Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

minds of “the faithful;” secondly, because I would deprecate interference with the interior administration of another country, on principle. Furthermore, it is exceedingly probable that the interests of Russia would be promoted by placing members of the Greek Church in situations of influence and authority in Turkey. What more natural than that the religious affinity which subsists between the Russians and the inhabitants of some of the fairest provinces on the Danube should operate in favour of the protector and head of that particular section of Christian believers? I cannot, therefore, help concluding that the Porte would lose rather than gain, by relaxing their actual political disabilities, and admitting Greek Christians to official charges. If, indeed, the national sentiment of England were sincerely bent upon enforcing humane and civilized government upon a neighbour for its own sake, we need not travel so far to find a fit occasion for displaying that sentiment. An ample field presents. itself in the South of Europe, where two peoples, highly favoured by nature, inhabiting two countries, each capable of bearing all kind of fruitful produce, lie, people and land, beneath a withering, baleful despotism, which excites the pity and arouses the ire of all generous beholders. If we must go forth to redress the wrongs of suffering fellow men, by all means let us have a crusade to the shores of Parthenope and to the city seated on the seven hills! But no: one of these odious despots is under the special protection of our supposed German ally; the other, under that of a power whose aid we are unable to dispense with in the prosecution of the present war. Let us then drop the flimsy pretence of a chivalrous purpose, and avow that the real motives for attacking Russia lie in the alarm we feel lest she should stretch her dominion, first towards Egypt, and next towards the frontier of Caubul, and so, doubly threaten the possessions—I might perhaps say the ill-gotten possessions—of Great Britain in Asia. Clearsighted Frenchmen are perfectly aware that these fears constitute, with us, the impelling causes of the war. “We understand them,” said M. de L. to me in May last; “and we accordingly do not wonder at the extravagant homage which you islanders lavish on our master,” since he lends you powerful armies to fight your battles; for yours they unquestionably are, and not ours.” “Well,” I replied, “if he does so, he doubtless finds his account in it.” “True,” rejoined M. de L., “he does so find it; but France has not the slightest interest in this conflict. She ought rather to wish for the maintenance than the destruction of a maritime power | capable of holding your domineering navy in check | in the Mediterranean: and then France has no o Oriental conquests to defend. But Louis Napoleon was glad to enter into alliance with a first-rate European power, on any terms. Your Court alone, on the occasion of the coup d'état, manifested a disposition to recognise him and his dynasty; and in return, he has expended freely, for English objects, the blood and treasure of his helpless subjects. The French have, it is true, always a certain relish for war; being, as we ourselves say, born batailleurs ; and since, probably, this contest will, sooner or later, bring some territorial advantage with it to France, it may tend to popularize the present reign: and military enterprises being, as I have observed, the favourite vocation of the French, it suits the personal motives of Louis Napoleon to carry on some such; for, whilst the public is excited by prodigious external operations, plots and factions at home are, in a manner, hushed and shelved, and the national vanity overrides all other feelings.” “All that you say may be well founded,” I said, “but, somehow or another, it seems to me that you Frenchmen act as if you believed, along with my countrymen, in the generous aims we talk of?” “Not so,” answered M. de L.; “we fight, as you have commonly done, equally well without a good cause as with one; we have, however, no voice in the matter. Our present ruler consults only his own will, and disposes of his subjects' life and property with quite as little concern for what they wish or feel, as does the ruler of that nation whom he proposes to advance in ‘civilization' and ‘independence,'—after the mode of the old saying, “lucus à non lucendo,' I presume.” Having disposed of the false pretences on which the war was undertaken, I propose, in another letter, to consider the real objects; the importance of which, to England, I am far from denying, whilst I regret to think them uncertain of attainment.

[graphic][graphic][graphic]

* It is rare to hear Frenchmen of any class use the words Emperor, Sovereign, or Monarch, in reference to their present ruler. They habitually say “celui-ci,” or “notre monsieur,” and sometimes “notre maitre—seldom “Louis Napoleon” even.

[graphic]
[graphic]

LETTER II.

December, 1855,

SIR,--In my first letter, it was sought to prove that the “flourish” about upholding the independence and civilization of other nations was a mere pretence; that the sole purpose in view was, and is, the keeping Constantinople out of the hands of Russia, whilst at the same time the permanence of Turkish rule is obviously becoming less and less an object of solici. tude. In fact, after the Turk has allowed foreign armies to come and occupy his capital and to fight his battles, it is pretty certain that the prestige of his authority must have undergone so great a diminution at home, that the disaffected portion of Turkey in Europe is likely to become troublesome, and will probably be disposed to throw off the Mussulman yoke at the earliest opportunity.

Then will commence a process, for anticipating the occasion of which much obloquy has been cast upon the late Emperor Nicholas. The dominions of the Sultan must be “rearranged;” we shall have helped “the sick man” to repel his danger so effectively that he himself will be destroyed in the struggle. For, supposing that a cessation of hostilities should be brought about by Russia's consenting to lessen her maritime force in the Black Sea, and by her cove: nanting to respect the “independence of Turkey"— politically speaking—I must take leave to doubt the Czar's disposition to observe the engagement any longer than he finds it enforced by the attitude of the

[graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Western Powers. Therefore Turkey must either be
left to be attacked and subdued at a later day, or the
Western Powers must “occupy” the territory; and
what, I beg to inquire, will this be, except taking
possession of the “héritage du malade?”
Again, I hold it to be a serious difficulty in the
way of such a proceeding, that the population of
Turkey, whether Mussulman or Christian, feels averse
to the religious creed professed by France and England.
It is true that small account is ever taken of the
feelings of a conquered and ignorant people, or of the
preference they may entertain for this or that ruler
by their invaders: but in the case of the Romaic races,
and others, spread over that vast tract of country,
any discontent which might exist would be fomented,
and possibly fanned into active resistance, by the
powerful neighbour who possesses a spiritual affinity
and headship over these people. The whole body of
Greek priesthood even now work heartily in favour of
Russian ascendancy; and we all know how potent an
engine sectarian influence is with half-educated minds,
(and, indeed, over fully-educated ones, for that
matter,) and how difficult it would be for us to cope
with this advantage.
I regard the maintenance of the Turkish rule, in
short, as out of the question, let this war end when it
may. And it is not easy to speculate on the mode of
replacing that rule, otherwise than by, as usual,
clapping a foreign King upon the throne. We have
heard it whispered that the Duke of Cambridge might,
if inclined, play a bold stroke for a crown, and be
enthroned as sovereign of the Danubian Principalities
—which, indeed, might hereafter lead to his establish-

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »