What united these young conspirators was a common knowledge of European civilization and an equal concern at the distintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Responsibility for the accelerated pace of the decline of the Sick Man of Europe was now laid by them at the door of a small gorup of statesmen headed by Ali Pasa and Fuad Pasa. These two men had, for some time, alternated in the offices of the Grand Vizierate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They also held in their grip the formulation of the policies of the Porte. The appointment of ministers of state other than themselves had become their almost exclusive prerogative. They were thus accused of personal rule, of brewing wrong policies in an ivory tower, and of building an oligarchy of sycophants.
Almost all of the men present at the picnic had been working at one time or another in the Translation Bureau of the Porte, and most of them had thus been given the opportunity to acquaint themselves with European political systems as well as with the way the foreign policy of the empire was being conducted. They were a generation nurtured in the ways of the West, thanks to the efforts of the very men they opposed. Ali and Fuad, their targets, had taken up the modernization of the Ottoman Empire where Resid Pasa had left it. But just as Ali and Fuad had, in their time, opposed Resid for being too mild a reformer, they in turn were now criticized by a new generation of political critics.
Leading the group of picnickers was one Mehmed Bey, who had received his education at the Ottoman school in Paris and had returned well permeated with the ideas of constitutionalism and popular representation. Mehmed Bey had been able to kindle this reforming fire in the hearts of two younger friends, Nuri Bey and Resad Bey. All three men were, at the time, employed in the Translatin Bureau of the Meclis-i Vala, an institution which was the direct lineal descendant of the Meclis-i Vala-yi Ahkam-i Adliye, the first modern consultative governmental machinery established in 1837 by Mustafa Resid Pasa.
Among those present, second in importance after Mehmed Bey was Namik Kemal Bey, who had already acquired some fame as a poet in the literary circles of the capital. Shortly before, he had been entrusted with the publicatin of Tasvir-i Efkar [a newspaper] by its preceding publisher, Sinasi Efendi, when Sinasi had to flee Turkey because of his involvement in a plot directed against Ali.
A fifth member of the group, Ayetullah Bey, was the product of a household and an education most extraordinary in all respects. His father, Subhi Pasa, held court in his mansion in the midst of a continuous stream of men of learning and extended his hospitality to Eastern and Western scholars alike. It was unthinkable that an authority on any subject should go through Istanbul without visiting Subhi Pasa. In such an atmosphere, Ayetullah Bey had been given ample opportunity to acquire a solid Western as well as Eastern culture. It was this cultural background and, in particular, his admiration for the achievements of Napoleon (an attitude the radical tenor of which has been strikingly depicted in the case of Restoration France) that made Ayetullah Bey join the ranks of the political opposition.
The sixth member of the meeting was Refik Bey, the owner of the short-lived periodical MirÂat, in which had appeared Namik KamelÂs translations from Montesquieu.
That day those present decided to form a society whose aim would be to change ªabsolute into constitutional ruleº in the empire. This meant, in effect, to put an end to the preponderant influence of the ubiquitous Ali Pasa, who had also antagonized the plotters by what they considered his lack of nerve in his dealings with the European Great Powers.
The plotters were far from opposed to the monarchical principle, yet they must have shared KemalÂs estimate of the ruling sultan, Abdulaziz, as a rather simple-minded prince who had allowed himself to be cowed by Ali and as a potentate whose traditionalism was ovelry naive. There are indications that from the very beginning of their activities the conspirators were in touch with Prince Murad, the highly intelligent and cultivated nephew of Sultan Abdulaziz and heir to the throne, and that they looked hopefully to his eventual enthronement.
A retrospective glance at Turkish developments between 1856 and 1865 is necessary at this point, to get a better insight into the motivations and the aims of the young men who had assembled that day. When, in 1839, the semi- constitutional charger known as the Hatt-i Humayun of Gulhane had been proclaimed, due to Resid PasaÂs efforts, one of Resid PasaÂs purposes in drafting it had been to establish the basis for the eventual creation of an Ottoman nation in which subjects would benefit from identical civil rights, automatically conferred with citizenship and not dependent on religious affiliation. The Gulhane Rescript had promised that all Ottoman subjects would, thereafter, be treated on a basis of equality. Resid Pasa, however, did not anticipate that specific demands to establish equality between Moslems and Christians would come very soon. Nor did he foresee that they would be as strong and explosive as they turned out to be. He lost sight of several developments which, although difficult to perceive in 1839, weer to gain incraesingly in momentum in the 1850's. In those years the more extensive commercial relations between Europe and the Ototman Empire, the growth in missionary activities, the influence of the secular ideas of the Enlightenment on the Christian populations of the empire, the rising national and political consciousness of these same people, the growing interest taken by the European Great Powers in the protection of Christians in the empire -- each raised a different problem in relation to the equality promised in the 1839 Rescript. Many of the regulations by which the Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire had abided for centuries now became galling restrictions which they hastened to shake off -- and which the European powers were happy to cooperate in eliminating. Each of the groups involved in this process thought of these restrictions in terms of its own interests. For the missionaries, the road block was the Ottoman custom of executing apostates; for the Christian population, which turned to the European Great Powers for succor, it was the ban on public manifestations of worship, the latitude allowed to administrators in granting permission to build new churches, the attribution of political authority to their religious leaders, the fact that, in lawsuits brought against Moslems, Christian testimony was not fully accepted, and that Christians were not appointed to offices of the state in proportion to their numbers and did not profit from the educational facilities introduced by the state since Resid PasaÂs reforms. The gist of this attitude was a demand by the non-Moslems that the entire population of the empire, without distinction of creed, be extended the privileges of the public services performed by the Ottoman state and the opportunities of employment provided by it. Yet traditionally the non-Moslem population of the empire had been granted special privileges so that these services might be performed by their own communities. The Ottoman statesmen were thus justified in believing that a surrender of these communal privileges should be the price paid for the establishment of an Ottoman nationality under which everyone would fully enjoy the benefits of state services as well as the equal protection of the laws. As matters turned out, these statesmen were never allowed an opportunity to carry out such ideas in practice, since they were under constant pressure from the Great Powers to grant at one and the same time equal rights of citizenship and special community privileges.
