6. The books in the government of^ces at the
Kaimakamlik are often incorrect through mistakes
or dishonesty, and in consequence taxes are paid on
fictitious names or on persons who have been dead
" III. Farming of taxes.
Taxes are often farmed out to the highest bidder,
who usually is some powerful Kurdish chief. Either
in consequence of his power, or by means of bribes,
he is secure from interference on the part of the
government. He collects the amount due the gov-
ernment and then takes for himself as much as he
chooses, his own will or an exhausted threshing-floor
being the only limit to his rapacity.
While he is collector for these villages they are
considered as belonging to him. During the year
his followers pay frequent visits to the villages.
They are ignorant and brutal, and on such visits, as
also when collecting taxes, they treat the villagers
with the utmost severity."
" IV. All the above assessors and collectors — and
they arc many, a different one for each kind of tax,
personal, house and land, sheep, tobacco, etc. — on
their visits to the villages, take with them a rctiimc
of scj'vaiits and soldiers, w/io, li'itJi tJicir J torses, must
be Icept at ilie expense of the village, thus entailing
a very heavy additional burden upon them. Sol-
diers and servants sent to the villagers to make
62 The Crisis in Turkey.
collections, very naturally take something for them-
All the preceding testimony refers to regions where
Jacobite and Nestorian Christians predominate and
thus prove that Armenians are by no means the only
The same state of affairs was found by Mrs.
Bishop, who made investigations on the ground five
" On the whole, the same condition of alarm pre-
vails among the Armenians as I witnessed previ-
ously among the Syrian ' rayaJis. It is more than
alarm, it is abject terror, and not without good
reason. In plain English, general lawlessness pre-
vails over much of this region. Caravans are stopped
and robbed, travelling is, for Armenians, absolutely
unsafe, sheep and cattle are being driven off, and
outrages, which it would be inexpedient to narrate,
are being perpetrated. Nearly all the villages have
been reduced to extreme poverty, while at the same
time they are squeezed for the taxes which the
Kurds have left them without the means of paying.
The repressive measures which have everywhere
followed 'the Erzerum troubles' of last June 
— the seizure of arms, the unchecked ravages of the
Kurds, the threats of the Kurdish Beys, who are
boldly claiming the sanction of the government for
their outrages, the insecurity of the women, and a
dread of yet worse to come — have reduced these
peasants to a pitiable state." '^
' Often called Nestorian.
^ I\Irs. Isabella Bird Bishop, yourneys in Persia and Kurdistan,
vol. ii., p. 374, 375.
Condition of Armenia and Kurdistan. 63
Through the influence of the British Ambassador
at Constantinople Mrs. Bishop was allowed to state
the situation to the Grand Vizier in person, and on
arriving in England she presented a detailed state-
ment of facts to the Foreign Ofiflce and also to a
That the recent outrages in Sassoun are conspicu-
ous by their extent rather than character, tiie follow-
ing incident, which came within the author's own
knowledge, on the ground at the time, will show.
In June, 1893, four young Armenians and their
wives, living only two miles from the city of Van,
where the Governor and a large military force reside,
were picking herbs on the hillside. They carefully
kept together and intended to return before night.
They were observed by a band of passing Kurds,
who, in broad daylight, fell upon the defenceless
part)', butchered the }'oung men, and, as to the
brides, it is needless to relate further. The villagers
going out the next day found the four bodies, not
simply dead, but slashed and disfigured almost be-
yond recognition. They resolved to make a des-
perate effort to let their wrongs at least be known.
Hastily yoking up four rude ox carts, they placed
on each the naked remains of one of the \ictims,
with his distracted widow sitting by the side, shorn
of her hair in token of dishonor. This gruesome
procession soon reached the outskirts of the city,
where it was met by soldiers sent to turn it back.
The unarmed villagers offer no resistance, but declare
their readiness to perish if not heard. The soldiers
shrink from extreme measures that mi":ht cause
64 The Crisis in T^irkey.
trouble among the thirty thousand Armenians of
Van, who are now rapidly gathering about the scene.
The Turkish bayonets retreat before the bared
breasts of the villagers. With ever increasing
numbers, but without tumult, the procession passed
.before the doors of the British and Russian Vice-
Consulates, of the Persian Consul-General, the Chief
of Police and other high ofificials, till it paused be-
fore the great palace of the Governor.
