VOL. 1 APRIL 29, 1897. NO. 25
The troubles between Greece and Turkey are still unsettled, and though the war clouds look lower and more threatening, the storm has not as yet broken.
Several matters have, however, been made clearer to us.
The first and most important is that there is no such thing as a Concert of the Powers.
It has been hinted for some time past that the Powers were not agreed as to the course they should take with Greece, but it is now openly known that there is no prospect of their agreeing at all.
This was found out when Greece refused to obey the Ultimatum of the Powers and withdraw her troops from Crete. The Powers threatened to blockade the Piraeus and the ports of Greece. The reply of Greece was to charter every possible ship, and send men and arms to the frontier, and to tell the Powers that she would declare war on Turkey the moment her ports were blockaded.
Then the world waited to see what the Powers would do. But the Powers did nothing. There was no blockade of Greece, and according to the latest accounts there is no chance of one for the present.
It gradually came out that the Powers had had a serious disagreement—England, France, and Italy standing out against the proposed forcing of obedience from Greece.
It was even said that the Admiral of the Italian Fleet had asked to be exchanged from duty in Crete, because by reason of his having served longer in the navy than any other officer of the various fleets, he had been made Admiral of the Allied Fleets, and it was his duty to give the orders for any action that was taken against the Cretans or Greeks. He liked his work so little that he asked his Government to recall him, and send some one else in his place.
It would seem that the trouble with the Powers is that they cannot all be brought to see that the Turkish Empire is really in such a state of decay that nothing can keep it from falling to pieces.
Germany, Russia, and Austria believe that the Empire is still strong, and can be held together by the powerful arm of Europe. To do this they are willing to crush and sacrifice noble little Greece.
England, France, and Italy, on the other hand, do not believe in the saving of Turkey. They refuse to allow a brave Christian people to be martyred for the sole purpose of shoring up an Empire that is a disgrace to civilization, and had much better be pulled down, so that a new and more creditable sovereignty may be built upon its ruins.
* * * * *
The work of the Powers has failed in every direction.
The Admirals of the Allied Fleets which are blockading Crete, received orders from their governments to spread the news through the island that the Powers offered Crete home rule under a European Prince, and to assure the Cretans that the blockade would be removed the moment the Greek troops were withdrawn from the island.
The Cretans would not listen to this. They sent replies, signed by nearly forty thousand men, representing the entire Cretan population, declaring that they wanted no such arrangement.
Not one of the signers approved of the idea of home rule. The Cretans are determined to be reunited to Greece, their own mother-country, and they intend to fight until they gain their point.
This action on the part of the Cretans turned every one's attention back to the frontier of Greece and Turkey. It seems that the question of Cretan liberty must be settled there.
The war fever is running very high in Greece, and King George is being urged to declare war, and let the Greeks show the Powers they are able to settle their own affairs for themselves.
The 6th of April was the anniversary of the first national rising in Greece, when, in 1821, they determined to throw off the rule of Turkey, under which they had suffered for so many long years.
This day is always celebrated in Greece as a holiday and fete day. Coming as it did this year in the midst of such angry feelings against the Turks, it was feared that the soldiers on the frontier would lose control of themselves, and that their officers would not be able to prevent them from crossing the frontier and attacking the Turks.
The Crown Prince issued a General Order to the soldiers, commanding them to preserve order, and, possibly in consequence of this, the day passed without disturbance of any sort.
But it was not likely that the Greeks and Turks could remain long on the frontier facing each other, without trouble of some sort arising.
Both countries have been massing their armies on their side of the border, in readiness for the declaration of war, and in some places the opposing forces are so near together that the block-houses are only thirty yards apart.
It was only a question of time when the first blow would be struck.
On the 9th of April, three days after the great fete had passed over, and just as Europe was praising Greece for the behavior of her men, the fighting broke out.
Great excitement prevailed when it was learned that a body of Greeks, one thousand strong, had invaded Turkey, and was holding the Turkish army at bay.
War had not been declared, so the news of the fighting surprised everybody very much. But it was soon learned that the Greeks engaged in the fight were not soldiers of the regular army, but were described as "brigands."
They were, however, a body of men who were armed by a powerful Greek secret society, which is at the root of that enthusiastic demand for war which is echoing from every quarter of Greece.
This society has been gathering men into its service for years, and making them swear, on joining, that they will do all in their power to restore to Greece her old possessions in Macedonia, Epirus, and Thrace, and that they will bring these Greek peoples once more under the rule of Greece.
For years the Greeks have been in the habit of putting all the money they could spare aside, for the use of this great League which was to free them. Even the little children have devoted their banks and money-boxes to the cause of liberty. In this way a large sum of money has been gathered together, and this society, which is called Ethnike Hetairia, has been able to arm men, and send them to the frontier to fight for their country.
King George was well aware of the existence of this society, and probably that its members were on the frontier waiting for their chance to overrun Macedonia and reconquer it from the hands of the Turks.
He therefore sent a message to the Turks, warning them that bands of armed men, who did not belong to the regular army, were on the frontier, and that he would not be responsible for any of their acts.
On March 8th, fifteen hundred of the members of this League crossed the frontier, and were met by some Turkish soldiers, who fought them and drove them back again.
But this band was not the only one. Another column of Leaguers made a raid into Macedonia, took possession of two towns, and established themselves in a strongly fortified spot.
Yet another attack was made on the Turks at Mount Olympus, and after a struggle the Greeks succeeded in planting their flag on the sacred mountain.
Mount Olympus was supposed by the ancient Greeks to be the dwelling-place of the gods whom they worshipped.
You have all of you heard of Jupiter, Juno, Cupid, Venus, Diana, Minerva, Apollo, and Neptune. These were all Greek gods, and there were many, many more gods and goddesses besides, whom the Greeks worshipped, and whose deeds have been sung for us by every poet since the great Homer. The faces of these fabled personages are even familiar to us, through the beautiful Greek sculpture and through the art of famous painters, until the names and stories of these gods and goddesses have become household words to us.
