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    CHAPTER II. - HOW THE EASTERN QUESTION BECAME THE WORLD’S QUESTION

    As already related, to break Russia’s hold on Constantinople and thus avoid a general war the Powers of Western Europe assumed the responsibility for Turkey July 27, 1839.WGI 26.1

    To do this they had suddenly sunk all their differences. But after they had done it they immediately discovered that the responsibility was all that they really did have. For when they began to act under the responsibility, all their differences were just as real as before. At the very first approach to the immediate question to be settled—the pacifying of Egypt—this appeared with force.WGI 26.2

    First of all, France was striving for “supremacy in the Mediterranean.” Ever since Napoleon’s expedition into Egypt and the East, in 1798, she had counted that Egypt should rightfully be hers. Mehemet Ali was friendly to France. This was therefore such an element in her favor, that she desired only such a settlement as would leave Mehemet Ali the “full right” that he had gained.WGI 26.3

    England was now as much opposed to French influence in Egypt as she had been when Napoleon was there. And therefore could not agree with France in supporting the ambition of Mehemet Ali; and also because of the danger that to support Mehemet’s claims would so weaken Turkey that Russia might regain her lost advantage.WGI 27.1

    Russia, still indulging her ancient ambition and hope to gain Constantinople, and with it as much of Turkish territory as possible, would not favor Mehemet’s claims because that meant alienation of Turkish territory.WGI 27.2

    “Austria and Prussia upheld Russia and hence France stood alone.”WGI 27.3

    These four powers, standing for the integrity of Turkish territory and therefore against all claim of independence for Mehemet Ali, caused France now to be left out of the “concert” as Russia had been at the first. And in the settlement of the difficulties of Turkey, these four Powers now went forward without France, just as, without Russia, the original four had originated the “concert” and assumed the responsibility for Turkey. Accordingly, July 15, 1840, these four Powers, without France—Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia—with a plenipotentiary of the Turkish government present, concluded the treaty of London which fixed the terms of settlement for Turkey and Mehemet Ali. “In this treaty the hereditary tenure of the Pashalik of Egypt was assured to Mehemet Ali, together with the life-long possession of a part of Syria, in case he submitted within ten days to the decisions of the Conference.” Mehemet Ali on his part was to evacuate all other parts of the Sultan’s dominions that were occupied by his troops, and must return to the Sultan the Ottoman fleet.—Historians’ History of the World, Vol. XXIV, pp. 453, 454.WGI 27.4

    These terms without being subject to any change or qualification, were handed as an ultimatum to Mehemet Ali in Alexandria by the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs on August 11, 1840. Also on that same day, in Constantinople, in answer to a question by the Turkish government as to just what would be done, and how, in the event of Mehemet Ali’s refusal, the ambassadors of the four Powers gave the collective and official information that there was no ground for any anxiety on the part of the Divan as to any contingencies: the Powers were now responsible for all these things. Thus on August 11, 1840, the independence of the Turkish empire had vanished; the Powers had taken full control; and the Eastern Question had become a fixture in the world’s affairs.WGI 28.1

    Against the settlement made in the London Treaty, and the ultimatum presented by the Powers, there was “a wild cry of protest in France” which indeed assumed at least the show of “warlike preparations.” Mehemet Ali thus encouraged refused to comply with the terms of the powers. Force was applied by the Powers. “An Anglo-Austrian fleet sailed for the Syrian coast; Beirut and Acre were taken, and Alexandria was bombarded by the English commodore Napier.”WGI 29.1

    “England, which had forsaken France to defend Turkey against Egypt, soon felt the necessity of returning to her, to guarantee Constantinople against the Powers, called the “Convention of the Straits,” was arranged, to which France was admitted on equal terms with all others. This Convention finally settled all remaining difficulties, and was signed by France as well as by the other Powers. “France had thus regained her position in Europe;” and in the concert—July 13, 1841.WGI 29.2

