Imatges de pÓgina
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thereby a general and uniform effect to the Sultan's beneficent intentions.

The execution of such a plan might in time be greatly assisted by opening a wider field of instruction to candidates for public employment. The first step has been taken in this direction. A college, founded by the government, exists in the principal suburb of Constantinople. The students are partly Christian and partly Mussulman. They are brought up together on equal terms. The institution was originally a school of medicine. It has been expanded into larger proportions, and may be said to contain the rudiments of an university. No principle stands in the way of its further extension. As a model for similar foundations in the chief provincial cities, its importance. can hardly be overrated.

I have already intimated that, in my opinion, the Turkish army, far from being too large for the wants of the country, stands rather in need of a considerable increase, with reference at least to the numbers actually enrolled. The objections are not entirely of a financial character. The conscription operates on the Turkish population alone, and the supply from that quarter is not equal to the demand. This deficiency has been felt for some years, and it is to all appearance a growing evil. How is it to be supplied if not by recruiting among those portions of the people who, on religious grounds, have been hitherto exempted from military service? This idea has been adopted by the Porte, and made acceptable to the Christians by substituting a war-tax for the degrading haratsch, and levying it on all religious classes alike. But the egg has been addled in the hatching. The Christians complain of the new tax as pressing unfairly on them, and as no arrangements have yet been made for placing them as soldiers on a proper footing, the army is still dependent on its one declining source of recruitment.

Whatever may be hereafter the composition of the army, its numbers cannot be increased without a corresponding increase of expense. On this account, as well as on others, it is evident that measures calculated to remove financial abuses, and to render taxation more productive, stand foremost in the line of reform. Retrenchment and economy are the best, and indeed indispensable, startingpoints. They alone can at present obtain, for any security the Porte could offer in raising money on loan, that confidence which might reopen the money markets of Europe to her proposals. The pump must have water to make it work. The first remedial operations in finance would be attended with a stoppage of the customary expedients, and it is difficult therefore to imagine how the curative process could be effected without a temporary accommodation. Ten years ago this harbour of refuge was closed to the Porte by traditional scruples, which subsequently gave way to pressure, as other mistaken notions will also give way to a similar force of circumstances.

Here, as on other points, much, no doubt, is wanted. But the resources are natural; the obstacles are conventional. Opinion works in such a manner as to bring out the former, and to test the latter by their actual utility. Things deemed impracticable have come into everyday use. The progress of improvement is no less. rapid than extension.

It was during the Crimean war that strangers commissioned by foreign governments were first allowed to take part in the Porte's financial deliberations. They had to contend with much jealousy and many prejudices. They were often baffled in their researches ; and if they did any good, it was all but limited to the prevention of evil. The Porte has now accepted the services of two gentlemen who are actually clerks in the British Treasury, and to them, in honourable reliance on a friendly government, the mysteries of Turkish finance are said to be fairly unfolded. Even to those who have watched at hand the course of events in Turkey, such changes appear little short of miraculous. They are earnests of further advancement, and seem to forbid the surrender of a single hope.

It would be a great mistake to suppose that nothing has yet been done except on paper. In every department some practical steps have been taken more or less in the right direction. Progression languishes rather from moral than from material causes, less from want of will in the government than from the temperament of individuals. The haul of all,' so well known in our navy, the 'strong pull, long pull, and pull all together,' so potent in a British rowing match, have still to be impressed on our Ottoman friends. In every great enterprise, energy, method, system, concurrence, are needed for success. In Turkey, as now circumstanced, and more perhaps than elsewhere, these qualities of national movement have to be sustained, if not inspired, from without. Happily for the Turkish Empire, sufficient means and motives for giving in a friendly spirit the requisite impulsion to its endeavours are no longer out of reach. The principal States of Christendom are solemnly pledged to support the integrity of that Empire, and to regard it as a member of what is rather affectedly styled the great European family.' Together they are capable of urging their joint counsels on the Porte without the danger to its independence which might accompany the single interference of a neighbouring and rival power. Supposing their views to be honest, and their recommendations to agree with the Porte's declared principles, the pressure thus exerted would be no less safe than useful. Were interested motives to prevail in secret with one or more of them, the vigilance of England would not go to sleep, and the Porte's position would not be worse than if it were one of political estrangement and insincere profession. Union, moreover, though perhaps a mere show, would repress any tendency to foul play by making its exposure more discreditable and offensive. It

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would also be unreasonable to expect the best results from our advice when tendered with the twofold advantage of inspiring confidence as British, and commanding attention as European. The treaty of peace, which guards the Porte expressly against foreign interference as between the Sultan and his subjects, would be anything but satisfactory if it were held to preclude the Sultan's allies from insisting on the enforcement of those reforms which have been adopted freely by him as of vital importance to his Empire. Who will deny that the continued neglect of that duty exposes them more and more to the perils and sacrifices attendant, under their existing engagements, on its dissolution, whether by force or intrigue?

Granted that the prospect of a diplomatic conference installed at Constantinople is by no means attractive. But the advantage, or, it may be, the necessity, when weighed against the inconvenience, will be found to preponderate. Meanwhile such conferences as may serve to patch up a local or passing disturbance abound. We are but lately relieved from one, the parent of numberless protocols, in Syria. The affairs of Montenegro, those of the Danubian principalities, have likewise, in turn, been subjects of European deliberation. We know not how soon or where the kites may be again collected by a massacre or an insurrection.

