Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

All these miseries, according to be raised from six millions to every human law and calculation, twelve millions annually, while must increase, if ever the country the quality of the butter would is cleared from the class who can be so greatly improved that it alone set better things going, and might face the competition of delivered into the hands of the the finest Danish.” To do this, peasant, whose only idea is to and to do it all round in everysatisfy his appetite straight from thing--to cultivate the fisheries, the produce of his fields. Mr the fax-growing, the conveyance Dennis's suggestion in every case of meat--to teach the Irish peasis, that Government should take ant how to work in every one of the matter in hand. The train- the primitive trades which nature ing of dairymaids alone, in schools has put into his hands, but which established for the purpose, would his nature incapacitates him from do much for one great industry, as doing by any impulse of his own, has been proved by an experiment _would afford full scope for the already made. And if to the in- most paternal of Governments. struction of the dairymaids were Perhaps in the long-run it would added the instruction of the far- be cheaper than State emigration. mers as to the management and But where is the “still strong man feeding of their stock, it is calcu- in a blatant land” who will set lated that the output of butter this system of reform in action ? in Ireland, even with the pres- It will certainly not be done by ent inferior breed and the lack the action of peasant-proprietors, of buildings and appliances, could either in Ireland or elsewhere.

THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEWER AND RUSSIA.

The attention of the public has low and untenable in his own been drawn in a marked manner

words. He says :to a series of articles on " The

"I doubt whether the Russians Present Position of European Poli- have more than a few hundred Turcotics,” now appearing in the pages of man cavalry ready for a long march; the ' Fortnightly Review.' I do not but above all, I think that Russia propose to deal with either the first would have, for a great number of or the second of these papers, re

years to come, far more difficulty in ferring respectively to Germany would be necessary for marching

finding the enormous train which and France; but on the third,

100,000 men across from Herat to dealing with Russia—or rather, on Kandahar, than we should find diffithat portion of the third which culty in supplying an army of 80,000 deals with the designs of Russia men at Kandahar, which would be in Asia, and the chances of success sufficient to hold in check the advance of an aggressive policy on her part

of 100,000 Russians from the Cauin those regions—I ask your per

casus and 20,000 from Turkestan." mission to say a few words. The The Reviewer then, after devotquestion is of far too great import- ing about half a page to the real ance to this country to be left in dangers, which, he thinks, threaten. the position in which the Fort- India, carries off his reader to nightly Reviewer has left it; but, Vladivostock and the Amur, leavin pointing out his sins of omis- ing Russia waiting patiently besion, I shall at all events behind her present frontier for “ some concise.

revolution in Herat, or a dexterous The Reviewer, after dealing in use of Ayoub Khan.” a masterly manner with the causes For those who like to live in which have embittered the rela- a fool's paradise such a prospect tions between Russia and England may be brimful of consolation ; in the East, enters frankly upon but I doubt much whether it will the question of the possibilities of commend itself to the ordinary a Russian invasion of India. Com- reader, still less to the thoughtful mencing by urging the serious re- men who have carefully studied sponsibility of one who is not a the subject. Throughout his long soldier to undertake to pronounce article the Reviewer alludes only a confident opinion on this subject, twice, and then in a very cursory the Reviewer submits with perfect manner, to the Persian Gulf, and fairness the conclusions of the mili- he does not refer at all to the tary experts of foreign countries. possibility of the absorption by These conclusions point to the Russia of the country which would probability of the success of the give her the command of the invader : and these the Reviewer Persian Gulf; and yet these are combats. Before I proceed to the matters pertaining to the Indian main argument of this article, I question, and well within the shall examine, very briefly, the range of practical politics. What reasons urged on this head by the are we to think of a writer who, Reviewer.

like this Reviewer, professes to I give those of the Reviewer's deal with the whole subject, and reasons which appear to me shal- yet does not even mention its most

was

important branch? He is too well ereign mediatrix. The rôle is fainformed, has been too much be- miliar to her, and she would know hind the scenes, to be ignorant of how to play it to her advantage. its importance. How great and But should matters remain as they all-absorbing that branch is, how are at present, she will hesitate intimately connected with British long before she attacks, from her interests in India, I shall have no present base on the Caspian, an difficulty in making clear to the Afghanistan supported by Eng. most ordinary reader.

