[From the New York World, Aug. 13th, 1877.]
THE Sublime Porte has had the
sublime effrontery to ask the American people to execrate Russian barbarity.
It appeals for sympathy on behalf of helpless Turkish subjects at the seat
of war. With the memories of Bulgaria and Servia still fresh, this seems
the climax of daring hypocrisy. Barely a few months ago the reports of Mr.
Schuyler and other impartial observers of the atrocities of Bashi-Bazouks
sent a thrill of horror through the world. Perpetrated under official sanction,
they aroused the indignation of all who had hearts to feel. In to-days
paper I read another account of pretended Russian cruelties, and your able
and just editorial comments upon the same. Permit one who is, perhaps, in
a better position than any other private person here to know what is taking
place at the front, to inform you of certain facts derived from authentic
sources. Besides receiving daily papers from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tiflis
and Odessa, I have an uncle, a cousin and a nephew on active service, and
every steamer brings me accounts of military movements from eye-witnesses.
My cousin and nephew have taken part in all bloody engagements in Turkish
Armenia up to the present time, and were at the siege and capture of Ardahan.
Newspapers may suppress, colour or exaggerate facts; the private letters
of brave soldiers to their families rarely do.
Let me say, then, that during this campaign the Turkish troops have been
guilty of such fiendish acts as to make me pray that my relatives may be
killed rather than fall into their hands. In a letter from the Danube, corroborated
by several correspondents of German and Austrian papers, the writer says:
On June 20th we entered Kozlovetz, a Bulgarian town of about two hundred
houses, which lies three or four hours distant from Sistova. The sight
which met our eyes made the blood of every Russian soldier run cold, hardened
though he is to such scenes. On the principal street of the deserted town
were placed in rows 140 beheaded bodies of men, women, and children. The
heads of these unfortunates were tastefully piled in a pyramid in the middle
of the street. Among the smoking ruins of every house we found half-burned
corpses, fearfully mutilated. We caught a Turkish soldier, and to our questions
he reluctantly confessed that their chiefs had given orders not to leave
a Christian place, however small, before burning it and putting to death
every man, woman, and child.
On the first day that the Danube was crossed some foreign correspondents,
among them that of the Cologne Gazette, saw several bodies of Russian
soldiers whose noses, ears, hands, etc., had been cut off, while the genital
organs had been stuffed into the mouths of the corpses. Later, three bodies
of Christian women were founda mother and two daughterswhose
condition makes one almost drop the pen in horror at the thought. Entirely
nude, split open from below to the navel, their heads cut off; the wrists
of each corpse were tied together with strips of skin and flesh flayed from
the shoulder down; and the corpses of the three martyrs were similarly bound
to each other by long ribbons of flesh dissected from their thighs.
A correspondent writes from Sistova:
The Emperor continues his daily visits to the hospitals and passes whole
hours with the wounded. A few days ago His Majesty, accompanied by Colonel
Wellesley, the British military attaché, visited two unfortunate
Bulgarians who died on the night following. The skull of one of them was
split open both laterally and vertically, by two sword-cuts, an eye was
torn out, and he was otherwise mutilated. He explained, as well as he could,
that several Turks seeing him, demanded his money. As he had none, four
of the party held him fast while the fifth, brandishing his sword, and
repeating all the time, time, you Christian dog, theres your cross
for you! " first split his skull from the forehead to the back of
the head, and then crosswise from ear to ear. While the Emperor was listening
to these details the greatest agony was depicted upon his face. Taking
Colonel Wellesley by the arm, and pointing to the Bulgarian, he said to
him in French: "See the work of your protégés!"
The British officer blushed and was much confused.
The special correspondent of the London Standard, describing his
audience with the Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander-in-Chief, on July 7th,
says that the Grand Duke communicated to him the most horrifying details
about the cruelties committed at Dobroudga. A Christian whose hands were
tied with strips of his own skin cut from the length of both his arms, and
his tongue cut down from the root, was laid at the feet of the Emperor and
died there before the eyes of the Czar and the British agent, the same Colonel
Wellesley, who was in attendance. Turning to the latter, His Majesty, with
a stern expression, asked him to inform his Government of what he had just
seen for himself. Says the correspondent:
From the beginning of the war I have heard of quite a number of such
cases, but never witnessed one myself. After the personal assurances given
to me by the Grand Duke, it is no longer possible to doubt that the Turkish
officers are unable to control their irregular troops.