At this point Bahri Pasha, who is still Governor,
stuck his head out of the second-story window and
said : " I see it. Too bad ! Take them away and
bury them. I will do what is necessary." Within
two days some Kurds were brought in, among whom
were several who were positively identified by the
women ; but, upon their denying the crime, they
were immediately released and escaped. The utter
hopelessness of securing any justice was so apparent,
and experience had so often demonstrated the dan-
ger of arousing the Kurds to greater atrocity by
further efforts to punish them, that the case was
dropped and soon forgotten in the callousness pro-
duced by other cases of frequent occurrence. The
system of mail inspection is so effective (all letters
of subjects must be handed in open at the post-ofifice)
and the danger of reporting is so great that I doubt
that any account of this incident has ever been
given to the civilized world. This case was doubtless
reported by the former British Vice-Consul, unless
he was busy hunting, and, as usual, was buried in the
archives of the Foreign Office for " state reasons."
A foreign physician, never a missionary, and now
Coiiditiou of Armenia and Kurdistan. 65
out of the country, told me that during a large prac-
tice of a year and a half in Armenia, while using
every effort to save life, only one case was remem-
bered of regret by the doctor for a fatal ending, — so
sad is the lot of those who survive. This instance
will explain the strange statement. A call came to
see a young man sent home from prison in a dying
condition. He could not speak, and had to be nour-
ished for days by artificial feeding, because his stom-
ach could not retain food. Constant and skilful care
for a month brought him back to life, from the con-
dition to which his vile, dark, unventilated cell and
scanty food had brought him. As soon as the police
learned of his unexpected recovery, he was seized and
re-imprisoned, though an only son, with a widowed
mother and sister dependent upon him. When
last heard of, he was still " awaiting trial." Such
confinement is a favorite method of intimidation
and blackmail in the case of the innocent, and, in
the case of the guilty, amounts to punishment with-
out the cost and labor involved in proving the guilt
and securing sentence by legal process.
From ni}' own house in Van goods of considerable
value were stolen in November, 1893. Though I
had good clews to the guilty parties and would have
been glad to recover my property, I felt constrained
to use every precaution not to let the affair come to
the ears of the police, lest they should use it as a
pretext for searching the houses of man}' innocent
Armenians, in the hope of finding a letter, book, or
weapon of some kind, which might serve as an ex-
cuse for imprisonment. This course exposed me to
66 The Crisis in Turkey.
further attacks of thieves and necessitated a night
WHY ARE THESE FACTS NOT KNOWN ?
The ignorance and increduHty of the pubHc is a
most significant commentary on the situation. But
the explanation is simple. In the nature of the case,
in reports of outrages where the victims or their
friends are still within the clutches of the Turks, all
names of individuals and often the exact locality
must be concealed. Such anonymous accounts
naturally arouse little interest, and, of course, cannot
be verified. The former British Consul-General at
Erzerum, Mr. Clifford Lloyd, showed me at that
place many such reports sent to him by members of
Parliament for verification. He was unable to verify
them, but said that the reports gave a correct im-
pression of the condition of the country. At that
very time, October, 1890, Mr. Lloyd called atten-
tion, in an ofiicial dispatch, published in the " Blue
Books,'' to :
" I . The insecurity of the lives and properties of the
Armenians. 2. The insecurity of their persons, and
the absence of all liberty of thought and action. 3.
The unequal status held by the Christian as compared
with the Mussulman in the eyes of the government."
On this subject there are five channels of varying
market value. First. Consular reports, meagre
and often inaccessible. The United States has no
consuls in Armenia, and consequently no " official "
knowledge of its condition. European consuls are
expected to report nothing that they are not abso-
Condition of Armenia and Kurdistan. 67
lutcly sure of, and arc given to understand, both by
their own governments and by that of Turkey, that
they must not make themselves obnoxious in seeking
information. They are, at best, passive until their
aid is sought, and then alarm the suppliants by refus-
ing to touch the case unless allowed to use names.
Second. Missionaries, whose mouths are sealed.
