Page:The Sclavonic Provinces of the Ottoman Empire.djvu/8

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public order of Europe, or upon whatever ground—we have, as you know very well to your cost, taken an important and active part in former years in the affairs relating to the Government of Turkey. We have, in truth, I may say, set up Turkey upon her legs. The probability is that she would not be upon her legs at this moment but for the powerful assistance which, in conjunction with France, we rendered to her, and which it was very doubtful whether France would have undertaken to render if she had stood alone. Consequently, considering the grievous complaints that are made, and the horrors that occur, it becomes a matter of great importance to us in the discharge of our responsibilities to know something about the interior state of Turkey. It is extremely difficult for us to know the state of our own country. We know it but very imperfectly, although we have the assistance of a Press which is organised to the very highest degree, and although we have the aid which we derive from the invaluable privilege of public discussion, inherited from our forefathers, and never more valued than at present. In Turkey, on the other hand, we are dealing with a country in a state that is in some respects semi-barbarous, and in some respects worse than barbarous—meaning by the term barbarous a country in a very early stage of social progress. We are, therefore, in some difficulty, because we have duties to discharge, and we are not amply provided with the means of discharging them. The consequences of this are to be. seen and felt by us all in our different positions. I can assure you that I, as a public man, having perhaps opportunities of information superior to the average, have to lament very deeply the insufficiency of my own information. For the last six months I have laboured almost unceasingly to increase it; but I still feel that it is very defective. My desire this evening is to do something, as far as time permits, towards providing my hearers with a clearer view of the interior condition of Turkey than is commonly possessed at present, and likewise to do something towards bringing home to the public mind that which is by many most strongly felt—namely, that down to the present moment, in the case of the people, in the case even of statesmen, aye, and very often in the case of travellers, who went to the East and who came back lamentably deficient of information, we all have been too much in the dark as to the real state of affairs.

I have chosen as the principal source of what I shall say this night, the Work of two English ladies. It may seem a little strange that two ladies should undertake the task of travelling through a country like Turkey; but these two ladies were persons of great courage and intelligence, and likewise imbued with feelings of great philanthropy; and one of them (Miss Irby) has devoted years of her life, and is at this moment devoting herself, to the highly important and laudable purpose of the extension of education in some of the Turkish provinces.