Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

6

the peremptory tone were unmistakably those of the group which, in the name of Magyarism,' directs the policy of Hungary. These modern representatives of a bygone suzerainty, mindful of the time when the kings of Hungary could add to their title that of Kings of Rascia, Cumania and Bulgaria, aspired to play the part of rulers of the Balkan Peninsula, of which in time they hoped to gain entire possession.

It is true that, after protracted struggles, in which she displayed great heroism, Hungary had (in 1867) at last escaped from the tyrannical and Germanising' yoke of the Court of Vienna. But, from the very day of her liberation, her dream was to regain by fresh struggles and renewed efforts-in which she looked for the support of that party in the Dual Monarchy which still remained Austrian-the position of political importance which she had enjoyed under the Arpadians, under Louis the Great, and under Mathias Corvinus. Magyar Imperialism differed from that of Vienna as embodied in the autocratic policy of a Prince Eugene of Savoy only in so far as it aimed, not only at political, but also at racial supremacy. Since the time of Széchenyi, in the early part of the 19th century, the Magyars believed themselves capable of denationalising the lesser peoples in their immediate neighbourhood, so that they might have the honour of sharing in the triumph of Magyarism. It was only, as they conceived, at this cost that their existence as a new nation could be justified. But, in cherishing this ideal, they entirely left out all consideration of the historical past of Hungary, which had left its mark in a medievalism entirely alien to the great national conflicts characteristic of the present day.

Now Rounuania, a state founded, at the cost of great sacrifice, in the territory of Cumania, which the Arpadians of Hungary in the 11th century claimed as one of their provinces, was, along with Servia—the latest embodiment of a polity which originated in the contemporary Rascia -included in the Imperialistic programme of modern Hungary. It was therefore felt strongly at Bucarest that the efforts of the Dual Monarchy, to conquer and administer the Balkan Peninsula—where she has no rights to maintain, where her trade has been for some time on the decline, and where her mission of civilisation has

never been recognised or desired—were traceable simply to the aggressive spirit of Magyarism. Such indeed is the ideal of the Magyar aristocracy, which aims at the subjugation of the entire Serbian race (from whom they have wrested Bosnia and Herzegovina), and the expansion of their territory, by way of a conquered Albania, to the Adriatic, and, by way of Salonica, to the Ægean.

On more than one occasion, in the parliament of Budapest, attention has been drawn to the fact that there are in Western Moldavia some thousands of Hungarians of the old stock who, having clung to

, Catholicism and thus avoided denationalisation, still inhabit a certain number of villages between the Carpathians and the river Sereth. Of recent years these Hungarians, who have almost completely forgotten their nationality, have been subjected to a continuous propaganda ; and every effort has been made to give a touch of Magyarism to the Catholic Church recently established in the Kingdom of Roumania, the Church of which these people are adherents. Even in publications of recent date one meets with the contention that the two principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, which together make modern Roumania, were originally provinces of the Kingdom of Hungary. The chiefs of these provinces, it is argued, were the humble tributaries of Hungary, forced to pay punctual tribute, and liable at the hands of their all-powerful masters to rewards and punishments according to their behaviour.

Roumanians are well aware that the theories propounded in books and newspapers, and preached in University courses and lectures, are not due merely to a wish for notoriety or originality on the part of some isolated scholar, but rather to a determination to further by every possible means the aims of modern Hungary in the direction of conquest and supremacy. Efforts are being made, moreover, even at this moment, to remove natural apprehensions on this score, by means of newspapers published openly under the auspices of Count Czernin, representative of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at Bucarest, which draw a terrifying picture of the effects of Slav despotism. This expedient has been tried before. It was made use of more than a century ago, as much by way of suggesting to Roumania a policy Vol. 223.-No. 443.

2 G

[graphic]

of friendliness towards Vienna, as of gaining for themselves the sincere and enthusiastic adherence of those Roumanians inhabiting Austria-Hungary whose influence on the attitude of Roumania in the present European crisis we are about to sketch.

Differing in race from the various Slav peoples who are subject to the Hapsburgs, from the Yougo-Slavs of the Balkans, and from the millions of Slavs united under the sceptre of the Tsar, Magyars and Roumanians (we are told), while maintaining their own existence, share a common task—that of defending Western civilisation, with which they are identified, against the encroachments of a spurious civilisation based on Asiatic serfdom, of which Russia is the armed representative. Such is the theory. At one time it was the Germanic race marching in unison from the west towards the conquest of the east--the Drang nach Osten'-which was viewed with apprehension among the Magyars. But things have changed ; and Hungary, anxious to gild the fetters with which she binds Roumania to herself, looks to this very Germanism for support in preventing Europe from becoming, according to the well-worn phrase, · Cossack.'

