St. Patrick's Orphanage,
23 Rue Gladstone, Sofia,
25th February, 1915.
Speaking in Dublin, the Capital of Ireland, on September 25th, 1914, the British Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, alluded to a statement which his former leader, Mr. Gladstone, made in 1870. Mr. Gladstone then said : " The greatest triumph of our time would be the enthronement of the idea of public right as a governing factor of European policy."
Mr. Asquith said that ought to be our main policy in' the present war. Then he asked, what does the idea of public right mean? He said : "It means first and foremost a clear, but definite repudiation of militarism as a governing factor in the relations of states, and in the future moulding of the European world. It means that room must be found and kept for the independent existence and free development of smaller nationalities, each with a life, a history, and a corporate consciousness of its own. Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian Countries, Greece and the Balkan States, must be recognised as having as good a title as their more powerful neighbours, more powerful in strength and wealth, exactly as good a title to a place in the sun."
That means the substitution of Reason for Military Power, the substitution of Justice for Force. Mr. Asquith mentioned, in the portion of his speech quoted above, twelve small nations, if we include Roumania as a Balkan State. Of these twelve, only three were engaged in the present war, when Mr. Asquith spoke. The remaining nine were neutral, and are still neutral. Those,therefore, who say that the benefits foreshadowed for small nations in Mr. Asquith's great speech are only for those who fight on the side of Great Britain in this war, make a statement absolutely opposed to the policy so clearly expressed by the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the speech I have quoted, and seek to place once more Force on the throne where Justice alone should reign. Such statements can only throw doubt on Mr. Asquith's sincerity. I, who have known Mr. Asquith since he first entered public life, and who listened to his first speech in the British Parliament, have not the smallest doubt that he will endeavour to the full to carry out the policy, which he proclaimed in Dublin as the policy of Great Britain towards small nationalities. According to Mr. Asquith, small nationalities are to be judged worthy of consideration by history, life, and corporate consciousness. History, as intended to be understood in Mr. Asquith's speech, must mean history, as it affects the present desires and feelings of the populations in the various territories. If it meant only the history of conquering powers, it would give to Rome the undoubted right to rule the greater part of Europe and Western Asia. If the Crown Prince of Serbia says we are to go back to the time of Tzar Dushan to decide who is entitled to rule Macedonia, Dushan reigned in 1530, having commenced his reign by strangling his own father, who died cursing his unnatural son, why should we not go back to 1018, when the Bulgarian Tzar Samuel ruled not only Macedonia, but the whole of present Serbia ? History, as it affects the present inhabitants of the Balkan States, may be confined to the centuries of Turkish Rule. The Turk came as a conqueror and oppressor, a conqueror and oppressor he remained during the centuries of his rule; he came, as he himself often said, in blood, and in blood he was driven out. The people oppressed by the Turk for centuries have the historical right to possess the land from which they have driven him. The right, however, to the various portions of the territory freed ought to have been decided according to the wishes of the inhabitants thereof, and that is a question of life and corporate consciousness, and not of the ancient history of Tzars and Conquerors. During the last century the Bulgarian race has given vivid proof of its life and corporate consciousness by its struggle against the educational and spiritual bondage of its race to the Greek Bishops and Priests ; by its successful struggle for the freedom of the Bulgarian Church, which culminated in the establishment of the Exarch as head of the Bulgarian Church. In this struggle for religious and educational freedom, the Slav race in Macedonia has always fully shared, and has thereby given unmistakable proof of the Bulgarian character of its Corporate Consciousness. Five archbishops, 647 priests, 677 churches, testified to the Corporate Consciousness of the Bulgarians in religious matters in Turkish times, in what is now Servian Macedonia. In the same territory, 596 schools, 1,005 teachers, and 36,000 scholars testified to the Bulgarian Corporate Consciousness in educational matters. In what is now Greek Territory, 299 priests and 300 churches testified to the Bulgarian Corporate Consciousness in religious matters, and 340 schools, 589 teachers, and 19,000 scholars testified to the Bulgarian Corporate Consciousness in educational matters. If the inhabitants were really Serbs and Greeks, why did not Serbia and Greece minister to their spiritual and educational needs ? If the people were satisfied with the Greek religious and educational yoke imposed on them by the Turks, why did they struggle long and urgently until they regained their spiritual and educational freedom by the establishment of the Exarchate ? Why is it that since the Treaty of Berlin all the revolutionary movements in Macedonia against the Turkish yoke were conducted by, the Bulgarian race, and even opposed by Greeks and Serbs ? How is it that the massacre of 1903 was a massacre of Bulgarians by Turks, and not a massacre of Greeks or Serbs ? Why was the Bulgarian Orphanage at Bitolia established in Turkish times, which gave a refuge to the remnants from the massacre of 1903, closed by the Serbians, and the unfortunate orphans turned adrift?
