Edward Augustus Freeman.

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I SHOULD wish this little book to be taken as
in some sort a companion to my lately reprinted
History and Conquests of the Saracens. I there,
while speaking of most of the other chief Mahometan
nations, had no opportunity of speaking at all at
length of the Ottoman Turks. That lack is here sup-
plied, supplied that is in the same general way in
which the whole subject of Mahometan history was
treated in the earlier volume. Neither pretends to
be at all a full account of any branch of the subject ;
in both I deal with Eastern and Mahometan affairs
mainly in their reference to Western and Christian
affairs. The Ottoman Turks have had, at least for
some centuries past, a greater influence on Western
and Christian affairs than any other Eastern and
Mahometan people. Their history, from the point of
view in which I look at it, is therefore the natural
completion of my former subject.

But there is one wide difference between the two
books, a difference wide at least in appearance, though
I believe that the difference is in appearance only.

b 2


In ordinary language, my former book would be
said to be primarily historical ; it would be called
political, only secondarily and to a very small extent.
My present book may be thought to be — in the
eyes of those who draw a distinction between history
and politics it will rightly be thought to be —
political rather than historical. But between history
and politics I can draw no distinction. History is
the politics of the past ; politics are the history of
the present. The same rules of criticism apply to
judging alike of distant and of recent facts. The
same eternal laws of right and wrong are to be
applied in forming our estimate of the actors in either
case. The championship of right and the champion-
ship of wrong bear exactly the same character in any
age. A Montfort and a Gladstone, a Flambard and a
Beaconsfield, must stand or fall together. It shews
the low view that some men take of politics that they
can conceive the word only as meaning a struggle to
support some and upset others among the momentary
candidates for office. Men who have no higher notion
of politics than this seem unable to understand that
there are those who support or oppose this or that
minister, because he follows or does not follow a
certain line of policy, who do not follow or oppose a
certain line of policy because it is or is not the policy
of this or that minister. Politics, the science of Aris-
totle, the science of the right ruling of men and
nations, means something higher than this. It teaches
us how to judge of causes and their effects ; it teaches


us how to judge of the character of acts, whether done
yesterday or thousands of years ago. The past is
studied in vain, unless it gives us lessons for the pre-
sent ; the present will be very imperfectly understood,
unless the light of the past is brought to bear upon it.
In this way, history and politics are one. In my
former little book, consisting of lectures read before
a certain society at its own request, it would have
been obviously out of place to do more than point
the political moral of the story in a general way.
The subject naturally led me to shew that the pre-
tended reforms of the Turk were in their own nature
good-for-nothing. Two and twenty years ago, I drew
that inference from the general current of Mahometan
history ; and I think that the two and twenty years of
Mahometan history which have passed since then,
have more than borne out what I then said. My
present business is to work out the same position
more fully, from a survey of that particular part of
Mahometan history which bears most directly on
that position, and on the immediate practical appli-
cation of that position. I use the past history of
the Ottoman Turks to shew what is the one way
which, according to the light of reason and experience,
can be of any use in dealing with the Ottoman Turks
of the present day.

In this way then my book is at once political and
historical. That is, it deals with the politics or the
history— I use those words as words of the same
meaning — both of past and of present times. In


opposition to all theoretical and sentimental ways
of looking at things, I argue from what has happened
to what is likely to happen. I argue that what has
been done already can be done again. As every land
•that has been set free from the Turk has gained by
its freedom — as every land which remains under the
Turk has but one wish, namely to get rid of the Turk
— as the lands which are set free do not envy the
bondage of their enslaved neighbours, while the lands
which remain enslaved do envy the freedom of their
liberated neighbours — I therefore argue from all this
that the one work to be done is to put the enslaved
lands on the same level as the liberated lands. So to
do is the dictate of right ; so to do is the dictate of
interest. As long as any Christian land remains
under the Turk, there will be discontents and dis-
turbances and revolts and massacres ; there will be
diplomatic difficulties and complications ; in a word,
the " eternal Eastern Question w will remain eternal.
From the experience of the past I infer that the only
way to settle that question is. to get rid of the stand-
ing difficulty, the standing complication, the standing
cause of discontent and revolt and massacre, namely
the rule of the Turk. And I further infer from the
experience of the past that the rule of the Turk can
be got rid of, because, wherever men have thoroughly
had the will to get rid of him, he has been got rid
of. He has been got rid of in Hungary, in Servia,
in the liberated part of Greece. With the same
hearty will and zealous effort, he may be got rid of in


all the other lands where he still does his work of
evil. By the policy of Canning backed by the sword
of Sobieski, perhaps by the policy of Canning without
the sword of Sobieski, the Eastern Question may be
solved. But, as long as there is neither sword nor
policy, but only the helpless babble of a man who
can never make up his mind, the Eastern Question
will go on for ever.

