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PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS AND EXPERIENCES

The difficulty comes when we attempt to give the racial character of Central Macedonia, which is equally remote from Greece, Bulgaria, and Servia. I travelled through this district last summer. On June 29, when the war broke out between the Allies I found myself in Uskub. Through the courtesy of the Servian authorities I was permitted to ride on the first military train which left the city. Descending at Veles I drove across Central Macedonia by way of Prilip to Monastir, spending the first night, for lack of a better bed, in the carriage, which was guarded by Servian sentries. From Monastir I motored over execrable roads to Lake Presba and Lake Ochrida and thence beyond the city of Ochrida to Struga on the Black Drin, from which I looked out on the mountains of Albania.

Coming from Athens where for many months I had listened to patriotic stories of the thorough permeation of Macedonia by Greek settlements my first surprise was my inability to discover a Greek majority in Central Macedonia. In most of the cities a fraction of the population indeed is Greek and as a rule the colony is prosperous. This is especially true in Monastir, which is a stronghold of Greek influence. But while half the population of Monastir is Mohammedan the so-called Bulgarians form the majority of the Christian population, though both Servians and Roumanians have conducted energetic propaganda. In Veles two-thirds of the population are Christians and nearly all of these are called Bulgarians. In Ochrida the lower town is Mohammedan and the upper Christian, and the Christian population is almost exclusively of the Bulgarian Church.

It does not follow, however, that the people of Central Macedonia, even if Bulgarian churches are in the ascendant among them, are really connected by ties of blood and language with Bulgaria rather than with Servia. If history is invoked we shall have to admit that under Dushan this region was a part of the Serb empire as under Simeon and Asen it was part of the Bulgarian. If an appeal is made to anthropology the answer is still uncertain. For while the Mongolian features--broad flat faces, narrow eyes, and straight black hair--which characterize the subjects of King Ferdinand can be seen--I myself have seen them--as far west as Ochrida, they may also be found all over Northern Servia as far as Belgrade though the Servian physical type is entirely different. There is no fixed connection between the anthropological unit and the linguistic or political unit. Furthermore, while there are well-marked groups who call themselves Serbs or Bulgarians there is a larger population not so clearly differentiated by physique or language. Undoubtedly they are Slavs. But whether Serb or Bulgarian, or intermediate between the two, no one to-day can demonstrate. Central Macedonia has its own dialects, any one of which under happy literary auspices might have developed into a separate language. And the men who speak them to-day can more or less understand either Servian or Bulgarian. Hence as the anonymous and highly authoritative author of "Turkey in Europe," who calls himself Odysseus, declares:

"The practical conclusion is that neither Greeks, Servians, nor Bulgarians have a right to claim Central Macedonia. The fact that they all do so shows how weak each claim must be."

Yet it was Bulgaria's intransigent assertion of her claim to Central Macedonia which led to the war between the Allies.

It will be instructive to consider the attitude of each of the governments concerned on the eve of the conflict. I hope I am in a position correctly to report it. Certainly I had unusual opportunities to learn it. For besides the official position I held in Athens during the entire course of both Balkan wars I visited the Balkan states in June and was accorded the privilege of discussing the then pending crisis with the prime ministers of Roumania, Servia, and Bulgaria. It would of course be improper to quote them; nay more, I feel myself under special obligation sacredly to respect the confidence they reposed in me. But the frank disclosures they made in these conversations gave me a point of view for the comprehension of the situation and the estimate of facts which I have found simply invaluable. And if Mr. Venizelos in Athens, or Mr. Maioresco in Bukarest, or Mr. Pashitch in Belgrade, or Dr. Daneff, who is no longer prime minister of Bulgaria, should ever chance to read what I am saying, I hope each will feel that I have fairly and impartially presented the attitude which their respective governments had taken at this critical moment on the vital issue then confronting them.



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