« PreviousContinue »
incidents do not often-almost daily—occur in different forms in all European towns without being talked about? But had we had here in Nish a Russian or French Consul this event would have been raised to the dignity of a cause célèbre; notes would have been exchanged ; the European press would have been alarmed, and St. Marc Girardin would have had some piquant matter for a new anti-Turkish article in the Revue des deur Mondes."
Suleyman did not tell him what the girl herself had said. But even if his insinuation was true, that she had gone to the harem of her own free will, wearied by the monotony of home work, and attracted by the luxury enjoyed by the slaves of the harem, we have in that fact itself a vivid picture of the immorality of Turkish rule. Suleyman's retort, plausible as it is at first sight, ignores one all-important difference between the abduction of a Christian maiden in Bulgaria and a similar incident in France or Russia. In the former case the abduction is sanctioned by the public opinion of Turkey, by its Government, by its moral code, and by its Sacred Scriptures. In the latter it lies under the ban of all these. In Turkey, however, these abductions are more often the result of force than of enticement, as I shall show further on. But Turkish so-called virtue is so corrupt all round that a retort like Suleyman Bey's can be demolished, not by one, but by many rejoinders. So let us hear how Herr Kanitz met it.
“Suleyman Bey was visibly excited. The innate Moslem nature had triumphed for a moment over the usually cool diplomatist. Suleyman forgot what abnormal events had brought about his mission here at all. He forgot how in his ill-humoured complaints about the partisan interposition of the European Powers
AN EXAMPLE OF TURKISII JUSTICE.
and the injustice of the press which raised its voice for the Rayahs, he had himself just before pronounced sentence of death upon the Turkish Government. I answered Suleyman Bey pretty much as follows:
““ Yes, Effendi, you have spoken quite truly. In our countries there are many hundreds of atrocities and complaints (like those which at present claim your valuable time, and in consequence of which the alter ego of the Sultan [the Grand Vizier] has himself undertaken so extensive a journey) which would scarcely have got beyond the threshold of the ordinary police court. Even that special case of seduction, deplorable
. as we should have thought it in a moral point of view, would have been decided, under the ordinary administration of the law, without any special intervention from any other quarter.
““ But where are we (pardon my saying so, Effendi) to find the officials appointed by the State for carrying out the law in Courts of Justice, in Turkey? Where can the Rayah find these when the complaint is against a Moslem? Without your presence here would the father of the abducted maiden have been allowed by the Moslem judge even so much as to bring the matter into court at all? Does the present constitution of the local courts give the Rayah the slightest guarantee for justice against a True Believer? I myself, Effendi, in the year
1858 found, during a twelvemonth's sojourn in the Herzegovina, sufficient opportunity for learning the nature of the Turkish Courts of Justice ; and only a few weeks ago I was in Zvornik before a Bosniac judge on account of a groundless suspicion that I was a Russian spy. And in that town, half inhabited by Christians, I looked for the provisions of the Hattihumnayoun which promise to the Rayah equality of
rights with the Turk. Where were those rights? Next to the presiding Mudir, I saw the Cadi, the Mufti, and ten Moslems behaving with great levity. I saw in a corner of the room, unregarded by all, an old greybeard crouching on the ground. This was the Christian representative of Christian Zvornik. During the whole of the proceedings he did not dare to say a single word in my favour. What good would it have been if he had ? He was only tolerated there in order to comply formally and technically with the law of the Tanzimat and the last Hatti-cherif. I saw the man treated like a pariah ; but he was supposed to represent the Christian community of the town of Zvornik.
"“I have emphasised that word supposed, Effendi, that you may clearly understand what would have been the lot of this good man if he had really dared to occupy more than the corner that was allotted to him Lif he had dared to take a seat on the quilted divan next to his Turkish colleagues, or to raise a voice equal to theirs. Yes, so long as his Majesty's Courts are constituted as they are at Zvornik; so long as the evidence of Christians against Moslems is rejected; so long as the Koran and the Pandects written many years ago, I mean the Moultka, which constitutes the ultimate standard of appeal on all points of law—and according to which it is already decided beforehand that the True Believer is always in the right, the Rayah always in the wrong : so much so that the Pasha who presumes to appeal from its dicta is liable to receive the bastinado as a revolutionary innovator ;--so long as all this is so, Effendi, you cannot wonder if the voices of outsiders are raised on behalf of the rights of man outraged in the person of the Rayah, and if they insist that those provisions of the Tanzimat and the
INSECURITY OF LIFE.
Hatti-cherif of Gülhané, and the Hatti-humayoun, which are in the interests of the Christians, shall at last be made a reality.”
SECURITY FOR LIFE.
Let us now see how this helplessness before the law affects what I have called the four primary conditions of well-being in any civilised community, namely, security for life, security for honour, security for religious freedom, and security for property.
And first as to security for life. Here again my first witnesses shall be her Majesty's Diplomatic and Consular Agents in Turkey.
The Syrian massacres are sufficiently near our own time to render any detailed reference to them unnecessary. But it is important at this moment to bear in mind three pregnant facts connected with them : first, that in every circumstance of bestial lust and fiendish cruelty they were quite on a par with the Bulgarian atrocities, though the public mind of England was not equally excited, the details being published only in the Blue Books. Secondly, that they were not the result of a sudden outbreak of Moslem fanaticism, but the deliberately planned policy of the Turkish authorities. Thirdly, that the regular soldiers of Turkey then, as recently in Bulgaria, surpassed the irregular troops in brutality and cruelty.
' Donau-Bulgarien und der Balkan : Historisch-geographisch-ethnographische Reisestudion aus den Jahren 1860-75;
In a despatch to Vice-Admiral Martin, Captain Paynter, of H.M.S. ' Exmouth,' says that he had succeeded in saving ‘from the horrors of famine, murder, and violation upwards of 2,200 Christian women and children..... The whole of those wounded were shot or sabred flying from the town after their husbands and male children had been slaughtered.' "The conduct of Osman Bey,' he adds, 'really appears in this age without a parallel. He first of all induced the Christians to surrender their arms. He then crowded the poor creatures in the courts of the Serai, and for eight days kept them with barely sufficient food to keep life together. And then, when unable to resist from physical debility, be opened the gates and allowed the Druses to rush in and massacre them to the number of 800 men, women, and children. The few that escaped owed their preservation to crawling under the bodies of the dead, and escaping under the cover of darkness.' 1
The Druses, however, were seen to separate their connection' with their victims'in a more expeditious manner,' to quote the Premier's phrase, than suited the love of cruelty for cruelty's sake, which has always distinguished the Turkish soldiery. Many Christians whom I have examined,' says Mr. Cyril Graham, have sworn to me that they saw the soldiers taking part in the slaughter, and the subsequent behaviour of these brutal troops to the women was savage in the extreme. From the wounds I have seen both on the living and the dead, it would appear that they went to work with the most systematic cruelty. ... Women the Druses did not slaughter, nor, for the most part, I believe, ill
Papers relating to the Disturbances in Syria, June 1860,