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Henry Fanshawe Tozer.

Researches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 31)
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they and the other nationalities should be allowed to be
organized and to have freedom of action in accordance
with their respective institutions. These conditions, or
less than these, would satisfy the Bulgarians, whose
aspirations are as yet too feeble for them to desire more
than freedom from oppression ; at present they, or at
least those of them who live near Salonica, from tradi-
tional associations still look to Russia as their protector,
and know nothing of the Serbs, or of any Slavonic
movement in Turkey by which their condition may be
ameliorated. As to the Greeks, it would have been far
better for Turkey if the frontier of the kingdom of
Greece, instead of being drawn along a line south of
Thessaly, had included that country and all the part
of Albania within the same latitude, since by that means
nearly all the Greeks and hellenizcd Albanians would



394 ^'^^'^ Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII.

have been excluded from the dominions of the Sultan ;
as it is, from their tendency to insurrection and continual
aspirations after union with their independent brethren,
they are a permanent source of weakness : but anyhow,
in case of an organization of races under the Porte, they
could never effectually oppose what was acquiesced in
by the other Christians. What then is the obstacle
in the way of the realization of some such scheme } It
is clear that the present state of things cannot last for
ever : even supposing that the scandals of Turkish
brutality and maladministration were to cease, yet, as it
is certainly known that the Turkish race is rapidly
decreasing, the numerical inequality between the domi-
nant and subject races, which is now sufficiently striking,
will ultimately become so flagrant as to call for inter-
ference. Why, then, cannot some compromise of this
sort be effected } The answer is, the Turks themselves
are the obstacle. Except as a dominant race they never
have existed, and never will exist, in the country. Their
political system, based as it is on the Koran, prevents
them ; and the whole spirit of the people, their pride,
their intolerance, their fanatical hatred of change, is
completely alien to such an idea. They may be forced
into a condition of equality by governors from another
race being set over them, but agree to it of their own
accord they never will.

Putting aside then this solution of the difficulty, let us
see what other combinations suggest themselves. And
first, supposing the dominion of the Turks to come to an
end, what prospect is there of its place being taken by
an united Christian empire, containing within it the
present Greek kingdom }

It must be everybody's wish that a strong power



Chap. XVII. Greek and Slavonic Races. 395

should be established in the south-east of Europe. Its
strength would be the guarantee of its permanence, and
its security against foreign aggression. But such a
power can be formed only by the union and combined
action of the two great Christian races in Turkey, the
Greek and the Slavonic. The question then resolves
itself into this — how far can these bodies sympathize and
act together } Independently of politics, great advan-
tages would result from their forming one nation. As
M. Cyprien Robert is never tired of pointing out, the
tendency of the Slavonians, but more especially of the Bul-
garians, is naturally towards agriculture, while the Greek
race is essentially commercial, and disposed towards
business and city life ; the one seems intended to be the
complement of the other : " if these two rival tendencies,"
he says, " could combine harmoniously and act inde-
pendently, they would suffice to regenerate the East." ^^
I long hoped and believed that this was possible, and
even now I could almost conceive that it migrht be, if a
great man were to arise for the work at the time of need,
combining in himself extensive political views, unselfish
aims, and a strong hand in administration — a man like
Leopold of Belgium, though somewhat superior in every
way. But such a contingency is too improbable to enter
into our calculation, and without a Deus ex inacJiind I
do not think the problem can be solved. The Bulgarians,
indeed, if left to themselves, might for a time submit to
be governed by the Greeks ; though destitute of all
sympathy with them, and thoroughly opposed to them
in character and feeling, they are profoundly impressed,
the educated, as well as the uneducated, among them,

^^ ' Les Slaves dc Turquie,' ii. 230.



396 The Vardar Valley. Chap. XVII.

with their intellectual superiority ; but their recent
movement in favour of ecclesiastical independence shows
that they will not suffer themselves ultimately to be
domineered over ; and, what is more important still,
they are not the only element to be considered on their
side of the question. Behind them lie the Serbs, the
Bosniacs, the Montenegrins, and other Slavonic races,
endued with an unyielding temperament and strong
national feeling, in common with whom they are certain
to act when the time comes ; and between these and the
"Greeks the contrast of character seems too great for
community of action to be possible. The one are slow-
moving, doggedly determined, fierce in action, and inde-
pendent to the last degree ; the others quick, subtle,
impulsive, over-reaching, and " too clever by half"
When once a conflict of interests arose, or a struggle for
influence, the difference between them would be irre-
concilable. Now when we consider that the territorial
line of demarcation between the two races, as well as the
distinction of character, is very strongly marked — Greek
communities being comparatively rare northward of
Mount Olympus and its parallel, and unmixed Slavonic
blood being uncommon south of that line — the most
probable course which things will take in Turkey, if left
to themselves, seems to be the division of the peninsula
south of the Danube between these peoples, the northern
and larger half becoming a Slavonic nation, while
Thessaly and Epirus will be united to the kingdom of
Greece. If this should happen, Constantinople would
almost certainly be made a free port — as the Slaves have
no desire to possess it — and it is too important a position
to be left in the hands of any one people. The ports of
this south Slavonic state would then be Belgrade on the



Chap. XVII. Future Prospects of Turkey. 397



Danube, Salonica on the yEgean, and Ragusa or Anti-
vari on the Adriatic. As the capital should enjoy a
central situation, and for the sake of safety should be
removed from the frontiers, historical associations as well
as advantageous position would seem to point either to
Sophia, the ancient Sardica, or to Nitzch, the former
capital of Servia.



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Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 31)