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THE MEMOIRS OF

ISMAIL KEMAL BEY

Edited by

SOMMERVILLE STORY

t

With a Preface by

WILLIAM MORTON FULLERTON

LONDON

CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD

THE MEMOIRS OF

ISMAIL KEMAL BEY

First published

1920

Printed in Great Britain

CONTENTS

PART I

IN THE SERVICE OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

CHAPTER I

1844 i860

The varying fortunes of an Albanian family Troublous times in the Ottoman Empire The " Lion of Janina " My birth and childhood Education of a young Albanian The first exile

pp. i-ig

CHAPTER II

i860— 1867

Entry into political and diplomatic life Early career at J anina

Under Midhat Pasha at Rustchuk Midhat Pasha, reformer and administrator roumania a principality bulgarian ris- INGS European journey of Abd-ul-Aziz My marriage

pp. 20-40

CHAPTER III

1867 1871

Midhat Pasha and my relations with him Visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales Governorship of Varna and Tultcha

Visit of the Emperor Francis Joseph The European Com-

mission of the Danube Troubles with Roumania The Franco- Prussian War and its consequences in the East The Treaty

of Paris German aims and Russian intrigues Aali Pasha

pp. 41-61

I

vi

CONTENTS

CHAPTER IV

1871—1873

" Chinese " Gordon and my friendship with him Measures of reformf in the danube province liberating the circassian slaves Administrative work The treatment of the Jews Death of Aali Pasha Mahmoud Nedim Pasha His chaotic

Grand Viziership The Sultan's conduct Russian intrigues

Inquiry into my administration Midhat Pasha as Grand

Vizier Bismarck's missions to the East

.

.

pp. 62-89

CHAPTER V

1873 1876

a spell of the simple life return to official duties the vagaries of Abd-ul-Aziz Bismarck's aims in the East The untiring

Iron Chancellor My visit to Europe Interview with Lord

Derby Mahmoud Nedim's infamy Deposition of Abd-ul-Aziz

Accession of Sultan Murad

pp. 90-110

CHAPTER VI

1876

The accession of Murad V His growing mental aberration

The murder of the ministers The deposition of Murad

Accession of Abd-ul-Hamid

pp. 111-121

CHAPTER VII

1876 1877

The Bulgarian rising and its repression Russia's hand My work

on the two commissions of inquiry Terrible sights Diffi- culties with the English representatives Turkey's new

Constitution Midhat Pasha Grand Vizier His difficulties

The Sultan's duplicity and intrigues

.

.

pp. 122-138

CHAPTER VIII

1877

The International Conference The Powers' demands rejected

Departure of the Ambassadors Midhat Pasha's difficulties

with the Sultan His exile Letters from Colonel Gordon

PP- i39-!55

I

CONTENTS

CHAPTER IX

1877— 1884

After Midhat Pasha's departure The Russo-Turkish War and

Roumania's position The first Parliament An ill-timed

REBELLION My SEVEN YEARS OF EXILE THE TREATY OF SAN STEFANO MlDHAT PASHA'S RETURN, HIS ARREST AND TRIAL

pp. I56-I7O

vii

CHAPTER X

1884— 1890

As Governor of Bolu Death of Midhat Pasha The character of

a patriot Political atmosphere under Abd-ul-Hamid Prob-

lems at Bolu Putting down brigandage How I dealt with the Circassians Administrative reforms .

CHAPTER XI

.

pp. 171-185

1890 1892

Retirement into private life desired, but not accomplished In-

dustrial AND FINANCIAL ENTERPRISES A COMPLAINT AGAINST ME

Appointment as Governor of Gallipoli A struggle with the

Sultan Two months' righting of abuses Governor-general

of Beyrouth Quaint incidents Temporary Government of

Syria Fiscal and

The Druses and

other injustices Residence at Damascus

the Noussairi The situation of Syria

Recall to Constantinople

CHAPTER XII

1892

My memorandum on the state of the Empire .

