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If someone asked us...
If someone asked us what do the Bulgarians do today, if we put our hands to our hearts, we would answer: they idle and wait. And true, those are the words with which we can best describe and characterise our current situation. We all Bulgarians, here and there, only idle and wait; do not undertake anything; do not prepare.
We idle and wait and watch how the Turks are gearing up, preparing for the final desperate battle, announcing constitutions, making plans and contra-plans, and how they arm even those of their compatriots who probably can't even go out of their homes. We idle and wait and watch how the European diplomats are gathering at a conference in Tsarigrad1 to consider the order to be established in Turkey, which should both be neither derisory nor harmful to the Ottoman Empire and, at the same time, be advantageous to the poor 'raya'2; in other words to solve the irresolvable problem of having the wolf full and the lamb whole3. We idle and wait for Russia to arrive with her invincible armies to save us from the unbearable yoke, but do nothing ourselves, prepare not. Some may say that the times are such that all Bulgarians should idle and wait and watch what the others will do for them. To those, who we believe are many among us, we say that this is one of those fatal illusions, which led to the abyss all peoples that entertained them.
When all of Europe is alarmed and pays close attention to every change, every phase of the Eastern Question, when every European power watches every diplomatic step, every military manoeuvre of Turkey as well as of its own neighbours, when all of us are in the eve of a terrifying European war, which may flare up between the European powers and the main cause of which probably will be their inability to reach an agreement on how to divide between themselves the Ottoman dominions, then we the Bulgarians, whose liberty and life as a separate and independent nation is tightly connected to this or that decision of the Eastern Question, to stay with crossed arms and wait for grilled chickens to fall from the sky is shameful, stupid and criminal.
Then what do we have to do, will ask some.
We have to unite all in one whole, and to gear up and face readily both the decisions of the conference as well as the Russian-Turkish war. In both cases, we are required to show signs of sensible and independent life, proofs of our political and national development and maturity. Yes, we need, from now on, to unite in one whole and define what our future activities should be.
If the decisions of the conference, already maimed and reduced by the very representatives of the European powers, are accepted by the Turkish government, then, as we realise very well that they will not change significantly the existing order in the Turkish lands and that they will not cause anything better for our people, we have to rebel all as one and with last efforts try our luck on the battlefield, where we shall either win our freedom or lose our lives by the hands of our sworn enemies for the honour and glory of the refined European diplomacy and of our guardian Russia . However, if Russia, whose interest are intricately connected with ours, does not abandon us and is forced by the Turkish pig-headedness and obstinacy to start a fight with them, even then we must be ready to take a lively and energetic participation in the war, which will be waged for our liberation. The Russian armies must find us ready to join them, to ease in every which way we can their difficult task in a fiery and religious war, which will start on the Balkan Peninsula.
It is known that to achieve whatever end, two things are necessary - one is a good intent, and the second is means. In our case, unfortunately, both these things, if existent, are paralysed and great efforts are required to force them in action. The disagreement, the hatred, the envy, the treachery, the petty politics and all other vices of man, which develop very well in every enslaved nation, have grown deep roots among us and paralyse many good and helpful to our people deeds. If we were a little bit more honourable and genteel, a little bit more self-sacrificing and patriotic, many things would have been the way we see them now. This is why most of our national initiatives have been either aborted or stillborn.
Our fatherland is in devastation. It is drowned in blood and tears; it suffers; shortly will completely collapse; all while we are dividing ourselves in parties; persecute each other; create obstacles to one another and waste our efforts in fights not only useless, but also harmful. What smart man would not look with reproach and regret upon our demoralization, which is especially thriving among our emigrant community? But enough about this. The sickness calls for a cure, and cure we mist find. Our salvation is in our hands. It's sufficient that we want to transform from a dismembered and paralysed corpse into healthy and nimble body, able to live an independent and sensible human life. Let's unite into a strong and indivisible whole all honest and self-sacrificing patriots; and then the means will be found easily. Let's throw away all that is rotten, unable, contagious and as we gather under our disgraced and bloodied banner, prove to the entire world that we know how to and can fight and die for our freedom…
(Published in 'The New Bulgaria", iss. 59, 9.01.1877, as a leading article; and signed with S.)
Translated from Bulgarian by Nina Ivanova
2 'raya' or 'rayah' - Christian subjects under Ottoman rule
3 Idiomatic expression, equivalent to "to have the cake and eat it". In this case however, Stambolov is using both the idiomatic and literal meaning, picturing the Ottoman empire as the predator, and the Bulgarian people as the prey.
Back to: [Stefan Stambolov][SLOVOTO]