land, so long as a far more easy prey Let such a reader look at the lies within her very grasp. Such latest map of Persia, he will see a prey is Persia, already morally that that country is in the very subdued. There is not a village jaws of Russia. To the north, in Khorasan which is not permethe Russian frontier extends from ated by Russian ideas; there is Michaelovsk, on the eastern shore not a province in Persia the inof the Caspian, along the northern habitants of which do not regard boundary of Khorasan, to Aska- Russia as the future arbitress of bad; thence, turning the eastern their destinies. And the worst of angle, to Sarakhs, that Sarakhs of it is that Russia, fully conscious which the late lamented Sir Charles of this fact, knows that she has MacGregor pithily recorded that it but to give the word to become

an eye to see and an arm to mistress of those fertile valleys of strike." Sarakhs commands Mash- Khorasan, which would become a had, the sacred city of the Per- new and effective base for future sians; and from Mashhad to Tehe- operations. Like the King of Isran, the capital, the way is neither rael in the sacred record, the Tsar long nor difficult. To the west, is in a position to say at any mothe possession of Batoum and Kars ment to his Chancellor: “Know gives Russia a vantage-ground of ye not that this kingdom of Persia which, in case of need, she can is ours, yet we be still and take always make effective use. To the it not from the hands of the Shah ?" south is the Persian Gulf, 550 At any moment he might give the miles long, and having a breadth order to march; and, let it be reaching occasionally to 220 miles, clearly understood, it would be much coveted by Russia as one of little more than a march. There the bases from which, when the would be no fighting, properly so proper time arrives, she will act called; there might be a skirmish against India. Now, at this mo- or two, and all would be over. ment Russia is massing large bodies The Persians, in fact, are already of troops in her possessions east conquered before they have fought. of the Caspian. Those masses From the moment England entered threaten, it is true, the territories upon the fatal policy of " masterof our ally, the Amir of Afghan- ly inactivity" this was a foregone istan, but they equally threaten conclusion. It was simply a quesPersia on her most vulnerable tion of time. frontier. It is, of course, quite Let us examine now, for a mopossible that a sudden develop- ment, what it is that Russia will ment of trouble in Afghanistan, gain by her occupation of Persia. similar to that which occurred be- In the first place, she will gain, in tween the years 1863 and 1869, Khorasan—the ancient Parthiamight tempt Russia to act in that a territory very fertile, possessing country the congenial part of sov- a climate well suited to Europeans,

[ocr errors]

whole way.

mountains ranging to a height of be utilised, would constitute a ne7000 feet, and valleys producing cessity on the part of the defenders all the necessaries of life, and to a of India to provide against it. great extent unexplored. If those The third and most important valleys do not equal in fertility the advantage to Russia would be the famed valley of the Herirud, they command of the Persian Gulf, an are surpassed by no other. From advantage so great that it is not the chief town, Mashhad, the to be measured by words. The march to the capital, Teheran, is possession of the Persian Gulf will easy, the surface being level the accrue to the Power of the first

From Teheran to the rank which shall hold Persia. To ancient capital, Ispahan, the dis- obtain command of that Gulf has tance is only 220 miles; and, as been the dream of every thoughtthe Afghans found in 1722, when ful Russian politician during the Ispahan is gained, all Persia col- past fifty years.

“We talk of lapses.

