Obrazy na stronie

From the Spectator, 12 March. but to invite a mortal destiny for ourselves. CONSTITUTIONAL LEAGUB IN BUROPE.

To coquette in “ friendly negotiations" with

those powers, or with outlying confederates, is ALTHOUGH the mission which a sect of en- not to secure peace, but to disguise from our thusiasts wished to force upon Lord Aberdeen own sight the hostile intrigues which threaten last week has no practical bearing on the act-us. Lord John Russell lately boasted that he ual state of the Continent, on our relations was in peculiarly friendly relations with the with Foreign Governments, or the proper French government, and was in communication functions of diplomacy, it does not follow that with it“ on the state of Europe.” Now, how diplomacy might not be usefully employed can the Emperor of the French be the fittest in rendering the position of this country person for England to be consulting on the more secure and peaceable, and in ultimately state of Europe ? What sympathy can be averting war by exhibiting the impolicy of have with Constitutional government? what those who are most likely to provoke it. Since community of interest? what experience ? the settlement of Europe in 1815, the rela Other states there are, however, whose tions of diplomacy have chiefly centred in essential characteristics mark them out as what are called “ the Great Powers"; the proper allies for England to consult in the majority of whom have for the most part set critical state of European affairs. Belgium, the fashion in the government of Europe. By for example, is bound to us by family ties, by this accident it has happened that the great similarity of constitution, and, it may be party to which England naturally belongs has added, by her perilous position. Holland is been merged in relations that cross each inclined to us by her moderation ; Denmark other and prevent its true distinction from the has shown a great capacity for appreciating opposite party ; and thus it has befallen, the actual state of affairs ; Sardinia is our that to an unfortunate extent the Constitu- pupil, and would willingly be our ally. The tional States of Europe, instead of being view which the governments of these states brought together, have been separated even take as to the posture of affairs is a subject more in appearance than in fact.

that it would much concern our own governTo this as well as to other causes may be ment' to know ; and probably if they were ascribed the result, that the Constitutional in specially in communication on such a subject terest of Europe has been losing ground, as they might not only recognize the exigencies the Absolutist interest has been gaining of the time, but discover resources that are ground. In the conflict of extreme princi- at present lost to view for want of means for ples, one is now thoroughly thrown down concentrating information. and the other is triumphant ; and in the open Were it known, for example, that Belgium, war of 1848, while we have seen the defeat Holland, Sweden, England, Sardinia, and perof the one and the victory of the other, we haps Denmark, were in council on the state have observed that the Constitutional princi- and prospects of Constitutional organization ples, which were scarcely in issue, have been in Europe, there is little doubt that other steadily declining. They have been so partly states, whose position is more equivocal because their champions abstained from ac- would rally to the common standard. Spain tively asserting them, or resolutely vindicat- would be very likely to recover from her coup ing them where assailed ; and so they sank d'état delusions. Nay, there are states in out of view, as a quiet man is hustled between Europe that have not exhibited any sympathy aggressive combatants into a corner. The with political principles, and yet that are so influence of the Constitutional party has in-situated as to find their interests more prodeed declined so far that the actual political moted by alliance with the Constitutional existence of some states, at the present day, League than with the Holy Alliance of exis called in question ; and all must now begin treme Absolutism. Bavaria, for example, to feel that their safety, if not their indepen- who cannot be regarded as belonging to any dence, is menaced by the overgrowth and the proselytizing system of political freedom, gigantic encroachment of the Absolutist Pow- might yet say to herself — “ These immense

Passively to witness the undeniable empires behind me, animated by views of progress of powers who, if not our enemies, government from which I do not altogether at least hold principles incompatible with our dissent, are growing so gigantic, so overpolitical existence, is not to cultivate peace, whelming, and so encroaching in their develop


We were

ment, that I run a very serious chance of

From the Examiner, 19 March. being altogether submerged in their rise. On

AUSTRIA AND TURKEY. the other side, this Constitutional League is by its very principles, and by the commercial THIRTEEN years ago the preservation of the character of the people who belong to it, Turkish Empire in its independence and integpeaceable, non-aggressive, and trustworthy ; rity was thought by the government of this and, therefore, it will be much more to my country worth the risk of an embroilment interest to throw my weight into that Consti- with France, and a general war. tutional League, than to encourage those all told then that Russia, Austria, and England absorbing powers.” Prussia, which has could not suffer France to protect a rebellious grown from a duchy to be almost an empire, vassal against the chastisement of the Sultan, but which still has to undergo mortifying and that no matter at what umbrage to the dictation from its imperial patrons, would be French government and people, Mehemet Ali much tempted to take advantage of any influ- must be expelled from Syria, and reduced to ence that could counterbalance its compulsory submission to the Porte. To effect that allies.

