In my opinion the entire question hangs upon the integrity of Turkey as an ally. England has done but little for her, and we may expect too much. The Turks are thoroughly aware that an Anglo-Turkish defensive alliance, and the "Protectorate of Asia Minor by Great Britain," are political arrangements based upon self-interest, for which they owe us no personal gratitude; in the hour of their distress we declined material assistance, but seized the opportunity for occupying one of their important positions—Cyprus; their only satisfaction remained in the knowledge that they had "done us" in the bargain. We have quickly discovered the painful fact, and one party to the alliance already feels aggrieved, and seeks for an alteration in the terms of the Convention.
I cannot conceive any more dangerous risk to friendships than an interference in the private affairs of individuals, or in the public administration of governments. We have assumed the enormous responsibility of the Protectorate of Asia Minor under conditions which we must know will never be fulfilled; Turkey promises to reform the abuses of her internal administration, &c. &c.! Anybody who knows Turkey must be aware that such a reform is impossible: the honest administrative material does not exist in the Ottoman Empire, and the promises of the Porte have been tolerably exemplified since the Crimean war. Under these circumstances the Anglo-Turkish alliance is in a questionable position. We have assumed the Protectorate of Asia Minor conditionally; we occupy Cyprus conditionally; and should Turkey fail to perform her promises in the government of her Asiatic provinces, we have a back-door for an escape from our onerous engagement. Unfortunately English diplomacy is celebrated for back-doors. In the Berlin Treaty we entered Cyprus through a back-door, and we may possibly retire by the same exit; but there is little doubt that the Turk does not believe in our professed determination to defend him by force of arms in the event of a future conflict between Russia and the Sultan in Asia Minor. Notwithstanding our professed sincerity, the Turk has become an unbeliever in the faith of treaties and political engagements; he believes most thoroughly that should "British interests" require the sacrifice of honour, England will somehow or other manage to slip through the Ottoman fingers, and escape from her alliance when called upon to meet Russia in the field. Of course the ignorant Turk is wrong, and his suspicions are unfounded.
With a mutual want of confidence in the integrity of an alliance, it would hardly be surprising should the Sultan attach more importance to the practical force of Russia than to the moral rectitude and high political principles of England. The power of Russia has been felt, and the position of European Turkey is that of a dislocated and dismembered Empire, which upon the next explosion will reduce the Sultan to the small extremity on the Bosphorus between Constantinople and the lines of Tchataldja. Turkey will cease to be a European Power, and upon the outbreak of the next Russian war she will be discovered as represented by Asia Minor, in which the claws of the Eagle are already fixed in the vital points—Batoum, Kars, and Ardahan. A Russian advance from those positions will, according to the terms of the alliance, compel Great Britain to exhibit herself as the champion of Turkish rights in armed defence of Asia Minor.
When we reflect upon the prodigious responsibility of such an alliance with a crippled Power that has been completely subdued, the victorious army of the Czar retired from the gates of the capital, the nation bankrupt beyond all hopes of liquidation, the various states in chronic discontent both in Europe and in Asia, and the claims of Greece threatening to explode the combustible materials, we may well appreciate the back-door that has so frequently afforded a retreat from an untenable position.
If it is necessary for England to form a defensive alliance with Turkey as a crippled Power, with Russia actually established in Asia Minor, why should we have waited until Turkey was mortally stricken, when by an earlier alliance we could have at least saved Asia Minor in its integrity? We have let the lion into the house with a boast that we will turn him out in the event of further roaring, instead of having prevented his entry in the first instance.
Under all the circumstances of the risk and responsibility assumed by England in a defensive alliance with Turkey under the title of a Protectorate of Asia Minor, the Cyprus Convention is highly unfavourable in its conditions. The island should have been simply conveyed from Turkey and transferred as a free gift to England, as a position necessary for her occupation under the probable contingencies of the Anglo-Turkish alliance, and it should have at once become a portion of the British Empire. Had this course been pursued a mutual confidence would have been established; on the other hand, all back-doors would have been sealed, as we should have been bound by all the laws of honour to defend Turkey to the last extremity in Asia Minor.
Russia, in Kars, occupies a position which affords an unbounded horizon for political intrigue. The various Turkish Pachas and other district authorities throughout Asia Minor have witnessed the irresistible advance of Russia, while England stood afar off, and only assisted Turkey with her good counsel. The same authorities now see Russia in possession, while England, who has not assisted during the bloody struggle, appears upon the scene as a political Paul Pry, and intrudes upon the mysteries that surround Pachas, Governors, and various functionaries, who, from the highest to the lowest official, mainly exist upon extortion.
It is hardly necessary to explain that British assistance in such a form will be most unwelcome, and will increase our reputation for intermeddling while in the hour of extremity we withhold the required aid. Any interference on our part with the administration of Asia Minor will cause an extreme jealousy and suspicion throughout all classes of Turkish officials, who will be rendered the more amenable to the guiles of Russian intrigues from Kars and Ardahan. A very slight knowledge of Turkish character would induce the natural conclusion. The English would be suspected of coveting Asia Minor, as they had already obtained Cyprus, and Russia would have gained her end in destroying all confidence that might possibly have existed, and thus endanger the defensive alliance.
There are serious risks that might enforce the advance of Russian troops beyond the defined frontier. Already there are reports of general discontent and threatened disturbances. In the event of a mutiny of Turkish troops on the Russian border, the Russians might be invited to assist by the Pacha in command. Sometimes such revolts are factitious, for political purposes. In all cases the position of Russia in Asia Minor is one of extreme danger to Turkey, and it is far from improbable that activity on her side, and passiveness upon ours, may terminate in a friendship between the Russians and the Turks to the detriment of British interests, and to the confusion of the assumed Protectorate. This document distinctly states:—If "Batoum, Ardahan, Kars, or any of them shall be retained by Russia, and if any further attempt shall be made at any future time by Russia to take possession of any further territories of his Imperial Majesty the Sultan in Asia as fixed by the definitive treaty of peace, England engages to join his Imperial Majesty the Sultan in defending them by force of arms."
In a despatch from Lord Salisbury to Sir A. H. Layard, dated 30th May, 1878, these ominous words are contained:—
"Even if it be certain that Batoum and Ardahan and Kars will not become the base from which emissaries of intrigue will issue forth, to be in due time followed by invading armies, the mere retention of them by Russia will exercise a powerful influence in disintegrating the Asiatic dominion of the Porte."
In the same lengthy despatch the conditions are described which Turkey must fulfil in reforming the abuses of the present administration, &c. &c., and there can be no doubt that the British government contemplated the necessity of supplanting a considerable number of the peculant Turkish officials by experienced English officers, whose supervision would ensure the necessary reforms. If such a course should have been accepted by the Porte there could be no question of the salutary effect, as the presence of British officials in actual authority throughout the provinces of Asia Minor would have proved to the various races our positive determination to uphold their rights, and to defend them from the oppression and extortion to which they had been subjected. Such a position would have given England the control that is absolutely necessary to effect the reforms in the administration of Asia Minor, without which the result will be anarchy and revolution within a few years, fostered by Russia precisely in accordance with the policy that has terminated in the disruption of Turkey in Europe.
In the same despatch of 30th May, 1878, Lord Salisbury continues:—
"Her Majesty's Government intimated to the Porte on the occasion of the Conference at Constantinople that they were not prepared to sanction misgovernment and oppression, and it will be requisite before they can enter into any agreement for the defence of the Asiatic territories of the Porte in certain eventualities, that they should be formally assured of the intention of the Porte to introduce the necessary reforms into the government of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in those regions. IT IS NOT DESIRABLE TO REQUIRE MORE THAN AN ENGAGEMENT IN GENERAL TERMS, FOR THE SPECIFIC MEASURES TO BE TAKEN COULD ONLY BE DEFINED AFTER A MORE CAREFUL INQUIRY AND DELIBERATION THAN COULD BE SECURED AT THE PRESENT JUNCTURE."
