Imágenes de páginas

what it pleases English politicians to call “ The Reforming Party;" but in this they have rendered her, they have rendered civilization itself, no service. We have heard much of the reforms introduced into Turkey during the last twenty or thirty years, and the progress she is making in civilization, or in approximating the civilization of the West, and we are willing to admit that some progress has been made at Constantinople in rejecting the least objectionable portions of Mahometanism, and in adopting the vices and frivolity of our western civilization.

But we see in this nothing to encourage us.

Western civilization is at bottom a Christian civilization, and can be adopted in its essential and living principles by no nation that rejects, or does not adopt, the Christian religion. No nation can adhere to the Koran and enter into the civilized order of Europe or America. Even if a Mussulman people were to reject the Koran, without accepting the Bible, it could not enter that order. It could adopt only what is anomalous in it, accidental to it, or exists along with it, in spite of it; for what constitutes its life, its soul, its vigor, is Christianity, and not an abstract or disembodied Christianity, but the church. We have seen no advance towards Christianity by these reforming Turks. The West they imitate is not the Christian West, but the unbelieving, immoral, degenerate West, which in many respects is below even the old Mussulman East. The Turks who have been educated in France, Prussia, England and other western states are among


very worst specimens even of Turks. They believe neither in Christ nor in Mahomet; neither in the Bible nor the Koran, neither in God nor the devil, and have neither hope of heaven nor fear of hell. They have neither religion nor loyalty, neither patriotism nor wise policy. They are pure egotists, and the last people in the world to regenerate or even preserve a state. The reforms introduced by Mahmoud and the present sultan into the organization and administration of the empire are copied from the worst features of the European bureaucracy, and tend only to exaggerate the previous despotism of the state. The old hereditary fiefs and governments are all abolished, and the pachas and other officers of the administration of the provinces are all appointed immediately by the central government, and can count on holding their places only for a brief term. Hence the aim of each is not the honest discharge of his duty for the good of his people, and the strength of the einpire, but to turn his office for the brief time he may hold it, to the best possible account for himself. Peculation and robbery prevail from the grand vizier down to the lowest official. The revenues of the empire seldom find their way into the imperial treasury, and the people are plundered by each successive swarm of officials to the last cent. There is no security for life or property. The sultan is the sole landholder in his dominions, especially since the confiscation of the property of the mosques, at the advice, we presume, of England and France, well experienced in despoiling religion of its goods. The property of the inosques had hitherto been counted sacred and inviolable, and announted to a considerable portion of the landed property of the empire. The Turkish proprietor could count with no certainty that his property would descend to his children, and he was accustomed to give it to the mosque, and lease it back at almost a nominal rent, and thus secure to his children its use. But even this means of providing for one's family after his death is now taken away. The war has stimulated no industrial activity among the Mussulman population, which visibly diminishes almost daily. It is then idle to expect any thing from the pretended reforms favored by the government. They are contrary to the genius of a Mahometan state, and can only tend to hasten its downfall.

The allies have placed the Danubian principalities under the sovereignty of Turkey, and treat them as a part of the Ottoman empire. This we regard as an outrage upon the Christian conscience. Turkey never had and was never entitled to the suzeraineté of these principalities, and nothing is really added to her strength by its being acknowledged. Their future government is not left to themselves, and must be arranged between them and Turkey, with the approbation of the five powers, instead of Russia. They gain nothing as Christian states, and will most likely lose in their material prosperity. Nothing appears to have been done to detach them from Russia, or to organize them into a state with a political interest in accordance with those of the allies. In any point of view we can consider the question, we are therefore unable to see any thing gained by the war or secured by the treaty of any real importance in preserving the balance of power or really advantageous to the Christian populations of the East.

We do not mean to say that good may not grow out of it. Protestants have gained, probably, the freedom to prosecute their missions in the East, without hindrance from the civil and political power of the Greek bishops and clergy, and this they will consider a gain, though we consider it none, for we prefer the Greek schisın to any form of Protestantism. The non-united Greek church is not a church under excommunication, and none in its communion are to be accounted schisinatics, except by their own voluntary act or adhesion to the schis:n. The communion itself, since the council of Florence, is not, unless we are misinformed, schismatic, and only those members of it who personally reject the supremacy of the Holy See incur the guilt of schism. We can easily believe that great numbers in that communion may be saved, as they have the priesthood and the sacraments. We must therefore prefer the Greek church to any of the Protestant establishments. Besides, Protestant missionaries only make those they detach from the Greek church infidels, or men of no religion. The Catholic Church, we presume, has also gained the same freedoin that is accorded to Protestants. This is a real gain, and may open the way to the regeneration of the East. If, as we have seen asserted, but are not sure, the sultan has granted freedom to Mussulmans to become Christians, and renegades to return to the Christian faith, some progress has been made. An edict to this effect has indeed been published, granting freedom to the renegade to return to the Christian faith, which before could not be done without incurring the penalty of death, and even to Mussulmans born such to become Christians; but it may be revoked at any moment.

