Trouble in the Balkans,
J. Booth
 

PART I. BULGARIA, 1903.

AFTERWORD
 

I have left my opinion on the rights and wrongs of the struggle between the Christian and Mohamnedan to the end of this part.

I went out to Bulgaria prejudiced - if at all - in favour of the Turks, and that is the leaning of the average Englishman. Weeding out the wild talk of sundry Bulgarian enthusiasts and the lurid stories in their papers, I heard and saw enough sober fact to convince any honest man that the cause of the Bulgarians is - to put it mildly - the right one.

Every correspondent in Macedonia that summer, with one exception, wrote down what he knew to be facts, uninfluenced by any preconceived opinion his paper may have had, and the evidence of these sound men leaves no room for doubt in the matter. Added to this, enough reliable statistics and Consular Reports to fill volumes are within reach of anyone who is sufficiently interested to look at them; and yet there is probably no subject of universal interest so utterly misunderstood in England as that of the respective merits of the Christian and Mohammedan cases in Macedonia.


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The "balance of criminality"! ["Historic truth requires us to say that the balance of criminality lies rather with the revolutionary bands than with the Turkish Government." (Mr. Balfour, in the House of Commons, August 14th, 1903.)]

That lamentable utterance - lamentable because so influential and so entirely mistaken - did more to soothe to sleep the awakening interest in England than anything spoken or written at that time.

A strong man comes to your house, amuses himself by giving you a good hammering, takes any of your property he pleases and decamps.

You would go to law?

But suppose there is no law, and nobody will listen to your complaints; and that the man comes again and again and still hammers and robs you, leaving you weaker and poorer each time. Do you think you would be anything but a worm if you did not cherish your strength and one day catch that man, and give him such a thrashing as he would never forget? And would you not be rather surprised if your neighbours said then that you were worse than he?

This is not only an allegory of the racial trouble, but a fact of the personal one, and understated at that. There are worse things even than being robbed and beaten.

Any harm the Bulgarians have done to the Turks has been a vengeance for generations of cruelty of a nature unguessed at by civilised peoples. In taking this vengeance in the only way open to them the Bulgarians have never, even in their worst


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moments, approached the barbarities of which certain classes of the Turks have been guilty. Not a single case of massacre, mutilation or outrage of woman or child has been proved against the Bulgars, whereas the record of the other side in these matters is too well known to need repeating. Perhaps it is not a Christian act to kill your oppressor, but if there be any British Christian who would endure without retaliation one iota of what these people have suffered, let him judge them.
 

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