It were well to bear in mind that such occasional meetings have also their portion of inconvenience and risk. Their failure is discreditable; the effect of their success, at best, transient and partial. The evils they are meant to correct are themselves the offspring of one pervading evil, the source of which is Constantinople. In cases of sickness, consultations are not of good omen; but at times they cannot be avoided, and then it is usually thought best to call them where the patient resides, and not on the spot where his fever was caught or his leg fractured.

In these high matters, to which the principal Powers of Europe habitually and necessarily direct their attention, although the interest, the legitimate interest, is common, and the right equal, our own government occupies a peculiar position, comparatively advantageous, but also, in proportion to the advantage, responsible. The causes of this are manifest. Of all the Powers, Great Britain has most to lose by the inertness and decay of the Ottoman Empire, and least to gain by its dismemberment. Though her course of policy may at times give umbrage to the Porte, the circumstances in which she is placed, and the character of our institutions, exempt her from its mistrust. Others may be more feared, and consequently more favoured, by the Turkish authorities; but confidence and goodwill depend less on fear than on hopes and sympathies.

The subject in hand is so large, its bearings so multiplex, and the questions it embraces so momentous, that even in this rapid sketch of it there may be enough to weary, if not to bewilder, the most

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patient of readers. We never thought of bringing all its elements, however briefly, within so narrow a compass; and even now we do not pretend to more than a very light notice of two or three outstanding points, which ought not to be entirely overlooked.

Authors, in seeking to explain the decline of Turkish power, have noticed two practices in particular as helping greatly to accelerate it. One, which we have already touched upon, is the debasement of the coinage. The other is the exclusion of the Imperial Princes from all share in public business. The discredit, uncertainty, and temptation to fraud, which attend the former illusion, have at all times and in all countries produced, more or less, the same deplorable effects. Our own history may be quoted to confirm the truth of this remark. A prominent example is offered by Froude in his account of the financial embarrassments which occurred under the Protectorate of Somerset. Some of us can personally remember with what determination Parliament, on the report of the Bullion Committee in 1816, enacted at every hazard the renewal of cash payments at the Bank.

With respect to the princes, it stands to reason that the restrictions to which they are condemned must operate with twofold venom upon the State. The jealousy which keeps them spell-bound in the seraglio hoodwinks their understandings, and renders the want of knowledge an heirloom in the ruling family, at the same time that it confirms their imperial keeper in those habits of indolence and selfindulgence which the dread of competition and popularity on their side might otherwise counteract. It tells with unusual force in a country where so much depends on the personal acquirements of the sovereign, and at a period when every government is expected to give proof of qualities commensurate with the wants of its people and the progress of its rivals. A word would suffice to remove this nightmare from the palace, and its consequences from the Empire.

It would certainly require more than a word to redress the defects of the currency. But the temporary sacrifice essential to that object would be overpaid by its results, and a real economy, such as now, it appears, is in progress, followed by other productive reforms, and sustained by the concurrent action of friendly Powers, would go far to revive the credit and open the resources of the Porte to an indefinite extent.

Those to whom every molehill is a mountain, every redoubt an impregnable fortress, may fancy that the greatest success in these respects would have little or no effect-if any, a disastrous one-on that diversity of races and consequent opposition of feelings and interests which make the Turkish Empire a hotbed of internal dissension. That there, as elsewhere, difficulty and danger exist in circumstances of social antagonism, cannot be fairly denied; but candour, while making the admission, is entitled to dissent from its

exaggeration. In their days of prosperity, the most enlightened of Turkish ministers might reasonably have opposed any serious relaxation of the Mussulman system. It was sufficient for their purpose that all went on as usual, and that no defeat or deficit, insurrection or calamity, was likely to throw more than a passing shadow on the stability of the Empire. Turks were Turks, and rayahs rayahs. Both were to move invariably in their separate spheres; and if Christian heads were exposed to Turkish sabres, it was natural that they should be occasionally cut off. But the successors of those statesmen have no such luxury to enjoy. They are embarked on a current, generated by false principles and vicious courses, which threatens to sweep them into ruin-government, religion, empire, and all. It is only by straining or rowing strenuously against the flood that they can hope to escape. Their best exertions may ultimately fail; but, taken in the right direction, they offer good chances of safety, retarding meanwhile the consummation to be dreaded, and softening the approaches to what in the end may prove inevitable.

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This for the worst. But the danger itself is far less considerable than might be supposed at a distance. Numerous, and at heart disaffected, as the Sultan's non-Mussulman subjects are, they have by no means the force either of union or of endurance. Their separation into different classes on the ground of race or creed is evidently a source of weakness to them. They have little sympathy for each other. They are rivals for Turkish favour, and in some respects antagonistic among themselves. What they have most in common is the habit of submission to Turkish rule. Neither Greek, nor Armenian, nor Slavonian can hope to occupy a throne left vacant by the professor of Islamism. Each class in the supposed case would probably consent more cheerfully to the Sultan's authority than accept the rule of an adverse Christian sect. The Christians, in proportion as the Turks extend the circle of their privileges, and treat them with forbearance and consideration, have less to stimulate their longing for independence, and less to raise them above the dread of their long-established conquerors. On the same account their hold. upon the sympathies of Christendom, and the confidence they might derive from that source, are greatly attenuated. Besides, the weight of the Ottoman sceptre has never pressed upon them by an immediate contact with the whole surface of their everyday life. From the time of the conquest they have been allowed in some important respects to manage their own affairs. Even the collection of the haratsch, before the abolition of that tax, was entrusted to their own magistrates. The amount to be levied on each district was fixed by the Porte, or, it might be, by the pasha; but the assessment was regulated by the elders or notables of each religious community. What they most felt, and what in reality they had most to complain

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