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accelerate it. One, to which we have already alluded, is the debasement of the coinage. The other is the exclusion of the Imperial princes from all share in public business.
The discredit, uncertainty, and temptation to fraud, which attend the former immoral and illusive expedient, have at all times and in all countries produced more or less the same deplorable effects. Our own history may be quoted to confirm the truth of this remark. A prominent example is offered by Froude in his account of the financial embarrassments which occurred under the protectorate of Somerset. Some of us can personally remember with what determination Parliament on the report of the Bullion Committee in 1816 enacted at every hazard the renewal of cash payments at the Bank.
With respect to the princes, it stands to reason that the restrictions to which they are condemned must operate with twofold venom upon the state. The jealousy, which keeps them spell-bound in the Seraglio, hoodwinks their understandings, and renders the want of knowledge an heirloom in the ruling family, at the same time that it confirms their imperial keeper in those habits of indolence and self-indulgence which the dread of competition and popularity on their side might otherwise counteract. It tells with unusual force in a country where so much depends. on the personal acquirements of the sovereign, and at a period when every government is expected to give proof of qualities commensurate with the wants of its people and the progress
of its rivals. A word would suffice to remove this nightmare from the palace, and its consequences from the empire. But that word must be pronounced by the Sultan himself; and he cannot with reason be expected to pronounce it, until he is brought to comprehend the injustice and real impolicy of the established practice.
The reigning Sultan was treated with brotherly indulgence by his late kind-hearted predecessor. He was allowed, in some respects, a more than usual degree of liberty ; nor was he entirely shut out from the sources of Western instruction. But there is reason to believe that his access to those branches of knowledge which are essential to a liberal course of education in Christendom was of very contracted proportions; and we have never heard that he was at any time called to take part in political matters during his brother's reign. Granting him the best intentions and a sound natural discernment, it is highly improbable that he possesses either the habits or the principles which are required to give him a real control over his ministers, and to fortify him against the seductions of irresponsible power. If he is sincere in his professions of reform, and feels, as in that case he must, the difficulties which surround him, he will not be sorry
Vol. 111.–No. 222.
to lend an ear to the counsels of his allies, and to strengthen his position by their united and sympathetic support.
It would certainly require more than a word to redress the defects of the currency; but the temporary sacrifice essential to that object would be overpaid by its results, and a real economy, such as now, it would appear, is in progress, followed by other productive reforms, and sustained by the concurrent action of friendly Powers, would go far to revive the credit and open the resources of the Porte to an indefinite extent.
We ground our hopes, in this respect, on measures which appear to have been adopted by the Sultan's Government within the last few months. A sweeping reduction of the household establishment, the adoption of a less extravagant scale of salaries and pensions, more than one attempt to moderate the profits of usury, the contraction of paper issues, advances made from the sovereign's private treasury in payment of arrears due on public account, the appointment of a special commission for the control of administrative expenses, and, above all, the admission of foreign agents to the examination of the State finances, are so many indications of a decided tendency towards improvement. Some of these measures may be incomplete, and they are all subject to curtailment and misdirection; but, on the whole, they warrant the hopes we have already expressed, and may
well encourage those sovereigns and statesmen, who take an interest in the Sultan's welfare, to lend him all reasonable aid in the prosecution of his internal reforms.
Those to whom every molehill is a mountain, every redoubt an impregnable fortress, may fancy that the greatest success in these respects would have little or no effect-if any, a disastrous one-on that diversity of races, and consequent opposition of feelings and interests, which makes the Turkish empire a hotbed of internal disunion. That there, as elsewhere, difficulty anil danger exist, cannot be fairly denied ; 'but candour, while making the admission, is entitled to protest against its exaggeration. In their days of prosperity, the most enlightened of Turkish ministers might reasonably have opposed any serious relaxation of the Mussulman system. It was sufficient for the purpose that all went on as usual, and that no defeat or deficit, insurrection or calamity, was likely to throw more than a passing shadow on stability of the empire. Turks were Turks; and Rayahs, Rayahs. Both were to move invariably in their separate spheres; and if Christian heads were exposed to Turkish sabres, it was natura that they should be occasionally cut off. But the successors of those statesmen have no such luxury to enjoy. They barked on a current generated by false principles and vicious
errors, which threatens to sweep them into ruin,-government, religion, empire, and all! It is only by steaming or rowing strenuously against the flood that they can hope to escape. Their best exertions may ultimately fail; but, taken in the right direction, they offer good chances of safety, retarding meanwhile the consummation to be dreaded, and softening the approaches to what in the end may prove inevitable.