The point here was, of course, that European deiplomats, even when they were not encouraging confusion in the assessment of the problems of the Ottoman Empire, were not themselves entirely aware that the legitimate grievances of the subject people of the Ottoman Empire wee, since the beginning of the nineteenth century, inextricably entwined with the demands of an extra-rational nationalism. This second factor was to play an increasing role in Ottoman foreign affairs after the year 1856.
One additional pressure was generated by the foreign merchants residing in Istanbul, who were distressed by the lack of a precise commercial code to which they could have reference in disputes involving them with Moslems.
At the time of the Crimean War, TurkeyÂs allies began to press the empire to carry out such reforms as would eliminate these disabilities. At first the idea of a guarantee of special rights to the Christians of the empire was seriously considered. Eventually a plan was adopted which guaranteed these rights to all subjects, whether Christian or Moslem. These principles were embodied in a new Imperial Rescript, the Hatt-i Humayun of February 18, 1856. Since the Hatt was, in fact, the product of foreign interference in Ottoman affairs, a face-saving device was invented in that Article IX of the Treaty of Paris, to which the Hatt had been annexed, stipulated that the enforcement of the provisions contained in the Hatt was not to constitute a pretext for foreign interference. In fact, however, the powers did interfere in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire. Thus, for example, when in 1860 the Christians of the Lebanon and the Moslem inhabitants of the area flew at each otherÂs throats and the Porte did not intervene in time, French troops were sent into the Lebanon.
In general, the early 1860's were a time when the Ottoman Empire was beginning to feel the increasing tug of Balkan nationalism and when more and more its international relations wre conducted under the surveillance of the Concert of Europe. The following are a few of the events which may be shown to have been directly responsible for the young conspiratorsÂ disgust with the Porte.
Between 1859 and 1864 the vassal principalities of Moldavia and Walachia set out on an independent course, elected for themselves the same ruler, proclaimed a unitary constitution, and finally obtained autonomy.
In 1860 a revolt took place in Herzegovina which the Montenegrins soon joined. Two and a half years elapsed before this uprising could be controlled. When a treaty was finally signed between the Montenegrins and the Turks, the latter obtained the right to garrison blockhouses straddling the main Montenegrin highway. Yet these advantages were later given up by the Turks (March 1863).
In 1862 the Turkish garrison of Belgrade and the local population of the city clashed, with considerable losses on both sides. This matter was settled by an international conference which met in the Ottoman capital. The Turks then agreed to evacuate two of the six fortresses which they still occupied in Serbia.
Every one of these developments left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Turks. During the Lebanese crisis of 1860, for instance, Fuad Pasa, investigating the circumstances leading to the uprising, had the Turkish commanding general and two of his aids shot for not having stopped the encounter between Moslems and Druses in time. Many Turks were shocked by this severity, which they rightly attributed to a desire to placate European powers. Later a Christian was appointed governor of the Lebanon on the recommendation of the European powers -- another blow to Ottoman pride.
The Rumanian developments had followed a dynamic of their own which was not to the liking of the European Great Powers, but this did not make them acceptable from the Ottoman point of view. In Bosnia the Ottoman army had not been able to rout much smaller forces; the advantages gained in the Montenegrin treaty had been relinquished by the Turks themselves.
Ali Pasa and Fuad Pasa had thus taken over the directing of Ottoman policies at an inauspicious time. Not the least of their troubles was that a smoldering resentment had been felt against the Hatt-i Humayun of 1856 ever since its proclamation. As Cevdet Pasa points out, after the proclamation of this edict: ªMany Moslems began to grumble: Today we lost our sacred national rights which our ancestors gained with their blood. While the Islamic nation used to be the ruling nation, it is now bereft of this sacred right. This is a day of tears and mourning for the Moslem brethren.Âº
In 1859 (September 17) a revolt called the Kuleli Revolt broke out in the capital. The leaders of the revolt were army officers and ulema who believed that the extent to which Fuad and Ali Pasa were ready to cooperate with the Great Powers and the corruption of the other ministers would lead Turkey to ruin. The revolt seems to have had as its aim the assassination of the sultan, whoese pro-Western incinations were also considered nefarious. In short, it was a plot of zealots protesting against the extension of new privileges to the Christian populations and indignant at the loss of the empireÂs old prestige.
In general, the gearing of Turkish reform to the wishes of the Christian populations of the empire made reform something lopsided in which the Moslem populations had no share. Yet reforms were as much needed to ease the lot of the Moslem- Ottomans as they were to make first-class citizens of the Christians. If the Christian was discriminated against in matters of public employment, the Moslem peasant was shouldering the incredible burden of a taxation system which kept him at starvation level. When an effort was made to relieve Christian disabilities, it was obvious that the suffering of Moslem-Ottoman subjects would stand out in greater relief than before.
