Fifty-two years ago Palmerston declared that the peace of Asia was assured whenever England and Russia came to an understanding. That is even truer to-day when the whole north of Asia, from the Urals to the Pacific, is in the hands of the mighty empire founded by Peter the Great. The older domination of the English in India is the only serious rival that a European nation has yet established, though French aims in the neighbourhood of Indo-China, German intrigues in Asia Minor, and the general clash of national ambitions over the " partition" of China may at any time introduce a new complication into Asiatic affairs. At present, however, the apparently conflicting interests of
Russia, England and Japan afford the most important considerations on which the general peace of Asia, if not of the world, depends. We say " apparently conflicting "; for, in spite of the melancholy prognostics in which alarmists choose to indulge, we do not believe that there is any essential or necessary conflict. Its appearance is due to a misunderstanding of the real factors in the problem, and it is eminently desirable that not only responsible statesmen, but the people to whom they nave to answer, should do their utmost to obtain a clear outlook on a matter which it is, unfortunately, the interest of many persons abroad to obscure, and which some across the Border do not scruple to misrepresent for factious and partisan, if not for purely selfish, purposes. The general belief that Russia wishes to modify the agreement of 1873 with reference to Afghanistan makes it highly necessary that the relations of England to Muscovite policy in Asia should be thoroughly considered, as an endeavour of this kind is like to be fraught with possibilities of trouble. Let us remember Penjdeh and Fashoda, though their lesson may be taken to show that much graver dissatisfaction than now exists may be dispelled by firm but judicious handling. In 1873 England and Russia formally agreed upon a self-denying ordinance with regard to Afghanistan. The Ameer's kingdom, one of the very few Asiatic States which still preserve even nominal independence, stands at the most vulnerable gate of India. Consequently, when Russian expansion threatened the Afghan boundaries, the> English Foreign Office took an early opportunity of making it clear that that Power could tolerate no attempt to bring that wild and dangerous neighbour under Russian influence; and Russia, whose Asiatic empire was still much in need of time for consolidation, agreed to have no dealings with the Ameer's Government. In the troublous times from 1877 to 1880 she made a strong, though unofficial, attempt to upset this agreement, but the military address of Lord Roberts, the wise policy of Lord Lytton, and the rough good sense of the late Ameer combined to keep Afghanistan as a " buffer State" between India and the Russian Empire. For over twenty years it has remained so, and there is no serious likelihood that English statesmen will be foolish enough to depart without reason from an arrangement charged with such obvious military and political advantages.
The late Russian proposal with regard to Afghanistan looks harmless enough in itself. It clearly gave the diplomatic world to understand that the Government of the Tsar maintain their former engagements, and continue to consider Afghanistan as being outside the sphere of Russian influence. All that is asked is that direct relations in regard to frontier matters should be established between Afghanistan and the Empire which is now conterminous with its northern border. If this only means that the officials of the Tsar and the Ameer may be permitted to confer directly with one another on questions of police and public works, no objection on the part of England can reasonably be made to such a proposition. It is only just that a criminal who has escaped across the border, or a river which needs to be bridged, or a road which has to be carried from one State to the other, should form the subject of direct consultation between the men on the spot.
From the attitude of the inspired press of Russia it seems impossible to doubt that the question with
38Russia, England and Japan
regard to Afghanistan was first raised some three years ago, when England was deeply involved in the South African war, and many Continental statesmen thought that the Government of that country could be induced to accede to claims which, at any other season, would probably have aroused her serious resentment. At about the time at which the demand we allude to is said to have been made some uneasiness was caused by the ostentatious movement of troops along the Transcaspian Kailway towards the Afghan frontier—that is, towards the gates of India. The English Government, encouraged by America, did not yield to the demand, and they deserve what credit they can get for having held both their ground and their peace, though, had they not been supported by America, it is difficult to see how, hampered and distressed as they were, they could have resisted the Eussian demand.
