« AnteriorContinuar »
most modern of all the dynasties of Europe-in 1613, formed the era of the first consolidation of the Russian territories into a compact and power ful monarchy. The earliest hostilities between the Muscovite and the Turkish standards date about forty-five years previously (A.D. 1568-70). The commercial energy of the Ottoman State had then suggested the extension of its commercial relations on the Caspian and the inland waters of Southern Russia ; and a force was accordingly despatched to lay siege to Astrakhan. This expedition was unsuccessful ; and the first occasion of hostility between Russia and Turkey marked the prowess of the Russian arms. From that period the dominion of the Crimea becamethe principal subject of contest between the hostile governments. This peninsula-famous through the traditions and vicissitudes of two thousand years—was then ruled by its Khans. These Khans it was the policy of Turkey to sustain and of Russia to assail; as though either State even then foresaw the influence which the possession of the Crimea would ultimately work upon the fortunes of the East. So power ful were these rulers of the CrimTartar race even in the seventeenth century, that they then extended their victorious arms as far as Moscow, and imperilled the very existence of the Russian power. The Crimean Khans, though virtuallyindependent, were then titularly the vassals of the Porte: and every motive of ambition, of policy, and of revenge thus stimulated the Czars of Muscovy, with the increase of their military power, to subjugate, in the first instance, this outwork of the Ottoman strength, as the basis of their future schemes against the Turkish dominion in Europe.
The definitive declension of the Ottoman power is clearly to be dated from the peace of Carlowitz, concluded, after a war of seventeen years' duration, in 1699. The impolicy of the Turkish Government in that period had caused nearly all the adjacent Powers to conspire for its destruction. Russia, governed by the genius and the ambition of Peter the Great ; Poland, directed by the military heroism of Sobieski; Austria, still powerful in the elasticity of its political resources; and Venice, pur
suing the career of conquest and subjugation which it had initiated on the ever-memorable waves of Lepanto; constituted the irresistible confederacy against an anti-Christian State which had still the hardihood to de clare itself the enemy of the European Powers. This seventeen years' war was essentially, in relation to the Ottoman Porte, what our recent hostilities will probably prove in relation to the court of St. Petersburg:it placed an effectual check upon a policy of territorial aggression. The Turks had been driven back, in sigual discomfiture, by Sobieski from the walls of Vienna : they had been ejected from the Morea by the vigorous administration of the Venetian Republic : and they had yielded to the final establishment of military and commercial settlements on the shores of the Sea of Azoff, by the dogged perseverance of the Russians undertheadministration of Peter. But for the far-seeing policy of William III, who then controlled the government both of Great Britain and of Holland-it seems clear that the Ottoman State would have been brought to the verge of destruction. That sovereign, in 1698, succeeded in arresting the unequal contest in the East of Europe, by the interposition of the powerful mediation of the British and Dutch Governments. The correspondence of the Sultan with Lord Paget, the British Ambassador at the Turkish Court, strikingly evinces the respect which was then entertained for ourown country by the most distant monarchy of Europe. Austria was won over by the representations of William to a policy of peace : and from this period we may date the rise of her jealousy of the Russian power on the coasts of the Euxine. Peter the Great, less skilled in diplomacy than in domestic administration, found himself reduced to the alternative of a peace, or of fighting single-handed against Turkey: By territorial cessions, on the part of the Porte, to each of the belligerent Powers, the Peace of Carlowitz, under the auspices of William III., reas sured, in 1699, the existence of the Ottoman State, though it sealed the doom of its political ascendancy.
The dawn, then, of the eighteenth century brings Russia and Turkey to an approximate equality of power.
In point of naval prowess, however, between Russia and the Porte was, Turkey was still all-powerful. She in the circumstances, singularly fawas still possessed of the whole vourable to the defeated Power; and, coast of the Euxine, with the excep- as if to restore the balance of the tion of the few settlements on the Peace of Carlowitz, Austria secured northern shore, for the retention of in the Treaty of Passarowitz (1718), which the Czar Peter had stipulated after a victorious campaign, extenin the Treaty of Carlowitz. It was sive cessions of territory from the under these encroachments from the Turks. North, that that position of inter- It is singular to observe that the national law, which had declared the principles of foreign policy which Euxine an inland sea, began to un- have been illustrated in the war from dergo a change; and the ancient law which we have just emerged, are --confirmed in the treaty of the Dar- strikingly identical with those that danelles in 1809, and again in the passed current in Europe a century treaty of 13th July, 1841—which and a half before. England appears recognised in the Turkish Govern- to have manifested the same jealous ment the power of closing the Straits watchfulness of the rights of Turkey of the Bosphorus, arose not from the throughout this period. The ministers concession of the different Powers of George I., sustaining the wise towards Turkey, but from the reten- policy of William III., brought tion of the original rights of that about the peace of Passarowitz by a Government.
