Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and it seemed easy to calculate the speed | and, at her own time and upon her own with which she was hastening to her setting. terms, dictated the treaty of Kainardgi, which True to her ancient policy, if such a term carried the old frontier of Peter the Great on can be applied to a strange combination of to the banks of the Bug. ignorance, high-mindedness, and disdain, the This was the first advancement of the Porte took no part in the wars which embroil boundaries of Russia to the south: and we ed its old antagonists at the demise, in 1740, may convey an intelligible idea of the system of the Imperial Crown ; or in the seven years' commenced, on this occasion, by merely enuhostilities which afterward ensued. On the merating the stages of its progress

from those contrary, it actually proffered its disinterested days to the present. Between the channels mediation to the belligerents, and voluntarily of the Dnieper and the Danube, three smaller dispatched to the Court of Vienna assurances streams fall in parallel directions into the waof its unaltered amity. The question on ters of the Euxine--the Bug, the Dniester, which peace was at last broken, was that of and the Pruth. In the time of Peter, the expiring Poland. To say that the Divan was Russian frontier . had been formed by the mainly influenced in this moment by senti- Dnieper; in 1774, it was carried, as we have ments of sympathy or generosity would be said, to the Bug ; in 1792 to the Dniester; saying too much; but, so blind was it to the in 1812 to the Pruth; and in 1829, the line changes which time had wrought in the re- was made to include the mouths of the Dalative strength of the parties, that, in 1768, nube. These advances represent, of course, it deliberately and of its own accord declared grave contests and serious cost. In 1784, war upon Russia. The campaigns which Catharine had so far ventured on the rights followed, speedily demonstrated the fatal of the strongest, as to annex the Crimea to folly of such a proceeding. The position of her dominion, by the simple authority of an Turkey had, for nearly half a century, been imperial ukase. But by her menacing padefensive, and its vulnerable points were now rades in these regions, and by her haughty

, fully exposed. On the other hand, so steady | inscription_“the route to Byzantium”-over and rapid had been the advance, in the last one of the gates of Kherson, she at length thirty years, of Russian power, that the germs exasperated the still ferocious Ottomans beof all its subsequent pretensions were already yond the bounds of patience,-and war was visible, with their consequences, in this, the again declared by the Porte. The campaigns first war after the peace of Belgrade. Rus- of Potemkin and Suwarrow—the capture of sian squadrons immediately scoured the Oczakoff —and the storm of Ismail, followed. Archipelago; Russian missionaries excited The results we have already named. the Greek subjects of the Porte to rebellion; | What we are now, however, desirous of Russian agents tampered with the refractory noticing, is not so much the protracted struggovernors of Egypt. So settled was the con- gle between Turkish desperation and Russian fidence of Catharine II. in the superiority of strength, as the political persuasions which her admirably disciplined troops, that the the development of these facts contributed vast hosts of the Ottomans were deliberately to generate in Europe. We drew attention, met by one eighth of their numbers,—and at an early stage of our remarks, to the inwith perfect success. The Turks were dri-fluence originally sought for, though with ven out of Wallachia and Moldavia ; the great submissiveness and timidity, by the Danube was crossed ; the fortresses of its emissaries of France at the court of the Sulsouthern bank invested; and the Ottoman tan. There was, we may here observe, a communications intercepted between the singular convenience in the alliance to which famous

camp of Schumla and its magazines the Porte had been thus incidentally led. at Varna.

The King of France was far enough removed And now, for the first time, were the gen- to be beyond the risk of collision; the tradieral apprehensions of Christendom excited, tional connection of his cabinet with the afon behalf of the Turks! Austria, though fairs of Poland, and its peculiar authority both previously and subsequently allured by with the Order of St. John, gave him frequent a proposal for sharing the expected spoils, dis- opportunities of serviceable mediation, while cerned a new danger and a new policy, while his position, as the first hereditary monarch England and France acquired new motives of of the Christian World, was such as to gratinterest; and even Prussia acknowledged her ify the inordinate pride of the Ottoman Sul

