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At the beginning of the Christian era the Huns roamed over a vast region, now called Tartary, which stretched from the Caspian Sea eastward to the borders of China. They were exceptionally hideous even for savages. An ancient historian compares them to brutes set up awkwardly on their hind legs. Their eyes were small and deeply sunk in the head; their noses were flat; they had little hair and no beard. Some of their cotemporaries refused to acknowledge them as human, and abhorred them as the progeny of evil spirits and witches. No one, however, questioned their possession of great physical strength and energy, and their unsurpassed skill as horsemen. Their savage passion for war and their inexhaustible numbers made them the scourge of Europe as well as of Asia. Their neighbours of China built a great wall, fifteen hundred miles in length, to repel the inroads of the Huns. Nor did this defence avail them. They were obliged to purchase the tranquillity of their frontier by a tribute paid to the savages who tormented them.

From time to time hordes of these Tartar horsemen rode westward or southward into unknown regions to taste delight of battle and enrich themselves with the spoils of their victims. One such horde, followed in time by many others, found a settlement in Bokhara, a region spoken of with reason by the Arab historian as "the most delightful of all places which God has created." But they did not enjoy this genial possession in quietness. Mohammed was then inspiring his Arabs with that fierce enthusiasm which was destined to carry their arms in triumph over half the world. The Turks, as they were now called, were invaded by the fiery Saracens and, after years of fighting, subdued, They were not driven away; they lived on for many generations as the servants of their conquerors, whose religion they speedily accepted.

Three or four centuries after their settlement in Bokhara, the Turks are found to have undergone a striking amelioration both in appearance and nature. They had lost the hideous aspect of their forefathers, and their reputation for courage and fidelity was such that they were employed as guards to the caliph. Gradually they rose to commands in the army, to offices in the palace, to governorships of provinces. Their savage impetuosity disappeared, and in its place there came something of the dignity and gravity and capacity of silence by which the Turk of our own day is characterized. In the eleventh century they were again masters of the fair region where they had served so long.

Rising thus under the discipline of centuries out of their primeval degradation, the Turks were at length ready to enter upon the career which was in store for them. They began to expand on every side. Eastward their conquests stretched far into the depths of Asia. Before -the century closed they had taken Asia Minor and Syria from the Saracens, and possessed themselves of Jerusalem, whose sacred associations made it a rich prize to men of their faith. They were now perilously near Constantinople, and the timid emperors called aloud to the Christians of the West for protection against the heathens who seemed ready to overwhelm them. But the fall of the tottering empire was not yet at hand.

The possession of Jerusalem by unbelieving Saracen and Turk, and the thrilling tales of cruelty inflicted upon pilgrims to the Holy City, awakened passionate indignation in western Christendom. Were not devout travellers habitually stripped of their possessions and often bereft of life? Had not the patriarch himself been dragged by the hair along the streets and cast into a dungeon? "Was not the Church of the Resurrection constantly invaded by a misbelieving rabble and the most solemn services of the church disturbed? Europe roused herself to chase the pagans from those sacred fields which they had acquired so lawlessly and governed so ruthlessly. For two hundred years armed men from the west arrested and even rolled back the tide of Asiatic conquest. And then - but not until two million of her sons had perished - Europe desisted from the profitless task. The Turkish hordes, constantly reinforced from the wilds of Asia, were left within easy striking distance of the decaying Roman empire. The catastrophe, however, was not immediate. It was not till the middle of the fifteenth century that the Turks seized Constantinople and entered on full possession of the vast dominions which the imperial city had ruled.

The progress of the Turkish arms continued for many years after Constantinople was taken. The powers of south-eastern Europe were unable to combine against the common foe. Bitter religious strifes divided them. Each met alone the attack of the savage invaders; one after another they sank under it. In a few years Greece, mainland and island, had fallen. Servia, which had heretofore been a tributary principality, now sank into a province. In a few years more Bosnia and Albania were annexed. The Crimea was wrested from the Genoese. While rival kings contended for the crown of Hungary the conquering Turk availed himself of their weakness, and possessed a large portion of the kingdom. Wallachia and Moldavia became vassal states, and paid ignominious tribute to the unbelievers. Egypt was added to the Ottoman dominions; and a Turkish army besieged Vienna. The sultan possessed himself of spiritual as well as temporal sovereignty, and wielded the vast authority of the caliphate. Resistance to this terrible power seemed vain. The conquest of south-eastern Europe was complete, save where, on the shores of the Adriatic, the stubborn Montenegrins held their mountain fastness against the power of the Turks - beginning a heroic defence which was to reach its victorious close only after four centuries of almost incessant war.

