17 APRIL 1880, Page 15


TILBSB two books are of very unequal merit. Mr. Minchin's is a record of "a hurried tour through the countries that formerly constituted European Turkey," and was originally contributed in the form of letters to the Morning Advertiser. "These letters,"

the author frankly avows, "were written without any kind of preparation," "in hot haste while travelling from one town to another, in fear lest I should reach the next town before I had jotted down the information I had gathered at the last." Mr. Minchiu's tour lasted altogether, from London to Constantinople and back, through Servia and Bulgaria, precisely five weeks. It is no discredit to the author that, under the circumstances, his book should skim lightly over the surface of the questions on which he touches, and should here and there ex- hibit sundry inaccuracies. The wonder is that the errors should be so few, and that the author's opinions and criticisms should be, on the whole, so just. The author's views are gener- ally right, when he relies on his own observation and judgment. This he appears to have done in the case of the Bulgarians. His criticism on the Servians is obviously second-hand, and was plainly derived from a prejudiced source. It has a sub- stratum of truth, but the general effect is entirely misleading.

Lord Bath's book is of a very different character. There is certainly no book in the English language, and we know of none in any other language, which conveys in so small a compass so much information on the subject of which it treats, and this without any prejudice to clearness of diction and arrangement. For that very reason it is an exceedingly diffi- cult book to review, within the limits at our command. It is full of matter and full of interest, but in so compressed a form that it is not easy to give the reader an idea of its contents. It is evident from the book itself that Lord Bath went to European Turkey with a mind well furnished by previous study to test the value of the information which he received on the spot, and to protect him from superficial criticism and hasty conclusions. The book is written from beginning to end in a remarkably judicial spirit. Praise and blame are distributed impartially among Servians and Bulgarians, Greeks and Turks. His sympathy for the emancipated Christians does not blind him to their faults. His abhorrence of Turkish oppression makes him all the more anxious to bear glad witness to the good conduct of indi- vidual Turks wherever he finds evidence of it. He praises "the exceptional good conduct" of Reouf Pasha, the present Governor of Adrianople, and Osman Pasha, the defender of Plevna, and now War Minister at Constantiuople. Before Plevna was occupied either by Russians or Turks the Afussul- man and Christian notables of the place sent a deputation to

• 08serrations on Bulgarian Affairs. By the blarqule of Bath. London : Mac- millan mad Co. 1880.

Bulgaria Since the War. Note* of a Tour In the Autumn of 1879. By Jamel George Minehln. London : C. Regan Paul and Co. 1880.

the Russian General to solicit protection against the Bashi- Bazouks. When Osman arrived the Turkish inhabitants treacherously accused . their Bulgarian fellow-townsmen of treasonable communication with the enemy, and "demanded the instant execution of the traitors." Osman Pasha replied : "You all acted from the same motive,—.to secure protection from pillage. If blame is to attach to any one, it is not to the (nristians, who naturally wished well to people of their own

faith, but to you, who were false to your religion and country ; and if I hang them, I ought certainly to hang you also." Lord Bath adds that Osman "did the Bulgarians no harm, nor did he permit their houses or property to be destroyed."

Like every one who has studied the subject, Lord Bath has found it "very difficult to describe with any precision the tenure by which land is held in the Turkish Empire. Whatever may have been the original Mussulman laws, or the edicts issued by the Porte under the pressure of the European Powers, a pasha powerful local bey has had no difficulty in setting them aside when they clashed with his own interests." With this reservation, Lord Bath gives a very clear and con- cise account of the general character of land-tenure in the Principality of Bulgaria and in Eastern Roumelia. Equally

