THE TIME OF THE END.-EASTERN, OR MOHAMMEDAN ASPECT.
From the date of the fall of Constantinople before the advance of Mohammedan hordes, AD. 1453, up to the great naval battle of Lepanto, AD. 1571, the Turkish power had been continually advancing in Europe. The Euphratean flood rose higher and higher, till it reached its highest point under Solomon the Magnificent, in the middle of the sixteenth century. It remained stationary at high-water mark for half a century, and even as late as 1669 Candia was added to the dominions of the Porte. But the last quarter of the seventeenth century was a time of fierce struggle, and of alternate victory and defeat. Wars with Russia and Austria severely shook the Ottoman power, and the war which was closed by the Peace of Carlowitz, signed in 1699, broke for ever the aggressive power of the Turkish empire. It closed a twenty years struggle, in which the Porte had been engaged with Russia and Austria. The conflict had been attended with varying fortunes; but, exhausted at last by the sanguinary defeats inflicted on her by Prince Eugène, the Porte was compelled, in 1699, to lay down her arms, and make peace on most disastrous terms. Louis XIV., urging the sultan not to accept the terms imposed by its foes, said, "The Turks in all their wars have never yet receded; should they do so now, their prestige is gone, and their very existence imperilled." And so it proved. For a time Turkey remained however a mighty and formidable empire, holding under its cruel and debasing sway numbers of Christian nations.
A long peace with Christendom followed; but when next the shock of war brought the Mussulman forces into the field against Russia and Austria, victory was again and more decidedly with the Christians. Crushing defeats were inflicted on the Turkish armies in 1774; the Russians surrounded the vizier and his troops near Shumla, in Bulgaria, and were able to dictate the terms of the humiliating Peace of Kainardje, by which Russia obtained the free navigation of the Black Sea, besides large cessions of territory. Thus commenced that dismemberment of the Turkish empire which has been going on ever since, and a fresh stage of which we seem now to have reached. Never since that date has the Porte been able to take the aggressive against the nations of Europe, or even to stand successfully on the defensive. Its history, as is well known, has consisted of one monotonous series of disastrous wars, humiliating treaties, military and provincial revolutions, insurrections, massacres, cessions of territory, failures of revenue, diminution of population, plagues, bankruptcies, armies destroyed and fleets annihilated; ever- contracting dominions, and ever-increasing debts, and gradual loss of independence; till at the present moment, protracted decay verges on total extinction. Europe is driven to recognise that nothing can much longer avert the long predicted and richly deserved doom of Mohammedan rule in Europe- political death. [Published 1888]
Ever since the year 1821 the progress of Turkish decay has been so rapid and alarming as to keep Europe in perpetual anxiety. In that year began the insurrection in Greece, the finest province of the Turkish empire, an insurrection which quickly spread to the Ægean Isles and to Wallachia and Moldavia. In 1826 Turkey was obliged to surrender to Russia all its fortresses in Asia, and frightful civil commotions distracted Constantinople, ending in the slaughter of the Janissaries, when 4,000 veteran but mutinous and unmanageable soldiers were shot or burned to death by order of the sultan himself in their own barracks in the city, and many thousands more all over the country. The empire had for centuries groaned under their tyranny, and Mahmoud II. was resolved to organize a fresh army on the military system of western Europe, and saw no other way of delivering himself from the tyrannical Janissaries than this awful massacre, which, while it liberated Turkey from an intolerable incubus, at the same time materially weakened her strength. Before a fresh army had been matured, Russia again attacked the Turkish empire, and, backed up by England and France, secured the independence of Greece, after the great naval battle of Navarino, in which the Ottoman fleet was totally destroyed. In 1828 and 1829 Russia again invaded Turkey; her armies crossed the Balkans, and penetrated as far as Adrianople, where a treaty, more disastrous to the Porte than any previous one, was concluded. The freedom of Servia was secured, and no Turk was permitted to reside in future north of the Danube, while Russia obtained one of the mouths of that river, and territory to the south of it. The large Turkish province of Algeria in North Africa was lost to the Sublime Porte, and became a French colony in the following year. In 1832 Turkey was brought to the verge of dissolution in consequence of the successful rebellion of the powerful pasha of Egypt, Mehemet Ali. He attacked and conquered Syria, and defeated the Turkish armies in three great battles, and he would have taken Constantinople had not the western nations intervened. A second rebellion on the part of Egypt took place in 1840, when Ibrahim Pasha defeated the Turks at Nezib. The Turkish fleet was betrayed into the power of Mehemet Ali, and taken to Alexandria; and Europe was obliged again to interfere to protect the sultan from the rebellion of his vassal, who could at that time have easily overthrown the Turkish empire. In the following year the British admiral took Sidon, Beyrout, and St. Jean dAcre; and, in order to restore the Turkish rule, which had been completely lost, drove Mehemet Ali out of Syria. Egypt has been however virtually independent ever since, and her present rulers bear the title of khedive, or king, in recognition of the fact. They are now far more under the power of England than under that of Turkey.
