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"Dread Pultowa's day,
When fortune left the royal Swede, Around a slaughtered army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed. The power and fortune of the war Had passed to the triumphant Czar."--BYRON.
Napoleon prophesied at St. Helena, that all Europe would soon be either Cossack or Republican. Four years ago, the fulfilment of the last of these alternatives appeared most probable. But the democratic movements of 1848 were sternly repressed in 1849. The absolute authority of a single ruler, and the austere stillness of martial law, are now paramount in the capitals of the continent, which lately owned no sovereignty save the will of the multitude; and where that which the democrat calls his sacred right of insurrection, was so loudly asserted and so often fiercely enforced. Many causes have contributed to bring about this reaction, but the most effective and the most permanent have been Russian influence and Russian arms. Russia is now the avowed and acknowledged champion of Monarchy against Democracy; --of constituted authority, however acquired, against revolution and change for whatever purpose desired;--of the imperial supremacy of strong states over their weaker neighbours against all claims for political independence, and all striving for separate nationality. She has crushed the heroic Hungarians; and Austria, for whom nominally she crushed them, is now one of her dependents. Whether the rumours of her being about to engage in fresh enterprises be well or ill founded, it is certain that recent events must have fearfully augmented the power of the Muscovite empire, which, even previously, had been the object of well-founded anxiety to all Western Europe.
It was truly stated, twelve years ago, that "the acquisitions which Russia has made within the [then] last sixty-four years, are equal in extent and importance to the whole empire she had in Europe before that time; that the acquisitions she had made from Sweden are greater than what remains of that ancient kingdom; that her acquisitions from Poland are as large as the whole Austrian empire; that the territory she has wrested from Turkey in Europe is equal to the dominions of Prussia, exclusive of her Rhenish provinces; and that her acquisitions from Turkey in Asia are equal in extent to all the smaller states of Germany, the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, Belgium, and Holland taken together; that the country she has conquered from Persia is about the size of England; that her acquisitions in Tartary have an area equal to Turkey in Europe, Greece, Italy, and Spain. In sixty-four years she has advanced her frontier eight hundred and fifty miles towards Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and Paris; she has approached four hundred and fifty miles nearer to Constantinople; she has possessed herself of the capital of Poland, and has advanced to within a few miles of the capital of Sweden, from which, when Peter the Great mounted the throne, her frontier was distant three hundred miles. Since that time she has stretched herself forward about one thousand miles towards India, and the same distance towards the capital of Persia." [Progress of Russia in the East. p. 142.]
Such, at that period, had been the recent aggrandisement of Russia; and the events of the last few years, by weakening and disuniting all her European neighbours, have immeasurably augmented the relative superiority of the Muscovite empire over all the other continental powers.
With a population exceeding sixty millions, all implicitly obeying the impulse of a single ruling mind; with a territorial area of six millions and a half of square miles; with a standing army eight hundred thousand strong; with powerful fleets on the Baltic and Black Seas; with a skilful host of diplomatic agents planted in every court, and among every tribe; with the confidence which unexpected success creates, and the sagacity which long experience fosters, Russia now grasps with an armed right hand the tangled thread of European politics, and issues her mandate as the arbitress of the movements of the age. Yet a century and a half have hardly elapsed since she was first recognised as a member of the drama of modern European history-- previously to the battle of Pultowa, Russia played no part. Charles V. and his great rival our Elizabeth and her adversary Philip of Spain, the Guises, Sully, Richelieu, Cromwell, De Witt, William of Orange, and the other leading spirits of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thought no more about the Muscovite Czar than we now think about the King of Timbuctoo. Even as late as 1735, Lord Bollingbroke, in his admirable "Letters on History," speaks of the history of the Muscovites, as having no relation to the knowledge which a practical English statesman ought to acquire. [Bolingbroke's Works, vol ii. p. 374. In the same page he observes how Sweden had often turned her arms southwards with prodigious effect.] It may be doubted whether a cabinet council often takes place now in our Foreign Office, without Russia being uppermost in every English statesman's thoughts.
