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THE EASTERN QUESTION.
THERE probably never was in the rope is interested in a totally difhistory of Europe a scene of more ferent spectacle,-namely, Russian hopeless entanglement than that intrigue foiled by English firmness. which Turkish affairs present. The England exults with the sympathy interminable writing which it occa- of all Europe at her own unwonted sions appears to us unmeaning and ascendancy; and the Eastern quesbewildered. No one seems to have tion, or at least the relations of the definite ideas on the subject, or to Turkish Government to the insurhave a definite conclusion in view. gents, remain where they were All who either act or write in refer- twelve months ago. Apparently all ence to it seem to be at cross pur- that Europe cares for is the pacifiposes, and no one seems to maintain cation of the disturbed provinces, any marked consistency of view, as the avoidance of a serious war. if any object was present to his That negative result will probably mind which he dared to avow. A be attained, but the causes of disknot which no one can untie and pute will remain as before. No no one dares to cut is placed before progress is made, or is likely to be diplomatists and journalists. It made, towards a settlement of these has dangled before their eyes for ever-recurring difficulties. The connearly twelve months. No one sideration of them will probably be knows, or at least no one says, what adjourned sine die, and that is the it is that he wants. All appear to sum total of what modern statesmanbe actuated by the most earnest ship can achieve. desire for the pacification of a hand- The latest indications of events ful of armed insurgents. There are point in that direction. It must three or four millions of regular be admitted that England has taken troops at the command of those a leading part in bringing about interested in the subject; splendid that purely negative result—a refleets hover in the neighbourhood; sult which can give no permanent the three great Northern Powers satisfaction to any one who, in the have been harmoniously concerting interests of future European peace, their measures; the Porte has pro- or of the unhappy subjects of the mised everything they have yet Turkish Government, wishes to see asked ; we ourselves pursue, and some progress made towards a final intend to pursue, a policy of pre- solution of those difficulties. It caution; and the insurgents remain cannot, however, be said to be the in statu quo. All of a sudden the fault of the English Government. three Northern Emperors and their Throughout those negotiations and Chancellors meet; a Note is drawn transactions, it has been universally up which is not made public, which conceded that the initiative does is not even presented to its intended not rest with us. All that Eng recipient; and then the whole scene land could pretend to undertake changes. Everybody appears to was to give a moral support to any have been the cat's-paw of every- bona fide attempts to redress boni body else; the Sultan is hurled fide grievances, and at the same from his throne; the triple alliance time to take every precaution tha is dissolved. The insurgents and no advantage should be taken o their grievances are forgotten : Eu- the disturbed condition of th
northern provinces in order to pro- happened unexpectedly, and is due mote the injurious aggrandisement to a wide divergence of interests. of any one Power in a manner hos- The Berlin Note was accepted hurtile to our own interests. The riedly, and apparently without time policy of the triple alliance was for consultation. It seemed to ostensibly benevolent and philan- involve not so much the superthropic ; the English policy is re- session of Turkish authority—that presented by its detractors as wear-is, of the personal rule of the ing the appearance of a cold and late Sultan, which no ealculating spirit of self-protection anxious to uphold—but the suband indifference to the suffering and stitution in its place of a virtual permanent depression of a degraded Muscovite supremacy which population. But the public opin- single Power in Europe, not even ion of Europe has not been deceived the cosignatories of the Note, was by outward appearances.
It has prepared to acquiesce in. England almost unanimously recognised in met this diplomatic move with a the English Government the faith direct dissent, followed by an imfnl champion of peace and order, posing demonstration of naval force. the arbiter to whose disinterested Had the same firmness been mani. judgment the policy of the three fested three-and-twenty years ago, Powers had to be submitted, and by when Russia first displayed a dewhose conclusive award it was at cided spirit of aggression, the whole length practically adjudged to be world now believes that the Criwanting in sincerity and singleness mean war might have been spared. of purpose. England has held, as The spirit of Lord Aberdeen no it always can hold, if its power is longer dominates in the councils of wielded by men of courage and the Queen, and Europe immedicapacity, the casting vote in the ately ranged itself on the side of the councils of Europe. Public opinion British Ministry. Turkey itself on the Continent has sanctioned replied to the menace by a timely and applauded the decision which coup d'état, and the apologists of it gave; and if the result is that Turkish misrule have discovered no visible progress has been made that insanity alone can account for in solving the ever-recurring diffi- the policy or machinations which culty of Turkish Government, the they defend. failure must lie at the door of the The important Berlin Note, the three Powers, whose ill - advised dethronement of the Sultan, and efforts have shown that their coun- the altered attitude of England, have cils were dominated by a sinister succeeded in giving a wholly new intention.
