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drove them off with the enormous lance he always uses. The fear of his very name seemed to disperse the Shammar. He gave me the mare of his cousin Daher, who was with him, and a general assault was made on the enemy.
The Anezi and Mowali were only thirty, but they soon showed their superiority over the Shammar, who were as two to one. A short mêlée settled the affair, leaving twelve wounded, two of them severely. One of the latter was on my horse, and he was set upon ferociously, and knocked off with three bad spear-wounds and a broken head from the blow of a mace, which Ahmed Bey carries at his saddle-bow. In the evening the wounded were carried into the Weldi camp,
where every attention was paid them; the Shammar and Ghess having galloped off without bestowing a thought on them. All our horses, cloaks, and everything we had lost, not excepting the minutest articles taken from our servants, were carefully brought to us by Abmed Bey, who then led the way to Mehemed-al-Ganim's camp, a short mile further on. News of the fight had preceded us, and the whole tribe came out on foot to meet us; the sheikh with bare head and feet, and tearing his beard with vexation; the women brandishing tent-poles, and screaming imprecations against the Shammar. It was not until F- - and I were felt all over by the faithful Weldi, to convince themselves that we were not wounded, that they would be quiet, and let us rest after our lively ride. All their horsemen mustered next morning to escort us on our return, which was diversified by a very pretty little chase after an enormous wild boar. Fturned it after a couple of miles' run, and the brute charged him. Excellent horsemanship and the skilful use of his spear secured to him the victory, which was cheered by the Arabs forming a vast ring round the two combatants, when a last home-thrust laid the huge animal on his side, not to rise again.
Dangers, then, and hardships, it must be admitted, attend those who wander from the beaten track in the Syrian Desert, or, indeed, in any part of the Turkish Empire. But without such deviations the real condition of the country can never be thoroughly appreciated. It is when the highroad is quitted, and the escort is dispensed with, that the true state of affairs becomes known.
This volume teems with information as to the actual condition of both the governed and the governing classes in Turkey, and with just reflections on the position and prospects of the Ottoman Empire, and this it is that makes it so valuable. The ordinary incidents of travelling in the East have often been amusingly described, and the reading public have so frequently been regaled with descriptions of Oriental scenery and disquisitions on architectural remains, and the sites of places of historic fame, that at present, "a crude surfeit” is reigning where eager interest used to exist. But the real desideratum is correct information, which would serve to
elucidate the political problems, which the Turkish Sphinx proposes to the Bæotians of the West, to the solution of which, in the opinion of many, no steps have yet been made. These problems are, first, Are the reforms declared to be introduced into the Turkish Government by the Hati-Humáyún, or Imperial Rescript of 1856, bona fide measures, originally intended to be carried out, and now actually in operation, the results being such as to justify the expectation that the Turkish Empire can continue an integral Power, able to repel foreign aggression, and controlled by a Government willing to act for the interests of the numerous nations, tribes, and sects over which it declares itself supreme, and are there signs of the satisfactory fusing of these discordant elements into one homogeneous mass? Secondly, on the supposition that the preceding question be answered in the negative, and should it be admitted that there have been no genuine reforms in Turkey, and no real consolidation of the Empire, are there, nevertheless, reasonable grounds for believing that a better day may dawn, and the improvement and continuance of the Ottoman Government being not essentially impossible, is it allowable to hope that the circumstances which have hitherto retarded progress in Turkey may pass away, and is it, therefore, politic to labour for their removal ?