But though Russia remained thus long unheeded amid her snows, there was a northern power, the influence of which was acknowledged in the principal European quarrels, and whose good will was sedulously courted by many of the boldest chiefs and ablest councillors of the leading states. This was Sweden; Sweden, on whose ruins Russia has risen; but whose ascendancy over her semi-barbarous neighbours was complete, until the fatal battle that now forms our subject.
As early as 1542 France had sought the alliance of Sweden to aid her in her struggle against Charles V. And the name of Gustavus Adolphus is of itself sufficient to remind us, that in the great contest for religious liberty, of which Germany was for thirty years the arena, it was Sweden that rescued the falling cause of Protestantism; and it was Sweden that principally dictated the remodelling of the European state system at the peace of Westphalia.
From the proud pre-eminence in which the valour of the "Lion of the North" and of Torstenston, Bannier, Wrangel and the other Generals of Gustavus, guided by the wisdom of Oxenstiern, had placed Sweden, the defeat of Charles XII. at Pultowa hurled her down at once and for ever. Her efforts during the wars of the French revolution to assume a leading part in European politics, met with instant discomfiture, and almost provoked derision. But the Sweden, whose sceptre was bequeathed to Christina, and whose alliance Cromwell valued so highly, was a different power from the Sweden of the present day. Finland, Ingria, Livonia, Esthonia, Carelia, and other districts east of the Baltic, then were Swedish provinces; and the possession of Pomerania, Rugen, and Bremen, made her an important member of the Germanic empire. These territories are now all reft from her; and the most valuable of them form the staple of her victorious rival's strength. Could she resume them, could the Sweden of 1648 be reconstructed, we should have a first-class Scandinavian State in the North, well qualified to maintain the balance of power, and check the progress of Russia; whose power, indeed, never could have become formidable to Europe, save by Sweden becoming weak.
The decisive triumph of Russia over Sweden at Pultowa was therefore all-important to the world, on account of what it overthrew as well as for what it established; and it is the more deeply interesting because it was not merely the crisis of a struggle between two states, but it was a trial of strength between two great races of mankind. We must bear in mind, that while the Swedes, like the English, the Dutch, and others, belong to the Germanic race, the Russians are a Sclavonic people. Nations of Sclavonian origin have long occupied the greater part of Europe eastward of the Vistula, and the populations also of Bohemia, Croatia, Servia, Dalmatia, and other important regions westward of that river, are Sclavonic. In the long and varied conflicts between them and the Germanic nations that adjoin them, the Germanic race had, before Pultowa, almost always maintained a superiority. With the single but important exception of Poland, no Sclavonic state had made any considerable figure in history before the time when Peter the Great won his great victory over the Swedish king. [The Hussite wars may, perhaps, entitle Bohemia to be distinguished.] What Russia has done since that time we know and we feel. And some of the wisest and best men of our own age and nation, who have watched with deepest care the annals and the destinies of humanity, have believed that the Sclavonic element in the population of Europe has as yet only partially developed its powers: that, while other races of mankind (our own, the Germanic, included) have exhausted their creative energies, and completed their allotted achievements, the Sclavonic race has yet a great career to run: and, that the narrative of Sclavonic ascendancy is the remaining page that; will conclude the history of the world. [See Arnold's Lectures on Modern History, pp. 36-39.]
Let it not be supposed that in thus regarding the primary triumph of Russia over Sweden as a victory of the Sclavonic over the Germanic race, we are dealing with matters of mere ethnological pedantry, or with themes of mere speculative curiosity. The fact that Russia is a Sclavonic empire, is a fact of immense practical influence at the present moment. Half the inhabitants of the Austrian empire are Sclavonian. The population of the larger part of Turkey in Europe is of the same race. Silesia, Posen, and other parts of the Prussian dominions are principally Sclavonic. And during late years an enthusiastic zeal for blending all Sclavonians into one great united Sclavonic empire, has been growing up in these countries, which, however we may deride its principle, is not the less real and active, and of which Russia, as the head and champion of the Sclavonic race, knows well how to take her advantage.
