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The story of the poisoning is given by Dr. Wittman precisely in the same desultory manner as that of the massacre. ‘An individual was pointed out to us as the executioner of these diabolical commands.’ By how many persons was he pointed out as the executioner? by persons of what authority? and of what credibility? Was it asserted from personal knowledge, or merely from rumour Whence comes it that such an agent, after the flight of his employer, was not driven away by the general indignation of the army 2 If Dr. Wittman had combined this species of information with his stories, his conduct would have been more just, and his accusations would have carried greater weight. At present, when he, who had the opportunity of telling us so much, has told us so little, we are rather less inclined to believe than we were before. We do not say, these accusations are not true, but that Dr. Wittman has not proved them to be true.
Dr. Wittman did not see more than two cases of plague : he has given them both at full length. The symptoms were thirst, headach, vertigo, pains in the limbs, bilious vomitings, and painful tumours in the groins. The means of cure adopted were, to evacuate the prima viae; to give diluting and refreshing drinks; to expel the redundant bile by emetics; and to assuage the pain in the groin by fomentations and anodynes; both cases proved fatal. In one of the cases, the friction with warm oil was tried in vain; but it was thought useful in the prevention of plague: the immediate effect produced was, to throw the person rubbed into a very copious perspiration. A patient in typhus, who was given over, recovered after this discipline was administered.
The boldness and enterprise of medical men is quite as striking as the courage displayed in battle, and evinces how much the power of encountering danger depends upon habit. Many a military veteran would tremble to feed upon pus; to sleep in sheets running with water; or to draw up the breath of feverish patients. Dr. White might not, perhaps, have marched up to a battery with great alacrity; but Dr. White, in the year 1801, inoculated himself in the arms, with recent matter taken from the bubo of a pestiferous patient, and rubbed the same matter upon different parts of his body. With somewhat less of courage, and more of injustice, he wrapt his Arab servant in the bed of a person just dead of the plague. The Doctor died; and the Doctor's man (perhaps to prove his master's theory, that the plague was not contagious) ran away. — The bravery of our naval officers never ...? any thing superior to this therapeutic heroism of the Doctor's. Dr. Wittman has a chapter which he calls An IIistorical Journal of the Plague; but the information which it contains amounts to nothing at all. He confesses that he has had no experience in the complaint; that he has no remedy to offer for its cure, and no theory for its cause." The treatment of the minor plague of Egypt, Ophthalmia, was precisely the method common in this country; and was generally attended with success, where the remedies were applied in time. Nothing can be conceived more dreadful than was the situation of the military mission in the Turkish camp; exposed to a mutinous Turkish soldiery, to infection, famine, and a scene of the most abominable filth and putrefaction; and this they endured for a year and a half, with the patience of apostles of peace, rather than war. Their occupation was to teach diseased barbarians, who despised them, and thought it no small favour that they should be permitted to exist in their neighbourhood. They had to witness the cruelties of despotism, and the passions of armed and ignorant multitudes; and all this embellished with the fair probability of being swept off, in some grand engagement, by the superior tactics and activity of the enemy to whom the Turks were opposed. To the filth, irregularity, and tumult of a Turkish camp, as it appeared to the British officers in 1800, it is curious to oppose the picture of one drawn by Busbequius in the middle of the sixteenth century : * Turcæ in proximis campis tendebant; cum vero in eo loco tribus mensibus vixerim, fuit mihi facultas videndorum ipsorum castrorum, et cognoscendæ aliqua ex parte disciplinæ ; qua de re nisi pauca attingam, habeas fortasse quod me accuses. Sumpto habitu Christianis hominibus in illis locis usitato, cum uno aut altero comite quacunque vagabar ignotus: primum videbam summo ordine cujusque corporis milites suis locis distributos, et, quod vix credat, qui nostratis militiæ consuetudinem novit, summum erat ubique silentium, summa quies, rixa nulla, nullum cujusquam insolens factum: sed ne nox quidem aut vitulatio per lasciviam aut ebrietatem emissa. Ad hæc summa mundities, nulla sterquilinia, nulla purgamenta, nihil quod oculos aut nares offenderet. Quicquid est hujusmodi, aut defodiunt Turcæ, aut procul à conspectu submovent. Sed nec ullas compotationes aut convivia, nullum aleæ genus, magnum nostratis militiæ flagitium, videre erat : nulla lusoriarum chartarum, neque tesserarum damna norunt Turcæ.'—Augeri Busbequii, Epist. 3. p. 187. IIamoviae. 