« ElőzőTovább »
and obligations of the Treaty of Paris, by inducing the other Powers, and especially England, to relax their hold on those conditions of peace; and we demonstrated that the occupation of Bulgaria was not the easy task which some enthusiastic persons had imagined, and that unless the assent of England and the absolute neutrality of Austria were secured, such an enterprise would have obstacles to surmount even more perilous than the resistance to be anticipated from the Turkish fortresses and feet. In January we anticipated that the work in which the Conference at Constantinople was at that moment engaged would probably fail, as similar negotiations had often failed before, because the Porte would never consent, until compelled by force of arms, to surrender the essential conditions of sovereignty ; and it might confidently be predicted that there was only one Power by which the force of arms would be applied at all, and that Power could only go to war at its peril. These propositions, which were a good deal contested at the time, are now established by all the force of reason and experience: they are become facts. The Bulgarian agitation of last autumn was a mere wind-bag: no sooner was the bladder pricked than it collapsed altogether.
We say therefore to the distinguished members of that Conference, in the words of Touchstone to Corin in the forest of Arden, “ Come, Shepherd, let us make an honourable retreat; though not with bag and baggage, yet with scrip and scrippage.' But it is not a matter of regret, in the interest of this country, that the Ottoman Porte declined the proposals of the Conference; for if they imposed an obligation on the Turkish Government, they imposed a duty, not less onerous, on ourselves -namely, that of controlling the administration of a State not forming part of her Majesty's dominions. The more the inconveniences of divided sovereignty are considered the more irksome does the responsibility attached to it become. To assume any share in the government of the Turkish Empire, in its present condition, is a task which might well daunt the most enthusiastic politician; but to assume it with limited and divided power and unlimited responsibility is little short of an act of madness. We should bind ourselves to enforce terms which other parties would seek to evade; to make those terms acceptable to races of men whom we wish to protect, although they would probably be deceived by our philanthropy ; and to provide means at the cost of this country for carrying into effect these magnanimous designs. Those are duties which British Ministers, already overburdened with the cares of an immense empire, would do well not to accept. It is not within their power or their capacity to set right all that goes wrong in the universe ; and it is in the highest degree dangerous and impolitic to assume functions they cannot thoroughly discharge. It should never be lost sight of, that whosoever contributes to the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire by external means, is bound to erect some form of government in its place, and to assume the liability of maintaining order in the Sultan's dominions.
The Ottoman Empire is apparently in a state of revolution. Two Sovereigns have been deposed within the last year. Two Ministers have been assassinated. A third Minister, on whom the hopes of all the well-wishers of Turkey were fixed, and who might possibly have been the Turgot or the Necker of the falling State, was dismissed by a palace intrigue, which only conferred fresh lustre on his character and policy. No occurrence at Constantinople would surprise us. We are only surprised that more violent occurrences have not already taken place. But the more alarming we consider the state of the Turkish Empire to be, the less should we be disposed to interfere in it. There never was a case in which the doctrines of nonintervention were more absolutely recommended by experience and reason; and we mean by the doctrines of non-intervention, not only that we should not interfere ourselves in the relations of the Turkish Government to its subjects, but that we should resist by every possible means the interference of any other State in so complicated a problem. If there are, as we trust there may be, the elements of a future Government amongst the mixed races and religions of the Ottoman Empire, let them have fair play; and it may be hoped that after a period of agitation and conflict society would recover its balance and self-control. Up to the present time, the Turkish Parliament, still in its infancy, has surprised the world by the dignity and independence of its attitude; it evidently contains men of a different stamp from the Pashas of the Divan; and the representatives of various creeds have thus far united in a common attempt to save their country. But no such result is to be obtained by foreign intervention, which would only be a pretext for foreign conquest and an endless source of jealousy and dissension to the world. We are therefore emphatically for non-intervention—the policy which has been so loudly professed and eagerly practised by some of those who now hold an opposite language; but a non-intervention which should imply a vigilant attention to the designs and actions of other Powers, and a determination to oppose them if they become adverse or injurious to the interests of the British Empire.
If hopes can still be entertained that the Turkish Government will have the wisdom and the strength to enter upon a course of reform and to conciliate its own subjects and the Powers of Europe by adopting the measures recommended by the Conference, it is clear that these beneficial changes can only be accomplished in a state of peace. As long as the existence of the Ottoman Empire is threatened by formidable rebellions, fomented by foreign emissaries and assisted by arms and funds supplied by foreign associations-as long as immense hostile armies are hanging on the Turkish frontiers both in Europe and Asia, and apparently only waiting the signal of invasion—the Porte is compelled to concentrate all its energy and all its resources on measures of military preparation. The finances and the population of the Empire are strained to the last extremity for the purposes of national defence; and it is unreasonable to suppose, as long as such dangers threaten its existence, that the country can be relieved from the burdens and abuses which press so heavily upon it. The first condition, therefore, to enable the Porte to meet its financial engagements, to reform its vicious system of taxation, and to reduce its armaments, is to secure it from military aggression from without. It is vain to hope for any substantial measures of reform when the enemy is at the gates; and whatever may be the vices of Turkish administration, they have been augmented a hundredfold by the cruel necessities of her position and the menacing attitude of her neighbours.
