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SATURDAY, JULY 30,1853.
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There is nothing so revolutionary, becau...
I THE "GREEK EMPIRE" NOTION. j The agita...
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I Ssp. "We
I SSp . " we
Saturday, July 30,1853.
SATURDAY , JULY 30 , 1853 .
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There Is Nothing So Revolutionary, Becau...
There is nothing so revolutionary , because there is nothing so unnatural and convulsive , as the strain to keep things fixed when all the world is by the very law " of its creation in eternal progress . —Db . Abnombj l ¦ „ ' ¦ _ ..-, —— i ¦ i ' ' ¦ ¦ - ¦ ¦
I The "Greek Empire" Notion. J The Agita...
I THE " GREEK EMPIRE" NOTION . j The agitation of the Eastern Question is pro' ducing at least one good effect—it is accustom - i ing the public mind to a higher order of political ! speculations than it has of late been thought - " practical" to meddle with . At this very moment a notion is abroad , dazzling the imaginations of many , and seriously occupying not a few of our most practical heads , which -. little more than a month ago would have seemed the mere phantasm of a . student , fresh from the pages of Gibbon , and innocent of any statesmanship beyond that which maybe transacted over a cup of coffee and a map . The reconstruction of a Greek Empire—the rehabilitation in the East of that old Byzantine power which the Turks overthrew four hundred years ago : such is the idea which has passed within the last few weeks from the private note-books of a few solitary thinkers , where it had lain undisturbed for twenty years , into the columns of public newspapers , and the red boxes of men in office . Several books and pamphlets have already appeared , advocating the idea : it has been propounded by a score of journals of all shades of opinion , from that Ishmael of politics , the slashing Times , to the cautious , plodding Economist ; and last Saturday week witnessed the publication of the first number of a new journal , named the Eastern Star , established , as it would seem , for the very purpose of providing for this idea an active and continuous propagandism , So it will not be for lack of literary championship if the world does not before long find itself invited to the inauguration of a Pan-Hellenic Empire in the East , the I capital of which shall be Constantinople . Of : this real Hellenic empire , the present little kingy dom of Greece , with its miserable Otho and his j mongrel Court , will in that case turn out to have boon but a kind of prelude and instalment . | ] Such is the idea ; and it is intellectually refreshing , in this age and country of pedaling politics , to have such an idea let loose among us , even though wo should have to pronounce it in the end only a splendid chimera . The particular form which tho idea assumes is as follows : — - ' All this babblement about supporting Turkey against Russia , and about " maintaining tho integrity of tho Turkish Empire , " belongs but to tho passing diplomatic phase of a much bigger question . That [ Russia shall not be allowed to walk into Turkey ; that at tho prosent moment England , Franco , and every other western power that has any pluck or any foresight , must tako Constantinople and tho region thereabouts under vigilant protootion , and , if need bo , mako tho shores of tho Baltic and tho Black Soa bollow with gunpowder for twelve months rather than let lUissin clutch that bit of tho map—as to this all are agreed ; and if , as S k " W . SlM 4 *& JfcmtterB stand , such a policy is diplomatically ^ - ^ ^ ^ - ^ ryrjj ^ TiMmtaiivount to backing tho Porto and preserving ' 0 $ ffl-k > A » £ ¦ ' ' $ W $ ffiV integrity of tho actual Turkish Empire , it ' . ; |^ j ^ r ~ r vn ^ C \ ffiS £ "b ° k bo helped . But beyond tho present (&^ Yn *^^^^ nffllWR ^ ln omon '' thoro lies an oxigoncy to ¦ \<^^ & $ & vkSm ' ^ . khat moment is passed , and ovon ^ f ^^^ TW ^ kJ ^^^^ * * P aBBed > politicians must address jg ^ avai J ^ Slifc . r ^ - ^ Si ^
themselves . Even suppose that Bussia should be driven back without a blow , and tbat all should be restored to the condition in which it was a month or two ago , the real Eastern Question still remains to be settled . Chalked up , as it were , on the black board of the world ' s politics , the problem which now stares us in , the face is the problem of a reorganization of the East . Russia is attempting a solution after hor particular fashion ; and it is not enough in the other nations to refuse this solution , unless they are prepared to take the problem entirely out of Russia ' s hands , and see another solution fairly
wrought put . In short , the moment has arrived when there must be performed for the East of Europe and the adjoining lands of ABia , that highest feat of statesmanship , the factitious recombination of a number of contiguous and intermixed populations into a new political unity . Such feats of statesmanship have hitherto been performed almost exclusively by conquerors—by Alexanders , Csesars , and Napoleons ; it remains to be seen whether a similar result may not be attained by a more pacific process .