The real question which is at the root of the Afghan problem, as of all discussions regarding the Persian Gulf, the always threatening trouble in the Balkans, the future of Constantinople, and the situation in China, is that of the English fundamental relation to Kussia. Is England prepared to regard her great rival as a friend and coadjutor in the work of " civilising" Asia, or is she determined to regard Eussia as she has hitherto done, that is to say as a relentless enemy who will not be satisfied until she has done her best to oust her from India, and encouraged France to enter upon the occupation of Egypt? Here, in our opinion, we have in a few words the whole case in a nutshell. In one direction we see nothing but a prospect of such a war as England has not experienced since, with the assistance of Germany, she overthrew Napoleon. In the other the gratifying prospect of peace and prosperity con-
Russia, England and Japan
fronts us, for with assured friendship between England and Eussia, the greatest naval and military powers in the world, no country will lightly venture to disturb the peace of Europe. The history of the last century shows that it is the English again who must make the choice. From the outbreak of the French Eevolution to the Crimean War, Eussia and England were on terms of steady friendship, and it is to the manoeuvres of Napoleon the Third that Europe owes the antagonism of the last half century. It is commonly said, indeed, by those who maintain the theory of necessary antagonism, that Eussian policy is directed to the acquisition of India—in which case there is no help for it but that England must fight her sooner or later. But a glance at the map of Asia will show the falsity of this supposition. Eussia has already confiscated more than she can easily assimilate. The addition of India to her already overgrown Asiatic empire would be a fatal strain on her resources, even if the English were to evacuate it to-morrow. What Eussia does want is a warm-water port—an outlet to the ocean, that is to say, which is not blocked by ice for whole months, like St Petersburg and Vladivostock. Ever since Peter the Great imprinted the first tendency to expansion on his empire, Eussia has looked fondly to Constantinople as the ideal centre of her naval power, and the future headquarters of her commerce. It is possible that some such sentiment has even affected her enthusiasm for the liberation of the Christian subjects of the Sultan. But European jealousy has hitherto been too strong for her to achieve this object. The English have done much to retard her national "mission," especially since the opening of the Suez Canal, the absolute control of which English statesmen regard as of the first necessity to
Russia, England and Japan
A Connagkt Love-Song
4their country and its interests. It is highly improbable that Europe will ever willingly agree to Russia's possession of Constantinople, and English interests certainly press strongly against it. For this reason Russia's alleged desire to revive the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, by which in 1833 she endeavoured to obtain control of the Dardanelles, is foredoomed to failure. It would certainly be highly impolitic on the part of England to encourage any such proposition or to countenance it in any way, unless and until, of course, that country were persuaded by substantial proofs and guarantees that her acquiescence would not be attended by any injury to her own interests. Much the same may be said of the design attributed to Russia to establish herself on the Persian Gulf, where also, as Captain Mahan points out, she would be on the flank of the English communication with India. But undoubtedly it is a hard doctrine that Russia should for ever be debarred from access to an ice-free ocean, or even that she should only obtain it in the Far East.
Moreover, this is hardly a notion that she is likely to relish, much less to tamely submit to. A mighty Empire such as Russia, is not to be dictated to lightly, nor is she likely to suffer her long-cherished designs and ambitions to be set aside merely in order that a purely academical theory touching the "balance of power" may not be undone, and the doctrinaires of the chancelleries of Europe put to confusion. In the event of a successful war with Japan, Russia will emerge from the conflict doubly strong, and doubly confident, and more than ever determined to have what she considers as necessary to her existence as an Empire. Flushed with a considerable success, and with all the enhanced prestige which a successful termination to a contest with Japan must necessarily give her, pray, who is there that will then say her nay, or will be prepared to oblige her to subordinate her interests and ambitions to the convenience of Europe? On the contrary, the probability is that in theevent we have alluded to, the Russian demands will have so substantial a backing as to be practically irresistible. The probability of a union of European Powers in order to stay the progress of theRussian designs in Europe is so remote a contingency that we need not trouble to canvass it. Russia, profiting by her victories and by her experience of the jealousy, weakness and uncertainty which characterise European international relations and professions of friendship and alliance, will know when and where and precisely how to strike with thegreatest possible advantage to herself, and with theutmost degree of injury and consternation, so far as her enemies alone are concerned. The much talked of "Yellow Peril" will become a thing of thepast; and in place of it we shall have a new danger and a greater mischief to contend against— thetriumph of Russia in Europe, and the gradual absorption of the best and most civilised parts of theglobe by the invincible armies of the Tsar. A CONNAGHT LOVE-SONG
Da mbeith 'aitreabh agam fein, No gabhaltas a's rèim,
Caoirigh breagha bàna Ar àrd—chnoc no slèibh, Slàinte agus mèin, Agus gràdh ceart d'a rèir,
Beidhinn-se's mo ghràdh geal. Go sàimh insan t saoghal.
And sheep with white faces To pace on the down. Had I racers and hounds And gold lace to my crown,
Then I trow on her face I should trace not a frown.
There's a girl in the land And our flame she has fanned, She's a bright sun at table And a choice one of all, So graceful and tail, Her white palm so small, So lissom and tender, And slender withal.