The novel and extravagant doctrine that the misrule or anarchy, which may unhappily prevail in a country, confer upon other States a right to interfere in its affairs, and even to make war upon it for the purpose of enforcing their own conceptions of justice and policy, appears to us to be unsound and full of danger. The French Revolution of 1791 was a period of anarchy and misrule, but we hold that it did not justify the Declaration of Pilnitz and the subsequent invasion of France. Great Britain abhors the slave trade and the state of slavery, but she never went to war to put down the traffic or to emancipate the American negroes. As a question of humanity, no case could be stronger than that, but the sympathies of humanity, however just and noble, cannot override the rights of sovereignty or the obligations of international law. A State has no right to go to war unless its own interests are positively and directly injured. Wars of sympathy are too apt to be mere pretexts for wars of ambition. As far as the welfare of the Christian subjects of the Porte is concerned, in which we
take a sincere interest, there can be little doubt that much more might be obtained for them by friendly and disinterested language than by the terms of menace and vituperation which were addressed to Turkey. In selecting Mr. Layard as our temporary representative at Constantinople during the convalescence of Sir Henry Elliot, the Government has placed at that important post a man of very advanced and decided Liberal opinions, who himself belonged to Mr. Gladstone's Administration in 1868, but at the same time a Minister thoroughly acquainted with the East, just and friendly to the Turkish Government, and far more likely to obtain from their confidence and good will what has been refused to intimidation.
The British Government have, after great deliberation and hesitation, agreed to sign a Protocol with Russia and the other Powers, in which, no doubt, the main principles which we all desire to see adopted by the Porte are expressed; but the application and even existence of the Protocol is made dependent on its pacific character. If, therefore, Russia intended that this engagement should supply her with a groundwork for ulterior operations and sanction her military preparations, she has been defeated; and it is not impossible that this instrument may promote the maintenance of peace. If, on the contrary, Russia only sought to extricate herself from a false and dangerous position, it was right to afford her any facilities for that purpose ; though we can hardly conceive that the momentous question of peace or war, affecting the lives of millions and the destinies of empires, turned on the acceptance or rejection of a few lines in a protocol by the Ministers of a foreign State. If that were so, Russia would have ceased to be mistress of her own actions, and her policy would be regulated in Downing Street. We are not yet in possession of the motives which have decided the conduct of the Queen's Ministers on this question of the Protocol ; and there is probably much in connexion with the negotiation of this document at the other Courts of Europe which may be known to the British Government, but which they have not the right to disclose. Upon the whole, it would perhaps have been more consistent with the policy of this country and the opinions of this nation to enter into no written or positive engagements at all with the Continental Powers of Europe, on a question which is still so threatening and so obscure. We confess that the history of the Protocol of April 4, 1826, which we have related at length in the preceding pages, has on our mind the effect of a warning voice. But, on the other hand, this negotiation may have elicited from Austria and Germany a more distinct intimation that their neutrality could not be relied on; and recent experience must have satisfied the emissaries of Russia, that although all Europe is anxiously desirous to see reforms effected in the administration of the Turkish Empire and in the condition o its Christian subjects, all Europe is equally determined that no intervention, based on these specious grounds, shall be made subservient to the purposes of Russian aggression.
on Railway Profits and Railway Losses.'
In the 'Edinburgh Review' for April, 1876, we took occasion to call attention to the steady decline in the proportion of the net receipts to the capital invested in the railways of the United Kingdom; and to give the reasons, as far as they were suggested by the information then accessible, which appeared to us in great measure to account for the phenomenon. We pointed out the suspicious character of the mode of keeping railway accounts, and the fact that neither the public, the shareholders, nor the Board of Trade could ascertain, from the published accounts or returns, the respective profit or loss of either of the three main branches of business now carried on by railway companies, viz. the passenger, the merchandise, and the mineral traffic. We cited facts that seemed to indicate that, on the long lines, this last department of business was carried on at a relative, if not at an absolute, loss; and we urged on all concerned the duty of ascertaining, beyond question, what rates and fares were remunerative, and what were not.
A considerable amount of information has reached us, from different sources, since the publication of the paper in question. And it is only right to say that not only the balance of such information, but every item of its detail
, has been such as to confirm and strengthen the views we formerly ventured to express. The admirable reports of Mr. Danvers on the Indian Railways, and the minute care with which Mr. Rendel has analysed and tabulated the results of their working, are such as to enable the student to ascertain the relative cost of the various descriptions of traffic on these lines, and to show that while the transport of passengers at very low fares, even approaching one-third of a penny per mile, may be remunerative, when the numbers are large, the same rule does not apply to goods. The cost of conveying a ton of merchandise appears to be about equal to that of conveying three passengers for an equal distance. From Louisville, in America, we have received a pamphlet written by Mr. Albert Fink, the Vice-President and General Superintendent of the Louisville and Nashville and Great