But at length the spread of Ottoman dominion was arrested. In the year 1571 the fleet of Turkey met, in the great battle of Lepanto, the united fleets of Venice and Spain, Genoa and the pope, and was destroyed. It was the first decisive defeat which the Turk had sustained in Europe, and it marks a turning-point in his career. Hitherto all had been success and rapid increase of power. Henceforth there is chiefly decay. The central government began to grow weaker and more oppressive; its corruption became more extreme. Lands began to lie untilled; houses to be without inhabitants; population to diminish. Incessant war raged between Christian and Turk; and the Christians gained slowly back what they had lost. Hungary was rescued. Venice drove the Turks back on the mainland of Greece. The warlike Poles defeated them in many desperate battles. Above all, their strife began with Russia - -an implacable foe, whose hatred would not be satisfied without their utter ruin.

It was indeed a lordly heritage of which the Turks had made themselves masters. In extent it was more than three times the size of France. A delicious climate and a soil of wondrous fertility requite with opulence even the most primitive industry. Gold is found in the rocks and in the streams. Quicksilver is to be seen bubbling out of the ground. Iron, coal, salt, copper, and other mineral treasures, are profusely abundant. A vast sea-board and a position enabling her to lay her hand alike on Europe, Asia, and Africa, endow Turkey with singular advantages for conducting lucrative commerce.

Amid the boundless wealth of these magnificent possessions the descendants of the ancient Huns encamped. They entered as conquerors, and as such they have remained. They never mingled, as the Normans did in England, with the people they subdued. They brought with them a religion of hatred and contempt, and they never ceased to regard with abhorrence all who refused to believe in their prophet. Christians do for the most part the work of the empire. The Armenians and Jews are its bankers; the Greeks are its merchants and its sailors; the subject races cultivate its fields. The conquering Turk - luxurious, indolent, execrably licentious - looks with scorn upon the Christian peasants by whose plunder he is maintained. He reuses himself, when occasion calls, to the business of war. When not thus engaged, his life is one of apathy and voluptuous repose. He is grave even to melancholy; listens patiently, speaks softly and with deliberation; will sit silent, like the friends of Job, for days together. The religion of the Turks forbids progress. The Koran fixes their civil and criminal law and many of the usages of daily life, excluding thus all possibilities of amelioration. Laws framed upon the simple requirements of Arab life in the seventh century still enfold in a grasp of iron the complex interests of a great modern state. The fine arts are not practised, for the Koran forbids representations of natural objects; medicine and surgery are scarcely known; anatomy is forbidden; with the sciences in general the barbarous Turk has never entered into any relations.

The religion of Mohammed discourages education. In the public schools which exist - few in number, and miserable in quality (Among the Bulgarian Christians there is a livery desire for education, and an effective educational system exists governed by a board popularity elected. A marked improvement in the educational conduction of the Bulgarians has taken place during the last twenty years.) - there are almost no school-books. The Koran contains all that the ordinary Turk requires to know, and is the only hook which he is taught to read. The women receive almost literally no education at all. Rich ladies purchase girls, and after bestowing some care upon their personal appearance sell them to rich men for wives (The wife of Rescind Pasha ordinarily kept about forty wives for sale, and earned large sums by the traffic). Georgian girls are brought in rags and filth to Constantinople, and after a process of amelioration and adornment they too are sold. The highest in the land - even the sultans themselves - obtain wives in this manner. "With mothers grossly ignorant and almost savage, and a religion which forbids change, there is no influence operating to rescue the Turks from their utter degradation (If the social condition of the Turks could be fully explained, the English people would shudder at the thought of maintaining the government of a horde of savages so unutterably debased. But that is impossible. It was truly said by Cobden that we must remain ignorant of the social condition of Turkey, because it is indescribable).

