« VorigeDoorgaan »
and communication, as well as improved agriculture, which depends on the supply of water to the soil. It has mineral wealth, and gave its name to the copper with which formerly it supplied the world. Its trees are valuable, and its general agricultural possibilities are great. It might be made once more a garden of the Mediterranean. The complaints which were made, about 1878, that it was too unhealthy for the troops, arose out of the action of a military authority who placed the camp low down in the most malarious part. In reality Cyprus is well fitted to serve as a sanatorium. The one purpose which, so far as I know, it has served during the war is to receive and recuperate wounded or sick soldiers; and its one small railway has been extended a few miles to facilitate the transport of the sick. If, in the future, we continue to do so little for the improvement and restoration to prosperity of an island like this, it will furnish a conclusive proof that we are unfit to be entrusted with the charge of the neglected parts of the Levant. Even in Egypt, where we have improved so greatly the economic condition, the question will be asked whether this would have been possible had it not been, in the first place, for the absolute necessity that our stay in Egypt must be justified, lest the Empire should break in twain; and in the second place for the fortunate chance that two great men, Lord Cromer and Lord Kitchener, were put in authority there. The short interval between them was a period of disintegration and shame.
I do not hesitate to say that with all their cruelty, and all the hatred which they inspired among the Turkish people after some experience of their ways and character, the Germans in Anatolia, during the few years in which they influenced the country, did more to develop it and to improve its economic condition than he British Government has done during the entire time that it has influenced, often with almost complete predominance, the state of the Turkish Empire, because it either neglected or obstructed the efforts of private British enterprise to make use of and improve the country. It must in honesty be said for the Germans that they have constructed railways on a vast scale, engaged in irrigation works of a quite grandiose and impressive character,
and undertaken other labours which promise to be of permanent benefit to the country. Nominally these are, like the British, matters of private initiative, but they are all more or less directly and expressly enterprises of the Deutsche Bank; and every one knows well that they are merely Government enterprises under the guise of private undertakings. They are great, beneficent, and well-planned; they are really works on which any government and any nation might plume itself, owing to their useful and, from a superficial point of view, international character. The great irrigation scheme which is already watering the plain of Konia from large lakes on the opposite side of the mountains a hundred miles away, was nominally done by private contract to the order of the Turkish Government. I happened to say to one of the practical directors of the work, 'You cannot possibly trust to the hands of the Turks the supervision of constructions like this. In two years the water would stop running and all the work would be wasted.' He acknowledged that it was so, but said that proper securities were taken that supervision would remain in the hands of the constructors for a sufficiently long term of years. The obvious intention was that, before that term of years was near an end, the entire control of the country should be in the hands of the German Government. No honest man can refrain from speaking a word of praise in reference to works like these.
W. M. RAMSAY.
Art. 4.-FROM WATERLOO TO THE MARNE.
Gli ultimi cento anni di Storia Universale, 1815-1915. By Pietro Orsi. Vol. i (1815-1870), 1915; vol. ii (1871-1915), 1917. Rome: Società Tipografica-Editrice Nazionale. TWENTY years ago, when young men still lived at Cambridge in quiet cloisters, reading books old and new and discoursing on them one with another-as their forefathers had done for unnumbered generations of brief college life, scarcely disturbed by the Civil Wars and not at all by the Napoleonic brawl beyond the seas-into that haven of perennial English felicity which in these years of universal exile so many now remember longingly from foreign lands, into that pleasant nursery of gentlemen, there came twenty years ago a traveller from the unknown Continent of Europe, bearded like an antique sage, full of strange knowledge and, as it seemed to us, still stranger combinations of opposing systems of thought. He was Lord Acton, the new Professor of History. When he spoke it was with brief emphasis and a conviction more impressive than argument, words that sank into the mind to dwell, coming to the surface to challenge consideration often after many years. And so to-day, while, under circumstances fantastically strange, I read Pietro Orsi's new History of the World since Waterloo, I find the key to many things in memories of a talk with Lord Acton long ago. He had been telling me that the Middle Ages were dull, and that history began to be interesting with Luther; on my asking why he thought so, the reason given by the great Roman Catholic Liberal was that in Luther's movement we had the first true revolution, a revolution being defined as a political change carried out as the consequence of an idea. With the Reformation the struggle for power which is called politics ceased to be a selfish struggle between persons and institutions representing themselves alone, and became a struggle of persons and parties representing ideas; and only amid the clash of rival ideas is liberty born, liberty without which, to Acton as to Shelley, 'truth' itself were a sacred lie.'