    This new turn in affairs, with a change of ministry in France, robbed Mehemet Ali of all shadow of help; and out of all the terms offered him in the beginning, he was glad to be allowed the one item of the hereditary Pashalik of Egypt, with even this “subject to the right of investiture and appointment” by the Sultan, and with the payment of an annual tribute to Turkey. And even this favor he owed to England alone, who had in it, as will be seen, a far reaching purpose.WGI 29.3

    The formation of the “concert of Europe” in the assumption by the Powers of the Responsibility for Turkey did not by any means quench Russia’s ancient purpose to possess Constantinople. It only united the other Powers of Europe in such a way as the longer, and possibly the more surely, to keep her from getting it. Russia, however, still kept this great object ever before her; and the prospect became apparently so bright for “the speedy extinction of Turkey” that “in 1853 the Czar Nicholas proposed to the British ambassador, Sir H. Seymour, a plan for the division of ‘the sick man’s’ inheritance as soon as he should expire.” And this was the cause of the Crimean War, 1853, September—1856, February 1.WGI 30.1

    It was at this time, the night of January 9, 1853, in conversation with the British ambassador, that there was coined by the Czar, in speaking of Turkey, the expressive phrase “sick man” that has ever since clung to that power. The Czar said: “We have on our hands a sick man—a very sick man; it will be a great misfortune if one of these days he should slip away from us before the necessary arrangements have been made.” And thus “As long as there is memory of an Ottoman empire in Europe, so long the Turkey of the days before the Crimean War will be called ‘the sick man.’”—McCarthy’s “History of Our Own Times,” Chap. XXV, par. 10.WGI 30.2

    By a fateful Providence, the Czar, in “two private interviews,” January 9 and 14, 1853, gave to the British ambassador his most secret intentions. They “were nothing less than to wind up the bankrupt estate of the ‘sick man.’ Servia, the Principalities, and Bulgaria were to form independent States under the protection of Nicholas. As to Constantinople, if circumstances obliged him to occupy it, he would establish himself there as a trustee, and not as proprietor. England should in her turn be free to appropriate territories at her convenience, provided she did not stretch out her hand for Constantinople. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘it is as a friend and a gentleman that I speak to you; if England and myself can come to an understanding about this affair, the rest matters little to me, and I shall care very little as to what the others may think or do.’ He insisted on this latter point. ‘If we are only agreed, I am completely at ease about the West of Europe; what the others may think at the bottom of their heart is of small importance.’ These ‘others’ were first France and then Austria.”—Rambaud’s “History of Russia,” Vol. II, Chap. XXIV.WGI 31.1

    France and Austria had gained from the Sultan certain concessions: upon which “Russian jealousy immediately awoke” and a special envoy was sent to Constantinople to make demands that “amounted to nothing less” than the granting to the Czar by the Sultan, “the protectorate over all the Sultan’s subjects professing the Greco-Russian worship—that is to say the great majority of the inhabitants of Turkey in Europe.”WGI 32.1

    This enormous claim was urged by Russia because the Czar could not think that, just at that time especially, “the Western powers were in a position to come to an understanding and to act in common,” and “he hoped to triumph over the Divan by audacity.” And if audacity should not win, then if Turkey should dare to go alone to war, the result would be the certain “conquest of Constantinople, the deliverance of Jerusalem, and the extension of the Slavonic empire.” But the Czar was mistaken all around. The Sultan seeing that Russia’s demands meant practical conquest anyhow, resolved on “making a supreme effort to sell her life dearly, if it were impossible to save it.”WGI 32.2

    The Sultan therefore declared war and in his desperation the king of the North went “forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to make away many.” Daniel 11:44.WGI 33.1