One of the advantages which the Christian-Ottoman communities had reaped from the proclamation of 1856 was that they were able to secularize what political power was allowed them in the settlement of intracommunity affairs. Under the old Ottoman system this power had been given to the leaders of the religious communities, the patriarchs. Now lay assemblies were formed which slowly took this power out of the hands of the patriarchs. The Armenian community even drafted a constitution for itself. The ideas of constitutionalism and popular representation thus gained a limited toe-hold in the empire among the Christians, just as they had been adopted in the newly emancipated territories of the empire.
The reverse was true with regard to Moslem Ottomans and to representation on an Ottoman-wide basis. Ali Pasa took a strong stand against any suggestions of constitutionalism or representative government. He believed that any movement aiming at the establishment of a national assembly should be curbed, since the latter, because of the multinational composition of the Ottoman Empire, would have led to the representation of those very elements which were bent on separation from the empire. As he expressed it: ªThe Ottoman Empire numbers twelve or fourteen natinalities, and unfortunately, as a result of the religious and racial hatred which divide, above all, the Christian populations, each one of these nationalities does not as yet show great inclination to grant just and necessary concessions. If the representatives which they would nominate by way of elections were to be brought gogether today, such a national assembly would instantly give rise to all scandals imaginable.º Side by side with this attitude, Ali Pasa felt that the populations of the empire, whether Christians or Moslems, wee not ªpreparedº for constitutional rule.
It is true that neither Fuad nor Ali Pasa was entirely indifferent to the problem of providing representative institutions for the Empire. Their approach to the creatoin of such institutions was to establish empire-wide intermediate bodies which, without providing for national representation, would at least allow local representative institutions to develop. By proclaiming the Law of the Organization of Provinces, which allowed for an elected provincial council in each of the provinces of the empire, they hoped to prepare the Ottoman population for eventual self- government. On the other hand, they wee convinced that the majority of the population was totally unfit to decide its own fate and they thought the Ottomans would acquire such qualifications only very gradually. It was Ali Pasa who had dismissed the mildly liberal poet Sinasi from the civil service and it was he who later was to draft the infamous Nizamname-i Ali, establishing arbitrary censorship over the press.
The picnic organized on that summer day in 1865 was, in fact, a reunion of all those who opposed the policies of Ali Pasa -- a characterization of their goals that is just as useful in understanding the aims of the gorup as are their own, more abstract statements of principle.
It was decided, the day the picnic took place, to create a secret society which would be named the Patriotic Alliance (ªIttifak-i Hamiyyet,º in Turkish). Ayetullah Bey had brought with him two books on the organization of the Carbonari, the secret society which, in the beginning of the nineteenth century, had fought against the restoration in France and Italy. These books were to be used as guides in organizing the secret society.
NO documents exist stating what the aims of the Patriotic Alliance were, nor is it possible to trace their ideology except as it may be inferred from later statements. The name ªPatriotic Allianceº suggests an intellectual affiliation with earlier European revolutionary societies, such as the Tugendbund and the Giovine Italia. At least one author has stated the search for such a connection to be misleading because the aims of the Patriotic Alliance were ªmedievalº in nature, thus at cross- purposes with the aims of its suggested forerunners.
There is no doubt, however, that the founding members of the Patriotic Alliance thought of themselves as aiming to follow the political lead of Europe, though their intense patriotism made them think of reform for Ottomans, by Ottomans, and along Islamic lines.
Insofar as Italy is concerned, there is evidence that Italian liberal movements were known and studied by them. In 1866 a man who was to become the patron of the founding members of the Patriotic Alliance, Mustafa Fazil Pasa, set the king of Italy as an exmaple for the sultan. Namik Kemal mentioned Garibaldi and Silvio Pellico in the same breath with Voltaire and Condorcet. Mazzini, with his utterances to the effect that a new epoch was dawning when the people would ªreplace the Church as the interpreters of GodÂs word,º was not far at all from the stand adopted by Namik Kemal.
Ali Suavi specifically states that ªYoung Spain, Young France, Young Italyº were the organizations after which the secret society of 1865 had been modeled. He added that the European belief that the Ottoman Empire was in its death throes gave an additional reason to the founders to proclaim, by the inclusion of the word ªYoungº in the name of the society, the vitality of the empire. Suavi refers here to the term ªYoung Ottomanº = or ªNew Ottomanº when translated textually -- by which these men became known at a later date.
As to the means the society planned to use in carrying its purposes to fruition, they are also difficult to ascertain. According to Ebuzziya, the members proposed to present a petition to the sultan exposing the misdeeds of Ali and Fuad Pasa. There are indications, however, that much less innocuous activities were planned. The organization of the Alliance by cells of seven, each responsible to a leader, and the secrecy of its membership (no member knew more than the names of seven other members) are signs which point in that direction. Eventually the leader of the Patriotic Alliance, Mehmed Bey, was condemned to death for better reasons than having belonged to a political debating society intent on petitioning the sovereign. We know from the testimony of his daughter that once a week Mehmed Bey owuld don the loose robe of the alim (Doctor of Islamic Law) and go into the mosques and medreses to agitate for reform. It was this conspiratorial atmosphere which gave the Patriotic Alliance its special stamp. Ebuzziya admits that the Alliance was a ªrevolutionaryº organization even though he denies that the members were intent on acts of terrorism.
It is interesting to note, however, that between the years 1865 and 1867 other currents were working in Turkey in the same direction as that started by Mehmed Bey and his friends. Indeed, within a year of the creation of the Patriotic Alliance, two events occurred which revealed the nature of these parallel currents and also determined the fate of the members of the Patriotic Alliance.
One of these precipitating factors was the beginning of a serious insurrection on the Island of Crete, which once more raised the question of the viability of the Ottoman Empire. The second was the publication by a Turco-Egyptian pasa of a letter addressed to the sultan, demanding a constitutional reform - a crucial event in the shaping of the fortunes of the Patriotic Alliance.
