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to the greater part of the persons concerned. We will say nothing of the number of lines which have indeed been made, but much to the regret of shareholders, who heartily wish they had been abandoned. Their history is briefly told by the Share List.
These are great national evils, but the blame of them is to be borne by railway speculators rather than by Parliament. If two litigious parties insist upon ruining themselves in a Court of Justice, by endless suits, instead of adjusting their differences by arbitration or compromise, we blame not the Court but the suitors. But possibly they may be saved from themselves, and the various interests involved, render the experiment a national object. The railway property in Great Britain alone amounted in 1851 to 248,240,8971., and the gross revenue upon this capital to 15,000,0001. We are persuaded that the aggregate capital invested in railways and other public undertakings sanctioned by Parliament, will soon be equal in amount to the National Debt, and this enormous property ought not to be endangered by the accidents and mischances to which it has hitherto been exposed.
With this view Mr. Cardwell, after investigating the difficult question of railway legislation with great care and judgment, proposed an improved constitution of railway committees, which is to be tried in the ensuing Session. His plan is to secure the services of a small number of well-qualified members, who are expected to devote a considerable part of the Session to their laborious duties, and by frequent communication to maintain uniformity of decision. This was probably the best expedient that could then have been proposed, with any reasonable prospect of immediate success. If more could have been done, Mr. Cardwell was not likely to shrink from the attempt; but the failure of previous experiments, the jealous regard of Parliament for its own jurisdiction, and the apprehensions of the railway interest lest any considerable change should diminish their influence or affect their property, forbade the proposal of a bolder scheme. We regard it, however, as the first insertion of the wedge, which repeated blows will drive deeper and deeper, until the entire system is rent asunder. It is the beginning of • the end.' The new experiment is to be applied to railway bills alone; all other private bills, scarcely inferior in importance, being left, for the present, in their accustomed course. The system which has been condemned cannot be long continued: and of the new scheme we entertain no very sanguine anticipations. Its pressure upon unpaid members of Parliament will be intolerable; and we doubt if they will prove otherwise equal to the heavy responsibilities imposed upon them. The new committee of forty will, sooner or later, be superseded by a more efficient tribunal, just as the Committee on Petitions for Private Bills, on the model of which it is founded, has long since given way to judicial officers of the House. Government Boards have been tried and found wanting; and we hope to see the establishment of a Judicial Court within the walls of Parliament, performing the same functions as committees on private bills. This Court should be common to both Houses, to whom it should make its reports, and thus the double inquiry, in Lords and Commons, now so vexatious and costly to the parties, would be avoided. Lord Brougham proposed a plan, founded upon this principle, in 1836; and the twenty-four resolutions submitted by him to the House of Lords embody, in forcible language, the reasons for the proposed change. The trial of this, or some analogous plan, may still be postponed for a few years, but we regard its ultimate adoption as inevitable.
We have now adverted to the principal inconveniences experienced in the practical working of our Parliamentary Government, and have endeavoured to indicate the nature of the remedies which appear to be wanting. The objects we have in view are not many, nor difficult of attainment. To limit the occasions for debate, without restricting its freedom; to discourage irregularities, in order to increase the opportunities for grave discussion; to organise the vast resources of Parliament, so as to diminish the labour and increase the efficiency of its deliberations; these are the ends to be accomplished. The means proposed are simple and free from hazard, founded upon existing practice, borne out by experience, and not trenching upon any constitutional principle. Without giving undue facilities to a Government, or embarrassing the legitimate tactics of an Opposition, they would conduce to the dignity of Parliament, the credit, utility, and comfort of its members, and the public
ART. VIII. – 1. Lettres sur la Turquie, ou Tableau statistique,
religieux, politique, administratif, militaire, commercial de l'Empire Ottoman depuis le Khatti-Cherif de Gulhani. Par
M. A. UBICINI. Paris: 1853. 2. Zustand der Türkei im Jahre der Prophezeihung, 1853. Von
HUBERT von Boehn, Königlich Preussischem Second-Lieutenant. Berlin : 1853.
3. The Ottoman Empire and its Resources, with Statistical
Tables, &c. By EDWARD H. MICHELSEN, Phil. D. Lon
don : 1853. 4. Three Years in Constantinople ; or, Domestic Manners of the
Turks in 1844. By CHARLES WHITE, Esq. London: 1845.