Mount Olympus, as we have said, was supposed to be the dwelling-place of the gods. It was there that the great Jupiter was supposed to hold his court and rule the destinies of men.
To every one who has studied mythology, as the history of the heathen gods and goddesses is called, Mount Olympus is an object of the greatest interest; and if this is the case with foreigners, how much more must this mountain be venerated by the people whose whole history is connected with its rocky masses.
The Greeks love Mount Olympus. They feel that it is their very own property, and much of their discontent against the Turks is that it is no longer on Greek soil, no longer a part of Greece, but belongs to the hated Turk.
It is curious that the two mountains most sacred to the Greeks should be on Turkish soil. Mount Ida, the birthplace of Jupiter, is in Crete.
It must have been a proud moment for the Greeks when they saw their beloved flag waving over Mount Olympus.
The Turks are, of course, extremely indignant over these various raids, and insist that they were made by regular soldiers of the Greek army.
This King George denies, and be reminds the Turks of the warning he has given them.
The Turks refuse to believe him. They insist that the invaders were led by Greek soldiers, and declare very positively that they know for a fact that the "brigands" were trying to arouse the people of Macedonia, and that if they succeeded, the Greek army would join in and help; and that if, on the other hand, the "brigands" were defeated and obliged to flee, the Greek army was to support them and save them from being put to flight.
They say also that this is really declaring war on them.
The Powers, highly indignant at this new state of affairs, are once more threatening a blockade of Greece, and have said that they will not allow either to keep any lands gained by the sword. This announcement has been a check to both countries, for they can see no use in fighting, and losing men and money, if they are to gain nothing by it in the end.
In the mean while, the fighting continues on the frontier between the Turks and the "brigands," and every moment it is expected that war will be declared, and all its horrors will overshadow Europe.
The Greek Ambassador has taken formal leave of the Turkish officials, and is waiting orders to return to his own country. The Sultan, on his side, has sent the necessary orders to the various ministers and consuls in Greece to return to Turkey.
This, as we have before explained, means the end of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
* * * * *
The situation in Cuba is not very much changed.
There have been two important Cuban victories in Pinar del Rio, the province Weyler declared to be entirely pacified.
In the first the Cubans routed the Spanish forces, and captured some ammunition, of which they were badly in need.
In the second they conquered the town of Bahia Honda, a seaport about sixty miles from Havana, and after taking possession of all that was valuable in it, set it on fire and completely destroyed it.
Two important filibustering parties have been landed, and the Cubans are stronger than ever in numbers and arms, and more hopeful of success.
But the war still lingers on. What advantages are gained are of very small importance, and the rest of the world is looking on while lives are being thrown away in a struggle that seems as if it would linger on until the once beautiful island of Cuba becomes a desolate waste of ruined towns and barren fields.
It seems as if some friend ought to step between the two warring countries, and try to bring about an understanding between them.
There seems to be a chance that the United States may be that friend.
It has been felt that our rulers were too friendly to Spain, and that in preventing the filibustering expeditions from leaving our shores, they were in truth doing police duty for Spain, and helping her, contrary to the wishes of the country, which is in sympathy with Cuba.
In the case of General Rivera this can no longer be said.
When it was learned that the General was not to be treated as an honorable soldier and held as a prisoner of war, but was to be tried by a drumhead court-martial and shot as a rebel, the Senate immediately took action in his behalf.
A drumhead court-martial is a hurried trial held in camp. It is used in the case of spies or deserters, or for soldiers who have committed some disgraceful act which is best disposed of at once.
Senator Allen, of Nebraska, offered a resolution, declaring it the duty of the President to protest to the Spanish Government against such a violation of the rules of civilized warfare.
The resolution was passed, and much to every one's satisfaction, twenty-four hours after, Senator Sherman, the Secretary of State, had the pleasure of announcing that the Spaniards had decided not to hold any drumhead court-martial, but to keep General Rivera as a prisoner of war.
This means that he will not be shot, but will be held by the Spaniards until the end of the war, or until they want to exchange him for a Spaniard of equal rank, who may happen to fall into the hands of the Cubans.
This prompt deference to the wishes of the Senate looks as if the Spaniards were ready to look at Cuban matters more fairly and calmly.
An offer from President McKinley to bring about an understanding between the two countries has been courteously received by the Spaniards, and though it has not been accepted as yet, it is a great step in the right direction that Spain is willing to receive the offer amicably.
In the mean while, there is a joint resolution before the Senate, offered by Senator Morgan, of Alabama. It is "that a state of war exists in Cuba, and that the United States shall accord belligerent rights in its ports and lands to both parties engaged in the struggle."
Senator Morgan has laid a great mass of evidence before the House, which shows that the Cubans have a government which is in thorough working order, making laws, administering justice, carrying on a postal service, and maintaining a fine and well-organized army.
Under these circumstances, he claims that Cuba is not engaged in mere rioting and disturbance, but in an earnest warfare, a struggle for liberty, in which she should have the sympathy of other free nations, and be given by them the privileges of a nation at war.
If this resolution is passed, Cuba will be free to fit out a navy to help her in the struggle, and to buy in this country and ship all the arms she needs to carry on the war.
As we have said before, the Cubans believe that the passage of such a resolution would almost put an end to the war, for they could then land arms and men enough to crush the Spaniards without any difficulty.
There was a good deal of excitement over the report that Gen. Julio Sanguily was preparing to return to Cuba. This is the General who, as stated in No. 20 of THE GREAT ROUND WORLD, was released from a Cuban prison early in March.
When he was released by the Spaniards, General Sanguily was made to promise that he would not again take up arms against Spain, and therefore every one was much shocked to learn that he was preparing to join a filibustering expedition and return to Cuba, to place himself at the head of one branch of the army.
It was learned that the General had gone to Jacksonville, Fla., and sensational stories were spread about that there were two parties of Cubans staying in different hotels in that city, in each of which was a man who looked like Sanguily. It was said that this was done to prevent the Spanish spies from finding out the movements of the true Sanguily.
