Imatges de pàgina

the great European Powers to meet in a new Congress on the Eastern question are these. First, England must go into the matter absolutely clean handed; not as at Berlin, but with a firm and avowed determination to take nothing whatever of advantage for herself in the arrangements to be made. The clearing of her own honour, now dragged vilely in the mire, must be her sole and all-sufficient reward. Secondly, she must come as a suppliant for her Armenian protégés, not as one with rights, for she is not ready to fight for them. Thirdly, she must not expect the question of the Armenians to be settled alone. Europe would not fash herself only for these. England must be ready to see the whole Ottoman case treated without any reserve whatever, her one condition being the rescue of her Christian friends. Fourthly, it follows from this that the Egyptian question must be discussed with the rest of the Ottoman questions. It is mere folly to imagine that France and Russia, having got complete control of the Armenian case, will solve it to our liking, except as part and parcel of a general bargain. It is equally folly to suppose that they would be content with Cyprus. Neither Power cares a straw for Cyprus, nor, I imagine, would take it at a gift. The only proof we can show of our disinterested zeal for the Armenians is to put Egypt with them on the table of the Congress. Fifthly, there must be no subterfuge or mental reservation about the Soudan. I hear people talk about ending the occupation of Egypt some day by an annexation of the Upper Nile. But such talk is useless

The Powers would not consent to it in any arrangements made, short, perhaps, of a final partition of the Ottoman Empire. Sixthly, we must not expect such a partition to be agreed to. None of the Powers are quite ready for it. It would be too dangerous a scramble. All that could this and next year be reasonably expected would be an intervention at Constantinople to re-establish the authority of the Porte as opposed to the Palace, to disband the Sultan's guard, and to establish some sort of financial control on the Bosphorus, with a throwing open of the Dardanelles. In the Armenian provinces, Russia might at the same time consent to give protection to the Christians, and secure them from further massacre. I believe this to be the extreme outside of what it would be reasonable to expect. But we should have gained our object-the highest one of all. Our honour would have been saved, and we should have regained the right to speak with authority as an honest Government in regard to the final settlement.

Let those, therefore, who really care about honour and duty and humanity, not for the sake of self-laudation on platforms, or for the amusement of denouncing the sins of others, but because they are sincerely ashamed of England's shame, rally to this idea. It is a far more practical one than any of the little half-measures as yet propounded, and, as I have said before, is one easily within our reach.


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All we have to do is to persuade our fellow-countrymen to keep their promises about Egypt, and face the truth that we cannot remain there for ever, and arrange the terms of our going. The rest will come easily and pleasantly. Lord Rosebery, with his brief for the occupation, is fortunately gone from the supreme Liberal councils. Let the Liberal Party rise to the full height of the occasion, and it will convert England again, as it did in 1880; while if, on the contrary, we harden our hearts in the face of a pretty well united world, which laughs angrily at our fine moral talk, and points contemptuously at Cyprus and Egypt hanging out of our coat-tail pockets, it may well happen that we shall lose not only these and our honour before many years are out, but the whole of our overgrown Empire besidesGod forbid that I should be justified in adding our national independence at home as well as Empire.




The time seems to have come when discussion of the measures that should be taken to settle the Turkish question should be carried beyond the limit to which it has hitherto been confined.

Various proposals have been made, some very drastic. We have been invited to force the Dardanelles—to depose the Sultan—to write a joint Note demanding reforms—to give Russia a free hand—to adopt certain unrevealed, indirect methods of exciting pressure, and so on; but these are only the first steps, and give no clue to what the succeeding steps should be, still less to the ultimate aim which should be kept in view in order to permanently dispose of this dangerous question.

The accompanying letter, which was written by General Charles Gordon in 1881, is remarkably à propos to the present situation. This keen observer and experienced administrator rejects at once two methods which may be suggested, either that the country should be governed and administered by a foreign power, or that the existing government (“The Pachas ') should be trusted to reform the administration under 'foreign pressure. He falls back on the idea that the Turkish peoples themselves should be given the power to control and check those whose misgovernment has turned countries once rich and flourishing into poor and depopulated deserts whose only idea of administration is by robbery, and whose only method of preserving order is by terror and massacre.

This object he would effect, broadly speaking, by extending to the provinces which are still under the Turkish Government constitutions such as have been adopted in those which have been taken away from it, viz. Roumania, Bulgaria, Eastern Roumelia, &c., countries which apparently only require to be let alone in order that they may develop their strength and regain their prosperity.

Difficulties in carrying out this proposal may no doubt be suggested, but it may be that still greater difficulties would attend any other solution of the question ; and it has at least the merit that it evades many of the thorny obstacles which arise from the mutual jealousy of the Powers.


or at

8 Victoria Grove, Gloucester Road, Kensington :

January 16, 1881. MY DEAR DU CANE,

I send you the Blue Book, Condition of Asia Minor &c., but I think you will, on looking over it, see that it merely contains for the most part a description of the deplorable state of the Turkish provinces, and does not in any way

any rate only indirectly-show how the misgovernment is to be remedied. In fact the perusal is wearisome, as there is no decided remedy proposed, though amelioration is suggested by insisting on this and that being forced on the Porte.