Were I and my love Picking nuts at the tryst, By the liss in the clover, With no cover but mist, I should fire—all men wist— With desire to be kissed, Her soft voice could not tire I'd sit by her and list.
Were we away clear To the hills of the deer, Though starving, disheartened, And parted from here, Yet I should not fear, But Christ would us hear, Would hearken, and hearten My darling, and cheer.
Bha faileadh giubhais fhluich anns an iarlmailt, agus bha Gleann Aora a briseadh a mach le taladh an earraich. Lion Paruig Dall am piobaire—mac mhic Iain Mhoir—a chom fharsuing le anail dhithis dhaoine, agus thilg e na duis thar a ghuaileadh. Bha iad a bogadan car tiota gus an do dh'at am mala a mach, agus sheirm a cheud sgal ann an cluais na maduinne. Neo-bhlnn agus sgreadach, dh' fheuch na ribheidean co a b'airde 'dheanamh fuaim gus an do chum làmh fir-iuil fo smachd iad, agus shnàmh fuaim fhada chiuin na piobaireachd a mach am measg na stioman breacain. Chuala mullach glas Dhruimfearna an ceol; leig a chreag a tha 'deanamh faire air beul Charnuis troimh 'n bhealach e, agus thar a chnoic, agus sios a dh'ionn-suidh nan eileannan gu h-iosal. Dh'aom Dun Chorra-bhile agus Dunchuach, Cillmuin uaibhreach, Ciochan Shalachari, agus ceud monadh eile mun cuairt a dh'eisdeachd ris na puinc-chiuil bhòsdail a lion an Gleann. " An Gleann, is leamsa 'n Gleann " sheinn am feadan sunndach, agus air claidheamh Fhinn! cha chliucheadh Macruimean fhein ni b'fhearr e.
'Sann mun d'fhàg Paruig Dall a dhol do'n Leth-Bhaile a bha e, roimh na cogaidhean a dhadh na glinn ; agus chocadh na Caimbeulaich am bonaid ann an aodunn Albainn uile. Bha Paruig sean, agus bha Paruig dall, mar a tha 'n t-ainm aige ag innseadh, ach ghluais e le giulan righ sios as suas air an fheur ghoirid, a chas seasmhach ris gach buille don cheol, 'fheileadh a luasgan bho thaobh gu taobh coltach ri! òran baird, a sporan a leum gu h-aighearach air ^ ghluinnean lachdunn. Da fhichead ceum togarach gu] taobh an uillt, tionndadh reidh air sail bròige, agus] an sin air ais le dearsadh na greine air bucuill a chrios.
Rinn na fir—a tilgeadh a chabair agus a cur na cloich-neirt an aghaidh na greine an taobh thall don pholl mhonadh—moille nan sìnteagan nuair a chual iad uaill an fheadain, thug iad teann - tharraing chabhagach air na breacain mu 'n leasraidh, agus thainig iad a nall a dh'eisdeachd, stad na mnathan a bha posdadh phloideachan air son na h-airidh a bha am fagus an speirteadh anns an linne bhig, agus rinn iad cronan mar gum bann am bruadar ; bha cuimhn' aig na fir 's aig na mnathan air na laithean a dh'fhalbh, nuair a bha 'n Gleann bog le fuil dhaoine, oir bha na Stiubhardaich thall mun coinneamh bha 'n Apuinn.
" Dealradh Dhia! ach theid aige air cluich cuideachd," arsa mac a phiobaire le cheann a tuainnealaich leis a cheol ghrinn iullagach.
An sin phut Paruig am malani b'aide stigh 'na achlais, agus dh'atharraich am fonn. Chluich e 'n t-urlar aig "Bodaich nam Brigis," agus chunnaic uiread 's gam 'b' aithne an naigheachd "bodaich nam brigis " air am briseadh, agus a teicheadh roimh culaidhean iotmhor G-hlinn-urchi, fad mu thuath air a Mharairne, laithean fada siubhail sgith troimh ghlinn spuinnte.
" Se cluich ghrinn a th'ann, tha mi gabhail ris " arsa mac an duine dhoill, 's e na sheasamh fo chraoibh sheilich, malana piob' bhratachail ann an lùb a 'ghairdean. Chaith e breacan dorcha nan Diarmad, agus bha faillean do bhalg an domblais aige na 'bhonaid, oir bha e ann an cuideachd Dhonnachaidh Dhuibh.