What adds to the significance of tans. In respect of arrogance, however, the this agitation is, that it was of no avail. French monarchs were nearly a match for Catharine proudly rejected all intervention ; I their Oriental allies. They exacted from





the Porte the title of “Padischah,” or Em-sion devolved upon France. Prussia was peror; and, in the conduct of such of their characteristically introduced to the Divan by ambassadors as Marcheville and Ferriol, it is the admiration of the Ottoman for the perdifficult to trace much superiority over the sonal qualities of the Great Frederic. The uncivilized envoys of the Porte. "But as the state of things disclosed by Romanzoff's preponderance of the Ottoman power grad campaigns, transformed even Austria into an ually decreased, this indefinite influence of intercessor on behalf of the Turks; and in France assumed a more positive form and 1792 the cabinets of London and Berlin scope, and at length, in the wars of Louis found themselves zealously co-operating for Le Grand, it was visibly established. So am- the same end. Other scenes, however, were bitious a monarch could not overlook a Pow- now at band. er of which so much use was to be made in The position of Turkey at the opening of a variety of ways. The Most Christian those eventful days which changed the face King had been forced indeed, for very de- of Europe by and through the French Revcency, to dispatch certain succors to the Em- olution, was briefly tbis :—She had escaped peror at the moment when the infidel was ac- the imminency of peril. The last wars had tually menacing Vienna : But his agents were conclusively established both the gigantic all the while busy at Constantinople; and in strength of Russia and the uses to which it the delay of the pacification with which at

would probably be applied. Catharine did length the war and the century were termi- not condescend to disguise her ambition or nated, the interested action of a Western her hopes. She openly discussed the proPower was, for the first time, notoriously ject of restoring a Greek Empire at Contraceable. After this period, the necessities stantinople for the benefit of her successors; or liabilities of the Ottoman State in this re- and revived the auspicious name of Constanspect, became matter of common recogni- tine in a prince of her royal house. Nor, altion; and so regularly during the next hun- though the fate of Poland had alarmed the dred years did all the great Powers of Eu- statesmen of Europe, was it by any means rope, according to their successive ascen- certain that any peremptory arbitration could dencies or opportunities, claim a right of in- at this time have been interposed between terference and mediation in the negotiations Russia and her prey. In 1791, Pitt had and treaties of the Porte, that the conduct of found himself totally unsupported in his Catharine II. in disallowing such interven- proposition to equip a squadron of observation between her and her enemy, was con- tion for the Dardanelles ; the functions of ceived to indicate an extraordinary degree of France, the old and, nominally at least, the presumption. These intercessions, however, natural ally of the Porte, were entirely sus. had not yet been dictated or determined by pended; and the complicity and spoils of any general alarm at the aggrandizement of Polish dismemberment furnished the NorthRussia; they originated in the prospect of ern Courts with irresistible arguments and advantage which each State discerned in com- temptations. Already, in fact, had the par- . municating the impress of its own interests tition of Turkey been deliberately canvassed, to the engagements of a nation dissociated as a preferable alternative to its absorption ; by creed, position, and character from the and although subsequent events showed that ordinary politics of Christendom. Even af- the Ottomans were by no means so defenceter Turkey ceased to be an aggressive Pow- less as they were presumed to be, yet it may er, it still retained the capacity of effecting, be doubted whether they would not have

, on emergencies, most serious diversions,- been thrown wholly for support at this time and of granting commercial privileges of no on their own fanatical courage. Even ten trifling value. It became in fact a State, years earlier, France, acting always as the conwhich, though not secluded from the rights fidential friend of Turkey, had 'intimated to of political community, was yet so practical the Divan, that in any future war it would ly withdrawn from the sphere of ordinary probably be vain to look to Europe for divercombinations, as to appear like a ready-made sion or aid; and the inclinations of Austria instrument for all collateral purposes. Its to participate rather in the plunder than in disdainful chivalry and its passionate capri- the prevention of the deed were sufficiently ces were well known; nor was there any known. From these hazards, however, the cabinet of importance which did not appre- Porte was now relieved. The Governments ciate the possible services they might confer. of Europe were fain to pause in their tradiAt the Pruth, the mediating Powers were tional careers; and the sam circumstances England and Poland ; at Belgrade, the mis- / which had exempted the Ottoman Empire

