THE TURKISH REVOLUTION.*
OF the three books before us, that by Mr. C. R. Buxton is the mo3t important, though it adds few new facts to what Englishmen already know. 1.ti% Buxton was a member of the Balkan Committee deputation which went out to study the • (1) Turkey in Revolution. By Charles Roden Buxton. With 33 Illustra- tions and a Map. London: T. Fisher Unwin. Us. 63. net.)—(2) A British Officer in the Balkans: the Account of a Journey through Dalmatia, Montenegro. Turkey in Austria Magyarlattd, Bosnia, and Hercegovina. By Major Percy E. Henderson (" Selina "), late of the Indian Army. With 50 Illustrations and a Hap. London: Reeky and Co. ROL not.)—(5) Fighting the Turk in the Balkans: an American's Adventures with the Macedonian Esvolutionigs. By Arthur D. Uowden Smith, Illustrated, Loudon; G. P. Puttiam's Bons. [6.4
new r6gime at the invitation of the Young Turks. A doubt Will naturally occur to every one whether the Balkan Com- mittee did not study the edifice which is rising under the hand of the Constitution, or perhaps we should rather say under the band of the Committee of Union and Progress, in too favourable circumstances. Mr. Buxton has anticipated the doubt, and we must say that he has made an honestly balanced statement of the difficulties in the way of the Young Turks, and of the advantages on their side, before venturing to sum up with optimism. We sincerely hope that he is right, and certainly, where so much has been wonderful, a man must be a pessimist by preference who obstinately assumes that the Young Turks will fail. Failure, for one thing, would mean a distressing revulsion in the relations of Britain and Turkey. The inheritors of Mr. Gladstone's "bag and baggage" Policy have consented to acomplete reversal of a cardinal doctrine of their foreign policy; and if it were found that Turkey was, after all, unworthy of the moral change of front which has been executed in her honour, we should be face to face with a situation externally like that which was marked by the Crimean War and the great agitations in the "seventies" of last century. Germany would have taken the place of Russia, but in other respects we should have moved round the circle to the point from which we started. Britain would be officially pro-Turkish once more, and perhaps be rendered almost inextricably so by many obligations. The whole work of disentangling ourselves from an undesirable con- nexion would have to begin again. But Mr. Buxton, as we have said, rejects this possibility, though he candidly discusses it. Perhaps the fact which chiefly causes
os to hope for the permanent success of the revolution 18 the notorious docility of the Turks. Fatalism means a sort of lethargic acquiescence. The Turks bowed their beads tinder the Sultan's yoke, for no more urgent reason than that the yoke was a thing established. Now that the Constitution is established may we not hope that a certain
inertiae will help to keep it in position? Nor is the alternative complete success or complete failure. "A Chauvinistic Turk party, while not restoring the despotism," thinks Mr. Buxton, "might so far control the Government as to establish an orderly and fairly efficient bureaucracy, which would maintain the political ascendency of the Turks over all the other races of the Empire." The Turks would then be in a position like that of the Magyars in Hungary. Again, the revolution, while successful in the great centres, might fail to set up a just government in the border provinces. And yet again, the new spirit might permeate the Empire to just such a point that Europe would be in a state of continual hesitation whether it was necessary to interfere or not.
One of the first things the Balkan Committee were taken to see by their hospitable guides was the patriotic play called Row It Came About. This is a dramatic summary of the events of the revolution, and seems to have captured the fancy of Constantinople as An Englishman's Home has captured the Popular fancy here. Enver Bey was in a box with Mr. Buxton, and the audience caught sight of him :—
"Suddenly a man rises in front of the orchestra and cries, in tones of thunder, Yashassun Enver Bey ' (' Long live Enver !') The audience rises as one man, and turns, a sea of white faces, gazing towards our box, exactly opposite the stage—turns as one may see the leaves of a poplar blown all one way, blown white, by a single gust. In an instant they catch sight of the young, neat- looking officer in his plain dark-blue uniform and grey cavalry Cloak, and a roar breaks out, and a prolonged clapping of count- less hands, He bows gravely right and loft and sits down, muttering that it is all a mistake, that ho is not the leader, that all his comrades have worked equally for the cause. It is a tuhoment not to be forgotten. We are standing side by side with
man who, in the popular estimation, is the Garibaldi of Young Turkey."
Mr. Buxton admits that the Westernising influence of the revolution on women has evaporated. Women at first threw c'fr their veils, moved freely about in public places, and drove side by side with men in open carriages. Some of them even held an open meeting, and demanded that their ancient fetters should be struck from thein. But after a week or two remon- strances began, and those who enjoyed more freedom than the multitude approved were even roughly handled. The veils In!Are reappeared ; the novel aspirations have been chilled, and that aspect of the revolution has disappeared probably for a long time to come.
