Imatges de pàgina
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of, was the arbitrary abuse of power, the unauthorised exaction, the oppressive or humiliating treatment of individuals. But all these motives to revolt have been gradually dispelled, and are more likely to die away from want of fuel than to gather fresh strength from an increase of liberty and the prospect of further improvement.

More, much more, might be written on this inexhaustible theme. What is written already might have been more judiciously treated, more clearly developed, more ably compressed. Writer and reader have, nevertheless, travelled on together, and have now reached, not indeed the terminus, but a station where they may conveniently take breath, and review, as from some elevated point, the various stages of their road. The object of the journey is not an idle one. Its character is serious. It cannot be dismissed from thought like a railway excursion or a dissolving view. Let us, before we part, compare notes, and determine, if possible, whether from argument and statement, as here set forth, we are warranted in drawing conclusions on which our minds may rest with a certain amount of conviction, and whether we are entitled, in conscience, to wish that our convictions should pass, as eventual rules of action, into the minds of others more powerful than ourselves.

Has it been fairly established in the preceding pages that we have, as a nation, strong motives, continually in operation, and founded on our own immediate interests, for maintaining and improving our friendly relations with Turkey; that a considerable and growing portion of our trade is derived from the Turkish dominions ; that, from a political point of view, we have much to apprehend from their decline or dissolution; and that our communications by steam and telegraph with India and our immense possessions there are dependent on the goodwill and protection of the Ottoman Government ?

In the next place, are we satisfied that it has been our policy and also our practice, from an early period, to cultivate friendly relations with the Porte ? Have we not in later years, and in critical emergencies, either hastened to her succour by means of counsel, mediation, and even occasionally by active assistance, or taken part, however reluctantly, in coercive measures calculated to bring her into a state of political harmony with the Powers of Christendom ?

Thirdly, is it not proved that, as one of them, we have given our formal guaranty for the independence and integrity of the Sultan's dominions, and incurred thereby a positive obligation to redeem our pledge, when called upon, at the cost or immediate risk of British treasure and blood ?

Fourthly, is it not manifest that, whether from within or from without, the Turkish Empire is exposed to an imminent danger of falling into confusion and becoming eventually a prey to the ambition of its most powerful neighbours-of neighbours liable at any VOL. I.–No. 5.

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time to become adverse to our policy and jealous of our prosperity ?

Fifthly, has it not been shown that Turkey, notwithstanding its many causes of weakness and social embarrassment, possesses a fund of resources which have only to be worked by means within reach in order, as a consequence of the process, to retard indefinitely, if not to avert entirely, the impending catastrophe ? May it not be added, with truth, that the obstacles to improvement are so far from being irremovable that many of them, and some in appearance the most obdurate, have already yielded to the pressure of necessity and the evidence of facts ?

Sixthly, can it be denied at the same time that the Turkish Government has displayed, together with a sense of its weakness, an utter incapacity for extricating itself, without support and assistance, from the dangers which surround it; that, left to its own unaided exertions, it has no reasonable prospect of escape; that even now it depends for existence on the forbearance of the Christian Powers; and that we are bound in duty no less than entitled to require, as the price of our generosity, its strenuous enforcement of such measures as are necessary, according to its own proclaimed and recorded confession, to sustain its vitality, and to justify the responsible confidence of its allies ?

If, as it would seem, there can be only one true answer to these questions, the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from them may be left with safety to the deliberate judgment of the country. The interests of our trade with Turkey, Persia, and the Danube; those of our political power on the shores of the Euxine, the Archipelago, and the Mediterranean ; those, again, of our direct communication with India—to say nothing of China and Australia—are palpably concerned in the decision. Are we to relinquish, when it is most needed, a policy dating from one of the best periods of our history ? Are we to surrender a position acquired by the exertions of our diplomacy and by the triumphs of our arms ? Are we to wait with fettered limbs and bandaged eyes for that solution which we have most reason to deprecate of the Eastern Question ? Or are we, in a wiser and a nobler spirit, to confront the peril, which hitherto we have never ceased to acknowledge--to employ at once, though with some inconvenience and doubt, the means required for meeting it with effect, and to do our best, without hesitation, for diverting a calamity which, be it far or near, must be attended in its consummation with evils of the greatest magnitude ?

A straight, an obvious course lies open before us. It is recommended no less by a consistent view of our interests than by rights and obligations pressed home on our sense of duty by a just apprehension of worse. We are free to enter upon it, or rather to persist in following it, without any immediate sacrifices, even of a financial kind, and with no greater difficulties to encounter than must ever attend upon a course of diplomatic action limited by its object rather than by time, and applied, in concurrence with other Powers, less in earnest, perhaps, than ourselves, but engaged ostensibly as we are, to the complicated affairs of a distant empire and a mistrustful government.

Should doubts remain, let the alternative, such as it is described above, be fairly and fully weighed. Let it be weighed together with our special engagements, and let this additional consideration be thrown into the scale. A course of policy which has for its object the maintenance of peace by means of an improved system of administration throughout the Turkish Empire, and of the concurrent operation of the Porte and her allies, even were it to fail as to the ultimate results, would, in its progress, work, beneficially for Europe, to the relief of millions who are still suffering under the joint effects of ignorance, misgovernment, and fanaticism.

It is reasonable to presume that, under Providence, every great depositary of power in this world has its mission. The Crown and Parliament of England have theirs, a proud and also a responsible

It is the mission of knowledge, freedom, and humanity, issuing from the highest of sources, and hallowed throughout its course by Christian love. Power is the instrument of our practical fidelity to its duties. Let us take heed. Indifference to the end may involve a forfeiture of the means.

one.

