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favourite topic amongst Polar dilettanti, we would say that, by the exceeding brilliancy of their promises, they almost shut themselves out from public help. If there be a mine of wealth in the shape of fisheries between Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla, let the shipowners of Hull look to that. If it be possible to get to the Pole, and back again in a month in a small steamer like the · Isabel, let the theorisers transform themselves into
doers.' We want something more substantial than the testimony of Barentz, delivered two centuries and a half back, ere we can acquiesce in further public undertakings of the like nature. For ourselves, we have been busy with the records of a sterner school, in which we find that men of iron mould, of unflinching nerve, of undoubted skill, the picked men of the greatest maritime nation in the world, have been worsted in the unequal conflict with the powers of nature. All that could be done was done even before the departure of Sir John Franklin. We read in old chronicles that the good Lord Douglas, in an affray with the Moors, in the Sierras of Andalusia, finding the battle
go against him, cast into the middle of the tumult a silver case which contained the Bruce's heart. That casket he would recover or die. He did not recover it, and he died. We have acted in the same way, as though to give ourselves an additional inducement for penetrating into the Arctic regions. Foiled in our previous efforts, we have placed two ships, filled with British seamen Sir John Franklin at their head far beyond human help, and have since been engaged in frantic efforts to rescue the precious sacrifice.
Art. III. - The Greek and the Turk; or Powers and Prospects
in the Levant. By EYRE EVANS CROWE. London: 1853.
1 vol. 8vo. NOTWITHSTANDING the striking diversities and contrasts
which are found in the natural qualities and mental development of the different nations of our globe, we can trace on the map the connexion of these seemingly opposite elements by a series of gradual transitions. These transitions become more apparent as nations are more distant from each other, so that the differences of degree gradually become differences of kind, and groups of nations are developed to the eye, which although possessing individual peculiarities, form together a system marked by common characteristics, which distinguish them from the adjoining groups. Such groups are the result of the varied physical circumstances which surround them, and of the character and history of the nations which compose them. They present some features in direct opposition to each other, and it is these antagonistic qualities that serve to develop their respective characters. Throughout this opposition, a gradual transition is observable, so that the nations of different groups wbich are nearest to one another in geographical position offer the least striking contrasts; while the remotest are the most widely different from each other.
Now the Western Christian group of nations, when compared with the Oriental Mahometan, presents to our view that contrast as well as that gradual transition to which we have alluded. Both features are evident to the most obtuse western traveller, when, for the first time, he enters a Mahometan country. Arriving by sea, on the shores of Egypt or of Syria, he sees the contrast; taking the course of Hungary and the Danube, he observes the transition.
Bewilderment is the effect upon an European when entering a Mahometan town for the first time. It is the entrance into a new world. The sights and persons are so strange that he requires time to analyse the causes of his novel impressions. The predominant feeling is one of giddy confusion, for it is not so much the strangeness of the individual objects, as the marvellous mixture of the most heterogeneous things, which gives to the appearance of an Eastern town its characteristic air of novelty. The palace and the mud hut -the gorgeously dressed bey, and the half-naked water-carrier, -- the richly caparisoned nejdi horse, and the half-starved donkey,-pass before his wondering eyes like the quick changing images of a magic lantern. These external differences of social position obtrude themselves everywhere, and present a singular contrast to that external uniformity, we might almost say monotony, which is the peculiar characteristic of western countries, and which exhibits itself so forcibly in the barrack-like rows of our houses, the stereotyped swallow-tailed coat, and the invariable high-crowned hat, worn alike by all classes.
We should, however, be greatly mistaken were we to conclude, that the external variety in the Mahometan East, and the seeming uniformity of the Christian West, spring from internal sources of a like distinctive character. reverse is the case. The outward variety in the former is the consequence of the want of mental distinction, while the visible homogeneity in the latter is the result of those strongly marked internal differences which make outward distinctions altogether superfluous. Individuality is the key to this apparent anomaly. It is wanting in the East, and all prevalent in the West. If by
a freak of enchantment so common in the time of Haroun al Raschid, the soul of the Pasha were to exchange its bodily abode with that of a camel-driver, the metamorphosis would not be observed, for each would be equally fit to perform his new duties. The camel-driver would represent the high dignitary with perfect ease, and the Pasha would scarcely make his colleagues suspect the change, by displaying a degree of intelligence or knowledge unusual in his new station. Fiction and reality, --the Arabian-nights Tales, and the history of the Ottoman and Persian empires, are equally striking and equally true illustrations of this want of individuality, which is a permanent characteristic of the Mahometan East. Herein we obtain the clue to its never changing still life, and to those contrasts which separate it, in spirit and in habit, from the Christian West, struggling interminably after the expansion of individual life.
In this light, therefore, the East may be said to be the land of equality, for there the highest personages are separated from the lowest members of society by an outward barrier only, and one which an unforeseen event may at any moment overturn.
