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The Turks in Their Relation to Europe

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Apollonius of Tyana

Primitive Christianity



New Impression


Longmans, Green, and Co.
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If I have not asked your Lordship for your formal leave to dedicate this
Volume to you, this has been because one part of it, written by me as an
Anglican controversialist, could not be consistently offered for the
direct sanction of a Catholic bishop. If, in spite of this, I presume to
inscribe your name in its first page, I do so because I have a freedom
in this matter which you have not, because I covet much to be associated
publicly with you, and because I trust to gain your forgiveness for a
somewhat violent proceeding, on the plea that I may perhaps thereby be
availing myself of the only opportunity given to me, if not the most
suitable occasion, of securing what I so earnestly desire.

I desire it, because I desire to acknowledge the debt I owe you for
kindnesses and services rendered to me through a course of years. All
along, from the time that the Oratory first came to this place, you have
taken a warm interest in me and in my doings. You found me out
twenty-four years ago on our first start in the narrow streets of
Birmingham, before we could well be said to have a home or a church. And
you have never been wanting to me since, or spared time or trouble, when
I had occasion in any difficulty to seek your guidance or encouragement.

Especially have I cause to remember the help you gave me, by your
prudent counsels and your anxious sympathy, when I was called over to
Ireland to initiate a great Catholic institution. From others also,
ecclesiastics and laymen, I received a hearty welcome and a large
assistance, which I ever bear in mind; but you, when I would fill the
Professors' chairs, were in a position to direct me to the men whose
genius, learning, and zeal became so great a part of the life and
strength of the University; and, even as regards those whose high
endowments I otherwise learned, or already knew myself, you had your
part in my appointments, for I ever tried to guide myself by what I had
gained from the conversations and correspondence which you had from time
to time allowed me. To you, then, my dear Lord, more than to any other,
I owe my introduction to a large circle of friends, who faithfully
worked with me in the course of my seven years of connexion with the
University, and who now, for twice seven years since, have generously
kept me in mind, though I have been out of their sight.

There is no one, then, whom I more intimately associate with my life in
Dublin than your Lordship; and thus, when I revive the recollections of
what my friends there did for me, my mind naturally reverts to you; and
again in making my acknowledgments to you, I am virtually thanking

That you may live for many years, in health, strength, and usefulness,
the centre of many minds, a blessing to the Irish people, and a light in
the Universal Church, is,

The fervent prayer of
Your affectionate friend and servant,

_October 23, 1872._





The following sketch of Turkish history was the substance of Lectures
delivered in the Catholic Institute of Liverpool during October, 1853.
It may be necessary for its author to state at once, in order to prevent
disappointment, that he only professes in the course of it to have
brought together in one materials which are to be found in any
ordinarily furnished library. Not intending it in the first instance for
publication, but to answer a temporary purpose, he has, in drawing it
up, sometimes borrowed words and phrases, to save himself trouble, from
the authorities whom he has consulted; and this must be taken as his
excuse, if any want of keeping is discernible in the composition. He has
attempted nothing more than to group old facts in his own way; and he
trusts that his defective acquaintance with historical works and
travels, and the unreality of book-knowledge altogether in questions of
fact, have not exposed him to superficial generalizations.

One other remark may be necessary. Such a work at the present moment,
when we are on the point of undertaking a great war in behalf of the
Turks, may seem without meaning, unless it conducts the reader to some
definite conclusions, as to what is to be wished, what to be done, in
the present state of the East; but a minister of religion may fairly
protest against being made a politician. Political questions are mainly
decided by political expediency, and only indirectly and under
circumstances fall into the province of theology. Much less can such a
question be asked of the priests of that Church, whose voice in this
matter has been for five centuries unheeded by the Powers of Europe. As
they have sown, so must they reap: had the advice of the Holy See been
followed, there would have been no Turks in Europe for the Russians to
turn out of it. All that need be said here in behalf of the Sultan is,
that the Christian Powers are bound to keep such lawful promises as they
have made to him. All that need be said in favour of the Czar is, that
he is attacking an infamous Power, the enemy of God and man. And all
that need be said by way of warning to the Catholic is, that he should
beware of strengthening the Czar's cause by denying or ignoring its
strong point. It is difficult to understand how a reader of history can
side with the Spanish people in past centuries in their struggle with
the Moors, without wishing Godspeed, in mere consistency, to any
Christian Power, which aims at delivering the East of Europe from the
Turkish yoke.




