Page:Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.djvu/42

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
18
AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU'S STORY

had not greatly improved his personal position. The committee of Union and Progress ruled him precisely as they ruled all the rest of Turkey—by intimidation. Indeed they had already given him a sample of their power, for the Sultan had attempted on one occasion to assert his independence, and the conclusion of this episode left no doubt as to who was master. A group of thirteen "conspirators" and other criminals, some real ones, others merely political offenders, had been sentenced to be hanged. Among them was an imperial son-in-law. Before the execution could take place the Sultan had to sign the death warrants. He begged that he be permitted to pardon the imperial son-in-law, though he raised no objection to viséing the hangings of the other twelve. The nominal ruler of 20,000,000 people figuratively went down upon his knees before Talaat, but all his pleadings did not affect this determined man. Here, Talaat reasoned, was a chance to decide, once for all, who was master, the Sultan or themselves. A few days afterward the melancholy figure of the imperial son-in-law, dangling at the end of a rope in full view of the Turkish populace, visibly reminded the empire that Talaat and the Committee were the masters of Turkey. After this tragical test of strength, the Sultan never attempted again to interfere in affairs of state. He knew what had happened to Abdul Hamid, and he feared an even more terrible fate for himself.

By the time I reached Constantinople the Young Turks thus completely controlled the Sultan. He was popularly referred to as an "irade-machine," a phrase which means about the same thing as when we refer to a man as a "rubber stamp." His state duties consisted