Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

tial fpirit of the Turks, which was formerly animated by religious fanaticism, has been long in a state of decline, and the members, which compofe the vast body of their empire, are feeble and difunited.

In 1774, with its utmost efforts the Turkish empire could only bring 142,000 men into the field; and these numbers, refembling a mob affembled, rather than an army levied, were foon leffened by defertion. In 1773, when the Porte fent 60,000 Janizaries towards Trebizonde, to be embarked for the Crimea, all but

[ocr errors]

The inftitution of the Janizaries [by Amurath I.] gave at that time a decifive fuperiority to the Turkish arms, as they presented a system of difcipline, and a permanency of organization, till then unknown in Europe. These haughty and celebrated legions were long the terror of furrounding nations, and continued to be looked upon as formidable, until the middle of the seventeenth century. At that time the Turkish power ceased to aggrandise itself; it made a pause in its conquefts, a pause prophetic of that downfal toward which it has fince fo rapidly verged, and which feems now to threaten a speedy approach. The fteps which led to this degradation are easily discernible." Eton, p. 62. * Eton, p. 67.

10,000 difperfed themselves on their route.

[ocr errors]

Their cavalry (which is the only part of their army that deferves the name of regular forces) is as much afraid of their own foot, as of the enemy; for in a defeat they fire at them to get their horfes, in order to efcape quicker. Their force lies in their attack, but for that they must be prepared; taken unawares, the smallest number puts them to flight; and when their fudden fury of attack is abated, which is at the leaft obftinate resistance, they are feized with a panic, and have no rallying as formerly."

[ocr errors]

Cafting our view over the pafhaliks, or governments most immediately connected with the feat of empire, we shall find them diftracted, diforganized, and fcarcely yielding more than a nominal obedience to the Sultan: fuch are the pafhaliks of Afia Minor and Syria. With regard to the more diftant provinces, they may be confidered connected with the Porte rather by treaty than as integral parts of the

"The hordes of Tartars, which formerly affifted the regular troops, are now principally under the dominion of Ruffia."

empire.

empire. In this light I view Moldavia and Walachia in the north, and Egypt in the fouth. These unfortunate countries (unfortunate in their political regulation, however bleffed by the bounty of nature) suffer, though in different degrees, from the harpy touch of Turkish defpotism." The Sultan is the nominal fovereign of Bagdad; but the Pasha has the real power in his own hands. In Armenia Major, and all the neighbouring countries, there are whole nations or tribes of independent people, who do not even acknowledge the Porte, or any of its pafhas. The three Arabias do not acknowledge the fovereignty of the Sultan, who only poffeffes in thefe countries a few unimportant towns."

66

The Pafhas of Ahifka, of Trebizonde, and Acri, often fet the Porte at defiance, Near Smyrna the great Agas, or independent chiefs, maintain armies, and often lay that city under contribution. All the inhabitants from Smyrna to Palestine are independent, under different lords, and of different religions, and are confidered by the Porte as enemies. In Syria the Sul

Eton, p. 287.

* Eton, p. 289.

tan

tan virtually poffeffes the ports of Latachia (Laodicea,) Alexandretta (or Scanderoon), the port of Aleppo, Tripoli, Sidon, Jaffa, and a few infignificant places: but the country belongs to the Curds; and the caravans from Scanderoon to Aleppo are obliged to go round by Antioch, as they will not fuffer the Turks to pass through it. In Europe the Morea, Albania, Epirus, and Scutari, are more or lefs in a ftate of rebellion. Bofnea, Croatia, &c. obey the Porte only as long as it fuits them to defend themselves against its enemies, in the war with Germany. Lately we have feen all European Turkey in arms against the Porte; Adrianople in imminent danger, and even Conftantinople itself trembling for its fafety." The advances of Paswan Oglou become every day more formidable; but the fatal blow will perhaps be ftruck by a power the leaft fufpected. by the deluded Mahometans. And when we confider the aftonishing decrease in population throughout the Empire", and the failure

Eton, p. 292.

The number of inhabitants in Conftantinople is eftimated by Mr. Eton at lefs than 300,000; and he supposes the population of the empire to hold the fame

propor

failure of every attempt to revive the an tient military spirit of the people", fince the period allotted for the decline of its power; fuch a combination of circumftances not only justifies the expectation of its fall upon every principle founded on human experience, but holds out a most ftriking example of the accuracy of Pro

proportion with the common calculation. After fome inquiry into the causes of this astonishing decrease, he adds, "It is therefore reasonable to conclude, that depopulation could not formerly have made fo rapid a progrefs as at prefent, and that in a century more, things remaining in their present situation, the Turkish empire will be nearly extinct. It is worthy of remark, that the Curds in the mountains, and other independent tribes who do not mix with the Turks, are exempt from the mortality occafioned by all the calamities, which afflict the countries more immediately subject to the Porte." Eton, p. 270, &c.

n

Many attempts have been made within the laft century, principally by French officers, to renew the antient military spirit of the Turks, and to inftruct them in European tactics. Gazi Haffan, the celebrated Pafha, tried, with unlimited power for nineteen years, to inspire his own spirit into the troops; but he found all his efforts ineffectual. The prefent Sultan, Selim, has attempted to abolish the Janizaries, and introduce the European discipline into the army gradually, by inftituting a new corps trained to the musket and bayonet; but this attempt is not likely to fucceed to any extent. Eton, chap. iii.

phecy,

« VorigeDoorgaan »