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What can be done now? Taking a great liberty, perhaps, I shall answer by expressing a deeply felt opinion that the stage cannot afford the strain which such plays as 'Robespierre' put upon the chief actor in that splendid melodrama. It cannot be afforded night after night, season after season. It is an immense strain, and the frequent use of it nowadays should be considered profligate expenditure. Why not, then, have recourse to lighter labours, in which the true genius of the actor would shine forth as it never yet has shone to the full?
“Had I Mr Pinero's gifts, I should take that consideration to heart, hie me where it is possible to breathe a better than the bedroom air in which his Duchesses of Strood and his gay Lord Quexes live, and bend all my mind to the writing of a play that should be for Sir Henry Irving what 'Rip Van Winkle' was for Mr Jefferson. This the erring father of Mrs Tanqueray could do if he gave his mind to it, so clever is he, so perceptive, so painstaking, so much of the true dramatist. And would he do so, how much better it would be for all concerned-for the public good, for the theatre as an institution, for the profession' it employs, and for himself in everything and all ways. It is a poor mean world, this of the Tanquerays and Quexes, for a man of Mr Pinero's mark to waste
his gifts upon; and we thought he had given it up when, to our discomfiture (is it wrong to wish that it might be a little to his own?), he runs back to it and does his worst in it.
"That such plays were ever in vogue is no credit to the declining years of the nineteenth century; but that they are in vogue is possibly some excuse (though I do not think it is) when a dramatist like Mr Pinero steps up to show that he is good in that genre as in others. But the vogue passes; the taste for them is satiated; in comes Mr Barrie with his innocent, delightful, and (mark you !) most successful 'Little Minister,' and we gratefully say, 'That clears the air altogether.' But no. Mr Pinero, grown some years older meanwhile, brings back the distemper with his 'Gay Lord Quex.' It is ill done of him. In his later mood he is for ever reflecting upon the sad and sober change that befalls a man when he is well past forty year. He should further those reflections, and consider that a certain sobriety in certain ways is becoming at that time of life and after; that insobriety is unbecoming; and that the production of dramatic works like 'The Gay Lord Quex' is better left to young bloods who may be supposed capable of being ashamed of them when they, too, come to forty year.
"In saying which I feel that I am his as well as yours faithfully,
GERMANY'S INFLUENCE AT CONSTANTINOPLE.
AT present there are two Powers which possess a preponderant influence at Constantinople - Germany and Russia. The former the Sultan regards as his most reliable friend amongst the Great Powers of Europe, the only one which has no interest in appropriating any part of his dominions. The recent visit of the Emperor William II. to Sultan Abdul Hamid emphatically strengthened the bonds of friendship between the two sovereigns. It is a personal sympathy on the part of the Sultan which does not extend to the German nation; and what his Majesty does for the interests of the latter is done solely to please the German Emperor and to secure his political support.
Very different is the nature of the influence of Russia at Constantinople. It is based upon fear, not love. It is the consciousness that she possesses the means, when she wills it, to hit hard-nay, even to destroy utterly-which is the secret of Russian influence at Yildis. In this respect, it may at any time prove itself to be the most potent, but at present, when the policy of Russia is not aggressive towards Turkey, it is not so. The Far East, with its political complications and its financial requirements, is a sufficient preoccupation for the Government of the Tzar, and it is likely to remain so for some years.
There was a time when Turkey could and did look to England and France to ward off
the blows of Russia, but she can do so no longer. She has had warnings in many ways and on frequent occasions that England cannot be relied upon to take her part against Russia— in fact, that the British Lion would be a passive spectator in her future conflicts with the Russian Bear. From France, now the enthusiastic ally of Russia, Turkey can expect Austria is apprecianothing. ted as a well-disposed Powerinclined to be friendly in its policy, but unable to back up that policy by force. Nor can she be looked upon as a disinterested friend. She already occupies the two former Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and her longing eyes are known to be turned towards Salonica, resolved that should that important seaport ever change masters, it shall become hers.
Such being the situation, we cannot but admire the wisdom of Abdul-Hamid in bidding for, and his ability in securing, the firm friendship of the German Emperor. Emperor. He is quite astute enough to realise that Germany would not save him from Russia if he were engaged in a life-ordeath struggle with that Power; but, for the moment, and as long as the contest is only diplomatic, Germany is all he needs. In the German Emperor the Sultan (who is really his own Minister of Foreign Affairs) has an enlightened and well-informed counsellor and an effective advocate to plead his cause. German officers discipline the
Ottoman army, and it will be admitted have done so with considerable success. What of European varnish is visible in Turkish Government offices is of German make. It is neither bright nor effective, but it passes muster to proclaim a progressive tendency.
When Prince Bismarck first received with favour the friendly overtures made to him through Count Hatzfeldt, he only
thought of the increased political influence his Government would acquire in the Councils of Europe, and the positions, military and civilian, which he could secure for his countrymen. He did not foresee the large part which Germany was to be called upon to play in the development of Turkey. A friendship which began by being Platonic has ceased to be So. German financiers have been smart enough to see that the intimate relations existing between their Emperor and Sultan Abdul-Hamid might be turned to profitable account, and they have availed themselves of their opportunities to secure all manner of concessions, and to enlarge their commercial relations with Turkey. Gratifying these natural desires, the Sultan has induced German capital to embark in extensive railway enterprises in Asia Minor, and he would fain see these enterprises carried farther. He is continually urging them to complete their railway to Bagdad, and he gives them to understand that to attain this object he will accept any conditions. In this he shows his wisdom. The more German capital is engaged in Asia
Minor the more Germany becomes interested in the preservation of the Ottoman Empire, and the greater will be her incentive to keep off Russia.