    Also “by an almost miraculous concourse of circumstances, an alliance was formed between France and England; those two ancient and ardent rivals.” “Nicholas flattered himself that he could persuade and carry away the English; but it did not enter into his calculations that Napoleonic France could ever form an alliance with the England of Waterloo, of St. Helena, and of Hudson Lowe. The imprudent confidence to Seymour rendered the strange alliance possible. England took fright, and it was now her turn to urge France with energetic measure. The invasion of the Principalities appeared to her to be the first step towards the execution of the schemes of dismemberment.”—Id.WGI 33.2

    Though the Czar’s secret intentions had been given to the British ambassador “as a friend and a gentleman,” the British ambassador of course immediately gave them to his government. But far more than that, Britain now made public her ambassador’s report of the Czar’s interview. “This violation of the secrecy asked by the emperor, ‘speaking as a friend and a gentleman,’ profoundly irritated Russia. The consequences of these revelations were very serious. France, Austria, and Prussia, saw how completely Nicholas intended to sacrifice them, and were stunned by his contempt for all that ‘the others’ might think or do.”—Id.WGI 33.3

    And, now the “almost miraculous” alliance of France and Britain for the purpose of aiding Turkey was immediately sanctioned by both Austria and Prussia in “a protocol signed at Vienna by the four Powers.” “Nicholas had found means to unite all Europe against him.”—Id.WGI 34.1

    All this was an astonishment to the Czar. But it was too late now to stop; and in going on, the Czar attempted to draw the sympathy of the people by the pretense that it was a war of religions, with Russia as the champion of Christianity against the Turkish enemies of Christianity. he actually published a manifesto in which he exclaimed: “Against Russia fighting for Orthodoxy, England and France enter the lists as champions of the enemies of Christianity. But Russia will not fail I her sacred vocation.... Fighting for our oppressed brothers who confess the faith of Christ, Russia will have but one heart and voice to cry ‘God, our Saviour! whom have we to fear? Let Christ arise and let his enemies be scattered!’”—“Historians’ History of the World,” Vol. 17, pp. 562, 563.WGI 34.2

    The successive events of the war continued the Czar’s astonishment. And when peace was finally granted him, both the power and the prestige of Russia were greatly reduced.WGI 35.1

    In 1877-’79 Russia again began hostilities against Turkey. Turkey was so manifestly in the wrong that the Western powers allowed events to take their own course—till Constantinople was endangered. Russia was eminently successful; and her armies reached a point less than seven miles from Constantinople. Yet Russia did not dare to attempt to take the city; for, to do so, would be to throw Europe into war, as the English fleet had already been “directed to pass the Dardanelles.” Therefore in the treaty of San Stefano, peace was arranged between Russia and Turkey. But this treaty was not allowed to stand; the Western powers in the Congress of Berlin supplanted it with a treaty composed by all the Powers: thus the Powers are still asserting their supremacy and sole responsibility for Turkey. Yet it is recognized that the war of 1877, more than ever “rendered Turkish domin- ion in Europe an impossibility.”—Id. Vol. XXIV, p. 433.WGI 35.2

    It is singular that while all the other Powers solidly unite to keep Russia from having Constantinople, none of them has ever made any attempt, nor has even manifested any desire, to have it for herself. When the Emperor Joseph II of Austria met Catherine II at Kherson, and she first opened to him the plan to take Constantinople then, he exclaimed, “What will we do with it?” There seems to be a sort of fatality of conviction that only Russia can ever really have it when Turkey goes; and that the only proper course of the other powers is simply, as long as possible, to keep her from it.WGI 36.1

    This conviction that only Russia should possess Constantinople has been expressed in the following words:—WGI 36.2

    “The month of May, 1453, had dragged the Byzantine Empire finally to its grave. The Greek supremacy had long been a thing of the past; the hollow phantom of it was now to vanish away. But Byzantium has found a mighty heir. The Czar of Russia took a princess of the house of Palaeologus to wife; the crown of Constantine Monomachus was placed on the head of the autocrat of all the Russias in the Kremlin. The Russian Empire is de factor the sequel to the Byzantine. And if ever St. Sophia is to be restored to the true faith, and Asia Minor delivered from the hideous misrule of the Turk, it can only come to pass through the agency of the Czar of Russia. None but the Czar of Russia, ‘the defender of the orthodox faith,’ and inspired with a sense of the obligations involved in his great office, can become emperor of Constantinople.”—Gelzer; quoted in “Historians’ History of the World,” Vol. 7, p. 356, (footnote).WGI 36.3