June 18, 1877.

Such are the opinions which I threw upon paper some four or five years after the termination of the Crimean war, of that war which rescued Turkey from the domineering pretensions of Russia by means of auxiliary forces derived from England and France, placing in a strong light both the weakness of the Ottoman Empire and the strength of those motives which brought the two allies to its support, with the moral or more than the moral concurrence of other European Powers. In a general sense, and from my point of view, those opinions have undergone no change. But circumstances have not maintained the same consistency. Turkey, instead of calling out the political sympathies of Western Europe as a State threatened with loss of independence by the demands of an ambitious neighbour, has now exposed itself to just reproach by causing a great disturbance, attributable in its origin to the Porte's oppressive principles of government, and later to its haughty rejection of those salutary counsels which it received from all its co-signataries of the treaty of Paris. It has, moreover, incurred the imminent peril attached to open unaided war with a contiguous empire far more powerful than its own in every respect, and whose eventual triumph might entail disastrous consequences on the greater part of European Christendom. There may have been, and probably were, intrigues from without which ripened into insurrection the discontent of Bosnia and Herzegovina ; but surely it required a deep sense of misrule on the part of a suffering and unarmed population to lay itself bare, by acts of disobedience, to the rigours of an unsparing and fanatical despotism. The reign of Sultan Abdul-Aziz gained no favour even from those of his subjects who were of His Majesty's own race and religion, nor can it be forgotten that in his ill-omened time the neglect of promised reforms went hand in hand with the acquisition of millions obtained from the wealth of Christendom, and cancelled by an act of indespite bankruptcy

It can hardly be denied that facts of this kind weigh heavily in the balance when the Porte's engagements, distinctly implied, though perhaps not always formally expressed, are put into one scale, and its fragments or shadows of performance into the other. The marked disproportion between them may well throw doubt on the Portes appeal to the beneficial clauses of the treaty of Paris.

If any degree of validity may still be ascribed to that treaty, it cannot With justice or reason be made to bear upon those securities which all Europe, so to say, has deemed it necessary to demand for the complete execution of the proclaimed reforms, and the restoration of peace on solid grounds in the disturbed provinces. Whatever may be the results of the war which is now unbappily in progress on a colossal scale, the mediating Powers have respected the permanent independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire. The temporary interference of foreign agents with the internal arrangements of the Porte must of course be unpleasant to the Sultan and his Mussulman subjects ; but its necessity, supposing its real character to be such, originates with the Turkish authorities, and has for its object the tranquillity of Europe and the welfare of Turkey itself.

The capacity of Mussulman Turkey for reforms may not be equal to its need of them, but it has always appeared to me sufficient for the introduction of a real and progressive improvement. On this account it is the more to be regretted, and also the more to be resented, that nearly a score of years from the treaty of Paris, so remarkable for increase of revenue and freedom from disturbance, should have left such scanty traces of advancement and good faith, and such ample proofs of impolicy and extravagance. How could Austria, whose territory bordered on the insurgent district and was peopled with numerous sympathisers, look with indifference on a movement so likely to compromise her interests, and, in the probable event of its expansion, to produce a mischievous excitement elsewhere? Were not the elements of that political disease, the Eastern Question, discernible in the first local symptoms of resistance to authority ? Was it to be expected that the insurgents would consent to lay down their arms, and resume their previous habits of obedience, on a simple assurance of pardon and better treatment for the future? Sympathies naturally sprang up on both sides of the frontier. Popular enthusiasm impelled the Christian Governments at the same time that its effects alarmed the Porte, so that, while the pressure from without increased, the resistance within hardened into positive refusal. In proportion to their determination to reject the demand of securities, the Turks abounded in professions and enactments of reform. They replied to the armed menace of Russia by an exhaustive display of force, they threw down the barrier of creed, and united the various classes of population into one patriotic mass under the common appellation of Ottomans, represented by a Parliament composed of two houses—a Senate and Deputies. Great and radical indeed is this change in the institutions of Turkey. Can it succeed ? can it last ? are the obvious questions which it suggests. A mixture of antagonistic elements shaped by a flash of urgency, and forced at once into action under circumstances severely trying, may well be viewed with surprise and doubt. The sincerity of its principal author is to all appearance unshaken, although it was probably hurried into existence as a refuge from the importunity of foreign dictators. There are those who would have given it a fair chance by leaving the Porte, as it were, on trial for a reasonable time after the departure of the ambassadors from Constantinople, and reserving the right of their Governments to interfere afresh upon the evident failure of the new system. Such a course would certainly have postponed the war, and perhaps might even have prevented it from ever breaking out. Come what may short of a Turkish dismemberment, the work of Midhat Pasha is not likely to pass away without leaving salutary traces of its temporary existence. The Sultan's uncontrolled authority, the inveterate corruptions of the metropolitan Ministry, and the cat-anddog relations between Mussulmans and Christians can never be the same as heretofore.

Although it is not my intention to censure bygone transactions, I cannot entirely suppress the regret with which I look back on some of the incidents preliminary to the present deplorable war. What, for instance, could be more ominous of failure than the want of union among the mediating Powers from the very commencement of their proceedings ? What more offensive to the Turks than the unscrupulous hostilities of Servia and Montenegro ? What more disreputable both to Turkey and to Europe than the manner in which the convicted perpetrators of the Bulgarian outrages escaped from the pursuits of justice ? What more injudicious than the unyielding obstinacy with which the Porte repelled the modified counsels of its allies, and refused to settle the terms of a mutual

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