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To put it on the lowest ground :—even if we exclude from consideration the enormous losses of all kinds which we should suffer by the interruption of our communications with India, the establishment of the Russian power in Turkey would in itself be very prejudicial to our trade. It has been very justly pointed out by Mr. Ashworth, the President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, that our
commercial interests would
would be greatly damaged by the dominion of Russia being substituted for that of the Sultan, because her commercial policy is restrictive, and is mainly directed against English industries; while Turkey is essentially a free-trade Power, with which England has a much larger commerce than with Russia, our exports to the former country having amounted last year to nearly £13,000,000, while to Russia they were only £3,100,000.
The interests of Austria in the East are no less important and obvious than those of England, and they are in even greater danger from Russian aggression. Out of a total population of about 36,000,000 in Austria-Hungary, 16,000,000
This, however, does not adequately represent the entire area of Slavonic influence in the Empire. The provinces of Galicia, Bohemia, Moravia, the Slovack and Servian districts of Hungary, Carinthia, Carniola, Croatia, and
Croatia, Dalmatia are all inhabited by a population which is predominantly Slavonic, and would necessarily be included, together with the populations of other races in those territories, in any redistri- . bution of political power in Eastern Europe on a Slavonic basis. Such a redistribution would naturally follow, sooner or later, from the establishment of a Slavonic aggressive power like that of Russia in the country between the south-eastern frontier of Austria and the sea. But this, involving the loss to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy of more than one half of its territory, would inevitably result in the total extinction of Austria as a State.*
* It should not be inferred from the above remarks that the Slavs in Austria desire the establishment of a RussoSlavonic Empire. There is every reason to believe that if Austria declared war against Russia, the Slavonic soldiers in the Austrian army would prove as loyal as those of the other nationalities. But the Slavonic provinces of Austria would
A glance at the map will show that Hungary, closed in on the north and south by its natural enemies, the Slavs, and deprived of the rich province of Transylvania—which, being mainly inhabited by a Roumanian population, would naturally fall to the Russo-Roumanian State of the future-would not be allowed by the Slavs to remain as a wedge dividing their otherwise united territory, and must necessarily share the fate of all small and weak States which stand in the way of a powerful neighbour. There would then only remain the German provinces, and these, finding it impossible to stand alone between two large military States, would be naturally led, both by their interests and proclivities of race and language, to join the great Empire of the Fatherland.
It is, therefore, simply a question of existence for Austria that the dominion of Russia in Eastern Europe should not be allowed to extend beyond its present limits. Even if Russia asked be irresistibly drawn into the orbit of Russia if she became the centre of a new pan-Slavonic power, just as the Italian States gathered round Sardinia, and the German States round Prussia.
for no more than the recovery of the small strip of Bessarabia, extending to the mouth of the Danube, which was taken from her by the Treaty of Paris, a compliance with such a demand would be highly dangerous to Austria, both from a strategical and commercial point of view. It will be remembered that at the beginning of the Servian War great fears were expressed by the Servians lest Belgrade should be attacked by the Turkish gun-boats; and this step would doubtless at once have put an end to the war if the Powers had not prevented Turkey from taking it, on the ground that the Danube is a neutral stream. Such a plea, which was sufficient to deter a weak Power like Turkey, would be certainly disregarded by Russia if she were engaged in a war with Austria.
The only obstacle (which, however, only exists in dry seasons, when there is not sufficient water at this point for purposes of navigation) to a Russian flotilla of gun-boats proceeding up the Danube is the rocky defile known as the Iron Gate, between TurnoSeverin and Orsova. Several attempts have already been made to remove this obstacle by
mining operations, and there can be no doubt that so serious an impediment to commercial traffic on the Danube will soon be overcome (as in the recent case of Hell-Gate at the entrance of the harbour at New York) by engineering skill. Once this is done, both Pesth and Vienna would be exposed to the danger of a Russiau naval attack. Even if we look at the matter only from a commercial point of view, the damage which would accrue to Austrian trade from a Russian possession of the mouths of the Danube is sufficiently obvious. Austria, moreover, as a country largely interested in the commerce of Europe with the East, would share with England in the loss which would be caused by the destruction or closing of the Suez Canal--a loss which would also be more or less severely felt by Germany, France, and Italy.
These Powers, though not so directly interested Germany, France, and in the Eastern Question as England and Austria, Italy.
would each be likewise affected in other respects by the establishment of Russian power in Turkey. It is universally admitted by the German press that the extensive trade now carried on between