    This has led to another curious course of procedure, that has caused the question concerning Constantinople and the Turkish possessions—the Eastern Question,—to become the World’s Question. That is: that while all have solidly united to preserve Constantinople and the Turkish power, and also the Turkish territory so far as any actual alienation of territory is concerned, yet each power has been untiring in its watchfulness and its effort to gain control, and event to occupy, as much as possible of that territory by influence of whatever sort; so that to-day the Turkish territory outside of Europe is practically distributed among the three powers, Russia, Germany, and Britain, by what is recognized as their “spheres of influence.”WGI 37.1

    It is as though the integrity of the Turkish power and of Constantinople, were systematically held before themselves as a mere foil to the furtive grabbing, by each one, of all that she could possibly gain. And the plain endeavor is that each one shall have her sphere of influence so well established and so clearly defined, that when the inevitable day shall come when Constantinople falls and Turkey fails, they can each look one another in the face and say, Here we all are; what is the use of any fighting? Let our respective spheres of influence be now held as permanent division and possession of the Turkish territory!WGI 37.2

    And the conditions are now such that this could easily be done.WGI 38.1

    Russia’s sphere of influence is recognized as embracing all the northern and north-eastern parts of Asia Minor.WGI 38.2

    By means of railroad concession and possession, beginning at Scutari, Germany’s sphere of influence embraces all central Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia clear to Bagdad on the Tigris.WGI 38.3

    Britain’s sphere, which is already largely actual possession and sovereignty, embraces Cyprus and the southern coast of Asia Minor, Egypt and Arabia.WGI 38.4

    France’s sphere is commercial rather than territorial, yet it is sufficient to make her a power to be considered and reckoned with, when the day of decision and division shall come.WGI 38.5

    This drawing of spheres of influence, as to Turkish territory has led to another curious thing: that is, that these spheres of influence especially as between Britain and Russia have gradually but irresistibly been extended clear across Asia to the Pacific Ocean and now actually embrace the whole East. So that the same powers that stand, chiefly, face to face in Turkey, stand also, chiefly, face to face in China.WGI 39.1

    Indeed, with only small spaces or petty States between them as “buffer States,” Britain and Russia actually stand face to face clear across Asia from the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles to the Pacific Ocean.WGI 39.2

    Great Britain’s sphere embraces Cyprus and the southern coast of Asia Minor, Egypt, Arabia, India, Thibet, the whole of the heart of China, and, by her present offensive and defensive alliance with Japan, even to the point of Kamchatka.WGI 39.3

    Russia’s sphere embraces northern and northeastern Asia Minor, Persia, all Central Asia, North China, and Siberia to the very point of Kamchatka.WGI 39.4

    From Scutari to Bagdad, Germany stands between Britain and Russia; and, until Japan’s victory over Russia, in China at Kiao-chau, Germany also stood close in with Britain and Russia.WGI 39.5

    And France holds southern China as her sphere of influence in the extreme East.WGI 40.1

    And it must be borne in mind that while these powers have been extending their spheres of influence form the Bosphorus to the Pacific Ocean, they have not hesitated to absorb amongst them all Africa also.WGI 40.2

    Thus the powers that are responsible for Turkey are to-day the powers that control all Europe, all Africa, Australia and most of the islands of the Pacific; and all Asia; with Britain extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific in the British possessions of North America.WGI 40.3

    And this is how it is, and as plain as A B C, that the Eastern Question has become and now is, and to the end will be, the World’s Question.WGI 40.4

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