« VorigeDoorgaan »
her effort to crush it, and he might then step in and take the prize. In pursuance of these principles, Count Nesselrode declared, officially, that “his imperial majesty could not regard the enterprise of Ipsilanti as anything but the effect of the exaltation which characterizes the present epoch, as well as of the inexperience and levity of that young man, whose name is ordered to be erased from the Russian service.” Orders were sent, at the same time, to the imperial forces of the Pruth and in the Black Sea to observe the strictest neutrality.*
This was the death-blow to the insurrection in the Danubian provinces. Unaided by Russia, and deprived of even her usual support, it failed in Wallachia, Moldavia, and Macedonia, from want of cohesion, but in ancient Greece, where the inhabitants were more homogenous and more numerous, and favored by the mountains, it took a more obstinate and decisive character. Ipsilanti and other heroes crowned themselves with a glory worthy of their ancestors. They had the sympathy of Western Europe, and poets sung war songs to stir them up to "do or die.”+ The struggle continued seven years, when it was put an end to by the joint intervention of France, England and Russia guaranteeing the independence of Greece, and recognising her as a state within the narrow limits she occupies to-day. Whatever credit may be given to England and France for their sympathy with the heroism of the Greeks, they certainly deserve none for the treacherous and abominable crime of surprising and destroying, in concert with Russia, the Turkish fleet at Navarino, without a declaration of war; and then they only appeared in the character of friendly mediators. It was worthy of the treachery of the British, who, in 1806, sent a powerful fleet to Copenhagen, which the Danes, supposing to be friendly to them, admitted through the sound without question. Their illusion was soon dispelled when the English plenipotentiary demanded possession of the whole Danish fleet, the arsenal, and the fortress of Cronenberg. Such an outrageous demand was of course refused, and the city was bombarded, when 400 houses were destroyed and 2,000 inhabitants killed. A capitulation took place, and the English took away the Danish fleet, after destroying their docks. The only reason as
* Chateaubriand, Congres de Verone, i. 222. Ann. Hist. iv. 384, 385.
† See Byron, “Sons of the Greeks, arise,” &c.
signed for this violation of the law of nations, was that Denmark might possibly hereafter become an ally of France. France, Russia and Austria protested against the outrage. But, in 1827, France and Russia united with England in perpetrating as great a crime by destroying the whole of the Sultan's magnificent naval armament, cooped up without suspicion of injury, in the bay of Navarino. By this wrong, which the Duke of Wellington called an "untoward event,” they left Turkey at the mercy of her mortal foe, and even said that “the Sultan had destroyed his own army, and now his allies had destroyed his navy."* The result was, that Russia soon sought a quarrel with the defenceless Sultan, pretending that the Turkish government had oppressed the Servians, the Wallachians, and the Moldavians. The Russian army, owing to the blundering of a Turkish general, succeeded in crossing the Balkan, the last line of defence against the Muscovite, † and dictated another treaty in the city of Adrianople, which they entered victoriously—that city which was the old capital of the Ottoman empire, and is still only second in importance and population to Constantinople.
The treaty of Adrianople, was the crowning blow given by Russia to Turkey. The two principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia were restored only on condition of continuing under the protection of Russia, and the princes or hospodars being independent and holding their dignity for life, of which they could not be deprived without the consent of Russia. They were merely to pay a tribute to Turkey, which was not to commence till after the Russian troops evacuated, which was not to be for ten years, and until Turkey paid Russia $25,000,000, as the expenses of the war. By this treaty, the Porte was bound to give up to Russia all that she had hitherto possessed to the mouth of the left bank of the Danube, including towns and fortresses, and the Mussulman subjects of the Sultan were to remove thence. Numerous provisions were made regarding commerce, and if there was any infraction of the treaty, and Russia did not receive full and
* Moltke—The destruction of the army is in allusion to the massacre of the Janisseries.
| The other two lines are the Danube—the second line which covers the whole northern provinces of the Turkish empire, and then the extensive, uncultivated plains of Moldavia and Wallachia (the first line), the Scythia of the ancients affording no sustenance to an invading army.
prompt satisfaction, (in both cases being herself the judge, she had the right of immediately declaring war against the Ottoman empire.