aspect to the question. We have In the view which we take of this never regarded war as probable, matter no war is imminent; but the partly from the known character of imposing ceremonial of three great the chief actors in the scene, and military Powers meeting in solemn especially the known moderation of conclave to concert measures for the Czar-partly because the great pacifying a few insurgents will military Powers, by their mutual henceforth be discontinued. The animosities and growing indebtedtriple alliance is at an end, dis- ness, have to a great extent bound solved by mutual suspicions; and themselves over to keep the peace. Russia is not prepared forcibly to By the recent change in the condicarry out any aggressive schemes. tion of affairs peace is even more The dissolution of the alliance has assured than before. But we confess to considerable disappoint- aggression aroused in its stead ; and ment at the turn which events have on the other, a new government of taken. No doubt our own interests Turkey, for a time at least, appeals have not suffered ; on the contrary, with success to the forbearance of they have been amply vindicated, Europe. The hopes of those who and English influence and authority place all their security in the mainhave never in recent years stood tenance of the integrity of the Ottohigher. But the tide of sympathy man empire are renewed; nothing which was steadily flowing in the now is heard of charters of autondirection of those unfortunate popu- omy; and the prospects of Bosnia lations has been turned back. Tur- and Herzegovina attaining the same key has got rid of its maniac ruler, privileges and security as Roumania but her misgoverned subjects have and Servia are daily growing more not gained at present one iota of remote. Had Russia been more advantage. The proclamation of honest in its statesmanship, or the Murad V. carried matters no further triple alliance more adroit and than they have stood at any time patient in its manquvres, a more since the Conference of Paris. Its fortunate result might have been terms were not as favourable as the the consequence. provisions of the Andrassy Note. At The policy of England in this the first blush, the chances of im- matter cannot easily be mistaken or proved organisation and government misrepresented. Lord Derby at appeared to depend upon whether first declared that the insurrection Midhat Pasha could maintain his was unimportant from a military ascendancy, although the opponents point of view; that the great Powof his policy held more influential ers were not supporting it; that a and more numerous offices. But in good radical cure of grievances was the present distracted state of Con- impossible, though they could be stantinople, revolutions and assas- alleviated, and the rest be left to sinations confound all speculation. time. He objected to local autonWhile Englishmen, of whatever omy on the ground of differences party, have every reason to con- in religion and race. Then came gratulate themselves on the part the financial catastrophe, the coinwhich they have played in Europe cidence of which, in point of time, and towards the great Powers in explained the insurrection without this matter, as far as Turkey and resorting to the theory of foreign her disaffected provinces are con- intrigue. The Andrassy Note was cerned, we have done nothing, and approved in the belief that “if the apparently can do nothing, except Austrian Government fulfil in an tender advice and extort promises efficient manner, as it has underwhich are as idle as the wind. In taken to do, the duties which interthe outer circle of the surrounding national obligations impose upon it, Powers our will and policy have the area of hostilities will be greatly predominated, and the British Min- limited," and the affair reduced to istry are upheld by the whole force the dimensions of a local disturbof European approval. But within ance. But the Note was not acthe inner circle of Turkish malad- cepted by the insurgents ; Turkey ministration the whole subject re- insisted upon a modification which mains in statu quo, except that on prevented that financial decentralthe one hand the sympathy hereto- isation which was of extreme imfore felt for the insurgents has been portance; and she appeared to render intercepted, and jealousy of Russian her assent conditional on the submission of the insurgents. The matters to a crisis. That is the Note remained perfectly ineffectual. true strength of the Turk. The While there was no abatement of moment he is hard driven, all its sovereign authority on the part Europe takes alarm. The Gortof the Sultan's Government, either schakoff ultimatum, coming from as regards the great Powers or its Prince Gortschakoff, was a diploown subjects, it was hopelessly in- matic blunder of the gravest descripcapable of fulfilling its engagements tion. It retarded the work of to the former, or asserting its autho- pacification by startling Europe rity over the latter. As regards the with the prospect of a costly and great Powers, all outward demon- doubtful struggle. The result is stration of forcibly aiding the in- to strengthen the hands of the surgents was repressed; as regards Turkish Ministers, not for any usethe Ottoman Government, with an ful purpose, but merely in carrying empire in an extreme stage of moral, out their dog-in-the-manger policy, political, and financial ruin—with which owes its existence, or at its Christian population burning least its success, to the jealousies of with hatred and animosity-with Europe. its Mussulman