The newspapers of the mid-nineteenth century and up to the Berlin Congress, especially the Constantinople papers, "Constantinople News," "Macedonia," "Justice," "Times" and others, abound in such articles and in other journalistic genres - reports, descriptions, correspondence, commentaries, polemics, etc., some of which will be discussed in this article.
It is well known that the Bulgarian bourgeoisie, already well organized during the earliest period of the renaissance and especially after the founding of the Bulgarian exarchate, began conscious and organized activity in all fields of social life, aimed at proving Macedonia to be a part of Bulgaria. This would later be a basic component of the of all rulers of the free principality. The "national" concept has not been abandoned even by modern Bulgaria.
One of the means used by the Bulgarian socialists
and politicians even in the earliest period for putting this plan into
effect was the press. Besides fulfilling a need for expressing cultural
life and problems in general, the main goal of almost all newspapers of
this period was to wage a battle with Macedonia, a battle which was expressed
in various ways, most often as a struggle to increase the sphere of usage
of the Bulgarian language and the geographical distribution of Bulgarian
schools and churches, in short, the Bulgarian national consciousness of
the Macedonian nation. We need only mention the fact that special newspapers
were established to accomplish this goal, as for example "Macedonia," edited
by Slaveykov in Constantinople, a newspaper dedi-cated to the realization
of this idea. There were, in addition other news-papers of this period
"The Danube Swan", "Bulgaria", "Advisor", "Justice", "Turkey", etc.)
which shared this task. Here is how Macedonia, for example, treats this
struggle for Macedonia:
However, unlike the numerous run-of-the-mill correspondents,
who were of course directed by the demands of their editors, there existed,
among the more aware Macedonians, those who, possessing a better understanding
of the situation, did not hesitate to point out the great differences between
the Macedonian and the Bulgarian nations. These were the first Macedonian
journalists, who, apart from fulfilling their desire to express themselves,
describe events, and comment on sonic issue or problem, attempted to give
to their reports a national, Mace-donian, coloration.
One of the essential characteristics of the period of the Macedonian revival is the emphasis on those national features which characterize it as a separate nation, distinct from all others, among them Bulgarian and Serbian, to which it was closest. The supporters of the revival emphasized these specific features not with the aim of distinguishing themselves from the Serbs and Bulgarians, but rather to show that they were all, including the East and West Slavs, branches of a common Slavic tree. This can be noted in D. Miladinov's typical point of view, as expressed in connection with an invitation from the citizens of Kukush for him to come teach in Kukush. D. Miladinov answered this invitation in the following letter to the residents of Kukush, written October 24, 1957:
With satisfaction I read your friendly letter and with joy I learned of your noble feelings towards Slavdom and the formation of our nation. You did quite well in writing to Partenia (referring to Partenia Zografski, of Galichnik), who is in Constantinople in search of the necessary books. I jump of joy when I observe your aspirations and your love of your mother tongue, and especially in view of the fact that the majority of your young people and priests have resolved to learn the Slavic language, so that within a few months they might be able to hold divine service in our ancient ancestral language. The Greeks have an erroneous opinion of you. Show to them your Slavic pride! They are defaming our Slavic language, one of the oldest and richest tongues, calling it barbarian! Point out to them the Slavic philosophers, physicists, mathemati-cians, and other educated people from Russia, Bohemia, Dalmacia, Poland, Galicia, Slovenia, and Croatia, an area extending, so to say, from the interior of Germany to Epirus and Thessaly ..."
These reflections of D. Miladinov would deserve a
more thorough analysis if the question were to be posed and considered
in its other aspects. From the aspect, which interests us, we will restrict
ourselves to stating that there is a broad, in modern terms, national basis
to the views of D. Miladinov concerning the nature of his own, in modern
terms, Macedonian nationality, and that this is also the basis of the attitudes
of the other Macedonian leaders of the national revival. All of them are
advocates not of partition but of the equal treatment of Mace-donia and
of respect for its national features (language, culture, and, in general,
the Macedonian way of life.)