These questions are, no doubt, of the very highest interest and importance, especially to England, who has spent so much blood and treasure in aiding her “sick” ally. But in proportion to their gravity is the difficulty of replying to them, as a reference to the contradictory opinions collected by Mr. Senior on the subject, and to the antithetical sentences in Lord Strangford's amusing chapter “Chaos” will show. Facts, of course, are facts, but the light of them comes to us through various mediums and assumes various colours in the transit. How this occurs is well shown by the last-named author. “Thé diplomatist,” writes Lord Strangford, “resides entirely at the capital; the provinces are to him a mere abstraction, except in recent and rare instances; and in the ordinary exercise of his profession he sees nothing but Turkey as a victim ; Turkey bullied, encroached upon, and brow-beaten ; Turkey with short measure and false weights dealt out to her in the first moral principles of Christianity, by those whose lips are always wet with the watchwords of Christianity. Interest apart, his feelings thus come naturally to be enlisted in favour of Turkey, and many travellers and writers are found to reflect his lights for the public at home. The Englishman who holds no office, the merchant, the railway or telegraph superintendent, the man set
1 A Journal kept in Turkey and Greece in 1857 and 1858. VOL. XL.-NO. LXXX.
in authority over Turks, the lawyer, and many other classes, see nothing of the diplomatic encroachments and foul play themselves; but they are face to face with venality and raseality every day of their lives; in the provinces they see countless instances of unequal justice, and unfair, often contumelious or oppressive treatment, towards the subject races; by profession, interest, or antipathy, they are often actually opposed to Turks, and their mind becomes tinged, at least on the surface, with the colour of vehement hostility. This in Turkey is rarely accompanied with any corresponding feelings of active sympathy towards the said subject races, whose qualities are not such as to endear them to Englishmen on the spot and away from home.
The consuls, living wholly in the illgoverned provinces, are politicians one day, and merchants, advocates, or judges the next; they come under both of these influences, and these fluctuations of opinion may easily be traced in their reports. Yet no diplomatist would wish to support Turkish rule otherwise than as a provisional rule."1
These remarks point out abundant reasons for the difference of opinion which exists as to the condition of Turkey, but there is yet another source of discrepancy to which they do not refer, and that is religious bias. A sincere Christian, be he layman or priest, missionary or merchant, cannot believe in the tendency of the Turkish Government, influenced as it is by Mohammedanism, to improvement. To him a religion, not only false in itself, but inculcating systematic hostility to Christianity, must appear an insurmountable bar to progress and civilisation. If no knowledge but that contained in the Koran be allowable, what becomes of mental culture and the discoveries of science? How are the rights of the community to be protected and equal justice administered to all, when the creed of the dominant sect finds expression in such sentences as the following: “O true believers ! take not the Jews or Christians for your friends. . . . Fight against those who be lieve not in God, nor in the last day, and forbid not that which God and his apostle have forbidden, and possess not the true religion, until they pay tribute by right of subjection, and they be reduced low."2
On the other hand, the diplomatist, who has resided long in the lax society of Constantinople, becomes too often imbued with prejudices of quite an opposite tendency, and ends in being more Turkish than the Turks. Between such extremes there is room for every shade of opinion, and in the conflict of testimony thus engendered by so much opposition in theory, it is requisite On the Turks' Progress.
1 Eastern Shores of the Adriatic, p. 344. ? Sale's Koran, edit, 1764, pp. 141, 243.
to walk with careful steps under the guidance of some one whose local knowledge, acquaintance with the languages, and habits of intercourse with the people of Turkey, entitle him to confidence. But it would be, of course, absurd to expect from any one man an encyclopædic knowledge of a country so vast as Turkey. A lifetime would not suffice to make even the most diligent collector of facts acquainted with the actual state of more than two or three provinces. But, perhaps, on the principle of Ex pede Herculem, it may be allowable to reason from what is known to be true provincially, to what is desired to be known of the empire generally. Acting on this idea, and preferring to agree with a recent critic, in considering Syria as “ an important and almost typical Asiatic province of the empire," rather than with Lord Strangford, in regarding it as “the most utterly confused and disorganized of all Turkish provinces ;" we shall extract from the Rambles in the Deserts of Syria such passages as throw light on the political problems connected with the great Mohammedan power, and support the views thus derived with testimony from other sources.
