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ABDUL HAMID, SULTAN OF TURKEY. The Finest Pearl of the Age, and the esteemed Centre of the Universe; at whose grand portals stand the camels of justice and mercy, and to whom the cyes of the kings and people in the West have been drawn; the rulers there finding an example of political prowess and the classes a model of mercy and kindness; our Lord and Master the Sultan of the two Sbores and the High King of the two Seas; the Crown of Ages and the Pride of all Countries, the greatest of all Khalifs; the Shadow of God on Earth; the successor of the Apostle of the Lord of the Universe, the Victorious Conqueror (Al-Ghazi) Sultan Abdul Hamid Khan.
May God protect his Kingdom and place his glory above the Sun and the Moon, and may the Lord supply all the world with the goodness which proceeds froin his Holy Majesty's good intentions.-Turkish newspaper quoted by Mr. H. Anthony Salmoné, Nineteenth Century, November, 1894. MEN and Amen! But if the stock of goodness at the power; by terror they have maintained themselves on
disposal of the Lord does not exceed that which the throne of the Cæsars for five centuries, and it is only proceeds from
l'ecause they can ro His Holy Majesty's
lor ger inspire suffigood intentions it is
cient terror that the to be feared the rest
Ottoman Empire is of the world will be
crumbling into - ruin. put on short rations.
Abdul Hamid, no Not that His Holy
doubt, resorted to Majesty, the Shadow
massacre as a British of God on earth, is
Prime Minister lacking in the material
attempts to renew his with which on classic
power by a dissoluauthority it is under
tion. Atrocities are as stood that Hell is
natural to the Turk paved. He mean's
as the General Elecwell, his intentions are
tions to a Parliamenexcellent. Where he
tarian. They are the fails is in the execu
traditional Ottoman tion. It is this trifling
method of renewing detail that at present
the mandate of the stands in the way of
ruler. No doubt this the elevation of Abdul
is offensive to Western Hamid's glory above
civilisation. The Sulthat of the Sun and
tan is an anachronism the Moon, and indeed,
-in-the-last decade of it is to be feared, has
the nineteentheentury, consigned it to the
and those who have nethermost depths
heen trying to make which, however, is
believe that he was a unjust.
civilised sovereign are Abdul Hamid is, of
no doubt experiencing all men, one of those
the revulsion natural most to be pitied, but
to disappointed hope. at the present moment
But those of us who there is but little pity
have never for one or compassion shown
moment forgotten that him. The custom of
the Turk is 'simply punishing the Pope
the aboriginal savage for Cæsar's crimes is
encamped on the ruins still fashionable
of a civilisation which amongst mankind, and
le destroyed, can Abdul Hamid is being
afford to be more mild made the scapegoat for
ind just in our estiall the atrocities of all
mate of the character the Ottomans. Not
of the last of the line that he is without
ABDUL HAMID II. crimes of his own
In this article I - black and bloody
shall not depart from crimes, according to our Western ideas; but, in the eyes the rule governing all these Character Sketches. I sball of the Oriental, their only criminality consists in that try to represent Abdul Hamid as he appears to himself at they are not black and bloody enough to achieve their his best, rather than as he appears to his victims at his end. For the government of the Osmanli has always worst. It is of course impossible to write entirely from been, since the days when the Tartar horsemen first his standpoint. But it is possible to avoid the habit of taught Asia how terrible was their wrath, a government judging the Sultan of Stamboul as if he were a mug of terror. By terror the Sultans climbed to supreme citizen of a London suburb. And if we can but start
from the point of realising that it is as natural and as habitual to a Sultan to massacro as it is to a Redskin to scalp, we shall at least avoid one element that would be utterly fatal to any realisation of Abdul Hamid's position.