Yordan H. Konstantinov-Dzhinot, from an analysis of his work carried out up to now, may be considered as the first Macedonian jour-nalist.
He is known to have been correspondent for one of the first Bul-garian newspapers in Constantinople, the Constantinople News. Dzhinot and the editors of this newspaper waged a silent battle over his lan-guage. Yordan was a prolific writer and sent to the paper contributions of various sorts (report, travelogues, descriptions of customs) minor literary works in the form of dramas, etc.) However, all of these were written in a language which the publishers had difficulty in understand-ing. The editors were in a dilemma whether to publish them. unable to decide whether to return his contributions, they came out with an article, printed in number 55, 1851, in the column "Bulgarian", where various important cultural problems were treated. A general review is given of the development and state of the language, leading up to a concluding attack upon Dzhinot and the writers from Skopje for their incomprehen-sible language. The reader will best understand the substance of the issue in reading the article itself, a part of which we cite below:
Partenia Zografski is known as the clearest example
illustrating the tendency for equal treatment of the "Macedonian dialect",
as he terms it, within the framework of an eventual common language for
the Macedonians and Bulgarians. It is well known that he advocated the
creation of a "general literary language" as a common language for both
nations, whose formation as national units was within sight. Here are his
basic ideas on the subject:
Partenia suggested, in connection with this idea,
that changes be made in the writing of the alphabet along with other language
reforms, but, we must repeat, based on mutual respect for the specific
features of each of the two dialects.
Such views, as expressed by Partenia, not only failed to find sympathy but were actually condemned by the Bulgarian philologists and social scientists. Thus in issue 336 of Constantinople News B. Pet-kov comes out with polemics against Partenia. Later these polemics deve-loped into a full scale altercation, in which other Bulgarian philologists participated. However, it is characteristic of the situation that Partenia was supported by some of the Bulgarian philologists. Thus, for example, Constantine Rayanov of Plovdiv sent to the isolated Partenia a letter, which the latter sent to Bulgarian Pamphlets and which was published in January 31 issue. In it we find, among other things:
Later Bulgarian Pamphlets (in its September
15, 1895 issue) calls Parteni's language, in a categorical tone, "a great
change from "Bulgarian and Serbian" or a "Bulgaro-Serbian dialect" and
concludes with the following advice:
As far as Prlichev is concerned, he is a typical
representative of the school, in that he preserves all specifically Macedonian
linguistic features. This can be seen from his writings and speeches. However
it is characteristic of Prlichev as well as of the earlier men of the revival
period that his language was absolutely intolerable to Bulgarian critics.
On the occasion of Prlichev's translation of the Iliad, we find a comment
on his language in an article by his son Kiril, entitled "Towards the Characteristics
of Gligor S. Prlichev", published in "Macedonian Review", IV-2, 1928, p.
108, which, after presenting the characteristics of his language, comments:
When speaking of Prlichev it should be noted that
he was responsible for a great amount of progress in the development of
national consciousness. While the other men of the renaissance were battling
with Bulgarian philologists and social scientists in the field of language,
Prlichev came out with a developed nationality, in modern terms, Macedonian
consciousness, with the sense of being a Macedonian. This can be seen clearly
in his speeches, from one of which we include a citation. It was delivered
before his fellow-teachers in the Salonica Gymnasium, to commemorate the
feast of the Holy Saints Cyril and Methodius. The speech concludes with
the following famous and nationally colored words:
In the struggle of every nation for its historical
individuality (and this is confirmed by history), language is one of the
basic features and means of national emancipation. Therefore the mid-nineteenth
century Constantinople newspapers, especially Macedonia, as an organ aimed
at awakening a "Bulgarian national feeling among the Macedonian Bulgarians",
turned frequently to the problem of the language used by the correspondents
from Macedonia, when they sent in reports written in the Macedonian language.