1. The Tribes of the North 1

2. The Tartars 19


3. The Tartar and the Turk 48

4. The Turk and the Saracen 74


5. The Turk and the Christian 104

6. The Pope and the Turk 131


7. Barbarism and Civilization 159

8. The Past and Present of the Ottomans 183

9. The Future of the Ottomans 207

Note 230

Chronological Tables 235

* * * * *



* * * * *


_The Tribes of the North._


The collision between Russia and Turkey, which at present engages public
attention, is only one scene in that persevering conflict, which is
carried on, from age to age, between the North and the South, - the North
aggressive, the South on the defensive. In the earliest histories this
conflict finds a place; and hence, when the inspired Prophets[1]
denounce defeat and captivity upon the chosen people or other
transgressing nations, who were inhabitants of the South, the North is
pointed out as the quarter from which the judgment is to descend.

Nor is this conflict, nor is its perpetuity, difficult of explanation.
The South ever has gifts of nature to tempt the invader, and the North
ever has multitudes to be tempted by them. The North has been fitly
called the storehouse of nations. Along the breadth of Asia, and thence
to Europe, from the Chinese Sea on the East, to the Euxine on the West,
nay to the Rhine, nay even to the Bay of Biscay, running between and
beyond the 40th and 50th degrees of latitude, and above the fruitful
South, stretches a vast plain, which has been from time immemorial what
may be called the wild common and place of encampment, or again the
highway, or the broad horse-path, of restless populations seeking a
home. The European portion of this tract has in Christian times been
reclaimed from its state of desolation, and is at present occupied by
civilized communities; but even now the East remains for the most part
in its primitive neglect, and is in possession of roving barbarians.

It is the Eastern portion of this vast territory which I have pointed
out, that I have now, Gentlemen, principally to keep before your view.
It goes by the general name of Tartary: in width from north to south it
is said to vary from 400 to 1,100 miles, while in length from east to
west it is not far short of 5,000. It is of very different elevations in
different parts, and it is divided longitudinally by as many as three or
four mountain-chains of great height. The valleys which lie between them
necessarily confine the wandering savage to an eastward or westward
course, and the slope of the land westward invites him to that direction
rather than to the east. Then, at a certain point in these westward
passages, as he approaches the meridian of the Sea of Aral, he finds the
mountain-ranges cease, and open upon him the opportunity, as well as the
temptation, to roam to the North or to the South also. Up in the East,
from whence he came, in the most northerly of the lofty ranges which I
have spoken of, is a great mountain, which some geographers have
identified with the classical Imaus; it is called by the Saracens Caf,
by the Turks Altai. Sometimes too it has the name of the Girdle of the
Earth, from the huge appearance of the chain to which it belongs,
sometimes of the Golden Mountain, from the gold, as well as other
metals, with which its sides abound. It is said to be at an equal
distance of 2,000 miles from the Caspian, the Frozen Sea, the North
Pacific Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal: and, being in situation the
furthest withdrawn from West and South, it is in fact the high capital
or metropolis of the vast Tartar country, which it overlooks, and has
sent forth, in the course of ages, innumerable populations into the
illimitable and mysterious regions around it, regions protected by their
inland character both from the observation and the civilizing influence
of foreign nations.


To eat bread in the sweat of his brow is the original punishment of
mankind; the indolence of the savage shrinks from the obligation, and
looks out for methods of escaping it. Corn, wine, and oil have no charms
for him at such a price; he turns to the brute animals which are his
aboriginal companions, the horse, the cow, and the sheep; he chooses to
be a grazier rather than to till the ground. He feeds his horses,
flocks, and herds on its spontaneous vegetation, and then in turn he
feeds himself on their flesh. He remains on one spot while the natural
crop yields them sustenance; when it is exhausted, he migrates to
another. He adopts, what is called, the life of a _nomad_. In maritime
countries indeed he must have recourse to other expedients; he fishes in
the stream, or among the rocks of the beach.[2] In the woods he betakes
himself to roots and wild honey; or he has a resource in the chase, an
occupation, ever ready at hand, exciting, and demanding no perseverance.
But when the savage finds himself inclosed in the continent and the
wilderness, he draws the domestic animals about him, and constitutes
himself the head of a sort of brute polity. He becomes a king and father
of the beasts, and by the economical arrangements which this pretension
involves, advances a first step, though a low one, in civilization,
which the hunter or the fisher does not attain.

