LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
THE BULGARIAN CRISIS.
MO TER EDITOR OF THE " EMT...TOR:1
&a,—There are one or two points connected with the present phase of the Eastern Question which I think are not sufficiently appreciated, and to which I should like to draw the attention of your readers.
In the first place, I do not believe Englishmen fully realise the enormous debt which Bulgaria owes to Dr. Washburne and the Robert College. We see evidences of constitutional wisdom, and an acquaintance with the principles and practice of free peoples, at every turn in Bulgarian affairs ; but we are at a loss to account for their existence in this little Eastern nation just struggling into life. The explanation is not far to seek. Nearly half the leading politicians in Bulgaria and Eastern Ronmelia are old pupils of the Robert College. For four years of their lives they have thought and spoken in English, and in English alone. I made a careful inspection of the library at Robert College, and I asked which were the Bulgarian books. I was told there were none, and, in fact, a Bulgarian literature does not yet exist. Hence the Bulgarian pupils in the College have, as a matter of course, framed their ideas of government and their notions of the rights and duties of citizens upon Western and Anglo-Saxon models. This fact is of immense significance. What is true of Bulgaria is not true of any other Eastern State. Young Roumanians, young Greeks, or young Servians go to Paris, St. Petersburg, or Vienna for their education, but very rarely to England. For the first time, English and American ideas of government have been developed in one of the new nations of Eastern Europe. At Philippopolis, I found the English Blue-books in the library of the Parliament House ; I had much talk with the young Ministers, both there and at Sofia ; they talked English as well as I do, and the events of the last few months show that with the language they have imbibed also the sentiments and traditions of Englishmen. This fact is one which ought not to be over- looked at the present crisis. There is another element in the situation equally important. There appears to be a doubt in
the minds of some as to whether Russia will in the end go to war. I believe that a declaration of war by Russia is among the absolute certainties of the immediate future. The ordinary motives which influence mankind operate no less in Russia than in other parts of the world. Throughout the Continent, in England, and in America, the enormous majority of the popula- tion are striving for success in their several professions and call- ings; every man, with the doubtful exception of a few Trappist monks, is trying to "get on." A soap-boiler hopes to make more soap, a manufacturer to weave more staff, a clergyman to get promotion, a doctor to get more practice. There are many industries and many occupations ; but in every one of them the members are striving for success. In Russia there is practically one profession, and one only,—that of arms. Even to those not actually in the military service, promotion comes according to their trait in, or rank in the great military hierarchy. From General Gourko down to the smallest railway official, there is but one goal to aspire to,—namely, military distinction, the cross of St. George and what it confers. To this goal there is a royal road, and that is a successful war. It is the direct and positive interest of nine out of every ten Russians to force their country into such a war. This is a great fact, and it is an indis- putable one.
Lastly, there is one other point which I think the English public scarcely realise, and that is the awful penalties which such a war may inflict upon the civilised races bordering on the Rus- sian frontier. Let me draw a picture which will help us to realise the actual situation. Suppose that the occupants of the rich villas of Putney and Wimbledon knew that five miles away across Wimbledon Common were quartered ten thousand half. drilled barbarians, backed by an indefinite host of Tartars and Cossacks, Mahomedans and idolaters, the whole ready at a single word to throw themselves upon their civilised neighbours. Imagine, further, that that word might any day be spoken in a fit of caprice by a surly and half-witted despot who had been spiritually drugged into the belief that some peculiar sanctity attached to his person, and then we shall realise what is the daily outlook of the dwellers on the Transylvanian, Silesian, and Polish frontiers of Austria and Germany.—I am, Sir, &c., H. 0. AHNOLD•FORSTER.