Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

to arrive in time, and, sinking with fatigue, expected his reward. The Pacha, on the other hand, was anxious that the communication should remain a secret, and as one means to this end, the courier, half an hour after his arrival, was at the bottom of the Nile with a heavy stone round his neck. A simple tale this, and but one example of myriads of how the life of a subject is valued by a Mohammedan ruler.

In point of fact, the ablest'rulers in all Mohammedan dynasties have shown their impatience of Islam by becoming heretics. They have felt it impossible to inaugurate those reforms, which their genius or their good feeling prompted, without breaking through the shackles of their religion. .So early as the first centuries of Islam the most renowned Khalifs, as Vathek and Mamún, had become heretics and had adopted the principles of the Motazelah, among whom were sects inclining to Christianity. The greatest of the Mogul emperors, Akbar, did

his best to found a new religion, as did Hallun, the most remarkable of the Egyptian sultans. The present state of the Turkish Government, based on the miserable doctrines of the Koran, and yet coquetting with European improvements, is altogether forced and unnatural. To be strong, Mohammedanism must go

back to what it was at its commencement, stern, uncompromising, and aggressive, such as it has become again among the Wahabis, or it will lose its vitality and succumb to a more enlightened faith. It is not, indeed, to be expected that Mohammedans would be converted in great numbers if the sceptre departed from among them, but the Turks, at least, with their peculiar habits, would melt away and disappear among the increasing masses of Greeks, Armenians, and other Christians. The disciples of Islam would, no doubt, ever continue such as they have been from the first, such as they recently showed themselves in the Indian Mutiny; after years of intercourse with Englishmen, unchangeable in their bigotry and hatred and contempt of other sects. But a creed, the essential part of which is to trample on all other creeds, if it came to be despised in its turn, could not survive-it would die out. There is a foreshadowing of this in Persia and in Baghdad, where the aspirations after freedom of some ardent spirits have led to the development of a new sect, the Bábís, who show" no antipathy to Christians, or to the followers of any other creed except the Mohammedans.”l. The Bábís are converted Mohammedans, and if their numbers should increase they would extirpate Islam.

On the whole, then, it would appear that the Turks are “an unimprovable race," and that no efforts can bolster up their Government long. What policy is to be adopted, then, in lieu Break-up of the Turkish Empire.

1 Life and Manners in Persia, p. 179.

495

of that struggle to avoid the inevitable which has already cost us such sacrifices? We cannot here accept the counsels of the author of the Rambles in Syria, who, after vivid sketches of the decadence of Turkey, still returns to that impossible scheme of interested physicians treating disinterestedly a patient that rejects all medicine. Common sense, on the other hand, would say, “ If the dying must die, let care be taken of those who are to survive.” As the Turkish power decays, life begins to reanimate the nationalities that have lain so long in a death-like trance beneath it. Greece, for example, begins to revive, and though the new State of the Hellenes may have to pass through a long season of troublous energy, it cannot be doubted that a prosperous future is in store for it. Why should there be less hope for the Principalities, the Servians, the Bulgarians, the Armenians, Syrians, Egyptians, and Arabs? As the ship founders, let raft after raft be cut adrift, and by the success of these several ventures all will be saved. This seems to be the view adopted by the author of “Chaos,”? though his thoughts are somewhat indistinctly shadowed forth, and his suggestions are rather for being prepared to act than for action. He speaks of “ England that preserves Turkish rule not for the sake of Turkish rule, but for the sake of sheltering the immature growth of future free nations against the destroying blight of despotisms far more dangerous, if not worse, than Turkey.” Further on he refers to the policy of England towards Turkey as dual, “Liberal in one sense and direction,”—that is, we suppose, as regards the nationalities; and “ Conservative in another,”--that is, in supporting the Turkish Government. Again he says, “But we must also look to see that, after putting the sick man in his coffin when much breath is still in his body, we may have something better to take his place than a nursery full of fractious and rickety children.” Viewing it in this light, many will be disposed to regard our imperial policy as “ both expedient for all parties and right in itself.” But, is it quite the case that protection of “the immature growth” of the nationalities under Turkish rule is recognised by us as of such paramount importance ? If so, what becomes of the guarantee that the Turkish territories shall remain as they are ? It must be explained to mean,--Turkey to the Turks, in reversion to their subject nationalities when ripe for self-government. But who is to decide when “the immature growth of these future free nations” reaches maturity ? For this “ we want our country," says Lord Strangford,“ to be served in Turkey by the most perfect and highest type of English manhood;" we must have Englishmen, not Levantines; and the best Englishmen we can get, instructed by “ travel in Turkey and intercourse with the people,” and comprehending the rising nationalities.

1 The Eastern Shores of the Adriatic in 1863.

But it may be asked, is even this limited and temporary support of the Turkish power, this trusteeship for immature nations possible ? A there not too many suitors for these tender wards, not to make us fear they may be wedded to undeserving strangers under our very eyes? Perhaps not, for there is a potent influence at work, which might fight on our side, --“nationality is taking its place as a new power among us;" and it may be added, that the Liberal party throughout Europe would support it, while one great Despotism at least could hardly now disown it. The danger is that we chill and alienate this power, these budding nationalities, by joining hands too long with the effete government of the Turk. For guidance in so difficult a policy, the best ambassador, the best attachés, the best consuls, the best Englishmen not Levantines, are, as Lord Strangford justly says, required to do England's work in Turkey.

