26 AUGUST 1876, Page 15


cro THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.'] SIR,—The Eastern Question, and what England has to do with it, would be easier to understand, if we would take Dr. Johnson's advice, and "clear our minds of cant,"—diplomatic cant, above all. We cantingly pretend that Turkey, with its headless and imbecile Government, its bankrupt Exchequer, and its armies of Asiatic brigands, is one of the European Powers. We eantingly pretend that we are dealing with it as we do with the other Powers, while in fact it submits in the most abject manner to be controlled and guided by the systematic intrigues of our own and the other diplomatists, only with occasional outbursts of its own will, when it for a moment believes those canting assur- ances that it is a European Power,—as when, for instance, it believes that the English really mean—as it has so shamefully been made to believe—that we rather approve than otherwise the employment of any means of keeping the Russians out of Con- stantinople.

Clearing our minds of this cant, we shall clear it also of all the stuff about waiting for mediation until either Servia or Turkey asks us to interfere, and about then restoring the status quo ante. And then the diplomatists, not having to find out what is to be done, but only to do what the people of England will have done, will have no difficulty in arranging the details of a work which they now declare to be impossible. "Impossible, Sir, why, I have the order in my pocket !" was the answer of the old Indian General to his subordinate ; and the order was obeyed. And so it will be obeyed by Lord Derby and Sir Henry Elliot, if the English public once gets to understand the case and give the order,—the order, namely, that the Turkish rule, with all its atrocities, shall cease at once and for ever, at least to the north of the Balkan.

When I think of Mr. Baring's mission, with a Turkish escort and a Turcophil interpreter, 1 am reminded of what occurred when our soldiers were dying for want of medical care and nursiug in the Scutari Hospital. Our Government wrote to our Ambassador to look into the matter, and he accordingly walked through the hospital, in full uniform, attended by his aides-de- camp. The remedy was not found effectual ; and Miss Night- ingale came out, told the sentry who was guarding the medicines and arrow-root from use to beat in the door with the butt-end of his musket, which he did, and perhaps even the red-tapista- certainly other people—saw that that was the remedy.—I am,