timely intervention between Turkey From this period the hostility of and Austria, much as William had Russia and Turkey appears to have brought about the peace of Carlowitz become traditionary, instinctive, and by just such an intervention princiirreconcileable. Poland was now pally between Turkey and Russia. It rapidly declining ; Austria more and is worthy of remark that in these more involved in warfare with the early contests, Great Britain has been West; and Venice receding from its far more solicitous for the interests proud maritime pretensions. The of the East than the French Court. Russian and Turkish Governments Here, in truth, we have a triumphant henceforth began to absorb the chief answer to the favourite assertion of share in the international politics of the Germans, that our recent sacrithe East. The Muscovite had now fices in support of the Turkish Emsucceeded to the career of conquest pire were dictated simply by a selfish and aggression which the declining consideration for the safety of our power of the Osmanli had tacitly Indian empire ; for those sacrifices repudiated. The former had now in truth illustrated but a simple conreplaced his ancient standard by the formity to the maxims which the double eagle of the Byzantine em British government had laid down perors : and so far, therefore, as the half a century before the foundation Czars could be regarded as the suc of our Indian settlements. cessors of the Eastern Cæsars, it was The next period of Turkish history obvious that the relations of the extending over fifty-six years, and Christian and the Turk in the East ranging from the Treaty of Passaof Europe had now become directly rowitz to the Treaty of Kainardji, inverted :—that the policy of the 1718–1774-marks the rapid decline Turk had become a policy of repres- of Turkey, the equally rapid advance sion and retention, and that of the of Russia, and the definitive character Christian a policy of aggrandisement imparted to the politics of the East. and spoliation.
If, indeed, we can once conceive the The first twenty years of the idea of the Goverument of a State as eighteenth century shook the convic an individual, a moral, and respontion of that age in the inevitable de- sible agent, we shall see the most cline of the Turkish Power. The last striking instances of the principle of war which the Great Peter under retribution working its course through took against the Ottomans was the scheme of political affairs, and wholly disastrous to the Russians. surely though slowly retaliating the Venice, too, was simultaneously crimes and iniquities of each Governdriven out of the Crimea. But the ment on itself. No more conclusive Treaty of the Pruth (1711) concluded evidence of this truth is to be obVOL. XLVII.—NO. CCLXXXI.
served than in the conduct of Austria by nearly all the politicians of that throughout that period. Had the age as heralding the inevitable dissoequally impolitic and unjustifiable lution of the Turkish empire. wars of this state against Turkey But events did not long remain at during the eighteenth century never this point. The stipulations of the been waged, Austria would have treaty which had provided for the probably remained to this day in independence of the Crimea, were her pristine strength, overshadowed followed by the annexation of that in no greater degree by a prepon- peninsula to Russia. That empire, derance in Russia than in Turkey, in conjunction with Austria, next The disastrous issue of the wars schemed a partition of the Turkish which Russia forced on Turkey was soil, as they had already, with the clearly the result of the junction of sanction of Russia, parted out the soil Austria with Russia. The same of Poland. The intervention of Engscheme for the appropriation of the land once more saved Turkey from Polish soil, by which the Court of her doom ; and the Treaty of Jassy Vienna thought to extend its power, again gave a peace to the East, atis now working its gradual destruc- testing the progress of the Muscovite tion. Turkey, in the moral alienation dominion. of her Christian dependencies, is now The Treaty of Bucharest, in 1812, working the natural result of her an- consigned to Russia the whole cient tyranny. And if Russia as northern coast of the Euxine, beyet appears to have only profited by tween the Sea of Asoph and the the iniquities in which she has taken mouths of the Danube. That of part with others, it is impossible to Adrianople, 1829, somewhat exdoubt that the perfidy of her external tended this enormous acquisition by and the cruelty of her internal go- adding to the Russian dominion the vernment supply strong probabilities possession of the Delta intervenof an extensive confederacy from ing between the several Danubian without, and of universal disunion mouths. This treaty, however, was from within, which may one day an rather of a commercial than of a ternihilate the proud fabric of the Rus- ritorial character. It has, in fact, sian power.