clear and concise is his sketch of the Bulgarian people. He calls special attention to one phase of that history which has been too much forgotten of late. When the Bulgarians fell under the domination of the Turks, they formed ecclesiastically au independent branch of the Orthodox Greek Church, and they remained in that condition, under a Patriarch of their own, till 1777, when the Patriarch of Constantinople succeeded, by intrigues with the Porte, in procuring the suppression of their patriarchate, and their subjection to his own jurisdiction. In religious matters they then fell as completely under the domination of the Greeks as they had for several centuries been civilly and politically under that of the Turks. None but Greeks were appointed ; the Greek took the place of the Bulgarian language in the schools and the services of the Church ; Bulgarian books were everywhere destroyed." So ruthless, indeed, was this attempt of the Greeks to denation- alise the Bulgarians, that "a collection of manuscripts of importance" was "burnt by the Greek Bishop of Tirnova, so that no vestige of the national history or language might remain. And so successful were the attempts to Hellenise the people, that all the civilisation in Bulgaria, such as it was, became Greek ; and thirty years ago the use of the Bulgarian language in the streets of Philippopolis was looked on as a sign of barbarism."

Lord Bath is, so far as we know, the first person who has pointed out the curious fact that the determination of the Bulgarian people to recover their independence received a more powerful impulse from the Crimean war than from any other cause :—

"It is impossible to over-estimate the influence which that war exercised on the character and destinies of the Bulgarians. The European armies quartered in their country exhibited a superiority over the Turks which was not always gently asserted, and which de- stroyed in the minds of the people the hitherto unquestioned prestige of the ruling race ; while the smallness of the difference in habits and education which separated the common soldier from themselves impressed them with the idea that it would not be difficult to raise their own nation to a standard equal to that of Western Europe, and acquire for it a position of similar superiority over their Turkish masters. From that period the educational movement, of which there had been a few symptoms already, acquired force and vitality."

schools were established in all the towns and large villages, and those who could afford it sent their sons abroad for education,— to Russia, Roumania, and Bohemia. These returned animated by a natural desire for the independence of their country. These patriotic aspirations were extremely repugnant to the Greek hierarchy, which accordingly bitterly opposed the spread of education among the Bulgarians. The conduct of the Greeks was as .foolish as it was selfish. The Bulgarians, finding them- selves thus thwarted in their praiseworthy efforts to educate and civilise themselves, resolved to liberate themselves from the domination of the Greek Patriarch and his hierarchy. They began an agitation for the recovery of their ecclesiastical inde- pendence, such as it was down to 1777. In this they were en- couraged by the Porte, which feared the activity of the Greeks, but had no( misgivings about the docile Bulgarians. The Russian Government, on the other hand, discouraged the movement, and it is a fact, attested by Mr. Baring and con- firmed by Lord Bath, that the subsequent abortive attempt at an insurrection was in no sense due to Russian intrigues. The Porte at length sanctioned the ecclesiastical independence of Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian Church was placed under the jurisdiction of a national Exarch, instead of the Greek Patriarch at Constantinople. The latter retaliated by excommunicating the Bulgarian nation, and a schism was thus precipitated which is still unhealed.

About this time, the Porte, Lord Bath tells us, "adopted two measures which greatly contributed to the downfall of its ownrule." The first was the introduction of the Circassians into the country, partly with a view to redressing in some- degree the numerical balance between the Mussulman and Christian population, and partly to overawe the Christians. The depredations and outrages of these Asiatic ruffians exas- perated the Bulgarians and intensified their passionate yearning for independence. The second measure, "even more fatal in its consequences than the first," in Lord Bath's opinion, was the appointment of Midhat Pasha to the governorship of Rustchuk- He acquired a certain reputation for energy and for the suppression of brigandage, also for stimulating the national progress of the country. He was willing to shield in some degree the Bulgarians from the lawless propensities of the Circassians, so long as the Bulgarians were con- tent to remain in the condition of humble producers of wealth to replenish the coffers of the Sultan and his Pashas. When, however, it dawned upon Midhat's mind that the de- spised Bulgarians were striving to elevate their condition, and. aiming at equality with the Turks, he took summary measures to suppress all aspirations of the kind. He hanged a number of schoolmasters and other Bulgarians whose superior educa- tion was likely to foster dreams of independence. And not content with this, he had recourse to a more subtle method of counteracting the nascent patriotism of the subject race. " He is accused," says Lord Bath—and the well-informed M. Brunswick confirms the accusation—" of having established at Rustchuk cafés chantants, and other institutions of a worse character, in order to destroy the purity of Bulgarian family life; and with such success, that a Bulgarian of education, hold- ing an important position under the new Government, whose information I found generally accurate, and whose views were moderate, informed me that there was hardly a family—Bul- garian, Greek, or Jewish—in that town that had escaped corrup- tion." In the chapter from which this quotation is made Lord Bath corrects the erroneous impressions produced in this country by "the observations which some of the Russian officers and_ soldiers are said to have made on the amount of apparent wealth they found in the possession of the Bulgarian peasantry."

