FOR three hundred years Russia has slowly and stealthily enlarged her grasp and tightened her hold on northern and western Asia. At the end of the seventeenth century almost the whole of modern Siberia and bleak Kamchatka were under the sway of the Russian autocrat. Since the day when the great Peter built the city on the Baltic, named in honor of his patron saint, that he might, as he said, have an eye through which to look out upon Europe, and seized Azov from the Turks in order to gain a foot-hold, or ship-hold, upon the Black Sea, the Russians have contemplated the extermination of their ancient enemies, the Tartar hordes of central Asia, and the final occupation of their territory. From the time of Catherine the Great, there has been added to the purpose just stated another, namely, to get possession of central Asia, not alone as the material proof of Russian superiority over the barbarians, but perhaps also as a means of aggrandizement and base of operations in a struggle for the vast territory and untold wealth of the Indies.
Since 1725, the time of Peter’s death, till the accession of Nicholas in 1826, Russia was occupied in overpowering Fins and Swedes, in partitioning Poland, in conquering Turks in the Crimea, in gaining control of the Euxine, in further robbery of Persia of its rights and possessions along the Caspian, and in subjugating the rude nomadic tribes of the great barren steppe between Siberia and Turkestan. The process by which this last was accomplished is most interesting. A line of frontier posts was established, and from these, agents were dispatched into the wild country beyond, who persuaded the nomadic tribes to settle permanently by families on the land. In due course of time the villages thus formed, attacked by the fiercer races on the south, appealed to Russia for aid to repel the enemy. Russian protection, readily given, soon becomes Russian dominion, to which resistance is impossible. The frontier line of military posts were moved forward, and similar acts were repeated, with the same result, — the establishment of Russian supremacy. All this was quietly done ; it did not attract the notice of Europe, which was engrossed, during this period, in the career of Frederick the Great, in the American and French Revolutions, and the Napoleonic wars. It was the work of more than a hundred years to force a way south on the east and west borders of the Khirgiz country, to bring under a semicontrol three million savages, reaching from the Altai Range to Lake Issyk Kul, and from Orenburg to the Aral Sea and the river Jaxartes, or Syr Daria. Thus across two thousand miles of barren steppe, difficult mountain ranges, unfordable rivers; across a dreary country whose only inhabitants were the fierce savages known as the “ Great ” and “ Little ” Hordes, Russia stretched the strong arm of her military, and had, at the close of the Crimean War, in 1858, brought the confines of her territory near to the door of fertile Khiva on the west, and Khokand on the east. It was a tremendous undertaking, accomplished with characteristic pertinacity and cunning. Immediately to the south lay a line of fortresses constructed by the Khokandis, which would be most useful to the Russians if once in their possession. Between 1860 and 1864 these forts surrendered, one after the other, to the Russian army, giving the Tsar control over the richest district of Khokand. This was a serious matter. No longer could Europe laugh at the absurdity of wasting men and money in an attempt which was sure to prove futile, — to conquer the barren country and barbarous wanderers of the steppe. The steppe was conquered; the subjugation of fertile country and settled inhabitants was begun ; Russia was one thousand miles nearer the Persian Gulf and India. Europe was alarmed.
At this stage of the game, Russia thought it prudent, or expedient, rather, to vouchsafe some explanation of her acts. This she did in a circular written by that prince and diplomat, and prince of diplomats, Gortschakoff. It was necessary —so reasoned our diplomatist — that the two frontiers, one starting from China, and extending as far as Lake Issyk Kul, the other from the Aral Sea along the Syr Daria, should be united by fortified posts, so connected that nomadic tribes might not harass and plunder the peoples under their protection. It was necessary that the line of advanced posts should be in a country sufficiently fertile to furnish provisions and facilitate colonization, thus giving stability and prosperity, and a means of winning the neighboring populations to a civilized life. “ Lastly,” and here I quote, “ it is urgent to fix the line in a definite manner, in order to escape from the dangerous and almost inevitable inducements to go on from repression to reprisals, which might result in endless extension.” “ The line now established,” says Gortschakoff in substance, “ is determined by reason, and by geographical and political conditions which are of a fixed and permanent nature.”
