to Mr. Fish.
Vienna, September 8, 1876. (Received October 5.)
Sir: The war between Servia and Turkey was brought to a close, for the present, on September 1, by the battle of Alexinatz, in which, as might have been expected, superior arms and discipline gave victory to the Turks.
The intervention asked by Servia will doubtless end in peace, but I regard any settlement by the great powers, unless by making a most radical change in Turkish affairs, as of the most temporary character, and resembling those vain compromises by which in our own country it was sought to avert the inevitable conflict between freedom and slavery. Nor am I by any means disposed to agree with those who are congratulating themselves on the fact that the crisis of a general European war is over. Much will depend upon how the Turk bears his successes, for Christendom has been so shocked at his conduct, and is so full of [Page 17]sympathy for its fellow Christians, that the least recurrence of such scenes as ushered in the campaign will make it hard to restrain Europe from an interference which would lead to the abolition of the Turkish government in Europe, and no amount of skillful diplomacy could restrain this movement if farther excited.
The population of Servia is 1,400,000; Bosnia, 1,300,000; Wallachia and Moldavia, now consolidated as Roumania, 4,500,000. Of these, seven-tenths are said to be Christians. Servia and Roumania are practically independent states, acknowledging the titular sovereignty of the Porte, and paying an annual tribute.
The population of European Turkey south of the Balkans is 6,000,000, of whom a majority are Turks, although even this is stoutly denied by some authorities.
To an American, the obvious idea would be for three contiguous states to unite under one government—if it were permitted, like our own—and under whose laws they could not fail to reach a distinguished position among the nations, as well as to give such an assurance of power in their unity as would command respect from all neighbors.
The habits of the people, I am told, differ as widely as their religion. The Christians are decidedly progressive: establish schools, improve in agriculture, are docile, humane, and industrious. The Turk is said to be just the reverse, and to have utterly lost his ancient characteristics of truthfulness and fair dealing, and to be morose, fanatical, vindictive, intolerant, and indolent; a foe to progress in any shape, and having his worst passions excited to frenzy by the appearance of a Christian schoolteacher. If one may believe apparently impartial persons, they justify the remarks of Sir Gardiner Wilkinson, who says of them: “It is the only instance of a nation having reached its zenith of power without having been civilised. It came into Europe as a horde, it became powerful as a horde, and it remains a horde.”
I have, &c.,