Finally, the Spanish consul got so excited about it, that he swore out a warrant for the arrest of the General, on the charge of fitting out a filibustering expedition. The General was accordingly arrested.
When the case came up, there was no evidence of any kind against him, and he was immediately discharged.
He stated to the court that he had had nothing whatever to do with fitting out an expedition for Cuba. He had given his word not to return to the island, and he meant to keep it. He had gone South to escape the damp atmosphere in New York City, which made his rheumatism worse, and it was in search of health and a warmer climate that he had gone to Jacksonville.
The Cubans were very indignant over the arrest of Sanguily, and the Spanish consul was apparently somewhat ashamed of the part he had taken in the matter, for when the case came up he refused to give any evidence.
* * * * *
Spain has more troubles on hand.
There has been a revolt in Porto Rico, another of the West Indian Islands which belong to Spain.
This revolt was of no very great importance, and was very quickly put down. It would have been hardly worth mentioning, but that it followed so closely on the news of an outbreak in the Spanish provinces on the African coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that it became noteworthy as a sign of the breaking up of Spain's vast colonial system.
Spain has now five different quarters to fear, five different revolts in various portions of her domains. Her enemies are within her own borders.
She has the Cuban war, the war in the Philippines, the revolt in Porto Rico, the Carlist riots, and the revolt in her African colonies.
She certainly seems to have her hands full.
She has done her best to keep the African troubles to herself, but the news has at last come out, and with it the fact that Spain cannot spare a single soldier to go and subdue it.
* * * * *
The waters of the Mississippi are still rising, and as yet there is no hope of the floods subsiding.
Every day news is sent of fresh crevasses formed and of more levees broken.
While the city of New Orleans has not yet suffered, there is hourly fear that it will be flooded. The levees are breaking in all directions, and in the near neighborhood of New Orleans fresh breaks are feared, which will send a vast volume of water flowing toward the city.
A government report from Tennessee says that nearly eight hundred square miles of territory is covered with water, from three to seven feet deep. What cabins are still standing are filled with people and cattle, crowding the upper floors or huddled together on rafts moored to the houses.
In Missouri the levees protecting Davis Island, the home of Jefferson Davis, have given way, and the island is submerged.
Davis Island was densely populated, as about twenty-five hundred people lived on it. Help had to be sent for, and steamers and barges came down and rescued the people and the cattle.
Telephone and telegraph messages are being hourly received from points along the river, asking for boats to come and save the unfortunate people, who in many cases are clinging to trees and housetops till help comes.
Many stories are being told of the way the people are rescued.
In some instances the relief steamers will find a whole family perched on the cottage roof, the women and children, half-dead with fright, clinging panic-stricken to the roof, and crying aloud for help. In others the people will not realize the danger they are in, and refuse to be taken off their housetops, insisting that the floods will subside in a short while, and that they need no help.
One party of negroes was found seated on the roof of a cottage. The water had risen to the eaves, and the house was in danger of collapsing under the pressure of the angry waters.
The negroes, however, were busily engaged in playing cards, and were annoyed at being rescued from their perilous position before their game was finished.
The present flood is the worst ever known in the history of the river.
In 1862, during the war, there was a great rise of the Mississippi, which destroyed most of the levees along the banks, and from Vicksburg down the whole country was flooded.
Since that year the river has never risen as high until the present time, when the high-water mark of 1862 has been reached and passed in both New Orleans and Vicksburg.
For twenty-five years after, the people of the Mississippi Valley felt the effects of that great flood, and the worst fears are entertained for the ruin and desolation that the present one will leave in its path.
Thousands of people have been brought to want, through the sweeping away of their homes by the waters, and so much misery and poverty have been reported, that President McKinley sent a message to the Senate, telling them of the distress caused by the floods, and asking them to take legislative action for the relief of the sufferers. He stated that he had been informed that $150,000 to $200,000 would be required to assist the people.
On receipt of the President's message a joint resolution was offered, giving $150,000 of the public money for the use of the people in the flooded districts.
This resolution was passed by a unanimous vote of the Senate, and would have been sent to the President, but that word came from the House of Representatives that that body had passed a resolution voting $200,000.
The Senate immediately recalled its resolution, altered it to agree with that from the House, and passing it promptly, sent it to the President, who signed it without delay.
The Secretary of War, General Alger, has made all arrangements for giving the fund to the suffering people. Six officers are now in the flooded districts, finding out what the wants of the people are, and another detail of officers is to follow them, distributing food and relief according to instructions.
That every section may be reached, the flooded country has been divided into six districts, with one officer to go over each.
The Citizens' Relief Committee of Memphis, Tenn., had arranged to help the sufferers in its district before Congress was heard from. This one society fed and cared for nearly seven thousand people who had sought refuge from the waters.
This society has also sent large quantities of food and supplies to various points in Arkansas and Mississippi, but the help of the Government was very badly needed. The Citizens' Relief Committee could only reach a very small portion of the people who are suffering from the angry rise of the Father of Waters, as the Mississippi is called.
* * * * *
Matters are very unsettled in the Transvaal.
They are still inquiring as to who gave Dr. Jameson the authority to make his raid, but nothing of any consequence has been brought to light.
In the Transvaal itself, war with England seems to be threatening. There is much angry discussion over the late news that England has leased Delagoa Bay for thirty years, at a rental of $2,500,000 a year.
Delagoa Bay belongs to Portugal, and is the only seaport which the Boers can reach. The Transvaal, as you will see by the map, lies inland, and has not any sea-coast of its own.
The English deny this report, but, all the same, British war-ships are being sent to Delagoa Bay.
A new High Commissioner has been appointed to South Africa, and a great deal of surprise was felt when it was learned that he was to take a strong body of marines and sailors with him.
The Government says these fighting men have only been sent with the Commissioner to guarantee the carrying out of his commands, but it is very openly reported that they are being sent out to strengthen the force which England already has in South Africa, and that war will soon break out in that quarter of the globe.
