Page images

which must be taught to Albanians. Of government the only conception they have is obedience to the chieftains of their clans. To abandon them to themselves is to inaugurate a period of warfare. The problem of Albania is one for joint and disinterested concern on the part of the great powers. Here, if ever, the tottering steps of nationality in infancy need elderly guidance for, in spite of adverse conditions, Albania is not lacking in foundations for national unity.

The Albanian region is well defined. An Albanian language, spoken from the southern frontier of Montenegro to the northern limits of Epirus, exists. Lack of intercourse with the outside world favored the perpetuation of a single type. Tallness accompanied by round headedness and dark complexion is common to the majority. Although many of them are Mohammedans, fanaticism is absent. Intermarriage of Christians and Mohammedans is not uncommon. The interesting fact deserves to be recorded that Albanians were Christians in Byzantine days. Their conversion to Islam entitled them to privileges in Turkish times which were denied to Christians. But whether Christians or Mohammedans the Albanians carry their religion lightly, a characteristic which may help to overcome the obstacle of religious divergence.

This brief survey of Balkan nationalities cannot be complete without mention of the drawbacks to the formation of a single nation

ality due to the peninsula's structure. Lack of uniGeography

formity is a dominating characteristic of the peninsula. a Balkan

The heights at which its mountains rise vary greatly. Handicap

Deep and narrow valleys are the usual occurrence within the ranges. The diversity extends to climate. In the Greek section of the peninsula mild and rainy winters alternate with dry and burning summers. Along the Danubian valley however the winters are long and bitterly cold. Moreover the peninsula through its valleys provides lanes of travel which have been crossed by both European and Asiatic invaders. From Asia especially the inflow has been heavy through the passing of the Danube valley into that of the Pruth. Away from the lanes of travel a life of isolation would be the rule. Communities like those of the Rumanians of the Pindus mountains or the Macedonians thus preserved their identity to this very day.

The first of these remnants owes its existence to its mountain homeland where a language closely akin to the Roman of the early Christian era is still spoken by its members. The Macedonians however living in less isolated areas are bordermen in whom neither



Serbian nor Bulgarian customs definitely asserted themselves. Only by language does their affinity with Bulgaria present a stronger tie. In every other phase of their life the misfortune of position is apparent. Their land is the time-old cockpit of Serbian and Bulgarian struggles.

A border zone of far greater extent is the seat of Europe's easternmost nation, Russia. We deal in this instance with the merging into

one of two continents and the magnitude of the problem Russia is

explains the difficulties which have attended the formation Merging

of the Russian nation. The basic element in Russia is Continents

the ancient Russ or Ruthenian state peopled exclusively by Slavs. Its union with Muscovy produced Russia. But the Muscovite states were Tatar and the absorption of this element by the Slavs of Russia has been a constant source of weakness for the nation. No means of checking this westerly spread of the Tatar was afforded by nature to Russia. Once, in history, over two thousand years ago this same Tatar element was on the point of conquering China, but its progress was arrested by the mountain wall which is China's natural protection on the west. Russia, devoid of a similar barrier, succumbed to the Tatar and is permeated through and through by Tatar blood and Tatar views. Only in the Ukraine has the Slav element retained its purity. In the wide plains of this western province, the real Russian is found. Here the best of Russian thought has found its way in national literature and music. Only when this thoroughly Slavic element will have fully asserted itself on the Asiatic in the east and—we may say it now on the Teuton in the west, will Russian national life reach full maturity. Before fusion is complete the menace of dismemberment is apt to loom again and again on the Russian political horizon. As a matter of fact the Russian has shown himself in history as a capable assimilator of aliens. But the number of non-Slavs with which he has to deal is overwhelming

Discordant elements in the Russian nation are further provided by the Letts and Lithuanians of the Baltic provinces. These peoples

owe their individuality to seclusion in little accessible Discordant

forested and marshy retreats. The shelter saved them Elements

from the Teuton and the Slav. They speak a form of old of Russia

Aryan which in modern times has helped them to stand aloof from their powerful neighbors. In Finland also the population has always been lukewarm in its allegiance to Russia. In this province, however, the feeling of nationality is based on a highly valid contention.

On the map Finland stands out as a peninsula. Its population is separated from neighboring peoples by the sea and the frozen deserts of Lapland. Within these natural barriers the land has a characteristic of its own imparted by the numerous lakes which dot its surface. This geographical peculiarity is accompanied by a high state of culture in which love of country is deeply enshrined. On such foundations nationality may be solidly established. But the political incorporation of Esthonians with the Finns is a matter teeming with international complication, although the Esthonians are Finns and speak a Finnish language. To dwell on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland has been, from a political standpoint, their misfortune.

West of these Finns the problems of nationality appear to have been satisfactorily solved by the Scandinavians. The separation of

Norway from Sweden in 1905 was the political expression Scandinavia of a physical dualism in the northern peninsula. NorOffers no

way is a mountainous land with a deeply dissected Problem

coast along which the number and beauty of bays are

famed the world over. Sweden however is a plateau sloping gently toward the Baltic. Norway enjoys a milder climate because it is subject to oceanic influences from which Sweden is cut off by the very mountains of its sister state. In sum, diversity in the land was eventually felt in nationality.