And here, beyond other animals, the horse is the instrument of that
civilization. It enables him to govern and to guide his sheep and
cattle; it carries him to the chase, when he is tempted to it; it
transports him and his from place to place; while his very locomotion
and shifting location and independence of the soil define the idea, and
secure the existence, both of a household and of personal property. Nor
is this all which the horse does for him; it is food both in its life
and in its death; - when dead, it nourishes him with its flesh, and,
while alive, it supplies its milk for an intoxicating liquor which,
under the name of _koumiss_, has from time immemorial served the Tartar
instead of wine or spirits. The horse then is his friend under all
circumstances, and inseparable from him; he may be even said to live on
horseback, he eats and sleeps without dismounting, till the fable has
been current that he has a centaur's nature, half man and half beast.
Hence it was that the ancient Saxons had a horse for their ensign in
war; thus it is that the Ottoman ordinances are, I believe, to this day
dated from "the imperial stirrup," and the display of horsetails at the
gate of the palace is the Ottoman signal of war. Thus too, as the
Catholic ritual measures intervals by "a Miserere," and St Ignatius in
his Exercises by "a Pater Noster," so the Turcomans and the Usbeks speak
familiarly of the time of a gallop. But as to houses, on the other hand,
the Tartars contemptuously called them the sepulchres of the living,
and, when abroad, could hardly be persuaded to cross a threshold. Their
women, indeed, and children could not live on horseback; them some kind
of locomotive dwelling must receive, and a less noble animal must draw.
The old historians and poets of Greece and Rome describe it, and the
travellers of the middle ages repeat and enlarge the classical
description of it The strangers from Europe gazed with astonishment on
huge wattled houses set on wheels, and drawn by no less than twenty-two


From the age of Job, the horse has been the emblem of battle; a mounted
shepherd is but one remove from a knight-errant, except in the object of
his excursions; and the discipline of a pastoral station from the nature
of the case is not very different from that of a camp. There can be no
community without order, and a community in motion demands a special
kind of organization. Provision must be made for the separation, the
protection, and the sustenance of men, women, and children, horses,
flocks, and cattle. To march without straggling, to halt without
confusion, to make good their ground, to reconnoitre neighbourhoods, to
ascertain the character and capabilities of places in the distance, and
to determine their future route, is to be versed in some of the most
important duties of the military art. Such pastoral tribes are already
an army in the field, if not as yet against any human foe, at least
against the elements. They have to subdue, or to check, or to
circumvent, or to endure the opposition of earth, water, and wind, in
their pursuits of the mere necessaries of life. The war with wild beasts
naturally follows, and then the war on their own kind. Thus when they
are at length provoked or allured to direct their fury against the
inhabitants of other regions, they are ready-made soldiers. They have a
soldier's qualifications in their independence of soil, freedom from
local ties, and practice in discipline; nay, in one respect they are
superior to any troops which civilized countries can produce. One of the
problems of warfare is how to feed the vast masses which its operations
require; and hence it is commonly said, that a well-managed commissariat
is a chief condition of victory. Few people can fight without
eating; - Englishmen as little as any. I have heard of a work of a
foreign officer, who took a survey of the European armies previously to
the revolutionary war; in which he praised our troops highly, but said
they would not be effective till they were supported by a better
commissariat. Moreover, one commonly hears, that the supply of this
deficiency is one of the very merits of the great Duke of Wellington. So
it is with civilized races; but the Tartars, as is evident from what I
have already observed, have in their wars no need of any commissariat at
all; and that, not merely from the unscrupulousness of their foraging,
but because they find in the instruments of their conquests the staple
of their food. "Corn is a bulky and perishable commodity," says an
historian;[3] "and the large magazines, which are indispensably
necessary for the subsistence of civilized troops, are difficult and
slow of transport." But, not to say that even their flocks and herds
were fitted for rapid movement, like the nimble sheep of Wales and the
wild cattle of North Britain, the Tartars could even dispense with these
altogether. If straitened for provisions, they ate the chargers which
carried them to battle; indeed they seemed to account their flesh a
delicacy, above the reach of the poor, and in consequence were enjoying
a banquet in circumstances when civilized troops would be staving off
starvation. And with a view to such accidents, they have been accustomed
to carry with them in their expeditions a number of supernumerary
horses, which they might either ride or eat, according to the occasion.
It was an additional advantage to them in their warlike movements, that
they were little particular whether their food had been killed for the
purpose, or had died of disease. Nor is this all: their horses' hides
were made into tents and clothing, perhaps into bottles and coracles;
and their intestines into bowstrings.[4]

Trained then as they are, to habits which in themselves invite to war,
the inclemency of their native climate has been a constant motive for
them to seek out settlements and places of sojournment elsewhere. The
spacious plains, over which they roam, are either monotonous grazing
lands, or inhospitable deserts, relieved with green valleys or recesses.
The cold is intense in a degree of which we have no experience in
England, though we lie to the north of them.[5] This arises in a measure
from their distance from the sea, and again from their elevation of
level, and further from the saltpetre with which their soil or their
atmosphere is impregnated. The sole influence then of their fatherland,
if I may apply to it such a term, is to drive its inhabitants from it to
the West or to the South.


