal lusts and fiendish malice could suggest, and that they were committed within two hundred miles of the capital of Turkey, and in direct communication with that capital by rail and telegraph. The Russian atrocities, on the other hand, assuming for the moment the correctness of the version of them given by the Pall Mall Gazette, consisted of the massacre of a predatory, lawless, and well-armed tribe of nomadsby an army 2,000 miles from home, from which it was separated by deserts which had proved fatal to previous expeditions, and nearly fatal to this one also. The Russians, according to the Pall Mall Gazette, put this tribe to the sword, sparing neither age nor sex. But the Pall Mall Gazette does not allege that the Russians violated a single woman, or tortured a single man beyond the torture of a sharp and speedy death. And this is what our great anti- humanitarian instructor calls" differing only from " the Bulgarian atrocities " in some circumstances which make them less excusable."
After describing " the butchery and destruction by the
troops " (Russian), the Pall Mall Gazette says : ---" Then followed a series of events which Mr. Schuyler repeats from the narrative of an American friend of his, who was an eye-witness. General Golovatchef, a lieutenant of General Kaufmann worthy of his chief, thus harangued his officers in the hearing of Mr. MacGahan.'' And then follows the oft-quoted brutal speech alleged to have been spoken to his soldiers by Golovatchef, and incidents of Cossacks " cutting everybody down, whether small child or old man."
Now what does the reader learn from this P He learns that
the ear-witness of Golovatchef's speech and the eye-witness of the stories following is Mr. Schuyler's " American friend," Mr. MacGahan. But this is not the case. The speech and the narrative which the Pall Mall Gazette quotes as MacGahan's are expressly declared by Schuyler not to have been reported by MacGahan, but by a Russian of the name of Gromof. And here is one of the points in which Mr. Gladstone understates his case. He says that Schuyler himself took down " the verbal statements
of Gromof from his lips." I do not understand Schuyler to say so. His words may bear that meaning, but it does not appear to me to be their obvious meaning. Schuyler, speaking of Gromof's statement, says, "It was taken down from his own lips." We are not told by whom it was taken down.
The Pall Mall Gazette, in the passage quoted above, calls General Golovatchef "a lieutenant of General Kaufmann worthy of his chief." Mr. Schuyler says :•■■■44 Notwithstanding the facts stated by Mr. Gromof, from all the information I have been able to collect, I quite agree with Mr. MacGahan, that General Golovatchef personally is innocent of the savagery which accom- panied the Turkoman campaign. He did nothing but unwillingly
obey imperative orders, and tried rather to mitigate than to in- crease their effect." Schuyler says this immediately after the narrative which he quotes from Gromof, and out of which the Pall Mall Gazette has extracted the moat sensational tit-bits, re- ferring them at the same time to MacGahan. The writer in the Pall Mall Gazette was, of course, bound to read Schuyler's vindi- cation of Golovatchef. And no doubt he did read Schuyler's vindication of Golovatchef, as is evident from the following sen- tence, eighteen lines below the Pall Mall's denunciation of Golovatchef :—" They [Russian atrocities] were done (and this is Mr. Schuyler's excuse for the subordinates) under express and explicit orders from the highest and more honoured officers of the Russian Regular Army." Bat the truth is that Schuyler, in the passage in question, says nothing about "subordinates," one way or another. What he does is to go out of his way to discredit Gromof's narrative (which is the only foun- dation for the brutal speech attributed to Golovatchef), and to acquit Golovatchef of all blame. In other words, the Pall Mall Gazette singles out for a special accusation of inhumanity that very one of "the highest and more honoured officers of the Russian Regular Army," whom Mr. Schuyler had gone out of his way to praise for his humanity.
So far I have dealt only with the first of the two articles in the Pall Mall Gazette,—the article, namely, which Mr. Gladstone criticises. Let me now make a few remarks on the article entitled, " Mr. Gladstone Answered." In this article the Pall Mall Gazette accuses Mr. Gladstone of having "deliberately, carefully, and completely falsified the whole question ;" and this accusation is based on allegations like the following :—Mr. Gladstone is said to have suppressed the fact that General Kaufmann's object, in imposing an indemnity on the Yomud Turkomans, was to invent an excuse for exterminating the whole tribe, since he knew that the sum demanded was more than the tribe could pay, especially In money. Schuyler's opinion does not go so far as this. But Schuyler, after all, was not there, and the question is not what Schuyler thinks, but what Kaufmann, on Mr. Schuyler's own evidence, thought and intended.
Schuyler, then, admits as follows :—" The elders " of the
Yomud tribe " declared, 'after some hesitation' that
the contribution would be paid." Afterwards, however, on "finding out that they had little ready money, he [Kaufmann] proposed to them to pay half the sum in camels." Eventually the full indemnity was paid, with an addition of 10,000 roubles for the continuous attacks by the Yomuds on the Russians in the the interval. The full sum was partly made up by the sale of the women's ornaments, but that is not quite the same thing as butchering a whole tribe, still less is it " almost an exact parallel to the Turkish atrocities,' differing only from them in some circumstances which make them less excusable." However, the Pall Mall Gazette's account of the matter is that " the whole tribe was to be butchered," and that it was butchered. No one could ,gather from either of its articles that the Yomuds made any re- sistance, still less that the Russian troops, during this brief in- terval, were often in imminent danger of being all massacred by the wily, courageous, and treacherous Yomuds. But this is what is plainly told in those very pages of Schuyler which the Pall Mall Gazette professes to quote fairly and honestly. A few words will suffice to prove this. And first, as to Kaufmann's famous order of extermination. The important words are those put into italics by Schuyler, namely, the order " to give over the settlements of the Yomuds and their families to complete destruction, and their herds and property to confiscation."
