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The caresses came first. From the moment of his advent in Rome he beamed upon everybody with the most charming amiability. A few months later his old brother journalist of the République Française, M. Delcassé, became French Foreign Minister, and then the opportunity presented itself of showing that the caresses were translatable into practical kindnesses. Towards the end of 1898 the Tariff war went the way of the Tunisian conflict. A commercial treaty was signed in which solid concessions were made by France.
The chief and obvious sources of irritation were now removed from FrancoItalian intercourse. France had reconquered almost all her old popularity in the Peninsula, and M. Barrère was free to address himself to the larger ques tions of policy which determined the rôle of Italy in the European balance of power. His choice of campaign was characteristic of the astute intelligence of the man. To attack the Triple Alliance directly was to blunder against influential prepossessions, and to concentrate men's minds on certain practical necessities of Italian policy, which it was desirable to keep in the background. Moreover, the Alliance still had five years to run, and it was impossible to foresee what might happen in that time. A more promising field was afforded by the Italian understanding with Great Britain. This, indeed, was the key of Italy's position in the Triple Alliance. The circumstances under which it had been negotiated had just been made public by Signor Frassati, a henchman of the senator Chiala, and it had been shown that but for it Italy would have left the Alliance in 1887.14 Since the disclosures of the Abyssinian Green Books in the spring of 1896, a cloud had settled on Anglo-Italian relations, and somnolent Downing Street
had done nothing to disperse it. The new British Ambassador, Lord Currie, was less supple and expansive than his French colleague, and it was not difficult to insinuate that his deficiencies were due to want of sympathy with Italy. These elements of the problem suggested but one solution, and M. Barrère worked towards it with all his skilful energy. People now began to recall that the Salisbury-Waddington compact in 1878 had been the origin of the Tunisian trouble. The fortification of Biserta, they querulously declared, was all the fault of Great Britain. They were persuaded by some subtle whisper that but for their desertion by their English ally they need never have surrendered their rights in the Beylick." At the same time their anti-English grievances in regard to Abyssinia became daily more accentuated. So sensitive became public feeling on the subject of the alleged apathy and even perfidy of Great Britain, that when the thoughtless and ill-managed adventure at San-Mun came to a humiliating end, the blame was very generally laid on her shoulders. The culmination of this intrigue came early in 1899, when Great Britain and France settled their differences in the Eastern Soudan.
14 "Nuova Antologia," October, 1897.
15 There was no foundation for this impression. The treaties between France and Great
This transaction is strikingly illustrative of the conditions of the diplomatic struggle then in progress in Rome-the disingenuous alertness of France, the somnolence of Great Britain, and the credulous sensitiveness of the Italians. British and French ambitions had come into conflict on the Upper Nile, and it became necessary to delimit the sphere of each. The object of France was to get some sort of an access to the Nile; the object of Great Britain was to exclude her altogether from the Nile valley and the countries formerly tributary to Egypt. Ultimately the question
Britain and France and Italy were signed within a few days of each other.
was settled by a line drawn south-west and south from the limits of Tripoli proper, which gave to Great Britain all she wanted and left France free to do as she pleased with what remained.16 The result was that although Great Britain did not actually recognize French dominion in the Hinterland of Tripoli, she virtually gave her a free hand in that region. Now, ever since the French occupation of Tunis, the ambitions of Italy in Northern Africa had all been concentrated on Tripoli. She had watched most zealously the movements of every French exploring expedition in the interior, and had vainly tried to persuade Great Britain that the Mediterranean understanding of 1887 ought to be interpreted as applying to the status quo of the Hinterlands of the states bordering on the sea as well as to the states themselves." The abandonment to France of the back-country of Tripoli, under the Italian agreement, consequently aroused a storm of indignation in Italy. That this was altogether justified will not be pretended by any impartial student of the transaction. The status quo in Tripoli had been scrupulously safe. guarded; the Turkish claims to the Hinterland had never been recognized by the Powers; Great Britain had consistently refused to acknowledge that under the 1887 Understanding she had contracted any obligations towards the status quo in the North African Hinterlands, and finally the dividing line did not recognize either French rights on the west or British rights on the east, but merely laid down a barrier beyond which both Powers agreed not to acquire "territory or political influence." None the less the concession to France,
16 "Documents Diplomatiques" (Declaration du 21 Mars, 1899), see especially pp. 8, 9, 10, 12, 19, 20.
17 Article signed "Un Ex" in "Tribuna," June 6, 1902. See also "Westminster Gazette" article by present writer, August 6, 1902.
18 These claims were set forth in a note
such as it was, evinced a deplorable unconsciousness of the true nature of the diplomatic peril by which Great Britain was confronted in Rome. It would have been quite easy to have introduced a few words into the Convention reserving Turkish claims in the Hinterland, and had this been done all trouble would have been avoided. The omission of such words convinced Italian statesmen that the interests of their country were a matter of absolute indifference to Great Britain, while by the general public the transaction was regarded as a betrayal only comparable to the French invasion of Tunis.