Such was the treaty of Adrianople concluded with the knowledge of the western powers, scarcely a year after the crime committed by them at Navarino. It needs no comment. The Sultan became a merely nominal sovereign in a large portion of his empire, while the powers of the west, from their fatal rivalry and foolish projects of individual ambition, permitted themselves to be overshadowed by the house of Romanoff. But unfortunate Turkey was now destined to further troubles within. Mehemet Ali, who, up to 1832, had been the Sultan's submissive Pacha in Egypt, revolted from his rule. Rendered powerful by the concession to him of the island of Candia, for his important services against the Greeks, he conceived the project of taking possession of Syria. He threw off the Sultan's yoke, and civil war broke out between them. In a short time the rebel chief was in possession of Syria. He then marched towards Constantinople, meditating the seizure of the empire. In a great and decisive battle at Konich, by his superior generalship, Ibrahim, son of Mehemet Ali, defeated the Turks with great slaughter. Had the victorious Egyptians then boldly marched on Constantinople, they would have captured it, for the population within would rise in favor of Mehemet Ali, regarding him as the true Caliph of the Mahometan religion, on account of his courage and ability. But Ibrahim was then ignorant of the magnitude of his own success. He remained inactive for some time, and then marched towards the Bosphorus, saying, he would leave it to the Oulemas* to determine between him and the Sultan. But the latter had gained time and applied for aid to England, which was at that time so convulsed with demands of reform and menaces of revolution within her own island, that she could not take advantage of the occasion which fortune threw in her way. Had she been able to do so, an effectual barrier might have been placed against Russian progress, and the great war of 1854, might have been averted. British aid was refused, and the Sultan, in desperation, threw himself into the arms of his mortal foe, Russia, offering her the exclusive protectorate of Turkey. The Turkish government skilfully represented the revolt of the Pacha
* The supreme judges and expounders of the Koran.
of Egypt, as a part of the general system of insubordination which had invaded Europe, and which all its monarchies, and Russia in particular, were deeply interested in crushing. The autograph letter of the Sultan to the emperor of Russia, is preserved in the imperial archives of St. Petersburg, and is regarded as one of the greatest triumphs of the Russian empire. Thus Turkey was so reduced that she was compelled to solicit the assistance of her inveterate foe
“ Et propter vitam, vivendi perdere causas."
Russia promptly accepted the offer, recalling her consul from Alexandria, and ordered both land and sea forces to the aid of the Sultan, who now addressed a note to the other powers, appealing to their own self-interest, and “the fatal example of rebellion given by Mehemet Ali.” Such was the foresight of the Russian government, that everything was prepared at Sebastopol to turn the crisis to the very best account. But the French government, by a rapid movement, anticipated Russia, and sent a fleet to the Bosphorus, under Admiral Roussin, who succeeded in effecting a peace before the Russian armament arrived. The terms were the cession of the entire Pachalic of Syria, with the districts of Adana and Egypt, in perpetuity, to Mehemet Ali. The Turkish government accepted these hard terms, to avoid the protection of Russia, and an intimation was made to the Russian ambassador that all was settled. But the Russian admiral would only agree to anchor his fleet in the bay of Bourgas, instead of entering the Bosphorus ; and while lying there, intelligence reached him that Mehemet Ali would not confirm the treaty, and that the negotiations were broken off. The audacious Pacha, knowing the population in Asia were with him, felt confident Constantinople was within his grasp. But the Sultan now invited his Russian protectors to advance. A large Russian fleet entered the Bosphorus, and a land force took post on the mountain of the Grant, within sight of Constantinople. The Egyptian Pacha, sceing that it was no use for him to contend, after the intervention of Russia, accepted & peace, by which he was confirmed in the governments of Crete and Egypt, with the addition of Jerusalem, Damascus, Tripoli, Aleppo, and Adana. He withdrew his forces, and took quiet possession of the ceded districts of Syria. The question for the Sultan now was, how to get rid of his protectors. France and Eng.
land insisted upon the withdrawal of the Russian forces, but this was not done till the agents of the Czar, extorted from the weakness or gratitude of the Sultan, concessions which left the Ottomans completely at the mercy of their northern neighbors. This was the treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, one of the most important diplomatic acts of modern times, and from which necessarily sprang the eastern war of 1854. By this treaty, which was arranged with profound secrecy, it was provided that, for eight years, there should be an alliance, offensive and defensive, between the powers, in pursuance of which, Russia agreed to place her whole fleets and armies at the disposal of the Porte. In addition to this, it was specially stipulated, by a secret article, that, to prevent embarrassment to the Porte, from furnishing material assistance to Russia, in case of attack, “the Ottoman Porte should be bound, in virtue of its obligations towards Russia, to close the Straits of the Dardanelles—that is to say, not to permit any ship of war of a foreign power to enter those Straits under any pretence whatever." Notwithstanding the secresy of this article, it was discovered, by the circumstance of a French ship of war presenting itself at the Dardanelles, and being refused a passage, upon which an explanation was demanded and finally obtained. Nothing could exceed the consternation of the Western powers. All Europe became alarmed. The Western cabinets saw the error they had committed in 1815, in excluding the Porte from the Congress of Vienna, and “the Eastern question,” which was then, for the first time, known by its true name, became grown, and parliaments, presses and cabinets began to look upon it as a matter of vital importance. A second edition of the Congress of Vienna was now postponed by the Austrian minister Metternich, and the Porte invited to attend, but the Sultan declined, and abided by the treaty with Russia. England was troubled to see one arm of the Muscovite extended across Syria, even to the route to the East Indies, while France felt equally uneasy at seeing the other reaching to the Mediterranean, and Austria trembled for her safety. England soon contrived to work her way into the good will of the Sultan, and obtained important commercial advantages from Turkey, in fact, a concession of free navigation for British merchant vessels in the Black Sea, which was the first approach to free trade made in modern Europe. The French were mortally offended, and Mehemet Ali being aware of the fact, took advan