CHAPTER XIII
RUSSIA'S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

BETWEEN the principles underlying the foreign policy of the Tsardom and those that shaped the public and private conduct of its authorised trustees there was an unmistakable family likeness. The background of the curious events recorded in this chapter of Russia's international relations--in so far as these were the results of deliberate endeavours on the part of the Petersburg Foreign Office-- may be recalled in outline by many readers. The West European beheld these occurrences through a roseate haze, which made the Tsardom seem the one deep gambler among European States and the most astute. And as for the tactics of the wire-pullers in Petersburg, they were taken to be so deft and efficacious that a veritable wizard could hardly detect in them anything to better. However desultory or aimless circumstance or folly might make the intercourse of the remaining powers with each other, Russia's course was believed to be steadfastly directed towards the unchanging far-off goal fixed for her by the genial Peter. Faith in the depth of the Tsar's designs and also in the inexhaustible strength of their countless battalions remained unshaken even after the Russian defeat in Manchuria. And yet the previous war against, and victory over, the Turks in the reign of Alexander II. afforded ample proof that neither assumption was well grounded. Moreover, no one who had an opportunity of scrutinising at fairly close quarters the procession of statesmen who glided across the Russian stage from Gortchakoff to Sazonoff could discover in the men any qualities more genial than average mother-wit, or any aims in their political strategy more subtle than the attainment of certain secondary objects, the utilisation of casual opportunities, the fulfilment of a personal desire of the sovereign,

-221-

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