In denouncing the designs of Russia, Hungary knows well that she is not preaching to deaf ears.

The young principality of Roumania took an important part in the war waged by Russia in 1877 for the emancipation of the Christian peoples of the Balkans, which ended in the Treaty of San Stefano, a treaty subsequently revised at Berlin, to the detriment of Russia. But, by a gross error on the part of Gortschakow, who was anxious to wipe out all traces of the Treaty of Paris (1856), Roumania lost the three districts of southern Bessarabia bordering on the Lower Danube and its Kilia mouth, these being ceded to her allies. For many years the relations between the great empire and her neighbour Roumania remained profoundly influenced by these painful recollections.

Among the principal politicians of Roumania there were many who felt that Peter the Great's Will, which urged the policy of pushing towards Constantinople, was a greater danger than the German Drang nach Osten.'

more

Roumania was developing agriculturally; and every year showed an increase in the agricultural produce shipped to the Bosphorus by the Danube (by way of Galatz and Braila) or by the Black Sea (by way of Constantza), in comparison with that which was exported by land. The freedom of the Dardanelles was thus becoming one of the first economic necessities of a country which had no direct access to the open sea. And, as Russia's designs on the Straits were well known, nothing was dreaded than a policy on her part aiming by every means in her power at getting possession of the keys of her house'-the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

The result of these apprehensions was an 'entente' with the Triple Alliance, which had just been formed (1882). It appears that there was a formal Act to this effect, signed by the Sovereign with the consent of a very limited number of the leading political men of the country. It was even said that this Act was laid before the recent Crown Council (see p. 439). However that may be, there has been no open departure from the foreign policy which the country then adopted, and which is styled the 'traditional policy of Roumania, as if it were at least a century old. For some time past it has not been etiquette to discuss questions of foreign policy in Parliament, though such discussions were allowed by way of a harmless pastime for dissatisfied members of the Opposition, or for the 'irresponsibles,' i.e. those independent of Government parties' (Conservative or Liberal, and since 1909 Conservative-democratic)-a sort of opportunism which is also evident in regard to domestic politics. The mildest form of liberty of speech was sternly rebuked; and members were told that they need not concern themselves with the future or the progress of Roumania. This, they were assured, was quite safe,

, for the Powers of Central Europe had taken charge of it.

We have briefly recalled these facts and conditions, in order to explain the difficulties with which the Government of Roumania, even if it had made up its mind to depart from the beaten track, and to strike out a new line of policy involving considerable risks, will have to contend. These risks include not only the danger of Panslavism-still a reality much to be dreaded,

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

according to certain people *—but also those which may arise from the fact that, owing to her constant attitude of suspicion towards Russia, Roumapia had dropped all intercourse with the powerful Empire beyond the Pruth. Any knowledge the Roumanians had of Russian literature they had acquired through French translations; Russian society was as little understood as that of Japan; no one crossed the accursed frontier to penetrate into the country of barbarians'; the archives of Russia, rich in the past history of the country, aroused no curiosity; even sympathy with their kinsfolk of Bessarabia cooled when it was remembered that they were the subjects of a State which it was a duty completely to ignore.

This state of mind still exists. We need not enquire into the causes of the enthusiasm aroused by the visit of Nicholas II to Constantza last June. Gossip asserted that it pointed to the marriage of Prince Charles, son of the heir to the throne, with one of the daughters of the Tsar, who was to bring with her, as a dowry, the whole of Bessarabia, or at least the districts which had been retroceded'in 1878. On the very day after his visit to Constantza, however, the Tsar alluded, at Kicheniev, the capital of Bessarabia, to the inseparable ties which bound that province to the Empire. This was quite enough to cool the enthusiasm that had been roused in the public mind, flattered by the visit and by the marked interest shown in their army, their organisation and their national life, by a powerful sovereign who had hitherto been an entire stranger. Such is ever the fate of a policy based on sentiment--to dazzle at a distance, but to lead to no practical issue and serve no useful purpose. Nevertheless, there was no return to the traditional' attitude of docility towards the blandishments of Vienna and the friendly, if sometimes unpleasing, counsels of Berlin.

Other causes also had helped to bring about this

* M. D. A. Stourdza, only recently dead, republished some months ago a statistical pamphlet of a somewhat controversial nature, by which he tried to prove, if not the authenticity of Peter the Great's Will, at all events that perfect community of aims and interests existed among the Slavs, and that the manifest intention of the Russian Government was to create a Slav confederacy even at the cost of pushing back the Germans and annihilating the Magyars and Roumanians.

« VorigeDoorgaan »