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As I write these lines the memory comes back to my mind of the many times during which I have seen Oom Paul' sitting smoking on the stoop of his dwelling at Pretoria. I can recall his heavy jowls, his flabby cheeks, his small pig-like eyes, his shabby ash-stained black suit, his general look of a Methodist minister who had somehow come to grief. His habits-as the lady remarked about the schoolboy' were dirty, and manners he had none.' Yet with it all he bore himself with a certain rude dignity. He may have been coarse and brutal, but there must have been something lovable about the man from the affection he earned, not only in his own family, but amongst his intimate friends. I confess, however, that the sort of eulogies which have been passed upon him since his death jar somewhat on my taste, coming as they do from English lips and English hands. That the Boers should admire Kruger I can understand. He was a Boer after their own heart. De mortuis nil nisi bonum may be a sound saying; but I think it is followed too far if the name of hero is applied to a man whose first thought was his own safety, who never went near a field of battle, who ran away as soon as our troops approached Pretoria, who left his wife to shift for herself, and who during his public career amassed a huge fortune by dubious means, and hoarded this fortune with the sordid tenacity of a born miser.
The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTUI Y cannot undertake
In this and a following article an attempt will be made to furnish a complete history of the course of events which led to the gigantic war now being waged in the Far East. As I shall endeavour to show, it was brought about solely by the action of Russia. I have sought to make my narrative concise, but if it should strike the reader as being here and there a trifle tedious, I must earnestly crave indulgence for the sake of the important bearing which the events recorded have had, and must continue to have, on the common interests of the civilised world. As regards the thorough accuracy of the statements herein made, I need only explain that they are based throughout upon the numerous State papers of the Powers concerned, and that my facts have one and all been gathered from these incontestable sources of information.
It is scarcely necessary to reiterate how Russia deprived Japan of her legitimate prize of war, the Liao-Tung Peninsula, in 1895, and how, after the lapse of only a few years, she appropriated to herself
VOL. LVI-No. 331
the most important and strategically valuable portion of that peninsula; nor is it essential that I should relate how, in doing this, Russia outwitted England, and how the British Government was driven to exact from China a lease of Wei-Hai-Wei in consequence as a set-off to Russia's acquisition of Port Arthur and adjacent territory. It will suffice to remember that the lease of Port Arthur to Russia as a naval station was viewed by the British Government, and so declared in its diplomatic correspondence, as a 'serious disturbance of and menace to the balance of power in the Gulf of Pe-Chih-li,' and that as regards Wei-Hai-Wei the step taken by England was considered by her as having been forced upon her by the actions of Russia.
It is also perhaps needless to state that this acquisition of territory at Port Arthur was a direct self-contradiction of the theory that Russia had advanced, less than three years before, when she had urged Japan to give up that region, on the plea that the possession of the peninsula of Liao-Tung, claimed by Japan, would be a constant menace to the capital of China, would at the same time render illusory the independence of Korea, and would henceforth be a perpetual obstacle to the permanent peace of the Far East.'
The agreement for the cession of the 'Kwantung Peninsula' and Port Arthur was first signed in Peking on the 27th of March, 1898, and was afterwards supplemented by another agreement signed in St. Petersburg on the 7th of May of the same year. On the day that the first agreement was signed the Russian Government suddenly made the following communication to the Powers:
In virtue of the Agreement signed on the 15th (27th) March in Peking by the Representatives of Russia and the members of the Tsung-li Yamên, as respective Plenipotentiaries, Port Arthur and Talien-Wan, as well as the adjoining territory, have been ceded by the Chinese Government for the use of Russia.
You are instructed to communicate the above to the Government to which you are accredited, and to add that the above-mentioned ports and territory will be occupied without delay by the forces of his Imperial Majesty, our august Monarch, and that the Russian flag, together with the Chinese, will be hoisted in them.
You can at the same time inform the Minister for Foreign Affairs that Port Talien-Wan will be opened to foreign commerce, and that the ships of all friendly nations will there meet with the most wide hospitality.
From the Official Messenger and the text of the supplementary agreement, which subsequently came to the light, it was to be seen that the agreements provided for the cession of Port Arthur and Talien-Wan, as well as of the adjacent territory, for the use of Russia during a term of twenty-five years, which might be prolonged indefinitely by mutual arrangement, and for the construction of branches of railways to connect the ports with the main Trans-Siberian Railway. No vessels, whether warships or merchantmen, of any nations but Russia and China were to be allowed access to Port Arthur; no
subjects of other Powers were to be granted concessions for their use in the neutral ground,' which included the territory forming part of the Liao-Tung Peninsula to the north of the portion actually leased to Russia, as far as Kai-chau on the north coast, and the mouth of the Ta-Yang River-i.e. Takushan-on the south coast. No ports on the seacoasts east or west of the neutral ground were to be opened to the trade of other Powers, nor might any road or mining concessions, industrial or mercantile privileges, be granted in the neutral territory without Russia's consent first being obtained.