The Turks conduct the affairs of the people whom they conquered on the principles of a hostile military occupation rather than a government. The despotism of the sultan is absolute and unrestrained. All life and property belong to him, and the Christian population must vindicate by an annual payment of money their claim to the elementary privilege of living. When the sultan requires their property he can send and take it. The people have no defence in law, and, by the principles on which the government is founded, none in right. But the sultan is not by any means their worst enemy. Men purchase from him the privilege of collecting taxes, and having paid the purchase-money they are at liberty to inflict upon their victims such personal violence as may be deemed necessary to enforce the yielding up of their available means. Magistrates, judges, and government servants of every degree plunder at will for their own personal benefit. Every post, high and low, has been purchased by its holder, whose single aim in discharging its duties is to enrich himself at the expense of those over whom he has gained authority. Any trader who incurs the perilous suspicion of being rich, any proprietor of a good estate, may be put to death on a slight pretext, and his possessions seized. Any Turkish ruffian may with impunity assault or murder a Christian. A good Mohammedan regards it as his right and duty to kill a Christian when he has opportunity. The evidence of a Christian against a Turk is not received in a court of law. A Turk can legally steal Christian children and forcibly convert them to Islamism. The frightful principle of slave-owning law is practically in force in the Ottoman dominions - no Christian has any rights which a Turk is bound to respect. The only security of the people is to conceal their wealth and seem to be poor. Tinder the sway of the Turk the appearance of poverty is rarely deceptive.

The system of organized robbery which is known in Europe by the name of the Turkish government has changed into wilderness one of the fairest regions of the world. Population, in spite of the amazing wealth of the soil, is steadily declining, and has already sunk to less than one-third of its numbers under the Romans. So powerfully does the increasing desolation affect the mind, that recent travellers have expressed the extreme apprehension that the human race must become extinct in the Ottoman, dominions. Enormous tracts which formerly supported in comfort a numerous population are now abandoned. The once populous land is covered with ruins, often hid from view by the rank vegetation of the fertile wilderness. Between Angora and Constantinople forty or fifty villages have become extinct during the present century. Towards Smyrna two hundred villages have been forsaken since the middle of last century. The Turkish population of Smyrna itself has declined in thirty years from eighty thousand inhabitants to forty-one thousand; that of Candia has sunk, during the present century, from fifty thousand to ten thousand... A traveller in the northern portions of the empire found, on a ride of seventy miles through what he regarded as an earthly paradise, not so much as a single inhabitant. Approaching Constantinople from the north, one rides almost to the gates of the city without any trace of a road through wild grass which reaches to the horse's girths. Nine-tenths of Mesopotamia lie unused by man. In the rich provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia only one-twentieth of the soil was cultivated. Never has the goodness of Providence been so utterly frustrated during long centuries by the vileness of man.

Russia has for ages looked with an eye of desire upon Constantinople and the Turkish sea-board. A prophecy of extreme antiquity foretells the ultimate accomplishment of her purposes. When or by whom it was first uttered no man knows. Eight centuries ago it might be read upon an equestrian statue, then very old, which had been brought to Constantinople from Antioch. It was believed for centuries before the invasion of the Turks; and the Turks themselves soon learned to look forward to its fulfilment. In Russia a powerful national sentiment regards the possession of Constantinople as a manifest destiny, and urges forward every measure which tends to accomplish it. The Emperor Alexander claimed that he himself was the only Russian who resisted the national desire to seize Turkey. The Emperor Nicholas stated that he did not wish Russia to possess Constantinople, but it was inevitable: as well, he said, strive to arrest a stream in its descent from the mountains. Russia has omitted no opportunity of aggravating the disorders of the Turkish empire, and thus of silently hastening its overthrow. During great part of the eighteenth century she contrived to involve the Turks in perpetual quarrel, and waged against them frequent and destructive wars (Since the beginning of that century Russia attacked Turkey on nine separate occasions). And she would long ago, by open violence, have fulfilled the ancient prediction had not the jealousies of the other European powers peremptorily forbidden this aggrandizement.

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