I consider that any promise or statement of the Turkish Pachas to improve or remedy any evil are to be deemed utterly insincere, will be carried out with a pure intuition to evade the spirit, and only to comply with the letter while under pressure.

I consider that enforced reform can be only exotic and ephemeral, that it will fall to the ground when it is no longer enforced.

I consider it is quite hopeless for foreigners to attempt to dictate how the administration, collection of taxes, &c. (of which this Blue Book is full) are to be performed

I consider that unless the people of Turkey will not take up the remedy of the abuses of their government, it is hopeless thinking of any progress being made against the Turkish Pachas by foreigners which will be permanent.

I therefore say that the unique way to deal with misgovernment in Turkey is to call on the Turkish peoples to execute them.

1. The Turkish peoples know exactly the full extent of the corruption and rottenness of their government; they know how and in what way any remedy they may enact will act on the country. They are in every way interested, for themselves and their children, in obtaining a good government; whereas to the Turkish Pachas, so long as they can fill their purses it is all they care.

2. To put the power in the hands of the Turkish peoples is a fair, perfectly just effort on the part of foreign governments ; it is merely the supporting of the Sultan's own design wl he gave his constitution. Foreign governments who support this liberation of the Turkish people cannot be accused of intrigue or selfishness; they will gain the sympathy of the peoples, whereas now what have they got? Have they the sympathy of either the Sultan or Pachas or peoples ? and, judging from the Blue Book, they, or at least our government, are overloading their heads with details of administration, when the whole foundation on which the success of these details rests is thoroughly rotten.

A foreign government is no match for the Sultan and the Pachas : it has not the knowledge necessary to cope with them : it is the Turkish peoples who alone have the power to hold their own, besides which no foreign government has any right to interfere. It may be said that the foreign government interferes in virtue of promises, but these promises were extorted and are not valid.

By the way foreign governments are now working they are inevitably drifting, day by day, into still increasing interference with the internal affairs of Turkey, and are helping to band Sultan, Pachas, and peoples against any improvement. Such interference must end in serious complications, and can in no way further the professed object-improved government.

No individual Pacha, let him be one of the exceptions to the usual rule, can now stand against the influences of the Sultan and the parasite Pachas; the fact of his being backed by this or that foreign government will be (whenever the time comes when that foreign government becomes urgent in its demands for reform) the cause of his downfall, and will be explained at large that he is dismissed because he is a tool of this or that government; but if this rara avis, an upright Pacha, was found, and if he was backed by the peoples of Turkey, it would go hard with the Sultan and his ring ere they flew in the face of their peoples in dismissing him.

It is urged that the Turkish peoples are not fit for representative government. Well, look at Roumania and Bulgaria, and, in some degree, to Roumelia ; they succeed very fairly. If the peoples never have a chance, they will never be able to show what they can do. Had we waited till our monarchs or our lords had given us representative assemblies, we would be without them to this day.

What I maintain, therefore, is that our government should unceasingly try, with other governments, to get the Midhat constitution reconstituted ; that they should leave that very dubiously just (in fact it may be called iniquitous) policy of forcing unwilling peoples under the yoke of other peoples, which is not only unfair to the coerced and ceded peoples, but is a grave mistake, for by it are laid the seeds of future troubles.

To collect all these reports may be useful enough for those who have the time and patience to read them, but what do all these reports tend to elucidate? Simply that the government of Turkey is utterly rotten, that the peoples are miserable and discontented, that the sole object of the Sultan and his Pachas is to drag the entrails of the provinces into their palaces at Constantinople. There may be petty schemes here and there for improvements, but it is like painting up the bulwarks of a vessel which is rotten at the bottom.

I say, too, that at any moment, in the event of the death of the Sultan, most serious events may take place : who is to take his place ? who is to nominate his successor ? The reconstituted chamber of the Midhat Constitution would at any rate prevent any great catastrophe, and I have no doubt would so coerce the new Sultan as to obtain full promise to benefit the country.

Believe me, my dear Du Cane,

Yours sincerely,


The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undcrtake

to return unaccepted MSS.







That the settlement of the Venezuela question, so far as it is in the power of Great Britain and the United States to settle it, should be received with general satisfaction in this country, is extremely natural; that it should be treated as a matter scarcely important enough to rouse interest, or require other than hasty and perfunctory comment, is rather curious. Not ten months ago it was viewed with passionate emotion on one side of the Atlantic, with perturbed and painful anxiety on the other ; now it drifts quietly away in a mist of half-understood detail, and we scarcely turn our heads to look at it as it disappears below the political horizon. The experts will have a good deal to do with it before it is quite disposed of; but it may now reasonably be hoped that it will be left in the condition in which it will concern the diplomatists and the lawyers alone, and will not again run any risk of interesting the general public.

The precise effect and meaning of the settlement not very many Englishmen have been at the pains to ascertain, nor are they likely to do so. The common sentiment echoes the prudent and wellcalculated levity with which Lord Salisbury treated the subject in his Guildhall speech. Most of us are much inclined to agree with the Prime Minister that after all the whole affair was one of no great moment to the people of this country. A trumpery dispute, about some leagues of swamp and forest, with a fifth-rate Republic, on one Vol. XL-No. 238

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