SETTLEMENT OF THE TURKISH QUESTION.
THE events that are openly taking place in Turkey are of a kind to create more alarm than the covert assurances in this country can allay. That Turkey is approaching the very crisis of her fate, becomes a deeper conviction in the:public mind at the receipt of the news every week; while each successive assurance that the difficulty has been got over—that the misunderstanding with France, or with Austria, or with Russia, has been " amicably" arranged—becomes a commonplace that cannot engage our trust at all. To speak plainly, we do not believe it. The facts are inconsistent with any such belief. The Russian Ambas- sador, the most extraordinary of envoys, makes his appear- ance in Constantinople attended by a retinue of a studiedly aggressive character; generale, admirals, and military officers swelling his train. The arrangements at the embassy are such as to enable the Christian population of Constantinople and its neigh- bourhood to join in rendering the arrival of the Russian Ambassa- dor a demonstration of the Greek Church and its flock. While Prince Menschikoff ostentatiously insults the Turkish Minister so that he •feels compelled to resign, the Greek population of Constan- tinople parades its newborn impunity of insolence in the face of the outraged Mussulman. Amongst the demands which Prince 7ifenschikoff has made upon the Porte, is said to have been the right of way for the Russian fleet through the Dardanelles ; a con- cession which would in itself violate the European arrangement upon which the Turkish empire at present subsists : and whether the report respecting that demand is correct or not, there is -no denying the patent fact, that a Russian Tarty of officers of high rank, headed by the person specially in- trusted with Imperial authority, has .appeared in Constantinople
as the temporal head, protector, and as it were administrator, of a subject and heretical class of the Turkish population, and has made his appearance in a manner to convey a studied insult, and to break down in ,the eyes of the Sultan's subjects that au- thority which was already sufficiently precarious. Now we do not believe that the differences, 'whatever they are, between Rus- sia and the Sublime Porte, have been amicably arranged : they have been but compromised, concealing some new concession on the part of Turkey ; who is gradually yielding up her life. But even if there had been the arrangement that is pretended, it could not get over that fact : unless Menschikoff were recalled and dis- graced by his Government as a satisfaction to the Porte, Turkey has received a mortal wound. We know that he will not be so re- called and disgraced. We are assured that the British Government is taking its proper position in the East. Lord Aberdeen, confessing that he was not very well informed, acknowledged the receipt of a report that the British fleet had been summoned; which was the fact. Lord John Russell avowed that he was for the maintenance of the integrity of the Ottoman empire, and could not anticipate its fall without a war in Europe, arising from the pretensions of two powers, which could not be tacitly submitted to. But we are now assured that the British fleet has not proceeded to the Dardanelles; that the Admiral has held back in the exercise of a wise discretion ; and that England will be no party to any premature or separate move- ment. Such a determination is quite proper ; but when we see that all the other powers most interested are already occupying the ground—when we see that the backwardness of the British Admiral has yielded the pas to the French Admiral with his fleet— it appears too likely that England is not avoiding but is assuming a separate position,—a separate position, namely, in the rear. With these great facts before our eyes, we can only say we do not under- stand the assurances that are put forth. Still less when we see that paper which most effectually supports the Government in other affairs now putting forth a representa- tion which would be admirably contrived if it were intended to suggest a belief in the British public that Turkey must fall ; that Russia must take the fallen empire ; and that if such a con- , elusion were to happen, it might be justified by reason and by the negative interests of this country. Now the only " must " in the case is, that Turkey, like Saladin, must die ; but, with Lord John Russell, we can recognize no separate interest in the reversion.
It is, says everybody save one, a subject for European settle- ment ; and a congress has been talked of for the last five years at least. Why a congress is not held we do not know. Perhaps all the powers that would be parties to it defer a meeting in which they would mistrust each other, for different reasons. It is very probable, for example, that Austria may shrink from a meeting in which questions bordering on the Adriatic might raise discus- sions as to events on both sides of that gulf. As for Russia, who singly would be the most powerful party in such a congress, it is probable that she does not care to convoke it since she must think herself well able to do without it. France is suspended in her objects. Prussia is trimming. And any English statesman in power for the time being may well hesitate to convene an as- sembly in which the decline of English influence, already sus- pected, might become an ascertained fact. But the evil conse- quences to be apprehended from such an occasion will only be in- creased by delaying it. When a building is about to fall, it is far better to arrange its demolition and reconstruction on workman- like principles, than to let it fall on the heads of a busy world.