India,” they have said, “but we But a new base for future oper- really want the Persian Gulf; and ations does not represent all, or you English will not be able to nearly all, the advantages which prevent us." This is their dream, Russia will reap from the occupa- and it is a dream which may betion of Persia—an occupation, become a fact at any moment. it always borne in mind, which There is yet a fourth advantage may become an accomplished fact which will accrue to Russia from whenever, and as soon as, Russia her occupation of Persia, and that chooses. Not only will she gain is the supply of men inured to the this new base, second only in value climate which it will place at her to that which Herat would afford, disposal. It is true that it is the but in Ispahan she will obtain a fashion to sneer at the Persians as position Aanking the line from cowards, and I am free to admit Herat to Kandahar. It is all very that, as at present constituted, their well to object that that line is army is despicable. But their army covered by an impassable desert. is despicable because the men have The desert is there, but it is not no confidence in their officers, and impassable. That which has been the officers have no confidence once done may be done again. In in themselves or in one another. January, 1722, Mahmoud of Kan- But when a man has arisen to lead dahar marched from that city, at them—a Nadir Shah, for instance, the head of an army 25,000 strong, himself a Khorasani—the Persians in the direction of Ispahan. He have fought well. Under the took the route by way of Sistan to icadership of that marvellous chiefKerman, by the siege of which tan they even beat the Russians. he was detained many days, and I am quite sure that were they thence, by way of Yezd, to the subjected to the same training as capital, arriving before it on the 7th are the Sikhs and the Gurkhas in March. It is not recorded that India, and officered by the same he experienced many difficulties officers, they would prove efficient from the nature of the country, or soldiers. And there can be no that he sustained any losses except reason why a similar result should from the swords of the Persians, not follow their incorporation into and even these were inconsider- the Russian army. able. The very fact that such a I have now given four reasons flanking position existed, and might to prove the enormous advantage which would accrue to Russia from Burnes down to Vambéry, proves her occupation of Persia : I have that there has ever been an abunshown that such an occupation dance of horses among the Turkoffers no difficulties; that, com- man tribes : horses ready to do the pared with an attack on India, it work of the desert, hardy, stoutis the merest child's-play; and that hearted, full of endurance. No: it will be attempted as soon as in those nomadic countries it is opportunity offers, certainly long safe to assert that history repeats before the more difficult enterprise itself. From the earliest days, is even thought of. And yet this from Mahmoud of Ghazni down to Fortnightly Reviewer, who pro- Nadir Shah, the Turkman cavalry fesses to expose all the designs of have invariably taken service with Russia, to give in detail all her the conqueror of their desert homes, means of operating against British more especially when they have interests in Asia, and discusses the realised the fact that that conchances of success of an attempt to queror desires to lead them to pasinvade British India, avoids all tures rich in booty.

As light reference to the subject, which is cavalry they can scarcely be surfar more prominent in inner Rus- passed ; they are accustomed to sian politics than an attack on Eastern warfare ; they make war India—which has prompted the re support war. With such men cent movements of the Russian Russia could ill dispense, and we troops in Asia-and to

cover may be sure that she has not diswhich, demonstrations are inces- pensed with them. There are, at santly made against the frontiers this moment, not hundreds, but of Afghanistan. Neglecting the thousands, of them at the beck and substance, the Reviewer has ex- call of Russia. hausted all his energies to combat Again, the Reviewer adds: “ But the shadow.

above all, I think that Russia But this is not all. Even when would have, for a great number he refers to the chances of success of years to come, far more diffiof an invasion of India by Russia, culty in finding the enormous the Reviewer greatly underrates train which would be necessary the advantages at the disposal of for marching 100,000 men across the latter Power. He says, for from Herat to Kandahar, than we instance, that he doubts “ whether should find difficulty in supplying the Russians have more than a few an army of 80,000 men at Kanhundred Turcoman cavalry ready dahar.” Is the writer, then, igfor a long march.” What then, I norant of the marvelous fertility may ask, has become of the sur- of the valley of the Herirud; vivors of the defeat of Geok Tépé that its natural productions alone in January 1881 ? Of the many fit it to become the base of operathousand Turkmans who fought, tions for an army second to none some thousands at least submitted. in the world ? It may be that the What, too, has become of the Turk- irrigation works which fostered mans of Merv? The whole of the natural fertility of the valley these yielded without striking a are in a state of disrepair; but a blow, and we may be sure that conqueror

such as Russia, who Russia did not slaughter them in never makes a step except to gain cold blood. It cannot be that they ground towards a predetermined have no trained horses. The tes- goal, could in a very brief space of timony of many travellers, from time repair those damages, and

« PoprzedniaDalej »