Does this mean that the villages alone were to be destroyed, or that habitations and inhabitants were to share the same fate?
Schuyler does not give the original, and we have only his trans- lation. But it so happens that he has himself supplied, nineteen pages further on, a clue to the meaning of General Kaufmann's order. Another Russian officer (Colonel Ivanof) found it neces- sary to chastise the Kul Yomuds, and the chastisement consisted, according to the official report (quoted by Schuyler), in " succes- sively traversing and destroying all the various settlements of the Kul Yomads." This is the form of language used in General
Kaufmann's order, but there it stands without any explantion. Here, however, we have the explanation :—"The troops were espe- cially enjoined to confine themselves to the destruction of houses and movables and the seizure of cattle, without touching the inhabitants." (Schuyler, ii., 376.)
But in addition, it must be observed that even " the settle- ments," as distinct from the inhabitants, were not to be touched, except " in case of disobedience," to quote Mr. Schuyler's words. 'Ibis disobedience meant either an attempt on the part of the
Yomuds to escape into the Steppes without paying the indem- nity, or an aggressive movement against the Russians. But let us remember what escaping into the Steppes with all their property meant on the part of the Yomuds. It meant harassing the home- ward march of the Russian troops through a desert which had already nearly proved fatal to them, and which, if the Turkomans were not seriously crippled, might still become their grave. Accord- ingly, General Golovatchef, whose humane conduct, at the close of the " butchering," Mr. Schuyler so warmly praises, is sent to watch the Yomuds, and finding that they " yet showed no signs of collecting the money, but on the contrary, were assembling together with the evident intention either of running away or of attacking the troops," he "burned their villages along the road." This was followed by another order from Kaufmann, approving Golovatchef's conduct, and informing him at the same time " that he [Kaufmann] had allowed the hostages to go, in order that they might influence their tribes and save them from ruin." He further added,—" If the Yomuds become submissive, atop ravaging them, but keep watch of what is being done among them, and at the least attempt to migrate carry out my order for the final extermination of the disobedient tribes."
Have we here the case of a man who was making use of a mere dishonest ruse in order to entrap a tribe which " had given no especial offence" (kidnapping, truce-breaking, and murdering are) " no special offences," apparently, in the estimation of the Pall Mall Gazette), to the doom which he had deliberately prepared for them,—namely, a savage and treacherous massacre, sparing neither age nor sex ? Or have we the case of a commander who considers that the safety of his army depends on his thoroughly crushing the "Yomud tribe, whom, however, he is anxious at the same time to save from ruin ?"
But the Yomuds had no intention of " becoming submissive." They greatly outnumbered the Russians. " The camp of the enemy was all about us," mays Gromof. " We saw them on every side. They seemed numberless. Suddenly we saw some Turkomans creeping up from the reeds on one side. A number of Cossacks, without order, at once started forth, but before they could ride 200 paces the men in the picket were en- tirely cut to pieces without having had a chance to fire a shot, the Turkomans having stolen in the meantime camels from different parts of the camp, when they were out of reach. The men were frightfully mutilated. We buried them the same day. The Cos- sacks were greatly enraged at this,"—and it explains their killing without giving quarter. They were dealing with foes who set at naught all the rules of civilised warfare.
This "hard fighting with the enemy," as Schuyler 358) calls it, went on for some days. " On the 27th " (of July), he says, "at night, General Golovatchef had intended to make an attack upon the Turkoman camp, but just as he was about starting, his own camp was attacked by the Turko- mans, and had it not been for the presence of mind of the commander of the sharpshooters, the Russians would probably all have been massacred. In the meantime, the Turkomans had cut off communication between General Golovatchef and Khiva, and for five days General Kaufmann received no reports."
Kaufmann was at last obliged to go to the rescue of Golovatchef, and after severe fighting and much slaughter, the Turkomans, on
the last day of July, " showed signs of yielding." The attack of the Russian troops was at once stopped, and Kaufmann added 10,000 roubles to the 300,000 previously imposed on the Yomuds. Now, of all this the Pall Mall Gazette drops not a hint, though it is told in the pages from which he so freely quotes. He repre- sents the Yomuds as a harmless tribe, who were cruelly and cause- lessly butchered,—men, women, and children. Not only so, but
he explicitly declares that "the enemy, being unable to pay moie than one-third of the sum (310,000 roubles, again the slaughter began." This is literally untrue. No further slaughter "began" or continued after August 1, and this is quite plain from Schuyler's narrative, in spite of the common misunderstanding of it which Mr. Gladstone appears to show, and the source of which, in the confusion between the two Styles, Mr. Henry Sidgwick has so well explained in his letter to the Times.
I will only add that I have read Mr. Schuyler's volumes care- fully, and that I cordially agree with Mr. MacGahan--an opinion
from which Schuyler himself does not dissent, on the whole— that the behaviour of the Russian troops in Turkistan—as far, at least, as Schuyler's work affords any evidence—need fear no comparison with any troops, similarly circumstanced, in either the
Old or New World.—I am, Sir, &c., FAIR-PLAY.