subjects divided be- When Lord Derby was questween the fanatical supporters of tioned as to the Berlin Note, he Mussulman ascendancy and the said that “her Majesty's Governdetermined opponents of the late ment, after a careful examination of Sultan's fearful misrule,-it folded the proposals, found themselves units hands in supreme indifference, able” to give their assent to them. believing that in one form or other They came to that decision “with Europe must, for its own security, regret.” The remarkable sentence settle the difficulty so as to preserve was added—“If we had thought Ottoman independence. So long as the plan proposed likely to effect the rulers of Constantinople can at its object," the Government would any time threaten Europe with a not have been influenced by the religious war and its remote conse- circumstance that it had had no quences, or even with the prospect hand in framing the document. of a disturbed balance of power, Subsequently the fleet was moved they feel themselves masters of the up to the Dardanelles, and Mr situation, in the sense of attracting Disraeli expressed a hope that the the attention of Europe, baffling its Memorandum might not be prediplomatists, and scandalising its sented. He added : “There is no philanthropists. A ruined empire doubt that the state of affairs is lies at their feet, cursed with every critical in that quarter; it would form of atrocity and desolation. be affectation to deny it. Her Ma
In this position of affairs occurred jesty's Government have taken such the conference at Berlin, which was measures of precaution as they closed almost as soon as it was thought were necessary to maintain opened, as if discussion would lead the honour and interests of the to differences, or the duty of regis- country, and that policy of pretering a foregone conclusion was caution they intend to pursue." its only work. The Memorandum Obviously from this the character which was drawn up is not yet of the Memorandum which required public property; but it is described to be met in so decided a manner as an ill-conceived and ill-drawn must have been regarded as dandocument; and its failure ensued gerous and menacing. All that is the moment it appeared to push known of it, however, is that it proposed an international commission though the action of the different to enforce the execution of certain Governments was influenced by the reforms and the observance of an consideration of other circumstanarmistice, amounting to a virtual ces. England speedily declared its recognition of the independence of views; those of other countries, and the insurgent provinces, with a hint even of Austria and Germany, to of such further measures hereafter judge from their newspapers, would as might be deemed necessary appear to be hardly less pronounced. Later on, upon the 10th June - It seems to us that, from the mothough the press of every country ment the Andrassy Note was superin Europe has been recommending seded by the Gortschakoff proposal, the Porte to abandon the admin- and active intervention was proistration of provinces which were posed in lieu of courteous but regarded as already lost to her—the urgent representations, a silent reresult of the Berlin conference was vulsion of feeling took place, which plainly visible when Mr Disraeli found expression directly that Engspoke as if Russia alone were in his land protested. The language used thoughts, and the integrity of the by Count Andrassy before the ComOttoman empire the sole policy of mittee of Delegation, showed that his Cabinet. He pointed with cm- a marked divergence of feeling had phasis not merely to the unanimous arisen within the triple alliance; recognition of the new Sultan by the and that, whatever might have been great Powers, but also to “a general the motive which induced the sigfeeling of adhesion from all sections, natures to the Berlin Note, its creeds, and races among the sub- policy represented the views of jects of the Porte.” Referring to Russia singly, and did not comthe beneficial influence which this mand the approval of her allies. would have over the insurgents, he Count Andrassy explained his hoped that it would lead them “to policy to be the maintenance of avail themselves of the opportunity peace, the localisation of the diswhich now seems to be offered, of turbance, the prevention of its reinsuring the pacification of Eu- currence. As to the carrying out rope." The alternative to the de- of the projected reforms, the sintested aggression of Russia is the cere co-operation of the European suppression of the revolt and re- Powers was required; he explained, newed support of the Ottoman and appeared to apologise for, the empire. We need hardly say that separate action of the Imperial this is an alternative which no one Governments. He also said, that for can contemplate without dismay. him to engage to abstain from active Indications are not wanting that intervention would be to encourage Russia herself regrets having forced Russia to enforce her peculiar aims it upon us. It has been announced, without compunction or reserve. we know not with what authority, The Austrian-Hungarian fickleness that she will not pursue a policy of probably reflects the divided symisolation, and will concur in such pathies of amalgamated populameasures as Europe may sanction tions; for while at one moment we for improving the condition of the hear of the Government allowing Rayahs. If so, a more satisfactory 6000 breech-loaders and several announcement could hardly be million of cartridges to be landed made.