One anonymous correspondent from Ohrid, in issue 47, of October 21, 1867, of Macedonia, submitted a report of polemical character written in the Macedonian language. The editors made haste to publish in the same issue of this publication, at the end of the report, the following commentary:
Let us continue. The well known Macedonian renaissance
figure Georgi Dinkov, who states that he is an archaeologist, entreated
Slaveykov, editor of Macedonia, in issue 34 of July 20,1868, of the publica-tion,
to continue to publish his article entitled "Information on the Macedonian
Lands". The article is in Macedonian and the author states in his introduction:
Next there follows the first part of his article
"using the Salonica dialect", which does in fact contain the "beauty of
In response to this article the editors of Macedonia again came out with a commentary, in a shorter version:
In one article in Macedonia doubt is cast upon the
language of the editor of the Bulgarian part of the local organ appearing
in Salonica, and it is pointed out that there existed the danger of this
language "penetrating among the populace as a language and giving new occasion
for the birth of a schism in our literature... and especially when this
dialect has retained only a few tattered rags of pronunciation, decayed
and spoiled from the influence of Hellenization".
The Salonica correspondent in Macedonia has quite the opposite opinion. His article with the challenging signature "a Macedonian", appearing in issue 14 of March 2, 1868, surveys the problem, concluding:
The editors of Macedonia followed up the opinion
of this Macedonian with the following commentary:
"We have not the time to enter into long discussions and evaluations and to answer the correspondent from Macedonia. We have not been to Macedonia, but we have made many observations on the Macedonian dialect and we will not debate the issue of which dialect is more decayed and spoiled, but will comment in passing that both have preserved and lost much of the old dialect, and that there is no place here for such fine points of honor and childish altercations, but which dialect is more sensible and more useful is the question we should consider today."
Along with these caustic comments regarding the Macedonian cor-respondents, the mid-nineteenth century Constantinople newspapers contained reports from Macedonia in the "Macedonian dialect". Whether this was the reason or whether something else had occurred which is not reflected in print, Macedonia, in its third issue, of January 18, 1871, carried out its promise to discuss this issue "at another time in more detail". Thus this issue of Macedonia contains a long and major article entitled "The Macedonian Question", from which we present excerpts, with our comments.
The title itself implies that the issue of language
had grown into a national "Macedonian" question. But language is at the
center of these "National" misunderstandings. The article begins in a somewhat
However, the problem concerns not only the specific
features of the Macedonian "dialect". The Macedonian question has other
aspects as well:
Further on, "proof' 'is supplied that the Macedonians are not Macedonians
And all at once, "out of the blue", although there
was already a populace,
Or, another proof:
It is not possible to gain from the article a clear
idea of the arguments of the "Macedonists", at least of those who favored
not schism but the equal treatment of the Macedonians and Bulgarians. If
we take as typical the views of Partenia Zografski, which we have already
pre-sented, then this article strikes at the foundations of a movement
which aims at emphasizing those features of the Macedonian nation which
make it separate and distinct from the other nations, including the Bulgarian
nation. It follows that only as a separate nation, with its national characteristics,
can it associate and unite with other nations, including the Bulgarian
nation. Actually, at the end of the article the author, purpos-ing to treat
the essence of the problem, skips over it very superficially and, as will
be seen later, insincerely. Namely, the article concludes with what should
have served to introduce it:
Slightly more than a year later the newspaper Pravo
took up this question. The occasion for this was given by the revivalist
writer Banja-min Machunkovski. Namely, he published in the Constantinople
newspapers a notice which called upon his fellow country-men to help him
in publishing his "grammar of the Macedonian dialect". Immediately after
this, the October 30, 1872 issue of Pravo carried an article entitled:
"A Bulgarian Grammar in the Macedonian dialect written by Mr. Machu-kovski".
The article was written by P. Ivanov.