. . I.-BEFORE HIS ACCESSION. Put yourself in his place! Abdul Hamid, the nephew of Abdul Aziz, was reared in the seclusion of the serazlio. Forbidden to take any part in public affairs, he was flung in his earliest manhood into the midst of that debauchery which makes Constantinople the cesspool of the world. For some years he spent his life in riot and excess. Then he suddenly reformed. From a profligate he became an ascetic. Like Prince Hal he banished Jack Falstaff and all his companions of the winecup, and set himself with the zeal of a convert to live a higher and a purer life. His enemies impute it to calculation. But it would be more charitable to believe that the young man had passed through the experience of conversion - a phenomenon fortunately by no means peculiar to the Christian faith. The penitent prodigal is not the less welcome because he goes to a mosque rather than to a church, and there seems to be no doubt that long before there was any prospect of his succeeding to the throne, Abdul Hamid reformed his mode of life and became, according to his lights, a pious and devout disciple of the Prophet. This was the more remarkable, as his conversion took place while Turkish society was still revelling in the false security and fictitious wealth that resulted from the loans which his uncle contracted with reckless prodigality. The latter part of the reign of Abdul Aziz was for the East what the closing years of the Second Empire were for France. Constantinople, like Paris, had its vulgar orgie of splendid debauchery--modern versions of Belshazzar's feast, in which the handwriting on the wall was hardly discerned before the avenger was at the gates.
THE FALL OF ABDUL AZIZ. The French empire went down in the earthquake of Sedan in 1870. It was not till five years later that Nemesis overtook Abdul Aziz. The treasury, emptied by the Sultan's extravagance, could no longer pay the interest on the coupon, and when Abdul Aziz could no longer borrow his end was at hand. After a brief pause, during which the storm.clouds gathered and broke in insurrection in the extreme western province of the Herzegovina, the
the conspirators prepared to depose the Sultan. Then events followed each other with the rapidity of the swiftest tragedyAbdul Hamid. from his retreat among the mollahs and imams, was startled by the news, first of the deposition of his uncle, then of the proclamation of his brother Murad as Sultan. Fast on the heels of this came the suicide of the deposed Sultan. Then like a thunderclap came the assassination of the ministers who had deposed Abdul Aziz, and the summary execution of their murderer. Meanwhile the war clouds were gathering black and heavy on the Russian frontier. Massacres and atrocities in Bulgaria had filled Europe with shuddering horror. Montenegro and Servia had gone to war; Russian volunteers were flocking to the Servian camp, the capital was seething with excitement. There was the underswell of a revolution in Stamboul, the menace of a Russian invasion in Europe and in Asia. In the midst of all these portents of doom, the pious recluse was suddenly confounded by the announcement that his brother Murad had gone mad, and that he must ascend the throne of Othman.
THE DEPOSITION OF MURAD. It is difficult to imagine a more trying ordeal than that through which Abdul Hamid had passed between the deposition of his uncle and the removal of his brother. It would have severely tested the nerves of the most experienced politician in the most stormy of South American Republics. What it must have been to the inexperienced and devout Hamid no one can quite realise. What is clear is that he shrank timidly from the perilous dignity of the tottering throne. He refused to consent to the deposition of his brother. He was. reluctant to credit the reports of the physicians. He insisted upon foreign advice. But Midhat had decided that Murad must be removed. According to the statements made in the recently published book about Murad, the unfortunate Sultan might easily have recovered had he been allowed to rest. As it was, the conspirators purposely rendered his recovery impossible. The moment the foreign physician's back was turned they succeeded in driving their unfortunate victim into a condition of imbecility, which justified, if it did not even necessitate, his deposition. Abdul Hamid persisted to the last in deprecating his brother's removal. He objected strenuously to his own elevation to the Sultanate. Only when it was made clear to him that Murad would be deposed in any case, and that he had only to choose between being Sultan himself or being put out of the way by the Sultan whom Midhat would instal in his stead, did he yield and consent to accept the thorny crown of the Ottoman Empire. So it came to pass that Murad was formally deposed and Abdul Hamid reigned in his stead.