In 1844 the Porte was compelled by the Christian nations of Europe to issue an edict of religious toleration, abolishing for ever its characteristic and sanguinary practice of execution for apostasy, that is, for the adoption of the Christian faith. As this was entirely against its will, because against the precepts of the Koran, and contrary to the practice of all the ages during which Mohammedanism had been in existence, it was a most patent proof that Ottoman independence was gone, as a matter of fact, though often mentioned still as a plausible fiction of diplomacy, and that henceforth it had to shape its conduct in accordance with the views of its neighbours, the Christian nations of Europe. It was a compulsory sheathing of the sword of persecution, which had been relentlessly wielded for over twelve centuries, a most marked era in the overthrow of Mohammedan power.
The next great stage in the fall of the Moslem power in Europe was the Crimean War, and the Treaty of Paris, which followed it in 1856. This date is one of paramount importance in the process of the decadence of the Ottoman empire. The Crimean War was ostensibly undertaken in defence of Turkey against Russian aggression; and as it was a successful war on the part of the allies, England, France, and Italy, it would seem at first sight that it should he reckoned as a postponement of the fall of Turkey, rather than as a stage of it.
Such however is not the case; it was in reality a very decided stage in its loss of independence. The Russian czar was not alone in seeing that the decay of the Ottoman power had, even at that date, already gone so far, that the question as to what should be done with its dominions on its final dissolution pressed for decision. As is well known, he was anxious to be recognised as heir apparent, at any rate to Constantinople; and he was anxious also to secure the position of protector to the Christian races in the Balkan Peninsula and Syria, in order that he might have the power to interfere with Turkish administration in its own dominions, and thus of hastening the long-desired catastrophe. Now the Crimean War was waged, not so much to protect Turkey, as to maintain the principle that the political destiny of these regions should be a matter of European concert, and not be settled according to Russian views alone. As the Duke of Argyle says: "The one great question which was really at issue was, not whether Turkey was or was not a sick man, or even a dying man; but whether the czar had the right to solve that problem by anticipation in his own favour, and to take steps constituting himself sole heir of the sick mans possessions and effects. It was because Turkey, as a power and as a government, was decaying, and because sooner or later its place would have to be supplied by some other government, and by the rule of some other people, that it was necessary to take steps in time, to prevent this great change from being made prematurely, in the exclusive and selfish interests of a single power." ["The Eastern Question," pp. 2, 8. By the Duke of Argyle. Strahan & Co., 34, Paternoster Bow, London, E.C.]
In result, the Turkish empire was placed under the common care of Europe, and the claim of any single power to settle the destinies of that empire without the concurrence of the rest has since been repeatedly negatived.
