The problems in Turkey - which has seen tens of thousands of protesters on the streets of Istanbul in recent days - have put me in mind of a story Charles Péguy tells in one of his early pieces for La Revue socialiste in 1897. Turkey after all has often been the witness to serious upheaval, not least in the early twentieth century when the Ottoman government set about exterminating its Armenian minority.
The Armenians in fact had been under pressure for several decades, and certainly as far back as the events which Péguy relates in his article. Armenians had been murdered in Diyarbekir in the winter of 1895-6 as part of the notorious Hamidian massacres.
Madame Meyrier knew the dangers. Kurdish mercenaries stood between Diyarbekir and the Turkish coast which was a fifteen day journey by horse. She also had four small children to look after, one of whom she was breast feeding. Undaunted, she set off with some 300 refugees, several hundred horses and all her children. The regional governor offered a military escort but only for her and her family. She decided, therefore, to send her three eldest children to the head of the column while she stayed in the rearguard. From time to time, she would climb aboard the bier on which the children were being carried and feed her baby. Nights in the camp were tense, and sometimes Madame Meyrier had to do the rounds late into the evening to calm down the various groups.
At Birecik at the crossing of the Euphrates, things got even uglier than they had been until then.
Through a region in chaos, through gangs of Kurds and Cherkess, and following a fortnight's journey, they finally arrived safely on the coast. And without further ado, the consul's wife ushered the whole company onto a ship and embarked last of all.
The Meyriers eventually returned to France.
Today's troubles in Turkey are considerably less serious of course. Yet, on the far side of Turkey from Diyabekir, beyond the blue waters of the Bosphorus, more trouble is brewing by the day.