["The idea of Panslavism had a purely literary origin. It was started by Pollar, a Protestant clergyman of the Sclavonic congregation at Pesth, in Hungary, who wished to establish a national literature, by circulating all works, written in the various Sclavonic dialects, through every country where any of them are spoken. He suggested, that all the Slavonic literati should become acguainted with the sister dialects, so that a Bohemian, or other work, might be read on the shores of the Adriatic, as well as on the banks of the Volga, or any other place where a Sclavonic language was spoken; by which means an extensive literature might be created, tending to advance knowledge in all Sclavonic countries; and he supported his arguments by observing, that the dialects of ancient Greece differed from each other, like those of his own language, and yet that they formed only one Hellenic literature. The idea of an intellectual union of all those nations naturally led to that of a political one; and the Sclavonians, seeing that their numbers amounted to about one-third part of the whole population of Europe, and occupied more than half its territory, began to be sensible that they might claim for themselves a position, to which they had not hitherto aspired.
"The opinion gained ground; and the question now is, whether the Slavonians can form a nation independent of Russia; or whether they ought to rest satisfied in being part of one great race, with the most powerful member of it as their chief. The latter, indeed, is gaining ground amongst them; and some Poles are disposed to attribute their sufferings to the arbitrary will of the Czar, without extending the blame to the Russians themselves. These begin to think that, if they cannot exist as Poles, the best thing to be done is to rest satisfied with a position in the Sclavonic empire, and they hope that, when once they give up the idea of restoring their country, Russia may grant some concessions to their separate nationality.
"The same idea has been put forward by writers in the Russian interest; great efforts are making among other Sclavonic people, to induce them to look upon Russia as their future head; and she has already gained considerable influence over the Sclavonic populations of Turkey.--WILKINSON'S DALMATIA.]
It is a singular fact that Russia owes her very name to a band of Swedish invaders who conquered her a thousand years ago. They were soon absorbed in the Sclavonic population, and every trace of the Swedish character had disappeared in Russia for many centuries before her invasion by Charles XII. She was long the victim and the slave of the Tartars; and for many considerable periods of years the Poles held her in subjugation. Indeed, if we except the expeditions of some of the early Russian chiefs against Byzantium, and the reign of Ivan Vasilovitch, the history of Russia before the time of Peter the Great is one long tale of suffering and degradation.
But whatever may have been the amount of national injuries that she sustained from Swede, from Tartar, or from Pole in the ages of her weakness, she has certainly retaliated ten-fold during the century and a half of her strength. Her rapid transition at the commencement of that period from being the prey of every conqueror to being the conqueror of all with whom she comes into contact, to being the oppressor instead of the oppressed, is almost without a parallel in the history of nations. It was the work of a single ruler; who, himself without education, promoted science and literature among barbaric millions; who gave them fleets, commerce, arts, and arms; who, at Pultowa, taught them to face and beat the previously invincible Swedes: and who made stubborn valour, and implicit subordination, from that time forth the distinguishing characteristics of the Russian soldiery, which had before his time been a mere disorderly and irresolute rabble.
The career of Philip of Macedon resembles most nearly that of the great Muscovite Czar: but there is this important difference, that Philip had, while young, received in Southern Greece the best education in all matters of peace and war that the ablest philosophers and generals of the age could bestow. Peter was brought up among barbarians, and in barbaric ignorance. He strove to remedy this when a grown man, by leaving all the temptations to idleness and sensuality, which his court offered, and by seeking instruction abroad. He laboured with his own hands as a common artisan in Holland and in England, that he might return and teach his subjects how ships, commerce, and civilization could be acquired. There is a degree of heroism here superior to anything that we know of in the Macedonian king. But Philip's consolidation of the long disunited Macedonian empire,--his raising a people which he found the scorn of their civilized southern neighbours, to be their dread,--his organization of a brave and well-disciplined army, instead of a disorderly militia,--his creation of a maritime force, and his systematic skill in acquiring and improving sea-ports and arsenals,--his patient tenacity of purpose under reverses,--his personal bravery,--and even his proneness to coarse amusements and pleasures,--all mark him out as the prototype of the imperial founder of the Russian power. In justice, however, to the ancient hero, it ought to be added, that we find in the history of Philip no examples of that savage cruelty which deforms so grievously the character of Peter the Great.
