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tics, and new chicanery and deceits in ordinary everyday life they appear a clever race, a crooked race-and they glory in it. They glory in their vulgarity, their "high heritage of Hellenic culture,” their damned language, their manifold and récherché immoralities and their innate Byzantine cruelties.
"But," say some, "this vicious city type of Greek is not characteristic. Go to the country! Seek out the peasant!"
The country Greek is a peasant, of a rather indolent type. The strenuous careers of goat-herd, olive or vine tender and petty trader attract him. He showed himself as cruel and rapacious, and massacred as nastily as any other Balkan or Turkish race, when the Greek troops occupied Smyrna in May, 1919. He has one excellent quality. Although immoral to a fault, the Greek has a family life that is remarkably pure. As with the French, the family is the recognized unit of the social organization.
So then the Greek pass by, shouting, greedy, intransigeant.
A witty French once said: "Le philhéllénisme, c'est une maladie que se guerit en place" ("Greece is the place where one is cured of fondness for the Greeks"). "'Tis well put-and awfully true.
The Greek, too, is a "métec" of the "métecs," and, I presume, glories in it.
Our next character is the Ottoman Jew, but we need not dwell long on him, as we are already acquainted with the Jewish type. A Jew is a Jew the world over. Personally we will find the keen independence and the genial acquisitiveness of the Constantinople Jew a type rather preferable to the astute avarice of the Armenian and the vulgar money-grubbing of the Greek. He is more natural, more likable and much more manly. He is unquestionably a "métec," but doesn't much care.
And now the stage darkens, the stage thunder booms ominously and loud hisses from the Armenians, Greeks and other interested parties rend the air. We of the gallery lean forward, for we feel that the villain of the piece approaches.
A bowed figure enters, clad in a battered red fez and nondescript robes, a snow-white beard flows to his breast. He appears a bit stupefied by the chorus of vilification and threats that arise from all around him. It is the Turk.
He weeps. He remarks that he is a good Mussulman with a great big heart, that he is misunderstood, that the massacres weren't meant in a harsh spirit, etc., etc., etc. We feel a little disgust—for it is all so transparent.
The Turk, as a race, is simple, honest, hospitable and courageThe Turk, as an individual, possesses the barbarian virtues and is not naturally intolerant. But he also possesses the barbarian vices: he is cruel, callous to suffering, highly unmoral and objective. He is the product of the East and West, uniting in him some of the good qualities of the Oriental and all the bad qualities of the European. He is not as bad as his foes represent and believe him, nor is he as good as his friends and he, himself, declare. And so it nauseates us a bit to hear the Turks, whose hands are wet with blood, sob with pity for himself, when the Greeks and Armenians massacre the Moslems and vilify those whom he formerly oppressed. But at the same time it does not exonerate the Greeks and Armenians. They are all alike in certain fundamentals and massacre is one of them.
Many things, fair and unfair, are said of the Turk. We can balance "the beturbaned and malignant Turk" and Mr. Gladstone's “unspeakable Turk” with the opinion that the Turks are the only gentlemen in the Near East and other Turcophile eulogies.
But we have come to see the play and must ignore the whitewash as well as the mud and seek to know the man.
In the first place, the Turk is the most cosmopolitan type in Europe, representing a vigorous admixture of a score of different races, some European, some Turanian, some Semetic. In physical appearance he is stolid, sturdy and homely.
He is a sympathetic soul. His harmonious and tasteful garb, his sonorous and graceful tongue, his natural courtesy and kindness endear him to the casual observer and to the artist, such as Pierre Loti.
The Turk is unaffected, cleanly and God-fearing, “not by nature zealous or enthusiastic, nor by nature cruel. Docile, tractable, gentle, in a word lovable": this is the Turkish type.
But we can not ignore the other side, his corruption, immorality and incapacity. His stupidity has caused his downfall. He is in many ways an incorrigible barbarian, in many a strong breed,
worthy of perpetuation. You can not fully understand him until you sympathize with all the traits, noble and ignoble, that are reckoned human.
A kindly barbarina, with his homely vices, infected by imperial degeneracies, a cosmopolite in blood who affects innate superiority to those pure races which contributed to his ancestry, a rather lax Mohammedan, he is still contemptuous of the "giaour,” the "rayah," the "Frank". Such he is. We cannot fully understand him, but we can say that he is both better and worse than represented—and a rather likable fellow into the bargain.
The Turk is not a devil, he is far too beef-witted. He is not a "plaster saint"; he is Oriental.
He might be called a ruffian, but a likable one; a scoundrel, but a genial one: a "métec," but a lovable one.
These then are the protagonists of the Near East: Armenian and Greek, Jew and Turk. We cannot judge them fully, we do not attempt to analyze their motives, the correctness of their behavior, the validity of their conflicting affirmations. This is not a political treatise, but a character drama, in which the personalities involved are all-important and it is the personalities that we have seen in our glimpse of the stage.
It matters not which is the villain, which the hero. We cannot yet judge them, for the play is not yet done. And it is not yet for us to let down the curtain and put out the light.
So they pass before us, mouthing their age-old lines, making their entrances on their threadbare cues, committing their crimes, denouncing their neighbors. Whether, like my friend, we curse them all as "métecs," or view them with a broader toleration— it matters not. Whether we like them or hate them-they will always interest us.
Philhellenism may turn to disgust, the Armenophile become exasperated, the Zionist become an advocate of pogroms, the pro-Turk a disillusioned man. But the East is unchanged and, in its essentials, unchangeable. For while the Comédie Humaine casts its spell over our imaginations and as long as human life remains romantic, our eyes will be attracted by the stage, until the play is played out, and the players are departed.
John F. Carter, Jr.
ODE TO AN HOUR.
I only know Fear moltens all my mind
There lingers on and on a mooded hour... There waxes, wanes, as does a voice across the skies Still hovering in the heart of him who heard Till even in the midnight, trouble stirred,
He cowers beneath the darkness, moans and cries... For waning, waxing that voice never dies!
And yet this hour of utter agony
Holds more than baseness for the cowering soul; It is a kind of bitterness too fine
For some poor breathless flush of ecstasy
For lo! as any image of the air
A Spirit in the joyous soul of him Floats, sways, is silent, is austere...
(As virgins are in dusks that drop too dim When some youth's gaze lies tangled in their hair!) But he is more the lover than the youth
And lo! his love is madly mixed with fear
He walks alone and is companioned still
One instant-though be that love long ages old!
The flowing smoothness of a summer stream
Where lo! I too shall lie, another leaf
And so he wanders on, companioned still
By fear and love-they are his only crown!
Within the man will say...
"O, still and silent Spirit in my heart
Err thou no more alone, but wed with me
That Thou, who wear'st the soul of it in thee,
Like any ship that puts into a blue lagoon,
Must Thou leave me alone,
A breeze-borne blazing wreck beneath a midnight moon