The Slav cause is now being fought for by the Allied Powers with all their resources and with a determined resolve once and for all time to completely settle it. Austria-Hungary forced on the solution of the problem, and Austria-Hungary will pay the chief cost of the settlement. Pan-Germanism, too, thought it saw in Serbia an opportunity for striking at Slav expanding freedom, and of further extending its own malign influence. Through its sinister diplomacy Germany precipitated the conflict in which seven-eighths of Europe are to-day engaged. Russia, the hereditary friend and trusted protector of Slavdom, has solemnly pledged itself to the Slav's release from alien bondage, whether under Turk, Teuton, or Magyar. All Europe, all America that is not pro-German, sympathise with that noble sentiment and resolve of liberation. In the front rank of the small Slav States, by reason of its recent exploits, its proven bravery, and its racial possibilities, stands Bulgaria. The O'Mahony, in the following pages, tells the bright story of the Balkan League and of their splendid efforts in crushing the Turk, and he also at greater length dwells upon the sad story of their dissension and the disastrous effects of their disagreement. This defence of Bulgaria is laudable and is creditable for one who has practically and philanthropically shown his interest in the Bulgar people, who has done and is doing so much for them, who admires their virtues, praises their tolerance, and has such high hopes of their future. I entirely endorse from my own research and limited experience, that praise as well merited and I, too, entertain high hopes of the future for that brave people if it now accepts its destiny.
We all can well understand and appreciate O'Mahony's chivalrous desire to defendthe fame and character of Bulgaria from the aspersions and charges that were some time ago levelled against her. It is the work and province of History, however, to apportion that blame. Practical politics demand practical work. History has now to be made not written. At present far more urgent matters than a recent past call for Bulgaria's serious consideration. The Slavs are about to be liberated or subjected to further and greater oppression as the result of the present gigantic war determines. Russia, their Protector, is to-day fighting for the Slavs allied with England and France, who were always the friends of Liberty and Freedom in Europe. If their combined efforts to strike down and shatter the aggressive spirit of German Militarism that so perilously threaten the peace and independence of every small State in Europe and purpose to strangle and crush every vestige of Nationality in them succeed, every Slav State, and Bulgaria with them, must benefit territorially and otherwise. If the attempt, however, of the Allies should happen unfortunately to fail or not be as effective and complete as it should be every Slav State, and Bulgaria especially, will materially and appreciably suffer. The time-old enemy of the Slavs—the wily Turk—has joined the Pan-Germanic League as his natural and congenial allies—and if these malign powers should unhappily prove victorious the Turk will be re-established in Europe and allowed to regain the territory he held in bondage and worried for centuries with periodic massacres. Bulgaria undoubtedly has reason to feel sore with its former allies in the first Balkan War. It may naturally wish to see them suffer, but in the present world-wide conflict Serbian subjection will mean the subjection of Bulgaria itself and of all Slavdom. The entire Slav race, not a separate section, is now fighting for its very existence. It is engaged on no local war but on a life and death struggle. It has entered on a grand and glorious crusade of universal emancipation and liberation. If the Allies succeed not an inch of Slav land will remain under alien rule. If the Allies fail the Slav will be held under greater servitude and more grinding tyranny than ever.
Will Bulgaria stand by and see the dreams of its race for liberation, for which it did so much in the recent past, now put in jeopardy ? Will it not try and, as it already satisfactorily settled all common differences with Serb and Greek, before it entered on the glorious war of 1912, at once speedily set about a common arrangement that will form the basis of its immediate action. The points at issue, as originally determined and settled by the Treaty of London, are relatively few, and it ought not to be beyond the resources of its Diplomacy to adjust them. The hour of Slav Liberation has struck. It is the duty and interest of every Slav power to enter the war lists and to support with all the resources in its power the holy cause of their race and people. Now or never. Bulgaria cannot with impunity or honour stand aside while such a tremendous issue is at stake. The story of its recent wrongs History may be trusted to tell faithfully, and these wrongs are alone a matter for History. O'Mahony, in the pages of this record, has shown what Bulgaria is and what it has gone through and what has been its unhappy lot, but events are moving rapidly since the Treaty of Bucharest, and a new situation, never then contemplated, has arisen to-day in Europe. Never were the Fates so favourable for Slavdom if the Slavs be only true to themselves and if they sink all differences and combine for the common cause of their common liberation, for which holy purpose the Allies are fighting with such magnificent courage in Poland, France, and Flanders. In the interest of the Slav cause, in the interest of endangered human liberty, in the interest of peace and humanity itself Bulgaria and every other Slav State should at once enter the lists and so swell by its Army the volume of opposition to Pan-Germanism and Militarism which threaten to crush the liberties of Europe and the independence of every small State in it.
I am sure the effect of the ventilation of O'Mahony's powerful appeal for Bulgaria will be the just consideration of its claims by the Diplomatists of Europe when the time comes, but Bulgaria must now bestir itself and move at once if it wants justice. The time for action has come. Bulgaria surely cannot stand aside in the glory-covered war of Slav liberation now proceeding and, sulking in its tent, see the cause of its race in peril for want of its services or triumph without its co-operation. Every lover of Liberty must ardently wish and pray for the success of the Allied Powers—for in that success are the triumph of Slavdom and of the principle of Nationality and the continued existence of the small States of Europe—their salvation from absorption in threatened Pan-Germanism and Militarism. The greater the opposition to these formidable forces, the more universal the resistance arrayed against the aggressions of Pan-Germanism, the more complete and universal will be their defeat and the greater and more enduring the triumph of the imperilled Causes of Liberty and Independence.
R. J. Kelly.
45 Wellington Road, Dublin.
SUPPLEMENT: TITLE-PAGE FROM "BULGARIA AND THE POWERS".
Source: The O'Mahony. Bulgaria and the Powers. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker, 1915