The italics are my own, for the weak point of the Convention is exhibited by this sentence.
No "general terms" should ever be mentioned in a communication with Orientals, and no convention should have been concluded with the Porte, unless every detail had been previously considered and specially agreed upon between the contracting parties. When this Convention was made public, I concluded that the British government contemplated the official employment of a certain number of their own officers to carry out the spirit of the agreement, without which the Convention would be a farce; at the same time I was convinced that the suspicions of the Turkish government and the stubborn pride of the race would resist any such direct interference upon the part of England. Under these conditions Asia Minor would remain exactly where it was. A grand scheme which would have had immense political results, had the Turks accepted our interference in the honourable spirit of our intentions, has been frustrated by their want of confidence, and the Convention remains, containing an agreement of stupendous importance, by which England is committed to a military undertaking of the first magnitude, while Turkey risks nothing except her "PROMISES OF REFORM in the administration of her Asiatic provinces."
"British interests" in this transaction are represented by Cyprus, which we occupy as tenants—paying 96,000 pounds a year for the ruined house, and leaving ourselves no balance from the revenue for the necessary repairs.
There is no more difficult political associate than the Turk; his defensive weapon is delay, and in moments of the greatest emergency his peculiar apathy or patience never forsakes him. Proud and haughty to a superlative degree, in his heart he detests all extraneous counsel and interference, and would rather glide onward to destruction than grasp the hand stretched out to save him. Turkey has expected much from England, and has made a poor return for our sacrifice of blood and treasure during the Crimean war. She obtained an ephemeral financial reputation through the aid of France and England in becoming guarantees for a public loan; upon this false position she traded until the inevitable bankruptcy plunged her into ruin, and opened the gate for the entrance of her enemies, at the same time that dishonesty entailed the severance of friends. England has from mutual interests endeavoured to preserve her from absolute dissolution, and the Protectorate of Asia Minor was a step of political audacity in her favour that surprised the world. This extraordinary offer of material aid has been met by the same want of confidence that has marked the decline of the Turkish Empire; the only extra interference in Asia Minor has been the appointment of a few additional British consuls. These gentlemen will report long lists of abuses, and the general mal-administration of the Turkish officials; they will be hated accordingly, and being absolutely powerless for good, they will simply keep the Foreign Office informed of what was thoroughly well known before. Remonstrances upon our part will be made to the Porte, who will deny the accuracy of the consular reports, and ultimately a special commission will be sent out, which will prove their correctness; the Porte will again promise amendment, but will not sanction the appointment of British officials. In this old-fashioned course, so thoroughly understood by all who have any knowledge of Turkey, the affairs of Asia Minor will be conducted, until revolution shall bring Russia upon the scene at the most favourable opportunity; and England, who has been thwarted by the Power she has endeavoured to save, will, by the terms of the Convention, be compelled to appear in arms as the defender of the remnant of the Turkish Empire.
Common sense would suggest the absolute necessity of special and clearly defined conditions in concluding an alliance with Turkey which may at any moment demand our military interference. If we are bound to assist by force of arms in the defence of Asia Minor, it is equally necessary that Turkey should be bound to qualify herself for resistance to an attack from Russia. It should have been distinctly agreed that Turkey should raise a territorial army of an estimated strength for the protection of Asia Minor, and that a certain number of British officers should hold important commands, to ensure the regular payment of the troops and to maintain the necessary discipline. Had such conditions been defined, and the civil courts been placed under the supervision of British officials, the Protectorate of Asia Minor would have become a practical combination that would have been an effectual check to Russian encroachments; but as the affair now stands, the alliance is fraught with extreme danger to ourselves. I cannot conceive the possibility of a credulity that would induce experienced statesmen to believe in the assurances given either by Turkey or by Russia. The history of the past is sufficient to prove the utter fallacy of assertions, promises, and treaties; Turkey will persist in mal-administration; Russia, who is now marching upon Merv in spite of former assurances, as she advanced on Khiva under similar pretexts, will at the moment of her own selection assuredly break through her boundaries in Asia Minor. The position of England will be contemptible. We have thrown down the gauntlet to Russia by an ostentatious alliance with Turkey, but we hesitate to insist upon the overwhelming necessity of British official and military officers to organise the civil administration and an army of defence; thus, when the sudden emergency shall arise, Turkey will be totally unprepared; the various races that comprise her Asiatic dominions will already have been poisoned by intrigue, and the only defence that can be offered to a Russian advance will be afforded by Turkish neglect, which has left the country devoid of roads.
Under these inevitable circumstances, England will probably accuse Turkey of neglecting to fulfil the conditions of the defensive alliance, and the "back-door" will offer a convenient exit from the difficulty; in which case, Turkey will be compelled to make terms with Russia that will probably terminate in a Russo-Turkish alliance AGAINST England, who will be accused of having treacherously deserted her after breaking a solemn engagement—and obtaining Cyprus.
This may be a gloomy prospect, but it is not one shade darker than the reality of the position, unless the Porte will sanction the assistance of a British administration that would entirely change the political aspect. A reform of administration in Asia Minor to be effective, should be based upon the judicial system pursued by the English in the courts of Cyprus—where the Turkish laws remain undisturbed, but they are administered under the supervision of specially appointed officers. For the most part Turkish laws are based upon pure equity, and leave little to be desired beyond their faithful execution. The oppression and extortion prevalent throughout the Turkish dominions are directly contrary to the laws, and are the result of personal tyranny on the part of the authorities.
In the event of a rupture with our ally that would result in a Russo-Turkish combination, Cyprus would exhibit its importance as a strategical position that would entirely command the coasts of Syria and the approach to Egypt. As I have already stated, the value of the island is conditional upon the permanence of the Turkish alliance; should Turkey and England remain friends and allies, Cyprus is quite unnecessary as a British military station; but our possession will probably ENTAIL THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF TURKISH GOOD FAITH, as the restored arsenal and harbour of Famagousta would complete a position that would dominate the whole of the Turkish shores upon the Mediterranean, and in conjunction with Greece, which would assure the refuge of Corfu to our fleets, the naval power of Great Britain would be absolute to the east of Gibraltar.
TROODITISSA MONASTERY, CYPRUS.
It is the 22nd August, and the manuscript of "Cyprus as I saw it in 1879" has already been forwarded to England. In another month we shall be en route for the Euphrates via Alexandretta, and through Bagdad to India by the Persian Gulf. I shall therefore be placed at the serious disadvantage of an exclusion from the proofs, which may require alterations and corrections; this will I trust excuse me should any repetitions be apparent that would otherwise have been detected before publication. There is little to add to the description I have given that would be of public interest, therefore the few additional details are consigned to a short Appendix.
The seclusion of the monastery has been an agreeable interval that has formed a moral harbour from the uncertain seas of busy life, and we shall leave the quiet spot and the good old monks with some regret. A great change has been effected since our arrival in early May. The heaps of filth have given place to extreme cleanliness; the monks wash their hands and faces; even the monastery yard is swept. No atom of impurity is allowed to deface the walk from the cold spring to the great walnut-tree. My little garden has flourished and produced largely; the melons were of excellent flavour; the tomatoes and other vegetables were good, including a species of esculent amaranthus which is a substitute for spinach. I employed a man and his son to open the path for 2.75 miles, from the monastery to the military route to Troodos, which much improved the communication, and somewhat relieved our solitude by increasing the visits of our friends. If any stranger should now arrive from England at Trooditissa he would appreciate the calm and cool asylum contrasting with the heat of the lower country; but should he arrive even one short month after our departure, I fear the picture will have changed. Throngs of mules will have defiled our clean courtyard, and will be stabled within our shady retreat beneath the walnut-tree, which will remain unswept. The filthy habits of the people, now restrained only by strong remonstrance, will be too apparent. The old monks, Neophitos and Woomonos, (who are dear old people when clean) will cease to wash, and the place and people will certainly relapse into the primeval state of dirt and holiness in which we first discovered it.