An outbreak had already taken place in Crete in 1860 but now, in the first months of 1866, the diplomats accredited at the Porte expressed serious doubts as to whether the Cretan insurgents could be contained by the already harassed Turkish armies.
The most impartial interpretations of this latest uprising, as well as of other separatist disturbances which had occurred earlier, was that the principle of nationality had become much more active among the Christian populations of the empire than had even been anticipated in drafting the Treaty of 1856 and the accompanying Hatt-i Humayun, and that some change had to be brought in the civil and political status of the subject peoples of the empire to dampen their ardor. Another, more naive explanation was the Porte had failed to carry out the promises made to the Christian population of the empire in the Firman of 1856.
In 1867 specific proposals for reform were brought forth by France and Russia, purportedly to put an end to the recurrence of revolts and uprisings. The French plan was based on doing away with all Christian disabilities but also on carrying out a wider program of reform for all Ottoman subjects than had hitherto materialized. It was hoped that these measures would be favorably received by both Moslems and Christians. Ideally, the move would have brought about the fusion of all people in the Ottoman Empire.
The Russian plan, on the other hand, considered the splitting of the empire into autonomous regions administered by indigenous leaders elected by these populations. In the case of Crete, the Russians advised outright annexation to Greece.
Pressure was put on the Porte by each side to adopt its proposals. The Cretan revolution kept the Porte busy for a long time. Expeditionary forces were sent to the island, but they met with little success. Eventually, in the winter of 1867-1868, Ali Pasa himself went to Crete. The inability of the Porte to deal with the Cretan insurrection caused bitter criticism among many people in the capital. The emotional ties with the island were strong; the history of its conquest had been one of the more colorful in the annals of Ottoman history. The plight of the Moslem population of the island, exposed to the depredations of local guerrilla bands, heaped injury on insult.
In later years the weakness of the Porte in handling the Cretan question was made the subject of one of the most famous and mordant of modern Turkish satirical poems, the "Zafername." This poem by Ziya Pasa, the "elder statesman" of the Turkish reformists, shows to what heights of patriotic indignation the issue could incite Ottomans.
At the time of the crisis, two newspapers in the capital rushed to the defense of Ottoman Crete. One of these was the "Tasvir-i Efkar" edited by Kemal; the other, the "Muhbir" whose chief editorial writer, Ali Suavi, had begun to cooperate with the Patriotic Alliance some time after its foundation. The letter of the Ottoman press law of the time was more lenient than the existing press law in Turkey nowadays [written in 1959 at a time when Turkish prisons were filling up with journalists] but must have been enforced somewhat severely, since both newspapers were at first fairly cautious in their criticism of the government. The "Muhbir" first got considerable publicity in February 1867 when it organized a private collection for the Cretans who had been driven out of their homes by the guerrillas. This collection definitely displeased Ali Pasa.
Only in early March of 1867, however, did Ali Suavi abandon all prudence. On the eighth of March he came out with a flaming editorial in which he bitterly attacked the Porte's relingquishment of the fortress of Belgrade. The next day the owner of the paper, Filip Efendi, received a curt note from the Ministry of Education to the effect that the "Muhbir" had been closed for one month. Filip Efendi had already printed the issue that bore the date of the closure, and, under the legal obligation to print the notification sent him by the Ministry, he asked Namik Kemal to let the notice appear in the "Tasvir-i Efkar so that he would have at least partly complied with the law. One of the reasons for which he might have been loath to keep this last issue from the public was that it contained an excellent piece of journalism pointing out that Russia was behind the uprisings in the empire and that consequently its pressing for reforms was rank impertinence. It was also suggested that some remedy would be brought to this state of affairs if Ottoman statesmen were responsible to a "national assembly."
Namik Kemal too had been quite circumspect at the beginning of the Cretan crisis. At first, rhe relations between the editorial offices of the "Tasvir-i Efkar" and higher officialdom had been idyllic. A year before, Namik Kemal had been commended by Ali Pasa for an article on the disasters caused by frequent fires in the capital. Ali Pasa had closed his eyes to the remarks by which the article was prefaced -- allusions to the virtues of freedom from foreign intervention.
Under Kemal's editorshop the "Tasvir-i Efkar" had become the first Turkish newspaper to carry sophisticated analyses of foreign affairs and to go into such matters as the impact of new methods of warfare on the European balance of poer. It also took up more controversial matters, such as the mixing of foreign cabinets in Ottoman diplomatic affairs, but was not as yet aggressive in its treatment of the subject. In the fall of 1866, however, Kemal wrote an article criticizing the impertinence of local Greeks in singing songs in their cafes that has as leitmotiv the extermination of the Turks. The Ministry of Police had sent a rebuttal, asserting its vigilance in these matters, and this Kemal had had to print. But there the incident stopped. This was only a straw in the wind.
When the crisis of the "Muhbir" arose, however, Kemal printed in the "Tasvir" both the order closing the "Muhbir" for one month and a protesting commentary by Filip Efendi. In the same issue he wrote an article on the Eastern question in which he protested against European interference in the Cretan question. Three days later a new press ordinance was proclaimed establishing strict censorship, Suavi was arrested, and the "Tasvir" was also closed for a month. Insofar as Kemal was concerned, this meant the end of his career as its editor, for while these developments were taking place another series of events had occurred which had already forced Namik Kemal to reveal his involvement with the political opposition, just as his stand on foreign policy had divulged what he thought about the government's conduct of foreign affairs.