Although the article was purportedly in response to Machukovski, the author used it for settling accounts once again with the "Mace-donists", a derogatory term for those Macedonians who struggled to emphasize their national individuality. Because it is characteristic for the problem under discussion, we will give a few excerpts from the article. After an introduction stressing the idea of national unity and integrity, the author turns to Machukovski
The author, after some more highly ironic questions
and exclamations, continues:
As can be seen, the case of Machukovski is particularly severe, and, it might be said, lies outside the bounds of a normal discussion. If the Bulgarian critics, chose to treat others in a different, so to say in a diploma tic manner, they saved all their wrath for Machukovski. At any rate, the aim of this polemical article was to prevent such activities by all those who had the intention, by whatever means, to demonstrate their Macedonianness.
The struggle for linguistic independence of the Macedonian
nation developed as part of a unified ethnographic and geographic whole.
These documents published in the Constantinople newspapers speak for such
a unified Macedonia, including both Pirin and Aegean Macedonia. During
this period and in this part of Macedonia the Greek language, which
had been expelled from schools and use in divine service, was replaced
with Old Church Slavonic, which the people understood no better. Because
of this the newspapers contained articles expressing the dissatisfaction
of the citizens and an appeal for the replacement of this dead language
with a living spoken language. With what sort of language? Here is one
article from Bansko (in Pirin Macedonia), published in Macedonia in the
April 6, 1868 issue and signed Nikola Pop-Filipov.
Many of our fellow-citizens, Macedonians, having expelled the Greek language from our churches [for use] in divine services, have replaced it with Church Slavonic, from which few have any gain, or, better said, they haven't the slightest use: because they understand it as well as Greek and they have not been exposed to a single ray of enlightenment in order to be able to understand the words of the divine service, i.e. the prayers, blessings and glorification which are directed to God and the church when. they are gathered together there...
I am quite amazed that some of our scholars have not yet turned their attention to correcting this situation, since they know that they are responsible for the spiritual and moral education and since they know that the apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Corinthians, said: I want to say five words in the church in a familiar language, and not one thousand in a foreign language And again; whoever speaks, (sings or reads) in a foreign language, speaks to the wind. This is the advice of the apostle Paul on this matter in chapter 14.
It is also desirable for our scholars to agree in drawing up a language common for all dialects, in which there will be written a dictionary and a grammar, and into which common language the books for divine service will be translated before anything else..
The textbooks which have been translated into the Bulgarian "Balkan" language up to now were only slightly more intelligible to us Macedonians than those written in the Church Slavonic lan-guage. Thus they have been of little use to us".
The case of Kuzman Shapkarev is well known as regards
the emphasis upon Macedonian linguistic independence. He was often the
subject of attack by Bulgarian philologists and social scientists. Such
attacks can be found in many of the newspapers of this period. We will
give an excerpt here from the June 30, 1975, issue of Den (Day):
In issue no.29 of June 15, 1868, the Veles correspondent, in one of his articles, puts across the atmosphere of holiness devoted to the educators Cyril and Methodius, and in the second part of the article tells of the successes of the women's school, 'in which there were seven examinations. Then the correspondent enumerates by class the subjects in which the girls took examinations. And to the editorís amazement, the first class is examined in the Serbian language, and the third in Serbian history. The Bulgarian language and history are not represented in any class. It follows from this that their main concern was not to learn the Bulgarian language and history but for their children to learn something. And since this teacher (Maria Nedeva), who had been brought from Belgrade, found the Serbian language and history more familiar she included them in the program. It can be seen clearly from this how indifferent the people of Veles were as to whether their children were to learn the Bulgarian language and history.
This article, too, was followed by a harsh commentary,
laced with bitter chauvinism directed at the "Unenlightened" people of
Veles. The following is taken from the final passage of this criticism:
Constatinople News Carigradski Vestnik
Danube Swan Dunavski Lebed
Bulgarian Pamphlets B'lgarski Knizhici
Macedonian Survey Makedonski Pregled
Macedonian Voice Glas Makedonski
Balkan Herald Balkanski Glasnik