We leave in friendship with all, and during our sojourn at Trooditissa of more than three months, no quarrels, or even trifling disagreements, have occurred between the servants or the people. The temporary storm occasioned by the abrupt departure of Christina was quickly lulled by the arrival of the middle-aged-maid of all work of seventy-five, who has performed all her arduous duties with admirable patience. Our own servants have been most satisfactory since their first engagement upon our arrival in Cyprus in January last; Georgi the "prodigal son," has been of much service as interpreter, and is an honest and willing young man, but there is a peculiarity in his physical constitution exhibited in the mutual want of attachment between his person and his buttons. These small but necessary friends continually desert him; and his shoes appear to walk a few inches faster than his feet, leaving him in a chronic state of down-at-heel. Collars will not assimilate with his neck; whether they are tied with strings, or fastened with buttons, the result is the same, and Georgi's exterior when all or three parts of his buttons have deserted him, exhibits a looseness which I am glad to say by no means applies to his character. The cook Christo is an excellent fellow, always willing to please, and good in his profession; added to which, he assumes a demeanour of importance which is irresistible, and makes all paths smooth. My Abyssinian, Amarn, is always the same quiet, steady character, who performs his daily work with the calm regularity of the stream that turns a mill-wheel, and can always be depended on. It is a pleasure to me that our party does not dissolve upon leaving Cyprus, but the servants accompany us on the Asiatic shore.
In conclusion, I must acknowledge with due thanks the valuable assistance that I have received in statistical information afforded by the kindness of the High Commissioner, His Excellency General Biddulph, R. A, C. B., and the various chief commissioners of districts, including Lieutenant-Colonel White, First Royal Scots, of Lefkosia; Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, R. A., of Limasol (now promoted to Chief of the Staff); Claude Delaval Cobham, Esq., M. A., of Larnaca; Captain Inglis, of Famagousta; and Captain A. Wauchope, 42nd Highlanders, of Baffo.
In taking leave of Cyprus I must express my share in the general regret at the departure of Sir Garnet and Lady Wolseley, from whom we received much kindness. His successor, General Biddulph, R. A., is well known as a most able and painstaking officer, who is admirably suited for the responsible position he now occupies, but all will remember with due appreciation the vigorous administration of Sir Garnet Wolseley, who was selected for the command of Cyprus in the difficult period of the first British occupation.
METEOROLOGICAL REGISTER THROUGHOUT JOURNEYS IN CYPRUS.
FROM 1ST FEBRUARY TO 21ST AUGUST, 1879.
It will be remarked that August at Trooditissa is considerably lower in temperature than July.
The following data, from 1st to 17th August, kindly supplied me by Lieut.-Colonel White, Chief Commissioner of Lefkosia, will exhibit the difference between that station, 442 feet above the sea level, and Trooditissa Monastery, 4,340 feet.
The following official estimate of revenue and expenditure must be accepted as only approximate. As the taxes are at present collected by dimes, or tenths, the amount must depend upon the agricultural prosperity of the island, which is liable to considerable fluctuations, and during the present year of semi-famine will result in a serious diminution. There will probably be a sensible decrease in the Customs receipts, as the import of European goods has been checked by the collapse of many European traders who had arrived in Cyprus at the first announcement of the British occupation, and discovered that their goods were unsuited to the requirements of the extremely poor and frugal population. The greater portion of the English traders have already retired from the island; the Greek merchants who have been long established are satisfied with small profits, and their expenses are upon a proportionate scale, which renders British competition quite impossible. The Cypriotes decline to purchase from the English stores, as they are ignorant of the language, and the goods are ill-adapted to their wants. The first rush of commercial activity due to the political movement in 1878 has subsided, and the trade will be represented chiefly by the agricultural exports from the island until some more favourable conditions of our occupation may induce a new impulse, and capitalists may venture upon investments in Cyprus.
The mines of umber near Larnaca have been let, and it is by no means improbable that an extension may in a few years be apparent in enterprises of this description. Copper mines near Khrysokhus are being opened, but the preliminary operations can afford no clue to the value of the result. The umber is shipped exclusively to Holland for the manufacture of paint, and the produce of Cyprus is considered to be the finest quality. Although asbestos is reported to exist of a remarkably long fibre and soft texture, I have never met with it except in the coarse form which is common in many portions of the island, especially on the Troodos range, where the base of this stone is a shining greenish substance of a horny texture, which gradually terminates in bristles of asbestos. I have also seen it in thin veins of metamorphic rocks, glittering like silver, and when scratched with a knife, it resolves into a downy condition like scraped cotton. All these mineral resources require a special and minute investigation.
ESTIMATES OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE IN CYPRUS FOR 1878-79.
Memorandum on the Revenue and Charges of the Island of Cyprus for the Five Years from 1873-4 to 1877-8, under Turkish Administration, with an Estimate for the Year 1878-9, including the Charges of British Administration of the Island.
In submitting the enclosed statement of the accounts of Cyprus for the past five years, with the estimate of revenue and expenditure for the current official year, 1878-79, I propose to describe briefly the character and operation of the several taxes of the island in the past, and the considerations that have guided me in framing the estimate for the present year.
Dimes, or Tithes on Produce of the Land.
This is the Government share of the produce of the land, and constitutes by far the largest item in the revenue of the island. In the, year 1874 the tithe was raised to an eighth part, or 12 1/2 per cent on the produce, but that was abandoned in 1876, and the tithe is all that has been since levied with the sanction of the Turkish Government.
The unit of the Turkish revenue system is the village; then the nahie, or group of villages; then the caza (canton); then the sandjak (arrondissement); and, lastly, the vilayet, or province, under a Governor-General, Director of Finance, and Council of Administration. Throughout these several stages-from the village to the nahie, caza, sandjak, and chief place of the vilayet-there are excellent rules for the check and disposition of the revenues, but they are not observed. Indeed, in the judicial, as in the revenue and financial administration of the island, the organisation of establishments and rules of procedure are commendable in every way, but the rules are unknown to, or ignored by, the officials employed to administer them.
The tithes are farmed by the Turkish Government to merchants and speculators in the spring of each year, when the ripening crops enable all concerned to estimate the extent and quality of the year's produce. The sale of the tithes (by villages, nahies, or cazas, as may be preferred) commences in March and ends on the 15th June, and whatever tithes then remain unsold the Government undertakes to recover through its own agents.
When the sales are effected the tithe-farmer signs a bond for the amount, payable in six monthly instalments, commencing from the 1st August, with interest on instalments not paid at due date. Each tithe-farmer is required to have a sufficient surety, who also signs the bond and is jointly and equally responsible with the principal. After conclusion of the agreement, the tithe-farmer proceeds at once to watch the fields in which he is interested and to estimate the yield. He sees the grain cut, threshed, heaped, and insists upon its remaining upon the threshing-floor until his claim is satisfied-the claim always exceeding the stipulated tenth. For wheat, barley, and other grains, arrangements have to be made by the cultivators for transit to the nearest port of embarkation, on terms more or less unfavourable to themselves. Their cattle are taken away for transport when most required in their own fields, and they have to bear all the expenses of transit, except the expense of the first mile, which is paid by the tithe-farmers. For fruit, vegetables, and other perishable articles, the tithe is commuted in a money payment, respecting which there are usually disputes, determinable by the local Kaimakam or head Government official of each caza. The awards of these officials are always in favour of the tithe-farmers, who are members of the Administrative Councils, or otherwise persons of influence in the cazas comprised in their respective engagements. Later in the year, or about the 15th August, the vineyards are similarly visited by the tithe-farmers or their representatives, and estimates of the produce are made by them and by the cultivators. These estimates always differ, and are the subject of constant disputes, which are referred to the Kaimakam, whose award is generally in favour of the tithe-farmer. As the grape cannot be removed until the claim is settled, the cultivator submits to the exactions of the tithe-farmers rather than risk the deterioration or loss of his stock, and is thus practically mulcted in proportions far exceeding a tenth of the entire produce. The effect of these illegal exactions has been to reduce the cultivation of the grape throughout the island.