object our fleet and troops were set to work But it is not only individual states that burning and destroying, and France, unable might rally to such a league if it existed and to protect her protégé, thwarted and humiliwere known to exist. In almost every coun- ated, was in a mood of exasperation, which try of Europe there is a moderate class ; and any untoward circumstance might have pushed in the most arbitrary of the empires, Austria, to the extremity of war. Looking back the action of the government has been to with the knowledge we now have of that force that moderate class into opposition. period, and the elements of mischief which While it is pretended that the revolutions in were prepared for explosion, and waiting Italy belong only to extreme classes and low only a rash hand to fire them, it seems wonparties, the retributions of the Austrian Mar- derful that hostilities were escaped. But shal — the fines on whole towns, the re-Louis Philippe waited his time, laying up the proaches addressed to the gentry, the punish- grudge in his mind like one of Homer's kings, ment inflicted on nobles and aged priests, in and he took his revenge in the Spanish marMantua as well as Milan — prove that the riages, aggrandizing his house and satisfying middle and upper classes are forced into op- his vengeance by the same unworthy transacposition, and that the administration of the tion. It was then England's turn to be supreme government has become most intoler-angry and alienated, and the loss of the friendable. It is the same in Naples. In Germany ship which had been a tower of strength to there is the party of Gervinus. To such the King of the Barricades greatly encourmoderate parties the existence of a Constitu- aged his domestic foes, and emboldened them tional League would be the revival of hope. to proceedings which, combined with other

Now the first step towards the reorganiza- causes, ended in the overthrow of the montion of the Constitutional interest of Europe, is archy. The coolness between the governto ascertain how it stands. English diplomacy ments of the two countries is thus clearly could not employ itself better than in learning traceable to the difference on the Syrian questhe sentiments, the views, and the council of tion, to which also must be ascribed whatever the Constitutional States, as to the future of share that estrangement had in the downfall Europe. There would be no occasion for of Louis Philippe. secrecy in such a mission. The information But how are matters changed now? What would suggest the proper course of action ; respect is now claimed for the independence but if it were known that England had taken and integrity of the Turkish Empire ? Austria the initiative in such a proceeding, the very is now repeating the part which France would fact might give pause to those arbitrary gov- have played, but was not suffered to play, in ernments who are now incited to extremities 1840, with this difference for the worse, that of tyrannical rule by the absence of control the wrong is more naked, and for an incomor check who may force us into a war parably more unworthy object. Consider because our passive quiescence invites them what Mehemet Ali was, and what the Monto excess.

tenegrins are. Mehemet Ali, with all his

a promoter of civilization; he established order, he gave safety to the desert,



and travellers traversed the country under his Colonel Rose, her majesty's chargé d'affairs at sway with more safety and exemption from Constantinople, the effect of which was, that

nothing should be done with reference to those annoyance than is now felt by the English- important territories Kleck and Sutorina without man who has to make his way through the the knowledge of her majesty's government. Austrian dominions. But he was a rebellious (Hear, hear.) With respect to another condivassal, the protection of whom by France tion, that which related to Hungarian refugees against the chastisement of the Sultan could serving in the Turkish army, he might observe

that the first demand had been modified, and that not be endured by three of the four coalesced Austria now remained satisfied with their repowers, Austria amongst the number. moval from the frontier. (Hear, hear.)

Well, what are these Montenegrins, the protection of whom against the chastisement And to this complexion has come all the of the Sultan is endured by the powers pledged big talk, and all the risks and substantial saoto maintain the independence and integrity rifices for the independence of Turkey! of the Turkish Empire ? a tribe of robbers And what has been the friendly part of and assassins, the match for whom in barba- our government to its old ally? Why we, who rism and iniquity is not to found even stirred the Sultan to muster all his forces amongst the Malays whose carcases clogged against Mehemet Ali, have counselled him the wheels of the Nemesis upon that admired that it was above his strength to move 50,000 occasion when Sir James Brooke so signally men against the miscreant Montenegrins. vindicated the rights of humanity, and gave a And to prove our words, we let Austria bully bloody lesson of civilization. Aggressed by him, countermand his armies, give impunity these miscreants, the Sultan despatches an and encouragement to his enemies, close his army against them to punish and coerce their ports against ourselves, and regulate the indetestable practices, but Austria covers the ternal management of his empire in the orderbrigands with her shield, and insists on the ing about of the refugees. To what this is Porte's leaving the horde of cut-throats as it the preface is clear enough. When young Mirafound them; and the powers pledged to bel is in the bravoes' den, one of the thieves maintain the independence of Turkey look on tweaks his nose, another treads on his toes, and acquiesce. We say nothing of the other as gentle preliminaries to the consummation insolent and wrongful conditions, for we of robbery and murder. And so it will be would direct sole attention to the comparison with Turkey, which has to pass through the between what we did at such mighty risk in stages of insult and humiliation, before she 1840, to support the Sultan's authority against has her throat cut for booty. Mehemet Ali, with what we are now suffer

Would we have a war to avert this event ? ing Austria to do, in prevention of the pro- Certainly not. But never again should Engvoked punishment of a race of murderous land be committed to a policy bringing her to brigands, and in contravention of the Sultan's so lame and impotent a conclusion.