"A mhic Pharuig Dhoill" arsa 'n Ceannard, seachd bliadhna bho 'n Fheilmàrtuinn so tighinn, " ma tha thu gu cluich coltach ri t-athair, cha n'eil air do shon ach Dunmheangain agus teagasg Pharuig mhic Cruimein." Mar so chaidh Tearlach do 'n Eileann Sgiathanach — eileann fuar sgeanan agus uaimhean—agus ann an oil-thigh Mhic Cruimein dh'ionnsuidh e 'phiob-mhor. Maduinn as feasgar, as fad an latha eadar riu, chluich e'm feadan no 'phiob iomlan—tional as siubhal, mort as ceol tiamhaidh, agus am furan flathail. Far am bheil a ghaoth laidir a tighinn saillte bho Bhatarnais tarsuinn Loch Mheangain, agus tigh'n-am-fraodhrac gorm-dhearg Uibhist a briseadh croinn oir dol-fodha na greine, sheas e air na bruthaichean thall mu choinneamh Bhoraraig, agus chuir e 'n seol-mara gearanach fo gheasan. Agus thainig latha air an do chluich e "Cumha na Craoibh-Chlarsaich," leis na seann bhliadhnachan do chomhraig ghairbh, agus do dhaoine treuna anns an fhonn aig' uile; agus thubhairt Paruig mac Cruimean "Na cluich ni 's fhaide, 'ille; falbh dhachaidh: cha chuala Lochogha fear eile riamh coltach ruit." Mar choileach le 'chirein gun ghearradh thainig an t-oganach as an Eilein Sgiathanach.
"'Athair " bha e air a radh, " cha chluich sibh gu h'olc air son seann duine, ach tha sibh ag ionndrainn an t-seallaidh air aoduinn nan daoine, agus se sin leth a chiuil. A bharrachd air sin, tha sibh sean, agus tha bhur meuran mail air na puinc-chiuil mhaise. So bhur fuil agus bhur feoil fhein a dh'fheuchas dhuibh cluich nach robh a 'leithid riamh an àite sany bith sear air na h-Eileannan.
Chual' a mhuime am bosd. "A Pheasain" ars' ise gu crosda, le fuath na h-aodunn tioram odhar le toit na monadh. " Se duine 'th' ann a d'athair, aguB cha' n'eil annadsa ach balach aig nach eil cridhe air son latha fada. Cha'ne aite ann an earbull Dhonnachaidh Dhuibh, cuimhnich, a dh' fhoghnas] air son piobaire 'dheanamh."
Rinn Tearlach gaire na h-aodunn. " Balach no duine " ars' esan, " seallaibh orm ! tuath, sear, deas, agus siar, càit' am bheil am fear a gheibh buaidh orm ? Tha 'n t-ainm aig Macriumean, ach bha piobairean ann air thoiseach air MacCruimean, agus thig piobairean na dheigh."
" Dh' fhaoidte gu' bheil e mar a tha thu ag radh," arsa Paruig. " Tha 'n stuth annadsa, agus feumaidh an rud a tha 'stigh tighinn a mach; ach thoir dhomhsa Cothrom na Feinne, agus sean 's mar a tha mi, le Cothrom na Feinne, agus se sin ceartas, ma dh' fhaoidte gun d'thoir mi ort goirsinn le ni's ludha 'thogradh. Am bheil thu air son feuchainn ?"
" Tha mi 'cur an cleachdadh ribheid-feadain uir," arsa Tearlach; "ach bitheadh e 'nuair a thoilicheas sibh."
Shuidhich iad latha, agus chaidh iad a mach a chluich an aghaidh a cheile air son gloire, agus sann mar so a thachair gun robh air an latha so Paruig Dall a cluich. " Is leamsa 'n Gleann," agus "Bodaich nam Brigis " ann an doigh a chuir gluasad air cridheachan.
Chnag Giossal a' meuran ann an aodunn a'dalta 'nuair a dhùin a 'fear an crùnluath aig a' phiobaireachd.
"An urrainn thu 'dheanamh ni 's fhearr, fhir dhiolainn ? " thuirt i gu dranndanach.
"Tha so an tarruing ris co-dhiu !" arsa Tearlach, agus thairis air a dhruim chaidh a bhratach le 'ceann tuirc fuaighte air òr.
Gille grinn, air a chrois! glan ghearrte am buill agus eutrom an cois, subailte an leasraidh le luasgan guaille nach robh piobaire eireachdail riamh as eugmhais. 'Leag na mnathan a bha san linne uile an taic air aon a cheile anns an latha bhog giubhas-bholtrach, agus sheall iad air a mach a suilean domhain; dh'eirich na fir air an fhraoch agus sheas iad ni bu dluithe.