But, though keen in their dealings with the peasantry, the tithe- farmers are slow in their own payments to the Government Treasury.
These payments are required, under their bonds, in six monthly instalments from the 1st August; grace is allowed for forty days, and the instalments are required to commence on the 10th September. They are delayed, however, on various pretexts, and reclamations and remissions of revenue are often unjustly obtained through collusion with the local Kaimakams and Malmudirs. Thus, the tithe-farmer makes his bargain with the Government when the crops are ripening, recovers his claim directly they are gathered, indefinitely postpones his own obligations to the Government and often evades them altogether. Although, under his bond, interest is payable on overdue instalments, it is never enforced. An examination of the accounts revealed the existence of considerable arrear claims extending over several years, and for the most part irrecoverable now. Practically, the tithe-farmer's obligations have never been discharged in the year to which they belonged. Of the collections credited in the year 1876-77, nearly one-half was on account of the claims of prior years.
These facts clearly show that the operation of the tithe system has resulted in a loss of revenue to the State. It has impoverished the peasant, involving him in the toils of the money-lender as well as of the tithe-farmer. It has checked the productiveness of the island, the area now under cultivation being less than a third of all the culturable lands of Cyprus. Some modification of the tax, or of the machinery for its collection, would therefore seem to be imperatively required.
There are not wanting points of analogy, as of difference, between Cyprus and some of the British provinces of India, and a suggestion has been made to substitute the Indian system of a fixed money payment for the tenth of the produce in kind. Curiously enough, the converse proposition has lately found favour in India in connection with the agrarian riots in the Dekkan, and what is there regarded as the bane of the Indian system is now proposed here as the antidote of the Turkish system. Like the Cypriote, but in a greater degree, the Dekkan peasant is poor, indebted, and indifferent to the improvement of his land, and both are constantly liable to the effects of drought and famine. But whilst the State requires from the former only a tenth part of his actual crops, the Indian peasant is liable for the full money rate fixed without regard to the rainfall and the crops. As between the State and the peasant, the elastic tithe tax would seem to be preferable-its evil working in Cyprus being due mainly to the irresponsible and unscrupulous agencies entrusted with the collection of the tithes. In attempting any reform, therefore, care should be taken at the outset to avoid principles or methods that have contributed in India to evils similar to those that have to be rectified here. The direction and scope of the reform must necessarily depend upon more complete information than is at present available respecting the land tenures and local agricultural customs of this island, the varieties of soil, the means of irrigation actual and possible, and the conditions and habits of the agricultural classes generally.
Information on these essential points may, however, be obtained before the termination of the present engagements with the tithe- farmers in March 1879. A rough field survey would prepare the ground for a systematic inquiry into rights and interests in each estate and village throughout the several districts of the island. The inquiry, conducted by the respective commissioners of districts in the next few months of favourable weather, may be made to embrace the following points 1. The extent of the several holdings, and whether held under proprietary, sub-proprietary, or occupancy rights. 2. The average produce of each estate or holding, and its value, say for the last three or four years. 3. The areas respectively (1) under cultivation, (2) not under cultivation but culturable, (3) unculturable and barren waste. 4. In the case of culturable lands not under cultivation, inquiry should be made whether this is the result of the oppressive way of collecting tithes, or the want of money or cultivators, or whether the land is required for grazing or other purposes. 5. The character of the soil in various parts of the island, and the respective producing capabilities. 6. The arrangements, existing and possible, for irrigation by wells, aqueducts, and tanks. 7. The proportion of the people occupied in agriculture, and the proportion in other pursuits than husbandry. 8. The personal condition of the agricultural classes, whether well housed, well clad, with good cattle, ploughs, and gear, or the reverse. 9. The standard for measuring land. The area of each estate or holding, after measurement, should be reduced to English standard acres.
The result of these inquiries, accurately and clearly recorded, would afford valuable data for determining the extent to which the present tithe arrangement may be modified for the ensuing financial year. Whatever modification may be adopted in substance, the tax will at least be collected without injustice or oppression, and the cost of collection will be covered by the increased revenue which must result from an improved administration. The proportion of the produce heretofore taken in Cyprus, as the share of the Sovereign power, is considerably below that taken in other Eastern countries. In India, this share under the ancient Hindoo Rajahs was one-sixth. Under the Mohammedan rule, a third of the average produce of average land was held to be the Government share. Under British rule, from one-third to one-half of the rental is the standard of assessment at the present day, representing a much larger proportion than a tenth of the produce of the land. And in Cyprus (as has been shown in the preceding remarks), although the declared share of the State was only one-tenth, the peasantry have contributed a very much larger proportion, the difference forming the perquisites of the collectors of the revenue. Hence it may fairly be assumed that the British administration may take a larger share than one-tenth of the produce, without imposing any additional burden whatever on the people. It may rather be hoped that any increased State demand upon the cultivator will still leave him a larger proportion of the fruit of his labours than he has heretofore enjoyed, with absolute freedom in disposing of it to the best advantage.
A further increase of the revenue from land may be anticipated from the extension of cultivation. With light assessments, improved communications, and occasional State aid, a large proportion of the culturable lands, now lying neglected, may be gradually brought under cultivation, stimulating the industry of the people, and increasing the productiveness and wealth of the island.
For the current year, however, the existing arrangement with the tithe-farmers must be accepted, and the revenue estimated accordingly. The year's tithes were sold for 82,088 Turkish liras, or nearly 74,000 pounds sterling, and the whole amount has yet to be collected. Already, the tithe-farmers plead inability to recover their dues from the cultivators. The truth probably is that, whilst the British administration has somewhat checked their habitual exactions, it has emboldened the peasantry to resistance which would never have been attempted under the Turkish rule. Due justice will be done between the parties, but, in any case, the Government claim of 82,088 liras is covered by sufficient security, and will be realised for the most part. During the earlier months of the current year, before the British occupation, the sum of 1,306,321 piastres was recovered on account of silk tithes and tithes of prior years. Adding this sum to the unrealised claims, and leaving a margin for default, the receipts for the year may be taken at 8,352,000 piastres, or 72,000 pounds sterling. The average of the previous five years was 8,584,786 piastres, and they included three years of scarcity. The account rendered by the Ottoman Government for the past year, 1877-78, exhibits the dimes or tithes at 12,500,595 piastres, but that was the amount of the year's demand, and the actual realisations amounted only to 5,072,872 piastres. Looking to the favourable conditions of the present year as compared with the past year, the estimate of 72,000 pounds sterling may be accepted.
Tithes on Vakouf Lands.