been a common error to ascribe to The wars, then, intervening be- the Treaty of Adrianople those territween the Treaties of Passarowitz torial cessions which had been made and Kainardji were characterised by seventeen years previously in the the double aim of absorbing the in- Treaty of Bucharest. The earlier dependence of Poland, and of appro Treaty destroyed the Ottoman domipriating the frontier lands of the nion in the Black Sea : the latter anTurkish empire, both by Austria and nihilated the Austro-Turkish comRussia. The Court of Vienna sought merce on the Danube. for an extended territory on the The political declension of Turkey, Danube-the Court of St. Petersburg however, was singularly marked by on the Black Sea. Hitherto Turkey a proportionate commercial growth. had possessed a powerful ally in the The entrance of that Empire into the North of Europe. In place of a European system, in the character of powerful ally she at length gained a a Commercial State, dates from the powerful enemy. For the friendship year 1535. This was effected in the of Sweden and of Charles XII., she first capitulation granted to Francis had now to encounter the hostility of I. of France, which guaranteed the Prussia and the Great Frederic. The privileges of French merchants. ToRusso-Prussian Treaty of 1764 deterwards the end of the same century mined the definitive alliance of the three English merchants proceeded Houses of St. Petersburg and Hohen- to Constantinople, and obtained simizollern ; and we even yet trace its lar privileges. Nothing can more effects on the destinies of Turkey. fully illustrate the idea of barbarity To this formidable confederacy the which was then attached in Western Ottoman empire finally succumbed; Europe to the Turkish Court, than and the Treaty of Kainardji, in 1774, the fact that one of these mercantile which proclaimed the result of the adventurers was appointed the Amstruggle between the Mahometan and bassador of Queen Elizabeth to the the Christian Powers, was regarded Porte. Additional privileges were
now obtained by the mission of Sir Thomas Roe in the reign of James I. For the progress, however, of commercial intercourse between Turkey and the West of Europe, we must refer our readers to the Collection of Commercial Treaties, ably edited by Mr. Hertslet of the Foreign Office.
The historical character of the CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGES forms a more engrossing subject at the present moment, when it has been the aim of our diplomacy to secure these privileges in conjunction with the supremacy of the Central Power. We are ourselves in no apprehension that the recent legislation of Turkey will be found to have embraced, as is commonly supposed, two incompatible ideas-namely, that of sovereignty in the titularly dominant, and of liberty in the titularly servile race. The whole history of Turkish conquest, as we have already indicated, strikingly enunciates the very imperfect sovereignty which the Sultans obtained, in their most glorious age, over the outlying principalities. Their mediæval treaties with the Chiefs of Moldavia and Wallachia were scarcely more binding or more rigorous in their terms, than those of which we have lived to witness the conclusion. When the Porte formed the only maritime power on the Euxine, we have seen that the Khans of the Crimea were nearly independent potentates. In fact, the colonial policy of the Turks has been traditionally more wise and moderate than any other attribute of their dominion. They seldom aimed at a fusion of races professing incompatible religions, or at the complete subordination of a population possessed of a military character and an independent spirit. Their conduct in this respect was like that of the Romans -like that of Charlemagne-and like that of Napoleon. To the Turksas to the acute statesmen of antiquity, to the Carlovingian chiefs, and to the ministers of Imperial France-it was obvious that where the bonds of conquest became intolerable, they were ever liable to be broken. Ab solute rebellion, indeed, was invariably met by the Turks with absolute repression. But where their suzerainte was acquiesced in, they were more often willing to leave these provinces as the propugnacula im
perii of Roman story--to unite the ascendancy of the one with the qualified freedom of the other and to rely upon reciprocal interest and mutual succour to maintain the rights of either against foreign power.
This, then, is exactly the political system which the Allies have sought to enforce, and which Russia has continuously endeavoured to destroy. In the Crimea her first effort was directed to the abolition of the Turkish suzerainté. Her next was to annex the territory, thus disjoined from the hostile state. So in Moldavia and Wallachia, she has more recently introduced her own Protectorate conjunctively with that of Turkey. These were obviously more insidious means of gaining the same end. The religious freedom of those Christians who did not enjoy the advantage of a separate government has not, indeed, been hitherto secured. But as, in the distinct Principalities, religious rights were an inevitable incident of the political rights which had been traditionally maintained, it is obvious that these concessions of the Turkish government have introduced no fresh principle into her internal polity.
It is easy to appreciate, then, the magnitude of the results of the recent war in the East of Europe. Turkey had been threatened, first, by the fleet of Sebastopol ; secondly, by the insidious encroachment of Russia on the side of her Principalities ; thirdly, by Muscovite intrigues with the Courts of Asia. Two of these three menaces are now swept away. That great naval armament which so long threatened the heart of the Ottoman empire with sudden overthrow-and that jurisdiction in the Principalities which was insidiously usurping the trans-Danubian provinces of Turkey -are now extinguished. The allied armies now relinquish to Russia the possession, not of proud arsenals and fleets on the coast of that Crimea in the conquest of which she lavished the blood of a century and a halfbut of vessels rotting beneath the waters that were long their cradle and their protection, and of vast dockyards, storehouses, and quays, now blasted by explosions of gunpowder, and transformed into one chaotic mass of irreversible ruin. The flag of Turkey waves once more in uncontested do