II.-SULTAN. “ Yildiz, the palace of the Sultan," says a recent writer, “like the Seraglio of the 'good old times,' contains all the dramatis persone of the tales of the Scheherazaide, the eunuchs, mollahs, pashas, beys, astrologers, slaves, sultanas, kadines, dancing-women, Circassian and Georgian odalisques, whose main object in existence is their own self-advancement. Above this anthill of picturesque folk the interesting figure of the Sultan stands out in striking relief.”
When Abdul Hamid was installed as Sultan of Turkey above this picturesque anthill, the situation was such as might well have appalled the stoutest heart. Possibly the Sultan's ignorance-for although he is no fool, he, like all the other Turks, has never quite grasped the elementary facts which underlie the modern worldmay have helped him. If he had had a wider range of knowledge or a more vivid imagination he might have gone the way of Murad.
ALONE. Without training, without preparation, without a single friend whom he could trust, Abdul Hamid was suddenly brought forth from his seclusion by the men who had deposed his uncle and his brother, and established on a throne reeling from the blows of domestic insurrection and foreign war. The last days of the Ottoman Empire seemed to have come. Among all the Powers not one would promise him any help. Among all his pashas there was not one whom he did not believe would depose him to-morrow if private gain or public policy appeared to demand such a step. The treasury was empty. The credit of the Empire was at such a low ebb that no new loan was possible, yet armies had to be retained in the field to keep Servia and Montenegro in check. Preparations had to be pushed forward to prevent the threatened Russian invasion.
Greece was threatening in the south, Russia in the north house of Othman has many virtues, but those of conand east, while Austria was suspected of aggressive stitutional kingship were not of them. The founder designs in the west. There was hardly a single province of the dynasty and all his most famous descendants which was not threatening revolt. The Powers were had been men of personal initiative. They not only clamouring for reforms, the first condition of which was reigned, but ruled. They first carved out their realms lacking. What and where and whom was he to trust? for themselves with their own scimitars, and then
governed it by their own autocratic theocratic will.
To Abdul Hamid, who believed only in two things-in · Now, Abdul Hamid was not learned, nor clever, nor God and in his house--the very idea of a parliament heroic, nor indeed anything in particular. But he was or of any limitation on the sovereign power of born of the
the Sultan parHouse of Oth
took of the nature man, and he was
of a blasphemy. a devout disciple
Not by such of Mohammed.
means would For five centuries
Allah deliver the it had been the
Faithful. Abdul will of Allah that
Hamid would there should
stand in the never be lacking
ancient ways, a member of the
walk by the House of Othman
ancient light, and to reign as the
trust in the God Shadow of God
of his fathers to among men.
deliver him from Therefore he
the perils that might not unrea
encompassed him sonably conclude
round about. For it was the will of
a time, in deferAllah that he, the
ence to Midhat, rightful repre
he tolerated the sentative of that
theatricality of great house,
the Constitution, should deliver From Kladderadatsch.]
[November 10, 1895. hoping that it
FAR AWAY IN TURKEY. Islam from the
might delude the ruin which meThe Liliputians have taken possession of Gulliver, who had fallen asleep.