In a recently published "Collection of Treaties and other Public Acts, illustrating the European Concert in the Eastern Question," the editor says: "The assumption of the collective authority on the part of the European powers to supervise the solution of the eastern question, in other words, to regulate the disintegration of Turkey, has been gradual. Such an authority has been exercised tentatively since 1826, systematically since 1856. It has been applied successfully to Greece, to Syria, to Egypt, to the Danubian Principalities and the Balkan Peninsula generally, to certain other of the European provinces of Turkey, to the Asiatic boundaries of Turkey and Russia, and to the treatment of the Armenians. The present work will contain the text in full of the treaties and other diplomatic acts which are the title deeds of the states which have thus been wholly or partially freed by the European concert from the sovereignty of the Porte."
Hence 1856 is a critical date in the fall of the Mohammedan power, marking the point of its entire loss of independence; the point when it practically passed into the hands of Europe, with a view to its safe and gradual dismemberment. The tottering structure was condemned to come down, and the scaffolding was erected by which it was to be safely demolished.
In 1860 took place the horrible Druze massacre of the Christians in the Lebanon and at Damascus, a massacre connived at, if not planned by the Turkish Government. The remonstrances of the European consuls in the country were treated with neglect and contempt. The Christians were disarmed by the authorities, and left, like defenceless sheep, to be butchered by their bloodthirsty enemies. Thousands of innocent lives and millions of property were sacrificed, and the total apathy and incompetence of the Turkish Government to maintain order was such that the great powers of Europe intervened. Syria was occupied hy French troops, and an English fleet anchored at Beyrout. The result was the conclusion of the treaty by which northern Syria was placed under a Christian governor, and the welfare of its inhabitants secured by a restriction of the Turkish power, submitted to under European compulsion. The year, in short, witnessed a marked though partial deliverance of the Holy Land from Mohammedan oppression; it witnessed the turn of the tide. The condition of Palestine and Syria has ever since been improving, and the contrast of what they are today [ ie., 1888] and what they were twenty-five years ago is remarkable.
The last great crisis in the decay of Turkey, the last phase previously to what we may term the present one, was the Russo-Turkish war of 1877, an event so recent that we need only allude to it. The horrible atrocities committed by the Turkish soldiery in suppressing an unimportant insurrection in Bulgaria were, as is well known, the immediate cause of this outbreak. Fifteen thousand men, women, and children had been slaughtered in cold blood, with every conceivable circumstance of cruelty and horror, people against whom no crime could be alleged. Their property was destroyed, their villages were burned, and large districts desolated. Christian Europe was horrified. The great powers would have interfered in concert, but that England, whose supposed interests required the maintenance of the Ottoman tyranny over the subject Christian races, would not join in any effective common action. The immoral and Jesuitical maxim, that, when self- interest demanded it, the Christian races of the Balkan Peninsula might lawfully be sacrificed, was acted upon by the English Government of the day. Russia, whose policy was a far nobler and more unselfish one, went to war alone consequently to deliver her co-religionists, and she secured her object by a succession of victories, which broke the Turkish power to pieces, and laid it helpless at her feet. England did interfere then to prevent her seizing Constantinople, and at the Berlin Conference obliged the victorious czar to modify the treaty of San Stephano, and to agree to that of Berlin, by which a large proportion of Armenia was ceded to Russia. The Dobrudeha was lost to Turkey, the complete independence of Roumania was recognised, the limits of Servia and Montenegro were extended, and Bulgaria was erected into an autonomous Christian principality. Cyprus was at that time ceded to England by the Anglo- Turkish Convention, while this country undertook to defend the Turkish possessions in Asia, the Porte promising necessary reforms, subject to British approval. [This treaty cannot stand; it is in opposition to the revealed counsels of God. Lord Beaconsfield pledged England to uphold the Turkish power in Asia, including of course Syria and Palestine. God has decreed, on the other hand, that Palestine and Jerusalem shall be freed, and freed speedily, from Moslem domination. It is hard to kick against the pricks; the treaty is already broken, and no effort to maintain Turkish power in Europe or in Syria will be of any use.] In 1876 Turkey had become nationally bankrupt; her debt, having been mostly contracted abroad, had reached the amount of one hundred and ninety-five millions, on which sum she was unable even to pay interest. This is as serious a feature in the condition of the country, as any of its military reverses or territorial losses.