If what is now Greek Macedonia was really Greek, why did the Carnegie Commission report as follows :—" Systematically and in cold blood the Greeks burned one hundred and sixty Bulgarian villages and destroyed at least 16,000 Bulgarian homes " ? If the war against Turkey was a war of deliverance, why have the Serbian and Greek deliverers seized all the Bulgarian Churches, driven out the bishops, and priests, closed the schools, and forbidden education to Bulgarians in their mother tongue? Why have the Greeks seized and closed the excellent Bulgarian Gymnasium in Salonica, that was a centre of civilization for Southern Macedonia in Turkish times ? The rule of the self-styled deliverers is more oppressive than that of the Turks, and its chief object seems to be the suppression of the Life and Corporate Consciousness of the inhabitants of the conquered territory, that is of the very factor to which Mr. Asquith attaches so much importance. Will Great Britain sanction such a policy, so diametrically opposed to the policy she has pursued for many years, and of which she has learnt the value in a marked manner during the present war ? Germany expected that, at the sound of the first gun, revolutionary movements would break out in Ireland, in India, in Egypt, and in South Africa. In South Africa alone was there any sign of revolt, and that has been put down by the very men who were in arms against Great Britain when the present century commenced. The world has never seen a greater triumph for the value of freedom, and the acknowledgment of national rights, than that represented by the unanimity of the British Empire in the present war.
Viscount Bryce, known in Bulgaria as James Bryce, the late British Ambassador to the United States of America, has recently written an essay on Neutral Nations and the War. The essay ends with these words : " The faith of treaties is the only solid foundation on which a Temple of Peace can be built up."
Can a Temple of Peace be built in the Balkans on the broken faith of the treaty made between Serbia and Bulgaria in 1912, with the sanction and approval of Russia? That treaty was willingly entered into by both Serbia and Bulgaria with a definite purpose, and for the sake of mutual gains not otherwise obtainable. It necessitated territorial sacrifices in the body of the Treaty and sacrifices on the field of battle. On the field of battle, Bulgaria sacrificed 83,000 of her sons on the plains of Thrace in the war against Turkey. In the same war Serbia sacrificed 23,000. Serbia got all the advantages accorded to her by the Treaty, though she had paid for them a far smaller price than Bulgaria had done. Then, instead of loyally conceding to Bulgaria the advantages secured to her honourably by the faith of the Treaty for which she had paid such a heavy price, she disloyally broke faith even while Bulgaria was still fighting the common enemy in Thrace, fortified herself in territories she had plighted her honour not to claim, and entered into an unholy alliance with Greece and Roumania in order to carry out her dishonourable breach of faith.
That is the plain history of the broken Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty of 1912. To men there may come peace in this life or the next, but nations only live this mortal life. Lord Bryce's Temple of Peace must be a Temple of Peace affecting living men, enshrining a living Peace, a Peace founded on justice, and the acknowledgment of National and religious rights, which are and must ever remain the life of a people. No such Temple of a living Peace can ever be erected in the Balkans on the dishonoured foundation of the broken faith of Serbia, nor of the crime of Bucharest. Even a mighty Empire like Russia could only erect on such a foundation a Temple of Injustice to enshrine the Peace of Death.