« PreviousContinue »
Gortchakoff at Heidelberg were much misunderstood on both sides, possibly owing to the subject being one which had not of late years attracted much attention, at all events from our own states
We may admit that much was done by Lord Granville, and, still more, by Lord Derby, to correct any misapprehension. But there appears much reason to suppose that both parties are still in a state of uncertainty as to what the other may or may not wish or intend. Shall we add that the uncertainty sometimes seems to extend to what they themselves desire, and what is really for their own interests?
This uncertainty admits of easy removal by discussion and explanation ; but whilst it remains it is, no doubt, an element of possible and dangerous misunderstanding.
Up to what point are the movements of the Russians in Central Asia really free from any disturbing influence on our Indian empire? To what extent and by what measures do wc contemplate meeting such disturbance when it occurs ? Have we any plan for rendering the occupation of Merv unnecessary to the Russian position in her recent conquests? How do we intend to provide for the independence of Herat so as to prevent its occupation by such a force as would possess the option of threatening an invasion of India at any time?
All these are questions which it would be well to ask ourselves, so as to settle the answers definitely in our own minds. But there seems no reason why we should not, and every reason why we should, frankly discuss them with the Russians, so that we might at least clearly understand one another's views and intentions.
In the second place, having made up our own minds as to the limits at which we would wish the Russian advance should be checked, with regard for our own interests in India, it is of great importance to define those limits by something better than a pencil-line on a map; so that Russians, Persians, and Afgans, as well as ourselves, may know when and where we wish the Russian advance to stop. This may seem a simple matter to any one who does not know the untrustworthy character of the best geographical information we possess regarding those regions, and the difficulty of obtaining better information even relating to the physical features of the country. Such a demarcation of boundary as we require would probably task the energies of some of our ablest engineers and diplomatists for more than one season. Nor will our difficulties end when the line is drawn. Persian vanity and Afgan suspicion will join with the inevitable intrigues and delays of all such inquiries in the East to retard the attainment of a satisfactory settlement. But tedious as the task may be, it is absolutely necessary to learn when and where we ought to put down a foot and say, • Thus far and no farther, to any whose restless ambition may lead them to transgress what may be justly termed the external frontier of our Indian interests. The third requisite for
peace seems to us to be that we should understand ourselves, and learn the views of others concerned, relative to the position of those States which will intervene between the Russian frontier and our own in India.
Regarding Persia, we have treaties to guide us; and we apparently are not disposed to imitate Russia in the kind of pressure she puts on Persia with respect to railway concessions, and other matters of internal administration. It may be that our statesmen see no reason why Persia should not become more and more a vassal of Russia ; but if it is so, it might be well that our intentions were made a little clearer to ourselves, as well as to our neighbours. At present few things can be considered more irritating and unsettling than the apparent absence of any definite purpose in our dealings with Persia, alternately inclining to hot fits of patronage and protection, and cold fits of neglect and abandonment to ruin. Which course may be the wiser we will not now discuss; but either, if definitely adopted and steadily followed, would entitle us to more respect than is now felt for our policy by those whom it most affects.
With Afganistan and Belochistan the case is very different. They bound our Indian Provinces, and holding each of them more than one of the usual gates of access, we cannot, with any regard for our own safety, allow any other European Power to possess an influence superior to our own in those territories. But this by no means implies any consequent interference with the independence or self-government of Afganistan. It seems impossible that we should any longer permit our relations with the Amir to remain in their present strained and unsatisfactory state, whereby British agents and representatives are excluded from the country as completely as they ever were from Japan or China ; and we are left dependent for our information, as to the acts and views of our neighbours, on sources whose fidelity or friendliness is by no means assured.
How better relations can be brought about is a problem which we have no doubt will in time be solved by Lord Northbrook, Meantime let us point to the two inevitable alternatives indicated in Sir Henry Rawlinson's pages, namely, an expedition to occupy and defend Herat on our own account, or doubled garrisons throughout our Indian frontier.
Let it not be supposed that we advocate interference with the independence of any State beyond our present border. We
should be glad to see Afganistan occupy exactly the same position as an European State, where we claim no more than that our subjects and envoys should be received as friends and good neighbours, but where we should not be inclined to regard our exclusion as compatible with continued peaceful relations. In Europe we have no desire to interfere with the freedom of any State. There are some for whose independence we might ourselves be inclined to make the greatest sacrifices, but there is none from which we should receive with equanimity a message that the ruler would not receive an English Minister, nor permit an English traveller to set foot in the country.
