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There are in Cyprus some Armenians, descendants of refugees who settled here, and these practise their own form of Christianity, residing chiefly in Nicosia. The Maronites also have a colony in Cyprus, and are said to number about 2,800." They belong to a tribe of people who inhabit the western slope of Mount Lebanon, and figure in history as a sect of Christians. By adopting the Monothelitic doctrine soon after it had been condemned in A.D. 680, by the Council of Constantinople, they came to be distinguished as a distinct religious party, and having as their first bishop, a certain monk, John Maro, they received the name of Maronites. Maro assumed the title of “Patriarch of Antioch,” he asserted the ecclesiastical independence of the tribe, and its members defended their freedom against the Greeks, and afterwards against the Saracens. At length in 1182, they renounced the opinions of the Monothelites, and were readmitted within the pale of the Romish Church, but are only united to it by the single tie of the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Pope. The Maronite monks of Cyprus live in monasteries scattered amongst the mountain regions, and most of the members of the sect occupy the country near Cape Kormakiti. St. Andrew is said to be the chief patron saint of the island, and on Palm Sunday and at Easter the usual ceremonies of the Eastern Church are performed. In the early days of Christianity, Cyprus became a land of saints, and numerous names stand in the calendar as belonging to the island, such as Barnabas, Lazarus, Epiphanes, Hilarion, Spiridion, Catherine, Acona, Maura, &c.
The education of the people was formerly much neglected under the Turkish administration, but there are now j. at Nicosia, Larnaca, Limasol, Morpho, and at a few of the large villages. Herr Von Löher remarks that “until thirty years ago schools were strictly prohibited, whereas now every town has its training school, whilst in three of the chief towns, Larnaca, Nicosia, and Limasol, these are of three grades, and in them are taught history, geography, and Grecian literature, even to the reading of Homer and Xenophon. The prices for these classes are from 100 to 300 marks. Anything over and above this charge is covered by the bishop, and a toll upon the exports and imports of the towns.” In the grammar school at Nicosia, ancient Greek, French, mathematics, history, and geography are taught ; this school is supported partly by the bishops, partly by the aid of subscriptions, and partly by the payments of the pupils. There are also in Nicosia two free schools of mutual instruction on the Lancasterian system, and a school for girls. In Larnaca there is a grammar
* See Mrs. Joyner's translation of Herr Von Löher's work on Cyprus; Appendix, page 295. (774) I 2
school, a Lancasterian school, a girls' school, and a school capable
FROM time to time reports concerning the government of Cyprus Civil adminishave reached us through Her Majesty's Consuls in the island, and *tion. they have invariably described it as most unjust and corrupt. In 1845, it was stated that the government was administered by a Pasha from Constantinople, who was changed every year, o: embezzlement and oppression prevailed in every form, that the rapacity of the government officials, and even of the Greek clergy, knew no bounds, that the entire administration of the island deserved the strongest condemnation, and that Cyprus was considered to be the most oppressed part of the Ottoman dominions. In 1854–58 some improvement was reported. The administration was then stated to be on a more satisfactory footing, and the presence of the European Consuls was considered to have contributed towards a more equitable mode of government.
It is, however, more with the character of the government at the time of the occupation by Great Britain that we have here to deal. It appears that the island has lately been governed by an official called the “Mutessurif,” who is sent from Constantinople, and is generally of the rank of Pasha. The Mutessurif is president of the central “Mejlis" or council, which holds its sittings at Nicosia, being assembled whenever summoned by the Pasha, and always once a week; it is the highest civil and criminal tribunal, and its decisions are embodied in documents called “musbata,” which are signed by all the members present. The council is composed of thirteen members besides the Pasha, of these, nine are Mussulmans and four are Christians; of the former, six sit in virtue of their office, viz.:-"
The Mufti, or highest Mussulman religious authority.
The Mal-i-Mudiri, or treasurer and financial agent.
The Administrator of Mortmain property.
The Administrator of Crown Lands.
The Public Registrar.
The number is made up by three Mahomedan representatives of the town.
* This list is from the reports of Consuls White and Sand with ; Mr. Lang in a recent contribution to Macmillan's Magazine gives a slightly different composition as follows:–The Pasha : the Mufti, the Greek Archbishop; the Financial agent; the Evcnf-nazir, or ndministrator of Mussulman religious property; three Mussulman and two Christian notables, making only ten in all.
The Christian members of the council are:–
The Archbishop of Cyprus, who sits ex-officio.
