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with Turkey as the champion of Christendom; but no such office was assigned to her by other Powers; and her war with Turkey was an act of aggression, her losses in blood and treasure the natural consequences of her own mismanagement in the beginning of the contest. The final triumph of her arms is her only title to an indemnity; and in point of strict justice Turkey, though vanquished in the field, would have the better right to compensation for the sacrifices and sufferings of war.
What is here stated under the head of indemnity, as showing what Turkey has still to apprehend from Russia, goes far to spare the necessity of enlarging on other points which tend to give a precarious character to the existing peace. The discussions required for a more complete act of settlement between the late belligerents can hardly fail to afford opportunities for overbearance on the one side and resentment on the other. With respect to the entire withdrawal of Russian troops from the Sultan's territory, it is enough to bear in mind that fresh differences may be made the grounds of larger terms of occupation; that fifty thousand Russian soldiers, if not four times as many, are still dieted on the lands of Islam; and that a certain amount of coincidence between acts of insurgent violence and the distribution of those troops on a principle of protection has drawn the attention of impartial observers.
Scarcely have the letters which form the preceding paragraph had time to dry, when ominous remarks on the difficulty, not to say impossibility, of giving effect to the decisions of the Congress, appear in that portion of the Russian press to which a certain measure of authenticity is thought to attach. There are also signs of an intention not to make over the Dobrutchka to Prince Charles of Roumania until he agrees that a road for the passage of Russian troops shall traverse that district. We look, moreover, in vain for a cessation of those atrocities in free Bulgaria-Russo-Bulgaria, as it may be called -which operate so cruelly to the oppression or exclusion of its Mussulman proprietors. It appears on good authority that regiments of a hundred thousand refugees, homeless and half starved, are still excluded from Bulgaria by the fear of being massacred on their return.
Events do indeed come on with marvellous celerity. I hold back my pen to hear that the Afghan war has begun, that our Indian troops have been seen in full march upon the Ameer's positions; and I now resume it to state that I have read the Government's manifesto under Lord Cranbrook's name, and am struck with the large share which Russia is shown to have had, designedly or not, in the circumstances connected, more or less, with the Ameer's alienation from England.
In all likelihood we shall soon have stronger proof of the Musco
vite policy. Count Schouvaloff's language on his return to London may cast a glimmer of light upon its real character.
Meanwhile the leisure of expectation may be turned to account by a brief review of the resources of Turkey as fashioned by the joint effects of war and treaty. A sketch of the measures by which they may be brought into a state of promising development seems to follow in natural succession. There is more usefulness as well as more interest in treating of what may be made out of the portion which remains, than in poring over the memories of that which is lost.
To an unprejudiced eye the curtailment of the Sultan's sovereignty along the line of territory stretching from the Black Sea to the Adriatic is not entirely destitute of consolation bordering on advantage. More trouble than profit accrued from the government of provinces remote from the seat of power, peopled by ill-assorted, self-asserting, or oppressed and disaffected subjects, accessible at any time to the intrigues and actual seductions of sympathy or ambition from without. Roumania, tamed down by experience, is not likely to play the part of tool again to the injury of Turkey. Servia quite independent is more adapted than before to the duties of a quiet neighbour. If the present occupation of Bosnia and the Herzegovina were to take a permanent form, the Sclavonic danger would be considerably weakened by the rival positions of Austria and Russia, and the natural tendency of the former to be on good terms with the Porte. As for Montenegro and its half-starved desperadoes, it is reasonable to suppose that an opening to the sea, and the acquisition of land sufficient for their sustenance, will render them less subservient to instigations from without. Bulgaria, with its two moieties of independence and autonomy, may well be expected to prove the vulnerable side of European Turkey. But even that thorn may be kept from penetrating too far by the Balkan Mountains, an unconditional transfer of the Dobrutchka to Prince Charles, and a judicious organisation of Eastern Roumelia. The value of these considerations might be fairly increased by the extension of an obvious act of justice. Roumania purchases its new advantages by submission to a tribute open to extinction by the payment of a sum in block of calculated amount. Why should not other districts along the same frontier of Turkey legalise their improved positions by a similar process of equitable compensation?
The full meaning of these remarks and suggestions may be understood as the expression of a hope that Turkey will find its best road to the recovery of independence and strength in an earnest undistracted attention to the culture of its remaining extent of empire, large and productive, as it is, both morally and intellectually, no less than in a material sense. The difficulties, no doubt, are great, but the elements of improvement exist, the necessity of
using them appears to be felt, and friendly assistance from without is abundantly at hand. In whatever degree opinions may differ as to the policy which has brought on the present state of things, or to that which is laden with heavy responsibilities in future, the die is cast, and nothing short of failure upon trial can give an honourable colour to retreat. Those who are on the scene of action and those who have authority to give command are of course the first to be looked to for a regulated plan of procedure. To any one who has neither of those advantages it may seem desirable that such measures as tend directly to the increase of revenue and require only an order of the Government to set them on foot, should stand foremost for adoption. Under this head financial reform, cessation of the farming system, and security against corruption, would naturally come. Boards or Commissions for the promotion of trade, agriculture, and communications by land and water are also much needed. They should be composed in part of foreigners, and laid open, together with the soil itself, to foreign capital and enterprise, which would find additional sources of profit in forests, mines, and quarries.
The principle of religious freedom, in point of creed and worship, is already recognised by authority. It ought to be carried out not only in word but also in practice to every thing, with the exception, perhaps, of public processions, and other ostentatious demonstrations, which had better be repressed as having more of an invidious than of a devotional character.