In 1882 a fresh and very singular stage in the downfall of Ottoman power and independence was reached. It arose, as will be remembered by all, in a military insurrection in Egypt, which was headed by Arabi Pasha; this man and the army obtained a monopoly of power, and the khedive was forced to accept a national ministry in defiance of the protests of the European controllers of the debt, thus subverting the authority of England and France in connexion with the finances of Egypt. The sultan encouraged Arabi to defy Christian intervention in the financial and other affairs of Egypt, and tried to seize the crisis as an occasion for enforcing his own authority as suzerain. It was understood throughout Europe that if the western powers were defeated in this struggle, it would mean a surrender of Egypt to absolute anarchy, and the total ruin of civilization and European interests in the country. British and French squadrons anchored in the harbour of Alexandria in May. Panic began to prevail among Europeans in Egypt; the military party soon became totally unmanageable, and the khedive was a mere tool in their hands. The Europeans in Cairo and Alexandria were obliged to flee the country, and all attempts at pacification, whether on the part of the western powers, or of the sultan himself, failed. A Mussulman rising having taken place in Alexandria, in which a large number of Europeans were killed, and their houses pillaged, Arabi also continuing extensive preparations for resistance in defiance of the English admirals expostulations, Sir Beauchamp Seymour finally bombarded Alexandria in the summer of 1882. The rebels were defeated, and under cover of a flag of truce evacuated Alexandria, not, however, without first setting fire to the European quarters, and letting loose upon it gangs of reckless plunderers. A plan had been laid for the murder of the khedive, but it was unsuccessful. A brief but brilliant military campaign succeeded, in which the English troops defeated the rebels at Tel-el-Kebir, and. victoriously entered Cairo. An army of occupation of 12,000 men was left to keep order in the country, which has been since practically, though not nominally, an English protectorate.
This campaign was remarkable as an illustration of the diminished fanaticism of Mussulman nations. The Mohammedans of India were in no way affected by the struggle between their rulers and the Egyptians. An Indian contingent was sent to Egypt, with, the full approval of the co-religionists of Arabi. As we send these pages to press, a fresh dismemberment of the Ottoman empire is in progress, and the union of the two Bulgarias is so serious an inroad on the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin, that, as might from its very nature have been foreseen, it is not likely long to hold good as regards other and more important points.
The following are the dates in this time of the end to which we have alluded, as those of the principal stages in the downfall of the Papal and Mohammedan powers:
WESTERN, OR PAPAL DATES.
1697. End of the English Revolution.
1750. Voltaire. Outbreak of infidelity.
1774. Accession of Louis XVI.
1793. Regicide and Reign of Terror.
1798. Napoleon First Consul of the Republic.
1830. Anti-Papal revolution, and abdication of Charles X.
1848. Anti-Papal and democratic revolutions in all the Papal countries of Europe. Republic declared at Rome.
1870. FINAL FALL OF THE TEMPORAL POWER OF THE PAPACY AND OVERTHROW OF SECOND FRENCH EMPIRE. UNIFICATION OF ITALY, WITH ROME AS CAPITAL.
EASTERN, OR MOHAMMEDAN DATES. A.D.
1699. Treaty of Carlowitz.
1774. Treaty of Kainardje.
1821. Greek Insurrection.
1840. Successful rebellion of Mehemet Ali against the Porte. British intervention in Syria.
1856. Treaty of Paris.
1860. Druze massacre in Syria. The Lebanon placed under a Christian governor.
1878. Conference of Berlin, and Anglo-Turkish Convention.
1882. English occupation of Egypt.
1885. Revolution in Eastern Roumelia.