Before the ink had become dry on this circular, a new military province was organized, under the name Turkestan, ostensibly governed from Orenburg, but in reality by the general commanding in the chief town of the province, the city of Turkestan. The next step in advance was an attack upon the great fortress of Tashkend, which was defended for many weeks by the combined forces of Khokandis and Bokhariots. The city was finally captured by storm, and with it fell the last hope of Khokandi independence. A large part of the territory of the Khanate became Russian. The civil government of the province is in the hands of a native prince, who conducts affairs in accordance with the kind suggestions of Russian ministers resident, who is protected by Russian troops and carefully guarded by Russian police ; in Tashkend itself are a Russian governor and council, and Russian courts and police control the city of two hundred thousand inhabitants, while the commercial and civil ascendency of Russia enables her to dictate all measures of foreign or domestic policy.
Khokand conquered brought new adversaries by a demand for the evacuation of Tashkend; this exaction was preferred by the Ameer of Bokhara, who felt that his state would be the next object of northern rapacity. Finding his remonstrance unheeded, he marched against the Russians in Tashkend with an army of forty thousand men. Discipline and fine equipment won the day, and opened the way to the occupation of Khojend, important as a commercial centre, and Samarcand, remarkable for its beauty, and renowned for its connection with the conqueror, Timour Tamerlane, who died within its walls, and whose dust is entombed within its precincts. Thus the great Jaxartes Valley was added to the widening Russian possessions, and the historic ground — perhaps the cradle of the human race — passed underneath the sway of a hereditary foe.
Two years later Khojend was actually seized, and Khokandi power crushed ; next year a fortified town, commanding a view of Samarcand, was occupied, and the Ameer threatened with destruction. To avert this he sent out forty thousand men, whose rusty guns, slow to fire, burst, with damage only to those who fired them. The Ameer’s army was routed, and Samarcand passed under Russian control. The fate of these forty thousand foreshadows the destiny of all the Uzbeg states,—gradual extinction, or absorption into the empire.
Writing in July, 1868, shortly after the events just narrated, Sir Henry Rawlinson says of Russia: " Her present position is another illustration of the old doctrine that where civilization and barbarism come in contact, the latter must inevitably give way; and thus, whether the final consummation occur this year, or next year, or five years hence, or even ten years hence, come it soon or come it late, we may take it for granted that nothing can prevent the extinction of the three independent governments of Khokand, Bokhara, and Khiva, and the consequent extension of the Russian frontier to the Oxus,”— a prophecy to be accomplished and surpassed much sooner than the vaticinations of most political seers.
We turn to the west, and find the Tsar standing on the borders of Khiva, where his ancestors had wished to place the banner of Russian sovereignty generations before. Peter the Great sent a general, Bekovitch by name, to take Khiva ; he failed, and was captured and flayed by the Uzbegs. About one hundred years later Nicholas sent Perovsky on the same errand. We may imagine, with perhaps some reason, that Perovsky was met by troops keeping step to the beats of a drum whose head was formed of the well-tanned skin of his unfortunate predecessor. He too failed most dismally, and during more than thirty years Khiva was unmolested by the Bear of the North.
In 1872, notwithstanding the direct orders of the home government to the contrary, General Kaufmann planned, and in the following spring executed, an attack upon Khiva. The expedition was conducted in four columns, two starting from the Caspian, and two from opposite shores of the Aral Sea. The four columns, numbering only four thousand soldiers, headed by the intrepid Kaufmann, arriving within a few days of one another, laid siege to a city of more than five hundred thousand inhabitants. The contest was sharp, short, and conclusive. Russia, after taking to herself all the right bank of the Oxus, generously established the Khan as sovereign over the remaining portion of his kingdom lyingon the left of the river, subject only to the suggestions of Russian ministers and the burden of an enormous war indemnity.
This conquest gave Russia new power in Asia. Already her vessels floated on the Caspian, and her naval stations were established on the Persian shore of that sea; but now her fleets could sail the inland Aral, and her vessels steam up the Jaxartes to within less than one hundred miles from Samarcand, and up the Oxus to within a much shorter distance from Bokhara, and meet with no more opposition than that offered by the natural. current of the streams.
In the opinion of the Russo-phobes, every conquest made by Russia, each step toward the south, has been only another advance toward the accomplishment of her ulterior and consummate purpose, to despoil the British crown of its fairest jewel, — India. If this is really her end, she is much more likely to attain it by a southeasterly route from the Caspian than by the long and dreary way across the steppe from Orenburg. Pursuing the latter course, her progress is hindered by bleak wastes, great rivers, yet unconquered tribes, and the lofty mountain ranges of the Hindoo Koosh ; should she wish to invade India by the former, the path is easy and almost open, — entirely so from Krasnovodsk on the Caspian to Herat. Says Marvin, Setting out from Krasnovodsk, a Russian could drive a four-in-hand all the way to the Indian frontier near Quetta.”