Here again, a retropsective survey is necessary to understand Kemal's position. While unrest kept increasing in the capital in early 1867, the assertive figure of Prince Mustafa Fazil Pasa began to give substance to the various protestations that were underway.
Mustafa Fazil Pasa was a descendant of Mehmed Ali Pasa, themutinous governor of Egypt who, early in the nineteenth century, had become practically the independent ruler of that province of the empire. Fazil Pasa's life had been spent at the Porte. Most of his education was received at the bureaus of the Porte, where at the age of sixteen he had started his governmental career, being first appointed to the Bureau of the Grand Vezier.
Except for a stay of four years in Egypt, his career had been that of an Ottoman state servant. He had risen fast to become Minister of Education in 1862, Minister of Finances in 1864, and had finally been appointed to the chairmanship of the Council of the Treasury when this body was established in October of 1865.
Even though Fazil Pasa's career was made in the Ottoman capital, his mind was not entirely occupied with his official duties, for Fazil Pasa also had interests in Egypt. He was the brother of the khedive (hereditary governor) of Egypt, Ismail Pasa. According to a rule of succession followed in Egypt as well as in the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Fazil should have succeeded Ismail as khedive upon the latter's demise. However, Ismail had different plans and wanted to consolidate the khedivate in his own line of descent. For a long time Mustafa Fazil Pasa had had an inkling that his brother would use all means in his power to reach his goal. In 1858, for instance, Fazil's elder brother Ahmed, who was the heir at the time, died in a mysterious accident which it was believed Ismail had engineered.
The most serious crisis in the matter of succession occurred when in 1865 Khedive Ismail came to Istanbul to beg the sultan to change the Egyptian rule of succession. To gain this favor Ismail had relied on the fact that his mother and Sultan Abdulaziz's mother were sisters. He might also have suspected that the sultan himself was not averse to consolidating his own line of descent. That year, however, Fuad Pasa, then Grand Vizier, flatly refused Ismail Pasa's proposal.
The appointment, shortly thereafter, of Mustafa Fazil Pasa to head the Council of the Treasury was an indication of Fuad's opposition to the sultan's scheme.
Just as the selection of Fazil Pasa to fill this post was important, so too the creation of the new office which he was expected to fill was in itself a major event. It was an important step in a process which had been inaugurated in the second quarter of the nineteenth century -- that of weaving a net of modern Ottoman institutions to provide adequate machinery for the administration of the Ottoman state. The particular function of the new council was to save the empire from financial disaster. Financial difficulties had indeed been dogging the administration of the empire from the earliest moments of Abdulaziz's accession to the throne. The consolidation of existing state indebtedness had brought only temporary relief and already, in 1865, payment of interest on the consolides had been defaulted once. This sorry state of affairs was due, in part, to the huge expenditures of the sultan, who had not as yet been able to accustom himself to the idea of state funds as different from his personal liste civile. It was also due to the Porte's disregard for the niceties of public finance. Each of these two parties was convinced that the major blame could be placed on the other. Over and above these reciprocal recriminations was the irreducible fact that the Porte had been saddled with the almost insoluble problem of finding new and larger sources of revenue at a time when economic decline ahd already set in in the empire. It is also interesting that it should have been in this context of seeking measures to increase state revenue that one of the first references to the limitation of ministerial powers should have arisen.
The occasion was one of the earliest attempts by the Porte (in 1865) to secularize the religious endowments known as Evkaf. Such property was exempt from taxation and thus constituted an untouched source of revenue. Reporting developments with regard to this question from the Ottoman capital, a German correspondent stated at the time that "a section including almost the majority of the patriotic higher ulema" was willing to make certain concessions with respect to the secularization of the Evkaf, provided a mechanism for the control of finances was established. It is quite probable that the ulema asked to be represented on the body which was to provide this mechanism.
The establishment of a Council of the Treasury was thus to meet an important need. Little did Fuad Pasa know, when he created this organ, that Mustafa Fazil was to criticize Fuad's financial policy and present to the sultan a memorandum on the subject of the ineptitude of the Porte in financial matters. As soon as Fuad found out about this document, Mustafa Fazil was dismissed from his post (February 7, 1866). Then suddenly on april 4, 1866, Mustafa Fazil was asked to elave the capital within 24 hours. The reaosn for this brusque exile is not known, but it most probably involved some plot of Mustafa Fazil against Fuad. With Mustafa Fazil out of the picture, the sultan finally had his way with his minister over the Egyptian succession. On May 27, 1866, a firman was proclaimed giving Ismail's direct descendants access to the khediviate.
In Paris, where he had established residence, Mustafa Pasa lived in regal splendor, relying on the millions in exchange for which, it was reported, his royal brother had purchased all of his property in Egypt. Late in 1866 the prince was negotiating with the Porte to be allowed to return to Turkey. Permission to return was finally granted him on December 20, but on condition that he stay out of Egypt and Istanbul. This amounted in reality to an outright refusal of the prince's request to be allowed to come back. Thus Fazil girded his loins for another attack on Fuad.
Two developments which had taken place within the empire at this time had already stimulated the foreign-language press of the capital to take up the discussion of constitutionalism as a matter of routine news reporting. One of these was the proclamatino, in November of 1866, of an Egyptian "constitution" -- part of Ismail's modernist legerdemain -- which was also discussed and praised by the "Tasvir-i Efkar." The other was the favorable impression created by the speech with which Prince Charles of Hohenzollern had opened the Rumanian parliament in the fall of the same year. On this occasion the prince had firmly vowed to clean the Augean stables of Rumanian politics, and his enlightened attitude had impressed newspaper-reading audiences in the Turkish capital. In the meantime, the Russian proposals for the establishment of autonomous regions in the empire had been presented to the Porte.
