صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

which accompanied the frigate bearing the flag of Hobart Pasha, having swept the decks of the latter vessel by a previous shot, which, however, did little damage. The Enosis was pursued into the roadstead of Syra, where the Turk demanded the surrender of the Greek, which the Syriots refused. Here the activity of Hobart Pasha was brought to a stand-still by the interference of French naval authorities, who advised him to renounce his idea of blockading Syra to cut out the Enosis, until he received further instructions from his government. The Ottoman admiral desisted, upon condition that the Enosis should be conveyed to the Piræus by a Greek frigate, and handed over to the constitutional authorities, which it was promised him should be done.

Whilst Englishmen and Frenchmen were reading the details and developments of this episode at sea, the remainder of the correspondence between the minister of Turkey at Athens, and the Greek foreign minister, M. Delyanni, was published —that immediately preceding the breaking off of diplomatic relations between the two countries. We make an epitome, carefully embracing all the points, as space is wanting for the documents entire. In a note dated December 10th, Photiades Bey, in the service of Turkey, wrote:

“The cabinet of the Sultan does not consider it necessary to search for proofs of its sincerity, etc., toward the government of his Hellenic majesty. The history of the Cretan insurrection for the last three years is known, and there is little need now to enumerate the machinations concocted publicly, and under the eyes of the Greek authorities, by committees sitting in the capital of the kingdom itself, with the object of fomenting and maintaining that insurrection against the will of the immense majority of the inhabitants of Candia. The history of civilized countries is without an example of the contempt with which the law of nations has been treated by these committees. They have spared neither threat nor falsehood to the poor islanders to oblige them to take up arms against their legitimate sovereign. Bandits, under the name of volunteers, have been sent into Crete, and, by menace and fear, a portion of the unhappy people have been induced to emigrate into Greece to find there only misery and suffering. Deceived and abused, they preferred to return to their allegiance and their country, but spite of their entreaties and the intercessions of the Porte, they have not been allowed to depart; they have been kept back, in some instances by force of arms, and the few who have regained their own land have done so at the risk of their lives.

“ Although tranquillity has been restored in Crete, and the rebellion, save a few roving bands in the mountains, been put down, the Hellenic leaders have persisted in raising fresh volunteers, and have kept the Cretan fugitives from returning to their homes, the easier to deceive public opinion, in Greece and Europe, as to the entire suppression of the rebellion. The documents exchanged during two years between the Turkish and Greek governments bear evidence of these facts as well as of the Sultan's moderation, though each protestation of the Porte has been invariably met with a reply equivalent to a non-reception, or a declaration of real or assumed impotency. This state of things, growing worse and worse, has deprived the Turkish cabinet of any hope of a speedy return, on the part of Greece, to sentiments of justice and respect for the laws of nations."

Here follows a list of the grievances of Turkey laid at the door of the Hellenic cabinet, among which are: a declaration made by a former minister of King George, that Greek government funds paid for and kept the blockade-runner, the Crete, at the time in active service; another ministerial declaration embodying the project of snatching Crete from Turkey at any cost; outrages unpunished upon Ottoman soldiers, and the causes of complaint already adverted to; active aid to the rebellion, disrespect of treaties, retention in Greece of Christian subjects of the Porte, etc. This note ends with the Turkish ultimatum-a final official demand, upon the Hellenic government, under five separate heads : 1st. Dispersion of volunteers and prevention for the future; 2d. Disarming of the Enosis, Crete, and Panhellenion, or, at any rate, a closing of the Greek ports to them ; 3d. Permission to Cretans to return into Crete with aid and protection where necessary; 4th. Punishment for aggressions upon Ottoman soldiers ; 5th. Respect for treaties. Without a full and perfect assent to which five points, the Turkish legation was to quit Athens.

The Greek minister replied to the foregoing ultimatum of the Sultan, by generalities or empty retort, in a despatch dated the 15th December, the gist of which is the substance of what he stated to the three powers, as answer to the Turkish charges, in his circular (as above given) of the 9th December. The tenor of Mr. Delyanni's despatch of the 15th is supercilious and confident, and anticipates hostilities with complacency. Relying perhaps on the habitual timidity of the Porte, the ministers of King George refused to pledge themselves that the intrigues, or even the open acts of hostility, of which the Greeks by their own showing had been the authors for a term of years, should be brought to an end—and the Greek government in fact rejected the Turkish ultimatum. “The demands of the Porte are just and reasonable," said the London Times of the 18th December. “They amount simply to this: that the Greek government and people shall cease to carry on war against the Sultan.”

The grounds assumed by Greece and the language of her ministers seemed to indicate at the outset that King George was supported in his position by some powerful ally, since a war between Turkey and Greece was simply absurd. All eyes turned upon Russia as the power interested by tradition in hectoring indirectly the Turk, and in promoting any war or rebellion which might weaken or occupy the sick man. The true line of the great powers appearing, upon reflection, so manifestly to be one of neutrality in the quarrel, and the statement that joint attempts at mediation at Athens had been made by Russia with France and England, seconded likewise by Prussia, seemed, however, to dissipate for the time the suspicion touching the northern power and her clandestine maneuvring.

