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pocket, by supposing that the anony- should Russia want with a great fleet mous friend had put them there in the Black Sea, or with the fortifi. without his knowledge, finding their cations of Sebastopol ?
It is plain possession tended to compromise his that, if she had not looked to enlargown character. Ile would surely not ing her territory to the south, even claim them as his property, far less when the first stono of Sebastopol to have them restored, thus owning was laid, she would have made of it himself not only guilty in reference not a military so much as a commerto the past, but impenitent in reference cial port. to the future.
There would have been some sense And suppose that Russia had wish. in building an impregnable Gibraltar ed to prove herself innocent, through near the heart of her territory, or as, her mouthpiece Prince Gortchakoff, in the case of our own Mediterranean of burglarious intentions with respect fortresses, on the high-road to outto Turkey, what would she havo said lying possessions; but there is only to the wiseacres of Vienna ? She ono evident purpose for which Sebaswould have said something of this kind topol was built-namely, the shelter - Gentlemen, you do mo cruel wrong of an aggressive fleet. Its place on by suspecting that I am actuated by the map is enough to condemn it. any selfish motives of aggrandisemont It is just placed so that from it a blow against Turkey, by imputing any could be struck most quickly and other motive to me in recent transac- effectively on the vital parts of Turkey, tions than a laudable desire to rescue and the feet that had struck the blow oppressed Christianity from the deli- most quickly and readily withdraw rious grip of the sick man-sick even into shelter before the avenger came. unto death—who, notwithstanding his Such a blow was struck at Sinopeweakness, seems to possess some un- might have been struck at Stamboul accountable and probably superna- instead, if the allied fleet had lingered tural power of wrong-doing ; but a little longer outside the Bosphorus. notwithstanding that you do me cruel It was the recognition, on a large wrong in suspecting my motives, I scale, of a principle applied on a small 8m willing to prove the purity of my one in the art of self-defence, to spring intentions, if not by quite allowing quickly to the guard after having you to draw my teeth and cut off my struck the punishing blow, and not to claws, at all events by promising to overbalance the body by the effort, so keep the former to myself and not as to open it to the blow of the adverallowing the latter to grow any longer, sary in return. It is a wonder that abstaining at the same time from there ever was any mistake about the sharpening them as heretofore against meaning of Sebastopol. Russia might the nearest tree. In plain terms, I have found a better excuse for Bomarwill not build any more ships of war sund. She might have said that than are just enough to patrolo the Bomarsund was an outwork of CronBlack Sea as a protection against stadt, and that she was strengthenpiratcs, to keep up military cominuni. ing it against some contingent coalications with Caucasus and Georgia, tion of the three nations of maritime and to defend Odessa against any Scandinavia; a coalition not altosudden freak of the said sick man, gether improbable at any time, and who appears, notwithstanding his which we should think at present weakness, to be in a normal state of highly desirable. dangerous delirium. By refusing all But how could she be menaced concession to this just demand of the through the Crimea ? Any force inAllies to give up the tools of her bur. vading lier, and making for St. Petersglarious trade, or even to abstain burghi
, would surely not begin there, from increasing their number, she at nor would any nation build a firstonce proclaims definitely and distinctly class fortification to protect a pretty that her object is to have Constan- little district of summer residence and tinople by fair means or foul; and in sea-bathing. We should not think it pursuance of this object, with the worth while to build a Sebastopol at spirit of Hamlet, to “make a ghost the Needles, even though Majesty of him that lets ” her. For what else herself honours the Isle of Wight by making it a temporary residence. It others in wrong, but really object that was always plain enough that Sebas- they may have the wrong.doing all to • topol was built against Constantin- themselves,—that they may carry matople, just as much as Decelea was ters with a high hand where they are built against Athens in the Pelopon- strong enough; and where they are nesian War. It is singular how little, not, but can escape notice, take adfor a long time-how little, in fact, vantage of others in other ways; and till this war broke out-Europe seemed also that they may the more easily aware of this fact. That word, now brazen out the matter, when they have in everybody's mouth, full of hope and been successful in any annexation. fear, and anxiety to all, to some of And yet, if they had really been honest triumph or of life-long sorrow, was a people, as they say they are, just in word hardly ever heard before, even proportion as they were less subject among educated people. How many to the attacks of their neighbours, had of us knew of the existence of Sebasto- they an opportunity of displaying a pol at all? Probably some of us just more conspicuous example of virtue, knew so much about it, that, had by giving and taking what was just they been asked where it was, they and right.” The sense of these words, would have said it was a place some- if not the words themselves, would where in Southern Russia.
exactly apply in the eighteenth and The Black Sea being sealed to our nineteenth centuries to the underminfleets in time of peace, it fell under ing and encroaching policy of Russia, the cognisance of none but chance and especially those encroachments travellers. Our fighting sailors—a carried on in that corner of the Black thinking and reading set of men, who Sea which was always reputed by commit their observations on both the ancients as one of the most out-ofhemispheres to paper in so interesting a the-way places in the world. Now, manner-never went near it; and our although this encroaching policy of commercial sailors went no nearer Russia has been evident all along to than Odessa; and when they went far-sighted men, she has endeavoured there, their time was probably too until now, by various means, to keep much taken up with business to allow it out of sight. If, at the Vienna of their feeling much curiosity about conferences, she had consented to the Sebastopol. So this place, being well limitation of the number of her ships out of the way, was generally forgot- of war, this would have been scarcely ten, until, by the attack on Sinope, it a guarantee for her good behaviour, reminded the world of its presence in for she might have augmented them a manner so peculiarly disagreeable. in secret at the first opportunity, and
The case of Corfu, or Corcyra, on taken the chance of Europe finding it the outskirts of Greece, growing in out or not. However, whether endarkness into a power dangerous to couraged by the defence of Sebastopol, its neighbours, and overlooked till its by the self-disparagement of the Engmisdoings precipitated the Pelopon- lish press, or by the chance of the nesian War, was precisely similar in alliance being broken by the assassiancient times. It was of this nest of nation of Louis Napoleon, the attempt pitates that the Corinthian envoy at which certainly took place under said in his speech before the Athenian circumstances of great mystery, she assembly: “ The independent posi- has chosen to throw off the mask, and, tion of their city, in case of their by refusing to keep her means of dewronging any one, enables them to be fence within bounds, she has declared, the judges of their own casc, and pre- in a manner intelligible to the most cludes fair arbitration, since they, obtuse, the nature of her intentions. least of any, sail out to visit their We propose in these papers to select neighbours, and more than all others certain points in Russian history which are made the unsought hosts of illustrate this now unconcealed policy strangers, who are driven to them by of encroachment and aggression, at stress of some kind. And this being the same time endeavouring to fix the their habit, they make a specious pre- blame on the right party, by showing tence of objecting to alliances, on the in what element of the constitution ground that they do not wish to join the spirit of aggrandisement may be
supposed chiefly to reside, which will which perpetuated a pure despotism, naturally lead' to our attempting, and forced a rod of iron into the hands though we confess the task a bold one, of every ruler, whatever his inclination to show what limits must be fixed, to wield it. It is right, however, to and what guarantees taken, to make state that the establishment of the any treaty sincere, and any peace duc autocracy in Russia is originally asrable. We have spoken of the Rus. cribed by Karamsin, a native historian, sian constitution, not unadvisedly. A to the temporary subjugation of that constitution may exist in fact though country by the hordes of Genghis not in theory. Though the theory of Khan and ihe Tartar princes—a visitathe Russian government is a pure au- tion which was attended with every tocracy, yet a French writer has said kind of calamity, the effects of which that it is limited by assassination; and were permanently felt, and from which if so, there must be a person or per- Russia rose again, indeed, but no sons to assassinate, and he or they longer with the same face or features must be considered a fact in the con- as before. Her old civilisation was stitution; and if a monarch be never gone, her freedom and self-respect had so absolute, it must be remembered passed away with it; her spirit was that he is relative to those he rules, broken; her religion, indeed, adopted and that he rules because they choose from Greek Constantinople, remained, quietly to submit themselves; and in but debased into bigotry, and ready doing so they exercise an act of pri- for use as a corrupt instrument of vate judgment, as those Protestants dynastic corruption. She had ceased who bow their necks to the Church of to be European, and had become Rome, of the most emphatic descrip- Asiatic, which she had remained, in tion. Where the physical force of great part, in spite of Peter, ever society is stronger than the individual since. If it was not yet true that slave, as in America, the slave cannot autocracy was established as a prinbe taken as an element in the consti. ciple, the people were at all events tution; but where slaves possess the ready to receive it, and a pation of full power to be slaves or not as they slaves called out with impatience for please, as must be the case where they a tyrant to put his foot on their necks. are sixty millions, and the master Their prayer was granted to the full is only one, it would be treating them in that incarnation of superhuman evil, with great disrespect not to consider Ivan IV., or the Terrible. From him them as exercising one at least most and his successors they were handed powerful act of free will, and as being over into the abler hands of Peter, the in fact, if not in theory, a most im- son of Alexis, who, not satisfied, like portant element in the constitution of Ivan, with reposing in simple wickedà country. We may thus then, in ness, thought that he saw in the ultrafact, consider the present constitution submissive dispositions of his subjects of Russia, quite as much as that of this the instruments of achieving world. country, as three-fold. We have the wide dominion. On the other side of monarch who rules, the courtiers who this dark cloud of Tartar dominion, assassinate, and the serfs who obey. we look back, according to the native But the constitution of Russia has been historians, on & sunny distance of what it is for little more than a cen. peace, and wealth, and light, and tury and a half, since the time that happiness-a Sclavonian golden agePeter the Great effected his so-called such as we read of in story and fable reforms. Before that time, the nobles as existing when King Arthur ruled and landed proprietors were a strong England, and Ireland was still the Isle body in the state, and the military of Saints. “There was a time,” say organisation was in a great measure they, “when Russia, formed and ele. feudal. In many cases, certainly, the vated by the singleness of the sovereign monarch was practically absolute, and authority, yielded not in strength or occasionally able to exercise a tyranny civilisation to any of the first-rate of the worst description ; but this state powers formed by the Germanic tribes of things depended on the character on the ruins of the Western Empire. of the individual monarch: there was Having the same character, the same not, as now, a fixed state-machinery laws, the same customs, the same political institutions as those which golden age said to have preceded the had their origin with the early Varé- irruptions of the barbarians. Such a gues or Normans, she naturally took national calamity, like the great fire up her position in the new-born Euro. at Wolf's Crag, may be a convenient pean system with real titles to a high way of accounting for the disappearconsideration, and with the rare advan. ance of a splendour that never existtage of having undergone the influ. ed at all. However, there is every ence of Greece, the only power which, reason to believe that these Tartar though occasionally shaken, was never invasions had a very great influence overturned by the waves of barbarism in altering for the worse the characte: which swept over Europe in those of the Russians. We may judge of days. The happiest part of this period this by reference to old rotices of the was the reign of Jaroslav the Great. wild races from whom the mass of Russia then, never in the possession them descended. It is with nations of pure religion and public order, had as with streams ; when the river has schools, laws, an important commerce, flowed for some distance, its identity a numerous army, a fleet, singleness is easy enough to prove at every step; of administration, yet civil liberty. its character and course is determinAnd this was at the beginning of ed; but when you go up to the springthe eleventh century, when Europe heads, it is hard to say which little was the scene of feudal tyranny, of source, out of so many, has a right to the weakness of sovereigns, the inso- bear the high-sounding name of the lence of barons, the slavery of the great Rhone, or Rhine, or Danube, to many, and, with these, of utter super- which it contributes. Some of the stition and ignorance. In that dark- little tributaries have no visible origin ness the genius of an Alfred and a but damp moss and grass, from which Charlemagne shone ont, but soon dis- the collected moisture trickles when appeared. They passed away with it reaches a slope ; some of them come their beneficent institutions and bene. out mysteriously from under the cavolent intentions, leaving their names verns of glaciers, and thus will not alone. Alas for us! The dark shadow allow the nakedness of their birth to of barbarism, as it drew a veil over be beheld. So it is with nearly all of the horizon of Russia, took from us those mighty nations which now hold the light of Europe, just at the time in their hands the destinies of Europe when intelligence began to spread and of the world. When the founitself abroad, when the peoples began tains have been ascertained from to emancipate themselves from slavery, which we spring, it is hard to say when the towns began to contract mu- which best deserves to bear the natual alliances as a guarantee against tional name ; but in most cases the oppression, when the discovery of the fountains are hard of access as those compass extended commerce and na- of the Nile and Niger, and the wonvigation, when universities began to drous perseverance of the antiquarian be founded, and men's manners to is tasked in the one case as much as soften and to sweeten. What was the heroic fortitude of the discoverer our fate then? Russia, oppressed and in the other. To judge from the actorn to pieces by the Mongols, was counts of historians, the European obliged to strain every nerve to pre- world was visited at the decline of the vent her life from becoming extinct. Roman Empire by troops of spectres, It was not for Russia a question of each more horrible than the last, who civilisation, or barbarism, but of ex- crowded one upon another, innumeristence or annihilation."