Thus far as regards the “ dual policy” and its adroit manipulation by the ablest men that can be selected. Something more, however, is required, something practical, to meet the sharp practice of physicians not so unselfish as England in their attendance on the sick man. On three different sides of the Turkish Empire three great powers are preparing vantageground to spring forward when the last scene of all arrives. France advances by the line of Africa and Egypt, where the completion of the Lesseps canal would give her overwhelming influence. Russia is peopling Circassia with Cossacks, and sits now in terrible strength before the open portal which leads into the centre of Asiatic Turkey. Austrian troops are being massed upon the frontier of the Principalities, and in that direction, and towards Bosnia, the German power is pre-potent. The strength of England lies in linking herself with India by the nearest bridge across Turkish territory. As England acted on India in putting down its mutinies, so might she draw support from India in a great struggle in Syria, Mesopotamia, or Egypt. For every Sepoy regiment that landed with Baird in Egypt, ten regiments of Sikhs, little, if at all, inferior to Russian or French regiments, could now be drawn from India. But the way must be prepared. It will not do to alienate Persia by coldness and indifference, and to leave her to be bribed by France with offers of the coveted shrines of Kerbela and Najuf and Kazimain. It is but a shallow policy that surrenders the Shah's army to be officered by Frenchmen and Germans, that would let Persian ships of war, manned or at least officered by Frenchmen, make their appearance in the Persian Gulf. It would be little credit How England should prepare for that Event.

497

able were a French company to get the start of English enterprise, not only with a Suez canal, but also with a Syrian, Mesopotamian, and Persian railroad.

To sum up in few words, safe and rapid communication with India, implying and including a commanding influence throughout the line, is what will give England strength to resist her rivals when the Turkish Empire breaks up. India, in fact, is at once a beacon and a support. The past history of India shows the Empire of the Moguls, resembling in many respects that of the Turks, dissolving at length from internal weakness, and leaving a few Mohammedan states, the Nizam's kingdom, for example, as the only traces of its existence. The present history of India displays to us a development of resources, and an increasing revenue, that would give England surprising strength in any new contest. To obtain paramount influence in Persia, the English Government has only to will the acquisition. English instructors would be readily received for the Shah's army, and would be what Lindsay, Hart, Sheil, and Rawlinson were before. The Persian Gulf is still completely under our control. We have treaties with all the petty states there, and it will be our own fault if we suffer the French to supersede us. A double line of telegraph will soon be complete to India. A railway from Jokenderna to Mepps and Baghdad, and from Baghdad to Jehran, worked by an English company, is the next great want. We must have an iron bridge from sea to sea between England and India. Iron links must rivet the communication. It is calculated that the new Overland Route from Ostend to Brindisi will be quicker by two days than that by Paris and Marseilles. It will be, too, on safer ground. From Brindisi to Alexandretta, and thence by rail to Baghdad, and so by the Persian Gulf to Bombay, would be a gain of five days on the route by Egypt. A railroad from Baghdad to the Mediterranean would carry off from the present route by Egypt all the passengers and much of the traffic between India and England. It would enrich the country it passed through. The Arab tribes, unmanageable by the Turks, would be peaceable with us, and in return would be enriched and civilized. Above all, England and India would be brought by this railroad en rapport, and their weight as regards Turkey would be, if not irresistible, at least many times greater than it now is.

ART. IX.--Sporting Books.

INSTINCTS are curious things. The hunting instinct is one which seems to be common to men and carnivora, but the omnivorous intellectual biped which hunts instinctively is often driven by the better half of his human nature to write a book. The book is worthy or worthless as intellect or instinct prevails in the hunter who writes. Poeta nascitur non fit.All men are hunters, but all hunters are not poets, though some are.

As an uneducated kitten, just able to toddle, pounces on mice, and a young otter on fish as soon as it can swim, so every boy delights to chase and catch and slay mice, cats, fish, and otters. If girls be less blood-thirsty, they too make early prey of embryo-hunters, and women run each other down, and write novels to describe their sport. The last new sporting book ? which has passed from the publishers' shelves to the editor's box is not a mere record of slaughter. It is full of pictures of animate and inanimate nature, of scenes and events which have an interest for men and women with minds. The author has seen much of the world, and he has taken notes; he has published them, and he has produced an amusing and instructive book. As one of its chief merits it suggests pictures to other minds. Who that has ever been a boy can read the first picture of country life without feeling the truth of it stirring within him to make him young again? The boy joins the other old boy, and runs back with him to the hills.

With the woodcut of Skipness, in Colonel Campbell's pleasant volume, a flat Highland strand rises up as if in a magic mirror; the bright flickering sunlight of a hot summer's day makes the air quiver; the blue sea is crisped by a gentle breeze; the warm yellow sand gleams like gold; a herd of cows stand in the water, switching their tails to drive away the summer flies, and drowsily champ their jaws, while gulls and terns chatter and scream over the tiny silver fish that make their prey. A gay troop come scampering down the road and scatter over the sand. Two ladies come driving a trotting team of Shetland ponies in a phaeton, and three young savages, half naked, their kilts and flannel shirts streaming in the wind, gallop through water and over wet sand, splashing and screeching, while fish and birds flee in dismay. They are the Skipness boys as they used to be, and as one of them describes himself.

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, a stately lady and her brother, a young imp of a boy, and some terriers, pace gravely through a

1 My Indian Journal. By Colonel W. Campbell, author of The Old Forest Ranger. Edinburgh, 1864.

« PoprzedniaDalej »