This definition of things by Lord Acton comes back to me to-day, suggesting the reason why the first of
Pietro Orsi's two volumes, that which covers the events of 1815-1870, an age of revolution' for ideas,' is enthralling; while the second volume (1871-1915), through no fault of the author, holds us less, because the tale of struggling material interests is a weariness to the reader's soul. Pietro Orsi, so true a Venetian, so good an Italian, yet withal so acute and impartial an historian, is well aware that his second volume is less interesting; and on its first page he tells us why:
'The marvellous successes of the German arms and policy had set the power and prestige of Germany on a pinnacle, so that the new Empire became the centre of the political life of Europe and also, as it were, the glass of fashion for all institutions. The character of the German Empire powerfully influenced the general direction of history. In the intoxication of the victories of 1870 it was thought that the great results attained were due exclusively to material force. People forgot that force had triumphed because it had put itself at the service of a cause that corresponded to the ideas of the age and answered exactly to the historical development of Germany and its moral preparation. Military force alone was now exalted.'
And again at the end of the chapter recording, without a comment, the miserable story of the deliberate preservation of Turkish misrule by Disraeli's ill-calculating materialism, miscalled in our annals 'peace with honour,' Orsi suddenly lets his feelings break out in the following words:
'One would say that in these years above all, whether in the field of international politics, or in the internal politics of particular States, great ideals had yielded place to the conception of immediate profits. The current of material interest prevails absolutely in human affairs. Now disappeared from the scene of the world Giuseppe Garibaldi, the great champion of the highest idealism.'
Pietro Orsi dedicates his second volume, published this year, to the memory of his son Gustavo, killed last summer in the Trentino, one of the many chosen youths of the free countries of Europe who have sacrificed their own lives and their parents' joy in life, ungrudged, to bring in the new age of liberty and moral force, and move at last the mountainous weight of materialism and
military force that, emanating mainly from Berlin, has for nearly half a century impeded all 'revolution' in Lord Acton's sense, lying heavily on the soul of Europe, of Italy, and at times of England herself.
The two volumes together can be praised for the qualities needed in a general history of this kind-acuteness of generalisation, accuracy, sanity, fairness, and sense of proportion. The book is a credit to Italian history, and another example of the balanced and liberal qualities of the modern Italian mind, the antithesis of prostituted German learning. Such a book is much to be recommended in England, where the national ignorance of the history of Europe in the 19th century proved one of the chief causes of our diplomatic and military disasters in the early part of the present war.
With a few exceptions, our statesmen and journalists, immersed in home problems as their normal study, and giving what leisure they have to the colonial and transoceanic world which is Britain's peculiar heritage, have no time to spare for their neighbours across the narrow seas; nor have they been helped by any instruction received in youth, brought up as they are at school and college in that insular ignorance of recent Continental history which is one of the hall-marks of English education. On the day war broke out hardly one educated Englishman in fifty, whether soldier or civilian, knew whether or not the Magyars were Slavs, what race inhabited Rumania or what had happened in Serbia besides a regicide. A few months ago a highly intelligent and cultivated Englishman, engaged in semi-political work in foreign parts, asked me if anything particular had happened in Europe in 1848. The officers of a Continental army are, so far as my experience goes, better versed in Continental history than the officers of our citizen army, whether professional or emergency soldiers. The reason is not that the class whence Continental officers are drawn is better educated or cleverer, but that the recent history of their own country, its very existence in the case of Italy and Germany, is so closely interwoven with the history of Europe in general that the events of the French Revolution, of 1848, of 1860-1870 are familiar and important to them as no historical events seem to the inhabitants of our old-established island fortress