It was probably this favorable constellation, plus the news that Ismail's "Minister of Foreign Affairs," Nubar Pasa, was coming to Istanbul to negotiate new concessions, which made Mustafa Fazil decide to make his bid in favor of Ottoman constitutionalism.
Early in February of 1867 the Paris "Journal des Debats" printed a news item from its correspondent in Istanbul that Mustafa Fazil Pasa, whose earlier representations before the sultan had been of no avail, was now taking upon himself the leadership of the reform movement in Turkey and, in particular, the direction of that section of the oposition known as "Young Turkey." The prince, it was stated, expected to present to the sultan within a short time a project of reforms which would demand a complete rearrangement of the governmental machinery. On February 12, 1867, such a draft was, in fact, circulated in Istanbul by Halil Serif Pasa, a cousin of Mustafa Fazil, who was later to marry Fazil's daughter. Halil Serif Pasa was a Turk whose father had emigrated to Egypt to serve as one of Mehmed Ali's captains. Halil himself, after having received a European education, had enterd the diplomatic service of the Porte. He had been ambassador to St. Petersburg and was now back in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital.
The extent to which Halil's move was coordinated with the activities of Mustafa Fazil is not completely clear but, as will be shown below, an understanding certainly existed. Halil strikes one throughout as having been more deeply imbued with the ideas of constitutionalism, and he was taken much more seriously by his contemporaries than was Mustafa Fazil. Halil Serif Pasa's tactic was to take advantage of the pressure exerted by the Great Powers on the Porte to force it into an acceptance of his constitutionalist scheme. He thus tried to tailor his draft as much as possible on the French project of reforms earlier presented to the Porte. Consequently he got the support of the French ambassador, Bourree. In this fashion the influence of Bourree on the French-language newspapers of the capital, plus a liberal distribution of gratuities by Fazil among the latter, combined with the critical situation facing the Porte and the immediate background of Egyptian and Rumanian constitutional steps resulted during the month of February 1867 in the outbreak of a vigorous constitutinalist campaign by the foreign press of the capital. Strangely enough, even the semi-official "La Turquie" did not shun a coolheaded, although not by any means unbiased, discussion of the comparative advantage of the existing system and constitutionalist rule. This might have been related to the real interest which, according to news reports, even official quarters were showing for a fundamental reorganization of the governmental machinery. Most of the articles weighed the applicability of a constitutional system in the Ottoman Empire in quite general terms. The origins of the campaign went back, in fact, to the middle of January, at which time the first trial balloon had been launched by the "Courrier d'Orient."
This newspaper was owned by a Frenchman by the name of Giampietry, who, like many other presecuted liberals and political heretics, had established himself in Turkey. There are indications that Giampietry came to Turkey following the coup of Louis Napoleon. In the "Courrier", which was widely read by the Turkish intelligentsia, Giampietry had for some time opposed the conservatism of its rival "La Turquie", subsidized by the Porte. The project set forth by the "Courrier" was based on the "complete representation of the interests of all classes of society without distinction of race or religion."
In this sense it was quet close to Halil Serif Pasa's scheme, which was meant to give a voice to the people who made up the empire in determining governmental policy, and there is a possibility that the "Courrier"s article might have been an early probe of Halil Serif's.
There is little doubt, as later events were to confirm, that Giampietry was in direct contact with Mustafa Fazil.
In the meantime, Mustafa Fazil was not letting anyone forget that he was behind the constitutionalist effervescence. His bon vivant side made him vulnerable to ridicule and was indeed being exploited by European newspapers who depended on Russian rather than on Egyptian gold. The Belgian newspaper "Nord", for instance, alleged that he was a fake more interested in advertising himself and his rights to the Egyptian throne than in reforming Turkey. This accusation was used by Fazil Pasa as an opportunity to herald his leadership of Young Turkey in a widely publicized reply: "An article in the "Nord" of the first of February has only just been brought to my notice. The journals which have reported that I was engaged in founding a banking establishment are not satisfied with the denials with which this absurd story has met with the good sense of the public before I took the trouble to contradict it through one of my secretaries. They still continue to publish variations of the same story on what they call my financial operations with the House of Mssrs. Openheim. It is, however, essential that these newsmongers should know that at a time when the affairs of the Ottoman Empire are embarrassed, it is with these and not with my private affairs that I am occupied. It matters not whether a man is Musulman, Catholic, or Orthodox Greek to know that private interests should be postponed to the public good. It is sufficient to be a man of progress or a good patriot, which means one and the same thing. Such, at least, is the conviction of the great party of 'Young Turkey' of which I have the honor to be the representative.
"This party neither recognizes the resignation of fatalism nor gives way under disappointment. This means that the Cretan inssurrection and yet the graver disasters with which we are threatened on many sides find it still resolute to complete these reforms which have ripened by reflection, experience, and suffering."
This was followed by other communications in the same vein to European journals. Mustafa Fazil's relations with the Patriotic Alliance are not entirely clear to this day, but it is to be noted that he did not claim in his letter to represent the Alliance but "the great party of 'Young Turkey.'" It can be surmised from this reference that, although self-appinted, Mustafa Fazil Pasa considered himself the spokesman of a more diffuse and vague group than the Patriotic Alliance - a group known in Istanbul at that time as "La Jeune Turquie." Young Turkey was no organized society, but included all the men of importance in the capital who were earnestly interested in reform. Naturally it also included the members of the Patriotic Alliance.
