TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE SOLUTION IN THE HERZEGOVINA.
THE Times has turned round upon itself after its fashion, and recognises that there is but one solution of the difficulty in the Herzegovina consistent either with continued
peace or the maintenance of the Ottoman Empire. There can be no peace except the peace of exhaustion while the Sultan rules directly any province North of the Balkan. The Christian populations of Bosnia, the Herzegovina, Bulgaria-- though Bulgaria is now quiescent—and Montenegro are be- coming penetrated with the aspirations, if not the ideas of the West, are aware of the sympathy of great classes in the Empires behind them, are full of the pride, bad as well as good, of race and creed, and will not endure for any time the regime of insulting oppression which Mussulmans of to-day- provoked, as we quite admit they are, to fury—mistake for
government. If the Bosnians and. Herzegovinians are defeated now, which is doubtful if Servia acts, they will rebel again on the first gleam of opportunity, and meanwhile the cruelty in- volved in holding them down will irritate their kinsmen and coreligionists in Austria and Russia, till the Governments of those great empires may be compelled to let their armies loose. Suffering in Bosnia and the Herzegovina means in Dalmatia veiled rebellion, in Croatia incessant rioting, in Hun- gary a recollection that there also the governing race is not the most numerous, and in Russia contempt for the lukewarmness of the Czar, who does not deliver Christians from the Infidel. On the other hand, independence for the revolted districts means independence also for the Principalities, for Bulgaria, for Egypt, and probably for the Turkish isles, and would compel Con- stantinople to appeal as a final resort to the Mussulman world, and commence prematurely that war of race and religion in which, if the Ottoman, like most conquerors, is consistent with his destiny, he must one day perish. A third course must be found, whatever the difficulties in the way, and the only third course sanctioned by experience and, as we think, by reason, is the elevation of the disturbed districts—that is, Bosnia, Novibazar, the Herzegovina, and Montenegro—into a semi- dependent State or Hospodorate, with a ruler either hereditary or elective, and an obligation to contribute moderately to the waste of the Sultan. That scheme-saves the honour of the Porte, for it is in accordance with its traditions, and exists already in the Principalities, Egypt, Tunis, and parts of Arabia, including Mecca; it saves the Turkish Treasury, for the new dependency can easily pay all that ever found its way to the Imperial fist ; and it does not weaken the power of Constantinople for defence, for the Provinces, as they are, are mere weak places in the North- ern wall. In any war, the Sultan would have to waste a corps d'arme'e in preventing insurrection. On the other hand, the Hospodarate, merely by its existence, removes the first temptation to insurrection. Bad as the Christian Govern- ments in Turkey may be, they are comparatively civilised, and on great questions compelled to respect the wishes of their subjects. Roumania murders and plunders Jews, wastes money, and luxuriates in viciousness ; but still Roumania does enjoy some sort of self-government, does secure its inhabitants their wealth, and does allow of improvement, if the people so will. Servia expatriates all Mussulmans, occasionally assassinates or expels its rulers, and is insatiably and dangerously ambitious, but still Servia can rely on the hearty loyalty of its half-savage, but brave and energetic population. A semi-independent Bosnia would probably be an unpleasant place of residence for Mussul- mans, would always be intriguing for a sea-board, and would be always ready for conflict with the Turk ; but still it would give its own people such order and security and content as they at present demand, and that is the only cure for chronic in- surrection.
The solution is, of course, a mere compromise, intended only to last till the Turkish Empire breaks up, either through cor- ruption, or attack from without, or an outbreak of fanaticism within ; but it is the only one possible without war, and it will, we believe, within the next few weeks be recognised as such by European diplomacy. Of the three great difficulties in the way, one has already disappeared, and the remaining two will, we believe, be set aside under the pressure of a visible necessity. The first obstacle, of course, is the reluctance of the Porte. The statesmen who are assumed to govern Turkey—though in reality they are the least influential of the four powers, the Khalif, the Women, the Statesmen, and the Ambassadors, which do govern it—do not, of course, approve the
creation of new semi-dependent States. They cannot plunder them as they can plunder provinces. They cannot recruit in them as they can in the Pashalics. They know perfectly well that the system when complete will involve the downfall of the Empire, and that even while incomplete it allows the growth of armies like the Servian, whose function and use in• the world is the encouragement of rebellion in European Turkey. But Turkish statesmen are of all statesmen in the world those most enervated by despair ; they know, as they glance round a Cabinet filled with degraded Prime Ministers, that they hold power by no tenure; and they lack the material means for vigorous and rapid effort. They must move quickly if at all, for neither Austria nor Servia can wait, and for instant movement they are nearly power-
less. They have men in any number, horses, cannon, ships, but they have not got the cash. A Turk of the old type would have settled the trouble in Bosnia quickly enough, would have declared Servia in rebellion, would have hurled 100,000 drilled barbarians through that province into the Herzegovina, would have slain, expelled, or mutilated a third of the population, and would have restored order by reducing the country to a desert. But a Turk of to-day can do nothing of that energetic kind. If he pillages the country, Europe will interfere. If he proclaims a Jehad, Austria will bombard Con- stantinople. If he enters Servia, Servia will declare war. If Servia declares war, the campaign may last three months, and if it lasts three months, then how is the interest on the Debt due next month to be provided for There is no margin of revenue for anything except the Sultan's pleasures ; re- pudiation is a terrible risk ; and on the whole, if compromise is possible in any way without rousing the mob of Constantinople, compromise must be accepted. The next difficulty—that of the reluctance of part of the population to be made independent—will be got over as usual, by not attending to it. The landowners of the new State are Mussul- mans, and will not at all approve the loss of their ascend- ancy, the decrease of their revenues, and in some districts the danger to their persons involved in the change of rulers. But in Turkey, as everywhere else where the Haves are isolated from the Havenots by race or religion, they are, when deprived of external support, both powerless and timid. They cannot use their most effective instrument, the pride of a warrior-creed, and proclaim a religious war ; and after a brief spasm of energy- they will either accept the situation, and live as Mohammedans- do in India, fretful but quiet under Christian rule ; or they will extort some promise of compensation in lands or bonds, and melt away as they have done out of Servia, into space,—that is into sections of the Empire invisible to Western eyes. And finally, the greatest difficulty of all, the dread entertdned by- Austria of Servian progress, may be diminished by careful arrangements, or set aside by the pressure of events. The Hapsburgs are always, and most justly, afraid that a Servia made strong by extension over Bosnia, the Herzegovina; and Montenegro would want and attract the sea-coast, so absurdly separated from its natural interior, or even stir up, the Serbs in Croatia and Hungary to join their kinsmen and co- religionists. If Prince Milano were declared Hospodar of the united provinces, this danger would be most real, but it may be obviated in part by keeping the new State separate, either under the Prince of Montenegro, or under some scion of the Hapsburg House, or some favourite approved by the population itself. That would postpone the danger, for a Prince of Bosnia not supported by the Servian militia will have enough to do merely to keep order ; and that, therefore, will, we believe, be the solution pressed upon the Porte, not by Austria and Russia only, but by the united West. Less than this cannot be granted without the certainty either of Servian invasion, which means a great war, or of another rebellion next year, which means the difficulty over again ; and more would dissolve the " unity " which, on the Eastern Question, Europe tries so despairingly to maintain. None of the Powers will let any Power possess any of European Turkey, nor will they let the Porte retain Christian provinces in full sovereignty, and consequently they must insist, whether they like it or not, on a nominal de- pendence which will pacify the Christians, the Porte, and each other.