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RUPTURE BETWEEN ENGLAND AND TURKEY. 69
prepared to follow them, in the hope of effecting their utter annihilation as a political body, when hurried despatches reached him from the Porte, informing him of the commencement of hostilities between Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire.
This rupture was the work of the French. The English and the Russians had been leagued against the influence of Napoleon. It was the object of both parties to win over the Grand Seignor. In co-operation with England, Turkey would form only an equipoise of power ; but with Bonaparte, it would be the turning feather in the scale, which would secure to him the power of striking an irreparable blow upon Austria and Russia. While, in the north, by having Holland and Prussia in subjugation, France came into absolute contact with Russia, Turkey had also to fear from his influence in the south: for General Marmont was in Dalmatia, with forty thousand men; and, by drawing supplies at his pleasure from the kingdom of Italy, he could bear down transversely, and in formidable array, on the Ottoman empire. Could Napoleon, therefore, gain the Sultan to his side, Russia could be assaulted in both the north and the south; and Austria, cut off from all foreign resources, in consequence of his military chain through Switzerland and the Tyrol, to the confines of Croatia and Bosnia, must of necessity be added to the number of his vanquished slaves.
Napoleon found the very man for his purposes in Sebastiani, once a monk, and now a general. He had been appointed the representative of France at the Constantinopolitan Divan. From his first appearance at the capital, he had fomented the secret jealousy of the Porte against the influence of Russia in her councils. This he represented to be most glaring in the matter of the Hospodariot appointments, as settled by the Muscovite Plenipotentiaries in the treaty of Jassy. If we remember rightly, the stipulation on the part of Russia was, that the Hospodars of the two provinces should be only chosen septennially; or that, if any change of governors took place, it should not be done save by the free consent of Russia. This binding clause was certainly very hard for Turkey; but the cabinet of St. Petersburg was in a situation to exact, and the Divan was forced to yield by hard necessity. And in this her exaction, the Empress Catherine was supported by all the principles of modern diplomacy. The rule with her Imperial Highness, was the same with that prompted by the logic of our own favourite outlaw of the Highlands of Scotland :
" For why? because the good old rule
And they should keep, who can.”
Still, an engagement once made, of whatever
THE SULTAN'S DIFFICULTIES.
nature may have been the
have been the preliminary measures, ought to be observed with integrity. A non-fulfilment is inconsistent with morality ;and the Turks certainly have a system of that kind, praised highly by Sale, though its excellence is not the consequence of any particular dispensation, but is simply attributable to the prompting of that emanation of divine essence, which has been denominated the soul of man. Yet the upright spirit of the Turk fell a victim to the insinuating casuistry of the Frenchman. Sebastiani prevailed; Turkey deposed her Waiwodes, without any intimation to Russia-and, by that act, joined the interests of France, and became the enemy of the cabinets of St. Petersburg and St. James.
But, by such a step, the Sultan had in no degree extricated himself from the difficulties incidental to his change of policy. Mr. Arbuthnot, the English minister at his capital, threatened him with the speedy vengeance of his sovereign. Poor Selim became sensible of his dangerous situation ; but Sebastiani was prepared to prove to the Sultan the certainty of his annihilation by the Imperial Napoleon. The ministry of England were tardy in their retaliation : too many words were em ployed, both by them and their minister, Arbuthnot, and too little determination manifested to exact that vengeance which had been so often pronounced. The Turks were unable to effect a defence, and Admiral Duckworth’s expedition
SCHEME FOR THE INVASION OF EGYPT.
altogether failed of success. Fearful, however, that the French interference, which was so paramount at Constantinople, would be extended to Egypt, a plan for the invasion of that province was drawn up by General Fox, at Messina, and an armament of five thousand men was despatched, under Major General Mackenzie, for Alexandria. This place had been represented by Major Missett, our consul there, as favourable to the English, whose army was good, and the officers experienced ; but the measure failed of success. Of what possible use was such a mere handful of troops, in so deadly a climate, and in a hostile and distant country? The possession of Egypt, to be sure, was of the utmost consequence to the French, and had for ages been the darling object of cupidity with her politicians. It is wrong to suppose that the scheme of Egyptian conquest originated with Napoleon Bonaparte. It is as old as the time of Sanuto, the Venetian. He mentions the subjugation of Egypt, by the Europeans, as the most effectual blow which could be struck against the towering power of the Crescent; and, for the objects of traffic, he strongly recommended this enterprize to the government. Count Feliasi, speaking of Sanuto's advice, has these remarkable words" Si lo avessero fatto, il traffico dell' Indie orientali forse non sarebbe fuggito dalle loro mani.” And Count Daru has the following passage :
VENETIAN. TREATIES WITH EGYPT.
“ En Egypte, ils (the Venetians) firent et renouvellèrent souvent des traités avec le gouvernement du pays ; ils se conformèrent à l'esprit du siècle, en sollicitant l'autorisation du Pape pour trafiquer avec les Mahométans; mais, en mêmetemps, ils ne se faisaient pas scrupule de condescendre aux erreurs des infidèles, en intitulant leurs traités, Au nom du Seigneur, et de Mahomet. Leurs relations ne purent être, dans cette contrée, ni si étendues, ni si amicales qu'en Asie : aussi plus d'une fois conçurent-ils l'idée d'en faire la conquête: Marin Sanuto la leur conseillait, en leur disant que cette possession les rendrait mâitres de tout le commerce de l'Orient; que la communication de l'Inde avec la Méditerrannée, par la Mer Rouge, était la plus courte, la plus économique, et la plus sûre ; qu'il n'était pas impossible d'établir une communication entre la Mer Rouge, et le Nil ; qu'indépendamment du commerce de l'Inde, il y avait, sur la côte orientale de cette mer, un pays abondant en aromates et en parfumes (plus tard on y aurait ajouté le Café); que l'Afrique elle-même offrait une riche matière au commerce, par son or, et son ivoire ; qu'enfin la possession de l’Egypte, pour une puissance maritime de la Méditerrannée, était préférable à la possession des Indes. Il ajoutait que les Vénetiens étoient alors la seule nation en état de tenter cette conquête."
-Histoire de Venice, pp. 75, 76. tom. 3.