The English people are very angry with President Krueger, because, at a recent banquet, his grandson, a lieutenant in the Transvaal army, made some rude remarks about the Queen of England.
But it would seem that they have little cause for anger, because Oom Paul rebuked his grandson and suspended him from duty. It is probable that the young man, whose name is Lieutenant Eloff, will have to leave the army in consequence.
It is said that the President is extremely annoyed that these remarks were made, and has ordered Lieutenant Eloff never to mention the Queen's name in public again.
* * * * *
New York City came very near having to build up a new charter.
After the work was finished by the Committee, it was handed to the Mayor, who for several days had his office open for people to go in and discuss the Charter before him.
It was believed that the Mayor approved of the Charter. Just imagine how surprised people were, when, the hearings in his office being over, he sent the Charter up to the Assembly in Albany, with the information that he disapproved of it and would not sign it; or, in other words, that he vetoed it.
The Assembly has, however, passed the Charter over the Mayor's veto.
A number of New Yorkers who do not approve of the Charter are going to fight it in the Legislature, and try to get the State Senate to throw it out. If this fails and the bill passes both Houses, they will try and influence the Governor to veto it.
There is a good deal of trouble ahead for the Charter.
Some ambitious people want to make a State of Greater New York, and call it Manhattan. They think that it will be of great benefit to the city to be a State, and that if this is done the taxes will be much lower and the city will acquire many valuable rights.
* * * * *
The Tariff Bill has passed the House of Representatives, and is now before the Senate. The friends of this measure think that it is sure to pass.
But the bill seems to have as many enemies as friends, for the outcries against it are loud and long from every section of the country.
It is difficult for us to guess whether the bill is going to be useful or harmful to us.
On one hand, the people who are in favor of it are praising it to the skies, and speaking of the immense industries that are going to arise as soon as the bill is made law. The duty on raw sugar, according to these people, is going to encourage people to try and make the raw sugar over here, and the American farmers to grow beets to make beet sugar from. They claim that a wonderful new business is to grow out of this new industry, that is to make all farms pay and everybody happy.
The importers and people who do not approve of the bill are crying aloud that clothes and woollen goods are going to be so much dearer.
A picture was published of a lady and gentleman seated in a pretty room, talking the tariff over, their little girl playing beside them.
Every article of furniture in the room, every garment they wore, and the basket of marketing which the lady had apparently brought in with her, had a ticket on it, showing how much more expensive each article would be if the Tariff Bill became a law.
This picture, however, far from having the effect intended, of making people dislike and fear the Tariff Bill, makes thinking people approve it.
When we remember that this tax is only to be laid on foreign goods that are imported, we are bound to think that if it is really true that so many necessary articles are imported which we could just as well make in this country, it is high time our industries were protected, and that the vast and wonderful resources of our own country were developed to supply our needs.
So great a blow will the tariff bill be to the importing trade, that some of the foreign ministers have ventured to protest against the bill, because it will damage their country's commerce so much.
Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands have been the first to protest. Germany has sent a decided hint, through her Ambassador, that she will make such a heavy duty on American goods, if the bill is passed, that she will ruin our trade in Germany as surely as we shall ruin hers in America.
The most serious complaint against the bill comes from the business men. They say that business was just beginning to pick up again, and that the introduction of so disturbing a question as the Tariff, at this time, is killing business, and making it as bad as it was before election.
* * * * *
The Ceremonies for the dedication of the Grant Monument will be very grand.
A fine naval parade has been arranged to go side by side with the land parade, and the President has promised to be present and review both parades.
Boys from the public schools are to march in line.
* * * * *
During the last few days there have been most marvellous reports about an air-ship that is declared to have been seen in the sky.
The stories come from the West.
People in Omaha, Nebraska, Kansas City, and finally in Chicago have all stated positively that they have seen a strange light in the sky, which was as great as that of twenty stars, which they said could be nothing else but a searchlight on an air-ship.
Astronomers, after carefully looking at the light, declared it to be a star, one of the Orion group.
People, however, persisted in thinking it a searchlight on an air-ship, because three lights were seen—a red, a green, as well as this great white light.
The astronomers said that the particular star referred to did seem to shine, with red and green lights at times.
Still, people were not satisfied, and soon a report came that the object had been seen more closely, and a cigar-shaped outline had been observed behind the light.
From all over that section of the country people have declared that they have seen the thing, and that it is really an air-ship; but whether there is any truth in these reports or not, it is impossible as yet to tell.
One thing is certain, however, that a great many persons are experimenting with air-ships, for from five or six different towns word has come that so-and-so has been experimenting with an air-ship for a long time, and perhaps the object in the sky is his perfected ship.
We may live to travel by air-ship yet.
* * * * *
The New York Elevated Roads have put on bicycle trains.
Between certain hours of the morning and afternoon on Sundays, the trains will run bicycle cars.
These cars are made with a line of bicycle racks running down one side, and a row of seats facing them on the other.
The fare is fifteen cents, and none but persons with wheels are allowed to ride on these trains.
The experiment has proved such a success that the surface cars are talking of running trailer-cars for bicycles on Sundays, and, during certain seasons, on week-days.
* * * * *
War has been declared between Greece and Turkey, and the meddling of the Powers has brought about nothing better than a long delay, in which the angry feelings between the two countries have had time to grow so strong and deep that nothing but blood will satisfy them.
On April 16th Turkey formally declared war upon Greece.
The reason given by Turkey was that Greek troops had taken part in the last raid made by the brigands, and that therefore Greece had already commenced war.
In his letter stating his reasons for declaring war, the Sultan said he hoped the Powers would agree with him that Greece was really to blame for his action.
Greece has been hoping that she could force Turkey to declare war, that she might escape from the penalties threatened by the Powers if she was the first to begin the fight. She is now free from any further fear that they will blockade her ports, and can fight the enemy without interference.