In considering the effects of the overthrow which the Swedish arms sustained at Pultowa, and in speculating on the probable consequences that would have followed if the invaders had been successful we must not only bear in mind the wretched state In which Peter found Russia at his accession, compared with her present grandeur, but we must also keep in view the fact, that, at the time when Pultowa was fought, his reforms were yet incomplete, and his new institutions immature. He had broken up the old Russia; and the New Russia, which he ultimately created, was still in embryo. Had he been crushed at Pultowa, his mighty schemes would have been buried with him; and (to use the words of Voltaire) "the most extensive empire in the world would have relapsed into the chaos from which it had been so lately taken." It is this fact that makes the repulse of Charles XII. the critical point in the fortunes of Russia. The danger which she incurred a century afterwards from her invasion by Napoleon was in reality far less than her peril when Charles attacked her; though the French Emperor, as a military genius, was infinitely superior to the Swedish King, and led a host against her, compared with which the armies of Charles seem almost insignificant. But, as Fouche well warned his imperial master, when he vainly endeavoured to dissuade him from his disastrous expedition against the empire of the Czars, the difference between the Russia of 1812 and the Russia of 1709 was greater, than the disparity between the power of Charles and the might of Napoleon. "If that heroic king," said Fouche, "had not, like your imperial Majesty, half Europe in arms to back him, neither had his opponent, the Czar Peter, 400,000 soldiers, and 60,000 Cossacks." The historians, who describe the state of the Muscovite empire when revolutionary and imperial France encountered it, narrate with truth and justice, how "at the epoch of the French Revolution this immense empire, comprehending nearly half of Europe and Asia within its dominions, inhabited by a patient and indomitable race, ever ready to exchange the luxury and adventure of the south for the hardships and monotony of the north, was daily becoming more formidable to the liberties of Europe. The Russian infantry had then long been celebrated for its immoveable firmness. Her immense population, amounting then in Europe alone to nearly thirty-five millions, afforded an inexhaustible supply of men. Her soldiers, inured to heat and cold from their infancy, and actuated by a blind devotion to their Czar, united the steady valour of the English to the impetuous energy of the French troops." [Alison.] So, also, we read how the haughty aggressions of Bonaparte "went to excite a national feeling, from the banks of the Borysthenes to the wall of China, and to unite against him the wild and uncivilized inhabitants of an extended empire, possessed by a love to their religion, their government, and their country, and having a character of stern devotion, which he was incapable of estimating." [Scott's Life of Napoleon] But the Russia of 1709 had no such forces to oppose to an assailant. Her whole population then was below sixteen millions; and, what is far more important, this population had neither acquired military spirit, nor strong nationality; nor was it united in loyal attachment to its ruler.
Peter had wisely abolished the old regular troops of the empire, the Strelitzes; but the forces which he had raised in their stead on a new and foreign plan, and principally officered with foreigners, had, before the Swedish invasion, given no proof that they could be relied on. In numerous encounters with the Swedes, Peter's soldiery had run like sheep before inferior numbers. Great discontent, also, had been excited among all classes of the community by the arbitrary changes which their great emperor introduced, many of which clashed with the most cherished national prejudices of his subjects. A career of victory and prosperity had not yet raised Peter above the reach of that disaffection, nor had superstitious obedience to the Czar yet become the characteristic of the Muscovite mind. The victorious occupation of Moscow by Charles XII. would have quelled the Russian nation as effectually, as had been the case when Batou Khan, and other ancient invaders, captured the capital of primitive Muscovy. How little such a triumph could effect towards subduing modern Russia, the fate of Napoleon demonstrated at once and for ever.