The proceedings of Turkey were on all sides acknowledged to be dignified and just, and conscientiously observant of the common interests of peace. By her moderation, since 1854, the Porte, as a European power according to the treaty of Paris, had gained respect, and even a certain prestige among the statesmen of other countries, and the most democratic and republican journals in England and France condemned the conduct of King George's cabinet and people. “The government at Athens," said the London Daily Nəws—the organ of radical John Bright—“has taken wrongful advantage of its own comparative irresponsibility as a protected state, of its insignificance, and of its insolvency, to bark and nibble at the much-abused and long-suffering Turk, as one sees a pert and froward little terrier bark and nibble at a goodnatured mastiff, with a muzzle on.its jaws."

The despatch from Mr. Delyanni, in answer to the complaints of Turkey, was considered by the Paris press, almost without exception, as weak and unconclusive. “With the Greek minister's principle of free locomotion," said the Constitutionnel, “his promises to respect treaties, etc., are absurd and nil. From the moment that a nation does not consider itself bound to establish an internal police in such a way as to prevent its subjects from invading a neighbor's territory, and that, on the contrary, it proclaims as a constitutional right armed incursions, and the giving of material encouragement to insurrection in a state with which it keeps up diplomatic relations--to discuss rights and treaties seems idle. Greek interpretation of international law would sanction piracy at sea and filibustering on land."

The maritime capabilities of the Greek people are out of all proportion to their present political importance. Left to themselves, they might clear the Levant of the Turkish merchant flag, cover the Archipelago with swarms of privateers, and make every island an arsenal of insurrection. The little kingdom of Greece is but a very badly organized expression of the genius and faculty of a reckless and expanding race, which has in its classical traditions some basis for its dreams, and with a world-wide sympathy, some reason for its faith in an imperial future. It is hardly better than Turkey, so far as agriculture, roads, and the safety of travellers are concerned. “But education in Greece," says the report of the British secretary of legation for 1867, "is within the reach of all classes. The University of Athens liad 1182 students, nearly equal in number to that of the University of Edinburgh.” The kingdom had a population of 752,000 in 1838, and in 1861 of 1,096,000 without the Ionian islands, and to-day the total is not far from 1,500,000 souls, of which some fifty per cent. are engaged in agriculture, and twenty per cent. in commerce. Athens has 45,000 inhabitants. The army is raised by conscription, to which all males of eighteen years of age are liable, and the term of service is six years. In 1867 it amounted to 14,300 men, costing annually £1,500,000 sterling. The fleet consists of ten steamers and ten sailing-vessels, carrying, together, 182 guns, with two iron-clads on the stocks; but there are countless merchantmen, and the Greek seamen are considered inferior to none in the world. The revenue in 1865 approx

16

VOL. XVIII.-NO, XXXVI.

imated to £1,000,000 sterling, and the expenditure £1,064,000. The internal debt is £800,000, while the foreign debts foot up £7,250,000, an aggregate, say, of £8,000,000 sterling, the interest upon which the government does not pay.

Turkey, financially, is in no splendid condition, however. She has borrowed during eleven years some £74,000,000 sterling, of Europe, and lately consolidated all her indebtedness into a foreign debt of £36,000,000 sterling, held mostly in England and France, upon which she just manages to pay the interest. Her revenue estimates for 1867-8 were £14,400,000, against an expenditure of £15,300,000 sterling, and according to the report for 1867 of Mr. H. P. T. Barron, the British secretary of legation, a continuance of her condition, let alone the expenses of a war, must result in bankruptcy. The sinews of war if not at hand for Turkey, for Greece, considering her financial dishonesty with her bankruptcy, are less than zero.

On the other hand again, the Turkish empire is a vast territory, covering the finest part of Asia, as well as a great region in Europe, and capable of furnishing levies for armies for years to come. Throughout all the Mussulman countries, the authority of the Sultan is supreme, and even Egypt would send him troops in case of necessity. If the deadly struggle takes place, the fact that the Mussulmans are less than a third part of the inhabitants of European Turkey, of course, will have its importance. But if out of a population of 15,500,000 there are but 2,000,000 pure Ottomans, ainong the Christians of Turkey dissensions are rife, and that, with such difficulties as attended the assertion of its independence from the Orthodox Greek creed, by the Bulgarian Church, might prevent any effective sympathy or united action with the Christians of Greece. Turkey has an army of 180,000 regular troops, of which 40,000, are retained at Constantinople, and 40,000, more or less, were employed in Crete. The remaining 70,000 and the 40,000, now that they are not required in Crete -together about 110,000 men—constitute the land force that the Turkish war minister could direct upon Greece.

In the Ottoman navy, English ideas and English practice are followed as closely as possible. The Turkish vice-admiral,

« السابقةمتابعة »