This consciousness of mental equality, so prevalent in the Eastern character, powerfully influences the whole social edifice, and may be said to form its basis. It appears in every condition of life, modifies and soothes the harshness of external differences, and stimulates, if it does not altogether create, that sentiment of humanity and benevolence which manifests itself so signally in numerous pious foundations, accords nearly a right of alms to the poor, and extends beyond man to the whole animal creation. It generates that natural ease which is maintained in social intercourse between the extremes of society. Embarrassment, the product of conscious or apprehended inferiority, is incomprehensible to an Eastern nature. It is equally curious and amusing to observe the well-bred manners which the Fakir or the lowest Bedouin, who never saw a town, alike exhibit in every circumstance of life. Unaccustomed splendour and magnificence fail to awe them; and their whole behaviour is equally distant from vulgar pretension and bashful awkwardness.
Most striking is the effect of this feeling of equality on masters and servants. A familiarity exists between them which would utterly shock all European notions. The servant is the usual confidant of his master, and often his ruler, but nevertheless invariably preserves before strangers the outward ceremonious formalities with which the Oriental is accustomed to conceal the secrets of his domestic life. Servants not only
form part of the family, and are treated like children of the house; but this patriarchal household system also extends to the slaves ; indeed, the latter are often the favourite children, and their portion that of Benjamin. A biographical sketch of the high dignitaries of the Sublime Porte, in our time, would best illustrate this assertion. A considerable number of them have been slaves bought in the market of Stamboul. It is not therefore surprising that the Circassians are anxious to preserve their privilege of being sold, from all foreign philanthropic encroachments. Like Laban of old, every true believer,
. says the Prophet, should give to his slave freedom after the seventh year. Although there are true believers who, anxious not to offend the commands of Mahomet, or to diminish the bag of piastres, sell their slaves in the sixth year, such conduct is the exception, and frequently the slave is not only manumitted, but also converted by marriage into a member of his master's family. Sometimes he is employed in offices of high trust before obtaining his freedom, and then manumission is scarcely thought necessary. For instance, at this moment, one of the revenue collectors in Damascus, - his post being as lucrative as it is influential, - is of Circassian birth. He was purchased, together with his sister, by old Mohammed Pasha. The sister became the Pasha's wife, the brother became his favourite. The Pasha and his wife are both dead, but their daughter and heiress is the proprietress of her uncle, the revenue collector, whose social standing is so little impaired by this curious family relation, that he competes among a crowd of suitors for the hand of his fair niece and mistress, with every chance of being successful.
We can judge how firmly this feeling of equality is rooted in the Eastern character, by the fact, that military discipline is insufficient to overcome it. No real class distinction exists between officers and privates. They share the same fare and receive the same cloth for their uniforms, only in unequal proportions; and it is not at all uncommon to hear the corporal discussing with his captain the orders which the latter is about to give, each addressing the other, all the while, by the sweetest titles, as 'my soul' and “my love.' All the desperate efforts of their French and Prussian instructors to check this familiarity are fruitless. The young officers who enter the army from the military academies of Constantinople are too few to impress on the soldiery their crude notions of European military etiquette. Generally their oriental nature speedily resumes its sway, especially if they are stationed in the provinces. They soon forget
their imperfectly imbibed academical ideas, and howl with the wolves.
But if the Mahometan East in this sense be the true land of equality, it is also necessarily the real home of despotism, for there can be no liberty without individuality. Society is like a chain, the more numerous and the smaller the links, the easier and freer will be its motion. The Eastern world has no distinct links; it is like an iron ring, rigid and uniform, and its solid mass, having no motion amongst its parts, can only be moved by an external power: hence its despotism and centralisation. A singular and ludicrous example in social life of this despotism and centralisation, is the law still in vigour among many Tartar and Mongol tribes, which punishes most severely every one who dares to pull the tuft of hair on another man's head, — not because it injures the wearer of that ornament, but because all tufts belong to the Khan.
This want of individuality, and consequent uniformity in social life, also explains the immutability and steadiness of the Eastern world. Let him who has any doubts upon this subject wander through the East with the Bible in his hand. It will be the best itinerary he can obtain. He will find the people and the country the same as they were ages ago, when the sacred writers drew their graphic sketches of this cradle of humanity. The only change-and this for the worse-- will be met with in a few towns on the sea-coast, contaminated by misunderstood and misapplied occidental ideas. All the rest of the country has remained intact, and bas absorbed, although perhaps not digested, the foreign and strange elements which during three thousand stormy years have passed over its surface. A few names and a few ruins are all that remain to tell of that evanescent splendour which Greece and Rome carried into the very heart of the East, thence extending it to the borders of the desert.
Yet the Eastern spirit was not affected by this transient occupation, and the borrowed light was soon eclipsed by the more congenial lustre of Mahometanism. However influential this latter power was, it did not change the nature of the East. On the contrary, it was only a reaction against the temporary foreign influence of the West, and perpetuated the original social character of the Eastern races, society remaining in the same condition in which it had previously existed. The primitive patriarchal system still rules. It is the idea of the regulation of a family extending over and governing a people. The father or prince is the representative of the family, and all the rest are as children,- unable to rely upon their own powers,