National Geographic : 1900 May
THE GROWTH OF RUSSIA and achievement is but the guarantee of a far grander future. It would be a congenial task to linger upon great national enterprises begun and fast pushing to completion. Above the quicksands of Turkestan and through the wastes of Siberia to the Eastern Ocean Russia is constructing her solid iron roads. Over the face of her pro digious European plain she is marking out the paths of the canals on which from sea to sea navies will ride. Siberia, the old-time synonym of desolation and solitude, is inviting the activity of the colonist, whether farmer, miner, or engineer. Korea and the provinces of dor mant or disintegrating China await their share in the world's life from the electric impulse of her northern brain. That brain is to nerve Asia, long outworn, to a resurrection as from the dead. What the warrior monk Elias uttered long ago receives confirmation every pass ing year: " The progress of Russia is mysterious and profound. Be fore she moves she neither betrays her plan nor hesitates nor boasts, but none can hinder her arriving where she has set her will." Not long ago I received a letter from a Bulgarian friend, a leading member of the Sobranie, or Bulgarian Chamber of Deputies. He uses these words: " In the near or distant future I see only two prominent nations-the United States in the west, and Russia own ing nearly the whole of Asia and exercising a preponderant influence over the European continent. The whole of the Balkan peninsula, Asia Minor, Persia, Central Asia are her natural and inevitable in heritance. Above Asia and Europe I see the White Czar of Holy Russia. Your people need have no concern. The interests of Russia and the United States nowhere conflict. Naturally they are friends and allies. Together they are to regenerate the world." Thus the Bulgarian statesman utters his own conviction and the great political credo of the Slav. The one necessity and the chief ally of Russia is time. How far the peace manifesto of Nicholas II was prompted by philanthropy or by profound but selfish statecraft it is impossible to know. If phi lanthropy, that manifesto remains the noblest and most memorable document ever issued by a Christian monarch; if political sagacity, that manifesto is in appreciation of the future the astutest utter ance ever made by the occupant of a Russian throne. But it is unbe coming to question the hidden motives of a deed in itself sublime. History will record no more than this: that at the close of a century more crowded with bloodshed and war than any other since time began, Russia through the voice of her autocratic Czar put forth a plea to all mankind in favor of universal brotherhood and peace.