It is now an open secret that M. Hanotaux, at that time Foreign Minister of France, advised the Russian Government not to make Port Arthur a naval station, and that M. Witte, then the Finance Minister of Russia, was somewhat of the same opinion; but even the trifling element of moderation thus counselled went unheeded, and the Russian official organ, at the time that the Peking Agreement was signed, was encouraged, on the other hand, to indulge in the most extravagant utterances. Thus the Novoe Vremya wrote on the 6th of April, 1898, substantially as follows:
Russia has the right to carry a line of railway from Talien-Wan along the western shore of the Liao-Tung peninsula to any point she may choose. The construction of a line to the west is as necessary for us as the construction of one to the east, along the northern shore of the Korean Gulf to the town of Yi-ju on the river Yalu, whence a French company has obtained the right to construct a line to the south on to Seoul. If the Russian Government do not find it necessary to acquire the railway from Chemulpho to Seoul, constructed by the American Morse and passing now into Japanese hands, it only shows our conviction that we shall possess our own rail from Manchuria to the capital of Korea. Such a line would be most advantageous to Japanese commerce and interests, and the Japanese Government, who are doing all they can to promote their trade, must choose between a risky game of political influence in Korea or the sale of their product in Korea and Manchuria under the Russian flag and protected by Russian bayonets. The construction of a Russian railway in Manchuria must at last open the eyes of Japan to the advantage of an understanding with Russia, which might save her from a financial crash and be advantageous to her southern population, which is compelled from poverty to emigrate. Let Japan play the commercial, while Russia plays the political rôle. . . . Common action between Russia and Japan might further hold England back from her risky enterprises in the Gulf of Pe-Chih-li, which is the natural sphere of Russian influence. England always wants some contribution to her own advantage on every political step forward which Russia makes. If England takes Wei-Hai-Wei, she will see Russia demanding extensions of territory in Central Asia; the rôles will be changed, and Russia will demand a heavy percentage for every English acquisition. Such a step would undoubtedly check the appetites of English politicians.
Again, the same paper went so far as to declare in the next issue that the treaty of 1895 (Anglo-Russian) ought to be regarded as being no longer in force.
There was, however, one thing worth noting-that was that, according to the best authority accessible, this agreement contained
some provisions by which Chinese sovereignty in the localities indicated was guaranteed, and also that the railway concession therein referred to was 'never to be used as a pretext for encroachment on Chinese territory, nor to be allowed to interfere with Chinese authority or interests.'
On the 1st of June, 1898, the Russian Chargé d'Affaires intimated, in the form of a circular to all his foreign colleagues at the Chinese capital, that by Count Mouravieff's order 'passports were obligatory for Port Arthur and Talien-Wan,' which occasioned great controversy, inasmuch as it was wholly inconsistent with the treaty rights of other Powers for Russia to make such a stipulation; but she contrived, on one pretext and another, to evade the issue, and the question was allowed to drag on without a complete settlement being reached.
The anti-Christian movement in North China, otherwise the Boxer troubles, of 1900 was a great turning-point in Far Eastern affairs. In the presence of this tremendous upheaval the concerns of Port Arthur and Talien-Wan waned almost into insignificance; and while these grave matters fell into comparative oblivion an excellent opportunity was given to Russia of playing off her tricky diplomacy and selfish efforts at aggrandisement to the detriment of other Powers. True it may be that what she said and did may not always have been intended to deceive, ab initio, but the results were the same. The Boxer troubles began in the early part of the year named, and by the beginning of June had assumed an alarming aspect. All the Powers did their best to cope with the emergency, and sent ships and landed marines to the fullest extent available. But from the very nature of the locality, the distance away, and the limited numbers of the forces at command, the measures taken were far from being effective. Japan was the only Power that could efficiently cope with the difficulty, and she was almost universally appealed to by public opinion at large to cast in her lot with the Christian nations against the Boxers by taking the foremost part in the measures designed for their suppression.
On the 13th of June, therefore, Viscount Aoki, who was then Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, intimated through the British Chargé d'Affaires to the British Government that if the foreign naval detachments which had actually been landed should be surrounded or otherwise in danger, the Japanese Government would be ready to send at once a considerable force to their relief if her Majesty's Government concurred in such a course, but that otherwise his Government did not intend to send soldiers,' similar intimations being given to the representatives at Tokio of other great Powers interested.
This resolution of the Japanese Government was ascribable purely to their consideration of the claims of a common humanity, and beneath it were hidden no political or selfish motives or designs. The