The case of Denmark is no exception. The peninsular section of this country and its neighboring islands enclose a number of straits.

Because of this fact the Danes have become the Denmark Controls Straits middlemen of the Baltic region. They control the

entrance to this sea and exact a toll on the traffic going in or out. The prosperity of Denmark is based on this accident of their country's position. Community of interests born on this gateway created and maintained nationality. The Kiel canal was built to avoid the crossing of the Danish straits by German ships. Note the interlocking of events due to geography. To provide German territory for the canal the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were annexed by Prussia in 1866. Through this seizure some 150,000 Danes are to-day unwilling subjects of the Kaiser.

Before abandoning the theme set forth in these lines it is fitting to carry this survey along the broadest lines of European geography,

The continent is a peninsula. The Mediterranean Highest Type

and the Atlantic with the North and Baltic seas outnear Seashore

line this feature definitely. Between this fact of



geography and the progress of nationality a striking relation is in evidence. The highest form of civilization in Europe and the most perfected types of nationality are found along the seaward fringe of the European continent. The progress of life in the land mass is still clouded by the veil of medieval anachronisms. In Teutonic lands, notwithstanding boasted superiority, the disastrous effects of dynasticism are felt. In France and Britain such relics of past ignorance have been swept away by a more enlightened comprehension of man's welfare. Russia is even worse off than Germany, since it is in the throes of a transition which has plunged its long-suffering inhabitants

a from one extreme to another.

This remarkable fringe of the European peninsula has even more to its credit. As a seat of civilization it has stood foremost ever

since Europe assumed its predominant rôle in world France and

history. The coastland from Greece through its Britain Leaders

westerly sweep to Scandinavia became the avenue which favored the northerly travel of the high ideals evolved in the Asiatic lands of early civilization. The Greek and Roman world owed the best in their civilization to southwestern Asia. As Greeks and Romans drew from the east, so France and Great Britain draw from Hellenic and Roman thought for a more intimate understanding of the abiding truths which have been the prime movers of high purpose in every land. In this dissemination of light, France plays a leading part. To this very day British thought is influenced by French intellectualism. In Germany, Teutonic civilization has advanced only as it has drawn on the enlightenment radiating from France. France and Great Britian are now the leading nations of the fringe before our view. And away at the northern end Scandinavians have given the world a shining example of national unity coupled with the most progressive democratic ideals.

Now that this travel of culture has reached its northern bounds a due easterly push has originated which bids fair to improve life in

central and eastern Europe. Germany's backwardness in Germany Backward

civilization is proved by the brutality, often degenerating in Ideals

into savagery, which permeates the German mind. Civilization can be measured by ideals alone.

Material progress is a deficient gage. Were other means of ascertaining these truths wanting, the lesson of the map alone would be convincing, Humanity's debt to the coastlands of Europe can never be overestimated.

This was an effect of geography the drift of which is in agreement with the particular cases outlined for each nation. Travel by sea was

an easier feat than the scaling of the mountain barrier which Midland

in central Europe hampers direct communication between Sea made

northern and southern lands. Southern Europe's great Travelers

midland sea and its smiling climate invited travel the year around. In such propitious surroundings civilization advanced at least twice as fast as in the colder inland plain where, away from the softening influence of the sea, one half of each year was a period of lethargy in thought or material achievement. The gift of sea and ocean to Europe therefore meant higher civilization.

But the student of nationality sees beyond the physical background. The progress by instalments which everywhere has been a character

istic of nationality has been accompanied by social Social Growth

movements which should be estimated in their a Factor

proper light. A hundred years ago dynasticism was held as the most stable guarantee of peace. To-day the idea that peoples exist for the benefit of their monarchs has given place to sounder conceptions of democracy. East and west of the Atlantic two sister republics, France and the United States, share the honor of having proven by a practical application of a republican form of government that the welfare of the state is a direct outcome of the welfare of its citizen. To her honor also Great Britain, in spite of a monarchical form of government and because of the high character of AngloSaxon ideals, has been singularly free from the evils of dynasticism which in continental Europe have retarded the progress of democracy. Unfortunately the endeavor to free Europe from the danger of dy. nastic ascendancy has been accompanied by the rise of revolutionary tendencies which, carried to impractical extremes by fanatically inclined idealists, tend to create conditions of anarchy. The case of Russia lies before the world's gaze. A perverted use of appealing catchwords has spread in ignorant quarters. Fanciful notions concerning liberty disseminated by irresponsible visionaries have become effective agencies to suppress law and order as conceived by the saner thought of generations. Clearly a middle course between dynasticism and ultra-radicalism is required in European nations. A clear grasp of the working of these social currents is essential everywhere, more so perhaps in the case of the smaller states which have hitherto led a mutilated national life. Such knowledge coupled to the data of science as supplied by an enlightened interpretation of


« PreviousContinue »