While Mustafa Fazil Pasa was engaged in replying to his detractors, the text of his letters had reached the capital and were printed in the "Muhbir" of February 8 and 10. On February 19, 1867, another of Ali Pasa's sycophants, De Launay, editor of the "Gazette du Levant", took the party of Young Turkey to task and also attacked Mustafa Fazil. This article, in turn, spurred Namik Kemal, by now one of the more important members of the Patriotic Alliance, to write an anonymous letter of protest to the editor of the "Gazette." The letter, which was never posted and was only recently found among the correspondence of Namik Kemal, is one of the few documents which allows us to determine with greater precision the aims of Namik Kemal and his friends at that time. It also shows that Namik Kemal strove to defend the ideals of the party of Young Turkey as eagerly as we could have expected him to defend the ideals of the secret society whch he could not mention, the Patriotic Alliance. It is thus probable that the aims of both groups were quite similar.
Namik Kemal stated that the party of Young Turkey was not, as editor De Launay of the "Gazette" had stated, a constituted society. He pointed out that the party did not recognize the leadership of any individual, Fazil Pasa included. It consisted, according to him, of people "tied together by common ideas." Namik Kemal further rejected the idea set forth by De Launay that the party of Young Turkey was a new creation; he stated that the desire for reform had already given rise to several opposition parties in the preceding century. He described the party of Young Turkey as only having increased the number of "those who in our country have expressed this idea [the idea of reform] which is as old as the world itself."
To the allegation of the "Gazette" that the party of Young Turkey discriminated against the Christian inhabitants of the empire -- an accusation which De Launay based on the lack of reference to the special rights of the Christian population of the empire in Mustafa Fazil's letters of protest to the "Nord" -- Namik Kemal countered by protesting against the notion of "incarnating our ideas in his utterances [those of Mustafa Fazil]" and by pointing out that the Christian population of the empire, having been favored by the special protection of the Great Powers, had wrested more privileges for itself than had the Moslems. He added that the Christians did not shrink from leading a privileged life in a country which had already gratned them equal status. Namik Kemal concluded: "This, then, is the true nature of the Jeune Turquie. Some members of this intellectual society having begun to direct the newspapers appearing in the Ottoman language, have brought about a mighty change in literature, which is the primary vehicle of progress. If, from now on, its true nature can be udnerstood and it can profit, just as European journalism does, from the succor of the patrons of civilization, it is probable that it will accomplish great things for the fatherland."
A few days after the attack of the "Gazette", Namik Kemal reproduced Mustafa Fazil Pasa's rebuttal to the "Nord" in the "Tasvir-i Efkar." Underneath it, as editor, he added the following cautious comment: "There is a seciton in this article which will appear to be of special importance to those who are thinking of the future of the nation [millet] and that is the mention which is made, that among those of the Ottomans who hold modern opinions, general interests are being preferred to particular interests. Those who hold these new opinions are labelled Young Turks. There is no doubt that at a time when Europe, accusing the Ottomans of being retrograde and stagnant, has taken certain official steps in connection with the settling of the Eastern Question, this favorable mention of the Young Turks might appear amazing in the West. This, however, is a matter to which we attribute great importance, for how can one possibly ignore one's great contemporaries? If there has been a partial progress in the field of science and in civilization [in Turkey], is not ninety per cent of it due to their efforts? True, these efforts are quite small compared to contemporary progress. But it should also sincerely be taken in consideration that our education is practically nil. One cannot get more out of individual work. In short, those who hold new opinions are the future salvation of the nation. It is our opinion that whatever is achieved by them, the chances of bettering the conditions of the fatherland will increase proportionally. It is for this reason that those who ar cognizant of the state of affairs in the capital will never abandon hope in the well-being of the people regardless of the obstacles that are encountered by the Empire. Let the Europeans believe that the Ottoman Empire is on the way to the grave. We know that it is not in the midst of a cemetery but in its mother's womb."
Two weeks later the "Tasvir-i Efkar" was closed by order of Ali Pasa because of the article by Namik Kemal criticizing foreign intervention in the Cretan affair.
Mustafa Fazil Pasa's campaign now culminated during the early days of March, which coincided the Namik Kemal's first days of enforced inactivity, in a letter to the sultan in which the fate of the Ottoman Empire was ascribed to an absence of constitutional machinery. A draft of a constitutional proposal is said to have accompanied the letter, which urged the sultan to take the lead in the constitutional- representative movement.
The letter created a sensation in the capital. Although it is doubtful that it ever reached Abdulaziz, it was soon thereafter published in the daily "Liberte" (on March 24, 1867). As early as March 8 Namik Kemal and his friends had obtained the text of the "Letter" and undertook to translate it for clandestine distribution.
The task of translation was assigned to Namik Kemal's friend, Sadullah Bey (later Sadullah Pasa). The letter was thus duly translated and 50,000 copies were printed in the shop of the French printer Cayol and distributed in the capital.
On March 17 Mustafa Fazil Pasa, in Paris, was granted an audience by the emperor Napoleon and submitted his scheme to him. At the same time Halil Serif arrived in Paris, where the news circulated that he was to help Mustafa Fazil to further his plans. Thus was substantiated the sympathetic approval by the French government of Halil Serif's and Mustafa Fazil's plans, as well as the link between the two men.
The ideas set forth by Mustafa Fazil Pasa in his letter to the sultan have to be taken with some caution because there are indications that they were inspired by Emile de Girardin, the great French journalist and editor of the daily "Liberte", with whom Mustafa Fazil had established friendly relations in Paris. But there is no doubt that they created a sensation in the capital. As Ebuzziya states: "Up to that date, the few people who knew the ills that beset the body of the Empire had completely lost hope, considering these to be incurable. Public opinion consisted of the superficial conviction that divine intervention would in time save the Empire. Mustafa Fazil Pasa, however, diagnosed the sickness...and provided a remedy at the same time as he diagnosed the malady."