Let us look for a few minutes at this southern route, over which the Russian might so easily drive his chariot and four. As in the northern advance, the beginning was made in the reign of Peter, and continued by Nicholas; but the first definite step was taken when, in 1869, a fleet left one of the north Caspian ports, two hundred miles south of the Volga Delta, and landed a few men and guns on the opposite side of the sea, at Krasnovodsk. During ten years the Russians “ dawdled about,” to use Skobeloff’s expression, before making a decisive attempt to secure control of the interior of the Turkoman country. 1879 saw the attack, and slaughter, and conquest of Geok Tepe. The cost of ammunition and lives was fearful. Twenty thousand, or more than half the besieged, fell, while the rest were scattered and plundered. The effect of this victory was almost incalculable. Skobeloff had conquered and nearly crushed a people who had successfully withstood Genghis Khan, Timour Tamerlane, and Nadir. The power of the north had won the admiration and respect of the barbarians, and the everlasting gratitude of the Persians for ridding them of the marauding Turkomans. In this fertile country Russia can give scope to her genius for colonization. Already a beginning has been made. A railroad was several years since completed from the Balkan Bay to Askhabad, a distance of over two hundred and fifty miles; the Turkomans, scattered by the victory at Geok Tepe, have been called from the deserts to which they had fled, have been invited, and urged, and assisted to take up their abode in their old homes, and to till the soil as heretofore. Vámbéry, who can see nothing good in Russia and its conquests, declares that the Turkomans are in large part sent to Hades, and the remaining part naked and wretched, and sums up the effect of European civilization à la Russe by saying that in the course of two years six whiskey distilleries were opened in Askhabad, and that " even playing-cards, formerly known as ‘ the Koran of the Muscovites,’ had found their way to the tent of the simple Turkoman.” Judging from less partial authority, it would seem that, though Russian efforts to bring content and prosperity have not been so successful as those to subjugate, enough has been done to establish tranquillity and peaceful pursuits, and to insure, at no distant day, large domestic production and extensive commerce.
Among the inferior officers who assisted at the Geok Tepe assault was a bright and reckless fellow, by name Alikanoff. He it was who conceived and executed a trip to Merv. Setting forth from Askhabad, now the headquarters of the Russian troops, a small party, in guise of traders, easily made their way to Merv, and gained admission to the city. Marvin tells a most entertaining story of the surprise and indignation of the city authorities when they found the hated Russians in their midst. An assembly, called to drive the intruders from their town, was so impressed with the advantages of commercial relations as set forth by the wily Alikanoff that it ended in granting them permission to remain and sell their wares. The two weeks of grace were employed, not so much in buying and selling fabrics as in the purchase of friendship and promises of secret and open support. Merv was in the last century a dependency of Persia, and occupied until 1884 a semi-independent position, though it would seem that, had the English exerted their influence, an alliance between Merv and the Shah would not have been difficult of accomplishment. However this may be, Russia absolutely prohibited any intimate relation between the Mervis and Persia, enforcing her command by the occupation of Tejend, an oasis strongly fortified, lying one hundred and twenty miles from Askhabad, and ninety miles from Merv. This occupation took place in October, 1883 ; though the Russian officials at St. Petersburg denied all knowledge of it as late as January, 1884.
England’s protestations were of no avail, and thus everything was ready for a grand swoop upon Merv, when the time should be ripe for such action. One morning in February, 1884, Alikanoff rode out of Tejend at the head of a small company of cavalry. Arriving at Merv, they were cordially received, and were presented, according to Russian authorities, with a petition to the effect that his imperial majesty the Tsar would take Merv under his protection and government. Possibly, if the facts were all known, it would appear that the presence of a large force not a hundred miles away, and the impossibility of sustaining a prolonged siege, had some influence in prompting this voluntary submission. Certain it is that when the main line of the army approached, a few days later, they were attacked by a strong band from the city, who withdrew only after a severe skirmish, in which the Mervis were utterly routed. A Russian governor was established in Merv, and the Turkoman district was elevated to the position of military province, under the name of Transcaspia, equal in rank to Turkestan, and having its capital at Askhabad. The home government, notwithstanding its pretended ignorance of what its generals were doing, rewarded the plucky Alikanoff with the governorship of Merv, and Komaroff with the order of the “ White Eagle ” and the command of the newly erected province.