The various Consuls and Ministers have been recalled to Turkey from Greece, and the Sultan has issued an order that all Greeks must leave Turkish territory within fifteen days.
The fighting has been very furious on both sides.
The war broke out in two different places. On the west coast of Turkey is the Gulf of Arta. Here the Greek war-ships have bombarded the town of Preveza, and reduced it to ashes.
Farther inland a Greek force has crossed the border into Epirus, and driven the Turks before it. The Greeks are endeavoring to march on to Janina, the capital of Epirus. Epirus is one of the Greek provinces which King George desires to win back for his country.
On the frontier of Macedonia the Greeks have not been so successful, for the Turks have won from them a very important mountain pass, the Pass of Milouna, which opens the plains of Larissa to them.
This has been a very severe blow to the Greeks, and unless they can force the Turks back again they are in danger of losing the town of Larissa, where most of the supplies for the army have been sent; its loss would be a terrible one!
There is another pass to the plains of Larissa, called Reveni. This the Greeks are holding bravely; the Turks were defeated with great loss in their attack.
The Crown Prince has sent a telegram to Athens, saying that the victory lies with Greece so far, and that he intends to try and take back Milouna from the Turks.
It is said that Germany persuaded Turkey to declare war, and that the Kaiser is in full sympathy with the Sultan.
England has declared herself neutral, which means she will not side with either party; but it would appear that strong efforts are being made in the British Parliament to force England to aid Greece.
It is feared that if Greece should whip the Turks, the great European war can no longer be avoided. The reason for saying this is that, if Turkey is defeated, the Ottoman Empire will fall to pieces, and all the Powers may join in one free fight for a share of the plunder.
GENIE H. ROSENFELD.
LETTERS FROM OUR FRIENDS.
From Monterey, Cal., come the two following letters about books:
I thought that I should take much pleasure in writing to THE GREAT ROUND WORLD.
I have been reading your magazines for several months, and I greatly enjoy them.
Among the books that I like to read are those of the Stories of the Ancient Greeks, but for current events I greatly prefer THE GREAT ROUND WORLD.
Ever your reader, ROSA B. MONTEREY, CAL.
I enjoy reading THE GREAT ROUND WORLD very much. I think it is very interesting, as well as instructive.
One of the books I like best is Kipling's "Jungle Book." I think all of the readers of THE GREAT ROUND WORLD would enjoy it also.
I will close now, wishing great success to THE GREAT ROUND WORLD. MARION C.
MONTEREY, CAL., April 7th, 1897.
We are very much obliged to our kind young readers.
Rudyard Kipling's "Jungle Book," of which there are two volumes—"The First Jungle Book" and "The Second Jungle Book"—is a very delightful series of stories of Indian life, and those of our readers who have not yet read them have a great treat in store.
"The First Jungle Book" is perhaps the better of the two, and the tale of the little Mongoose Rikki Tikki is so delightful that you can read it again and again with pleasure.
I like THE GREAT ROUND WORLD. Mrs. Mills, my teacher, reads something out of it every morning that she has time. Will you please answer a few questions? Can the prisoners in Sing Sing prison talk together? If not, why not? Can they, after doing their day's work, do work for themselves and keep the money? Yours truly,
CARL C. CHEYENNE, WYO., April 5th, 1897.
MY DEAR CARL:
The prisoners in Sing Sing are not allowed to talk together. This is part of their punishment. Prisoners cannot do work for themselves and keep the money. They used to have certain tasks given to them every day, and when these were done they went back to their cells. Under the present law they stay in their cells all the time, except for a certain period of exercise, when they go round and round the prison yard. EDITOR.
I have already told you some things about the old Roman Empire, which ran its course long before modern Europe came into existence.
Now I am going to tell you about a civilization so much older than that, that it makes the Roman Empire seem like a thing of to-day!
The Greeks are the most ancient people in Europe. Their early history, before there were books or written records, has come down to us through legends and tradition; that is, fanciful stories, in which fact and fable are mingled, handed down from generation to generation. These legends tell us that the founders of their nation were not men but gods, who came down from heaven and peopled the land; that the massive architecture (of which there are remains to-day) was the work of these gods, who were the ancestors of the Greek people.
But you and I know more about the origin of this people than they themselves did. And the wonderful story has all been found out almost in our own day!
Their ancestors did not come from heaven, but from Central Asia. Countless ages ago an Asiatic race, called the Aryans, began to flow westward into Greece. When they came, or why, nobody knows. But come they did, and for centuries like a great sea spread farther and farther into Europe, until at last the continent was covered. And you and I and almost all the people now in Europe are Aryans, and belong to this great Asiatic race.
It was a long time after the occupation of Greece that the Aryan wave reached Italy.
Then after long ages another Aryan branch, called the Keltic, came into Western Europe, and overflowed what we now call France, Spain, and the British Isles. Long, long after that, still another, the Teutonic branch, flowed over Central Europe, and became Germany. Then, last of all, came the Slavonic, which occupied the eastern part (Russia); and then—the Asiatic Aryans had possessed themselves of the entire Continent of Europe.
It is a strange fact that knowledge and civilization have always, like the sun, arisen in the East, and moved steadily toward the West!
Probably the first spot in Europe touched by the rays of the coming day was the little island of Crete! Minos, who was King of Crete in this time of fable, was always worshipped as the deity who first established civilization and social order!
Theseus also, King of Athens at this time, was one of their great heroes. And you must read about his slaying the Minotaur in Crete, and about the beautiful Ariadne who fell in love with him, and gave him the clue to the labyrinth where her father, Minos, kept the monster hid. These things about the classic little island have an especial interest for us now.
At this earliest period the people were called, not Greeks, but Pelasgians. In the course of time the Hellenes, a more powerful Aryan race, overpowered them, and after that their country was called Hellas, and its people Hellenes, until a much later period, when they were known as Greeks.