The character of Charles XII. has been a favourite theme with historians, moralists, philosophers, and poets. But it is his military conduct during the campaign in Russia that alone requires comment here. Napoleon, in the memoirs dictated by him at St. Helena, has given us a systematic criticism on that, among other celebrated campaigns, his own Russian campaign included. He labours hard to prove that he himself observed all the true principles of offensive war: and probably his censures of Charles's generalship were rather highly coloured, for the sake of making his own military skill stand out in more favourable relief. Yet, after making all allowances, we must admit the force of Napoleon's strictures on Charles's tactics, and own that his judgment, though severe, is correct, when he pronounces that the Swedish king, unlike his great predecessor Gustavus, knew nothing of the art of war, and was nothing more than a brave and intrepid soldier. Such, however, was not the light in which Charles was regarded by his contemporaries at the commencement of his Russian expedition. His numerous victories, his daring and resolute spirit, combined with the ancient renown of the Swedish arms, then filled all Europe with admiration and anxiety. As Johnson expresses it, his name was then one at which the world grew pale. Even Louis le Grand earnestly solicited his assistance; and our own Marlborough, then in the full career of his victories, was specially sent by the English court to the camp of Charles, to propitiate the hero of the north in favour of the cause of the allies and to prevent the Swedish sword from being flung into the scale in the French king's favour. But Charles at that time was solely bent on dethroning the sovereign of Russia, as he had already dethroned the sovereign of Poland, and all Europe fully believed that he would entirely crush the Czar, and dictate conditions of peace in the Kremlin. [Voltaire attests, from personal inspection of the letters of several public ministers to their respective courts, that such was the general expectation.] Charles himself looked on success as a matter of certainty; and the romantic extravagance of his views was continually increasing. "One year, he thought, would suffice for the conquest of Russia. The court of Rome was next to feel his vengeance, as the pope had dared to oppose the concession of religious liberty to the Silesian Protestants. No enterprise at that time appeared impossible to him. He had even dispatched several officers privately into Asia and Egypt, to take plans of the towns, and examine into the strength and resources of those countries." [Crighton's Scandinavia.]
Napoleon thus epitomises the earlier operations of Charles's
invasion of Russia:--
"That prince set out from his camp at Aldstadt, near Leipsic, in September 1707, at the head of 46,000 men, and traversed Poland; 20,000 men, under Count Lewenhaupt, disembarked at Riga; and 15,000 were in Finland. He was therefore in a condition to have brought together 80,000 of the best troops in the world. He left 10,000 men at Warsaw to guard King Stanislaus, and in January 1708, arrived at Grodno, where he wintered. In June he crossed the forest of Minsk, and presented himself before Borisov; forced the Russian army, which occupied the left bank of the Beresina; defeated 20,000 Russians who were strongly entrenched behind marshes; passed the Borysthenes at Mohiloev, and vanquished a corps of 16,000 Muscovites near Smolensko, on the 22d of September. He was now advanced to the confines of Lithuania, and was about to enter Russia Proper: the Czar, alarmed at his approach, made him proposals of peace. Up to this time all his movements mere conformable to rule, and his communications were well secured. He was master of Poland and Riga, and only ten days' march distant from Moscow: and it is probable that he would have reached that capital, had he not quitted the high road thither, and directed his steps towards the Ukraine, in order to form a junction with Mazeppa, who brought him only 6,000 men. By this movement his line of operations, beginning at Sweden, exposed his flank to Russia for a distance of four hundred leagues, and he was unable to protect it, or to receive either reinforcements or assistance."