The practical advantage in the possession of Merv is by no means small. " The Queen of the World,” though in ruins, is still a great commercial centre, lying in the path of the caravan trade between Persia and Bokhara, and India and central Asia. Its conquest makes a complete whole of the scattered Turkomans, and gives Russia a cordon entirely around Bokhara and the small part of central Asia not yet owning her sway. Its importance as a strategic point has been acknowledged by all great Asiatic conquerors. In the opinion of most military men of the present day it is the natural key to Herat, from which fortress it is distant only two hundred and forty miles, almost three hundred miles nearer than England’s nearest outpost, Quetta. Merv is not separated from Herat by impassable mountains, but connected with it by easy, or not difficult roads, wending through the Murghab Valley. Thus it would seem that Russia at Merv is a continual menace to English influence in Afghanistan, and English power in India.
But Merv was by no means the limit of Russian advance in 1884. Eighty miles to the southwest of Merv, on either side of the Hari-Rud River, lie Old and New Sarakhs. New Sarakhs is held by the Persians ; Old Sarakhs, in ruins during the last fifty years, was seized by the Russians. Many thought it ridiculous that Russia should, twice within the year, possess itself of heaps of ruins; but Komaroff was sagacious enough to see its value as a terminal point for the railroad already completed from the Caspian to Askhabad, and as a means of access to Herat. Sarakhs, too, is forty miles nearer Herat than Merv, lies on the same river, and is at the meeting of the three frontiers of Persia, Afghanistan, and the Turkoman country. By the surrender of Sarakhs all of central Asia was in the power of the Russians. There were abundant pretexts, on each successive occasion, for the annexation of the Khanates and the Tekke-Turkoman region; would there be equally satisfactory reasons for the annexation of further territory ? At Sarakhs Russia stood on the very frontier which she had acknowledged. since 1875, as the border of the Ameer’s territory. A short time before she had crossed the Oxus, which had been agreed upon between England and herself as the line which was to be eternally the " thus far, but no farther; ” would she also cross the Afghan frontier ? The answer came before the dawn of the year 1885. England, alarmed, and at last thoroughly aroused, entered into negotiations with Russia for the appointment of a commission which should finally determine the Afghan boundary. Sir Peter Lumsden was selected to represent the English, and left London for that purpose in September ; before he could arrive at Herat, Russia had forced her boundary still further to the south.
Two rivers flow from Afghanistan into the now Russian country : the Murghab toward the east, the Hari-Rud to the west. By either valley is there ready access to the heart of Afghanistan. Near the close of this most eventful year, Komaroff pushed from Sarakhs up the western valley, and his lieutenant, Alikanoff, departed from Merv to force his way up the Murghab to Penjdeh, if possible. The western advance moved through the Zulfikar Pass, — the same through which Alexander the Great led his conquering forces twenty-two hundred years before, — and reached Ak Robat, seventy miles from Herat; the eastern division, under the new governor of Merv, reached Sari-Yazi, only fifteen miles from Penjdeh, to which place the Ameer’s forces had, in the mean time, advanced. These two Russian parties were confronted at Penjdeh, as I said, by the Ameer’s troops, and at Gul-ran, but little way from Ak Robat, by Sir Peter Lumsden and the English escort. Here they stand, practically, as they did two years ago, save that the boundary commission was a fiasco, owing to the dilatoriness of the Russian ministers and the remarkable energy of Russian generals, and therefore Sir Peter and his attendants have gone back to their homes. Here they will stand glaring at each other until Russia moves forward another step, — not a long stride, only seventy miles, — and plants her foot in Herat.
Why is Herat of such importance, — why the objective point of Russia’s hopes and England’s fears ? First, historically speaking, it has been reckoned the gate, or, to change the figure slightly. the key, to India. Alexander, Genghis Khan, Timour, Nadir, and Ahmad, each in turn occupied Herat before, and that he might take possession of India ; and Colonel Mallison, as quoted by Mr. Marvin, declares that had not Herat been successfully defended against him in 1837, Mohammed Shah, the Persian prince, would have made himself also master of India. Second, geographically speaking, Herat commands the roadways to western Turkestan and Afghanistan, and with the railway extending at present to Askhabad, only four hundred miles distant, completed to Herat, via Old Sarakhs, Herat would be brought near to the Russian borders of Europe. Toward the south it looks upon the only way to India, whose border city, Quetta, lies but little more than four hundred miles away, by no difficult road. Third, strategically, Herat gives its possessors the command of the approaches to India, — a command hardly to be disturbed. It is a fortified city, inclosed by a wall set on an earthwork fifty feet in height, and a moat, and overlooked by a strong citadel, which is situated near the centre of the city, and is also surrounded by a moat. All these defenses combine to make the town exceptionally advantageous as a military stronghold. Fourth, add to these three reasons another, and perhaps the greatest : that Herat lies in the very heart of a fertile country, abounding with milk and honey, corn and wine, and capable of supporting, for almost any length of time, an army of at least one hundred thousand men, and you see its importance to any power which would gain or long retain control of India.
