Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

his brother Abdul Hamid, the present Sultan of Turkey, ascended the throne, in the autumn of 1876. Abdul Hamid, however, was not permitted to grasp the sceptre until he had signed a document by which he undertook to grant a Constitution to his people and to rule with justice. Indeed, he was ready to make any promises, and accepted without reserve the liberal principles of Midhat Pasha and the reformers. No one in Turkey believes that he was sincere, and Sefer Bey recounts in La Revue, how, on the very day of his succession, Abdul Hamid, on his return to the Palace, after having gone through the traditional ceremony of buckling on the sword of Othman, spoke in the following words to a well-known Turkish general of his entourage: “It is Reshid Pasha who is responsible for everything that has happened ; it is that great criminal who made my father sign that accursed firman under the pressure of Europe, and by giving stupid illusions to the Turkish people has led them into wrong ways. The government which our nation needs is an absolute despotism, and not the pernicious régime of liberty which Europe practises. I shall know how to put order in the ideas of the people, but before all, I must make my position secure and get rid of the wretches who deposed my uncle.” At the opening of the new reign, however, the reformers looked to the future with hope. Midhat Pasha was appointed Prime Minister, and began to work out his scheme for the regeneration of Turkey. He framed his Constitution, which established the equality of all races and creeds, and took steps to crush the rebellion in European Turkey that was threatening to bring about a European war. Midhat was beloved by educated and patriotic Turks, and was strongly supported by the people; his position seemed unassailable. But before he had been four months on the throne Abdul Hamid struck his first blow at liberty, and showed what manner of man he was. Midhat was suddenly summoned to the Palace, and on arriving there was informed that his exile had been determined upon and that he must forthwith board a vessel that was awaiting him in the Bosphorus with steam up, and betake himself beyond the confines of the Ottoman Empire. Then the Sultan set himself to put out of the way the other men who had taken a part in the deposition of Abd-ul-Aziz. Rushdi Pasha and the Sheikh-ul-Islam were exiled to remote parts of the Empire, while many less distinguished Liberals disappeared, being either killed or imprisoned. Midhat Pasha, the greatest of the Turkish reformers, as an exile, lived in several European capitals, studied on the spot the principles of decent government, and formed plans for the amelioration of the condition of his unfortunate country when the opportunity should arrive. The Sultan appears to have come to the conclusion that his ex-Grand Vizier might be as dangerous to the Despotism while in Europe as he had been in Turkey. A plot, the details of which are well known, was laid to bring about Midhat's destruction. He was led to believe that the Sultan had repented of his injustice, had come to see the errors of his illiberal policy, and desired that the able statesman should return to Turkey to give his valuable assistance in the reorganisation of the Empire. So, after a long exile, Midhat, accepting a treacherous invitation, came back to his native land, and was made Governor of Syria. Shortly after his appointment he was denounced to the Palace by false accusers, who were prepared to prove that Abd-ul-Aziz had been assassinated by Midhat's orders. After an iniquitous trial, by judges who pretended to credit the obvious inventions of suborned witnesses, he was found guilty, and as it might have been dangerous to execute a man so much beloved and respected, he was condemned to imprisonment in a fortress in Arabia. There he was treated with great inhumanity and deprived of all the comforts and some of the necessaries of life. As his strong constitution resisted these privations for three years, he was strangled in May 1884, by order of his persecutors, and his

« AnteriorContinuar »