17 APRIL 1880, Page 4

LIBERAL POLICY IN THE EAST. T HE new Foreign Secretary will

have a serious task before him, but we do not believe that it is an impossible one. Nothing that Lord Beaconsfield's Government has yet done, unless, indeed, they have signed more secret agreements of which the country is not aware, will finally prevent the adoption of a Liberal policy in regard to either European or

Asiatic Turkey. That policy is not yet fully revealed, but if we understand Mr. Gladstone's writings and speeches, and Lord Hartington's hints and Lord Granville's criticisms, it will be, in broad outline, this,—to help forward the conversion of the Balkan Peninsula into a Federation, which shall have a right to be regarded as heir of Constantinople. The inheritance may drop quickly, or may remain for a short period only a contingent reversion ; but it must drop one day, and when it does, Europe, in Mr. Gladstone's judgment, should secure it to the Federation, which would thus take the place in Europe vacated by the Ottoman. This policy, so far from being impeded by the Treaty of Berlin, is, if that Treaty is interpreted in the Liberal sense, rather forwarded by it. Bosnia and Herzegovina are handed over to Austria in custody, and not as a possession, and may readily be formed into a Principality under an Austrian Archduke. Servia is an independent Principality already. Montenegro, always independent, has obtained, merely on the rumour of the Liberal success in England, the territory without which the mountaineers cannot live. Roumania is entirely inde- pendent. Bulgaria is independent in all but a phrase. Eastern Roumelia is, in all but name, a Principality, without a pasha, a Turkish soldier, or a tax-gatherer. Macedonia is promised a constitution and separateness, after the model of Crete ; and Greece is a recognised kingdom, with Epirus and Thessaly about to be added to her dominion. If the Treaty were only thoroughly carried out, the whole peninsula except Constantinople and its feeding-ground would be free, and the eight enfranchised States would have only to adopt common military arrangements and appoint a Generalissimo, to be a most important and, for defensive purposes, formidable organisation. Even Russia would find the invasion of the Federation a most dangerous undertaking, while Austria would have to consider whether, if she lost the campaign, the attract- ing power of such a State, with its free self-government, might not affect her own South-Slav populations. The Balkan Federation would be very strong for a defensive war. In less than five years after its formation, it would be able to put in Roumania Servia Bosnia... •'' Montenegro ... Bulgaria Roumelia

Macedonia ... • • Greece (with Epirus and Thessaly)

100,000 ... 100,000 ... 80,000 ... 12,000 ... 50,000 ... 30,000 30,000 ... 40,000 Total ... 442,000 We have given figures far below the truth, figures which would be reached without serious alteration in the existing military laws, and do not hesitate to say that even at once the Federation could supply half a million of good soldiers ; while England, if disposed to assist her with artillery or officers, could land them in safety at a dozen splendid ports. Her power of ingress at any moment would, in fact, be a protec- tion almost equal to a guarantee. We all know what a battle Turkey made with half these resources and with no English help, and these troops would, in all but personal bravery, be far better than the Turks. They would be as good almost from the beginning as the Roumanians, who, supposed to be the feeblest soldiers in the peninsula, turned out as efficient as Russians. The Federation, accessible as it would be at all points to Great Britain, would be stronger to resist Russia than Turkey has ever been since the Janissaries were swept away.

But then, say the men who are still charmed with the policy which has failed,—" These States will be mere outlying States of Russia." Why ? So long as they are oppressed by the rest of the world they naturally look to their one armed friend, fear to disoblige him, and in the last resort even obey his com- mands; but, if once made free, why should they be Russian, even in proclivities ? Because they are Slav ? The Rou- manians and the Greeks are no more Slav than the French ; the Serbs are proud to foolishness of their separateness from all other peoples, and the South Slays are no more Russian in redilection than the Poles are. People write as if the Slays were of necessity united, and forget that two great branches of the race have contended for six hundred years, and that a third has always expressed acute fear of being lost in the vast morass of Russian life. Community of race makes peoples intelligible to one another, but does not always make them friends ; and a Pole and a Russian, or a Serb and a Russian, or a Bulgarian and a Russian, are quite as capable of

the field :- quarrelling as a Virginian and a man from Massachusetts. Do all we English love all Yankees so exceedingly much ? It has been one of the oddest circumstances of the controversy now ended, that the men who detest Russia and describe her as the most cruel and oppressive of States have always repre- sented her also as a most attractive Power, so attractive that Serb and Roumanian and Bulgarian will always be her devoted and faithful agents. They will, we verily believe, be among her most unmanageable and refractory neighbours, always ready for any alliance which will release them from attending to St. Petersburg. Creed, it is said, counts for very much in Eastern Europe, and undoubtedly that is true. But it does not count for more in the Greek Church than it does in the Catholic Church or among Mahommedans, and Catholics have fought each other and Mahommedans have invaded each other for centuries, in spite of their common creed. The Greek Christians of the Federation would no more be attracted by the orthodoxy of Russia than Italian Catholics are attracted by the orthodoxy of Austria, nor indeed half so much, for the Greek Church has no Pope, to use his influence as a reconciling agency. The people of the Federation would want to live their own lives, and work out their own history, and try their own experiments in civilisation, not to be lost in another already overgrown land. It is far more likely that, when once in safety, they will be a little too individual, and think too much of their internal differences of race and language, and—but that experience shows a different result, that Bretons and Normans can work together, that Englishmen and Welsh- men can feel the same political interests, that in Switzerland four races with four languages can agree heartily against the rest of the world—it is there that we should look for the weak spot. As it is, we see no reason why our grandchildren should not regard the United States of the Balkans as one of the most secure, though possibly one of the least enterprising, of European countries, and forget, as they do about Switzerland, how deep the diversities of race, language, and religion in the country really are.

We do not for one moment deny or extenuate the difficulties in the way of this policy, and more especially the difficulties presented by the Powers, such as Russia and Austria, which are ambitious of influence in the Balkans. Much thought must be expended, many mistakes made, and many disagree- able compromises accepted, before such an ideal can be said to have been fairly reached ; nevertheless, the ideal is un- deniably a great one, and has this advantage,—that its realisa- tion is not beyond the limits of possibility. The alternative or Tory policy is. That policy has for its only base the dream of Turks reforming their Administration, abandoning its first principles, and reigning as a European instead of an Asiatic caste. They will not do it, and in their refusal, now at last apparent even to Tories, is a difficulty far greater than any which Lord Granville or Lord Hartington will have to encounter.