This court takes cognizance of all matters of an administrative or financial character connected with taxes, tithes, and customs duties, also such civil suits as do not immediately concern questions of inheritance, as these fall within the Cadi's jurisdiction, or, in the case of Christians, are managed by their own ecclesiastics; it further considers appeals made from the district courts of the island.
The island has been hitherto divided into six districts which are governed by “Kaimakams,” who are aided by councils, and who report to the governor. There is a further subdivision of the island into sixteen minor districts, or “cazas,” of which the chief functionaries are called “mudirs.”
The following are the names of the districts and sub-districts:—
It is reported that the administrative and judicial affairs of the Kaimakamliks are managed by two courts, viz., the Mejlis Idari and the Mejlis Davi; the former is the administrative council, and is composed of eight members, of whom five are Mussulmans and three are Christians, as follows:—the Kaimakam as president, the Cadi as judge, the Christian Bishop of the district, three Mussulmans and two Christians elected by the people. The Mejlis Davi has five members, viz., the Cadi as president, two Christians and two Mussulmans. This tribunal disposes up to the sum of 5,000 piastres, and can inflict punishment for a period not exceeding three months. The Mejlis of Tidjaret, or commercial tribunal, sits at Larnaca, and has six Turkish and six European members. From the large Mussulman majority in the council of the Mutessurif, it is very evident that no initiative can be taken by the Christian members, and as the Pasha had power, if dissatisfied with the selection of any particular elected representative member, to compel him to resign his seat, and can appoint another in his place, any member who makes himself obnoxious by voting against the Mussulman majority can easily be got rid of. The subservience of the members to the wishes of the government is further increased by the fact that the salaries which they draw are distributed by the Pasha, consequently the council has proved to be no protection whatever against the evils of an inactive administration, for not only are the Christian representatives in reality, though not avowedly, the choice of the governor and the Kaimakams, but, should any of them maintain an independent attitude by checking abuses, they would inevitably be deprived of their seats. Thus, in the council where all the most important interests of the country are adjudicated, and which is the tribunal at which all appeals from inferior courts are finally decided, there are nine members to represent the Mussulman element and interests; viz., one-fourth of the population and one-sixth of the property; whilst only four members guard the interests of the remaining important majority, whilst over all a Mussulman functionary of the highest rank in the island exercises his important influence. Consul Sandwith, in a report of 1867 upon the condition of
the Christians in Cyprus, notices these facts, but says that it would not, however, be fair to draw the conclusion that justice is always denied to Christians, though such an inference might appear to justified by the constitution of the several courts, and also from the fact that the rejection of the evidence of Christians is one of the fundamental Mussulman laws. The following quotation from his
report indicates clearly the position in which the Christians in Cyprus have hitherto been situated as regards the administration of justice.
“It must not be forgotten that the members of the Courts are open to bribery, and the rich Christian suitor is often more than a match for his poor Mussulman adversary. The civil disabilities, too, under which the Christians lie are materially mitigated by the important circumstance that they are the wealthiest class in the island, being the principal landowners, and, in trade, no less than in agriculture, possess a pre-eminence over the Mahomedans. Enjoying thus the many advantages which accrue from the possession of superior wealth as well as intelligence, they are not unfrequently able to induce the local Councils to accept their evidence against Mahomedans. This is especially the case in places where the latter are few and poor, and dependent, it may be, on the Christians for their means of living. In such cases, it may truly be said that the Christians get justice for themselves, and in spite of the spirit of the institutions provided for that purpose by Government. It is in the capital, where the most important causes are heard, that they labour under the greatest disadvantages, for there alone is observable any spirit of Mussulman fanaticism, the rest of the country being singularly free from its baneful influence. The Mussulmans having there been long in the ascendancy, in the possession of considerable property, and their exclusive spirit kept alive by the presence of the Government, which is more or less animated by jealousy of Christian influence, and the members of which are constantly recruited from Constantinople, a certain hostility to the Greek opulation displays itself, the more remarkable from its absence elsewhere. Y. is of the utmost importance, therefore, that the Medjlis which holds it sittings there, should fairly represent the interests of all parties in the island, its members being chosen from its several districts, instead of, as at present, from the town itself, and provision should be particularly made that it be not overweighted by the presence of so many as seven irremovable Turkish functionaries. “The two Courts where Christian evidence is received, are, first, the Medjlis el Tahkik, where the more important criminal and police cases are