They would be the best informed and most trust-
worthy witnesses. But they feel it their first duty to
safeguard the great benevolent and educational in-
terests committed to them by not exciting the sus-
picion and hostility of the government. Their
position is a delicate one, conditional on their neu-
trality, like that of officers of the Red Cross Society
in war. Third. Occasional travellers, whose first
impressions are also often their last and whose hasty
jottings are likely to be very interesting and may be
very misleading. Not so in the case of Mrs. Isabella
Bird Bishop, whom I had the pleasure of meeting
there, and who embodied the result of her careful in-
vestigations in an article entitled, "The Shadow of
the Kurd " in The Contemporary Revieiv.^ Fourth.
Much evidence from Armenian sources, which is
often unjustly discredited as being the exaggeration,
if not fabrication, of " revolutionists who seek a
political end." Fifth. Turkish official reports, often
obtained by corrupt or violent means, or invented to
suit the circumstances. Though the financial credit
of the Ottoman Government was long ago exhausted,
there are some well meaning people who still place
confidence in Turkish explanations and promises.
' The Conte?npora>y Review^ May and June, 1891.
68 TJie Crisis in Ttcrkey.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
The scope of this book does not permit a discus-
sion of even the Armenian phase of the Eastern
question, beyond a bare reference to its possible
three-fold solution. There is, first, Russian annexa-
tion, a step for which the sufferers themselves are
praying, and which Russia is prepared to execute at
a moment's notice. If this were the only alterna-
tive from present conditions, it should be universally
welcomed. Russia is crude, stupid, and, in certain
aspects, brutal, but she is not decrepit, debauched,
and doting like oflficial Turkey. The diseases of the
"Sick Man" are incurable and increasing, while the
bully of the North is young, of good blood, and with
an energy suggestive of a force of nature. Russia
shaves half the head of seceders from the Orthodox
Church and transports them. Turkey, with more
tact, quietly " disposes " of converts from Islam,
many of whom would step forth if the prospect were
less than death. The Jewish question, from the
Russian standpoint, is largely a social and industrial
one, like the Chinese question in the United States.
When the waiter passed from Turkish Armenia into
the Caucasus, it was from a desert to a garden ;
from danger to perfect security ; from want and sor-
row to plenty and cheer.
Until lately, thousands of Turkish Armenians have
Deen in the habit of crossing the Russian border in
spring, earning good wages during the summer, and
returning to spend the winter with their families.
This has opened their eyes to the contrast between
the two lands and turned their hearts to Russia.
Condition of Armenia and Ktirdistan. 69
The second solution is Armenian autonomy, like
that of Bulgaria, the fond dream of those who
ignore the geographical difflculties, the character,
and distribution of the population, and the temper
of Russia and other powers by whom it would have
to be established and maintained.
The only other method is radical and vigorous ad-
ministrative reforms, which the European powers
should initiate, and report to Turkey, instead of vice
versa, as arranged in Article LXI. of the Berlin
Treaty. These " Christian nations " have for six-
teen years violated most sacred treaty obligations,
and England a special guarantee for such reforms.
While attended with difficulties, this is the most
desirable solution, and is favored by the great mass
of Armenians throughout Turkey, b\' the Anglo-
Armenian Association,' founded by Prof. James
Bryce, M.P., and by the Phil-Armenic Society in this
country.^ The real spirit and aim of the Armenian
race, as a whole, is unfortunately obscured, in the
mind of the i)ublic, by utterances and acts of a few
irresponsible Armenian hot-heads, who jiave imbibed
nihilistic views in Europe, and are trying, in a \cr)-
bungling wa\', to ai:)pl\- them.
' The Case for (he Ariiieiiiiins. London : Anglo-Armenian Asso-
'^ An Appeal lo /he Christians of America by the Christians of Ar-
menia. New York : I'liil-Arnienic Society.
OTTOMAN PROMISES AND THEIR FUL-
IMPERIAL edicts of toleration, and promises of
reform on the part of the Subhme Porte, have
been very numerous, and have served Turkey
well as political expedients. Their value is that of
so much dust thrown in the eyes of Europe when
her aid or her mercy was needful. As these reforms
have all been promised under pressure, they have
likewise been abandoned just so fast and so far
as the pressure has been removed. In many cases
there has been serious retrogression. The sow that
is washed is forever returning to wallow in the mire.
It is as true of the " Sick Man " as of him out of
whom seven devils were cast, that the last state of
that man is worse than the first. This is emphat-
ically so in regard to the freedom of the press, the
curtailment of religious and educational privileges,
and the safety of the lives and property of
The following is a partia. list of Turkish promises
which have been broken in whole or in part, with
the circumstances under which they were made.
