Page:The Sclavonic Provinces of the Ottoman Empire.djvu/11

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conquering race came into Europe they were wonderful as a conquering race. They had an immense talent as a conquering race, as a military horde, and they understood right well the business of conquest, the business of bloodshed, the business of setting themselves up by force above their fellow-creatures. But, as to the ordinary arts of government, they neither understand them at all, nor care one pin about them. At times, in the course of the Turkish history, plans have been submitted to the Ottoman Porte—which, I believe, is the proper official name of the Government—for the total destruction and extermination of the whole of the Christians; but these plans have been rejected, and why? Because they said, "No, it is much better to allow the Christian to pay a ransom for his life. When he has paid a ransom for his life, he will remain and serve our purposes. He will pay taxes for us; cultivate the soil for us. He will have no rights of property. His property will only be that which we do not want. So much of it as we want will be our property. He shall remain, therefore, upon these conditions; and, as to the concerns of his government, we are not going to bother ourselves as to the government of inferior animals, such as the populations of those countries that we have trodden under foot. Let them manage for themselves, so far as they can do so without interfering with our objects and purposes. As for their religion, let them shift for themselves: they have paid their ransom." The name given to the Christian population was "Rayahs." I am informed, or at least I have seen it printed in books, by those who profess to understand the Turkish language, which I do not, that "rayah" means ransomed—one who has paid a price for permission to live. Whether that be the meaning of the word or not, it is the essential idea of the condition of the Christians in the Turkish Empire.

This was a state of things which you will easily understand required radical reform; and radical reform in Turkey was contemplated as a sequel to the Crimean War. At the end of the war the Ottoman Government gave an engagement, perhaps the most solemn ever contracted, certainly one of the most solemn ever contracted in the public history of the world—for it was an engagement sealed in blood and tears—in the blood and tears of many an Englishman and English family—a most solemn engagement to set all this right, and to establish full civil, religious, social, and legal rights amongst its subjects. Twenty years of tranquillity followed. I do not mean that the Empire was always tranquil. There were, there could not but be, rebellions, a natural growth in such a case, that cannot be repressed; but there was no foreign attack or aggression of any kind upon the empire. At the end of these twenty years, when the recent rebellions occurred and the facts were brought more fully to light, we find that, instead of that engagement's having been redeemed,