from any share in the great wars of the chiefly to be remarked is, that Turkey, ducentury, just expiring, secured it also in a ring this period, was received with more unisimilar immunity from the revolutionary tem- versal consent, and on a more legitimate footpests by which a new order of things was ing than before, into the community of Euushered in. At length, after six years' neu ropean States, and that the part assigned to trality, the passions of the Porté were vio- her in their general federative policy partook lently roused by the ambition of the Direc- more of a regular character. "On the other tory. The ancient interests of France in hand, although certain obligations were in these regions of the world were characteris- this way contracted toward the Porte by the tically symbolized in her revolutionary coun- European States, yet its fated antagonist was sels, by a descent upon Egypt! The results more than proportionately strengthened by the of this famous expedition were, in many operation of the same causes. So conspicuous points of view, remarkable; and in none more and substantial had been the services of Rusthan those immediately connected with the sia in the struggle of Europe against Naposubject under review. Unable to compre- leon, and so entirely was the Continental polhend either the Revolution or its consequen- icy of the Court of St. Petersburgh now ces, the Porte could at least discern that its identified with that of the other great Powoldest ally was deliberately proposing to robers, that the attitude of the Czar became far it of its fairest province. "It accordingly de- more formidable than before ; and results clared war against France; and, as a natural which we need scarcely recapitulate, proved sequel of such a determination, drew more what substantial grounds there were for the and more closely to Great Britain, which, al. growing apprehensions of the Divan. ways favorably disposed toward Turkey, had What is called, indeed, “the Eastern now become its most obvious counsellor and Question,” may be said to have been fully friend. Into the particulars of the engage constituted at the close of the war. Tbe ments which followed, we need not enter. It opinion still survived, and, in fact, since the will be enough to observe, that by this meas- | days of Catharine II., seemed gradually to ure the French Government rudely snapped have been confirmed, that the national existasunder an alliance of two centuries and a ence of Turkey had reached its appointed half; that the protectorate thus lost, passed term, and could only be protracted by the virtually to England; and that the ultimate artificial suspense which the jealousies of Eueffects of the enterprise threatened little less rope might combine to create. An element than the transfer to this country of the cred- too of singular importance in the question it, influence, and privileges, which France, now made itself visible. An interest was for so long a period, had enjoyed in the do- claimed, whether sincerely or otherwise, yet minions of the Porte.

with great plausibility, by the Christian The new impulse, however, thus commu- Powers of Europe in the Christian subjects nicated to the policy of the Divan was by no of the Porte; and as these were mostly means undisturbed. The vicissitudes of the members of the Greek church, the sympagreat war soon furnished so adroit a negotia- thies and pretensions of Russia naturally astor as Napoleon with opportunities of revi- sumed a peculiar prominence. The liberaving or remodeling the alliances of the old tion of Greece and the incidents, whether of monarchy; and so well were his intrigues argument or violence, attending its accomseconded by the impolicy of our own pro-plishment, furnish a sufficient exemplification ceedings that, in 1807, the Dardanelles were of the views and considerations which were forced by an English fleet while the defence thus introduced upon the political stage, and of Constantinople was directed by a minister which, it is evident, have ever since been of France. The publication of the secret steadily increasing in significance and weight. compact between Alexander and Napoleon Still, a strong counterpoise remained in the at Tilsit once more, and more conclusively, conviction felt by all European cabinets but estranged the Porte from its French connec-one, that the maintenance of the Ottoman tions; and at length, by a concerted pacifi- Empire, in its substantial integrity, was necation between Turkey and Russia in 1812, cessary to the prospective peace of Europe ; the forces of the latter Power were oppor. and although this sentiment might, in some tunely disengaged to assist toward the issue quarters, be reducible into a simple objecof the Moscow Campaign. We touch but tion to a monopoly of the spoil, yet the difcursorily on these events, since, however mo- ficulties of a partition were so great that, mentous in themselves, they but indirectly eventually, all parties coincided in a resoluaffected the question before us. What is tion to stave off the crisis, and postpone a question which they were unable to solve in the minds of the people. Though the eswith any satisfaction to themselves.

tablishment of the Turks in Europe is now Such then is the position of the Ottoman of such respectable antiquity that its fourth, Empire. Prostrate, to all appearance, at and perhaps fated centenary draws nigh, and the feet of its vigilant and redoubtable foe, though their rights of dominion have acit is maintained, in a precarious security, by quired a title beyond that of mere prescripthe jealousies rather than the sympathies of tion, yet the nation itself, as has been obsurrounding nations : For, although on more served by an historian not often distinguished than one occasion, it has exhibited an un- by such felicitous brevity of expression, is looked for vitality in the hour of peril, yet still only encamped" on its conquests. the experience of recent years forbids all They have never comported themselves, further reliance on such resources. The Da- either politically or socially, as if they antinube and the Balkan are no longer barriers. cipated in Europe any continuing home. OtAdrianople has been already once reached ; toman legends relate how a belief arose, and between that city to Constantinople even in the very hour of conquest, that the there intervenes but a step.

