16 OCTOBER 1880, Page 4



ONE deduction, and it is a most important one, may be safely drawn from the surrender of Dulcigno. Mr. Gladstone has, from the first, rightly estimated the position of Turkey, and the character and temper of her rulers. He has always affirmed that the Turkish Government would resist any demand,however just, not backed by physical force, but that they would yield to force, and that owing to the peculiar situa- tion of the Empire, this force could be applied through a Fleet. In other words, England, alone if necessary, can apply it without the fatigue of revolutionising her military system. He explained this view long before it was held by anybody else, at a time when it was rejected by many of his colleagues in Opposition ; he has consistently adhered to it, and he has now proved its accuracy beyond all question. The Sultan, supported by the party which alone he cordially trusts--the " party of the Palace "—whose principle is self-interest and their method adulation, believed that he still had resources left, that either the Powers would shrink from using force, or that he would find among them some defender. He gratified himself, therefore, with the mocking and defiant Note which we described last week, and which suggested to everybody except Mr. Gladstone that he had nailed his colours to the mast. The English Premier, however, quite unmoved, suggested that under those circum- stances the fleet must be actively employed, and as a first step, and the mildest that could be devised, should occupy Smyrna, and stop all revenues payable to the Porte. The suggestion was accepted by Russia and Italy, and the Sultan, who under- stands the conditions of his power, recognised the truth that with the appearance of the united fleet in the Levant, all his subjects, and especially Arabs and Syrians, would understand that Europe had condemned him. That would have involved general insur- rection, and the loss in a pecuniary sense, if not in a political sense, of half his Asiatic dominion, even if it did not also involve an outbreak in Constantinople. He yielded at once. He had pledged himself not to surrender Dulcigno, unless the fleet were withdrawn,—he had talked of Albanians, he had threatened massacres ; but when the advance of a fleet was certain, he gave up Dulcigno at once unconditionally, admitting thereby that Albanian resistance was a fiction, and that he had not the power to defy a fleet even unaccompanied by an army. The revelation will not be lost upon Europe in any future transaction, and it is due to Mr. Gladstone's thorough com- prehension of the situation. He, and he alone, accurately discerned the precise point at which the Pashas and their master would collapse, and beyond which it would not be necessary to go. Europe knows now what is needful to enforce its will.

We press this point, because the Premier's ability in these matters is of the last importance to English, and indeed to European, action. Nothing can be more foolish or more completely due to rancour—which always mis- guides men in politics—than the assumption of so many Tories that the policy of English Radicals at home and abroad is dependent upon Mr. Gladstone alone ; that they, in fact, have no majority, unless shielded and protected by his vast popularity with the electors. English Radicalism lives of itself. Tories will one day, probably at no distant date, be startled to find how deep a hold the opinions summed up in that hated word have upon the new constituency ; to what an extent, especially in ecclesiastical matters and matters such as the selection of candidates belonging to new couches sociales, Mr. Gladstone is a great moderating influence ; and how thoroughly Radical a Whig Cabinet swayed by Radical Mem- bers would become. But it is true that the electors would rather, after the English way, repose a quiet and firm con- fidence in Mr. Gladstone, than act for themselves. They do this completely already in home politics, and in foreign poli- tics as regards his ends ; but they have had a lurking doubt, visible in their anxiety for news and their careful study of foreign comment, as to his use of means. That doubt vanishes with the surrender of Dulcigno. Upon a great crucial occasion, when it was necessary to combine Europe, to use actual force, and to risk a serious war, when the experts grew fidgetty and the " men of the world " satiri- cal, Mr. Gladstone has combined Europe, has used actual force, and has succeeded without firing a single shot. His success only covers a village, but in an action of ejectment to recover a great estate, able lawyers only claim a field. The people, who see things in their broad, general aspect, recog- nise the success, and henceforward Mr. Gladstone is sure of their support. Whatever steps he may deem necessary to- carry out his policy in the East they will sanction, and sanction by their patience as well as by their votes. The signs of adhesion are coming up from the whole country, and even before the success at Dulcigno, in the two strongholds of pro- Turkish feeling, London and Newcastle, it had become impos- sible to carry a really popular vote in opposition to the Premier. The papers which oppose him are read and disregarded, and as powerless as they were during the election. We do not agree, in spite of the absurd violence of their language, that they are " unpatriotic." It is natural and not unseemly that their own foolish charge against the Liberals, when they re- fused to make war for Turkey, should recoil upon themselves, and that angry Liberals should declare hysterically Turkish journals, like the Telegraph, treacherous to the country, but all that is rubbish. The Jingoes have the same right to criti- cise the policy of this Government as the Liberals had to criti- cise the last, that is, a complete right, and their lyrical method of doing it is their own affair, and only increases the influence of serious Tory papers, like the Standard. They are entirely within their right, and have only mistaken, as usual, their own. temper for that of the people, which before the surrender of Dulcigno was trustful, and after it, has become quietly assured.

This popular support is, as we said, important, because it makes the remainder of Mr. Gladstone's task more prac- ticable, though in itself it is a most difficult one. The Montenegrin question is settled, but there remain the much wider questions of Greece, of Macedonia, and of Armenia. Upon all these, it is certain that the Premier, who has accurately discerned the situation, will press forward, calmly- but persistently demanding that the Sultan shall make the arrangements sanctioned by the spirit of the Treaty of Berlin, and needful to avert an explosion and to protect the Christians of the East. In all it will be most expedient to maintain the European Concert, which has proved itself so effectual, having, as regards Montenegro, done its work as quietly, as certainly, and with as little friction, as if Europe were a great Court carrying out against a refractory magnate an ordinary judicial sentence. To maintain that concert will require negotiation, argument, it may be even action, through Greece and other States of the peninsula ; but in maintaining it Mr. Gladstone has, through the confidence inspired by the surrender of Dulcigno, this new advan- tage,—that he can, in the last resort, move forward alone. The people would support his Government, even in that decided course, though they would greatly prefer the European concert ; and in presence of that contingency Europe will prefer it, too. France, never disinterested except when governed by an idea, is just now under an access of selfishness and sus- picion. The Hapsburgs, who want to recoup themselves for their losses in Italy by a march to the .Egean, are naturally not anxious to see Greece, a Power which might open the door either to Italy or the Revolution, strong upon their flank. Prince Bismarck is naturally anxious to push Austria south. All these are obstacles to any action having for its end the freedom of the Balkan peninsula, and difficult obstacles ; but they are not greater than those already surmounted, still less of the kind which can never be got over. If England, asking literally nothing for herself, claims to go forward as mandatory of Europe, to carry out a policy within the terms of the Treaty of Berlin, and announces that she will in any case go forward, the Powers must follow, or face the contingency they have so long dreaded,—the fall of the Ottoman dominion before they are quite ready. Those who think they will run the risk, or make snatches at any plunder near at hand, forget that Mr. Gladstone's policy is for them conservative, that it averts the grand explosion, that they lose nothing- of their chances by the emancipation of successive provinces, and that he is willing to maintain the Sultan's position, if only the Sultan will grant reasonable self-government to his people. Europe has no more interest in misgovernment than an insurance office has in fostering the collection of com- bustibles. Mr. Gladstone will go forward, though his action need not be hurried ; and after the success before Dulcigno, his countrymen will let him choose his means.