Imágenes de páginas

commerce of India and China, but she will not be able to hold all Asia under her sway for many generations. Her power, unlike ours, is weakened by expansion, and she will have enemies enough rising up in every quarter to compel a division of her territories. Moreover, her advance south ward and westward may operate through the grace of God her conversion, and thus what forebodes only ruin become the means of infusing fresh blood, young and vigorous, into the veins of those old populations that have so long proved themselves unworthy of the privileges bestowed upon them. It may be, that Almighty God intends visiting these old nations in mercy, and that he intends to use. Great Britain, so long the bulwark of the Protestant heresy, to break the head of the Greek schism, and to deliver his sponse. Perhaps he remembers her hospitality to his bislıops and priests, exiled from France by his Jacobinical enemies,-a noble hospitality, hardly ever equalled in the annals of any nation, and marvellous in an heretical and commercial nation, well-nigh devoured by materialism,--and is determined to lead her by a way she knows not back to Catholic unity, and to make her once more an insula sanetorum. Who can tell what may be the effect of her alliance with France, and the union of their arms in that old mystic East? Man proposes but God disposes; and as the union of these two powers against the crescent failed, so their union to uphold it may also fail, and result in the restoration of the cross. We are shortsighted mortals. We see but a little way before us, and that but dimly. What we are ready to exclaim is against us, may, as in the case of the patriarch, turn out to be for us. Spera in Deo. We have always this consolation in the worst of times, that the Lord God reigneth, and can make the wrath of man praise him, while if we are faithful to him, no evil can befall us, for the only real evil in God's universe is sin.

Our correspondent will perceive that we are not the strong partisan of Russia he supposes, and that we do not regard her as a peculiarly conservative power. But he must bear in mind that we are American, and as much attached to our country as he is to his. Now his country, Great Britain, is the one whose supremacy is likely to prove the most offensive to Americans. We trust we have no uncatholic feelings towards his country, the land of our ancestors, and with which, through our literary recollections, we have so many and so dear associations, but we must tell him that we

Americans are as much disturbed to see Great Britain mis tress of the seas, subordinating every thing to her commercial and manufacturing interests, as he can be to see Russia mistress on the land. We have more to apprehend from Great Britain than from Russia, and we have, looking to our own interests, no wish to see Russia weakened as a maritime power. Great Britain will no more suffer, if she can help it, a great maritime power to grow up to dispute her naval supremacy, than Russia will a great empire by the side of her own, able to interfere with her projects in the East. Great Britain is our rival, and now that she and France act as one, Russia is our natural ally, and the only first-class power in Europe that is. Naturally, then, should we Americans incline to the side of Russia in the contest now going on. We wish no harm to England or France; but we wish, for our own sakes, just as little to Russia.

We cannot hope that what we have said will satisfy our highly esteemed correspondent, but it will prove to him and our friends in the United Kingdom, who we hope are many, that we are willing to let those who think differently froin 118 be heard, and that it is not rashly that we differ from inany excellent Catholies and intelligent gentlemen on the Eastern Question. In point of fact, we are on neither side, and we dread the success of either party, of one just as much as of the other, unless it be that, if one side must get the better, we would rather it should be the western powers than Russia, especially just now, when the odds seem to be against them, and their árıny is struggling so bravely against superior force.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

A TREATY of peace between Russia and the allies was signed at Paris on the 30th of March last, and the eastern war, which has raged for the last two years, may be regarded as over for the present. The precise provisions of the treaty have not at the moment we write transpired; but its general provisions are sufficiently known, and we may, therefore, without any impropriety, offer our reflections on the war, the policy of the allies, and the probable results of the peace.

Our readers know that we have always regarded the eastern war as unnecessary, impolitic, and unjust, at least on the part of the western powers. We have not and never have had any Russian sympathies, but we have some regard to justice, and all the official documents published by the western powers in their own justification prove to us that they had no plausible pretext even for declaring war against Russia, and we cannot find it in our heart to approve of injustice even to a power we dislike, and from which we apprehend more or less evil to our religion. Russia violated no treaty obligations with the western powers, she invaded none of their rights, and gave them no cause of offence.