A strict economy-subordinate, of course, to efficiency-must be the rule in providing for the defence of the empire under professional advice. This, indeed, is applicable to all the departments. Magnum vectigal est parsimonia. The composition of the army is an extremely delicate question. No doubt of that. Turk and Greek, Christian and Mussulman, rolled together indiscriminately in the same regiments would hardly find a sufficiency of joint working power in the patriotic title of Ottomanism. A separation of the discordant elements into companies or regiments might prove a remedy. Commands of lower degree might be given to officers differing from their men in creed and race; but it is presumable that another rule would, in general, be required for those of the higher class. In exceptional cases a foreigner would be more acceptable than a native. Well paid, well provided, and fairly treated, the soldier would naturally be less susceptible in other respects. In the Crimean war several thousands of Turkish infantry were commanded by English officers.
The navy seems to offer more facilities for mixture of the kind in question. In earlier periods the Turkish ships of war were chiefly, if not entirely, manned with Greeks.
Great changes have still to be effected in the civil departments of highest importance. A central Parliament comprising members of
every class, councils of Liberal construction, tribunals professing an impartial administration of justice, hold out the promise of a real constitutional reform. It remains to be seen how far a practical result, corresponding with the principles of free legislation, responsible government, and unbiassed justice, can be secured. Despotism of a military, fanatical, one-sided character has to be converted, under most untoward circumstances, into a system the very reverse of that to which it succeeds. The first, the only Napoleon exclaimed in one of his thousand and one bulletins, Où sont donc les bornes du possible?' It is to be hoped that in the case of reformed Turkey this question may be answered by notes of triumph. But the obstacles to such an issue are not to be overcome by a wish. Can they be overcome by something more substantial? Let us see.
History shows by positive examples, few but decisive, in what manner the most unexpected changes can be effected by a strong hand united with a strong determined mind. In the series of Turkish Emperors we find a Mahomet or a Suleyman endowed with qualities of that overwhelming kind. In the present crisis of Eastern affairs no such hero has hitherto appeared. It may even be doubted whether a state of things, like that in Turkey now, is capable of receiving impressions equal to the desire of Europe and the demands of England. The vultus instantis tyranni would not be tolerated, the arbitrium popularis aura would not be steady enough to bring order out of compulsion, and strength out of weakness. Turkey, shorn of its disaffected provinces, continues to be rich by nature in the capital points of soil, climate, and position. The immediate steps to be taken in order to revive these slumbering advantages are already suggested, and, it may be, already in part applied. But other and far greater causes of depression have need to be considered before the more obvious means of improvement can acquire that degree of general and systematic action which commands confidence, and realises the object of their employment.
The Sultan, in his capacity of Caliph, was, in fact, the Government. The Ministers had only to execute their master's commands. L'Etat, c'était lui. But the Sultan, though secluded, so to speak, was not alone in his palace. There he was surrounded by his wives, his concubines, his eunuchs, and other household officers; and it followed naturally that his Ministers were exposed to the secret influence, the poisoned whisper, of any intriguing courtier. Their situation was one in which fear and suspicion overpowered the sense of duty, and the exercise of administrative judgment. The creation of a Parliament may fairly be traced to the dread of this dangerous and paralysing nightmare.
The experiment of Parliamentary control has been made, and some favourable appearances gave it a momentary credit. There was evidence of provincial ability and a spirit of independence, too outspoken,
perhaps, for the infancy of a popular institution. Be that as it may, its meetings are suspended for the present, and what has not unfrequently followed such suspensions in other times and other countries we all know. A Parliament, collared like one of the two dogs in Burns's poem, would be fit for little more than to register the mandates of the Sovereign. A controlling element, not a rival authority, is what the interests of the country in its present condition require. Is there no form of State Council that would answer the purpose; one, for instance, composed in certain proportions of members imperial, ministerial and popular, the first removable only on petition, the second official, the third renewable quinquennially by free election, and each class open to all religions.
It should be borne in mind that there is no recognised aristocracy in Turkey. The Ulemas in a corporate and proprietary sense are the only approach to a class of that kind, and in them an exclusive. spirit bordering on fanaticism instilled by education prevails. The creation of an intermediate estate between Throne and People is by no means impossible; but while the want of it continues, a general Parliament can hardly be constructed with the desired effect, and the rural districts must look elsewhere for security and improvement.
The new signification given officially to the word 'Ottoman,' as descriptive of a Turkish subject without reference to creed or race, carries with it a pledge of equal treatment under the law to all alike. Uniformity of sentiment as to the country's welfare was, no doubt, the object of that innovation. It is, nevertheless, difficult to conceive its complete success when the manners of more than one principal race are so widely separated from those of the dominant population. Domestic slavery and its attendant custom-the seclusion of women— being confined to Turkish families, the families of that nation have necessarily little or no intercourse of a social or intimate kind with their neighbours, be they Greeks, Jews, or Armenians. It stands to reason that no end of loosening and shaking must take place before the prejudices of caste can yield to the sympathies of humanity and subjection to the same Government. No trivial obstacles are these to Union identified in proverbs with Force. The female captives would probably be glad to have the barriers removed; but not so their jailors. Bluebeard would be slow to give up the key of his harem. But now let us turn to a quarter where the difficulties are less stubborn.
Supposing all to be right at the seat of Government, there still remains for consideration by what machinery the reforms adopted there may be most effectively secured from neglect or perversion in the process of execution. It would hardly be safe for the Porte to rely on the ordinary class of officials appointed to places of trust in the provinces. A change so great as that of the reform required in Turkey would be doomed to failure without some better guaranty