I. In 1829, by the Treaty of Adrianople at the
close of a war with Russia, Turkey promised to re-
Ottoman Promises and their Fjcljilmeitt. 71
form in her treatment of Orthodox Christians, and
acknowledged Russia's right to interfere in their
2. In 1839 Sultan Abd-ul-Medjid, in order to en-
list European sympathy and aid — when the victori-
ous Egyptian army under Ibrahim Pasha was threat-
ening Constantinople — issued an Imperial rescript,
the Hatti Sherif, in which he promised to protect
the life, honor, and property of all his subjects irre-
spective of race or religion.
3. In 1844 the same Sultan Abd-ul-Medjid gave a
solemn pledge that thenceforth no apostate from
Mohammedanism zvho had formerly been a Christian
should be put to death. This pledge was extorted
from the Sultan by the Ambassador of Great Britain,
supported by those of other Powers, after the public
execution in Constantinople of a young Armenian,
Ovagim, who had declared himself a Mohammedan,
but who afterwards bravely maintained his Christian
profession in the face of- torture and death. Since
that time many Moslems even have embraced Chris-
tianity, and liave been put out of the wa}', quietly in
4. In 1850 the same Sultan, on the demand of the
same Powers, in view' of the continued and fierce per-
secution of the Protestant subjects of the Porte,
granted the latter a charter, guaranteeing them lib-
erty of conscience and all the rights as a distinct
civil community, which had been enjoyed by the
other Christian communities of the empire. But to
this day the numerous Protestants of Stamboul have
' Morfill's Kussia, p. 287. rutnani.
72 The Crisis in Turkey.
never been allowed to erect even one c]iurcJi, although
they have owned a site and had the necessary funds,
and been petitioning for a firman to build for fifteen
years.' The Greek Protestants of Ordoo, who have
a church, are not allowed to worship in it. There
are many other flagrant violations of this charter.
5. In 1856, after the Crimean War, Sultan Abd-ul-
Medjid,to anticipate demands which he knew would
be included in the Treaty of Paris then being drawn
up, issued the Imperial edict known as the Hatti
Humayoun. This edict not only promised perfect
equality of civil rights to all subjects of the Porte,
but also added : " As all forms of religion are and
shall be freely professed in my dominions, no subject
of my empire shall be hindered in the exercise of the
religion that he professes, nor shall he in any way be
annoyed on this account." But as the interpretation
and enforcement of this edict has remained absolutely
in the hands of the Turkish Government, it is need-
less to add that it has been a dead letter.''
6. In 1878 the Anglo-Turkish Convention, entered
into just before the Treaty of Berlin, included these
' Rev. W. O. Dvvight, The Independent, New York, January 17, i8g5.
* At the time of the Crimean War Lord Aberdeen said :
" Notwithstanding the favorable opinion entertained by many, it
is difficult to believe in the improvement of the Turks. It is true
that, under the pressure of the moment, benevolent decrees may be
issued ; but these, except under the eye of some Foreign Minister,
are entirely neglected. Their whole system is radically vicious and
inhuman. I do not refer to fables which may be invented at St.
Petersburg or Vienna, liut to numerous despatches of Lord Stratford
(de RadclifTe) himself, and of our own consuls, who describe a fright-
ful picture of lawless oppression and cruelty." (Sir Theodore Mar-
tin's Life of the Prince Consort, vol. ii., p. 52S.) Quoted by Canon
MacColl, The Contemporary Review, January, 1895.
Ottoman Promises and their Picljiiment. 73
words in its First Article: "His Imperial Majesty,
the Sultan, promises to England to introduce neces-
sary reforms, to be agreed upon later between the
two Powers, into the government and for the protec-
tion of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte
in these territories [Armenia] ; and in order to enable
England to make necessary provision for executing
her engagement [the keeping of Russia out of Ar-
menia], His Imperial Majesty, the Sultan, further con-
sents to assign the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and
administered by England." Comment unnecessary.
7. Ill July, 1878, by the Treaty of Berlin, religious
liberty and the public exercise of all forms of religion
were guaranteed in separate articles to the people
of Bulgaria, Eastern Roumelia, Montenegro, Scrvia,
Roumania, and finally to all subjects of the Porte in
every part of the Ottoman Empire. Cases of glaring
violation of the principle of religious liberty may be
found in Appendix C. on The CcnsorsJiip of tlw Press.