Unfortunately the absorption of capital for industrial enterprises at home is so large that the pecuniary resources available in Germany for investment in foreign countries are limited, and in consequence full advantage cannot be taken of the benevolent dispositions of the Sultan. Railways in Asia Minor, traversing a country sparsely populated and poorly cultivated, cannot for long years to come be expected to prove self-supporting; and, so far, investors in them have to rely upon the subventions of the Turkish Government to obtain a modest return of 5 per cent interest upon their outlay. These subventions have hitherto been freely and generously promised and paid. But the practical German man of business realises that, in the state of the Turkish Treasury, these subventions may be felt to be too onerous, and, in any case, cannot much exceed their present proportions. In the railways from Haidar Pasha to Angora and Eski-Chehir to Koniah, rather more than 600 miles, the Germans have invested about nine millions sterling, and of the 5 per cent paid upon this capital, 2 per cent is derived from the Turkish Government subvention. To carry forward railway to Bagdad will necessitate a further outlay of at least fifteen millions sterling, and a subvention nearly twice as great as the amount which is at present paid with difficulty.
The financial resources of Berlin cannot face this increased outlay, and the extension of the line, so much desired at Yildis, must be deferred for the present. Meantime the Germans have very wisely secured the concession to Bagdad, thus preventing its passing into other hands.
There are some in England who regret the abandonment of what was once the traditional policy of Great Britain-namely, the support of Turkey to prevent Russia becoming a Mediterranean Power. This object is still certainly as desirable as it ever was. But a little reflection will convince impartial minds that such a policy is no longer practicable. The alliance between France and Russia has modified essentially the situation. As long as the neutrality, if not the the co-operation, of France could be counted upon, the task of supporting Turkey against Russia was comparatively easy; but with France espousing the cause of Russia, England would have two enemies to face-France in the Mediterranean and Russia in the Bosporus. Even in these circumstances the naval power of England might triumph, and would do so ultimately; for as Lord Beaconsfield truly said, England is the only Power which financially could maintain two or three campaigns. The struggle would, however, be long, arduous, and costly, and, in view of the rickety nature of the structure to be upheld, the verdict of most minds will be that "le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle."
At present British influence at Constantinople is nil; and
this from no fault of our ambassadors. Very naturally the just indignation excited in England by the Armenian massacres alienated from her the sympathies of the Sultan; and more recent events have increased the estrangement. The part played by the energetic British admiral in Crete, which led to the withdrawal of the Turkish garrisons, and our espousal of the cause of Prince George, added fuel to the fire. But these are now all bygones, and there seems no probability of a recurrence of similar causes of friction between English diplomacy and Ottoman sensibility. Time will gradually efface the irritation in the past, and a truthful diplomacy, friendly without being obsequious, will assist the process.
The moment is, however, opportune for us to recognise the consequences of the RussoFrench alliance, and to adapt our policy, in regard to Turkey, to the new circumstances of the situation. Let us frankly set aside all jealousy of the German influence at Constantinople. That influence is developing, by the construction of railways, the material prosperity of Turkey, and opening it up to civilisation. In this lies the true remedy for the deplorable events of recent years, and for the misrule and poverty of the Ottoman Empire. It is a highly humanitarian object, and, as such, so much deserves the sympathy of all, that it matters little by whose influence and by what means it is attained. Further, let us realise that the investment of German capital in
Asia Minor is an important most likely to be brought about factor in the preservation of under German inspiration. By the Turkish empire both as all means let it have full and
an obstacle to Russia and as
giving some hope for the amelioration of the economic condition of the country itself. Germany thus becomes a sentinel, watchful against attack from without and an organiser of internal improvements. The task already upon the shoulders of England for the spread of civilisation is sufficiently great in other parts of the world, that she may well content herself with the humbler rôle of sympathetic co-operator in the work of Germany in Turkey. Chance circumstances have given Germany an exceptional influence with the Sultan, and it is undoubtedly advantageous for us that she should use that influence to the full.
Politically, the situation of Turkey is reassuring. The pacific dispositions of the Tzar are apparent in his attitude towards the Sultan. Thanks to the readiness which the Russian Government has shown to facilitate the Turkish Treasury, a settlement has been come to of the pressing and long-pending claims which Russia had in connection with the war indemnity; and this fact, as well as the cordial relations existing between the two Powers, tend to the belief that in the near future no serious complications are likely to arise between Russia and Turkey. The present political calm is favourable to economic development, and this desirable result is certainly
free scope. On political and humanitarian considerations, it deserves the cordial and unselfish support of England.
We may resume, in a few lines, the grouping of the six great Powers in regard to Turkey which can be already foreseen. On the one hand, Russia, never losing sight of, although temporarily suspending, her traditional policy of gravitating towards Constantinople; and France, in gratitude to the Power which rescued her from a depressing isolation, supporting Russia with a halfhearted enthusiasm. On the other hand, Germany espousing the cause of Turkey, partly from the personal sympathy of its Emperor for the Sultan, but mainly in virtue of its large stake in the preservation of the Ottoman Empire; and England, Austria, and Italy cooperating with Germany, because their interests are equally concerned in that preservation. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the consequences of such a grouping. The moral weight of the second group is irresistible; and although it may not now represent a material force resolved to defend the object it has in view, it is impossible to deny that circumstances may favour the development of such a force in the future. As far at least as England is concerned, there can be no doubt that her true place is that we assign to her in the second group.
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