The folly rightful exercise of his power as an indepen- has been in engaging for what we could not dent prince.

perform ; relying on allies, the fit epithet In answer to a question put by Mr. D’Is- for whom Mr. D’Israeli must supply. The raeli on Monday,

fool's bolt, says the wisest of men, is soon

shot. We shot our bolt in 1840 ; to what Lord J. Russell said, her majesty's govern- purpose appears too clearly now. ment had received official information that a final arrangement had been come to between Austria and the Sublime Porte, and that the demands made by Prince Leiningen on the part of Austria

THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE. had been agreed to by the Porte. It was demanded, on the part of Austria, that the terri It has long been the fashion among tory of Montenegro should be abandoned by the thoughtless writers, and those who consider Turkish army, and that, as previous to these events, no encroachment should be made by Tur- everything, even nominally, Christian as key on the coast for purposes of trade or com

necessarily superior to everything avowedly merce. That demand had been complied with. Mahometan, to speak of Turkey as a decrepit Another of the demands of Austria was, that the and moribund empire, kept in existence only status quo before the war, as regarded Montenegro, should not be disturbed ; and that, likewise, by the mutual jealousies or the precarious forhad been agreed to. On the subject of this last bearance of the more powerful nations, and condition & communication had been made by doomed at no distant date to dismemberment

From the Economist.

and dissolution. The prospect is viewed truth and force as against Turkey? If the with something of the same complacency feebleness of the victim is to be the plea, with which wreckers watch a magnificent why not parcel out Switzerland among contig. vessel in danger of going to pieces on their uous States, or allot the smaller kingdoms rock-bound shore ; and the speculations on of Germany to Prussia or Austria ? If the the mode in which dismemberment is to be incapacity of the government is an adequate effected, are about as cool and unscrupulous justification, why not begin by the assignas those with which these same harpies divide ment of Sicily or Rome to worthier possesand appropriate in imagination the spoils sors than their present sovereigns ? which the storm is about to place at their But (we are told) the end justifies the disposal. We have long been accustomed to means. It is a shame and a grief to see hear this language among influential writers such splendid provinces as those which border and talkers, who echo only what they hear ; on Constantinople and lie around Sınyrna and but it is something new and ominous to see Damascus in the hands of a worn-out and it taken up and formalized by leading jour- depressing despotism, under whose rule their nals, by men' who aspire to the character of population decays, their harbors lie empty, statesmen, and writers who are supposed not their resources are undeveloped. Compare to be wholly deaf or blind to considerations what they are with what they might be — of public morality and international policy. measure the opening which they now afford for Yet this has been the spectacle presented in European enterprise and commerce with what more than one quarter during the last fort- they might be made to offer contrast the night, when the Ottoman Empire is once scanty produce of their ill-tilled fields with the more threatened by the overbearing insolence vast harvests they might be made to yield under of neighbors who think they may bully her a wiser and more genial rule ; — look at them with impunity, and who have long been now benighted under the sensual and fatalistic greedy for her spoils.

creed of Islamism, and think of them as they Such conduct should meet with no counte- would be under the mild and civilizing influnance from the English press — not even that ence of the Gospel of Christ ; - and then insidious support which consists in assuming say whether the interests both of religion and that its success is a matter of certainty – humanity do not demand that a transference that the destruction of the Turkish dominion of sovereignty should be effected. is a fated and inevitable thing, which no ef To all such reasonings we answer : the fort can avert, and which there is no especial same remarks apply with equal force to the reason for desiring to postpone. It is true south of Italy. Take Rome, take Naples, enough that the Ottoman Empire depends take Sicily — is it not deplorable to see them for its maintenance and integrity on the faith writhing and suffering under such besotted of treaties, on the wise policy, on the yet sway as that which now crushes them and lingering and decent morality, of more pow- disgraces Europe ? Who can doubt that erful States. The combination of any two religion, humanity, material prosperity, 80of her neighbors would suffice to overwhelm cial happiness, would gain immeasurably if her :— nay, she might even fall under the these countries could be placed under the assault of any one, if the connivance of the rule of England - ay, or even of France ? others could be counted upon. But of what Yet who, on that plea, would hold either European State, except the five great Powers, England or France justified in taking possesmight not the same be said ? Could Sweden, sion of them, even if Russia and Austria or Belgium, or Spain, or Portugal, defend were to be bribed or persuaded into connivthemselves, if France or Russia chose to at- ance or consent? But are we so sure that tack and absorb them, and if England and Aus- the provinces of the Turkish Empire would tria stood looking quietly down on the gigantic gain so immensely by a transference to other and high-handed iniquity ? Would it not be masters ? For ourselves we doubt it greatly. just as easy to dismember Italy as to dismem- There is no doubt that the Ottoman governber Turkey, if the leading States of Europe ment is in many respects anomalous and were so minded? And might not incapacity, feeble ; but it has several good points ; - of decrepitude, and a benumbing rule, be alleged late, too, it has made great efforts to improve against the longer endurance of two at itself ; - it has two parties in the State, like least of the Italian governments, with equal most other nations, one bigoted, reactionary,