* Such is the able as the shadows which passed bemelancholy and somewhat apologetic fore the eyes of the mortal adventurer tone in which native historians speak in the Hades of Homer or the Interno of the Tartarisation of Russia. We of Dante, coming and going in such may easily believe them as to the dis- guise as to leave doubts as to their mal fact and its effects, of which we reality, though none as to their hidesce abundant evidence even now; we ousness-doubts which may have re. may be more sceptical as to the sunny mained as of the reality of the figures
of nightmare, but for the unmistak- seem to have esteemed much as the able signs they left of their unhallow- Turks, a nation in many other reed presence ; for, like the locusts of spects eminently chivalrous. This Scripture in their passage, the land deficiency would in itself point to may have been as the garden of Eden Tartar affinities, were it not that the before them, while behind them was Greeks altogether, and Romans in nothing left but expiring embers, ex- part, with all their refinement, were piring lives, a howling wilderness of as great barbarians in this matter as misery and desolation. These spec- the Tartars themselves. It is diffi. tres were called Goths, Huns, Alans, cult to say whence the Sclaves origiAvars, Bulgarians, Slavonians, and nally came, but at one time their sway by many other names. On nearer extended from the Baltic and the insight, some of the horror attached to Elbe to the Theiss and the Black Sea. them passed off. They were men, Their descendants still remain in Rusafter all, some of them of ancient no- sia, Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, Croa. bility and rude virtues, some not en. tia, Sclavonia Proper, Turkey, and tirely destitute of gentleness, but all Greece. We should suppose, on the fiercely hungry. When their hunger whole, that the Pole or the Croat, was sated—when they became men of rather than the Russian, is to be property, as would happen to many of taken as the type of the Selavonic chaour own outcasts, if they had the racter. Contemporary historians say same opportunity—they became not of the ancient Sclaves, says Karamunfrequently what we should call re- sin, that, strangers to falsehood, they spectable members of society. They preserved in their manners the innomarried and were given in marriage cence of the first age of man, a thing with Greeks and Romans, and these unknown to the Greeks. Their degenerate peoples ended with con- hospitality was such
that every sidering the barbarians their betters, traveller was a sacred being to them. and themselves rather honoured than Every Sclave, when he left home, otherwise by such alliances. For one left his door open to invite in thing only was wanted to show which the wayfarer or the casual poor, and were the nobler races, and this was he was by law or custom bound to soon acquired from the conquered— leave a supper out for them. There Christianity.
A mawkish and effete was no nation to which, on account of civilisation' the conquerors would not their honesty, travelling merchants take from them, and they preferred resorted with greater pleasure than to becoming civil by degrees much in the Sclaves. If they ever were distheir own way. Now, although many honest, it was from excess of hospi. races must have contributed to the tality, for a poor man, who had not population of Muscovy, or Russia the wherewithal to entertain a friend Proper, by the concurrent testimony on the road, was allowed to steal what of her principal writers, the base of the he wanted for that exceptional purRussian nation is Sclavonic. This pose. Nor are the Sclaves praised name, said to be derived from“ Sclava,” only as honest men, but as the hus.
Glory," would indicate the self- bands of honest women in every sense chosen appellation of a conquering of the word. Indeed, so completely tribe,to distinguish themselves from the are the wives devoted to their husconquered ; just as the German tribes, bands, that, like the Indian widows, which overran Gaul, called themselves they were accustomed to burn themthe Franks—noble or free men-in op- selves on their funeral piles. The position to the subjected, who bore a Russian historian uncharitably supless ostentatious name. These ancient posed this custom to have had its Selaves had, it appears, a chivalry of origin in the wish to provide a check their own, as almost all conquering on wives getting rid of their husbands races have, but, as we may gather from by unfair means. But the women, in the records, not the exquisite sense of spite of their devotion, were regarded honour or knightly instincts which as slaves, which circumstance is supdistinguished the old Goths and Ger- posed to have arisen from the custom mans. They were chicily deficient in of buying them practised in those gallantry towards women, whom, ex- barbarous tribes, a custom still ob. cept in the matter of polygamy, they served among the Illyrians. And we