infidel and deliver naced it. But if
Turkey from war. it was the will of Allah that such a deliverance But when it failed, and the infidel would not be deluded, should be wrought, then it was not for him, Abdul Hamid, and the Russian armies crossed the Danube and invaded to tremble or to escape from the task laid upon him by Armenia, then the time for such fooling was past. providence. Years before, when he was still a young man, Midhat was banished to Arabia, where he shortly afterhe had accompanied his uncle on the famous European wards died, the Parliament was dissolved, and the tour, in the course of which Abdul Aziz visited London Constitution vanished in thin air. and was banqueted by the Lord Mayor. In those days
TOE ONE MAN POWER. it was noted that Abdul Hamid was of a very shy and
Henceforth the Sultan was to be the Sultan. And for retiring disposition. It was reported that when he was
nearly twenty years Abdul Hamid has been the Sultan in the gardens at Buckingham Palace he would always
and no mistake. Believing in no one but himself, he slink behind the bushes and conceal himself if he saw any trusted no one but himself. Surrounded by men who one approaching. By constitution he was not self-assertive,
had betrayed his uncle and his brother, living in an and, like Hamlet, he regarded it as a cursed spite that he
atmosphere malarious with corruption and saturated was told off to put to right times so cruelly out of joint. with intrigue, he early decided to trust no one, and to But, unlike Hamlet, Abdul Hamid is a Moslem, and a
govern single-handed. And hopeless though the enterprince of the house which generation after generation
prise appeared, Abdul Hamid may at least claim that produced warriors and statesmen who were the terror of
whatever may be said in criticism of his policy, it has at Christendom and the object of the envious admiration of
least achieved one great and indisputable success. It the Eastern world. Hence he did not hesitate when the has enabled him to survive. And that is more than most call fairly came to shoulder his burden, and to undertake
people believed possible. Not only has he survived for the task of saving the Empire with qualifications almost
nearly twenty years, but he has, until quite recently, as scanty as those of Tommy Atkins for commanding an been regarded as one of the ablest and most successful army corps.
rulers of our time. MIDHAT AND HIS CONSTITUTION.
The worst enemy of Abdul Hamid cannot deny that When he became Sultan, Midhat had conceived the he is one of the most industrious of sovereigns. He toils idea of throwing dust in the eyes of Europe by pro- early and late, seventeen and eighteen hours a day. claiming a Constitution. The Sultan assented to it, as he Neither can it be imputed to him that he has not always would probably have assented to any other expedient laboured for what he believed to be the real interest of which the Grand Vizier proposed at that time. But he the great trust which Allah has committed to his hands. never liked it, and took the first opportunity of dissolving He has worked like a galley slave in the peopled solitude the Parliament and putting the Constitution on the of his palace. An Imperial convict sentenced to hard shelf. Parliaments indeed were not in his line. The labour for life, with constant liability to capital punish
ment, he has scorned delights and lived laborious days. Ho is not a genius, but he has held his own; not a hero, but he has borne the heat and burden of a long and toilsome day without complaining, and if he were gathered to his fathers to-morrow, he would have a record of which, when due allowance is made for his environment, no Sultan of his line need be ashamed.
COURAGE WITH SELF-RELIANCE. It is the fashion nowadays to denounce Abdul Hamid as an abject coward. Cowardice has never been a note of the house of Othman. The breed is brave by heredity, and Abdul Hamid has given enough proof of his courage to show that he belongs to the Imperial line. Almost immediately after his accession he had to face the Russian invasion. On both eastern and western frontiers burst the storm of Russian war. His arsenals were almost empty, his treasury was bankrupt. Even the rifles for his legions had to be bought in hot haste across the Atlantic. Of his pashas, some of the most highly placed were believed to be in Russian pay. There was no one in Campor Cabinet who was of proved genius and who could command the confidence either of his Sovereign or of Europe. Among the great Powers, there was not one which could be relied upon for a cartridge or a sou. England, which in olden days had been the sworn ally of his predecessors, had taken offence about the suppression of the Bulgarian insurrection, an inscrutable piece of squeamishness on her part which Abdul Hamid to this day finds impossible to understand. As if the Ottoman Empire could exist without such suppression of rebellions! For the Turk without atrocities is as the leopard without his spots, and a sudden qualm of conscience as to the existence of spots cannot be understood by the leopard with whom we had been in alliance, spots and all, for more than the lifetime of a generation. France, prostrate after the German conquest, was use less. Abdul Hamid had to depend on himself alone, as his ancestors had done before him-on himself, on the swords of the Faithful, and on Allah, the all-powerful, who at the eleventh hour might make bare his arm and overwhelm the hosts of the Infidel.
