03 May 2006
Putnam's Sons, New York | 1893
Writing in 1888, during the final decades of the Ottoman Empire, Stanley Lane-Poole, historian and Egyptologist, assisted by E. J. W. Gibb and Arthur Gilman, attempts in this volume to draw the main outlines of Turkish history, beginning with the foundation of the empire, in bold strokes, and thus try to leave a connected impression on the reader's mind.
The history of Turkey has yet to be written. The standard authority is Von Hammer's Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches, of which there is a French translation, and from which many books have been com-piled in many languages. In English, Von Hammer found an able condenser in Sir Edward Creasy, whose History of the Ottoman Turks is the best concise work we possess on the subject. Von Hammer, however, is not always accurate, despite his laborious research, and he is generally dull. A Turkish scholar, possessed of a sense of literary form, who would take the Austrian's facts, collate them with the native annalists and historiographers, and present them with all the advantages of skillful arrangement and charm of style, would render a real service to historical literature.
The present volume, however, makes no pretensions to fill the gap. All that is here attempted is to draw the main outlines of Turkish history in bold strokes, and thus try to leave a connected impression on the reader's mind. In so small a compass it is impossible to be detailed. Those who desire more than can here be given should turn to Sir E. Creasy, or to the Vte. A. de la Jonquiere's Histoire de l’Empire Ottoman, in Duruy's series ; and thence, if still ambitious, to Von Hammer. In these pages clearness and brevity have been the main considerations ; and, while striving to escape the charge of prolixity, I have carefully avoided the sin of moralizing. Many instructive morals have been drawn from the past and present state of Turkey ; but these appear to depend so much for their point and application upon the political bias of the writer that, on the whole, they are best omitted. We have all heard about the “sick man” and the “armed camp” but, if we are Conservatives, we palliate the disease, and call the encampment an innocent review ; if we are Radicals, we send for the undertaker for the one, and call for the expulsion of the other, that it may no longer menace the peace of Europe. Between these extremes, the reader may take his choice.
The naval history of Turkey, a subject of peculiar interest, has been barely touched upon here, because it is so closely interwoven with the exploits of the Barbary buccaneers, that it will be more satisfactorily traced in the Story of the Corsairs, which. I am writing for the same series. Another subject which has been omitted is the history of Egypt under Turkish rule for this belongs to the special volume on Modern Egypt, now in preparation.
I owe special thanks to Mr. E. J. W. Gibb, not only for the chapters on “Ottoman Literature,” “Stambol,” and “Ottoman Administration,” for which he is almost entirely responsible, but also for many suggestions and additions in other parts of the book, the whole of which has had the advantage of his revision. Mr. Oilman has also contributed to a part of the subject which was less familiar to Mr. Gibb and myself ; and I am indebted for valuable assistance to Mr. H. H. Howorth, M.P., and to Mr. W. R. Morfill, whose advice has been followed in the systematic spelling of Russian names.
January 17, 1888. . . .
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