No more eminent authority can be quoted than Sir Henry Rawlinson, the geographer and general, who wrote, fifteen years ago: “ It is no exaggeration to say that if Russia were once established in full force at Herat, and her communications were secured in one direction with Askhabad thorough Meshed. in another with Khiva through Merv, and in another with Tashkend and Bokhara through the passage of the Oxus, all the forces of Asia would be inadequate to expel her from the position. Supposing, too, that she were bent upon mischief, . . . she would have the means of seriously injuring us (that is, England), since, in addition to her own forces, the unchallenged occupation of Herat would place the whole military forces of Persia and Afghanistan at her disposal.”
The Russians, if not actually possessors of Herat, are at its gates, and they are not likely to recede from their present position ; nor, judging England from her past record, is the government of the Queen of Great Britain and Empress of India likely to give fight to the Russians on the score of any danger threatened short of the actual occupation of Herat. When the steppe was crossed in 1863 England protested, and said she would declare war if the Russians advanced farther into the three Khanates. Gortschakoff’s circular, already quoted, allayed English fears, and when Russia, soon after, occupied a part of Khokand, no war was declared. Several tunes this farce was repeated, but when at last Russia, by the annexation of Khiva, planted herself firmly on the right bank of the Oxus, both parties agreed that the crossing of that river by the power of the north should be a ”casus belli.” Soon after the Oxus was crossed: Geok Tepe, Askhabad, Merv, Sarakhs, the Zulfikar Pass, Ak Robat, Sari Yazi, passed under Russian control, — some only oases, but others beautiful cities in fertile valleys, and all places of importance, each bringing Russia nearer to, and then into, the country of the Afghans, which has all along served as a buffer between India and advancing Russia. Yet England has not declared war, and the student of these events begins to wonder if, after all, the Tsar will not soon lay his measuring rod along the boundary line of the Indies.
Whatever one’s opinion as to the justice of Russia’s occupation and claims, or the honorableness of her methods, he cannot but express wonder and admiration at the persistent maintenance of a purpose conceived nearly two centuries ago with almost infinite foresight, and executed in the face of frequent defeat, danger, hardship, barbarism abroad, and dissatisfaction and threatening anarchy at home ; a plan devised with shrewd cunning, and persevered in by brave, devoted, ambitious, unscrupulous, audacious generals.
Russia seems to have a genius for colonization. The land that she has gained she has made her own. Russian soldiers have conquered the peoples, but Russian husbandmen and merchants and manufacturers have occupied the countries. Great manufactories of cloth have sprung up; vast mercantile operations have been undertaken and successfully continued ; the wilderness has been made, if not to blossom as the rose, at least to bring forth fruits and cotton, so that from the three Uzbeg states alone Russia imports to Europe annually more than $3,000,000 worth of products. The wild nomads have, to a considerable extent, been brought to a settled life, and taught industry and the arts of civilization. Peace and order prevail, and a European form of government is general. It cannot be denied that this government is of military authority, and naturally enough works occasional injustice, and burdens the people with taxes, for which sufficient return is not always made, and that little or nothing has been done in the way of general education ; but native religions are protected, sanitary measures are introduced into the large towns and cities, and hospitals have been erected in many places. After all, the greatest good to the Asiatics must be extra-governmental, — a benefit secured by continued contact with men who, by their European education and liberal ideas, are on a higher plane than themselves, and who must sensibly and purposely, or unconsciously and involuntarily, lift the people of central Asia to better manners, better modes of thought and life, and a new pleasure in mere existence and business activity. The great civilizer, the locomotive, is doing its work. At an expense of $45,000,000 Russia completed her road from the Black Sea to the Caspian. Already she has pushed her line to Askhabad, and within a few weeks to Merv, and the cost of completion to Herat by way of Sarakhs is estimated at only $8,260,000. Should Russia hold Herat, and England extend her Indian railway system, now terminating in Quetta, to the same place, a trip from London to Calcutta might be made in ten days. Political reasons prohibit just now such a junction of Russia and England by a five-foot band of iron, but the time will come, soon or late, when through the Zulfikar Pass will rush the iron horse, a mightier conqueror than Tamerlane, the exponent of a nobler civilization than Alexander.