I have said that the geographical features of their country carry them
forward in those two directions, the South and the West; not to say that
the ocean forbids them going eastward, and the North does but hold out
to them a climate more inclement than their own. Leaving the district of
Mongolia in the furthermost East, high above the north of China, and
passing through the long and broad valleys which I spoke of just now,
the emigrants at length would arrive at the edge of that elevated
plateau, which constitutes Tartary proper. They would pass over the high
region of Pamer, where are the sources of the Oxus, they would descend
the terrace of the Bolor, and the steeps of Badakshan, and gradually
reach a vast region, flat on the whole as the expanse they had left, but
as strangely depressed below the level of the sea, as Tartary is lifted
above it.[6] This is the country, forming the two basins of the Aral and
the Caspian, which terminates the immense Asiatic plain, and may be
vaguely designated by the name of Turkistan. Hitherto the necessity of
their route would force them on, in one multitudinous emigration, but
now they may diverge, and have diverged. If they were to cross the
Jaxartes and the Oxus, and then to proceed southward, they would come to
Khorasan, the ancient Bactriana, and so to Affghanistan and to Hindostan
on the east, or to Persia on the west. But if, instead, they continued
their westward course, then they would skirt the north coast of the Aral
and the Caspian, cross the Volga, and there would have a second
opportunity, if they chose to avail themselves of it, of descending
southwards, by Georgia and Armenia, either to Syria or to Asia Minor.
Refusing this diversion, and persevering onwards to the west, at length
they would pass the Don, and descend upon Europe across the Ukraine,
Bessarabia, and the Danube.

Such are the three routes, - across the Oxus, across the Caucasus, and
across the Danube, - which the pastoral nations have variously pursued
at various times, when their roving habits, their warlike propensities,
and their discomforts at home, have combined to precipitate them on the
industry, the civilization, and the luxury of the West and of the South.
And at such times, as might be inferred from what has been already said,
their invasions have been rather irruptions, inroads, or, what are
called, raids, than a proper conquest and occupation of the countries
which have been their victims. They would go forward, 200,000 of them at
once, at the rate of 100 miles a day, swimming the rivers, galloping
over the plains, intoxicated with the excitement of air and speed, as if
it were a fox-chase, or full of pride and fury at the reverses which set
them in motion; seeking indeed their fortunes, but seeking them on no
plan; like a flight of locusts, or a swarm of angry wasps smoked out of
their nest. They would seek for immediate gratification, and let the
future take its course. They would be bloodthirsty and rapacious, and
would inflict ruin and misery to any extent; and they would do tenfold
more harm to the invaded, than benefit to themselves. They would be
powerful to break down; helpless to build up. They would in a day undo
the labour and skill, the prosperity of years; but they would not know
how to construct a polity, how to conduct a government, how to organize
a system of slavery, or to digest a code of laws. Rather they would
despise the sciences of politics, law, and finance; and, if they
honoured any profession or vocation, it would be such as bore
immediately and personally on themselves. Thus we find them treating the
priest and the physician with respect, when they found such among their
captives; but they could not endure the presence of a lawyer. How could
it be otherwise with those who may be called the outlaws of the human
race? They did but justify the seeming paradox of the traveller's
exclamation, who, when at length, after a dreary passage through the
wilderness, he came in sight of a gibbet, returned thanks that he had
now arrived at a civilized country. "The pastoral tribes," says the
writer I have already quoted, "who were ignorant of the distinction of
landed property, must have disregarded the use, as well as the abuse, of
civil jurisprudence; and the skill of an eloquent lawyer would excite
only their contempt or their abhorrence." And he refers to an outrage on
the part of a barbarian of the North, who, not satisfied with cutting
out a lawyer's tongue, sewed up his mouth, in order, as he said, that
the viper might no longer hiss. The well-known story of the Czar Peter,
himself a Tartar, is here in point. When told there were some thousands
of lawyers at Westminster, he is said to have observed that there had
been only two in his own dominions, and he had hung one of them.


Now I have thrown the various inhabitants of the Asiatic plain together,
under one description, not as if I overlooked, or undervalued, the
distinction of races, but because I have no intention of committing
myself to any statements on so intricate and interminable a subject as
ethnology. In spite of the controversy about skulls, and skins, and
languages, by means of which man is to be traced up to his primitive
condition, I consider place and climate to be a sufficiently real aspect
under which he may be regarded, and with this I shall content myself. I
am speaking of the inhabitants of those extended plains, whether

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanHistorical Sketches, Volume I (of 3) → online text (page 1 of 35)