The tenth part of the produce of vakouf lands, fields, and gardens is appropriated for the maintenance of mosques, monasteries, tombs, and other religious foundations. The tithes on vakouf lands are paid to the Mutavelli, or local administrators of the vakoufs, who remit 20 per cent to the Minister of the Evkaf at Constantinople, and retain the balance. The Mutavelli are not required to account to any Government functionary for the revenue of vakouf lands beyond the annual subsidy of 20 per cent to the Evkaf. It is understood, however, that in many cases the objects and purposes for which these vakouf lands were assigned have long since ceased to exist, and thus not only are the pious intentions of the founders frustrated, but a considerable public revenue is diverted into private channels. The legal conditions attached to these vakouf lands, and to the lands and other property in Cyprus claimed for the Ottoman Crown and State (under Article IV of the Convention between Great Britain and Turkey) are at present the subject of a special inquiry, and the result will have an important bearing on the revenue to be hereafter administered by the British Government. For the present year, the tithes on vakouf lands have been farmed for 1,676 Turkish liras in the districts of Famagousta, Kyrenia, Papho, and Limasol. No tithes have been sold in the other divisions. As the tithes on vakouf lands do not belong to the general revenues of the island, they are not included in the estimate now submitted.
This tax is divided into three classes:— 1. Emlak verghisi, or impost on houses or immovable property, at 4 per thousand on the purchasing value. 2. Impost of 4 per cent on the rent of immovable property, or houses not occupied by their owners. The rent is assumed at io per cent of the value. 3. Verghi temetu, or impost on professions and trades, at 3 per cent on profits and salaries.
Before the beginning of each financial year, the district authorities prepare statements designating the contributions required from each village and town, according to the number of houses, the number and means of the population. The assessment is made roughly, and the tax is recovered by Moukhtars of villages, selected by the inhabitants and confirmed by the district authorities. All collections are forwarded, as recovered, to the Treasury of the sandjak.
All sales and transfers of immovable property, with the title-deeds thereto appertaining, have to be registered in the Registration Office, and the means are thus partially afforded for assessing the owners of property for the 4 per thousand on the value, and the 4 per cent. on the rental.
But the 3 per cent. on professional profits and salaries is arbitrarily fixed for each village, or group of villages, and the Moukhtars levy the personal contributions of each tax-payer as they think fit.
In this process there is considerable oppression of the poorer taxpayers, and also loss of revenue to the State. Both would be obviated, or at all events mitigated, by entrusting the assessment to Government officers, and by a more careful and exact registration of property, and of profits from trades and professions. The revenue from the licence tax in towns must largely increase in the future.
As a rule, the district officers endeavour to recover the verghis before tax-payers are subjected to the exactions of the tithe-farmers for payment of the dimes and other imposts. In some of the Turkish vilayets, the Government have gone so far as to forbid the local tribunals from condemning the tax-payers to pay the claims of third parties until they have assurance that the verghis have been paid.
The average yield of the verghis tax in the last five years was 3,521,083 piastres, or 30,354 pounds per annum. The account of the last year of the series (1877-78) showed a revenue of 3,193,850 piastres, or 27,535 pounds. The demand for the current year is 3,380,246 piastres, of which only 518,545 piastres have been recovered up to the present time. The slackness of the Turkish revenue officials in collecting this tax is due partly to the change of administration and uncertainty as to future taxation of the island, and partly to the war tax and other burdens imposed upon the people during the past year. The needful measures have now been adopted for effecting recovery, and as the tax affects property and the well-to-do classes, it is hoped that about 2,000,000 piastres will be recovered in the next six months. Adding this sum to the recoveries already effected, the revenue of the entire year is estimated at 2,552,000 piastres, or 22,000 pounds.
Tax on Exemption from Military Service.
This superseded the capitation tax formerly levied upon Christian subjects, and other subjects of the Porte who were not Mohammedans, for exemption from military service. It is a tax of 27 3/4 piastres for each male inhabitant from twenty to forty years of age, but practically it is levied upon males below and above the limits of age. Returns of the numbers coming under this impost are settled between the heads of villages and the Moukhtars. The latter are required to recover the money and pay it in twelve monthly instalments into the chest of the sandjak.
The rate of 27 3/4 piastres is equivalent to 5s. per man per annum. There is no apparent reason why it should not be paid at once and credited in the Government Treasury immediately on payment.
This tax is unpopular and offensive to those whom it affects throughout the Turkish dominions. The Greek, Armenian, Bulgarian subjects of the Porte have protested against it from time to time, but without effect. Were these declared eligible for military service on the same terms as Mohammedan subjects, but with the option of providing substitutes, the impost would be relieved of its invidious character, and perhaps yield a larger revenue to the State than heretofore. This, however, equally with the exoneration tax, would be inappropriate in Cyprus under a British administration, which does not require any considerable proportion of the population for military service. It is matter for consideration, therefore, whether this light tax may be continued in some other form.
The average yield of this tax during the past five years was eqivalent to 12,270 pounds a year. It increased last year, on account of the war, to 15,110 pounds. But in the current year the recoveries have been slack, for the reasons stated above in regard to the verghis, and the estimate is therefore for 1,044,000 piastres, or 9,000 pounds.
Tax on Sheep.
There is a regular enumeration of the sheep and goats throughout every village in the island during the month of March, and the tax is evied at the rate of 2 1/2 piastres, or about 6d. per head. The tax is collected by the Local Government officials, and with proper arrangements should all be recovered in the month of April, but there are considerable arrear claims, extending back to several years.
The average revenue derived from this tax in the last five years was 9,854 pounds per annum. The recoveries already made in the current year amount to 1,187,364 Piastres, or 10,235 pounds. The estimate for the entire year is taken at 1,276,000 piastres, or 11,000 pounds, and the realisation of this sum may be expected.
Under this head are comprised various small taxes, such as the tax on sales and transfers of landed property, on contracts, on measurements, on sale of cattle, on swine, stamps, judicial fees and fines, &c. The average yield of these taxes in the last five years was 767,005 piastres, with an increasing tendency in the later years. The amount recovered in the first six months of the current year was 743,775 piastres. The estimate for the entire year may therefore be safely taken at 1,102,000 piastres, or 9,500 pounds.
We now come to the indirect taxes. I hope on a future occasion to describe, more fully than time will allow at present, the effect of the existing customs tariff in the past, and the modifications that may be made under British administration in this important branch of the public revenue, and in the excise on tobacco and spirits. It is sufficient to say at present that the customs revenue is derived from a duty of 8 per cent. upon imports and 1 per cent. upon exports, and that the receipts of the last five years give an average of 981,405 piastres, or 8,460 pounds. The increased population and trade consequent upon the British occupation of the island have already had a sensible effect upon the revenue. The collections in the first four months of the current official year under Turkish rule amounted to 268, 718 piastres, or 2,316 pounds. In the next two months of British administration they amounted to 305,386 piastres, or 2,632 pounds, being an increase of over 127 per cent., and that without any change in the tariff or the customs regulations. A continuance of this rate may safely be reckoned upon for the next six months, and the revenue of the entire year is therefore estimated at 1,554,400 piastres, or 13,400 pounds. This estimate takes account of the probable early abolition of all export duties.
Excise on Tobacco and Spirits.
The receipts of the last five years give an average annual revenue of 6,475 pounds for tobacco and 4,546 pounds for spirits. The receipts for the first six months of the current year amount to 4,400 pounds for tobacco and 3,930 pounds for spirits. The estimate for the entire year is 8,650 pounds for tobacco and 8,200 pounds for spirits, and it is expected that the actual realisations will fully cover the estimate.
Revenue from Salt.
A considerable revenue was derived from the Government monopoly of the salt lakes in the neighbourhood of Larnaca and Limasol. The salt was sold for local consumption and for exportation to the coast of Syria, but an injudicious increase to the selling price, with short weights and increased cost of shipment, diverted the supply of the Syrian demand from Cyprus to the salt lakes of Tunis, and gradually reduced the revenue from this source. Owing to the excessive rains of last year, and the influx of more fresh water into the lakes than could be evaporated by the sun's rays during the summer, the lakes are at present unproductive. But in the earlier months of the current year, under Turkish administration, the sum of 1,756,840 piastres was recovered and credited in the Treasury on account of previous salt dues, and that amount is accordingly entered on the estimate with its English equivalent of 15,145 pounds. No other receipts are expected in the current year, and the revenue from salt has practically ceased. A considerable outlay will be required to repair and secure the salt lakes against the irruption of the drainage of the surrounding country.