Since my last chapter was written, the long talked-
of Protocol has been signed. I do not pretend to
know what can be the object of Russia or of any
other power in proposing or signing it. The one
practical thing about it is that it does not bind
Russia to disarm. That is, it does not take away
from the South-eastern nations the last hope of
deliverance that is left to them. It is with a blush
that an Englishman writes such words as these. It
is with shame and sorrow that an Englishman has to
confess that, when another nation undertakes the work
which should above all things have been the work of
England, the utmost that he can dare to hope for is
that England may not be a hinderer in that work.
We have no wish for Russian aggrandizement, for
Russian ascendency, for Russian influence in any
form. We believe that the exclusive ascendency of
Russia in the South-eastern lands would be an evil ;
only we do not hold it to be the greatest of evils. We
would fain see England, Russia, any other civilized
power, have its fair share of influence in those lands.
But, if we are reduced to a choice between Russia


and the Turk, then we must choose Russia. Our
consciences are clear ; the choice is not of our seek-
ing ; it is forced upon us, it is forced upon the South-
eastern nations, by the professed enemies of Russia.
It is those professed enemies of Russia who are doing
the work of Russia. It is they who are allowing
Russia to take on herself alone the office in which
England and all civilized nations ought to join with
her, that of the protector of the oppressed nations.
The policy of reason is to hinder any evil designs
which Russia may be thought to have — though I
know of no reason for always attributing evil designs
to Russia more than to any other power — by frank
and cordial alliance with her in designs which, at least
in profession, are good. The deliverance of the subject
nations ought to be, if possible, the work of all Europe.
Failing that, it should be the work of Russia and
England together. But if England holds back and
leaves Russia to do the work alone, the fault lies with
England and not with Russia. If the designs of
Russia are good, we lose the glory of sharing in
them ; if her designs are evil, we fail to employ the
best means of thwarting them. The policy with
which England entered into the Conference, the
resolve that, in no case whatever, was any thing to
be done, that in no case should the Turk be either
helped or coerced, was the very policy which Russia,
if she has any hidden designs, would wish England
to follow.

The disarmament of Russia at this moment would


be to take away from the subject nations their last
hope, that which the policy of Lord Derby has made
their last hope. It would be to leave those nations
helpless in the clutches of their tyrants. Intervention
must come sooner or later. As long as the Turk
rules, the present state of things will go on. As long
as the Turk rules, there will always be revolts, there
will always be massacres. Europe cannot endure this
state of things for ever. One European nation at least
stands ready to step in and put an end to it. We wish
that that nation did not stand alone ; but if, by the
fault of other nations, she does stand alone, we cannot
blame her, we cannot thwart her. Lord Beaconsfield
and Lord Derby have brought things to such a pass
that there is no hope but in Russia. It is something
that, even in their hands, the Protocol is not so drawn
up as not to cut off that only hope.

Otherwise the Protocol, as a document, and the
other documents which follow it, are simply talk of
the usual kind. The Protocol talks about this and
that circular and declaration of the Turk as if it
meant something. It talks "of good intentions on
the part of the Porte " — the " Porte " being the usual
euphemism for the Ring that ordered the massacres.
It talks of their " honour " — the honour of the men
whose falsehoods Lord Salisbury and General IgnatiefT
rebuked to their faces. It talks of their " loyalty " —
the loyalty of the men whose promises are, in the
schoolboy proverb, like pie-crust. It talks about " re-
forms," as if the Turk would ever make reforms. It


" invites the Porte," in the queer, cumbrous, language
of diplomacy, " to consolidate the pacification by re-
placing its armies on a peace-footing, excepting the
number of troops indispensable for the maintenance
of order." What is "order"? By order the Turk-
means one thing ; the Bulgarian or the Thessalian
means another thing. By order the Turk means a
state of things in which the Bulgarian and the Thes-
salian lie still, while the Turk deals with them as he
chooses. The number of troops indispensable for the
maintenance of order in this sense may be got at, if
we know how many unarmed Christians can be kept
in bondage by one armed Mussulman. In the eyes
of the Bulgarian and the Thessalian, order means a
state of things for which it is in the first place indis-
pensable that there should be no armed Turks in
his country at all. Where the armed Turk is, there
can be no order ; for the presence of the armed Turk
means the commission of every form of outrage with-
out fear of punishment. Turkish troops can never be
put on a peace-footing ; because, where Turkish troops
are there can be no peace, except in that old sense
in which men call it peace when they have made a

And, to do all these wonderful measures of reform,
the Turk is to " take advantage of the present lull."
Where is the " lull " ? Certainly nowhere in the lands
east of the Hadriatic. There is no lull in Bulgaria,
where the Turk goes on with his usual work of blood
and outrage day by day. There is no lull in Free


Bosnia, where the victorious patriots have driven out
the Turk, and where they stand with their arms in
their hands lest he should come in again. There is
no lull on the Black Mountain, where the triumphant
champions of freedom, the men to whom the back of
a Turk is the most familiar of all sights, stand ready
to march, ready to extend their own freedom to
their suffering brethren. While all this is going on,
diplomatists see a lull. They meet and talk, and
say that, "if" the things happen which are happen-
ing every day, then they will meet again and have
another talk.

