Macedonia: Its Races and Their Future
H. Brailsford

I. Characterictics of Turkish rule

4. Types of Turkish Sentiment

It is this economic aspect of Turkish misrule which makes all hope of any reformation from within entirely visionary. It is true that the average Moslem of the upper classes in Macedonia is discontented. He is often even disloyal at heart. But his isolation as a member of a minority and his lack of education render him peculiarly amenable to the social pressure of the caste in which he is born. I knew rather intimately a certain bey of Castoria, an Albanian by race. He was a peculiarly gentle and courteous soul, prodigal in his hospitality and universal in his tolerance. He had inherited his wealth, and used his peasants well. He was totally uneducated, and by no means clever, so that it is fair to take his opinions as moderately typical. [1] For the present Sultan he had an unbounded contempt. He regarded the officials as parvenus and strangers, and would talk of them by no other name than "the asses of Yildiz." Although he was a comparatively young man (he is now dead), certainly under forty, his favourite theme was the rapid and alarming decay which he had witnessed in his own lifetime. Turkey was "going to the dogs," and he threw the whole blame upon Abdul Hamid. He had often been offered a post in the administration, but invariably refused it with disgust. He knew that a catastrophe was coming, and his wish was that it might come soon. He desired a European occupation as the only solution which would give fair play to the Mohamedan minority, and he would have welcomed any Power save Russia, while his preference was either for

1. One can follow no other method with the Turks. It is never safe to talk politics in the presence of more than one of them, and one must know them well before they will talk politics at all.


England or for Austria. [2] But, despite these opinions, this excellent man was a stout pillar of Turkish rule, and during the rising of 1903 he was indefatigable as the president of the local commission which managed the provision and transport for the army. Another bey whom I knew fairly well, in the sense that I had his confidence (though to him I could talk only through one of his satellites who acted as interpreter), represented a very different type. He was clever, though quite uninstructed. He was by temperament a natural rebel and a restless man of action, and his sympathies were with the Albanian national movement. He was in the pay of at least one anti-Turkish organisation, but when I asked him if he had any thought of taking part in any overt action against a Government which he certainly hated, he replied with naïve frankness that he was a tithe-farmer. Other people did the same thing, he went on to explain; he never ill-used any one who was really poor; he knew he did wrong, but it was the only way of making money in Turkey, and if he did not do it some one else would. A more disinterested point of view was represented by a young officer, with whom I had many a long day's ride among the villages. He had a passion for education. He called himself a "young Turk," and his chief personal grievance was that he was forbidden to employ his leisure by learning French in the Catholic school at Monastir. Although of Greek extraction, he was certainly a patriotic Turk. He too believed that Turkey was "going to the dogs," and lamented the growing laxity of discipline in the army, which he attributed to the abolition of corporal punishment by the present Sultan. He was very bitter because, as he put it, the absence of roads, of police, and of education "blackened Turkey in the eyes of Europe." He admitted that the Christians were ill-used, but his favourite theme was that the Moslems are even more ruthlessly repressed, which in a sense is true; for while

2. A Turk who knows anything of Egypt is usually Anglophil. If he has friends in Bosnia he is Austrophil. One must make allowance for politeness in such conversations, but on the whole I believe that this confidence in England is general and sincere.


the Christians have their own schools and their independent bishops, Mohamedan education and the ecclesiastical system is entirely in the hands of the Government. He was a just and kindly man, deeply religious and upright according to his lights, but his mind was a chaos of shamefaced and scarcely conscious prejudices. "We Turks," he said one day as we passed a burned Bulgarian village, "ought to have risen as those men did." But when I suggested that the wise course would be to make common cause with the Christians, he exclaimed with deep feeling that rather than tolerate a successful Christian rising, the Turks would die to the last man and bury "their" country in their fall. "We came in with blood, and we will go out with blood." The tradition of ascendancy was ineradicable. He would admit that he had learned Turkish as a foreign tongue. He knew that three or four generations back his ancestors were Christians. Fanaticism he had none, and even displayed a curious sentimental reverence when he talked of a Christian Church. And yet politically he was Turkish of the Turks. For him the Empire was "our" country, and the sense of possession which he had acquired from the caste in which he was educated, dominated all his thinking.

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