The correspondent of The Northern Messenger had gone the rounds
of the hospitals to question the wounded soldiers. Four of them, belonging
to the Second Battalion of Minsk Rifles, testified with the most solemn
asseverations that they had seen the Turks approach the wounded, rob them,
mutilate their bodies in the most cruel way, finish them with the bayonet.
They themselves had avoided this fate only by feigning death. It is a common
thing for wounded Turks to allure Russian soldiers and members of the sanitary
corps to their assistance, and, as they bend over them, to kill with a revolver
or dagger those who would relieve them. A case like this occurred under
the eye of one of my correspondents in Turkish Armenia, and was in all the
Russian papers. A sergeants assistant (a sanitar) was
despatched under such circumstances; thereupon a soldier standing by killed
My cousin, Major Alexander U. Whiteof the Sixteenth Nijegorodsk
Dragoons, one of the most gallant soldiers in the army of Loris Melikof,
and who has just been decorated by the Grand Duke, under the authority of
the Emperor, with a golden sword inscribed, "For Bravery"says
that it is becoming positively dangerous to relieve a wounded Turk. The
people who robbed and killed the wounded in the hospital at Ardahan upon
the entry of the Russian troops were the Karapapahs, Mussulmans and the
supposed allies of the Turks. During the siege they prudently awaited the
issue from a safe distance. As soon as the Russians conquered, the Karapapahs
flew like so many tigers into the town, slaying the wounded Turks, robbing
the dead, pillaging houses, bringing the horses and mules of the fleeing
enemy into the Russian camp, and swearing allegiance to the Commander-in-Chief.
The Cossacks had all the trouble in the world to prevent their new allies
from continuing the greatest excesses. To charge, therefore, upon the Russians
the atrocities of these cowardly jackals (a nomadic tribe of brigands) is
an impudent lie of Mukhtar Pasha, whose falsifications have become so notorious
that some Parisian papers have nicknamed him "Blaguer Pasha."
His despatches are only matched in mendacity by those of the Spanish commanders
The stupidity of charging such excesses upon the Russian army becomes
apparent when we remember that the policy of the Government from the first
has been to pay liberally for supplies, and win the goodwill of the people
of the invaded provinces by kindness. So marked and successful has this
policy proved in General Loris Melikofs field of operations, that
the anti-Russian papers of England, Austria and other countries have denounced
it as Russian "craft." With the Danubian forces is the Emperor
in person, liberator of millions of serfs, and the mildest and justest sovereign
who has ever occupied the throne of any country. As he won the love of his
whole people and the adoration of his army by his sense of justice and benevolent
regard, I ask you if he is likely to countenance any cruel excesses? While
the cowardly Abdul-Hamid hides in the alcoves of his harem, and of the imperial
princes none have taken the field, the Czar follows his army, step by step,
submits to comparatively severe and unaccustomed hardships, and exposes
his health and life against all the remonstrances and prayers of Prince
Gortschakof. His four sons are all in active service, and the son of the
Grand Duke Nicholas was decorated at the crossing of the Danube for personal
courage, having exposed his life for hours under a shower of bullets.
I only ask the American people to do justice to their long-tried and
unfaltering friends, the Russians. However politicians may have planned,
the Russian people have entered this war as a holy crusade to rescue millions
of helpless Slavonianstheir brothersof the Danube from Turkish
cruelty. The people have dragged the Government to the field. Russia is
surrounded by false neutrals, who but watch the opportunity to fly at her
throat, and, shameful fact, the blessing of the Pope rests upon the Moslem
standards, and his curse against his fellow Christians has been read in
all the Catholic churches. For my part, I care a great deal less even than
my countrymen for his blessings or curses, for besides other reasons I regard
this war not as one of Christian against Moslem, but as one of humanity
and civilization against barbarism. This is the view of the Catholic Czecks
of Bohemia. So great was their indignation at what they rightly considered
the dishonour of the Roman Catholic Church that on July 4thanniversary
of the martyrdom of John Hussnotwithstanding the efforts of the police,
they repaired in multitudes to the heights of Smichovo, Beraun and other
hills around Prague, and burnt at the stake the portraits and wax effigies
of the Pope and the Prince Archbishop Schwartzenberg, and the papal discourse
against the Russian Emperor and army, singing the while Slavonian national
songs, and shouting, "Down with the Pope! Death to the Ultramontanes!
Hurrah for the Czar-Liberator!"all of which shows that there
are good Catholics among the Slavonians, at least, who rightly hold in higher
estimation the principles of national solidarity than foolish dogmas of
the Vatican, even though backed by pretended infallibility.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
August 9th, 1877.
"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
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