It was indeed the basis of Mustafa Fazil Pasa's influence that this letter popularized the idea, already accepted at the Porte, that arresting the decadence of the empire might be dependent on changes in political structure. The idea that such changes, over and above a streamlining of administration, involved a liberalization of the regime, however, was completely new and therein lay its explosive quality.
The party of Young Turkey, which had attained such public prominence as a result of all this correspondence, counter-correspondence, and tract distribution, was, as we have seen, the name by which for some years reformist elements had been known in Turkey. Mention of the term "Jeune Turquie" may be found as early as 1855 in Ubicini's "La Turquie Actuelle." Even at that time, however, Ubicini found the term "Jeune Turquie" too ambiguous and proposed the distinction of "Jeune Turquie de Mahmoud" and "Jeune Turquie d'Abdul Medjid." By the first term Ubicini attempted to characterize the conservative-reformist trend. He stated that the second group, on the other hand, was so Europeanized that it would have been immaterial whether it had taken its ideas form the Koran or the Gospels, but that it believed in neither. He pointed out that this second clique under the leadership of Fuad Pasa, composed of the young men he had sent to be trained in European embassies, did not make the best possible impression in the capital.
Now, ten years after the publication of Ubicini's book, a third Young Turkey, the Young Turkey of the Patriotic Alliance, was combating the very tendencies of the over-Westernized Jeune Turquie of Abdul Medjid of which Ubicini spoke. One of the places in which this third Jeune Turquie had originated was the editorial office of the newly born Turkish press. A fourth Jeune Turquie was that which was limited to Halil Serif and Mustafa Fazil. Another place where criticism of Ali and Fuad Pasa arose was in the palace itself. Atif Bey, Chief Private Secretary of the sultan, explains that around 1863 the palace Jeunes (jonler), composed of the poet Ziya Bey, who had started his career as secretary to the sultan, and an employee of the naval yards by the name of Muhtar Bey, began to advise the sultan to select an active grand vizier and capable ministers. In fact, Ziya had lost his post at the palace in 1861 due to his intrigues against Ali Pasa and had become the victim of the latter's wrath ever since that time.
It was therefore no great surprise that at the culmination of the crisis created by the "Muhbir" and "Tasvir-i Efkar", the Porte took action against Ziya (then still Ziya Bey) as well as against Kemal and Suavi. Suavi was given the most cavalier treatment and curtly told to take a trip to the Black Sea town of Kastamonu. The main reason for this severe action was that Ali Suavi was making the rounds of the coffeehouses of the capital (Ali Suavi's cafe audience composed of the "man in the street" made up a sixth type of Young Turkey), spreading the rumor that a massacre of Moslems by Christians was impending and that churches were being used as arsenals. Whether it was due to Suavi's agitation or was the result of spontaneous unrest, the disturbance so increased in the capital that two regiments were brought in as a precautionary measure.
Much more lenient was the attitude of the government toward Kemal and Ziya. Kemal was appointed assistant governor of the province of Erzurum. Ziya was transferred from the Council of Judicial Ordinances to Cyprus (May 8, 1867).
Both Namik Kemal and Ziya Pasa, who had a great many connections in the capital, tried to delay the authorities by providing an endless stream of excuses which, they hoped, would enable them to remain in Istanbul. Meanwhile, the news of their "appointments" had reached Mustafa Fazil Pasa. Through Giampietry, the owner of the "Courrier d'Orient", Fazil Pasa sent word to all three men that he was ready to support them in their fight against Ali Pasa if they would come and work with him in Paris. All three accepted, and within a few days they were smuggled outside the country. This was done with the help of French ambassador Bourree through the good offices of Giampietry (May 17, 1867).
Two days later the police raided a number of medreses and arrested two ulema who, although they were in close touch with the Young Ottomans do not seem to have been members of the Patriotic Alliance. These were Veliyuddin Efendi and Kemeraltili Tahsin Efendi.
Within two weeks there was a general arrest of the members of the Patriotic Alliance. This move on the part of the Imperial Police, which was not connected with the escape of Ziya, Kemal, and Suavi, was due to another development -- the discovery of a plot engineered by Mehmed Bey who, infuriated by the recent turn of events, had planned a full-scale coup d'etat.
It is implied in Ebuzziya's account of the Young Ottomans that it was
Ayetullah Bey who denounced the conspiracy. Later Mehmed Bey, who had been
able to escape from Turkey, was smuggled back in true romantic style, so
as to find out whether the suspicion that Ayetullah Bey was a traitor had
any basis in fact. Through the help of one of his Carbonari friends, Joseph
Cabbaldini, Mehmed Bey, disguised as a laborer, stowed away aboard a ship.
As soon as he set foot in Istanbul, he sought the house of Ayetullah Bey.
Accosting Ayetullah Bey on the latter's way home, he threatened to kill
him on the spot if he did not confess the truth. Ayetullah Bey protested
his innocence and Mehmed Bey went back to the ship which had brought him.
Once more, however, a denunciation was made to the police and a search
was undertaken throughout the city for Mehmed Bey. This time there was
no doubt as to who had betrayed him. The reason Ayetullah Bey seems to
have suddenly decided to warn the government of Mehmed Bey's coup was the
Mehmed Bey and the alliance had evolved definite plans to use force in
having their demands accepted.