CHAPTER XIII

The Egyptian Question

 

pp. 186-207

.

pp. 208-219

pp. 220-233

CHAPTER XIV

1892 1893

Receptions at the palace The character of the Sultan An

evening at the imperial theatre appointment as governor-

I

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CONTENTS

General of Crete Nominations that were never carried out

Railway questions in Asia Minor My appointment to Tripoli

A REMARKABLE MISE EN SCENE

CHAPTER XV

The Armenian Question

CHAPTER XVI

1897 I 9 00

pp. 234-25 1

pp. 252-271

My memorial to the Sultan The Cretan Question War with

Greece My liberal newspaper, and the Sultan's hostility

to it Experiences as Conseiller d'Etat Struggles with the Sultan Lord Rosebery's visit Unpleasant experiences

The Turks and the Transvaal War Decision to exile me

Relations with the throne more and more strained Second

appointment as Governor-General of Tripoli My departure

pp. 272-298

from Constantinople

CHAPTER XVII

1900 1908

Journey

through Europe Attacks on my life More offers from

the Sultan Albanian intrigues My organ at Brussels

Young Turk Conference at Paris Projects for remedying

Turkish affairs Support from Great Britain Abortive plans

The Albanians of Sicily -Reformers' lack of cohesion The Constitution proclaimed at last Electoral campaign

Young Turks in power Return to Constantinople

PP. 299-320

CHAPTER XVIII

1908 1909

Return to Constantinople, and my reception there Kiamil Pasha's Vizierate Young Turk intrigues The Bosnia- Herzegovina

and Bulgaria questions, and my work on them The plot

against Kiamil Pasha Hussein Hilmi Pasha Grand Vizier Russian pretensions Arbitrary acts of the new Government

Young Turk intimidation Growing discontent which at last bursts The military rebellion of April 13TH, and my

PART IN IT A MEMORABLE DAY

pp. 321-329

CONTENTS

ix

CHAPTER XIX

1909 1910

My interview with Abd-ul-Hamid A changed Sultan Young Turk reprisals Efforts to avert a catastrophe Exiled again

Deposition of Abd-ul-Hamid and accession of his brother

My return to Constantinople Incidents in the Chamber The Bagdad railway question The Committee of Union and

Progress Masters of the Empire

PART II

.

Albania and the Albanians

.

.

pp. 340-352

pp. 353-386

APPENDIX

1897

Memorial presented to His Imperial Majesty the Sultan by Ismail Kemal Bey, former Governor-General of Tripoli,

dated February 12/24TH, 1312/1897

Index

.

.

.

pp. 387-397

 

pp. 399-410

INTRODUCTION

In prefixing to the " Memoirs " of Ismail Kemal Bey, in

guise of " Introduction/' a few unnecessary, but, let me

hope, not absolutely futile, comments, I am merely keeping

a promise solemnly made during the months we passed to-

gether in Paris in 1917 and 1918. It was, no doubt, natural

enough for Ismail Kemal Bey to suggest some such associa- tion. Certainly his book would not have been written but

Moreover, too directly and

for my urgent insistence.

absorbingly involved in matters connected with the pro-

gress of the war to offer my friend the constant collabora-

tion which he solicited and which, in fact, he needed I

was able to provide him with the indispensable assistance

"

which the occasion demanded. These

Memoirs," indeed,

are " edited " by Mr. Sommerville Story ; and it is a duty

both to Ismail Kemal

doubt as to what the "

Bey

and to Mr. Story to leave no

editing " in question means.

The making of this book was a laborious process. Dur-

ing its production Ismail Kemal Bey was distracted both

by grave personal, often harrowing, problems, and by

patriotic preoccupations and intrigues as to the future of

his Albanian fatherland. He did not, no doubt he could

not, give to its composition his undivided time. His shifting enthusiasms and curiosities, his spasmodic disap-

pearances, even his halting methods when he returned

intermittently to the task of assembling his recollections,

made an accumulation of extremely unfavourable condi-

tions for the success of the operation in which Mr. Story

found himself engaged. Yet, without such assistance as

xi

xii

INTRODUCTION

Mr. Story gave, these " Memoirs " could never have seen the light. Boswell interviewed Johnson with joy for long

years. But Johnson usually kept his appointments. Mr

Story interviewed Ismail Kemal Bey for long months,

capturing ( him when he could. Quiet assiduous contacts of steady and fruitful work were followed by long inter-

ruptions in which it was inevitable that the hero of the tale

should sometimes lose the thread. With an admirable

patience the " editor " returned to the task, noting, con-

scientiously arranging, then as conscientiously submitting to Ismail Kemal Bey for verification and revision, the some-

what disordered, yet always remarkably rich, memories

The result, in my opinion, given the

of his interlocutor.

circumstance, is remarkable.

It seems to me amply to

justify my insistent appeal to Ismail Kemal Bey to sound

the depths of his accumulated experience as an Ottoman

Statesman of the old school.

These " Memoirs " are, indeed, something more than the observations of a very wise old Albanian gentleman. They

are an extremely personal, exceptionally detached, report

concerning an Ottoman world which, however prehistoric

it has apparently become, in consequence of the war, is still

not so remote as to be without its multiple suggestions,

even for the present hour, and for the immediate future. The period in which Ismail Kemal Bey played the essential

and interesting part

is that of the good

of his life-work recorded in this volume

old days of the " secret diplomacy " that

has been of late so flippantly discredited.

