to Mr. Fish.
Vienna, January 27, 1877. (Received February 16.)
Sir: The Turks, having isolated themselves from the other European powers, by declining to accept any of the propositions of the conference, that body has dispersed.
More than two months ago the Emperor of Russia, in his Moscow speech, declared that if the European powers failed to extort from Turkey justice for its Christian subjects, he would for himself, and acting independently, compel the Turks to a recognition of their rights.
It now remains to be seen whether the condition of his country is such as to enable him to fulfill his pledge, or whether he will feel the mortifying necessity of admitting that what seemed to Europe as his solemn and deliberate words were the choleric and inconsiderate impulse of the moment.
If he really meant, and still means war, the opportunity was never so good before, and perhaps will never again be so favorable. The resistance of Turkey to the very moderate demands of the conference leaves her without an ally in Europe, and at the same time makes Russia in some sort the champion of the other powers to redress the wrongs of which they complained.
It is said that since the mobilization of her army, Russia finds it so far from what she thought, that she cannot make war with any hope of success against Turkey, and that the Turks, knowing that it is only a question of time when they must fight Russia, find it more convenient to do so now, while they have a veteran army already in the field, than to defer it to a time when Russia might be stronger and Turkey weaker. The armistice between Turkey and Servia terminates on the 1st of March, [Page 22]so that if Russia would save that country from such treatment as Turkey usually awards to her enemies, she must be prompt to act, and the-present month will probably be one of intense interest.
It is evident that the war cannot, if once begun, be localized, and it is difficult to foresee how far over the earth’s surface it may extend. Only a few days ago I saw that the Mohammedan subjects of the Empress Victoria in India had subscribed several millions of dollars to aid the Turkish cause against any Christian state which might attack her.
It is not without its consolations to know that all Europe is suffering like ourselves from a terrible depression in financial matters, and perhaps that fact may be the most potent in deciding the question of war or peace. It is quite certain also to my mind that all Europe must, within a very few years, undergo a fearful political fermentation, from which it will emerge purified.
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As for the Eastern question, it remains just as it was before, for the present, until we see what action Russia may take in the matter.
I am, &c.,