His third chapter opens with the following pregnant ob- servation:—

"Great as was the sensation the massacres of 1876 created in Europe, they provoked the animosity of the Bulgarians in a less degree than did what they believed to be the deliberate attempt of the Turkish Government to exterminate the whole accessible portion of the male population, during the period between the repulse of General Gourko's raid across the Balkans and the final passage of the- Russian army."

That this belief of the Bulgarians was not simply the offspring of unreasoning fear is proved by the fact that Suleiman Pasha (who, Mr. Minchin says, is a renegade Jew) produced at his trial some official telegrams from the Porte which plainly pointed to a wholesale massacre of the Bulgarian race by the Turkish soldiery. To which we may add, that the Standard's Constanti- nople correspondent, who had unusual opportunities of getting at the facts, asserted in explicit terms that the Turkish Govern- ment aimed at the extermination of the Bulgarians.

So far, we have only reached the third chapter of Lord Bath's book, and there are eight chapters in all. Every chapter is well worth reading, both for the information which it conveys and for the thoughtful reflections and criticisms of the author. There- are several passages, moreover, which we should like to quote- as examples of terse and lucid composition, if the limits of space permitted it. We must find room for the following passage,. which is opportune at the present moment :— "Both at Berlin and subsequent to the Congress there the English Government has acted in the interests of Austria, and of Austria alone. The division of Bulgaria and the creation of the province of Eastern Roumelia, separate and distinct from the Principality, though loudly celebrated as the triumph of English statesmanship at Berlin, was an Austrian stipulation, and was enforced on England by Austria as the condition of her joining the Congress. It was also part of Austria's requirements that the division between the two States should follow the line of the Balkans from east to west, instead of descending south from the Danube. It is, moreover, to meet her views that the claims of Greece have been ignored, and the extensions given to Servia and Montenegro have been so niggardly. The maintenance of the Capitulations in respect to foreign subjects in the smaller States is in the interest of Austria alone, she nod Russia being the only countries who have a large number of subjects under their protection, and Russia havinn° already placed hers under the ordinary laws of the country. To Austria is given a power of inter- ference which will enable her to exercise a real control over the rail- way system in the peninsula. And, what is most monstrous of all, while Montenegro and Servia in respect to the territories ceded to them, and the Principality of Bulgaria as part of the price of its freedom, are saddled with a proportionate share of the Turkish Debt, no portion of the burden is imposed on Austria, who obtains the two most important provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The stipula- tions of the Treaty of Berlin have done much to increase the authority which a great military Power like Austria can exercise over a small neighbouring State. Servia is prohibited from entering into com- mercial relations with other countries, except with her consent ; and Austria, in order to dictate a commerical treaty on her own terms, has profited by this security from retaliation to increase, and in some cases to more than double, the duty on articles imported into the Empire from Servia, on whom she is thus able to force a convention extremely favourable to her own commerical interests.

It is no secret that Austria seeks such an influence over the smaller States as would virtually incorporate them in her Empire, and that her object is to obtain possession of Salonica and ulti- mately of Constantinople."

In short, it is clear that the Plenipotentiaries who brought us back "peace with honour" were the unconscious tools em- ployed by Prince Bismarck and Count Andrassy to promote German and Austrian, at the expense of English, interests. Lord Bath would evidently co-operate with Mr. Gladstone in exclaim- ing "Hands off !" to the first Power, be it Austria or Russia, which menaced the independence or legitimate development of any of the liberated nationalities in the Balkan peninsula.