THE CRISIS IN TURKEY.
WHILE the sky clears over Western Europe, in the East clouds are ominously gathering. Ten years ago the Treaty of Paris was hailed with joy by many both in this country and on the Continent, as inaugurating the return of an era of peace, as establishing the supremacy of the Conservative doctrine of respect for existing settlements and vested rights in the European State system. The ink of its signatures was scarcely dry when a movement began to be felt,—the first quivering of an earthquake destined to overthrow and engulph the structures which diplomacy had reared and guarded. Italy received its first shock. Some half-dozen thrones were toppled over, and another nation, emancipated, was added to the map of Europe. Then came the turn of Germany, which has just achieved its unity. What was the force which accomplished these wonderful, unlooked-for changes ? The " doctrine of nationalities," the right of every nation to govern itself, and not to be split into fractions, each dragged at the tail of some patch-work empire, is a popular and sufficiently correct expression for the force which welded Italy, and is welding Germany, into a nation standing alone and strong. Its work of course has not been one of construction only, but also of destruction. In Italy and in Germany the old order has been swept away to make place for the new. It would seem that neither the Italian nor the German revolution will be found to surpass in magnitude of change or momentous result the last develop- ment of nationality, the movement among the Christian popu- lations under Ottoman rule. The issue is not so clear as in the former cases, for if the Porte should fail to coerce or conciliate his rebellious subjects; who can say to whom the fragments of the dismembered empire would fall In the Turkish State and among its dependent neighbours there is no Prussia, and scarcely a Piedmont.
The disaffection of the Sultan's subjects, certainly encouraged by the results of the recent war, and probably fomented by foreign intrigues, has broken out in various quarters. The Turk is clearly at his wits' end how to face all his dangers, and stoops to wheedle and conciliate where he never stooped before,—to purchase Montenegrin neutrality with ports and towns, to keep Prince Charles of Roumania quiet by the surrender of nearly all his rights as suzerain. With all this it is more than doubtful whether the impact of revolution can be sustained. The revolt of the Candiotes, which was at first disregarded, has now reached alarming proportions. Not only is the male population of the island—hardy high- landers, every one—up in arms, but the Turkish troops have already been attacked, the insurgent banners display the crucifix and preach a crusade, the spirit of Pan-Hel- lenism, which sustained the islanders in a despairing but obstinate war of six years, when the Greeks of the mainland won independence, is rekindled, and the demand has boldly gone forth for annexation to the Hellenic Kingdom. There, and in every place where the Greek language is spoken, is profound sympathy with the rebels. Athens is all on fire to send aid, and to fight out the inveterate quarrel with the Turks. Even King George has spoken, rashly enough, and claims to be "not King of Greece only, but of all the Hellenes." The intervention of foreign powers, especially of the signataries of the Treaty of Paris, has been invoked ; and the Candiotes have even conjured—of all potentates on earth —President Johnson to save " the native land of Jupiter and Minos " from its oppressors. Hitherto, however, no external help or attempt at compromise has been heard of. Standing alone, the Candiotes apparently would be unequal to the task of coping with the whole power of the Turkish Empire. Their numbers cannot be large, the fighting men in all pro- bability cannot amount ' to nearly 30,000. It is indeed very difficult to discover the truth in anything relating to Candia—in statistical matters quite hopeless. The island is little known even in commerce, and still less by the reports of travellers. The discrepancies between the official informa- tion and that derived from private sources is very great,—in the estimate of the population, for example, the numbers being so far apart as 320,000 and 200,000. It seems, however, pretty well agreed that the Christians are from two to three times as numerous as the Moslem, and no doubt in a mountainous country, with little means of intercommunication, a few deter- mined men, acquainted with every defile and pass, might hold their ground against a much stronger foe. Still we cannot think that the Turks can yet deem themselves so fairly out- matched as to have offered, as the telegrams assert, to sur- render their right to the island to the Pacha of Egypt, who since it reverted to the Porte in 1840 has hankered and intrigued after it. If the rumour be well founded, the confes- sion of weakness is as perilous as it is ignominious.
