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His predecessor, Alexander the First, is reported to have said-sadly enough—when an admirer congratulated Russia on her monarch : 'I am only a happy accident. Accident or not, all were prepared to welcome the accession of Nicholas the Second as an event of happy augury for many reasons. There was, for example (might one mention it ?) the Peace Conference.
Then it was his great happiness to become the father of a long-wished-for son. Readers of this Review do not need to be reminded of Baron Suyematsu's masterly and dispassionate account of 'How Russia brought on War.' From that admirable narrative it is clear that the most charitable explanation of the Emperor's action, or inaction, is that he was deliberately hoodwinked by designing and interested people, some of them being in very high place. In the joy of his paternity (a joy which all good people shared with him), what more natural than that the author of the Peace Conference should command peace in his son's name? Such a deed would have been an act of magnanimity worthy of a great Christian monarch. So most of us thought that the Tsar might safely have made his son a Prince of Peace ; but he preferred to make him a Colonel of Cossacks. The act was of the highest significance.
Then there was the North Sea outrage.
Even more dramatic than his behaviour on the occasion of the birth of his son was the Emperor's behaviour on the occasion of the North Sea outrage. Tartar though the impudent assault was, that impudence was transcended by the subsequent attitude of Russia. Even in the midst of our grief and rage we could hardly help laughing at the series of so-called ' explanations' with which Russia favoured the world.
But by now we are beginning to understand. There is, thank Heaven, a leaven of righteousness in this Tartar State; and, thanks (so far as the public understand) to Counts Lamsdorff and Benckendorff, it prevailed on this occasion. The scanty satisfaction, which was all that we could get, must have been unspeakably galling to those who had clearly hoped to drive us into war.
The Press of this country has made a point of assuming that it was 'impossible,' 'unthinkable,' &c., that the North Sea outrage should have been deliberate ; but, on the contrary, that is exactly what the face-reading of the facts leads us to conclude must have been the case. Inasmuch as incident A, incident B, &c. (any one of which made a good casus belli) cannot drive England into war, let us now give her a soufflet in the face of all Europe that she cannot help resenting.' So must have reasoned the war-makers.
Now England has no reason to fear war with Russia. On the contrary, it is Russia who has everything to lose. The Indian army would enjoy nothing so much as the conflict for which it has thirsted
ever since the days of Sir Charles Napier. If Russia—all sane, intelli. gent Russia--wants war, she can have it; but we, in England, are of the opinion that all sane, intelligent Russians are furious at the wretched figure their country is made to cut, and while that is the case we do not intend to be driven into war by a crew of brigands in order to gratify an interested third party.
Slowly from some points of view, but with extraordinary rapidity from others, the nations of Western Europe are drawing together in a kind of informal concert that bids fair to become authoritative. Italy and England, France and Italy, France and England, England and Portugal; these are considerable ‘understandings.' While the “peoples' have chattered and boasted, the Kings have worked, learnt, and acted. In Western Europe there bids fair to arise a temper that will not tolerate indiscriminate militarism-such a temper as rules in private hodies, where a man must behave as a gentleman' or leave the club. Your Tartar, on the other hand, strikes how and where and when he will, so that he may strike in safety : as witness the massacre of Blagovestchensk, an 'incident' too soon forgotten, but which it is necessary to remember. 'On that occasion,' to quote Baron Suyematsu, ' thousands of helpless men, women, and children were drowned or slaughtered by the Russians in compliance with the Russian commander Gribsky's orders, he acting, as he declared, in consonance with Imperial decree.' The Imperial authority for these frightful barbarities was repudiated by Count Lamsdorff. But was the shameless ruffian who perpetrated them punished ? Not at all : his conduct received Imperial approval and the blessing of the Church.
To-day on the Chinese bank of the Amur, on the ashes of Sakalin, a solemn thanksgiving service in memory of the relief of this place by the Russian forces, together with the ceremony of renaming the post Ilinsky, was held, in the presence of the authorities, the army, the English officer Bigham, and a large crowd of people. The High Priest Konoploff said : “Now is the Cross raised on that bank of the Amur which yesterday was Chinese. Mouravieff foretold that sooner or later this bank would be ours.' In a beautiful speech General Gribsky' (not apparently degraded) congratulated the victorious
All Christians will agree with Baron Suyematsu that this was an • indecent and blasphemous function.' But, from the Tartar point of view, nothing could be more correct and proper.
Professor Gradowsky, quoted in the Observer of the 20th of November, says of his own country that 'since 1815 Russia has not only herself been plunged in ignorance, slavery, and despotism, but has always obstructed all free and progressive tendencies in Europe.' He adduces evidence in support of his statement, and what weEngland and France in particular-have to realise is that, in spite
1 Nineteenth Century and After, September 1904, p. 349.
of smooth externals, we are, in fact, face to face with a great barbarous power drawing its strength from slavery and superstition ; and that it is nothing less than treason to civilisation to stand by and allow the painfully acquired results of centuries of struggle to be overwhelmed in the avalanche of Russian retrogression. This is what Napoleon meant.