By far the most interesting experiences of - the Balkan Committee were their reception by the Sultan and by the Sheikh-ul-Islatn
" The Master of the Ceremonies loads us through a narrow corridor, a group of English tourists and politicians, including three ladies, perhaps the oddest party of guests which has ever penetrated, under official escort, into the recesses of Yildiz Kiosk. We are ranged in a line along the side of a narrow ante-room. The Master of the Ceremonies retires, and in a moment reappears through a door on our left, which ho holds open for the Sultan to enter. But for his low bows and genuflexions—the Turkish salute symbolises picking up dust from the ground, and placing it on your head—a stranger would have thought him the Sultan, and the little old man in uniform, with his bent head, a barbarian bodyguard. Ho presents our chairman, who stands on the left of the line, to the little old man, whose Turkish phrases he inter- prets, with literal precision, into French, Our chairman duly enlarges on our pleasure at coining here, at the invitation of the Committee of Union and Progress, to pay our respects to the head of a constitutional Government. If the emphasis is a little unkind, the Sultan, at any rate, shows no sign of thinking so, and, like a wise man, makes a virtue of necessity. He also is pleased at our corning, and hopes that Turkey, following the policy of the Committee of Union and Progress, will continue to enjoy the friendship of our country. He shakes hands with each of us in turn; salutes our Turkish companions; congratulates one of them on coming to Stamboul as deputy for Salouica; and withdraws as he came."
It is plain that to Mr. Buxton the peripeteia of his experi- ences was his realisation that the Sheikh-ul-Islatn—the holder of the strange and rather ambiguous office at the head of the faith—was a mild, gentle, benevolent-looking man who did not permit himself even the harshness of a definite statement on most subjects. "Is a real Constitutional Government permitted by the law of Islam?" asked Mr. Buxton. "Permitted?" said the Sheikh-ul-Islam. "It is more than permitted. The law of Islam is more liberal than the Constitution itself." This " modernism" in the reading of the Koran will be a surprise to many Englishmen, and if they do not sytnpathise with, they will at least understand, the ejaculation of the old Mullah at Mosul who exclaimed : "Then this is the end of Islam h" Mr. Buxton could hardly persuade himself that the Sheikh held that .Christians should have equality with Mohammedans. "Does not history show that this equality has been granted but seldom ? " he asked. And the Sheikh-ul-Islarn answered :—" Yes, certainly you may appeal to history. But'—and the eyelids close up in that gentle but half-satirical smile—' have not we also our appeal to history P I think I have read somewhere—have I not P—of the Inquisition in Spain Yes, I know it well. Every religion has its fanatics. These deeds are not dictated by your religion ; they are repugnant, I know, to the pure spirit of Christ. And we, too—may we not say the satue of our sad story of fanaticism " When the Sheikh-ul-Islam had watered down into something harmless all the narrowness and asperities which we have customarily considered characteristic of Islam, one of the interviewers exclaimed : "We are all, then, good Moslems?" The Sheikh was then silent, neither denying nor affirming, but having "the same slow smile upon his broad, dignified face." Mr. Buxton's conclusion is that when the Sheikh saw the Constitution was inevitable, he found it to be in accordance with his faith. He is "essentially a lawyer." He is like "a Lord Chancellor who had spent his life interpreting religious law."
Naturally Mr. Buxton has not been able to follow events quite up to date. The last few weeks have shown that there is likely to be a trial of strength between the Committee of Union and Progress and the Liberal Union. The Committee, who, as we know, made the elections with the ability of a French Prefect, did not give the Christians all time representa- tion to which mere numbers entitled them. At the same time, the Committee could have kept the Christians out altogether, and it was an indisputable sign of goodwill up to a certain
point that they let in as many as they did. If the Liberal Union ever has its way, it will probably try to introduce
complete equality as well us the decentralisation in adminis- tration for which it notoriously stands.
Of the other books, Major Henderson's may be deseribed as an enthusiastic guide-book. It is traveller's narrative which looks little below the surface. It assumes no knowledge and usefully suggests routes. Mr. Howden Smith's story of how Ile fought with a Bulgarian band in Macedonia is more sure of the reader's attention; but we cannot understand what an American citizen was doing in that galley. Bandansky's men,
with whom be served, were brigands and murderers, and if be wanted an outlet for a passion for adventure, be surely could have found a better than an expedition in which the soldiers of Turkish posts were burnt alive in their houses, and in which men and women were shot down indifferently.