This for the worst. But the danger itself is far less than might be supposed at a distance. Numerous, and at heart disaffected, as the Sultan's non-Mussulman subjects are, they have by no means the force either of union or of endurance. Their separation into different classes on the ground of race or creed is evidently a source of weakness to them. They have little sympathy for each other. They are rival competitors for Turkish favour, and in some respects antagonistic among themselves. What they have most in common is the habit of submission to Turkish rule. Neither Greek, nor Armenian, nor Sclavonian can hope to occupy a throne left vacant by the professor of Islamism. Each class in the supposed case would probably consent more cheerfully to the Sultan's authority than accept the rule of an adverse Christian sect. M. Ubicini,—we quote from Lady Easthope's excellent translation of his work,-has the following words:- The ancient and bitter animosities which divide the Christian communities subject to the Porte, the jealousy and detracting spirit which infect them all, have augmented the difficulties of my task.'* The Christians, in proportion as the Turks extend the circle of their privileges, and treat them with forbearance and consideration, have less to stimulate their longing for independence, and less to raise them above the dread of their long-established conquerors
. On the same account their hold upon the sympathies of Christendom, and the confidence they might derive from that source, are greatly attenuated. Besides, the weight of the Ottoman sceptre has never pressed upon them by immediate contact with the whole surface of their every-day life. From the time of the conquest, as we have already observed, they have been allowed, in some important respects, to manage their own affairs. Even the collection of the Haratsch, before the abolition of that tax, was intrusted to their own magistrates. The amount to be levied on each district was fixed by the Porte, or, it might be, by the Pasha ; but the assessment was regulated by the elders or notables of each religious community. What they most felt, and what in reality they had most to complain of,
* Preface to the Letters, vol. ii. p. 5.
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was the arbitrary abuse of power, the unauthorized exactions, the oppressive or humiliating treatment of individuals. But all these incentives to revolt have been gradually dispersed, and are more likely to die away from want of fuel than to gather fresh strength from an increase of liberty and the prospects of further improve ment.
More, much more, if our space would admit of it, might be written on this inexhaustible theme. Writer and reader bare hitherto travelled on together, and have now together reached, not indeed the terminus, but a station where they may conveniently take breath, and review, as from some elevated point, the various stages of their road. The object of the journey is not an
Its character is most serious. It cannot be dismissed from thought like a railway excursion or a dissolving view. Let us, before we part, compare notes, and determine, if possible, whether, from argument and statement here set forth, we are warranted in drawing conclusions on which our minds may rest with a certain amount of conviction, and whether we are entitled in conscience to wish that our convictions should pass, as eventual rules of action, into the minds of others more powerful than ourselves.
Has it been fairly established, in the preceding pages, that we have, as a nation, strong motives continually in operation, and founded on our own immediate interests, for maintaining and improving our friendly relations with Turkey ; that a considerable and growing portion of our trade is derived from the Turkish dominions ; that, in a political point of view, we have much to apprehend from their further decline or dissolution ; and that our communications by steam and telegraph with India and our immense possessions there are dependent on the goodwill and protection of the Ottoman Government ?
In the next place, are we satisfied that it has been our policy, and also our practice, from an early period, to cultivate friendly relations with the Porte? Have we not, in later years, and in actual emergencies, either hastened to her succour by means of counsel, mediation, and even occasionally by active assistance, or taken part, however reluctantly, in coercive measures calculated to bring her into a state of political harmony with the Powers of Christendom?
Thirdly—Is it not proved that, as one of those Powers, we have given our formal guaranty for the independence and integrity of the Sultan's dominions, incurring thereby a positive obligation to redeem our pledge, when called upon, at the cost or immediate risk of British treasure and blood ?
Fourthly-Is it not manifest that, whether from within or from without, the Turkish empire is exposed to an imminent danger of falling into confusion and becoming eventually a prey to the ambition of its most powerful neighbours, liable at any time to become adverse to our policy and jealous of our prosperity ?
Fifthly-Has it not been shown that Turkey, notwithstanding its many causes of weakness and of social embarrassment, possesses a fund of resources which have only to be worked by means within reach, in order, as a consequence of the process, to retard indefinitely, if not to avert entirely, the impending catastrophe ? May it not be added with truth that the obstacles to improvement are so far from being irremovable that many of them, and some in appearance the most obdurate, have already yielded to the pressure of necessity and the evidence of facts ?
Sixthly-Can it be denied at the same time that the Turkish Government has displayed, together with a sense of its weakness, an utter incapacity for extricating itself without support and assistance from the dangers which surround it; that, left to its own unaided exertions, it has no reasonable prospect of escape ; that even now it depends for existence on the forbearance of the Christian Powers; and that we are bound in duty, no less than entitled to require as the price of our guaranty, its strenuous enforcement of such measures as are necessary, according to its own proclaimed and recorded confession, to sustain its vitality and to justify the responsible confidence of its allies?
If, as it would seem, there can be only one true answer to these questions, the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from them may be left with safety to the deliberate judgment of the country. The interests of our trade with Turkey, Persia, and the Danube, those of our political power on the shores of the Euxine, the Archipelago, and the Mediterranean, those again of our direct communications with India—to say nothing of China and Australia—are palpably concerned in the decision. Are we to relinquish, when it is most needed, a policy dating from one of the best periods of our history ? Are we to surrender without necessity a position acquired by the exertions of our diplomacy, and by the triumphs of our arms? Are we to wait with fettered limbs and bandaged eyes for that solution of the Eastern question which we of all others have most reason to deprecate? Or, are we, in a wiser and nobler spirit, to confront the peril which hitherto we have never ceased to acknowledge,—to employ at once, though with some inconvenience and doubt, the means required for meeting it with effect,—and to do our best without hesitation for diverting a calamity which, be it far or near, must