She even invaded no right of the Ottoman porte, and gave even Turkey no justitiable cause of war. The occupation of the Danubian principalities by Russian troops was no violation of Turkishi territory, for those principalities are not, and never were, any portion of the Turkish empire. Wallachia --and the same may be said of Moldavia—was in the thirteenth, and down to the end of the fourteenth century, an independent state, governed by its own laws, under its own princes elected by the clergy and the boyards from natives of the country. It was not conquered by the Turks, but by a free act of the prince and the people, either fearing subjection, or wishing to avoid a calamitous war, placed itself under the protection of the sultan, by a treaty with Bajazet I., signed at Nicopolis in 1393; a treaty renewed in 1460. By this treaty the sultan binds himself and his successors for ever, in consideration of a tribute, the amount of which is fixed by the treaty, to protect Wallachia in the full possession of all its rights as a sovereign state. The padishah was bound to leave the state its own internal constitution, its own religion, its own customs, usages, laws, and administration, under princes, or hospodars, freely chosen by the people from natives of the country. Its territory was to be maintained inviolate; no Turkish army could enter it ; no Mahometan conld reside in it; no Turkish fortresses could be erected, and no Turkish anthority of any kind could be exercised within it, or over it. The state parted with none of its rights as a sovereign state. It became a protected but not a dependent state; and all the rights acquired by the padishahs were simply the right to the stipulated tribute, in return for the promised protection. They acqnired no right of suzeraineté, and in no sense whatever was Wallachia incorporated with the Ottoman empire.

*The Unholy Alliance; An American View of the War in the East. By W. G. Dix. New York : 1856.

The sublime porte, so late as 1826, acknowledged that the treaties of 1393 and 1460 are the sources of all its rights with regard to the Danubian principalities, and confesses that their stipulations have still the vigor of law. The sultans had violated these treaties in every possible sense, and in order to prevent their further violation, they were placed under the protection of Russia by treaty between Russia and Turkey. Whether their occupation by Russian troops in 1853 was an offence against them or not depends on the fact, whether it was with or against their consent; but be that as it may, it certainly was no violation of the Ottoman territory, and none that the sultan had the right to resent, unless at the request of the principalities themselves. He owed them protection, but if they chose to forego his protection, the most he could claim was the payment of the stipulated tribute. Omar Pacha committed an offence against them by crossing the Danube, and even against Russia, to whom the padishah had transferred the protectorate. We deny that the Russians by crossing the Pruth violated Ottoman territory, or gave to Turkey a justifiable cause of war.

Some of our Catholic friends have been favorable to the war, because they have supposed that it was undertaken by France in defence of the holy places which had been usurped by the schismatic Greeks, under the protection of Russia. But this is a mistake. The dispute about the holy places was settled before the dispute which led to the war was opened, and settled by the withdrawal by France of the treaty negotiated by Lavallette, and by her disclaiming all pretension to the protectorate of the Catholic Christians in the East, and yielding, with hardly a diplomatic struggle, all that the emperor of Russia demanded, giving the schismatic Greeks access to nine or ten holy places from which they were previously excluded. The question of the holy places had been settled to the satisfaction of Russia and Great Britain, at that time her ally and bosom friend. The notion entertained by some persons that France is, has been, or claims to be, the protector of the Catholics in the East, is a great mistake, and to look to her for any protection of this sort is to forget that France, since Francis I., has no longer been the France of St. Louis.

The only complaint that the western powers had to make of Russia was that she was too powerful in the East, and could make her diplomacy at Constantinople triumph over theirs; and from her taking part in favor of the Christian subjects of the porte, she secured a preponderating influence over them. We do not deny these facts, nor dissemble the danger to their policy it involved; but we have as yet seen no reason for supposing that Russia used any illegitimate means to gain her preponderating influence either over the Christian population of Turkey, or over western diplomacy at Constantinople. The Christian population of Turkey has been abandoned for three hundred years by the Christian powers of the West, especially by France and England, and there has been no one of them on which they could rely. Francis I., of France, in his insane rivalry with Charles V., departed from the Christian policy of the West, allied himself with Solyman the Magnificent, and called in the Turk against the emperor. From that time to this the policy of France has been to bring Turkey within the pale of the international law of Christendom, and to use her against Austria or Russia, as the case might be. She has never hesitated a moment to sacritice the interests of religion to state policy. Why, then, should the Christians of the East, especially those not united with the Roman church, turn with any affection or hope to France ? France has never rendered them any service, and for more than three hundred years, except at brief intervals, has prided herself on being the friend and ally of their conquerors and oppressors.

« AnteriorContinuar »