The past revenue from salt should be excluded from the computation of the payment to be made to the Porte from the surplus revenues of Cyprus, under Article III of the Convention of 4th June, 1878.
To sum up. Having regard to the revenue arrangements concluded before arrival of the British in Cyprus, to the realisations in the first four months of the current year under Turkish administration, and to the altered conditions under which the finance of the remainder of the year has to be administered, I am of opinion that the revenue may be safely estimated at 170,000 pounds, as below:—
Pounds Tithes on land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72,000 Tax on property, professions, and trades . . . . . . . . 22,000 Tax on sheep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,000 Tax for exemption from military service. . . . . . . . . 9,000 Customs duties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13,400 Excise on tobacco and spirits . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16,850 Salt monopoly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,145 Miscellaneous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,605 Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170,000
In future years even though the revenue from the salt monopoly be entirely lost, we may confidently hope for such an expansion of the revenue from land*, (*footnote: The island of Cyprus is 140 miles bang from east to West, with an average breadth of 30 miles. This gives an area of 4,200 square miles, or 2,688,000 acres. Assuming even 1,500,000 acres to be culturable, with an average rental of 2 shillings an acre, the should have a revenue from this source alone of 150,000 pounds a year.) from houses, from customs and excise duties, as will ensure a total income of more than 200,000 pounds a year.
Expenditure of Cyprus.
The estimate of expenditure is based upon the actual cost of the Turkish and native establishments now maintained, and the cost of the new agencies created by the change of administration. The account of expenditure rendered by the Ottoman Government for the past five years gives an annual average of about 24,000 pounds a year. Deducting from this rate the pay of officials and subordinate establishments no longer retained, also pensions and charitable allowances, and the cost for six months of the old Zaphtieh or police force (the corresponding charge for the reformed police force being added to the estimated cost of British establishments), the balance of 1,972,000 piastres, or 17,000 pounds, may be accepted as a fair estimate of the charges for native establishments in the island during the current official year. The charges for British establishments are estimated at 35,000 pounds, and they include expenses, incidental to the occupation of a new country, that are not likely to recur. It will be possible, in the future, to reduce the scale of charges for British and native establishments, as further experience is gained, and the entire machinery of the executive administration is brought under effective control.
The estimated expenditure for Native and British establishments may be broadly divided under the following heads:—
Central Administration- Including pay of the Turkish Governor for part of the year, and of the British High Commissioner, Financial and Judicial Commissioners, and High Court for remainder of the year . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,400
District Administration— Including British Commissioners of District, Native and British Establishments . . . . . . . 13,500 Military Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16,500 Customs and Excise Establishment . . . . . . . 5,000 Prisons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 Miscellaneous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,600 ———— 52,000
The expenditure of the current year being estimated at 52,000 Pounds, and the revenue at 170,000 Pounds, the resulting surplus will be 118,000 pounds. An examination of the accounts of Cyprus, for the five years preceding the British occupation, enables me to affirm that the average surplus of revenue over expenditure in that period was less than 100,000 Pounds per annum. The future yearly contribution to the Ottoman Government from the surplus revenues of Cyprus, under the Convention of the 4th June, 1878, will not, therefore, exceed, and may fall short of, the sum of 100,000 Pounds. Nearly one half of this claim for the current year was taken by the Turks from surplus revenue before our arrival. We shall easily make up the balance from the revenue now in course of collection. And, under ordinary conditions, the current revenue will not only cover the annual payment to the Porte and the expenses of administration, but also provide a fair outlay for roads and sanitary improvements.
GEO. W. KELLNER, Financial Commissioner of Cyprus.
NICOSIA, CYPRUS, September 25, 1878.
ESTIMATE OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE FOR THE YEAR 1878-79
- No Revenue Amount No Expenditure Amount - L L 1 Dimes or tithes on pro- 1 Pay of the Turkish Go- duce of land . . . . 72,000 vernor of Cyprus for part of the year, and of the British High Commisioner for remainder of the year; also Secretarial Establishments for the entire year. 9,000 2 Verghis, or tax upon 2 Finance and Accounts property, professions Establishments . . . 1,400 and trades . . . . . . 22,000 3 Tax for exemption from Military Service. . . . 9,000 3 Law and Justice, including Insular High Court . . . . . . . . 2,000 4 Sheep tax . . . . . . . 11,000 4 Administrative Estab- lishments of the six districts of Cyprus, including cost of col- lection of district revenues, establish- ments of district Judicial Courts, &c. . 13,500 5 customs Duties . . . . . 13,400 5 Cost of Prisons . . . 3,000 6 Excise on Tobacco and 6 Cost of Military Spirits . . . . . . . . 16,850 Police Force . . . . . 16,500 7 Salt Monopoly . . . . . 15,145 7 Customs and Excise Establishments . . . . 5,000 8 Miscellaneous, including 8 Miscellaneous, tax on sale and transfer including Educational of landed property, on Establishments . . . . 1,600 measurements, on con- tracts, judicial fees and fines, &c . . . . . 10,605 Total of Estimated Expenditure . . . 52,000 Surplus . . . . . 118,000 Grand total Estimated Revenue . . . . . . . 170,000 Grand total . . . 170,000
DETAIL ESTIMATE OF EXPENDITURE FOR BRITISH AND NATIVE ESTABLISHMENTS IN CYPRUS FOR 1878-79,
British Establishments. L. s. d. Cost of the Nicosia Division . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,844 12 0 Cost of other five divisions of Cyprus, viz., Larnaca, Famagousta, Limasol, Papho, and Kyrenia . . . 7,000 0 0 Financial Commissioner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 666 0 0 Judicial ditto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600 0 0 Judicial Clerk, and contingencies . . . . . . . . . . 200 0 0 Interpreter of High Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240 0 0 Director of Customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 510 0 0 Customs and Excise Establishments . . . . . . . . . . 5,000 0 0 High Commissioner and office establishments, travelling expenses, including furniture, 400L. . . . 5,700 0 0 Travelling allowances for High Commissioner . . . . . 300 0 0 Re-organised Police Force for the Island of Cyprus, including pay, rations, and clothing . . . . . . . . . 11,000 0 0
Temporary translators to be hereafter absorbed in Civil Establishments and contingencies in connection therewith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,340 0 0 Miscellaneous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600 0 0 —————— 35,000 0 0
Add. Piastres. Expenses of Turkish Establishment 2,609,549
Deduct. Pay of Mutessarif for six months, 60,000 piastres; Zaphtiehs for six months, 500,000 piastres; Pensioners and correspondence &c. . . . . . . . . 637,549 ——————- 1,972,000 17,000 0 0
Total cost of British and Native Civil Establishments in Cyprus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52,000 0 0
ESTIMATES OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE IN CYPRUS FOR 1879-80.
ESTIMATE OF REVENUE, 1879-80
Nature of Revenue. Estimate, 1879-80. Piastres L Tithes 8,640,000 Verghis 3,400,000 Military exemption 1,080,000 Sheep tax 1,220,000 Miscellaneous 2,000,000 Customs 2,800,000 Excise 2,128,000 —————————————- Total 21,268,000 == 177,233
ESTIMATE OF EXPENDITURE, 1879-80.
Designation. Annual Cost L s. d. L s. d. ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION.
