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Sec. IV.] TAXATION OF RAYAH AND MUSSULMAN.

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• But, besides the ordinary taxes, there are extraordinary contributions and forced loans, which, for things of the kind, now recur in rather quick succession. Large sums of money are thus withdrawn from the country, without any return or equivalent whatever, either immediate or prospective. In fact every levy of the kind, under whatever name disguised, is simply an act of spoliation, perpetrated by the strong hand of authority.

* There are about 220,000 Christians in Epirus, and about 130,000 Mussulmans. The ordinary Government revenue may be stated at 300,0001., of which 240,0001. is paid by the Christians, and 60,0001. by the Mussulmans. The latter are the chief landowners, but the former have almost the monopoly of the trade, industry, &c., of the country, the duties of which they consequently have to pay. They are moreover charged with the military exemption tax, which figures for about 26,0001. Nevertheless, largely as the Christians contribute to the Government revenues, they derive scarcely any benefit from the Government expenditure ; while of the Mussulmans several thousand, indeed at present nearly the whole of them, are receiving Government pay.

• In the Herzegovina,' says Consul Zohrab, “I calculate the peasant's share of his crop at 33 per cent.??

If the reader desires to appreciate the refinement of cruelty with which the Christian is robbed of all the fruit of his toil, let him read a most instructive de. spatch written in 1867 from Prevesa to Lord Stanley. The writer, Consul Barker, gives in detail all the various imposts which the Rayah is bound to pay; and the result is that, after deducting expenses of labour in raising

I Consular Reports of 1867, p. 57.

Consular Reports of 1860, p. 55.

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the produce and conveying it to town for his landlord, little or nothing remains for the maintenance of his family and himself; and from year to year many sell off stock to pay their debts and the taxes, most of them possessing in clothes only the ragged suit they wear daily, with merely a mat to lie upon in a most miserable hut; and many a female peasant is obliged to wash her clothes piece by piece near the stream or well, since a change to wear on a washing day she cannot possess. I beg that it may be understood that, although this statement treats of the district of Prevesa only, the condition of the peasantry of other districts is even worse. 1

And now I leave the reader to judge whether I have established my indictment against Turkey under the four heads of total insecurity for life, for honour, for religious freedom, and for property. If I have, it is evident that the Ottoman Power is not a civilized Government but an organized band of free-booters, without any of the generosity or virtues which even free-booters have sometimes been known to display. If, on the other hand, I have failed to establish my case, it is certainly not for want of evidence, but owing to the untrustworthiness of the evidence which I have produced. But if my evidence is untrustworthy, what evidence are we to believe? My principal witnesses have been gentlemen in her Majesty's Consular service, whose natural bias, as recent events have too plainly shown, is always to screen the Turkish Government as far as this can be done without telling a falsehood. But they are an honourable body of men, with very few exceptions ; and while it is impossible to suppose that they would in any case state what they

i Consular Reports of 1867, p. 9.

Sec. IV.]

A PLAUSIBLE OBJECTION ANSWERED.

145

did not believe to be true, it may be added, without any slur on their integrity, that they could hardly avoid the unconscious influence of professional traditions and political prejudices, all of which would be in favour of putting the case against the Turkish Government as mildly as truth would allow. Yet with all these safeguards against exaggeration, or, to put it more correctly, with all these temptations to understate the case, the picture which the Consular Reports of the last twenty years have drawn of Turkish misrule is something so horrible, so utterly antagonistic to the elementary principles on which civilised society is based, that I for one cannot feel otherwise than grateful to any Power which shall put an end to it. And the Consular Reports are confirmed, as I have shown and could show still more abundantly, by independent witnesses on whose evidence not a shadow of suspicion can be cast; witnesses too whose opportunities of observation have been equal to their integrity. But an objector may say I cannot dispute your

: evidence; but if the state of things is as you describe, it seems almost incredible that society in Turkey should hold together at all. Yet we know, and yourself admit, that, putting aside the Mussulman population, the Christians of Turkey not only have survived their cruel bondage, but have steadily advanced in prosperity and civilisation. How do you reconcile this fact with such a condition of existence as you have described ?

The objection is a fair one ; but the explanation is easy. Fortunately for the Christians, they form the vast majority of the population of European Turkey. Their oppressors are a minority ; and in some districts the minority is so small as to be capable of only re

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tarding, not stopping, the progress of the Christian population in knowledge and general prosperity. There are villages and considerable towns in Bulgaria and elsewhere in Turkey where the Turks are but a fraction of the population. This fraction may indeed embitter the existence of the general mass ; for where insecurity is general the wrong of one family poisons the lives of thousands, since no one can tell on whose head the next blow may fall. Still the mass moves on, enjoying a certain measure of prosperity and happiness in the intervals of massacre and outrage ; and the passing traveller may see bright faces and hear the music of merry voices, and go his way in the innocent belief that the Rayahs have not so much to complain of after all. His back is perhaps hardly turned when the brutal zaptieh, alone or with some of his fellows, makes his appearance ; and the smiling village becomes a scene of terror, or possibly of outrage. 'Over and over again,' says Mr. Barkley, ‘have I seen every woman and girl of an entire Christian village disappear as if by magic at the approach of a zaptieh ; and when he enters the village all the men stand staring about watching to see what may take place, like a flock of sheep when a strange dog comes among them.'' Or it may be that the traveller has an introduction to a Turkish official who makes himself very agreeable and takes the stranger to see whatever sights the place can boast of. In the course of their ramble they meet a Christian maiden of modest mien and pretty face. The Turk speaks kindly to her, pats her perhaps on the cheek and strokes her long golden hair with an ominous smile in his sensual eyes. The simple traveller thinks, 'How kind and fatherly these Turks are! and what an interest they

| Five Years in Bulgaria, p. viii.

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SEO. IV.]

THE CASE SUMMED UP.

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take in their Christian subjects!' The incident is put down in his note-book, and he goes home determined to vindicate those maligned Turks from the aspersions of prejudiced travellers. Little knows he that while he has been occupied in copying his notes into his journal the golden-haired maiden has been forcibly lodged in the Mussulman's harem, and not far off is a broken-hearted widow making useless lamentations for the loss of her daughter.

To sum up. The evidence produced in the preceding pages establishes these facts : that Turkish rule gives up the Christian's life to the Ottoman murderer, the Christian's chastity to the Ottoman's lust, the Christian's religion to the Ottoman's bigotry, and the Christian's

property to the Ottoman's greed.

Quousque tandem? Is there no remedy? No anodyne in the pharmacy of European diplomacy to cure the ills for which Christian Europe is itself so largely responsible? We are told that there is none. Such at least appears to be the lame and impotent conclusion of the Turkish organs in the English press. Turkey has gloried in her shame and set Europe at defiance, and the apostles of peace at any price short of British interests' bid her God speed in her iniquity, and declaim with the energy of fanatics against the only policy that would save both the Christians from outrage and their befooled client from political suicide. They are likely ere long, if I mistake not, to have a rude awakening. The eagles are even now hovering over their prey, and if England should decline to take part in executing the will of united Europe, the three Northern emperors, reinforced perhaps by Italy, may fairly claim to take the matter into their own hands once

| This is a fact.

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