The Sixty-first Article of the same treaty reads
thus: "Tiie Sublime Porte undertakes to carry out,
without further dcla}% the improvements and re-
forms demanded by local requirements in the prov-
inces inhabited by the Armenians, and to guarantee
their security against the Circassians and Kurds. It
will periodically make known the steps taken to this
effect to the Powers, who will superintend their ap-
What the condition of Turkey was three \-ears
later, not simply in Armenia, but througlu)ut Asia
Minor, is shown by a report of Mr. Wilson, British
Consul-General in Anatolia.
"There has probabU* never been a time in which
74 The Crisis in Turkey.
the prestige of the Courts has fallen so low, or in
which the administration of justice has been so venal
and corrupt. The most open and shameless bribery
is practised from highest to lowest ; prompt, even-
handed justice for rich and poor alike is unknown ;
sentence is given in favor of the suitor who ' places '
his money m.ost judiciously ; imprisonment or free-
dom has in many places become a matter of bribery ;
robbers, when arrested, are protected by members of
the Court, who share their spoil ; a simple order may
send an innocent man to prison for months ; crime
goes unpunished, and all manner of oppression and
injustice is committed with impunity. The Cadis,'
especially those in the cazas,* are, as a rule, ignorant
men, with no education, knowing little of law, except
the Sheri, on which they base their decisions, and
sometimes not overmuch of that. As to the mem-
bers, it is sufBcient to say that they are nearly all
equally ignorant of law, and that probably not twenty-
five per cent, of them can write Turkish, or read the
sentences to which they attach their seals. In the
Commercial Courts, the Presidents are frequently
entirely ignorant of the duties which they have to
perform. The low pay of the Cadis, the short term
— two years — during which they hold their appoint-
ments, and the manner in which they obtain them,
render the receipt of bribes almost a necessity. The
first thought of a Cadi who buys an appointment in
the provinces is to recoup himself for his outlay;
the second, to obtain enough money to purchase a
new place when his term of ofifice is finished. Even
under this system men are to be found who refuse
' Judge. ^ Local districts.
Ottoman Promises and their Fulfilment, 75
to receive bribes ; and there are others who, whilst
giving way to temptation, deplore the necessity to
do so." '
The sequel to the Treaty of Berlin is found in
the next chapter.
The non-fulfilment of Ottoman promises in regard
to Christian subjects, and the frequent massacres of
the latter are an exact fulfilment of
THE OFFICIAL PRAYER OF ISLAM
which is used throughout Turkey, and daily repeated
in the Cairo " Azhar " University by ten thousand
Mohammedan students from all lands. The follow-
ing translation is from the Arabic :
" I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, [the rejeeni\
the accursed. In the name of Allah the Compas-
sionate, the Merciful! O Lord of all Creatures!
O Allah ! Destroy the infidels and polytheists, thine
enemies, the enemies of the religion ! O Allah !
Make their children orphans, and defile their
abodes ! Cause their feet to slip ; gix'c them and
their families, their households and their women,
their children and their relations by marriage, their
brothers and their friends, their possessions and
their race, their wealth and their lands, as boot}' to
the Moslems, O Lord of all Creatures!""
All who do not accept Mohammed are included
among "the infidels" referred to in the pra}-er.
' Report of Mr. Wilson, Bliic-Book, Turkey, No. 8 (iSSi), page
57, No. 48.
* The Mohammedan Missiounry Problem, p. 31. Jessup. Pliila-
delphia, Presb. Pub. .Son.
THE OUTCOME OF THE TREATY OF BERLIN.
IT is quite needless to remark that Turkey, instead
of doing anything to improve the condition of
the Armenians, has done much to make it
worse during the past fifteen years. The question
now arises, what have the Powers signatory to the
Berhn Treaty done to compel the Sublime Porte
"to carry out the improvements and reforms"
demanded in the Sixty-first Article ? And what
steps has Great Britain taken in addition, to dis-
charge the additional obligation for the improve-
ment of Armenia which she assumed by the so-called
Cyprus Convention ?
We find that in November, 1879, ^^^^ English
Government, seeing that matters throughout Asia
Minor were really going from bad to worse, went
the length of ordering an English squadron to the
Archipelago for the purpose of a naval demonstra-
tion. The Turkish Government was greatly ex-