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question was discussed in that ambiguous and circuitous fashion that Orientals understand so well how to employ. At last there was brought into the Council Chamber on a litter the bedridden old Arab Court Astrologer, Abdul Houda, a favourite of the Sultan, who has recently died. He boldly put into plain words what was in the minds of all. Then Said Pasha asked the ministers whether it was their decision that the Sultan should be advised to grant the Constitution. To this they made no reply, and averted their eyes when he looked from one to another. Then, after a pause, Said quoted a Turkish proverb which is the equivalent of our own “Silence gives consent.” The Sultan was forthwith informed of the decision of his ministers, and to the relief of all he agreed without any demur to restore the Constitution; for the shrewd monarch had by now fully realised the position and had made up his mind. So on the morning of July 24, the great news was telegraphed to every corner of the Ottoman Empire, and everywhere there were the same extraordinary demonstrations of popular joy. In Constantinople huge crowds, composed of Moslems, Christians and Jews, flocked to the Yildiz to cheer the Sultan. On the broad quay of Salonica Hilmi Pasha, to whom the Sultan's decision had meant the withdrawal of his death
warrant, read out the proclamation of the Constitution to tens of thousands of exulting C1tlZenS. The Sultan had promised the Constitution, and all that remained to be done now was for him to issue the Irade that should confirm that promise and to take the oath of allegiance to the Constitution. Some days passed, and his Majesty had taken no steps to perform these necessary formalities. The ever-vigilant Committee of Union and Progress therefore saw to it that there should be no further delay, and issued its orders. Some Macedonian troops were hurriedly brought up to the capital and were placed outside the Yildiz, while a man-of-war was stationed in the Bosphorus immediately below the Palace, with its guns directed on it. Then some young officers belonging to the Committee demanded an audience of the Sultan and explained to him that he must sign the Irade there and then, else the Macedonian troops would overpower the Palace Guard and seize his Majesty's person. The Sultan yielded, the Irade was signed, and shortly afterwards the Sheikh-ul-Islam administered to Abdul Hamid the oath by which he bound himself to restore, and to faithfully observe, the Constitution which he had violated thirty years before.
After the revolution—The return of the exiles—Demonstrations and fraternisations—The coming in of the Macedonian bands—The opening of the prison doors—The obedience of the people to the Committee—The suppression of the coaling strike—The boycott of Austrian trade—Attitude of the Christian population.
THE victory had been won; the Young Turkey party was triumphant; the Ottoman people had gained their liberty. There was complete individual liberty and liberty of the Press; there were no more spies, no more domiciliary visits, no more oppression. In short, the Turks, who for a generation had been groaning under the cruelest of oriental despotisms, in one day became as free as the people of England, indeed in some respects considerably freer than ourselves. Peace came of a sudden to this troubled land which had for so long been an inferno of implacable racial hatreds, all men went about in security, and the peasants were able to sow their fields knowing that they themselves would be the reapers. This was not as other revolutions; for though for a time there was no law in the land
and no administration, there was no anarchy, there were no cruel reprisals, there were no excesses; the conduct of the entire population was admirable. These revolutionaries, unlike those in some other lands, did not hasten, so soon as they had freed themselves of one despotism, to cast upon the country the still more galling chains of democratic tyranny. The people who made this revolution were the educated men in Turkey, all that was best in the country; and thus from the beginning this had been the most conservative of revolutions. There was nothing approaching to socialism or anarchism in this movement. The Young Turks, as I have already explained, have no theories about the reconstruction of society; they have no schemes for the benefiting of one class by the spoliation of another; they do not believe that one man is as good as another, or that manhood suffrage will bring the Millennium. Like our own revolution of 1688, this one came from above and not from below. That the ignorant masses did not usurp the direction of the movement, and by discrediting it prepare the way for the restoration of the despotic power, was largely due to the fact that Turkey, fortunately for herself, has had her revolution before she has arrived at that stage of economic and industrial development when what we term the working classes think out political and social theories,
or, rather, accept the views of the mischievous demagogues who mislead them. There is no class hatred in Turkey; there are no large manufacturing industries to produce hordes of discontented people in the big cities, and, so far, there are no agrarian questions to trouble the minds of the simple and pious Turkish peasantry. Of the seventy thousand exiles who returned to Turkey from Europe and America after the proclamation of the Constitution there were of course some who had mixed with Russian anarchists, with internationalists and other political extremists, and had absorbed their theories; but these are in a small minority and exercise no appreciable influence. The same may be said of a certain set of well-to-do exiles who for years were idle Paris flaneurs, lost some of their Ottoman virtues, became poor patriots, and have now returned as dilettante politicians, some of them to join the party which advocates a thoroughgoing home rule all round for the various races of Turkey—a programme detestable to the more earnest Young Turks, who realise that such a policy would lead to the certain disintegration of the Empire. But it is of the attitude of the people themselves and not of the politicians that I wish to speak in this chapter. When the Ottomans of all races and creeds suddenly found themselves free they became filled with an exceeding joy, a new sentiment of brotherhood, and a profound gratitude