banner of the Cross would again be some Historians have frequently indulged in spe- day carried to the brink of the Straits; and culations upon the causes of this decline. it is said that this misgiving is traceable in But the question lies, we think, within nar- the selection of the Asiatic shore for the final row limits. It is less the decay of one of resting place of true believers. It is certain, the antagonists, than the growth of the too, that from the first definite apparition of other, which has so disturbed the balance be the Russian Empire, they instinctively recogtween them. The armies which were over- nized the antagonists of Fate. Europe bad thrown by the Bajazets and the Amuraths hardly learned the titles of the Czar, when bore no comparison to those encountered by the gaze of the Porte was uneasily directed Mahmood ; nor is it probable that the Great to the new metropolis on the Neva; throughSolyman, in the height of his power, could out the whole century, notwithstanding its have ever made head against such a force as chequered incidents, the impression was nethat now wielded by the reigning Czar. Tur- ver weakened ; and to this day the inhabikey, in short, has been stationary, while tants of Constantinople point out the partiother nations bave advanced. This is one of cular gate by which the Muscovite troops the consequences due mainly to the charac- are to enter the City of Promise. Nor are ter of the national religion ; though it would the traditions less vivid on the other side. be incorrect to attribute to this most impor- Although the visible ambition of the Impetant influence results exclusively prejudicial. rial Court may have been generated by the It is true that fanaticism has produced social creations of Peter and the conquests of Cainsecurity as well as political stagnation, and tharine, yet the impressions popularly curthat the false prophets of Ottoman history rent flow from an earlier and a less corrupted have been more numerous and successful

The ancient relations of Russia with than the pretenders or usurpers of any other the capital of the Cæsars, the early hostilihistory whatever. But, on the other hand, ties, the subsequent alliances, and the prethe sanctity which the theocratic principle sumed inheritance of Ivan, are all matter of communicated to the reigning House has national legend; and combine, with the approved its inviolable safeguard in the crisis peal to religion and the incitements of pride, of revolution ; and the reversion of the holy to make the recovery of Constantinople from Kalifate which Selim I. secured from the last the Ottoman appear an obligatory as well as phantom representative of the Abbasides a predestined work. The spirit in which conveyed no insignificant authority to the the Russian legions would march to the BosCommander of the Faithful. In virtue of phorus would, probably, differ little from this title, the supremacy of the Sublime that in which Grenada was invested by the Porte was recognized by all the orthodox levies of Castile. Mussulman world ; so that an appeal based Yet, with all these palliatives of conquest upon the obligations involved in it was ac- and all this semblance of warrant, it is untually, in 1799, transmitted to Constantino- questionable that the sentiments which the ple from Seringapatam.

occupation of Constantinople by Russia might It is a remarkable feature in the history of awaken in the cabinets of Europe would be the Ottoman and Russian Empires, that the seconded by the opinion of every people bedestinies of both should be matter of long-tween the Vistula and the Atlantic. Though descended tradition and common acceptancel the Turks, even in the fourth century of their

[ocr errors]


European existence, still sit like barbarous / proved, by the policy or enlightenment of conquerors on the lands they won, though their rule, the title which they originally derithey retain in servitude and degradation ved from conquest : But they are as they millions of Christain subjects, though they were made. They retain their native impress perpetuate the hopeless desolation of vast of character, and they have repeatedly shamed provinces, and though these provinces are States of more lofty pretensions, by their the very fairest regions of the known magnanimity, their generosity, their unswervworld and the most famous scenes of an- ing adherence to their plighted faith and cient story ;-yet for all this, in the event presumptive duties, and by that disdainful of an invasion, they would command the grandeur of soul which refuses to avail itself sympathy and favor of thousands to whom of another's error, and renders to misfortune the balance of power" would be a strange a homage which had never been extorted and unintelligible proposition. For the con- from them by power. Very recent events clusions of statesmen there would no doubt have shown that the communication of Eube sufficient warrant in the obvious danger ropean forms to Ottoman institutions, howto public peace and freedom from the ag

may have affected the vigor and elasgrandizement, by such vast acquisitions, of a ticity of the national strength, has, at least, Power already so menacing and aggressive not impaired the national virtues ; nor has as Russia ; but their main source, we think, there, probably, been any period since the must be sought in that popular instinct war, at which the encroachments of an overwhich naturally inclines to the weaker side, grown Power upon its defenceless neighbor and with a stronger and more decided bias would excite more general indignation, or inas the violence attempted to be exercised is duce more serious results. These are things more gratuitous—and cruel. The consider within the daily observation of all; what we ations which now tend to the disparagement have previously deduced from the less obof the Turks are feeble and inoperative, vious facts of bistory may elucidate, we hope, compared with those which are acting in the character of the long-pending crisis, and their favor. They are semi-barbarians, and i facilitate the comprehension of the great prothey are misbelievers : they have not im- | blem which will be one day solved.

ever it

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »