CYPRUS UNDER REPAIRS. T HE public should watch, and watch appreciatively
if they can, the process of founding a British Government in Cyprus. We know of nothing more remarkable in its way than the ease with which an operation of this kind, an opera- tion which may redeem a whole community from social death, is usually effected, or than the sort of traditionary knowledge which all English officials seem to possess of the way to effect it. They " take possession " of Pegu, or the Transvaal, or Cyprus, or any other of the places we are always acquiring— being, you see, a modest people, without earth-hunger, or other form of ambition such as inspires that wicked Russia—as quietly and coolly as if it were an incident in the day's work. A British representative of some kind—Commissioner, Resi- dent, Envoy, Secretary of Legation, or occasionally a Major- General or Admiral—enters the principal place, sees the British Flag run up, utters some unpretending sentences, rather in the form of necessary remarks than of a speech, hints that it will be henceforward unsafe to steal Treasury money, confirms all officials for the present, and then,—why, then half the work is done. Every place not quite savage has in it some sort of governing machine, which would work if the officials were only honest ; some sort of laws which, if they were only applied, would keep society together; some sort of taxes which, if they were not stolen, would produce cash enough for expenses, wages being low where there is nothing to tax ; and the mere elevation of the British Flag in a place like Cyprus,by compelling officials to be decent, by making laws real, and by stopping theft, creates a working, though of course very rough, adminis- tration. The officials and people may know very little of England, but they know enough to be sure that where she is, there is a wish for justice irrespective of persons ; and the former leave off oppressing, and the latter suddenly feel secure enough to bring their complaints forward, a process which by itself, under a good Governor, remedies most flagrant evils. The majority, who own land, are, moreover, conciliated from the first by the swift rise in the values alike of their property and their produce. Just imagine the pecuniary difference between living under Sir Garnet Wolseley and under a Pasha who suddenly " burns up all sugar-canes." We venture to say, from mere experience, that by Christmas the selling value of every cultivated holding in Cyprus will have doubled, partly from the rise of speculation, partly from the military expendi- ture, but chiefly from the sense that a man's own is his own, independent of everybody. From the first, there is a head to the annexed territory, soldier or civilian, who can be consulted by every one aggrieved, and can, as a rule, ensure a remedy. Next, sometimes very rapidly, quiet persons of great experience, indefatigable industry, and a habit of looking at subordinates who will not stir themselves, with displeased surprise, begin to arrive, and at once take up the reins of the departments in office ; every man feels a chief over him, and the machine begins to roll. Tax-gatherers find themselves all servants to a Commissioner of Finance—in Cyprus, Mr. Kellner, very ex- perienced subordinate in the Military Finance Department of the Indian Government, picked out by Lord Dalhousie for a good deal of work—magistrates are sharply chidden by a Com- missioner of Police or temporary Judge with revising powers ; and municipalities of all sorts receive guiding orders from the Governor, which they are glad to obey. For, be it remem- bered, the majority of men wish for order, and are quite ready, if only sure of protection, to help to secure it. Then come the engineers, with plans for roads and drains, and calmly impera- tive ways of expropriation—the rule is full compensation, but as little whining as may be—special officers to report on re- sources, and finally, minor district officers, making the Govern- ment in all departments felt beneficially everywhere. It does not take three months, even when there is a difficulty about language, to plant in every district an effective head, who in- sists that State work shall go on, and that industrious persons shall sell their goods with impunity. After or with the officials follow the private traders. In a week—we witnessed the whole process ourselves once—there are hotels, with Bass, roast fowls, mutton, clean beds, and rude stables ; in a fortnight a branch Bank—this time sent over from Alexandria—in a month wooden houses, and in a year dwellings sufficient for the civil invaders, and salubrious, though more or less like thatched tents on a great scale. " Safe " water is procured somehow, be it by steam condensers or tube-wells, or as in Bengal, by earthenware pots filled with charcoal, and used as filters ; some ambitious ship's cook or hungry Italian starts bakeries ; shops with every conceivable article of European re- quirement spring up like magic ; and the land begins to be traversed by travellers, missionaries, newspaper correspondents, who inquire into everything, and send up every kind of infor- mation to the Governor. Everything the annexed people have to sell is purchased on speculation ; sites are hunted for by keen speculators with money ; a very few examples teach people, invaders, and speculating roughs that the law is as irresistible though nearly as invisible as the atmosphere, being supported at first by patrols of marines, then by improvised gendarmes, and then by regular police ; and in a space of time which seems miraculously short, an anarchical district, or island, or even province, is as orderly as Yorkshire, and very nearly as habitable. The muleteers can get about from the first, and a good engineer who pays cash to workmen previously under corve'e soon makes passable summer roads. So astounding is the change in some instances that those who have seen it, wonder for the rest of their lives why the plan is not more generally applied ; why the English, in particular, are not implored to take temporary charge of everything everywhere outside Western Europe, and let the people have, as a beginning, a chance of the social order without which progress is impossible, and there can be no certainty whether a given race have or have not in them the capacity for civilisation. Why the English, essentially a stupid and unorganised people, should have this power in them, we do not know, unless it be from their two habits of seeking justice and desiring freedom ; but nobody who saw Rangoon— described in 1826 as an Aceldama—a year before and five years after annexation, would ever doubt that they possessed it.
It will be thus, we do not doubt, with Cyprus, in spite of much of the depreciative comment with which its cession has been received. Owing to some local peculiarities, it will take a good deal of money to " put the new house in repair ;" but it is essentially a semi-tropical estate, very fertile, full of minerals, including, it is stated, coal ; with great varieties of climate, and no more unhealthy than such semi-tropical countries always are. As for the laziness of the people, they once covered Cyprus with cities ; but who would work, only in order when crop-time comes to be plundered by a Pasha ? The Govern- ment, as is clear from the Duke of Richmond's amusing replies on Tuesday, when he was so worried by his own ignorance that he was fain to quote the Spectator against the Pall Mall Gazette, has very little information about the island, and the public seems bewildered by the absence of "Travels," and the bareness of its usual sources of information, the Encyclopaedias. They may, however, rest satisfied that an island in which men and women are unusually handsome, and were once exceedingly numerous, is not naturally unhealthy, although particular spots, usually small towns built on the edge of the sea, by the side of unbanked streams, may, until dykes have been thrown up and a few drains cut, be as full of malaria as Rangoon once was and Port Royal is. There is no necessity, however, for hut- ting troops in a marsh, or allowing them, with steam-condensers so near at hand, to drink water polluted by rotting vegetation. The want of harbours is a great drawback, though Madras has become important in spite of its open roadstead, and a considerable sum of money may have to be spent on the for- mation of a breakwater; while it is probable that the pipe-wells used in the Abyssinian campaign will have to be imported at once, and that the first work of the engineers will be to pro- vide for the storage of the water supplied by the mountain torrents, which now run to waste in spring and are dry in winter. We speak, however, on sound Italian authority when we say that Sicilians find the climate pleasant and healthy, that the stories of cold in winter are exaggerations, and that the island is in all essential respects like a piece of Southern Italy, with the advantage of its lofty but fertile mountain- sides. For the rest, the race which makes Barbadoes rich will not be much at a loss to obtain revenue from a Mediterranean island once regarded by Greeks as a kind of Paradise, and thus described by James Bell, one of the most painstaking and careful of geographical compilers:—
" Copper is the chief metallic wealth of Cyprus ; it is said to have once produced gold, silver, and emeralds. What is called the diamond of Paphos, is a species of rock-crystal, found near that place. In this same vicinity is produced the celebrated anzianthvs, or mineral cloth, famed among the ancients for its incombustibility, flexibility, white- ness, and delicate fibrous structure. Red jasper and amber are also productions of Cyprus. The slopes of the mountains are thickly clad with woods of oak, pine, cypress, beech, and elm, together with groves of olives, and plantations of mulberries. Myrtles, various evergreens, and innumerable sweet-scented flowers, adorn the northern sides of the range and the narrow belt at its foot. Hyacinths, anemones, ranunculuses, the single and double-flowered narcissus grow spontan- eously, and deck the hill slopes, valleys, and plains ; giving the country the appearance of an immense flower-garden, and regaling the sense of smelling with delightful odours. The vegetable productions are vines, olives, cotton, lemons, oranges, apricots, and others congenial to the climate and soil. Cyprus has always been famous for its wines, which are of two kinds, red and white, made from grapes superlatively rich and luscious, their juice resembling a concentrated essence. These wines, however, are unpalatable to British taste, by their sickly sweet- ness, which it requires almost a century to remove. They are strongly aperient, and must be drunk with caution. In colour, sweetness, and other properties, Cyprian wino strongly resembles Tokay wine. It is supposed to bo perfect at forty years old, when kept in casks covered at the bung-bole with a thin sheet of lead. Its qualities aro then considered as truly balsamic. All the valuable kinds are white, and the red is the common wine. Sugar-canes were anciently very abundantly cultivated, till they were all burned by a Turkish pasha. The silk of Cyprus is of two kinds, yellow and white, but the former is preferred. The cotton is the finest in the Levant. Of the cerealia, wheat is the chief, and of superior quality ; but there is little or no capital in the hands of the peasantry, and the exportation of wheat is a monopoly, shared between the moutsellim and the Greek archbishop, who export or retail at an advanced price the whole annual produce, which they purchase at an arbitrary valuation. More than once during the war in Spain, the whole of the grain produce was purchased of the persons above mentioned by the merchants of Malta, and ex- ported, leaving the people without a morsel of broad. Game abounds in this island, as partridges, quails, woodcocks, and snipes ; but here are no wild animals, except foxes and hares, but many kinds of serpents, especially the asp, whose bite is said to have caused the death of the infamous Cleopatra. All kinds of domestic animals and fowls are bred here, where the natives boast that the pro- duce of every land and every clime will not only flourish, but attain even the highest point of perfection. Cyprus is noted for its manu- factures of leather, printed cottons, and carpets. The first is remarkable for its brilliant and lively colours ; and the second for the permanency of their colours, which become brighter by washing. The carpets are of excellent workmanship, and though barely large enough for an English hearth, bring from 40 to 50 piastres a piece."
The possible expenditure on Cyprus considered as a fortress is a different matter, but there is no necessity for making it a Malta all at once, or regarding it as anything but a fine pro- vince rescued by a fortunate whim of a British Premier from insupportable oppression. If we are going to govern Asia Minor, we shall not do it from Cyprus, and if we build the Euphrates Valley line, it is in the Bay of Scanderoon or by the mouth of the Orontes that we must find our protecting mili- tary station. Cyprus by itself will pay its expenses, it can be handed over to Greece whenever we are tired of it, and we only wish that every other Turkish island had been emanci- pated in the same way. The shame to the Premier consists not in taking Cyprus, but in leaving Crete and Rhodes, Scio and Mitylene still to suffer.