The Hellenes, like the ancient Pelasgians, had a system of religion which we call mythology. They worshipped twelve principal deities and countless smaller ones, who, they believed, ruled the lives and fortunes of men. Jupiter was the chief of these, and his will and that of the other gods were communicated to the people by priestesses, in the form of "Oracles." These were mysterious utterances, the meaning of which had to be guessed like riddles. But for centuries no war was undertaken nor a single important thing done without first consulting the "Oracles."
The "Heroic Age" (as it is called) is all so vague and shadowy, we should know nothing about it were it not for the great poet Homer. But, strangely enough, about nine hundred years before Christ, Homer gathered all that was then known about the early life and habits of the Hellenes into two great poems, called the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey."
In describing an ancient war which took place between the Hellenes and the Trojans—a people in Asia Minor—he so minutely pictured the people engaged in the struggle, their habits of life, their thoughts and feelings, with the minutest details of the circumstances in which they lived, that it enables us to know what would otherwise be impossible.
This marvellous work, produced more than a thousand years before there was a Germany, or an England, and almost a thousand before there was a Roman Empire, is still the world's great masterpiece, and is to-day an indispensable part of education.
At the close of the "Heroic Age" something happened, which had the same effect upon Ancient Greece that many centuries later the descent of the Goths and Vandals had upon Southern Europe. Greece, too, had its northern barbarians. Some stronger and fiercer Aryan tribes poured down from Epirus, and for a time upset everything, just as the Goths did in Europe.
The Dorians, a stern, unrelenting tribe, took possession of the southern extremity of the peninsula, called the Peloponnesus; and the city of Sparta was the head of their State. There were other States, too, in Greece, and each had its king and separate government. But although jealous of each other and almost always at war, they worshipped the same deities, consulted the same Oracles, and all alike gloried in being descended from the same gods and in being Greeks.
The two most powerful States (or cities, which meant the same thing) were Athens and Sparta. But they were as widely separated in character and habits as if they did not belong to the same family. Athens was the brain, and Sparta the rough, strong arm of Greece.
Athens delighted in poetry, music, art, and eloquence. The Spartans despised all these things. They scorned to use three words where two would do, and aimed only to make their youth fearless and terrible defenders of Greece.
When a child was born, if it did not give promise of being physically strong and perfect, it was cast into a ravine and then left to perish. When the boys who were permitted to live were seven years old, they were taken from their mothers and made to endure cold, hunger, and inhuman severities. They were beaten until the blood flowed, simply to teach them endurance, and a Spartan boy would die under the lash rather than endure the disgrace of uttering a cry of pain. There was never any family life, nor pleasure.
Every boy was trained to be a soldier; and until he was sixty years old the man belonged to the State absolutely. And all those years he ate his black broth at a public mess, seasoned only with fatigue and hunger. A witty Athenian said he did not wonder the Spartans were brave in battle, for death was preferable to their life.
The severe code of laws by which they were governed was established by Lycurgus, about 770 B.C. (before Christ).
Athens had her days of severity and cruelty, too, under Draco, who established her first laws. But the people rebelled, and in 594 B.C. Solon, a man of great sagacity, prepared a constitution, which was a model of wisdom, justice, and even of gentleness. The government established by Solon was an aristocratic Republic, in which the common people had no part. The Chief, or Archon, as he was called, was chosen by the nobles, and served for a stated time, like our Presidents.
But the supreme authority lay in the "Court of Areopagus," whose members had already served as Archons. The Areopagus really ruled the State, a Senate of four hundred members preparing the cases which were to be brought before it for decision.
Athens prospered under this rule. But an ambitious noble stirred the people to believe they were unjustly excluded from office and from power, and produced a new government, which, under the cloak of a democracy, was really a despotism, with the scheming Pisistratus at its head, or, as it was called, its "Tyrant" (meaning simply ruler).
But Lycurgus did something else besides placing an austere and merciless system upon Sparta. He helped to re-establish the famous and ancient Olympic Games (776 B.C.).
You know how we feel about our great baseball and football games; how excited we are, and how glad or how sorry if one team or the other is defeated. Well, suppose, instead of these, there was one great game every four years, in which all the country could compete. And suppose the victor in this great game was crowned and treated like a king forever afterward. That would be what the Olympic Games were in Greece.
Every four years the young Greeks from all parts of the country met at Olympia and contended for prizes in athletic games. There was running, jumping, wrestling, boxing, the throwing of javelins and quoits (the "discus"), and races of horses and chariots. For one month, during this great festival, wars were suspended throughout Greece.
The only reward of the victor was a crown of wild-olive leaves; but this was regarded as the dearest prize in life and the greatest honor a Greek could attain.
The wearer of the olive crown was carried home like a king, with processions and songs of triumph, and all his life afterward he was a privileged and honored person. He had conferred everlasting distinction upon his family and his country, and his statue was erected in the Sacred Grove of Jupiter, in whose honor these festivals occurred.
Other festivals were established afterward in honor of Apollo, called the Pythian and Isthmian games, in which there were contests, not alone in gymnastics and in chariot races, but in music, poetry, and eloquence; and these prizes were also sought as the richest rewards life could bring. The Spartans took no part in them. But it was the Olympic games which brought together all of Greece every four years, cemented the states with a common sympathy, and kept alive the fraternal spirit.
This national festival was to them what the Christian era is to us. The interval of four years between the games was called an Olympiad. And time in Greece was measured from the First Olympiad, which occurred, according to our reckoning, B.C. 776-772.
With such a stimulus for effort, every young Greek was straining every nerve and every muscle to win the olive wreath. He was training his body to the finest perfection for the one prize, and his powers of intellect and his genius for the others. This goes far to account for the physical beauty and the supreme excellence which made this race like their own progenitors of the Heroic Age, more like a race of gods than of men.
But they were great in other things besides athletics and accomplishments. The shores of Asia Minor and of the Mediterranean were soon fringed with rich Greek colonies. Every place they touched blossomed into beauty, with temples and houses adorned with sculpture and painting. One of their cities on the coast of Italy was called Sybaris, and it has given us the word "sybarite," which means a person who abandons himself to luxury.