THE DEFENCE OF CONSTANTINOPLE. So argued the forlorn Sultan, and without more ado he set himself to beat back the tide of Russian war. The terrible year that followed added its deep impress to those of the tragedies which had preceded it. The heroic defence of Plevna by Osman Pasha was a solitary gleam of light amidst the ever deepening gloom of military defeat. Alike in Europe and in Asia, the crusading Russians pressed slowly but steadily onward. Kars fell in Armenia. Plevna at last surrendered in Europe, and then the Russian army, like a long dammed-up flood,
hood surged irresistibly over the Balkans, and rushed foaming up to the very gates of Stamboul. Then it was that the Sultan showed that he possessed some of the old military instincts and the fighting spirit of his race. Panic reigned at the Porte, and the pashas, appalled by the sudden collapse of their armies, were counselling a hasty retreat to Broussa on the other side of the Sea of Marmora. Abdul Hamid, calm and undismayed, concentrated all his energies upon the preparations for the defence of Constantinople. Mouktar Pasha was placed in command of the lines, behind which the wreck of the Ottoman armies was mustered for a last stand.
HE VETOES THE FLIGHT TO BROUSSA, While still absorbed in the preparations for the defence of his capital against the Russians, Abdul Hamid was
suddenly startled by an intimation that the British Aleet, which all the autumn had lain sullenly vigilant in Besika Bay, was about to force the passage of the Dardanolles. Orders were given to the forts to resist the naval invasion, and the gunners in the forts that command the Straits made ready to try conclusions with Admiral Hornby's ironclads. At the last moment, however, the ships were allowed to pass.
Lord Beaconsfield undoubtedly intended the advance of the fleet to be a demonstration against the Russians. But it so happened that it created more consternation amongst the Turks, who seemed to feel themselves suddenly assailed in front and rear by a fresh enemy. It was just about the time when the British fleet had forced the Dardanelles and anchored at Prince's Island within a day's steaming of Stamboul, that a council was held in the capital to consider the Grand Vizier's proposal for an immediate retreat to Asia. The asseinbly of ministers and pashas was numerous and influential. The prevailing opinion was that as the capital lay now between the Russians at San Stefano and the British fleet at Prince's Islands, nothing remained but flight into Asia. Then it was that the Sultan showed himself a true descendant of Othinan. Confronted by the craven crew of his own council, urging instant flight, Abdul Hamid calmly, but resolutely, refused to abandon the capital.- Come what might he wonld remain in Constantinople, and share the fate of the city that for four hundred years had been the throne of his dynasty. The word of the Sultan prevailed. The flight to Broussa was countermanded, and Abdul Hamid, amid his craven councillors, kept the Crescent above the Cross on the great cathedral of St. Sophia.
AND SAVES THE TURKISH FLEET. Nor was this the only trial of his nerve. When the negotiations were going on between General Ignatieff and the Turkish plenipotentiaries at San Stefano, the Russians demanded as one of the prizes of war the whole Turkish fleet. Achmet, Vefyk and Safvet Pashas, the strongest members of the ministry, urged compliance with the Russian demands, Turkey, they held, was powerless to resist. To refuse the Russian terms would be to renew the war. If the war was renewed the Cossacks would canter almost uopposed to the palace of the Sultan, and the Ottoman Empire would not survive the capture of its capital. But here again the indomitable spirit of Abdul Hamid burst out. “Never," he exclaimed “never," and with his own hand he wrote a letter to the Grand Duke Nicholas declaring it was impossible to give up the fleet. He added, with an emphasis unusual to him, that he would prefer to see the vessels blown up with himself on board rather than that they should fall into the hands of Russia. This might be bluff, but it was bluff of the supreme sort, the bluff of a monarch on the edge of the abyss, and above all it was bluff that succeeded. The Russians waived their demand: the Turkish fleet, like the Turkish capital, was saved by the
L'ÉTAT C'EST MOI. It is enough to recall these two severe crises to understand how it is that the Sultan feels that it is he and no other, he the Commander of the Faithful, to whom Allah has entrusted the responsibility of government. And so it has come to pass that ever since that time Abdul Hamid has insisted upon governing himself alone. In small things as in great, in the appointment of a policeman in Erzeroum, or in the regulation of a theatre in Stamboul, equally as in the great affairs of State, the