Napoleon severely censures this neglect of one of the great rules of war. He points out that Charles had not organized his war like Hannibal, on the principle of relinquishing all communications with home, keeping all his forces concentrated, and creating a base of operations in the conquered country. Such had been the bold system of the Carthaginian general; but Charles acted on no such principle, inasmuch as he caused Lewenhaupt, one of his generals who commanded a considerable detachment, and escorted a most important convoy, to follow him at a distance of twelve days' march. By this dislocation of his forces he exposed Lewenhaupt to be overwhelmed separately by the full force of the enemy, and deprived the troops under his own command of the aid which that general's men and stores might have afforded, at the very crisis of the campaign.
The Czar had collected an army of about a hundred thousand effective men; and though the Swedes, in the beginning of the invasion, were successful in every encounter, the Russian troops were gradually acquiring discipline; and Peter and his officers were learning generalship from their victors, as the Thebans of old learned it from the Spartans. When Lewenhaupt, in the October of 1708, was striving to join Charles in the Ukraine, the Czar suddenly attacked him near the Borysthenes with an overwhelming force of fifty thousand Russians. Lewenhaupt fought bravely for three days, and succeeded in cutting his way through the enemy, with about four thousand of his men, to where Charles awaited him near the river Desna; but upwards of eight thousand Swedes fell in these battles; Lewenhaupt's cannon and ammunition were abandoned; and the whole of his important convoy of provisions, on which Charles and his half-starved troops were relying, fell into the enemy's hands. Charles was compelled to remain in the Ukraine during the winter; but in the spring of 1709 he moved forward towards Moscow, and invested the fortified town of Pultowa, on the river Vorskla, a place where the Czar had stored up large supplies of provisions and military stores, and which commanded the roads leading towards Moscow. The possession of this place would have given Charles the means of supplying all the wants of his suffering army, and would also have furnished him with a secure base of operations for his advance against the Muscovite capital. The siege was therefore hotly pressed by the Swedes; the garrison resisted obstinately; and the Czar, feeling the importance of saving the town, advanced in June to its relief, at the head of an army from fifty to sixty thousand strong.
Both sovereigns now prepared for the general action, which each perceived to be inevitable, and which each felt would be decisive of his own and of his country's destiny. The Czar, by some masterly manoeuvres, crossed the Vorskla, and posted his army on the same side of that river with the besiegers, but a little higher up. The Vorskla falls into the Borysthenes about fifteen leagues below Pultowa, and the Czar arranged his forces in two lines, stretching from one river towards the other; so that if the Swedes attacked him and were repulsed, they would be driven backwards into the acute angle formed by the two streams at their junction. He fortified these lines with several redoubts, lined with heavy artillery; and his troops, both horse and foot, were in the best possible condition, and amply provided with stores and ammunition. Charles's forces were about twenty-four thousand strong. But not more than half of these were Swedes; so much had battle, famine, fatigue, and the deadly frosts of Russia, thinned the gallant bands which the Swedish king and Lewenhaupt had led to the Ukraine. The other twelve thousand men under Charles were Cossacks and Wallachians, who had joined him in that country. On hearing that the Czar was about to attack him, he deemed that his dignity required that he himself should be the assailant; and leading his army out of their entrenched lines before the town, he advanced with them against the Russian redoubts.
He had been severely wounded in the foot in a skirmish a few days before; and was borne in a litter along the ranks, into the thick of the fight. Notwithstanding the fearful disparity of numbers and disadvantage of position, the Swedes never showed their ancient valour more nobly than on that dreadful day. Nor do their Cossack and Wallachian allies seem to have been unworthy of fighting side by side with Charles's veterans. Two of the Russian redoubts were actually entered, and the Swedish infantry began to raise the cry of victory. But on the other side, neither general nor soldiers flinched in their duty. The Russian cannonade and musketry were kept up; fresh masses of defenders were poured into the fortifications, and at length the exhausted remnants of the Swedish columns recoiled from the blood-stained redoubts. Then the Czar led the infantry and cavalry of his first line outside the works, drew them up steadily and skilfully, and the action was renewed along the whole fronts of the two armies on the open ground. Each sovereign exposed his life freely in the world-winning battle; and on each side the troops fought obstinately and eagerly under their ruler's eye. It was not till two hours from the commencement of the action that, overpowered by numbers, the hitherto invincible Swedes gave way. All was then hopeless disorder and irreparable rout. Driven downward to where the rivers join, the fugitive Swedes surrendered to their victorious pursuers, or perished in the waters of the Borysthenes. Only a few hundreds swam that river with their king and the Cossack Mazeppa, and escaped into the Turkish territory. Nearly ten thousand lay killed and wounded in the redoubts and on the field of battle.