M.

de Blowitz,

was wont to say :

My

old chief,

" Les memorialistes

ecartent les consequences," by which he meant that a cer-

tain saline scepticism is the sauce with which to serve up

Memoirs and Biographies. M. de Blowitz was right. The

first duty of the historian who finds himself obliged to use

an autobiography as a document is to discover the real

pretext of its existence, exactly why it was written.

Now,

it should be remembered that Ismail Kemal Bey, who was

INTRODUCTION

xiii

a friend of the great Midhat Pasha, and a man of genuine

" Liberalism," so quickly became, after all, so isolated a

figure amid the personages of the Ottoman stage that, in

his case at ftll events, the precautions normally to be taken

in the perusal of Memoirs may be considerably diminished

without grave risk.

At least, let me add what I may to the

authority of these particular Memoirs by testifying to the fact that they were certainly not inspired by personal

vanity : I repeat that their author would not have under-

taken them if he had not been energetically pressed to

write them.

However this may be, Ismail Kemal Bey's " Memoirs "

are now accessible, and careful study of these pages will

convince, I believe, any competent student of international affairs that, if Ismail Kemal Bey's master had followed the

beacon lights of policy more than once offered him by that

intelligent servitor, such action would have been to the

It

advantage of the Empire, and probably of Europe.

has become the fashion to allow international business to

be carried on by politicians who are not even amateurs ;

whereas not so long ago such business was done by profes-

One excellent interest of Ismail Kemal Bey's

sionals.

book is the way it illustrates the, after all, a priori verity

In his latter

days Ismail Kemal Bey's direct vision had become, no doubt, a somewhat oblique, distorted regard. I remember

that the old method is infinitely the best.

a score of conversations with him in Paris, at certain

critical moments of the German War, in which he foretold

the necessary defeat of the Allies.

But, I owe it to him

immediately to say that his two main arguments were,

first, his conviction that, if the War lasted, Russia would

collapse exactly as she did collapse, and secondly, his canny

scrutiny of the ravages caused on the Continent and in

England, and, in fact, all about the planet, by the sophistical

formulas of Mr. Wilson.

Thus, during the War Ismail

Kemal Bey was often discouraging for those of us whose

xiv

INTRODUCTION

faith in the defeat of Germany never wavered.

But, if

Ismail Kemal Bey was discouraging, was it not just because

his judgment in general was known to be so solid ?

How

avoid being slightly affected by any verdict f*om a man*

whose experience of Constantinople, of Middle Europe, of

the Balkans, of England, and even of France, had been so

varied, prolonged and rich ; a man who had tacked so

adroitly for so many years amid the difficulties that swarmed

like nebulae in the old cosmopolitan Ottoman world ; who

Chinese ' Gordon, Gordon of

had been the intimate of

"

Khartoum, and the friend of a score of European states- men ; who, as president of the Commission of the Danube,

had had the opportunity of probing the motives of the

policies of a half-dozen Powers ;

a man, in a word, who

had seen so much and known so many other men, had, in

that a habit of

general ideas had become natural to him, and that his

chief intellectual entertainment was watching how human factors converge and combine to determine resultants of

force which rarely reflect conscious intentions ? During a

friendship of many years, indeed, I do not recall a single instance in which Ismail Kemal Bey, analysing the inter-

national situation, displayed that familiar intellectual dis-

honesty characterised by an ingenious dosing of one's

desires with one's real vision, of one's sentiment with one's

thought. The realist who, in exile at Prinkipo Prinkipo,

fact, so abundantly and so richly lived,

mind you ! wrote in 1892 to his master :

"

In State affairs

it is interest that guides politics and inspires conduct,"

is the keen-sighted diagnostician of the masterly analysis of "Bismarck's Eastern policy viewed in the light of that

grea: Statesman's entire continental plan.

Take for instance the following :

" No historical utterance has been more often quoted

than the celebrated remark of Bismarck that the ' Eastern

question was not worth the bones of a Pomeranian grena-

I

INTRODUCTION

xv

dier.' But, although so often quoted, no historical utter-

ance has ever been the cause of so much ambiguous com-

ment, or has been more constantly misunderstood and misinterpreted. It has even been used to corroborate the

views of those who would contrast the alleged prudent

policy of Bismarck in cautiously confining his ambitions to the consolidation of a united Germany in Europe with the

presumptuous world-policy of his successors under Wil-

liam II, who, heedless of the safe Bismarckian methods, by their violent demonstrations caused the Powers to take

alarm and unite against the Pan-Germanist danger.

