LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
NEW RADICALISM OLD TORYISM WRIT LARGE.
[TO THZ EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR:]
Sus,—Will you allow a Radical to make a protest against what Sir Charles Dilke has said about Turkey and the Turks, in the most astonishing Radical speech that I ever heard in my life?
After admitting that the Turks had been guilty of abominable cruelties in Bulgaria, Sir Charles read a letter from an eminent official witness, who has a better right to speak about the subject than any other man in Europe (his name is perfectly well known), and who shows that it would be impossible to exaggerate the infamy of the outrages. In the next breath Sir Charles says that we English did in India after the Mutiny what the Turks have done in Bulgaria. Will he be good enough to explain ? Has there been any Bulgarian well of Cawnpore ? Has there been a Bul- garian Nana Sahib ? Have Bulgarian troops treacherously mur- dered their own officers ? Have Bulgarians systematically inflicted insults on the wives of Turkish officers? When Sir Charles answers these questions, it will be, time enough to discuss the relative degree of provocation which the English received in the one case, and the Turks in the other. But putting aside that question for the moment, I would ask Sir Charles whether, in India, "pregnant women were ripped up, their babes torn out and killed," by the English soldiery? Did the English soldiery burn "two hundred women and children alive ?" Did they beat to death 7,000 pre- sumably innocent persons in any Hindoo Batak ? Did they kill 20,000, or even 12,000, unarmed and peaceable Hindoos ? I am not defending all that our soldiers did in putting down that revolt. I am merely pointing out that to draw a parallel between such atrocities as those which I quote from the letter of Sir Charles's correspondent, and such severities as our troops inflicted in India, is to reveal the bias of an envenomed partisan.
Sir Charles Dilke next hints, although he does not specifically say, that the deeds committed by the Russians in Poland in 1863, and by the troops of Versailles when they shot down the Commune in 1871, were of the same character as the atrocities committed by the Turks in Bulgaria. Such an assertion may be unceremoniously dismissed with the answer that it is absolutely untrue. No Pole has dared to charge the Russians with the com- mission of such infamies as those that even the Turks are be- ginning to admit. The entry of the Versailles troops into Paris was certainly marked by a vengeance which, I think, cannot be excused even by the massacre in the hostages of some of the best men of France, or by the burning of her noblest public buildings, or by the most dangerous of all her rebellions. But
it is absolutely untrue that the French soldiers did more than shoot a very large number of the men and women who were taken with arms in their hands. If the Turks had done no more in Bulgaria, they would scarcely have been blamed.
Sir Charles tells us that if he has little sympathy with the Turks he has little with the Servians, the Montenegrins, and the Bulgarians. He refuses to lay any stress on the fact that the one aide is Christian and the other Mahommedan. He despises a Christianity which, like that of the f3ervians, refuses to tolerate any other form of creed than that of the Eastern Church, and he insinuates, although, again, he does not say, that such a Christianity is worse than Mahommedanism. Unfortunately, Christianity has often been and often is intolerant. It has been intolerant even in places where it has produced beneficent consequences. It was intolerant in England when England was at least as religious and great a country as she is to-day. Puritanism was very intolerant. But does Sir Charles Dilke seriously mean to say that an in- tolerant Servian Christianity is not an incomparably better agent of civilisation than an intolerant Mahommedanism P
He adds that the Christianity of the Montenegrins would pro- bably be found more offensive by the majority of Western Christians than the Deism of their Mahommedan foes. Does he mean that the corrupt Christianity of the Montenegrin peasantry would be found more offensive than the corrupt Mahommedanism of the Mussulman peasantry, with all the practical abominations that go in its train? If so, he knows as little of England as he knows of Turkey. If he means merely that the corrupt Christ- ianity of the Montenegrin peasants is more intellectually repulsive than the refined Deism of Mahommedan scholars—the Dean Stanleys of Islam—he says what is little to the purpose. The practical question is,—Which of the two popular creeds tends in the long-run to develop men, and which to develop brutes? Is it the Montenegrins or the Turks who are going with that stream of European progress which bears Sir Charles Dilke along in his sublime warfare against the superfluous pence of the Civil List?
But all the apologies for Mahommedanism are the mere fringe of Sir Charles's ready argument, which is, that be the Turkish rule detestable or not, we must keep it up, for fear of Russia, and to save Austria from destruction. The Sultans may be beasts or madmen ; the ruling Pashas may be a gang of unhanged thieves or murderers ; the Turkish judges may live on pillage ; the Mahommedan population may be brutalised by ignorance and killing itself by indescribable vices ; the Christian population— the great majority of the people—may suffer from a denial of justice to which there is no parallel among civilised men ; and the fairest part of Europe may be wasted by the indolence, the ignorance, the bestiality, and the cruelty of its Mahommedan masters. No matter. We must back up the Turks, because if they were to go the Russians might come, and there might be trouble' in Austria, and the balance of power might be disturbed, and English influence might suffer, and in short, the Devil might break loose. Now, Sir, a Radical might be expected to be quite ready to take his chance of the Devil, especially as the Devil has been loose in Turkey ever since the Turks came there. But what I want to point out is, that Sir Charles Dilke's Radicalism is but old Toryism writ large. Sid- mouth, Castlereagh, and Perceval, all rolled into one, could not, if they had turned their thoughts to the East, have dis- played a more cynical contempt for justice and humanity than that which is preached in the name of the Radical party. The foreign policy of Radicalism would imply a determination to perpetuate a rule which is too infamous almost for description, in order to prevent English influence from running some highly speculative risk in some highly speculative future.
Tilting against the Twenty-fifth Clause of the Education Act and shying Republican pebbles at the Civil List are pleasant little amusements for the leisure-hours of an advanced Liberal, but they are trifling compared with the proper direction of English sympathy and influence in the East.
If Sir Charles Dilke truly expressed the foreign policy of the new Radical party, a good many Radicals would, I fancy, join in the -wish that the Radical party may long enjoy the impotence with which public contempt smites the union of high moral pro- fessions with shabby performances.—I am, Sir, &c., A RADICAL.