Of the qualifications which entitle the Syrian rambler to be regarded as an authority in the Turkish question, mention has already been made. They are such as Lord Strangford himself admits give the greatest weight to evidence on the subject, and that weight does not appear to be diminished by the manifestation of Christian sympathies, which make their appearance rather in the actual stir of such events as the massacres in the Lebanon and at Damascus, than in theoretical discussions.
Let us see, then, what light this writer throws on the reforms which are said to have been initiated after the Crimean War, and whether he affirms that these are to be considered bona fide measures, originally intended to be carried out. His testimony on this head is explicit :
“I believe in little or no change in the inward feelings of the Mussulmans towards the Christians, who themselves believe in none,
and they talk of pillage and massacre as being imminent on every occasion when the ancient spirit of Islam is fired by the excitement of religious festivals. Hence their state of dread.
“ The Mussulmans of the interior of Turkey are a different people from those of the capital and the great seaports. There, a contact with European ideas exists, which is unfelt here. The dominant race is still in the provinces of the Ottoman Empire what it was four centuries ago, proud, bigoted, and indolent. It is not here as at Constantinople, Smyrna, and Alexandria, a mongrel transformed by the inroads of Frank trade. Commerce flourishes more or less in the inland towns, no doubt, but it is an element apart, which has not exercised any great
1 Saturday Review, No. 445.
influence on the thoughts and habits of the Mussulman. The descendant of the Arab grandee, as of his Turkish conqueror, remains unconscious of the gradual encroachment
of foreign enterprise, and blind to the rise of Christian ascendency. The traditions of the two great factions which have always divided Mohammedan society, the greenturbaned Shereefs claiming kindred with the prophet, and the fierce Janissaries trusting only to the favour of Sultans, though forgotten on the coasts, are stiil fresh inland. In vain one talks to a Mussulman here of the altered circumstances of Turkey, which appear incredible to him, and he continues to live on in his narrow circle of contemptuous exclusiveness, animated only by personal and party rivalries. His religion, essentially a religion of pride, forbids his admitting the possibility of Christianity, which he knows to be a religion of humility, ever becoming compatible with power abroad or prosperity at home. The condition of this northern capital of Syria is thus a remnant of what Turkey has been, rather than a production of any new system or influence. The Sultan's authority is represented by a governor-general, who puts his seal to all acts of the administration, which is practically in the hands of the Ayans or notables of the town. These latter are always squabbling amongst themselves for a predominance of power. Few pashas have the energy or patriotism to resist their usurpation. They might oppose it successfully were they so inclined. In 1815, when Chapanoglu, the deposed Prince of Yuzkat, was sent to govern Northern Syria, thirty of the Ayans were summoned to his presence, and summarily beheaded. In 1819, the different local parties united against his successor, whom they murdered for levying a house-tax; and the town was besieged for four months by the Sultan's troops before order could be restored. The vigour of the Egyptian government kept the Ayans in subjection from 1832 to 1841, but, when Syria again fell under Turkish rule, their rebellious and overbearing spirit was unchecked, and in 1850 it went so far as to produce bloodshed. That spirit is fed by the weakness of Turkish governors, and by the encouragement found in the non-realization of the various reforms which have been decreed. The Mussulman here has thus seen nothing to corroborate the statements made of Turkey having entered a new era of her existence as an empire. He falls back on his old traditional sturdiness, and remains what he was in her period of barbaric power."
The most important change announced by the Hati-Sherif of November 3, 1839, and confirmed and supplemented by the Hati-Humáyún, was that no penal sentence could thenceforth be carried into execution without trial before a criminal court. But the institution of courts of justice is of little avail if the courts themselves be corrupt. Now it requires very little examination to discern that the Turkish courts of law must in the very nature of things be corrupt. The two lowest courts are entirely under the influence of the Provincial Governor, who, at
i Rambles in the Deserts of Syria, p. 55.