The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55
The Situation in Europe
The Situation in Europe.
Now let me venture to give you my own ideas upon what you may look forward to with regard to events likely to take place in Europe. I ask you all not to think that this Russian difficulty is terminated. Don't take a flattering thought of that kind to your mind. My own impression is this, that for years it must go on and endure. Let us look at the world as it really is, as you have seen it yourselves. Let us reduce these views to plain first truths, and you will find that for two thousand years the northern nations, having a bad climate to endure, having vast extents of bad soil in their dominions, have continually found themselves in this position—although there were tracks of unoccupied land no person could occupy them with any hope of being able to obtain produce to repay the labour and money spent in the cultivation of the soil. And for two thousand years these northern nations have been pressing down upon Europe, first in one direction and then in another. In the heart of the nations there existed a great sense of uneasiness. They heard of finer climates, better soils and lands lying west, and they desired to move, and in vast multitudes they accumulated and bore down upon Europe. They were repulsed, driven back, slaughtered by millions at a time, and again they came, and submerged the Roman Umpire, and settled themselves in the finest countries in Europe. Then the Turks came into Europe, having laid waste some of the finest provinces in Asia Minor. Asia Minor was populous and wealthy; it is now but slightly populated and in extreme poverty, the land lying waste and the people gone. The vast hordes of Russia knowing this, and their hearts throbbing with anxiety to escape from the snows and ice of the north, long to move down into finer climates and occupy these waste lands. But you find this :
Britain says no. Populated or unpopulated the land is taken by the Turks, and must remain unoccupied by you, and we will drive you back to the gloomy recesses of your forests and your long winters again. But where are they to move? On the westward you have Austria, Germany, Italy, and France, all enclosing them On the east between themselves and Afghanistan, lies Central Asia, so fertile in some places, waste in others, and no Czar in the world, no Government in the world, could keep the Russian population from pressing down and trying to take possession of these places. And so they will continue to advance for years to come. You may say so far and no further, and they will rest for a time, but when new millions spring into existence, and new wants arise, they must find an existence where un-populated countries are, and you may as well attempt to prevent the birds migrating to where food supplies are to be obtained as to stop the Russians from seeking new outlets for their commerce and population. What have we done ourselves? Where would Great Britain and Ireland have been had it not been for America—(cheers)—had it not been for Australia and New Zealand? (Cheers.) Could we have allowed ourselves to be shut up? Could any Government have held us all back? You saw the Puritan Fathers led away, and none could stop them; and this great exodus from our own country has taken place all over the world, and the Germans have come with us; Germany has emptied a large number of her population into America, Canada, New Zealand, and South America, And do you think the Russians can be prevented finally and conclusively from spreading out into other countries. You may rely upon it we have entered upon a course, perhaps necessary, perhaps justly—I wont enter into the question now—which must naturally produce disturbances for, I believe, a century or two centuries to come, and it is simply a question when war will break out. That it will break out I am perfectly certain, and we ought to be prepared. This is called the Eastern Question, but in the times of the Romans when Marcus Aurelius, probably one of the greatest men who ever lived, died heartbroken on the Danube, having failed to drive these migrating hordes back, it was called the Northern Question. And although conditions have changed, although they march now in uniforms instead of the skins of animals, and fire muskets instead of using bows and arrows and spears, the human heart is the same, and longs for a finer climate and richer soil, and to escape from the pressure of population and poverty to where they can live in prosperity and comfort. If you shut them in you will have Nihilism, as you had civil wars in England. We have had no revolutions in England since the exodus went on.