In the fourth place, we would note as essential to a continued good understanding that, in dealing with Russia, we should limit ourselves to full discussion and clear explanation, and be careful lest we bind ourselves by any of those inconvenient conventions or common understandings which we so often find tie our own hands, but leave the other party free to act in any manner which may seem convenient; how narrowly we have sometimes escaped this position is shown in more than one of Sir Henry Rawlinson's chapters.
There is no necessity for our pointing out that an ostentatious declaration of our unwillingness or inability either to defend Herat in the manner suggested by Sir Henry Rawlinson, or to increase our garrisons on the Indus as an alternative, is not the way to give point or force to what we may say to other Powers in any discussion on the subject ; but it may not be out of place to note that now, as in all our previous Indian difficulties, a powerful navy is one of the first requisites to the safety of the Empire. We sometimes fear that the importance of our navy to India, and the changed conditions of naval supremacy in the Eastern Seas since the Suez Canal was opened, are hardly sufficiently recognised by our Admiralty and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a favourite mode of shelving all such questions for the Session, for India to say that the Empire should pay, and for the Admiralty to retort the obligation on India. But if difficulty arises from inadequacy of naval power in defending India, the country will ask few questions as to which treasury should pay ; and we are glad to infer from Lord Northbrook's demand for a qualified Naval Secretary that he recognises the fact that India is as much interested as any other part of the Empire in the maintenance of our naval supremacy.
Let us add one word more on the question whether the discussion raised by Sir Henry Rawlinson is, as he considers it, in the interests of peace?. We believe that it is so, not only for
the reasons he assigns, but because we believe that in Europe the maintenance of anything like the existing status quo of the political map depends greatly on a thoroughly good understanding between Russia and England, and that this fact is at least as patent to the Russian Government as to ourselves. As regards old causes of jealousy in Europe, it is clear that in resisting any attempt to encroach on European Turkey we may now trust to other Powers, not forgetting the nascent Christian nationalities within the Turkish frontier, to maintain that which it cost the English, French, and Italians, so much to vindicate in the Crimean War. It is in Asia alone that there is any practical possibility of our interests clashing with those of Russia ; and it is more than probable that if Russia were satisfied that we had no jealousy of her attempts to dominate and civilise the countries east of the Caspian, as far south as the Attreck and the Oxus, she would be only too glad to know that we considered that frontier as fixed as her own is in Eastern Europe, and to find our officers, as her frontier neighbours, prepared to use the vast moral influence at our command to ensure to her reasonable satisfaction in the event of just cause of offence being given by the tribes and Powers to the south of the border.
But for all this, more accurate knowledge than we now possess of the border line and its relations is needed, and a much better and more intimate understanding with Persians as well as Afgans. England cannot conceal from herself that the situation is a critical one, but it would be difficult to name two ministers in whose hands these questions will be safer than Lord Salisbury and Lord Derby; and the Viceroy of India will have every assurance that neither want of appreciation of the facts, nor want of spirit in dealing with them, on the part of our Foreign or Indian Ministers, will cripple his efforts to maintain the outworks necessary for the defence of our Indian Empire.
IN D E X
HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHTH VOLUME OF THE
QUARTERLY REVIEW. ,
power over every member of the
Church, 467—slight allusion to the
birth and family by Greville, 21. Carteret, Lord, and Swift, 389.
Christ, the Life of,' by F. W. Farrar,
177—scenes of the Nativity, 189—
the miracles, 189—the stilling of the
193—His Temptation, 197— Trans-
figuration, 199—Passion, 200—Re-
Cincinnati, statistics of attendance at
schools in, 442—district schools, 451.
Coates, Romeo, anecdote of, 13.
George IV., 11.
Craggs, the, 390-anecdote of the
Earthquakes in Africa, 503—and earth
sponges, 501. See Livingstone.
Eastlake, Sir Charles, and the Prince
Education, National, in the United
States, 421-average payment of
teachers, 422– Teachers' Institute,
423— compulsory education, 424-
employment of female teachers, 426,
438_origin of the factory workers,
428-departments of public service
chiefly occupied by women, 428-
passion for literary distinction, 429–
illiteracy of the States, 430-census
returns, 431-433-condition edu-
cation in the Southern States, 435-
Gladstone's Political Expostula- denominational primary schools, 444
Vol. 138.-No. 276. 2 R