and conservative — the other enlightened, re- the order of a Vizier ; - but this is a liability, forming, and liberal. Under the sway of the not a constant and normal position. Despotlatter (now temporarily overthrown) several ism, too, in the Ottoman Empire is tempered amendments had been introduced ; and a by the two most effectual modifications it can gradual approach to European notions was ever have — religion and municipal institubeing made.

Are we — because Turkey is tions. The Sultan is bound to govern accordstill in the crisis of an internal struggle which ing to law - i.e., according to the Koran, of we all of us have had to pass through in our which law the Ulemas are the self-constituted time, and in which some are yet involved judges in the last resort. If he violates that to pronounce her hopelessly incurable, and fit law, remonstrance and sometimes rebellion only for the executioner? But, if she be ensue : if his subordinate Pachas violate it, dismembered, what is the character of the an appeal to head-quarters is often answered two governments which would divide among by the head of the offender complained them the chief portion of her rich and beau- against. Then, in no country in Europe tiful territories Austria and Russia ? Is it (except Hungary before the late catastrophe) 80 certain that either Czar or Kaiser will gov- is so much left to municipal management as ern her better than the Sultan? She has long in Turkey. Her municipalities resemble in had the most liberal commercial policy of any their completeness those which we found European State - no prohibitions no pro- existing in India.

The chiefs of a village tective duties — no heavy customs - no bur- distribute the taxation among their fellows, densome or cramping regulations — no selfish and conduct their affairs, both of social and narrow navigation laws; - all foreign arrangement and of judicial decisions, in the articles are admitted at an ad valorem duty of first instance with little interference from three per cent., and may then circulate all higher authorities. It would be a great over the empire unimpeded by octrois or question whether individual liberty and habits transit dues. Would Russia or Austria con- of self-government would not suffer by the tinue a tariff like this, which so shames their substitution of Austrian centralization - of own? Again : we admit and we deplore the all others the most deadening — for a system despotism which reigns through Turkey as such as this, imperfect and ignorantly conthrough all Mahometan countries ; -- of such ducted az it may be. we shall never constitute ourselves defenders. Nor must the substitution of Christianity We have seen the grievous operation of this for Islamism be set down at once as clear gain despotism upon the agriculture of perhaps without some further investigation. For what the most magnificent and fertile lands which is the form of nominal Christianity which the sun shines upon ; we would be among would be introduced, or rather established, in the last to wish for its continuance. But we dismembered Turkey? Unquestionably, that have no desire to see one tyranny replaced of the Greek Church, to which considerably by another, more powerful and more unmiti- more than half the population already begated. The government of Austria in Lom- | longs. What is the nature and what the bardy is as absolute and more oppressive than operation of that awfully degrading superthat of the Porte, because more resistless, stition may be learned in part from the books more vigilant, more ubiquitous. Theoretical- of travellers in the Levant, but can be adely, the Turks are as much slaves as the sub- quately conceived by no one who has not jects of the Austrian dominion practically, himself in person witnessed its monstrosities. they are far less so. The pressure of extreme It is, we think, almost impossible even for the absolutism reaches few in Turkey, and strikes sincerest Christian to live long in Turkey only occasionally : in the countries subject to without being compelled to admit that in the leaden rule of Austria, it lies like an point of purity and sublimity the Koran, as incubus every hour and upon everybody. there taught, has a marked advantage over The Emperor of Russia is at least as great a any other creed as there practised and tradespot as the Sultan of Turkey ; and, what vestied; and that on the whole its fruits are, is not the case in Turkey, all his nobles are to say the least, not inferior. The Turks are so too. The Russians are serfs, salable by dignified fatalists, and simple and sincere their masters, seizable for military purposes monotheists; the votaries of the Greek by the Czar : the Turkish subjects are liable church are slaves of a puerile and almost to be robbed by a Pacha, or beheaded by pagan mythology, which it is really disgrace

« PoprzedniaDalej »