We may form some idea of these Greek cities from Pompeii, which was still existing on the coast of Italy at the time of the Christian era, and which has been preserved in its bed of ashes as if to show to a later age refinements of luxury, so far exceeding its own.
While during five hundred years Greece had been thus developing, its separate and discordant states were held firmly together by just three things: They all had the same religion and sacred rites, they were all striving for the same prizes at the Olympic Games, and all alike revered their poet Homer. The "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" were, in fact, the Greek Bible. It was the final appeal in matters of religion, and it was the history of their divine origin and ancestry. Boys studied it in school, and men never ceased to study it—many Athenians being able to recite both poems from beginning to end.
At the time the Greeks were thus becoming a great nation, there was in Asia an old and powerful empire called Persia. Some of the Greek colonies in Asia Minor were accused by the great King Darius of inciting his own people in Asia Minor to revolt. And he sent an army, which punished and subdued the offending Greeks. King Darius then decided that he would invade Greece itself. He thought he could easily master that little scrap of territory, and capture its straggling colonies along the Mediterranean coast, and thus extend his own dominion into Europe.
Athens and Sparta were, as usual, engaged in a small war; but at the news of a threatened Persian invasion, the Greek States sprang solidly together.
The armies met on the field of Marathon (490 B.C.), and the Asiatic host, after a desperate conflict, turned and fled. So confident had the Persians been of victory, that they had brought a mass of white marble with which to erect a monument on the plain of Marathon. This Phidias, the great Greek sculptor, carved into a gigantic figure of Nemesis, to represent Divine vengeance.
The proud and arrogant Persians were not used to defeat. For ten years they brooded over it and prepared to wipe it out by an overwhelming victory. Darius was dead; but his son Xerxes, in the year 480 B.C., appeared on the coast of Greece with a vast army, which he himself led.
The first incident in the war was the most renowned in the history of the world. If you do not know of it already, you will often hear how Leonidas, with his little Spartan band of three hundred, defended the narrow rocky pass at Thermopylae against the whole Persian army, and how they stood their ground until every man was killed.
The Persians pressed on into the heart of Greece. Athens was abandoned, and then burnt by the conquerors. What made the cause of Greece still more desperate was the dissensions between the Athenians and the Spartans, who insisted upon concentrating their forces to guard their own Peloponnesus. But finally all united in a great battle at Salamis.
The fate of Greece was now to be decided. Xerxes, seated on a jewelled throne that he might witness the victory of his arms, to his bitter dismay saw the terrible and overwhelming rout of his entire army, and returned to Persia with only a ragged remnant of his great host.
Now shall I tell you something more about this great King, and who it was who became his wife after he went back to Persia?
You all know the story. It is one of the most thrilling and dramatic that was ever written. You know about the lovely Jewish maiden who was chosen by the great King to be his wife in the place of Vashti, and how a wicked minister or adviser to the King plotted the downfall of Mordecai, and was then after all compelled to lead him in triumph through the streets, crying, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the King delighteth to honor!" And how the brave Queen, at the risk of her own life, saved her people from extermination. Well, this great King was Xerxes, and his wife was Queen Esther. And after the war with the Greeks was over, her uncle, Mordecai, was chief officer to the King, and wisely managed the affairs of his great kingdom.
And shall I tell you what sort of place Europe was at the time of this Persian invasion of Greece, and while Queen Esther was pleading for the life of her people?
On the peninsula of Italy there had arisen a Roman Republic, where a great civilization was growing. All west of that was called Gaul. It was filled with Barbarians (excepting the few Greek colonies on the coast). To the north were the British Isles, filled with another race of Barbarians, calling themselves Britons; and in Central Europe still more Barbarians, of the great Teutonic or German race; and still beyond that, where dwelt the Slavonic or Russian people, all was silence and impenetrable darkness.
It made little difference to these Barbarians then whether Persians or Greeks occupied the shores of the Mediterranean. But the history of future Europe would have been strangely changed if the Greeks had not driven back this deluge of Asiatic people.
So Greece was now at the head of the world, and Athens was at the head of Greece. And there was a man in Athens who was going to make that city not alone the greatest of that time, but in a way the greatest of all time!
Her great citizen Pericles changed the government of Athens to a pure democracy. And then, by the magic of his influence, it sprang from its ashes in a form so beautiful, it was known as the "City of the Gods." The matchless temples and colonnades which arose on the Acropolis, adorned by the sculptures of Phidias, are still the wonder of the world.
But that was not all. No men have ever thought so profoundly, nor spoken so wisely, nor with such eloquence, as did the men in those temples and under those Greek arcades. Never have such tragedies been written as were recited there, and never has there been an entire people so fitted to comprehend and to enjoy thought so elevated, and art of such a supreme type.
The outpouring of genius in the "Age of Pericles" is one of the great mysteries in history. It sent a path of light down through centuries of darkness, and that light shines just as brightly to-day, uneclipsed and even undimmed by anything the world has done since.
Pericles drew all this radiant genius into Athens, and made it beautiful and great. But he did still more than that. Athens, which had first been a monarchy, then under the rule of a few wise men in the Areopagus, had then lost all her liberties under the "Tyrants." Pericles created a Democracy. He believed the true ideal was a government by the people. That if Athens governed Greece, then the Athenians should govern Athens. And that the power of a state should rest, not with one, nor a few, but with the many!
During a period of fifty years free Athens was the acknowledged head of the Greek states, and in those years Greece had reached the meridian of her glory. But Sparta was jealous of the dazzling splendor of her rival; and she hated this new democracy which was spreading through all the states. She believed in the good old idea of one despotic king, and a people cowed into submission by his authority.
Two parties were thus created in the Greek states, and in a dispute which occurred about 420 B.C., the friends of the Spartans or Aristocratic ideal ranged themselves on the one side, and those of the Athenian or Democratic on the other.
