THE political supremacy of the Caucasian race was supposed to have been decided by the fall of Carthage, more than two thousand years ago, but was thrice afterwards imperiled by an encounter with a rival of long-unsuspected resources.
The Scythians of Strabo were probably not Tartars, but Slavs ('Sarmatians'), or, like their allies, the Getæ, Slavs, mingled with Teutons. Parthia, too, had a semi-Aryan population; but the campaign of Attila gave the champions of Europe a chance to measure their strength with that of a new foe, as shifty as the Semites, and of far greater staying power. His Huns were undoubtedly Mongols, and came so near overpowering the inheritors of Roman strategy that at one time the fate of western civilization hung upon the issue of a single battle. The western coalition triumphed, yet its victory on the plains of Chalons (October, 451), was due to the numerical inferiority of their enemies as much as to the predominance of their own skill or valor. The very retreat of the vanquished chief established his claim to the prestige of a superlative tactician.
Again, in 1402, only the accidental quarrel of two Mongol conquerors saved Europe from the fate of its ravaged borders. Sultan Bajazet had vanquished all his western foes, and the union of his forces with those of Tamerlane would undoubtedly have sealed the doom of the Mediterranean coast lands, if not all of Christendom.
A hundred years later the generals of Solyman II. came very near retrieving the neglected chance. They vanquished Austrian, Hungarian and Italian armies, and in 1560 defeated the combined armadas of the Christian sea-power at Port Jerbeh—so completely, indeed, that the allies were eager to make peace by betraying each other.
And it would be a great mistake to ascribe these victories to a mere triumph of brute strength. That same Solyman, with all his fanaticism, was a patron of every secular science, and at a time when western princes had to sign their names by proxy, Mohammed Baber Khan, the conqueror of India, wrote essays in four different languages and published memoirs abounding with shrewd comments on social and ethical questions and problems of political economy. He was a poet, too, and liberal enough to compose a dirge in memory of a prince whom he had slain in single combat.
Ethnologically, there is, therefore, nothing abnormal in the out-