" In these pages I endeavour to show the workings of the

Bismarckian policy with regard to the East. The reader

will see the beginnings initiated by Bismarck himself of that logical movement of Pan-Germanist expansion, the

consequences of which became patent to all many years

later after the great Statesman's disappearance from the

political scene, and which have become still more evident

in their glaring nakedness in the horrors of the present

War."

And take this passage with reference to the war of 1870:

" After the three months' sanguinary struggle between

the French and German armies, and after the academical dis-

cussion among the representatives of the Powers in London,

Bismarck succeeded in imposing his onerous conditions

of peace on France, and in making dislocated Europe

accept Russia's arbitrary [the Denunciation of the Treaty

of Paris] act with the mere reservation of this principle,

drawn up at the Conference of London :

that in future

treaties could only be modified with the common consent

It was the first time that Europe

of all the signatories.

had in such an abject form submitted to seeing a treaty summarily declared invalid when its beneficiary was a weak nation.

xvi

INTRODUCTION

" The double news of the conclusion of peace and the

decision of the London Conference was received by us in

the East with natural satisfaction. Public confidence being

re-established,

conditions once again became normal:

One of the competitors to world domination being set aside,

the European equilibrium had now changed, and the three Great Powers, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia, had

The formation

of the German Empire had completely altered the political

face of the world, and the Powers found themselves obliged

to establish a fresh equilibrium on which their respective interests should be based.

" Germany, which had obtained a kind of hegemony in

Europe, now had as her aim to consolidate her work and

prepare for her future world-policy. Bismarck never lost

time in overweening contemplation of his successes or in resting on his laurels. The greater his achievements, the more he was inclined to take precautions not only to safe-

entered on a new phase of their history.

guard them,

but

to prepare for future advances and

triumphs. He had now two primary preoccupations

first, to assure the isolation of France and prevent her from

having a Government capable of inspiring confidence in the other Powers, and thus obtaining for herself allies against

Germany ; secondly, to consolidate the good relations of Germany with the other Powers. Feeling that Germany

had been all too long in leading-strings to Russia, he now

sought to reverse the roles and deprive Russia of a free

hand in the Orient."

If Ismail Kemal Bey was the penetrating political thinker

that this and many another passage of the present volume

reveal, it was because, as the French say, he had revenu de

beaucoup de choses, he had boxed the compass

events, his curiosity had fared far afield, he had

of manifold

" returned

'

therefrom with few illusions. His temper, however, was

never cynical.

His stoicism was of too philosophic

an

INTRODUCTION

xvii

Eastern texture to assume the grosser

je men fichisme or the " I should

forms, such as the

worry " of certain states

of mind.

Perhaps this is why he had always a certain

sympathy for Spain, the Spain of the mahanu. But, while his disillusionments assumed no cynical shapes t^ey greatly

There is a particularly charac-

facilitated his insights.

teristic,

and even charming,

illustration

of

this

in

the

proud page where he analyses the difference between such
"

Liberalism '

as had been his own and that of Midhat

Pasha what a magnificent

Statesman ! and the

Westerner whose hypocrisy he had discerned :

" Liberalism "

tribute, his,

of

to

too

that great

many

a

" The Liberals of Western Europe seem to me like the

heirs to great fortunes, who think only of enjoying the

wealth acquired by the efforts and the sacrifices of their

ancestors.

In these countries Liberalism is only the label

of a party or a means of attaining to power.

But in the

autocratically ruled countries of the East, in which even

the thought of Liberal ideas arouses conflict and evokes all

kinds of dangers, Liberalism is surrounded with trouble

and risk.

It never helps anyone to attain to power ;

on

the contrary, those who espouse such thoughts run the

risk of losing position and even their life. risks that Midhat Pasha willingly incurred.

These were the

He possessed

the supreme courage of making known his Liberalism at the

moment when any others, having arrived at the height of

their ambitions and power, would rather for their own pre-

for, though a

servation have shown a certain reserve ;

Statesman may espouse Liberalism at the commencement

of his career as a means to power, it is rare for one to reveal

a Liberal spirit when one has got power, and push it to such

a point as to risk losing it all."

When the German War broke, Ismail Kemal Bey, who

was well over seventy, beheld in that cataclysm above all

b

xviii

INTRODUCTION

an opportunity to end his life logically with Albanian honour. He resolved, in the spirit of his Liberalism of half

a century before, but with few enough illusions as to the

success of his -venture, to utilise, up to the limit of their

availabilitv for his own beloved Fatherland, all the doc-