In the joy of his heart the Czar exclaimed, when the strife was over, "That the son of the morning had fallen from heaven; and that the foundations of St. Petersburg at length stood firm." Even on that battle-field, near the Ukraine, the Russian emperor's first thoughts were of conquests and aggrandisement on the Baltic. The peace of Nystadt, which transferred the fairest provinces of Sweden to Russia, ratified the judgment of battle which was pronounced at Pultowa. Attacks on Turkey and Persia by Russia commenced almost directly after that victory. And though the Czar failed in his first attempts against the Sultan, the successors of Peter have, one and all, carried on an uniformly aggressive and uniformly successful system of policy against Turkey, and against every other state, Asiatic as well as European, which has had the misfortune of having Russia for a neighbour.
Orators and authors, who have discussed the progress of Russia, have often alluded to the similitude between the modern extension of the Muscovite empire and the extension of the Roman dominions in ancient times. But attention has scarcely been drawn to the closeness of the parallel between conquering Russia and conquering Rome, not only in the extent of conquests, but in the means of effecting conquest. The history of Rome during the century and a half which followed the close of the second Punic war, and during which her largest acquisitions of territory were made, should be minutely compared with the history of Russia for the last one hundred and fifty years. The main points of similitude can only be indicated in these pages; but they deserve the fullest consideration. Above all, the sixth chapter of Montesquieu's great Treatise on Rome, the chapter "DE LA CONDUITE QUE LES ROMAINS TINRENT POUR SOUMETTRE LES PEUPLES," should be carefully studied by every one who watches the career and policy of Russia. The classic scholar will remember the state-craft of the Roman Senate, which took care in every foreign war to appear in the character of a PROTECTOR. Thus Rome PROTECTED the AEtolians, and the Greek cities, against Macedon; she PROTECTED Bithynia, and other small Asiatic states, against the Syrian kings; she protected Numidia against Carthage; and in numerous other instances assumed the same specious character. But, "Woe to the people whose liberty depends on the continued forbearance of an over-mighty protector." [Malkin's History of Greece.] Every state which Rome protected was ultimately subjugated and absorbed by her. And Russia has been the protector of Poland, the protector of the Crimea,--the protector of Courland,--the protector of Georgia, Immeritia, Mingrelia, the Tcherkessian and Caucasian tribes. She has first protected, and then appropriated them all. She protects Moldavia and Wallachia. A few years ago she became the protector of Turkey from Mehemet Ali; and since the summer of 1849 she has made herself the protector of Austria.
When the partisans of Russia speak of the disinterestedness with which she withdrew her protecting troops from Constantinople, and from Hungary, let us here also mark the ominous exactness of the parallel between her and Rome. While the ancient world yet contained a number of independent states, which might have made a formidable league against Rome if she had alarmed them by openly avowing her ambitious schemes, Rome's favourite policy was seeming disinterestedness and moderation. After her first war against Philip, after that against Antiochus, and many others, victorious Rome promptly withdrew her troops from the territories which they occupied. She affected to employ her arms only for the good of others; but, when the favourable moment came, she always found a pretext for marching her legions back into each coveted district, and making it a Roman province. Fear, not moderation, is the only effective check on the ambition of such powers as Ancient Rome and Modern Russia. The amount of that fear depends on the amount of timely vigilance and energy which other states choose to employ against the common enemy of their freedom and national independence.
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