When we consider the part that England has played and is yet, let us hope, to play in this new movement so full of promise, it is with some concern that the thoughtful will read some reflections on our national character by the late Bishop Creighton in his Life just published. “An Englishman is not only without ideas, but he hates an idea when he sees it;' so says the Bishop. The worst enemy of England never said anything more damaging. Was it by hating ideas that Japan acquired the power to administer the tremendous castigation that Russia is now enduring at her hands? Or take this: 'the House of Commons is dearer to us now than it has been at any time, because it is entirely our own and reproduces our own infirmity.' This passion of self-admiration is a most retarding frame of mind; but, in justice to both the nation and the Bishop, it must be noted that this was said seventeen years ago. In that time the nation has come to be rather less satisfied with itself and with its House of Commons. So much for the people; how about our natural leaders'? 'I suppose dukes have souls to be helped,' he wrote, though it is hard to realise.' These are not the words of some idle club-cynic, but of a man who cared most tenderly both for the souls and the minds of his fellow-countrymen. No dreaming sentimentalist, either, was Creighton; but a man of action who understood thoroughly the responsibilities of public life. The administrator has to drive the coach ;' he wrote, “his critics are always urging him to upset it.' He hated gush. Writing of the claptrap phrase "the heart of the English people,' he called it 'a very nasty place to go to, the last resting place I should wish to be found in-a sloppy sort of place, I take it.' Of his time he wroteIn future times this age of ours, judged by its literature, will be called “ the crazy age.'
This is all that fifty years of peace-mongering and cheap labour' have left of once-great England. Inarticulate, but still convinced by sad experience that England was no place for them, our best labouring hands have left us, edged out by “cheap labour,' and have gone to build up the prosperity of countries who know how to cherish their manhood. The ruin of agriculture has helped in the same direction. We have so long been taught that patriotism was unbusinesslike that we have come to believe the wicked falsehood. So-called “education' has mangled the mind of the country to an incalculable extent. Sickly phrases have made us forget that love is not a moaning sentimentalism. The result is that when a crisis comes the trumpet gives forth an uncertain sound. The course that England adopted on the occasion of the North Sea outrage was undoubtedly politic, and perhaps the only course possible, all things considered. But there was an alternative. Lord Lansdowne might have said: 'Our business is no longer with the Russian Ambassador; our responsibility is to all the world. Two innocent men have been murdered on the high seas, and somebody is going to stand his trial for the crime. Lord Charles Beresford has his orders.' But bitter experience of public life has probably taught Lord Lansdowne that if he had ventured on such a policy the whole pack of peace-mongers would have been upon his back in twenty-four hours. In Lord Palmerston's day Englishmen still believed in a few things; but let us once more refer to the Bishop :
We are in a period of uncertainty such as history has never witnessed Science has said its say and has led nowhere; rationalism has led nowhere; materialism has no hopes. In politics machinery has broken down ; Liberalism is bankrupt. In international affairs no country has a clear idea of its line of progress. Statesmanship has almost ceased to exist; everyone is conscious of forces which he cannot control, of impulses and instincts generated in the past, not to be regulated by any reasoning which can be framed at present. How things are going to settle down no one can say.
These words were written in the year 1896. If Creighton had lived he would, assuredly, have settled down to the conclusion that, in spite of his interest in and affection for all that was best in Russia, and especially in the Russian Church, England and Russia had come to the parting of the ways. He would have recognised that the real and only · Yellow Peril' was that Tartar peril which has always been with us—like the east wind : and he would have realised that the national, the European, the Imperial duty of England was to resist it with all our might.
WALTER FREWEN LORD.
The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undertake
to return unaccepted MSS.
INDEX TO VOL. LVI
The titles of articles are printed in italics
Balloon, To Explore Arabia by,
Outrage, 865-866, 1033-1036, 1045 -
Roosevelt's opportunities, 882-891 System and How it Works, 606-
a Conversation with Count Bülow,
Battleships for the British Navy,
Beck Case, One Lesson from the,
Becquerel rays and Röntgen rays,
from the Beck Case, 1004 -1011 Bicentenary,Our, on the Rock, 181-188
Bildt (Baron), Queen Christina's
Birchenough (Henry), Compulsory
tary Training, 20-27
land, Germany, and Austria, 707-
Blunt (Wilfrid Scawen), The By-law
Tyranny and Rural Depopulation
dustrial Situation in, 475-491 Boulger (Demetrius C.), The Capture
Bradley (Miss Rose M.), The Decline
Brassey (Lord), Our Naval Strength
Commission concerning the, 1-19, British Army in Napoleon's time,
Side-lights upon the, from Sir
Robert Wilson's journals, 796-812
cellor, A Conversation with, 873-881
The Pope and Church Music -a Dalling and Bulwer, some of his
tion and prospects of, 152-160, 319- 87