Setting aside the Russian solution as intolerable in the eyes of all but the Russians themselves , the next presentable solution , and that to which , as being the least boldand innovative , English statesmen are likely as a body to be most inclined , is that of & continuation of the present TurlcishEmpire under a new system of obligations and guarantees . The mere " preservation of the integrity of the Turkish Empire" everybody sees , is nothing at all ; it is but driving away the lion from the carcase , and leaving the carcase to re-attract the lion . Hence , if the Turkish Empire is preserved , it must be
preserved with a thorough purgation . Jjingland , France , and the other western nations must , m fact , overhaul the whole system of Turkish government , re-arrange the relations of that government to the populations under it , and continue for a long time to direct the Turks , as a master directs his apprentices . This solution , however , finds no favour with some . Such a pretended reconstruction of the Ottoman Empire , they say , would be , in reality , a perpetual squabble between the Western protecting powers for the superiority of the
Protectorate . What is required m the Jiast is not a system which will need to be wound up every twenty-four hours by Western constitutionmakers , but a system which , when once wound up , will go of itself . Now , on no principle , they say , can it be maintained , that such a system can be devised consistently with the continued supremacy of the Turks in the East . There are but two principles by which the right of a ruling power to continue to rule can be testedthe principle of nationality , and the principle of
fitness . By neither principle will the Turks bear to be tried . Take , first , the principle of nationality . The essence of this principle ia , that every nation , every mass of men defined as homogeneous by a certain assemblage of common qualities , has a right to govern itself , without interference from without , even should that interference be by a wiser power , and promise better government . But the Turks , as inhabitants of Turkey , are no nation ; they are a garrison distributed among many nations , and holding them together . You may say " Italy for tho Italians , " and " Hungary for tho
Hungarians ; " but you cannot , in tho same sense , say " Turkey for the Turks . " The Turks arc to tho Turkish Empire what tho Austfians are to Italy ; and it is the height of absurdity in those who urge tho principle of nationality in behalf of tho Italians , claiming that tho Austrians should bo driven out of tho Italian peninsula , to join in tho cry for "tho preservation of tho integrity of
tho Turkish Empire . " What is tho Turkish Empire P—Tho Turkish Empiro is an aggregate of about 25 millions of people of various races , chiefly Greeks , Slavonians , and Shomites or Arabs , permeated and governed by about two millions of Juries . Restricting our view to European Turkey alono , wo find there , it is said , ton or cloven millions ' of Christians , to about threo millions of Mohammedans , of which latter not
more than 700 , 000 aro puro Osmanhs . The Turkey then , aro an insignificant and alien ingrodient foisted into tho East somo centuries ago , and yot living , aa it were , only aa marauders in an encampment , with their horses saddled , ready to go back to whence they came . So far as tho principle of nationality is concerned , the
idea of fighting for them is / positively ridiculous It remains to be inquired then , . whether , on the other principle , they have a better title to re « specfc at ourJiands . Nationality , it may be said , is humbug : wherever there is good and strict government , wherever a people shows a capacit y for ruling , that government or that people has right on its side . If a set of negroes from ABhantee were to get hold of Spain , and make a better thing of it than the Spaniards are making of it for themselves , then the Niggers and held in
not the Spaniards should be up the go vernment of Spain . Is it so with the Turks P Have they really a governing hand and agoverning brain P Aliens as they are in race , do they show thai ; they have a greater capacity for administering the lands they dominate , than the populations more native to those lands—the Greeks , the Slaves , the Shemites P Now this is a question on which there are various judgments . On the one hand , the Turks are admitted to have , as individuals , certain sturdy qualities such as Englishmen like . They are stolid silent buffers ,
with a great deal of pride , and more true to their word than the majority of Orientals . Look at a Turkish boy . says layard , in any Turkish village playing' with the other children , Greeks or Arabs , and / you will find that , though he is a sulky litle beggar , and no match for the others in talk or cleverness , he has yet the faculty of making himself obeyed , and can kick and cuff like one born to it . Again , the Turks have done fine things in the way of moral firmness . Their refusal to give up the Hungarian refugees
did them honour . No one can deny that , individually , they have very respectable features of character . Recently , too , their Government has had much to interest us . Since 1828 , the Porte has adopted many western ideas and improvements ; theoretically , there is as large a degree of toleration under the Mohammedan Government as in England itself , and much larger than in Italy or Spain ; in Turkey , as in England , you may travel without passports ; and in commercial importance Turkey has been outstripping Russia . Admitting all this , more l the ents ± Turkish
or ess , oppon o supremacy have various ways of accounting for it , and still keeping to their point . Study the history of the Turks , they say , or read the § ceounts of their Eresen t condition and administration , as given y authors of the most diverse opinions , and writing for the mOst diverse purposes—Layard , Macfarlane , St . John , Churchill—and you will find that , with all their moral doggedness and military tenacity , they are a people who have never done a single stroke of real good for the world , and under whose rule progress can be but accidental . Sixty years ago , Burke described the Turkish Government as " a barbarous
anarchic despotism , where the finest countries the most genial climates in the world are wasted by peace more than any others have been worried by war ; where arts are unknown , where manufactures languish , where science is extinguished , where agriculture decays , where the human race itself melts away and perishes under the eye of the observer . " Facts have occurred since this was written which renders it less apparently just
than it once was ; but substantially , it is said , the picture is true yet . The recent improvements in Turkey , it is said , are clearly against the Turkish grain , and amount , in fact , to incipient suicide of Mohammedanism . To bact up the real Turks , to tolerate for one instant tho idea of seeing the noble Oriental lands handed over to tho continued stewardship or a set of Mohammedan fellows , who wear turbanfl , and swear by the Koran , is a sad pro ° f , » c . said , to what a low pitch our own Christianity has come . , _ number
It is by such- a process as this that a of our speculative politicians have arrivod at tn notion of a restored Greek Empiro as tho true solution of tho Eastern question . The &***> they say , waits but the strolco of inventive ger " ' and the materials will arrange themselves . U | i of tho dissolved Empire of the Turks there wia spring a great Greek nationality , occUPv !^ south-eastern Europe , and what remains of tn Turkish Empiro after this fragment is subductou , must bo otherwise provided for . Such is l idea . It has boon our object hero simply w state it in tho form in which it is being disson"
natod by its advocatos . The criticisms thati naturally suggest themselves in connexion with »> wo postpone till another occasion ; .
Leader (1850-1860), July 30, 1853, page 12, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/cld_30071853/page/12/