The sayings and doings of Lord Derby have long
since passed out of the range of practical politics.
He seems to have lost even that amount of practical
vigour which is involved in forbidding an act of
humanity or in exhorting the Turk to suppress an
insurrection. Of all things absolutely helpless the
most helpless surely is the conditional signature of
the Protocol. Yet, if anything, the long letter which
accompanies the Protocol is more helpless still. This
part of the document is really worth preserving.

" Under these circumstances it appears to the Russian Government
that the most practical solution, and the one best fitted to secure the
maintenance of general peace, would be the signature by the Powers of
a Protocol which should, so to speak, terminate the incident.

"This Protocol might be signed in London by the representatives of
the Great Powers, and under the direct inspiration of the Cabinet of
St. James.

"The Protocol would contain no more than the principles upon
which the several Governments would have based their reply to the
Russian Circular. It would be desirable that it should affirm that the
present state of affairs was one which concerned the whole of Europe,


and should place on record that the improvement of the condition of the
Christian population of Turkey will continue to be an object of interest
to all the Powers.

"The Porte having repeatedly declared that it engaged to introduce
reforms, it would be desirable to enumerate them on the basis of Safvet
Pacha's Circular. In this way there could be no subsequent misunder-
standing as to the promises made by Turkey.

"Asa period of some months would not be sufficient to accomplish
these reforms, it would be preferable not to fix any precise limit of time.
It would rest with all the powers to determine by general agreement
whether Turkey was progressing in a satisfactory manner in her work
of regeneration.

" The Protocol should mention that Europe will continue to watch
the progressive execution of the reforms by means of their diplomatic

" If the hopes of the Powers should once more be disappointed, and
the condition of the Christian subjects of the Sultan should not be
improved, the Powers would reserve to themselves to consider in com-
mon the action which they would deem indispensable to secure the
well-being of the Christian population of Turkey and the interests of
the general peace.

" Count Schouvaloff hoped that I should appreciate the moderate
and conciliatory spirit which actuated his Government in this expression
or their views. They seemed to him to contain nothing incompatible
with the principles on which the policy of England was based, and
their application would secure the maintenance of general peace."

It appears then that, 6n March 31, 1877, Lord
Derby still believed that the Turk was going to
reform ; he still believed that, in watching his doings,
there would be something else to watch than the
kind of doings which the Turk has always done
for the last five hundred years. Such an example
of the charity which believeth all things can be
surpassed only by the charity of Origen and Tillot-
son, both of whom, according to Lord Macaulay,
did not despair of the reformation of a yet older
offender. But, in the practical, everyday, world in


which we live, these illusions of a charitable senti-
mentalism cannot be taken into account. The
months during which Lord Derby is willing to look
on, hoping for the regeneration of Turkey, may be
profitably spent in accomplishing the regeneration
of Turkey by the only means by which it can be
regenerated, by putting an end to the rule of the Turk.
If Lord Derby expects the regeneration of Turkey
to be brought about by any other means, he will
no more see that done in 1877 than he or anybody
else has seen it done in any other year since 1356.

On the whole then, " the inspiration of the Cabinet
of St. James" does not seem likely to do much to-
wards " terminating the incident," if, by " terminating
the incident " is meant putting an end to the " eternal
Eastern Question " and its causes. The phrase is not
a bad one. The presence of the Turk, and the
" eternal Eastern Question" which his presence causes,
is really only an " incident," though it is an incident
which has gone on for five hundred years. The Turk's
presence in Europe is incidental. It is something
strange, abnormal, contrary to the general system of
Europe, something which keeps that system always
out of gear, something which supplies a never-failing
stock of difficulties and complications. The Turk in
Europe, in short, answers to Lord Palmerston's defini-
tion of dirt. He is M matter in the wrong place."
The sooner the " incident " of his presence is
" terminated," by the help of whatever " inspiration,"
the better. An inspiration likely to terminate that


incident might have come from the Cabinet of St.
James in the days of Canning. It is not likely to
come from one who proposes to fold his hands for
some months to see what the Turk will do. Those
who have their eyes open, and who do not talk about
, " terminating incidents," know perfectly well that the
Turk will, during those months, go on doing as he
has done in so many earlier months. He will go on
making things look smooth at Constantinople, while
he does his usual work in Bulgaria and Crete.