The High Commissioner, Executive and Legislative Councils 11,106 17 0 The Department of Finance and Accounts 2,127 0 0 The Department of Law and Justice 4,985 12 0
The District of Nicosia 4,453 8 0 " Larnaca 4,585 3 0 " Famagousta 3,035 8 0 " Limasol 3,306 4 0 " Papho 2,959 0 0 " Kyrenia 2,131 0 0
Customs and Excise 4,636 18 0 Police 23,241 14 0 Prisons 2,583 17 0 Miscellaneous 1,000 0 0 Expenses of collection of taxes hitherto sold to tax-farmers 5,000 0 0 ——————— Total of Establishments. 75,152 1 0
Payment under agreement with the Porte (about) 96,000 0 0 Interest on money borrowed for Public Works, shown in the annexed Schedule, say 1,200 0 0 Expenses of the Survey 1,990 0 0 ———————— Total Expenditure 174,342 1 0
ROUGH DETAIL OF THE ROADS TO BE CONSTRUCTED IN THE FINANCIAL YEAR 1879-80. From Nicosia to cut through the fortifications at the Papho Gate, making a raised causeway over ditch and a road connecting it with the Government Office at the High Commissioner's residence, and with the main road from Nicosia to Larnaca, about 2 1/2 miles 800 From Nicosia to Kyrenia, about 16 miles 1,100* From Vassilia to Hai Grosch (Kyrenia district), about 22 miles 1,600* From Larnaca to Limasol, about 40 miles 6,000* From Limasol to Papho, about 39 miles 5,000& Chrysokou to Levka, about 32 miles 5,000& Nicosia to Famagousta, about 35 miles 4,000^ Famagousta to Trichomo, about 15 miles 1,000^ To improve the tracks between Trichomo and Carpas, 35 miles 2,700^ Rebuild culverts on Larnaca-Famagousta road 200^ Improving country roads in Larnaca district 900^ Gap in Mountain road from Larnaca to Messaria, to make it practicable for carts 100^ ———- Total 28,400 *Not finished for carts. &Not commenced. ^Most of these have not been commenced, August 1879.
ROUGH DETAIL OF NEW BUILDINGS TO BE CONSTRUCTED IN THE FINANCIAL YEAR 1879-80.
Estimated cost. Rebuild the Konak of Nicosia 3,000 " Konak and prison at Papho. 600 " Mudirate at Chrysokou 70 " Custom-house, Police barracks, and Konak at Limasol 1,500 The Mudirate of Kilani to be rebuilt at Platraes 500 Repairs to various buildings 330 —————- Total 6,000
ESTIMATE OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR ENDING 31st MARCH, 1880, FOR THE DISTRICT OF BAFFO.
Kindly supplied by the Chief Commissioner, Captain A. G. Wauchope, 42nd Highlanders.
Revenue No. 1—Tithes of Kuklia 1,100 " Ballo 2,800 " Khrysokus 3,400 " 2— " Silk Production 760 " Caroub Production 333 " 3 Sheep tax 1,760 Swine tax 250 2,010 " 4—Weighing and Measuring tax 100 " 5—Court Fees 226 Registration of Property 120 Inland Revenue Stamps 80 " 6—Customs and Excise 1,000 " 7—Verghi 3,747 Askeria (freedom from military service) 708 " 8—Miscellaneous 100 ———- 16,484 ———-
No. 1—British Establishment, including Interpreters 1,330 " Native do. do. 540 " 2—Houses for Commissioner and Assistant do. 90 Stationery 47 Travelling Expenses of all officers 140 277 " 3—Petty repairs 100, Public works 120 220 " 4—Military Police 3,200 Prison 114, Daavi Court 171 285 " 5—Customs and Excise 280 " 6—Tithing Expenses 880 " 7—Expenses of Sheep tax 57, Pig tax 15, Weighing and Measuring 48 120 " 8—Collecting Locust Eggs 120 ———— 7,252 Balance of surplus Revenue 9,232 ———— 16,484 ———— SILK CULTIVATION OF BAFFO.
"This year the peasants brought to the market 34,000 okes of Silk (93,500 lbs.) cocoons, which realised to them about 6,800L. These cocoons were bought by three merchants excepting about 2,500 okes of silk wound by the people here." . . . "You are aware that the cocoon before being in a fit state to export must be dried, and during the process a great shrinkage takes place, which varies considerably according to the original quality of the cocoon. This year the cocoon was excellent and the shrinkage small; 3 1/2 wet cocoons equalling 1 dry, while last year 5 wet equalled 1 dry.
"It is upon the dried cocoon that the tithe is fixed. When the cocoon is good and the price likewise, there is very little winding done here."
"It is computed that the Caroub trees in the Baffo district number about 40,000. Of Olive trees I cannot give you anything like a guess; I should only be misleading you."
(Signed),"A. G. WAUCHOPE."
It will be remarked that no outlay is contemplated for road-making or repairs of bridges, nor for any of the necessary public works, as the general revenue of the island cannot afford the local expenditure. This otherwise prosperous little province would be self-sustaining, as sufficient income would be realised for the annual outlay required for road-making and other improvements. There cannot be a truer example of the error in our Convention with the Porte by which we have agreed to the surplus revenue exhibited by the Turkish system of accounts in an average of five years. The Baffo estimates show a surplus of 9232L. upon the financial year, but there is the forced neglect of all necessary improvements owing to the terms of our occupation, which rob the country of about 100,000L. annually. According to the figures of the Baffo forecast of revenue and expenditure, Cyprus can afford to pay the amount of rental to the Porte, but this is to the detriment of all public works, which will render material progress impossible, at the same time that the incubus of Turkish taxation will be permanent.
By an Order in Council on 14 September, 1878, powers were given for the administration of Cyprus by a High Commissioner appointed by Her Majesty, together with a Legislative Council constituted according to Clause VI. :-
"The Legislative Council for the said island shall consist of the High Commissioner for the time being, and of such other public officers and persons within the same, not being less than four or more than eight in number, as shall be named or designated for that purpose by her Majesty."
In Clause XXI. :-
"The High Commissioner may constitute and appoint all such Judges, Justices of the Peace, and other necessary officers in the said island as may lawfully be appointed by her Majesty, all of whom shall hold their offices during her Majesty's pleasure."
It was agreed with the Porte :-
"I. That a Mussulman religious tribunal (Mehkemei Sheri) shall continue to exist in the island, which will take exclusive cognizance of religious matters, and of no others, concerning the Mussulman population of the island.
"II. That a Mussulman resident in the island shall be named by the Board of Pious Foundations in Turkey (Evkaf) to superintend, in conjunction with a delegate to be appointed by the British authorities, the administration of the property, funds, and lands belonging to mosques, cemeteries, Mussulman schools, and other religious establishments existing in Cyprus."
The Turkish law courts were preserved in their original construction under the supervision of the Commissioners of the six districts:— Lefkosia, Larnaca, Famagousta, Baffo, Limasol, Kyrenia. These courts are the Idari and Daavi, the Temiz or supreme court sitting in Lefkosia. The Idari and Daavi courts exist independently in each district. The Cadi is judge in the Idari, which is composed of three Mussulmans and two Christians elected by the population, and this court is specially presided over by the British Commissioner, and all cases in detail are translated and entered in the register. The Daavi Medjlis or court consists of five members—the Cadi, two Mussulmans, and two Christians.
An appeal from the decisions of these courts can be made to the High Court of Temiz at Lefkosia, the decision of which is final, only subject to the influence of Clauses XXII. and XXIII. in powers granted to the High Commissioner by Order in Council of 14 September, 1878 :-
"XXII. The High.Commissioner may, as he shall see occasion, in her Majesty's name and on her behalf, grant to any offender convicted of any crime, in any court, or before any Judge, Justice, or Magistrate within the said island, a free and unconditional pardon, or a pardon subject to such conditions as may at any time be awfully thereunto annexed, or any respite of the execution of the sentence of any such offender for such period as to him may seem fit."