The opportunity thus afforded M. Barrère and his astute chief at the Quai d'Orsay was not allowed to escape them. When they were interrogated about the agreement by the Italians they manifested the most naïve surprise and the most touching sympathy. They had not the remotest idea of taking advantage of their Latin neighbor. The fact was that in dealing with Great Britain, who was the ally of Italy, they naturally imagined that Italy had been consulted and that it was with her consent that the Hinterland of Tripoli had been abandoned to them. Was not the blunder reasonable? Could France with her lofty notions of loyalty recognize that Great Britain would act otherwise? 19 Since, however, she was mistaken she would do her utmost to put matters straight, and forthwith she gave the most positive assurances to Italy that whatever else she might do in the Eastern Soudan she would not interfere with the trade routes between Tripoli and Central Africa. Lord Salisbury hastened to give an assurance to the same effect, but it was too late,
from the Porte dated November 30, 1890. The note has, I believe, never been published, but its effect was given to the Italian Chamber by the Admiral Canevaro on April 24, 1899.
19 See statement by M. Delcasse in "Giornale d' Italia," January 2, 1902.
besides being obviously superfluous. The mischief was done and even when Great Britain added an assurance that she had no desires against Tripoli proper the Italians had become too suspicious to attach any value to it. With the death of King Humbert in the following year the last obstacle to the final renunciation of the Anglo-Italian understanding was removed. The new King, as we have already seen, was of the Irredentist school and his hopes were centred in Russia and France. In his view it was only through them that Italian aspirations in the Eastern Adriatic could be realized and Italian interests in the Mediterranean safeguarded. In April of last year the establishment of closer relations between France and Italy was manifested by the visit of the Italian fleet under the Duke of Geneva to Toulon. A few months later a Mediterranean agreement was concluded between the two Powers by which France left Italy a free hand east of Tunis, and Italy made a similar concession to France to the west of Algeria. The Anglo-Italian understanding of 1887 was at an end.20
In the light of this rapid survey of the leading diplomatic events of the last eleven years, it is now possible to measure with some approach to accuracy the transformation which, during that period, has come over the European situation. Although the Triple Alliance has been once more renewed, scarcely anything remains of the old guarantees of peace. The Bismarckian mechanism is crumbling on all sides. The European coalition against France was destroyed in 1891. The
20 "Ibid." This is the only account which has been given of the Franco-Italian Agreement, but it is authoritative. See also speeches of M. Barrere (January 1, 1902) and Signor Prinetti (December 14, 1901). For an important avowal that the Anglo-Italian Agreement is at an end see article by "Un Ex" in "Tribuna" already quoted.
Balance of Alliances which succeeded it is now on its last legs. The Mediterranean understanding between Italy and Spain has gone the same way as the similar agreement between Italy and Great Britain." In the Balkans both Servia and Bulgaria have become Russophil, while the military convention between Austria and Roumania has become little more than a meaning. less document owing to the inability of Roumania to maintain her defences in a state of decent efficiency.22 But the most serious signs of decay are in the Triple Alliance itself. Italy has signed the Treaty, but in doing so she has made it quite clear that her affections are given to the common enemy and that should the casus fæderis ever arise, she would interpret her obligations in the sense of her inclinations. It is probable, indeed, that she would have given up the Triplice altogether and formally joined its rival last month, if Russia could have been induced to give her the same pledges in regard to Albania and the captive Italian provinces in Austria that France had given her in regard to Tripoli. Even as it is, however, her place in the Triple Alliance no longer possesses a practical raison d'être. She joined it originally as a protest against French clericalism and French aggression in the Mediterranean. Neither of these dangers exists for her any longer. She is practi cally the ally of France in the Medi. terranean, she is secure on her western land frontier, and as soon as Russia agrees to secure her on her eastern frontier, she will give up even the pretence of being a member of the Triplice. In the light of these circumstances,
21 "Un Ex" "ibid."
22 Roumanian Finance" (Clowes, 1902), pp. 10, 16.
23 Statement of M. Delcasse, "Temps," July 3, 1902. See also article on "L'Accord FrancoItalien," "Temps," July 10, 1902.
the significance of the recent visit of the King of Italy to Russia is no longer obscure.
The change which has thus come over the Bismarckian mechanism of peace would be of little consequence if the motives and intentions of the Powers to whom preponderance in Europe is now passing were the same as those of the old coalition. This is not the case. The Bismarckian mechanism made for peace because it was a coalition of the Haves; the coming combination will be an alliance of the Have-nots. Russia, France and Italy are all Powers with grievances to avenge, with lost provinces to redeem, with disturbing ambitions to realize. This is strikingly shown by the revival of the Revanche idea in France and by the fact that whereas the old understanding between Great Britain and Italy provided for the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean the new agreement between Italy and France frankly conThe Fortnightly Review.
