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Turkish tyranny with nothing to console them but the promise of reforms. The big Bulgaria' of the Treaty of San Stefano had been correctly delimited-except in some small particulars-on ethnographic lines and represented a united nation; the little Bulgaria which issued from the dissecting room at Berlin was a maimed and mutilated remnant. The darkness of night fell once more over Macedonia, which for a few brief months had witnessed the dawn of liberty.
The seeds of future trouble were thus sown, and the doleful harvest was reaped during the next three decades. For several years the Macedonian Bulgars patiently awaited the promised reforms; it was not till 1893 that, despairing of aid from the Powers, they began to form revolutionary associations. For ten years the struggle against Turkish oppression went on; in 1903 it culminated in a general insurrection of the Bulgarian population in the Monastir Vilayet. A merciless repression followed; the Powers were at last compelled to intervene; and Austria-Hungary and Russia, the two most interested Powers,' were allowed by Europe to try their hand at reforms. The 'Mürzsteg programme' which they elaborated proved, as might have been expected, a total failure. The two Powers were mainly concerned in prosecuting their rival interests ; in January 1908 they finally fell out with each other, and their place was taken by Great Britain and Russia. The Anglo-Russian scheme, the Reval
• programme,' drawn up a few months later, seemed at last to ensure effective European control in unfortunate Macedonia. But this was precisely what the more patriotic, or rather chauvinistic, element among the Turks was determined to prevent. The Reval project had scarcely been announced when the Young Turk revolution broke out in the Monastir region under Enver Bey and Niazi Bey; the Constitution,' promulgated in 1876 with the object of thwarting foreign interference, was proclaimed once more for the same purpose-together with the perfect equality of races and creeds,' a venerable phrase embodied in the Hatt-iSherif of 1839 and since then repeated ad nauseam on innumerable occasions. The Powers, believing or affecting to believe that all would now go well with Turkey and her Christian subjects, committed the unpardonable Vol. 223.–No. 443.
error of withdrawing their officials from Macedonia, thus sacrificing at a stroke the whole position acquired at the cost of a naval demonstration and five years of laborious diplomacy.
The consequences of this blunder were soon evident. Allowed a free hand in Macedonia, the Young Turks, who had been fêted in London and Paris as the harbingers of civilisation, proceeded to stretch the races of that country on a Procrustean bed. Bulgarians, Greeks, Vlachs, Serbs, Albanians—all alike were expected to renounce their nationality and to become good Ottomans.' In order to facilitate their conversion a general disarmament was decreed, and was carried out with the utmost barbarity. A conspiracy of silence was maintained in the European press; and the world knew little of the horrors of 1910 and 1911. But a community of misfortune drew the Christian races together; the formation of a Balkan alliance, hitherto a dream, became a reality; and the battle of Lule Burgas sounded the knell of Turkish domination in Europe.
Had the statesmanship of the victorious Balkan nations proved equal to the task of providing a reasonable division of the liberated regions on the basis of nationalities, the great European conflict might have been averted or at least postponed for several years. The secular feud between Teuton and Slav, the resolve of Germany to challenge the maritime and commercial supremacy of Great Britain, the yearning of France for her lost provinces, the centrifugal forces at work in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and the intolerable burden of increased armaments, might have continued to threaten without disturbing the peace of the world for another decade or even another generation. The partition of Africa, an immense achievement, had been effected without a European war. The separation of Norway from Sweden had been accomplished without the shedding of blood. If time could be gained, it was at least conceivable that the advance of democracy and the growth of a universal conscience might have finally triumphed over old-world militarism. However this may be, the golden opportunity for effecting a settlement of the Balkan Question was lost when the conference of the delegates from the various states which assembled
in London in December 1912 broke up without arriving at an agreement.
The inner history of what then took place has yet to be written. Between Servia and Bulgaria there was practically nothing to discuss, inasmuch as the territorial question between the two countries had been settled in the minutest detail by the secret annex' to the treaty of Feb. 29, 1912. Between Bulgaria and Greece no arrangement existed ; and it was of vital importance to the future of the two countries, to that of the Balkan Alliance as a whole, and, indeed, to the peace of Europe, that a settlement should be arrived at without delay. Unfortunately the very moderate proposals put forward by M. Venizelos were rejected by his Bulgarian colleague, whether proprio motu or by order from Sofia it is hard to say; the real question at issue was the possession of Salonika, for which the Greek delegate was ready to make large concessions. At the same time the Bulgarian representative met the claims of Rumania to compensation' for her neutrality during the war with proposals which can only be described as derisory. It might, of course, be argued that Rumania, which looked on unmoved while the sister states staked their existence in the cause of humanity and freedom, was entitled to no compensation whatever; but considerations of this kind find no place in practical politics. The virtual rejection of the Rumanian claims derived some palliation from the unwise employment of menaces by Rumania, but it was a blunder. The question was afterwards settled, as it seemed, by an award of the ambassadors at Petrograd, accepted by both sides, but subsequently denounced by Rumania.