"XXIII. The High Commissioner may, as he shall see occasion, in her Majesty's name and on her behalf, remit any fines, penalties, or forfeitures which may accrue or become payable to her, provided the same do not exceed the sum of fifty pounds sterling in any one case, and may suspend the payment of any such fine, penalty, or forfeiture exceeding the sum of fifty pounds until her Majesty's pleasure thereon shall be made known and signified to him."
The birds of passage that visit Cyprus (excepting swallows), exhibit a peculiarity in their insignificant numbers compared with their migrations upon the mainlands of Asia, Southern Europe, and Africa. The bustards that are so common in Turkey and Asia Minor are seldom seen. The grey crane frequently passes over Cyprus without resting upon its long flight, and in the month of March its loud cry may be heard so far in the blue sky that it is difficult to distinguish the flocks of these large birds at the stupendous height of their airy road towards the north. Even should the cranes condescend to rest for a short interval during an unfavourable wind, they leave on the first opportunity. I have frequently heard them high in air travelling throughout the night—thus during night and day they have been sailing northwards to make the most of fair wind and weather.
The sand-grouse is to be seen occasionally on the plains of Messaria, but never in the quantities that are met with in other neighbouring countries. Woodcocks are scarce, and those which are shot must have halted in the island during their passage en route for other shores. Snipe are very numerous in the marshes of Limasol salt lakes, Morphu, Famagousta, Kuklia, and Larnaca. Quails are never plentiful, and are inferior in condition to those of Egypt and Southern Europe. Wild ducks are to be seen on the lake near Famagousta and at Limasol. The wood-pigeons, and doves, together with fly-catchers, arrive in April, but never in large numbers.
Return of Villages, Population, etc., of Famagousta District.
Villages Churches Mosques Turks Christians Total Naleieh of Famasousta 9* 20 6 685 3,978 4,663 " Carpas 36 46 13 3,470 7,168 10,638 " Messaria 68 66 29 4,861 12,434 17,295 113 132 48 9,016 23,580 32,596
* Includes Famagousta town. Piastres L s. d. The taxes for the year 1878 amounted to 1,370,221 = 11,418 10 4 (This being paid in Coime at a very variable rate, it is scarcely correct to reduce the amounts to sterling.) The tithes of this district were farmed out in 1878 for ... ... ... 25,000 0 0
Revenue therefore was 36,418 10 4
The taxes for the year 1879 amount to... 10,379 90 This does not include indirect taxes such as Customs, say... 1,000 00
It is impossible to calculate the tithes yet for this year (1879). From Famagousta the chief exports are corn, from Messaria, donkeys, fruit, and pottery, the two latter chiefly from Varoshia.
Cyprus: Trooditissa Monastery, 4400 feet above the sea 21 September, 1879.
Messrs. Macmillan & Co.
MY DEAR SIRS,
If I am in time to secure the last efforts of the printer perhaps this letter in its integrity may convey the information which the autumnal season has afforded. The difficulty of all writers upon strange countries lies in their short experience. Each month exhibits the changes of nature in seasons, meteorological phenomena, and vegetation; thus the full twelve months should form the data for a detailed description. I closed my account of Cyprus in August; since which fruits have ripened and various changes have developed—all have afforded information.
Taxation in kind, and Government valuation of produce while growing, has been a crying evil that I have endeavoured to bring before the public as one of those instances of injustice which stamps the oppressive system of the Turkish administration; this unfortunately has not yet been abolished by the British Government. I have already described the arbitrary and unjust laws that fetter the all-important wine trade, which is the principal industry of Limasol; but since I forwarded the manuscript to England I have myself witnessed the miserable effects of the present laws during the advance of the season in ripening the produce of the vineyards.
Three weeks ago I walked for some hours through the boundless extent of grape cultivation at the foot of the mountains below the village of Phyni; at that time the crop was ripe, and should have been gathered.
The bunches of dark red were equal to the finest hot-house grapes of England, both in weight and in size of berries; the black were about the average of the Black Hamburg; the white were smaller and about the size of the common "sweet-water." A day or two ago I again visited the same vineyards; the grapes had not been gathered, and I computed that at least one-third of the crop was destroyed by the delay. The magnificent bunches of dark red were for the most part shrivelled, one-half the berries upon each cluster being reduced to the appearance of raisins, and utterly devoid of juice, while many of the other varieties were completely withered. The explanation given by the people was simple enough—"The official valuer had not appeared, and without his certificate no grapes could be gathered." There are only three valuers to an extensive district, and it is physically impossible that they can perform their duties, even were they inclined to attend when summoned to each village, in the absence of some special inducement. The actual labour of walking up the abrupt inclines upon the mountain sides which constitute the vineyards is most formidable, and at least four times the staff is necessary, of young and capable men, if the valuation of the crop is to be taken with due consideration to the interests of the grower. The distressing result that I have myself witnessed in the partial destruction of the crops can admit of no excuse, but it exhibits a painful example of mal-administration in the ruin attendant upon a Turkish system of taxation.
Some persons may suggest that the dried and withered grapes would be saleable as raisins: this is not the case. Raisins are not merely dried grapes, as is generally supposed, but the bunch of well-ripened berries is dipped in a strong solution of potash, and is then either suspended or is more generally laid upon a mat to dry. In Cyprus the growers seldom purchase potash, but they dip their grapes in a ley produced from the ashes of certain woods.
The vineyards at this season are swarming with a species of beccaficos, and the population are busy in catching these delicious birds with sticks smeared with bird-lime. It is a species of finch, a little larger than the chaffinch, the plumage a brownish grey; when plucked the body is much larger than the common beccaficos, but resembles it in extraordinary fatness and delicacy of flavour. The natives preserve them by boiling in commanderia wine, and they are highly appreciated. These must be added to the migratory birds of Cyprus.
The acorns are nearly ripe, and I am assured by the monks that even these insignificant productions pay a tax of 6d. per kilo (about 32 lbs.), and the crop is valued accordingly by the special authority. There are three varieties of large timber oaks in addition to the ilex and the prickly holly-leaved oak. The acorns of the ilex and holly- leaved species are small, but those of the three superior species vary in size, all being much larger than those of England, while one variety measures nearly three inches in length. This is used as food, with no other preparation than simple roasting, and is considered to be superior to chestnuts. The Ancient Britons used the acorn as an article of food, and probably it was ground into flour after the bitter principle had been extracted by soaking in running water, in the same manner that many varieties of wild yams are treated by the natives in Africa. In addition to the use of the acorn as a substitute for chestnuts by the Cypriotes, the large species when roasted black makes excellent coffee without any admixture of the real berry. All the varieties can be used for this purpose, but that already named is preferred as superior in flavour. The English poor are not clever in adaptation, and are known to be strong in prejudices respecting articles of diet, but it appears strange that the use of the acorn has been entirely neglected as an aid to the bulk of pure coffee, which would effect a considerable saving in the household, if the adulteration took place at home.
A few days ago I was conversing with the old monk upon the question of "Chittim wood," and I suggested my own theory, "that Solomon required the highly-scented cypress of this island" (for the Temple.) My venerable informant declared "that a wood exists to this day in Cyprus which is supposed to be the original species referred to in Scripture; this is a pine which is only found upon the mountains between Kyku and Khrysokhus. The grain and surface when planed are exceedingly close and smooth, and the timber is strong and durable, far exceeding in quality all other varieties." The native name for this tree is Kandro. I have sent a monk to gather the cones of this tree, which I shall send to England for seed, together with a sample of the foliage.
Sincerely yours, Samuel W. Baker.
Sept. 24, 1879.
P.S. My messenger has just returned with a branch and cones of the tree, which is only found upon the mountains between Kyku and Khrysokhus. There is no longer a doubt. It is a beautiful species of Cedar.
S. W. B.