What is really wanting to the regeneration of the East, and disposing forever of the eastern question, is the reunion of the eastern schismatics with Rome, and full liberty of propagandism for the Catholic Church. The former effected and the latter conceded, the church would deal with the Turks as she did with the Franks in Gaul, the Goths in Spain, and the Longobards in Italy. She would send her religious among them, and in a brief time convert the majority of them to the Catholic religion. Turkey become Catholic, would become a power able to stand alone, and to resist any advance of Russia towards Constantinople, or the Persian Gulf. What is really wanting to preserve the balance of power is a Catholic East. Under a Mussulman or a non-Catholic East, Russia or any civilized power occupying the position of Russia, must always be menacing to it, and likely to disturb the balance of power.


And it is here we find our only fault with the admirable work of Mr. Dix, placed at the head of this article. Mr. Dix understands well that Turkey was never within the pale of the international law of Christendom, and that the attempt of the allies to bring her within it is in violation of what has hitherto been the public law of Christian nations, as well as an ontrage upon the Christian conscience. He understands well that Christian nations onght not for the purpose of maintaining a balance of power, or for any other purpose, to go to war to sustain and perpetuate the Mussulman power, and that to do so is to complicate, not to settle the eastern question. He properly contends that the allies, if they interposed at all in eastern affairs, should have interposed on the side of the Christians against the Turks, not by any means, as they have done, on the side of the Turks against the Christians. The right to the empire, he justly maintains, is in the Christian population of Turkey, and that true policy as well as justice was to seek the adjustment of the balance of power, by restoring to them the eastern empire. Thus far we agree with him in principle; but he thinks that the East might be regenerated by means either of the Greek schism or his own favorite Anglicanism. But neither will answer, though either is certainly preferable to Mahometanism. Anglicanism has no regenerative power, and it is unable to prevent England herself from lapsing into heathenism and barbarism. The Greek schism, professed by Russia, is precisely that which lost the Greek empire, and deprived the Greek church of the power to convert its barbarian conquerors. Cut off from the centre of unity, and deprived of the means of renewing its life at its central fountain, it was powerless before the Turkish conquerors, and has done nothing for four hundred years towards christianizing them, or even winning their respect for the Christian religion. It is idle, therefore, to suppose that it would have any power to regenerate the East, and maintain in its vigor a new Christian empire, composed, as it would necessarily be, of a multitude of jarring and conflicting races. Neither Anglicanism nor the Greek schism has of itself sufficient vitality to sustain a state, and neither affordds any bond of union. The Russian is better than the Turk, but his conquest of the Turk would not settle the eastern question, because he would sustain only a schismatic religion, which would place him in hostility to the West.

It is this fact that a schismatic or non-Catholic religion will not regenerate the East, and that Russia can give it only a schismatic religion, which constitutes the principal complication in the case. The interposition of the allies in favor of the Christian population of the Ottoman empire, instead of the interposition of Russia, would not have removed the difficulty, for the great mass of that population are schismatics, and cannot furnish the necessary elements of a united and homogeneous Christian state. There is no real redemption of the East possible, till the Greek schism is healed, and the patriarch of Constantinople returns to his duty. The reunion of the schismatics of the Greek rite, which would be soon followed by that of the Armenian rite, and the conversion of the Nestorians and Jacobites, wonld prepare the way for the reëstablishment of the eastern empire at Constantinople, and the regeneration of all Asia. To this reunion Great Britain is more opposed than even Russia, and we have no reason to suppose that France is

very earnest for it. The Holy Father is laboring for it, and if the allies favored it in good faith, and showed that they sympathized with the Christians rather than with the Turks, it could be easily effected. This effected, and the Greek church restored to its vitality, and strengthened by its union with the West, the Turks would be converted, and the beautiful regions they have desolated for four hundred years would once more teem with a rich and flourishing Christian population, and assume their original rank in the Christian world.

A new Christian empire would arise, like that of the Franks in the West in the eighth and ninth centuries, which would be a sufficient counterpoise to that of Russia.

Whether this will be effected or not, is more than we are able to say; but this much we will venture to say, that till it is effected the eastern question is not settled. As long as Russia has the sympathy of the Christians of the East, and as long as she can appear to be fighting for the cross against the crescent, she will extend herself in the direction of the Ottoman empire, and threaten the European balance of power. The present peace we apprehend will prove only a truce. Russia believes that it is her mission to drive out the Turks, and restore the cross on St. Sophia; and unless others fulfil that mission, she will continue to prosecute it. She will be right in doing so, for the Turk never has acquired, and never can acquire, by the law of Christendom, so long as he remains a stranger to the Christian faith, the right to hold a Christian people in subjection. As against

« AnteriorContinuar »