From this arose the long conflict known as the Peloponnesian War, which lasted for twenty-seven years, its real cause being that Sparta was determined to lead Greece.
It was in vain that the Athenians fought with the energy of despair. Their beautiful city—the City of the Gods—was at last surrendered, and the scoffing Spartans (404 B.C.) took possession of the treasures they scorned.
Athens had fallen, but her real kingdom was indestructible. She was to be forever Queen in the empire of ideas, of literature, and of art!
The coarse, harsh rule of Sparta lasted less than a century. Then Thebes, another powerful Greek state, arose to the leadership of discontented Greece. And so Hellas, the land in which they all gloried, had become a mass of quarrelling, struggling states, until it was seized by the rough hand of a master.
In the north of Greece was the State of Macedonia. It was not composed of a multitude of free cities like the rest of Greece, but its people were diffused throughout the state, and all governed by one king.
Compared with the Athenians, these unpolished, rude Macedonians were almost barbarians.
But in the year 359 B.C. a man came to the throne of this state, who was not going to be satisfied with being merely a Greek among Greeks. He was resolved to be the head of the Greeks. This was Philip of Macedon. He bent all the energies of his strong, crafty mind toward making himself master of Greece.
Demosthenes, the great Athenian orator, in a desperate effort to save his people from this man, delivered a set of orations denouncing Philip. These are the famous "Philippics," of which you will often hear.
The Philippics were in vain. Greece yielded to this dominating King Philip, and was led into a war of conquest against the Persians. But the fates intended that a stronger hand than Philip's should lead the expedition into Asia. Philip was assassinated on the eve of his departure, and his son Alexander, just twenty years old, succeeded to his father's throne and projects.
There have been three men who have been called "Masters of the World." Alexander of Macedon was the first of these (323 B.C.), Julius Caesar the second (30 B.C.), and Charlemagne the third (800 A.D.). Napoleon Bonaparte came very near making the fourth in this brief list, but failed.
Among the stories of Alexander's boyhood is that of the "Gordian knot," which it was said could only be untied by the person who was destined to conquer Asia. After striving in vain to loosen this famous knot, it is said Alexander impatiently drew his sword and cut it—thus prefiguring what that sword was to do.
Alexander led the Greeks into Asia, and in ten years had conquered Egypt and all the Persian dominions, and decreed that Babylon should be the capital of this vast empire of his own creating. He founded Alexandria and other cities, which are still great centres of commerce. Not satisfied with this, he was pressing down into Arabia, when after a night's debauch he suddenly died (aged thirty-two years), and his vast scheme of empire perished with him.
The world is still feeling the results of those ten years of conquest. Every Greek province in the Sultan's dominions to-day is such because of Alexander of Macedon.
Four of Alexander's generals divided his empire among themselves—the kingdom of Macedonia, the kingdom of Egypt, and two Asiatic kingdoms. Egypt fell to the share of Ptolemy, who was the first of a line of kings which ended with the last Ptolemy, who married the famous and fated Cleopatra (30 B.C.).
The Greeks poured into the two Asiatic kingdoms, and Greek culture and civilization spread over the Orient (or East). But while Asia was thus Hellenized, Hellas, the source of this splendid civilizing power, was moving surely toward annihilation.
Another world-conquering power was coming into existence. Before the Christian era arrived, the Roman Republic had absorbed the four kingdoms left by Alexander, and when the Roman Empire came into being (31 B.C.) there were Greeks, but no longer any Greece, except as a geographical name.
The Roman Empire, after centuries of splendor, also expired. And in about the year 600 A.D. another great empire was being created by the Mahometan Saracens, who absorbed all the Greek provinces in the East. This empire also was to be superseded by another Asiatic race.
I have told you how the Ottoman Empire, starting from a grain of mustard-seed in the year 1250 A.D., spread with marvellous energy and rapidity. The Saracen dominions now became Turkish dominions, and the unhappy Greeks had changed masters for the last time. That proud and gifted race was doomed to spend years of servitude to the cruel Turk.
You have seen that the Turkish Empire went the way of other great empires. It reached a climax of power in 1500 A.D., and then swiftly and surely declined. But, although perishing, its fingers never relaxed their hold upon the Greek colonies, now no longer pagan, but Christian.
The old Greek love of freedom still burned in the breasts of this unhappy race. They still cherished the sacred memories of Hellas, still spoke her language, and gloried in her name.
In 1826 the spell of long captivity was broken, when the Greeks on the Peninsula—the very heart and shrine of the classic memories—freed themselves from Turkey and joined the kingdoms of Europe.
Seventy-three years have passed since then, and little has been accomplished toward the liberating of the race.
You are reading the last thrilling chapter in the history of Greece every day in the newspapers, while modern Greece, like a brave knight of old, is risking her very existence in defence of her kinsmen.
Even the names in the despatches seem like a voice from antiquity; Macedonia, where the Turkish forces are gathering; and Larissa, where Prince Constantine is intrenched. Larissa is a name older than Rome, older than the Olympic games, or even than Homer. It is the Pelasgian name for a fortified city!
Now I hope you will remember that the sufferings of the Armenians and of the Cretans should deeply move us, not alone because they are Christians, but because they are Greeks. The world owes a debt to Greece which nothing can ever repay. She has given us our civilization.
Rome was barbarian until Greece civilized her. What Greek slaves taught to their Roman masters was then transmitted by Rome to Europe.
Then when this borrowed light burned low after the ages of darkness, Constantinople relighted the world by sending abroad her stored treasures of Greek culture. And we to-day are still living in that transcendent light, and drawing upon those inexhaustible riches.
You know that the college where a man has been educated is called his Alma Mater. Never forget that Greece is the beloved Alma Mater of the civilized world. And the sorrows of her oppressed children should move us in a way quite different from those of any other race.
MARY PLATT PARMELE.
Copyright, 1897 by WILLIAM BEVERLEY HARISON.
Transcriber's note: Extra "to" removed from "he went back to Persia?"