1622. There is at present, in the Turkish army, a curious mixture of the severest despotism in the commander, and the most rebellious insolence in the soldier. When the soldier misbehaves, the Vizier cuts his head off, and places it under his arm. When the soldier is dissatisfied with the Vizier, he fires his ball through his tent, and admonishes him, by these messengers, to a more pleasant exercise of his authority. That such severe punishments should not confer a more powerful authority, and give birth to a better discipline, is less §ú, if we reflect, that we hear only that the punishments are severe, not that they are steady, and that they are just ; for if the Turkish soldiers were always punished with the same severity when they were in fault, and never but then, it is not in human nature to suppose that the Turkish army would long remain in as contemptible a state as it now is. But the governed soon learn to distinguish between systematic energy and the excesses of casual and capricious cruelty ; the one awes them into submission, the other rouses them to revenge. Dr. Wittman, in his chapter on the Turkish army, attributes much of its degradation to the altered state of the corps of Janissaries; the original constitution of which corps was certainly both curious and wise. The children of Christians made prisoners in the predatory incursions of the Turks, or procured in any other manner, were exposed in the public markets at Constantinople. Any farmer or artificer was at liberty to take one into his service, contracting with government to produce him again when he should be wanted; and in the mean time to feed and clothe him, and to educate him to such works of labour as are calculated to strengthen the body. As the Janissaries were killed off, the government drew upon this stock of hardy orphans for its levies; who, instead of hanging upon weeping parents at their departure, came eagerly to the camp, as the situation which they had always been taught to look upon as the theatre of their future glory, and towards which all their passions and affections had been bent, from their earliest years. Arrived at the camp, they received at first low pay, and performed menial offices for the little division of Janissaries to which they were attached: “Ad Gianizaros rescriptus primo meret menstruo stipendio, paulo plus minus, unius ducati cum dimidio. Id enim militi novitio, et rudi satis esse censent. Sed tamen ne quid victus necessitati desit, cum ea decuria, in cujus contubernium ad. scitus est, gratis cibum capit, ea conditione, ut in culină reliquoque ministerio ei decuriae serviat; usum armorum adeptus tyro, necdum tamen suis contubernalibus honore neque stipendio par, unam in solà virtute, se illis acquandi, spem habet: utpote si militia quae prima se obtulerit, tale specimen sui dederit, ut dignus judicetur, qui tyrocinio exemptus, honoris gradu et stipendii magnitudine, reliquis Gianizaris par habeatur. Quà quidem spe plerique tyrones impulsi, multa praeclare audent, et fortitudine cum veteranis certant.”—Busbequius, De Re
* One fact mentioned by Dr. Wittman appears to be curious; – that Constantinople was nearly free from plague during the interruption of its communication with Egypt.
Mil. cont. Turc. Instit. Consilium.* The same author observes, that there was no rank or dignity in the Turkish army, to which a common Janissary might not arrive, by his courage or his capacity. This last is a most powerful motive to exertion, and is perhaps one leading cause of the superiority of the French arms. Ancient governments promote, from numberless causes, which ought to have no concern with promotion: revolutionary governments, and military despotisms, can make generals of persons who are fit for generals: to enable them to be unjust in all other instances, they are forced to be just in this. What, in fact, are the sultans and pachas of Paris, but Janissaries raised from the ranks 7 At present, the Janissaries are procured from the lowest of the people, and the spirit of the corps is evaporated. The low state of their armies is in some degree imputable to this: but the principal reason why the Turks are no longer as powerful as they were is, that they are no longer enthusiasts, and that war is now become more a business of science than of personal courage. The person of the greatest abilities in the Turkish empire is the Capitan Pacha; he has disciplined some ships and regiments in the European fashion, and would, if he were well seconded, bring about some important reforms in the Turkish empire. But what is become of all the reforms of the famous Gazi Hassan 2 The blaze of partial talents is soon extinguished. Never was there so great a prospect of improvement as that afforded by the exertions of this celebrated man, who, in spite of the ridicule thrown upon him by Baron de Tott, was such a man as the Turks cannot expect to see again once in a century. He had the whole power of the Turkish empire at his disposal for fifteen years; and, after repeated efforts to improve the army, abandoned the scheme as totally impracticable. The celebrated
* This is a very spirited appeal to his countrymen on the tremendous power of the Turks; and, with the substitution of France for Turkey, is so
applicable to the present times, that it might be spoken in Parliament with great effect.