Had time been allowed for the protracted bargaining so congenial to the Oriental disposition, it is by no means improbable that an arrangement might have been arrived at between Bulgaria and Greece, and that the second Balkan war, with all its lamentable consequences, would have been averted. The real cause of the second war-the repudiation by Servia of her treaty with Bulgaria-would in that case never have taken place. But the work of the Conference was cut short by Enver Bey's coup d'état at Constantinople; and the Balkan States unanimously resolved to continue the
war with Turkey. The brunt of the struggle once more fell upon Bulgaria; and, while she was fighting in Thrace, her allies found time to conspire against her and to encroach on the territories she had occupied during the first period of the war. It is strange how the smallest circumstances sometimes determine the course of great events. Had M. Gueshoff, the Bulgarian prime minister, a man of conspicuously moderate and pacific character, been allowed to come to London, there can be little doubt that he and M. Venizelos would have settled the questions between Bulgaria and Greece. M. Venizelos had not intended to act as delegate, but he agreed to do so on the understanding that M. Gueshoff would be his colleague. At the last moment, however, M. Gueshoff's departure from Sofia was countermanded.
After the break-up of the London Conference matters went from bad to worse among the allies. The mysterious assassination of King George of Greece at Salonika removed a moderating influence of priceless value, which was replaced by military chauvinism. At Belgrade M. Hartwig, the Russian representative, the virtual author of the second war, encouraged the Servian Government to tear up its treaty with Bulgaria. An anti-Bulgarian compact was concluded between Servia and Greece; and, when the Balkan delegates assembled again in London to make peace with Turkey, the Servian and Greek delegates, with the object of exhausting Bulgaria by continuing the war, combined to delay the signature of the treaty until Sir Edward Grey politely hinted that their presence in London was no longer necessary.
Then followed the dreary wrangle over the question of Russian arbitration, prolonged by the vacillation of the Russian cabinet, which repeatedly changed its standpoint, sometimes veering to the Servian, sometimes to the Bulgarian point of view. The delay gave Austria-Hungary time to prosecute her intrigues at Sofia ; while at Belgrade M. Hartwig, who pursued a policy of his own, encouraged the Servians to put forward impossible demands. The tension became intolerable ; and at last, under Austrian inspiration, the war party at Sofia broke away. On June 29, 1913, an order was issued to attack the Servian and Greek armies. The question of the responsibility for this insensate act is
now sub judice at Sofia. The order was recalled two days later and the troops withdrawn, with fatal results to the campaign which followed. But the position of Bulgaria was in any case hopeless. Rumania, setting aside the compact of Petrograd, and Turkey, tearing up the Treaty of London, fell upon her from the north and east.
A nation must bear the consequences of the blunders of its rulers. But whether it should be condemned to permanent dismemberment as the penalty of a rash act is a question which may at least be argued. That question in the present case possesses more than an academic interest, inasmuch as the sentence passed upon Bulgaria by her enemies at the Conference of Bucarest will come up for revision before the reconstituted European Areopagus at the close of the great war. Two wrongs do not make a right; and it remains to be seen whether Europe will decide that Bulgaria's misdemeanour must be purged by a sentence violating the principle of nationalities and handing over whole populations to the domination of their secular foes. Public opinion in Britain and France rightly condemned the Bulgarian escapade, but it is only fair to remember that practically all its information came from sources hostile to Bulgaria. An unscrupulous but successful newspaper campaign was organised with lavish patriotism by the wealthy Greek colonies all over Europe and in America, while Servians, Rumanians and Turks took their share in the chorus of denunciation. The virulence of the subsidised French journals, which knew no bounds, is unhappily remembered to-day in Bulgaria ; and the natural sympathies of her democratic People with the great western Republic have been chilled. French policy at this time aimed at setting up Greece as a rival to Italy in the Levant; and, apparently inspired by this idea, M. Delcassé even proposed the partition of Bulgaria during the sittings of the Bucarest Conference. The Bulgarians bowed their heads before the journalistic storm; a rustic, self-centred and unimpressionable race, they underestimate the force of foreign opinion, while the urban, alert and cosmopolitan Greeks are only too much alive to its importance. Many of the calumnies then circulated were exposed by the Carnegie Commission, but its valuable report was belated; it failed to