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Turkey page 3

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During all these months a Russian force had held a position in the Shipka Pass in spite of desperate efforts made by the Turks to dislodge them. A few weeks after the fall of Plevna three Russian armies were led across the Balkans. The difficulty of the march was extreme. The roads were slippery with ice, often almost impassable from deep snow. Many men perished under the intense cold. But the Russians were now animated by a spirit before which difficulty vanished. They made their way into Roumelia, and striking on the rear of the Turkish army which guarded the outlet from the Shipka Pass, compelled its surrender. Twenty thousand men laid down their arms. The victorious Russians advanced quickly to Adrianople, and the vanquished Turks begged for terms of peace.

Throughout the war the Turks abated nothing of the cruelty in which their race has always taken delight. They took no prisoners. All the Russians who fell into their hands were massacred, often with torture which forbids description. When the fortune of war left them in possession of a battle-ground, they habitually murdered the wounded. The forbearance shown by the Russians under the provocation of these atrocities is worthy of the highest admiration. The Turkish wounded were cared for by the Russians as tenderly as their own. The Russian army acquitted itself nobly by courage, endurance, and humanity.

It was a work of extreme difficulty to frame the new political adjustments which the overthrow of Turkey rendered necessary. The government of Lord Beaconsfield avowed the design of up holding in such degree as might be found possible the integrity and independence of Turkey. Happily for the subject populations of the Turk, the ruin was too complete to permit full success in this questionable enterprise. The terms to which Turkey was compelled to submit left her still in nominal possession of considerable territory, but involved her final extinction as a European power at no distant term. To the north of the Balkans, Bulgaria was erected into a principality, paying a tribute, but wholly exempt from Turkish control. To the south of the great mountain range, there was formed the province of Eastern Roumelia, nominally under the political authority of the sultan, but ruled by a Christian governor-general, and effectively protected against Turkish interference with her newly-conferred privilege of self administration. The independence which the Montenegrins had maintained by arms for four hundred years was now recognized, and some addition of territory given. Roumania and Servia received also a formal acknowledgment of their independence. Bosnia and Herzegovina were made over to Austria. Russia took back Bessarabia, of which she had been deprived in the time of her adversity twenty-three years ago, and Roumania was indemnified for the loss out of Turkish territory. Russia received also Batoum, Kars, and Ardahan in Asia. England accepted Cyprus in requital of her friendly offices, and guaranteed the safety of certain Turkish possessions in Asia - securing for herself certain rights to promote good government in these regions.

When the war began the sultan ruled a European population of eight and a half million, or, if the tributary states are included, of over thirteen million. When the war closed the tributary states were finally broken off from the empire. Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Cyprus had passed from under Turkish dominion. Roumelia took the first step in a progress which must ultimately result in her emancipation. Of the vast European populations upon whom there fell, four or five centuries ago, the calamity of Turkish conquest, all excepting four million have at length obtained deliverance. Had not England forbidden, these too would have been rescued, and the chapter of European history which is so dark with the miseries of Turkish rule would have been finally closed.

[The arrangements made by the powers in the Treaty of Berlin (1878) did not put an. end to the interference of Russia in the affairs of the Balkan states. Russian agents were set to work, both openly and secretly, to stir up discontent. This produced a strong anti-Russian feeling both in Eastern Roumelia and in Bulgaria. The former state declared for union with the latter, and the junction was confirmed by the powers. By his independent policy Prince Alexander of Bulgaria made himself obnoxious to Russia, and he was at last obliged to resign his crown, to the profound regret of his people.]

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