But there is yet another danger. If everything
rested with Lord Derby, with a man who is steadfastly
purposed to employ himself with a vigorous doing of
nothing, we should at least have one kind of safety.
In the hands of Lord Derby, if we do no good, we
shall do no harm, except so far as the doing of
nothing is really the worst form of the doing of
harm. From him, if we hope for no active good, we
need fear no active mischief. But there is another
power against which England and Europe ought to
be yet more carefully on their guard. It is no use
mincing matters. The time has come to speak out
plainly. No well disposed person would reproach
another either with his nationality or his religion,
unless that nationality or that religion leads to some
direct mischief. No one wishes to place the Jew,
whether Jew by birth or by religion, under any dis-
ability as compared with the European Christian.
But it will not do to have the policy of England, the
welfare of Europe, sacrificed to Hebrew sentiment.


The danger is no imaginary one. Every one must have
marked that the one subject on which Lord Beacons-
field, through his whole career, has been in earnest
has been whatever has touched his own people. A
mocker about everything else, he has been thoroughly
serious about this. His national sympathies led him
to the most honourable action of his life, when he
forsook his party for the sake of his nation, and drew
forth the next day from the Standard newspaper the
remark that " no Jew could be a gentleman." On that
day the Jew was a gentleman in the highest sense.
He acted as one who could brave much and risk
much for a real conviction. His zeal for his own
people is really the best feature in Lord Beaconsfield's
career. But we cannot sacrifice our people, the people
of Aryan and Christian Europe, to the most genuine
belief in an Asian mystery. We cannot have England
or Europe governed by a Hebrew policy. While
Lord Derby simply wishes to do nothing one way
or another, Lord Beaconsfield is the active friend of
the Turk. The alliance runs through all Europe.
Throughout the East, the Turk and the Jew are
leagued against the Christian. In theory the Jew
under Mahometan rule is condemned to equal de-
gradation with the Christian. In practice the yoke
presses much more lightly upon the Jew. As he is
never a cultivator of the soil, as he commonly lives
in the large towns, the worst forms of Turkish
oppression do not touch him. He has also endless
ways of making himself useful to the Turk, and


oppressive to the Christian. The Jew is the tool of
the Turk, and is therefore yet more hated than the
Turk. This is the key to the supposed intolerance
of Servia with regard to the Jews. I can speak for
Servia ; I have no information as to Roumania. The
Servian legislation is not aimed at Jews as Jews, for
Jews are eligible to the highest offices in Servia ; it is
aimed at certain corrupting callings which in point of
fact are practised only by Jews. Strike out the word
"Jew," and instead name certain callings which none
but Jews practise, and the law of Servia might
perhaps still be open to criticism on the ground of
political economy ; it could be open to none on the
ground of religious toleration. The union of the Jew
and the Turk against the Christian came out in its
strongest form when Sultan Mahmoud gave the body
of the martyred Patriarch to be dragged by the Jews
through the streets of Constantinople. We cannot
have the policy of Europe dealt with in the like sort.
There is all the difference in the world between the
degraded Jews of the East and the cultivated and
honourable Jews of the West. But blood is stronger
than water, and Hebrew rule, is sure to lead to a
Hebrew policy. Throughout Europe, the most fiercely
Turkish part of the press is largely in Jewish hands.
It may be assumed everywhere, with the smallest
class of exceptions, that the Jew is the friend of the
Turk and the enemy of the Christian. The outspoken
voice of the English people saved us last autumn
from a war with Russia on behalf of the Turk. The


brags of the Mansion-House were answered by the
protest of Saint James's Hall. But we must be on
our guard. If Russia once goes to war with the
Turk, a thousand opportunities may be found for
picking a quarrel. Every step must be watched.
As we cannot have the action of Canning, we must
at least make sure that the inaction of Lord Derby
shall be the worst thing that we have.

As I have for many years read, thought and
written, much about the present subject and other
subjects closely connected with it — as they have, I
may say, been through life my chief secondary object
of study, I have thought it worth while to give a
list of the chief articles which I have written on
such matters during the last three and twenty years.
I forbear to mention mere letters in newspapers,
which are endless. I think the dates will shew that
my attention to these matters is at least not anything

The Byzantine Empire. North British Review.
February, 1855.

Mahometanism in the East and West. North
British Review. August, 1855.

The Greek People and the Greek Kingdom. Edin-
burgh Review. April, 1856.

The Eastern Church. Edinburgh Review. April,

Mediaeval and Modern Greece. National Review.
January, 1864.



Mahomet. British Quarterly Review. January,

Public and Private Morality. Fortnightly Review.
April, 1873.

The True Eastern Question. Fortnightly Review.

Online LibraryEdward Augustus FreemanThe Ottoman power in Europe, its nature, its growth, and its decline [microform] /by Edward A. Freeman → online text (page 1 of 24)