What does Russia purpose in all this increase of her domain ?
Some say, Russia’s conquests have been planned to draw away public attention from the tyranny and oppression of a despotic government, and the consequent sufferings of her own citizens, sufferings so intense that an organized revolt has been begun by the people, a revolt likely to end in all that is implied in the name assumed by the revolutionary party, Nihilists.
Another purpose assigned to Russia is that of securing to herself the extensive commerce of China and of all central Asia. Much of the latter is already in her hands, and more must fall to her share now that the railway from Askhabad is extended northwest to Merv and into the very heart of the country of the Khanates.
Other writers have expressed the opinion that the Tsar has made this détour in order to secure possession of longcoveted Constantinople. If Asia should become his, and he approach the confines of India, England, in alarm, — so say those who hold this opinion — will at last give her consent to the realization of Peter the Great’s fondest dream, the Russian occupation of the proud city on the Bosphorus.
Still a fourth answer is returned by many in England : that Russia has from the first looked to India, and means to include that fertile country under her sovereign sway. It would appear to the casual observer that this would not be so very difficult a feat. The Russian army on a peace footing numbers 800,000 welldisciplined troops, and in time of war she can call into active service, says Towle, 3,200,000 ; a prodigious body, one twenty-fourth the whole population of European and Asiatic Russia. Her ships of war are among the best in the world, and number, including armored and unarmored men-of-war, frigates, and transports, nearly 400 vessels, manned by more than 26,000 officers and sailors. A commanding position upon the southern seas, the control of the richest commerce of the East, a victory over her old enemy, England, the glory and renown of military conquest, the wealth of the Indies, extension of power, are tempting prizes just beyond the frontier line, and thus far Russia’s territorial greed has overmastered any objections to her progress raised on the mere question of right.
It is possible that Russia’s true purpose is a commingling of those just named and others. A restless, ambitious people, fierce, with enough of old barbarism in them to delight in war as a profession and for its own sake, they probably have not questioned too closely their purposes in acting upon impulses natural to their individual and national character.
In 1871 Sir Henry Rawlinson wrote these words : “ She [Russia] certainly has not contemplated anything like an invasion of India; but it would be to convict her of political blindness to imagine her ignorant of what is patent to all the rest of the world, that if England has any vulnerable heel it is in the East; that in fact the stronger may be the position of Russia in central Asia, the higher will be the tone she can command in discussing with us any question of European policy.” Yet twice during the present century has the invasion of India been proposed, once by Napoleon the Great to Paul I., and a few years later by the same general to Alexander ; it is said on tolerably good authority that the same proposition was seriously considered by Tsar Nicholas in the early days of his reign.
Russia openly disavows any such design, but on no other hypothesis is it easy to explain satisfactorily her later advances directly toward the Indian frontier, where, as some recent writer has said in substance, her presence must be a perpetual menace to the prestige of English government and arms, and a constant injury to English commercial prosperity.
It is no business of this paper to discuss the position of England, her resources, her means of defense, or the strange indifference of her policy, and we must rest the subject here. If the struggle for the final possession of India and Constantinople must come, we can but wish that the Anglo-Saxon blood of western Europe may gain the victory over the descendants of the old Tartar race. Should the advance of Russia be stayed at Herat, we would hope that the great nation which now possesses more than one half of Europe and considerably more than two fifths of all Asia, and which has a population of one hundred million souls, may learn the lesson of freedom and justice, and may teach it in turn to the barbarian hordes of the conquered lands, and so do its part toward bringing on the day of peace, and of faith in all that is true and noble.
Russia is the youngest as well as the vastest nation of Europe. Her national life began hardly two hundred years, her national literature only one hundred years ago. “ She stands,” says one of the bishops of her church, “ on the threshold of the morning.” The danger that threatens India and Europe is not that of Russian aggression, but of Russian absolutism ; if this danger be averted, the day of liberty and light opens for her and her subjects. The question of Russia in Asia will no longer disturb English statesmen, but will be determined in the interests of the state and of humanity.