ONTRARY to all expectation, Prince Ferdinand has gone
to Bulgaria. He reached Widdin on Thursday night, and is expected to arrive at Sofia within the next day or two. In the course of his journey down the Danube, he has been met by the Bulgarian Government yacht, with the Regents and Ministers on board. It is said that he has addressed a circular-note to the Powers, in which he states that he con- siders himself authorised to go to Bulgaria because no objec- tions have been raised against him personally. The text of this circular, and also of an alleged proclamation to the Bulgarian people, have been published in a Hungarian news- paper ; but the authenticity of both documents is evidently very doubtful. The rumours as to the Prince's action now that he has reached Bulgaria, are many and conflicting. According to one of them, he is to take the constitutional oath at Tirnova to-day, and to issue a manifesto. The members of the Regency and of the present Government will retire, and a new Cabinet will be formed. M. Stambouloff, now President of the Regency, will become the head of the Prince's first Ministry. There is, of course, nothing impossible in this ; but, in reality, all that is known is that Prince Ferdinand has accepted the invitation of the Great Sobranje.
What the reasons are that have induced Prince Ferdinand to adopt so complete a change of attitude, and to do the very thing he said he would not do—i.e., go to Bulgaria without the sanction of the Powers—are as yet anything but apparent. Our readers will remember that Prince Ferdinand originally informed the deputation from the Great Sobranje that he would only accept the Throne of Bulgaria in accordance with the terms of the Berlin Treaty. If properly elected, invested by the Porte as Suzerain of Bulgaria, and accepted unani- mously by the signatory Powers, he would take the sovereignty offered him ; but he was, in any case, determined not to go to Bulgaria as a mere unauthorised adventurer. Yet, notwith- standing all these protestations, he has suddenly taken the very course he a month ago condemned as imprudent and absurd. As yet there is nothing but speculation as to the canoes that have effected the change. Prince Ferdinand told Use deputation that it was no use for him to become Prince of Bulgaria unless he could win the good-will of the Czar. Can it be possible that this good-will has been won secretly To judge from the utterances of the semi-official Press in Russia, the feeling towards him there is anything but friendly. The Journal de St. Piterabourg calls his journey "an adven- ture," speaks of "the illegality and unseemliness" of his decision, and declares that from no point of view does the incident "offer the prospect of a settlement." Official and diplomatic circles in Russia are said to be equally unfriendly. Of course, this need not necessarily mean that there is no secret understanding. Louis XV. was wont to engage in private diplomatic ventures tending exactly in the opposite direction to those publicly adopted by his Ministers. Perhaps the Czar may be taking some action of this sort. A Sovereign who actually governs, as does the Czar, might very likely find a secret policy of this kind extremely useful ; and in that case, the newspapers would be purposely left in ignorance, in order to cover the manoeuvre. To sustain this view, the family con- nections of both the Czar and the Prince with the Royal House of Denmark are pointed out ; and it is stated that the Queen of Denmark is a diplomatist of great skill. Such a theory may have something to recommend it; but we must remember that Prince Ferdinand received the most emphatic warning that to win the good-will of Russia would be to lose the support of the Bulgarian people. The idea of so mad an attempt as to hold Bulgaria by favour of the Czar against the wishes of the Bulgarians, can surely never have entered the head of a prudent German like Prince Ferdinand. It would be impossible for him to conceal the approval of the Czar very long, or to encourage Russian influence in Bulgaria in secret. No notion, therefore, that an understanding with the Czar of the kind we have indicated would escape detection, can, we should imagine, have been seriously entertained.
The part taken by Austria during the last few days has been one of studied neutrality. She has refused in any way to recognise the Prince's acts. Major Laaba, a Hungarian officer who accompanies the Prince, has been deprived of his military rank. When the Prince's train reached Temesvar, a superior Staff officer of the Austrian Army was waiting for Major Laaba on the platform, and asked him whether he would remain in the country, or sign a paper resigning his commission. The incident was evidently planned to show the world how com- pletely Austria is dissociated from Prince Ferdinand's schemes. Possibly her action may not really be unfriendly, but only devised in order that the Prince may not appear to be her candidate, and so antagonistic to the Russian interests. If this view of the case be taken, it is not impossible that the German and Austrian Emperors arrived at an understanding on the Bulgarian Question during their recent meeting at Gastein. It has been pointed out that the revolution at Philippopolis in 1885, and the dethronement of Prince Alexander in 1886, followed immediately on the Imperial meetings at Gastein of those years, and it is argued that Prince Ferdi- nand's acceptance of the Bulgarian Throne was the outcome of this year's interview. What truth there may be in this theory we shall probably soon be in a -position to judge. The first step which must be taken by Prince Ferdinand is to obtain his investiture by the Porte. But the Sultan, it is well understood, will only recognise the election in Bulgaria if he is advised to do so by Prince Bismarck, for the German Ambassador at Constantinople, now on a visit to the Chan- cellor, has, it is said, been specially requested by the Sultan to obtain some suggestion which may guide the Porte in its future policy. If Prince Bismarck advises the investiture, we may feel pretty sure that Prince Ferdinand did not start on his journey down the Danube without the previous sanction of the Central European Alliance. Suppose, however, that the investiture is not granted, and that Prince Ferdinand is not recognised by any of the Powers, will any one think it worth while to risk a European conflagration in order to turn him out? If Prince Ferdinand stays quietly at Sofia, enters on no ambitious schemes, but maintains a neutral and colourless policy, is it not possible that each Power may regard him, for its own ends, as a useful warming-pan to begot rid of when convenient.? Warming- pans are proverbially long-lived, and it is, therefore, quite possible that Prince Ferdinand may secure to himself a long tenure of the Bulgarian Throne, notwithstanding that he begins his reign under such inauspicious conditions. Probably his
greatest danger will be a movement hostile to Turkey among its Christian populations. A Macedonian revolt could certainly not take place without the gravest consequences in the Balkan Provinces. Russian gold, or the dislike of Turkish rule, may any day produce such a revolt, and precipitate a scramble for scraps of Turkey in Europe. The policy of Bulgaria under such circumstances would indeed be difficult, and no ruler, unless possessed of very strong qualities, would stand the shock. Who can venture to say whether Prince Ferdinand would prove himself equal to such a contingency