The geographical regions which were the principal objects of exploration during my journey in Central Asia in 18991902 are indicated on the accompanying map. It will be seen that I endeavored to avoid travelling over again routes where other explorers had been before
templates partition in Northern Africa. Hence we must be prepared in the near future, if not for an actual catastrophe, at any rate for an era of instability and unrest. It is true that all the Powers are still deeply penetrated by the terror of war, but the Have-nots among them are no longer deterred by the certainty of defeat in the event of war. Hence they will be less consistently conciliatory in the future, less prudent, less averse to dangerous intrigues and to adventures of the Fashoda type.
IN CENTRAL ASIA.
1. The River Tarim from the Environs of Yarkand to its Lower Extremity. This river has been mapped out on about 100 sheets, on the scale of 1 35,000, large enough to display all the characteristic and changing features of the stream. The alluvial de
The moral so far as Great Britain is concerned is contained in Prince Bismarck's watchword: "Toujours en vedette!" If this watchword could become the common property of a new and sane Pan-Germanism, reaching from Berlin to London and perhaps thence to Washington, something effective might be done towards reconsolidating the foundations of European Peace.
posits, which have been laid down in the bed of the river since the current dwindled, as well as every accumulation of mud and every sandbank, have all been indicated. So also have every angle and curve of the bed which the stream has now abandoned; and wherever it has been possible to do so I have noted the time at which these desertions took place. I have ascertained that throughout the whole of its course the stream shows a tendency to shift its bed to the right-that is, to the south. It is especially on that sidenamely, the right-that the main
stream sheds off its numerous arms or secondary channels, and it is a very common occurrence for the river to follow, for longer or shorter distances, first one and then another of these auxiliary arms; and the tendency increases in frequency the nearer the river approaches its terminus, and is most extensively developed immediately before the terminus, where, instead of emptying into the ancient lake of Lop-nor, it now goes on past it and forms the lake of Kara-Koshun, further to the south.
Throughout the journey I was accompanied by native hunters and shepherds; but as soon as each man's local knowledge came to an end he was dismissed and another guide engaged in his place. Every name given to the stream was recorded, every channel mapped, and the diverse characteristics of the country adjacent to the banks, the graves of saints, the towns, the shepherds' camps, the fords that connect the highways on each side of the river, the lagoons and lateral lakes, the boundaries of the sand-deserts, and so forth-all were noted and plotted out on the sheets of the map. In this way I gathered a mass of material for a minutely detailed monograph upon the course of the Tarim, and the conditions which characterize this the greatest river in Central Asia. In fact, the map is so detailed that with its help it would be possible to construct a profile of the river-bed-at all events to form a clear conception of its structural formation. A number of astronomical positions were determined for the purpose of fixing and controlling the longitude and latitude. Every day, or at least every second day, the volume of the stream was measured instrumentally; it was found to vary very considerably during the course of the journey. This, however, is neither the place nor the time to dwell upon the causes of this changeability in the levels of the river. Indeed, throughout the whole of its
course the conditions of the Tarim are more complicated than would be presupposed, and not a year passes without the channel undergoing very considerable changes.
A large number of photographs were taken all through the journey; meteorological observations were recorded three times every day; and the selfregistering instruments used for this purpose were employed throughout the whole of the day.
2. The Desert between the Lower Tarim and the Cherchen-daria.-This part of the desert of Gobi, which had never been visited before, was crossed from Karaul to Tatran (north of Cherchen), and proved to possess an entirely different conformation from the desert of Takla-Makan. The sand, which is heaped up in dunes that go to over 300 ft. in altitude, is not continuous, but is interrupted by tracts of perfectly level soil entirely destitute of sand. In the southern parts of the desert small patches of tamarisk and kamish (reeds) were met with occasionally, and in such localities water can be obtained by digging down to 6 ft. or 7 ft. in depth.
3. The region between Cherchen and Andereh.-This consists of a narrow strip of tograk (poplar) forest and steppe, lying between two sand-deserts on the way from Cherchen to Keriya. The more southerly of these deserts is of no great extent. The region itself is watered by certain of the streams which flow out of the Kwen-lun mountains.
4. The Lower Course of the Cherchen-daria.-The regions on both sides of this river were explored, and it was ascertained that the Cherchen-daria also shifts and changes its bed.
5. The Lower Course of the Tarim between Yanghi-köll and Kara-Koshun. -This part of the course of the Tarim is the most intricate and the most difficult to disentangle of any section of the entire system; accordingly I devoted