W e have selected these works from the enormous mass of
literary compilations to which the present state of Eastern Europe has given birth, in order to combine in the remarks we
tent writers from each of the three nations which have interposed their influence and their aid to arrest the doom of Turkey and to resist the aggressions of Russia. It would have been easy to call witnesses more adverse to Turkish institutions ; but we purposely avoid resting the opinion we have formed on the highly coloured statements of Mr. Macfarlane or the animated sketches drawn by Mr. St. John. The writers we have chosen are all rather friendly than hostile to Turkey: two of them have laboured in their several vocations to promote the reformation of the Empire. They are, therefore, qualified to inform us of the results which have attended their efforts, and
biassed by any predilection for Russian interests. Before any correct opinion can be formed on the political bearing of this question, it is desirable to obtain as far as possible a clear and dispassionate view of the facts on which the duration of the Turkish Empire must depend. The events which have already
oschinotion. "Political mainly to be the relati and
threaten to produce consequences so disastrous to the relations of the greater European Powers, are mainly to be judged of in reference to the social and political elements which have been thus rudely set in motion. The insolent and ill-judged embassy of Prince Menschikoff committed the Russian Government to a course of action from which it could not recede without discredit, and in which it could not advance without danger; for it had staked its ascendancy in the East against its alliances in the West, and either alternative resulted in a loss on the one side or the other. Negotiations followed, into which every court of Europe entered with an earnest desire of peace, but without a full comprehension of the magnitude of the question, and without a spirit of union sufficiently compact and authoritative to drive the Czar at once beyond the Pruth. At last the Turkish Government thought itself arrived at a degree of preparation which gave it an advantage over the Russian forces in the Principalities or on the Asiatic frontier, and, without further deference to the counsels and remonstrances of the Allied Powers, it gave the signal of war, and trusted to the force of events to involve the rest of Europe in its quarrel. Upon these facts, which are patent to the world, and which may be said to constitute the three first acts of this eventful passage in history, we have little to add which is not already familiar to every reader, or which will not be discussed to satiety when the conduct of the British Cabinet in these transactions comes under the notice of Parliament. But the questions which have thus been raised, and most unreasonably raised, by the Russian Government, involve much wider considerations; and, as this dispute has slipped through the fingers of the diplomatists, and touched the fiery matter of creeds, nationalities, and armies, the debates which it may call forth on certain points of political conduct are of far less moment to the world than the formation of opinions on the future condition of the territories and the nations now visibly agitated by one of the great convulsions of history and of war. Everything concurs to render Eastern Europe the scene of one of the most extraordinary contests of our age. It is still partly inhabited and wholly governed by a people which owed its greatness to martial energy and sanguinary absolutism, but which is enshackled by the laws of a religion never yet professed by a truly civilised nation. Amidst all its pretensions to reform, every dispassionate observer of the state of the Turkish Empire brings back fresh evidence of its decay; and even those sanguine orientalists who speak of its progress cannot deny that the population of the Turkish race is rapidly declining — that the most fertile regions of the Old World are smitten with the curse of barrenness under their rule — that the cessation of the fierce and brutal control once exercised over the country by the Sultans has only secured greater impunity to corruption and that the internal condition of the government and the empire is one of hopeless confusion. On the other hand, upon the northern frontier — from the river Pruth to the Colchian coast
- lies that secular enemy of the Turk, whom the superstition of ages seems to have marked out as the inheritor of his dominions, and who affects to enlist in the cause of aggression the sympathies of the Christian Church and the institutions of a more civilised people; whilst Europe responds to these menacing demonstrations by a firm and united resolution, that whatever may be the fate of these regions they shall not become the undefended prey of Russia, and that, however difficult it may be to maintain a Turkish Empire, no Russian usurpation or conquest
ver may behe fact that, bot diplomatie
shall transfer the empire of the East to the House of Roinanoff. Between these contending parties lies the most interesting part of the subject,—the territory and the populations, who are at once the objects and the victims of the quarrel. In spite of the concessions of the Tanzimat to the Christian subjects of the Porte, and the more tolerant and enlightened maxims of the Sultan's present advisers, experience has taught the Christians how illusory are the hopes of civil equality, or even of real religious toleration, where authority is exclusively exercised by their bitterest enemies; and whilst the Sclavonian provinces tend to assimilate themselves to the condition of Servia, the Greek race aspires, from the Gulf of Arta to the Gulf of Volo, to assert its independence.
It has been said by high authorities that the perils which attend the opening of such questions as these are so great that we are bound by the paramount interest of peace to ward off a discussion so fatal to the public tranquillity, and that the maintenance of the status quo of Turkey was to be purchased even at the sacrifice of the progress of civilisation and the interests of Christianity. But whatever may be the value of that argument, it is materially diminished by the fact that, be it for good or evil, this contest is no longer within the grasp of diplomatic correspondence, and that in all probability, far from seeing the termination of this momentous dispute, the ensuing spring will greatly extend its proportions. The British Government was, we think, fully justified in the means it took to avert as long as possible a question which threatened to expand to such formidable dimensions ; and our first interest was that no such controversy should, at this time, be opened. Even for the Ottoman Empire, whatever be the actual results of the war, which no human being can clearly foresee or define, any diplomatic solution endorsed by the Four Powers of Europe would seem to us preferable to the efforts made and the risks incurred by such a contest. But these are now vain regrets. The course of events lies to action. The stagnant waters are stirred, and the occurrences now succeeding one another in rapid alternation leave at least this conviction on the mind — that Eastern Europe is about to undergo large and perhaps violent changes, and that the state of things which has subsisted in Turkey for the last fifteen years, under what must be termed the joint protection of the Great European Powers, is already at an end. Turkey has shown by her declaration of war, and by her subsequent operations, that she had spirit to resist the threat addressed to her, and strength to defy the forces meant to intimidate her. She has preferred the risks of independent
toman Empire being can the Four Prade and therets. The