The weakness, however, confessed or not, exists. Encouraged by the bold stand of the Candiotes, and by the sympathy of the Greeks of the Kingdom, the Epirotes have also risen in con- siderable numbers, and even engaged the Turkish troops with success. Indeed all through Thessaly and Epirus, and in the mountains of Albania, so dangerously menacing a spirit prevails that the TurkishGovernment has already reinforced the garrisons in those quarters largely, and has sent its ablest soldier, Omar Pacha, to Bosnia, to check any manifestations among the Slava, perhaps from a dread that the Servians may avenge themselves for the insults offered to them in 1862. The army, which has greatly declined in efficiency since 1856, and which it has of late
been found moat difficult to recruit, is subjected to sweeping re- forms, and every effort is being made to strengthen each arm
of it. But it is not in Europe only that the perplexities of Tiirkey have come to light. In the Lebanon the old feud be- tween the Druses and the Maronites has broken out with all its former bitterness, and the Government has got entangled in the quarrel. This unlucky disturbame, besides its offering Russia or France an additional opportunity of interference, must draw away some of the Turkish military force from the vital struggle with the Greek insurgents.
The real source of Turkish weakness is not to be looked for in any external changes, but in the irremediable vices of the national character and Government. " The Turks," says Mr.
Goldwin Smith, "are not a nation, but a horde,—a degene- rate, utterly corrupt, and dwindling horde." These hard words are not too hard. The Tiarks are degenerate. Their faith, always needing action and expansion, has been con- strained to rest passive, and so has died, leaving behind it only a paralyzing fatalism. Even physically, sensuality has told on the once hardy Osmanlis ; brain and body have succumbed to a life spent in the unwholesome seraglio and the fatal pleasures of opium dreams. It need scarcely be added that corruption flourishes in Turkey as in its native soil, that pure justice is unknown, that the tax- gatherers plunder both the people and the Sultan, that not even those in the highest place recognize any moral obligation to pay the debts of the State. At the same time Turks of every rank think it their pride and privilege to insult and oppress the Christian races. The latter, in spite of government and maladministration, are gathering to them- selves all the material wealth of the country. • Most ominous
sign of all, the Christians, whether Greeks or Slays, are increasing their numbers, while the Turks are dwindling. Out of a European population of sixteen millions probably—
for it is almost impossible to arrive even at an approximation to the truth in Turkish statistics—the genuine Turks do not make more than one million. The remaining Moslem popula- tion—three to four millions, perhaps—is composed of Slavonic converts, and in the event of a " general overturn " it remains to be seen how far the bond of faith would be able to struggle with the bond of race. From the diminution of the Moham- medan subjects of the Porte, it has of late years become more and more difficult to keep up the army. It was even proposed during the Crimean war to recruit among the rayahs, but the scheme was finally rejected. It would certainly have been a source rather of danger than of strength.
Throughout the Ottomas State, then, there prevails an incurable decay. Its military force is broken • its empty
exchequer has compelled an act of national bankruptcy ; its Christian subjects are rising in simultaneous and possibly combined rebellion. Its old enemies, Austria and Russia, and its-upstart neighbours, Greece and Roumania, are alike looking on with eager, jealous eyes, and waiting to snatch a fragment of the spoil. If what ,seems the inevitable result of these perils.and weaknesses should soon ensue, what cosmos, if any, out,of -the first necessary chaos do we look for ? For one thing, and the chief, Europe must be rid of Turkish domination. To this end it is not needful, not perhaps even desirable, as some good people in their zeal for " fulfilling the prophecies " imagine, that the House of Othman should altogether lose its sovereignty. The Turkish dominions to the east of the Bos- phorus are as thoroughly Moslem as these to the west are Christian ; the Asiatic Turks are the only subjects of the Porte that still preserve the fighting vigour of the soldiers of Amurath and Solyman, that still possess a living faith in the teachings of the Koran. Their energy in commerce and agriculture is not to be despised. It is doubtful whether any tie save their allegiance to the Sultan would be able to hold them -together. In Asia therefore, as before the capture of Constantinople, we may expect to see a Turkish State maintained for an indefinite period. But in European Turkey, the chain being gone that bound together discordant fragments, the coming order is out of the scope of prevision. Russia of course is the object of many suspicions, but there are not wanting signs that she has internal troubles to compose or crush which will abundantly occupy all ler energies. Austria, shut out from Germany, looks perhaps on the -valley of the Danube as the field of her "manifest destiny," but she has not yet settled accounts with her heterogeneous discontented populations, and, hated as she is in the Princi- palities, we can scarcely see the way to any aggrandizement for her. Roumania, it is said, is intriguing desperately to attract a party in Bulgaria, and could she achieve this, the Balkan would give her a well defined southern frontier, answering sufficiently to the division of race and language. But southward the main difficulty would arise. Greece, if we can judge by her career since independence, is far too weak to weld together with any permanent success the tribes and creeds of Roumelia and Albania ; and to whom else can the task fall ? A long and painful transition-period is, we fear, the destiny of all'the alellenes. But the power of the Turks over the Christian world is declining, and must ere long expire. The "Eastern policy " of Lord Palmerston will find no more favour in England.