PP/GC/CA/196 Letter from Sir S.Canning to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning Austrian complaints about the British fleet being in the Dardanelles, reform in the Ottoman empire, relations between the British embassy and the Sublime Porte, allegations of financial irregularity against the internuncio, and plots by the Austrians against the Hungarian refugees, 5 January 1850
Letter from Sir Stratford Canning, [British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], Therapia, [Turkey], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "My closing dispatch of last year has reference more especially to Prince Schwartzenberg's instruction to Baron Koller covering his protest about the Dardanelles. If Aali's answer to my second question cannot be quite taken as a flat contradiction of the Prince's assertion, it shows at least in what a spirit of malevolence and exaggeration the whole affair has been conducted. You are too well acquainted with the shuffling ways of the Turks, even of the best of them, [f.1v] to be surprized at any appearance of equivocation in our friend Aali's language. According to his own account on a former occasion, he spoke out handsomely enough to the two imperial badgerers, and Lord Bloomfield's correspondence bears witness to the spirited manner in which he had instructed Fuad Effendi to speak out too. I repeat the expression of my sincere regret that you should have had any trouble on this vexatious subject, but it would hardly be fair to lose sight of the situation at the time, and to consider it with reference only to the present moment when the question is brought quietly into port. The rumours and appearances of something violent on the side of Russia were puzzling [f.2r] in the extreme, and how should we have looked if a smash had taken place here without an English gun on the spot, when hundreds of such guns were waiting for a signal at the Dardanelles ? Excuse me when I state my conviction that, when the decision hour arrives, the treaty will either swamp our assistance or be blown to pieces. Allow me also to remind you of an expression in your principal dispatch announcing the approach of the squadron. Your caution is there directed against its `going up through' the Dardanelles, intimating, apparently, that a distinction was taken in your mind between going into and passing through. The whole passage indeed may be understood to imply that, in case of urgent danger and a [f.2v] consequent invitation from the Porte, our formal respect for the treaty could not be expected to stand in the way. The Porte, I apprehend, will never be the first to declare war against Russia, and with Russia the word the blow will never be far apart. Reschid has made me no further communication on the subjects of alliance and reform. When Mr Alison had occasion to see him in private six days ago, his language, though only allusive, implied perseverance in his original intentions. Without a real progress in reform and the adoption of three or four decisive measures, nothing effective will be accomplished. At present it looks as if Reschid [f.3r] either humbugged me or was himself humbugged by the Sultan. I am assured by a very knowing Greek in Reschid's confidence that there is more of the former than of the latter element in the case. After so much excitement, I think it prudent to keep quiet for several days. The Russians are on the look out, and it may be well to lull their suspicions. About the middle of the month, I hope we shall have got over our difficulties with the `palace' so far as to lodge the whole embassy, tout bien que mal, within its walls, and then it will be natural for me to visit the Grand Vizier and his colleagues with the advantage of being [f.3v] able to bring them to book without drawing attention. The late discussions added to my distance from the city, and the badness of the weather here greatly retarded all business but that of the most ordinary kind, and I shall have no small trouble in getting up the lee way. Alliance or not, the time, I conceive, is close at hand when the long talked of questions of reform and the commercial differences must be brought to a definite point in one sense or another. Poor Sturmer appears to have got into a regular scrape, and this was the probable cause of his visit to Aali Pasha yesterday. An unlucky article in some newspaper has represented [f.4r] him to have asked for, and taken, a sum of money from the Sultan in lieu of a diamond snuff box sent to him by His Majesty, in return for a present of his library, intended for the university new building at Constantinople. The fact is as here stated. The Grand Vizier told me of it at the time, and amused me greatly with the idea of the hundred or hundred and ten thousand piastres having been paid to the internuntio about three days after the interruption of official relations had commenced. Sturmer is now called \ upon / to give a formal dementi to the charge, which I am assured that he is proceeding to do by means of a concerted paragraph in the JOURNAL DE CONSTANTINOPLE. I am led to expect a personal explanation from him, similar to what he has already addressed [f.4v] to Titoff and Aupick, his explanation prudently stopping, as I am told, at the point of the grateful donation of the snuff box. His connection with another less amiable plot [against Louis Kossuth] would seem to be limited to giving his sanction to such preparatory steps or applications as were necessary without an exact knowledge of their object on his part. The new consul general is accused of being the principle agent in the business. My efforts to obtain additional information have not yet been very successful, but I am still on the track and do not despair of earthing the iniquity at last." 5 Jan 1850 This letter is marked: "Private".
Three papers
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Sir Stratford Canning, later first Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Turkey; Ottoman empire; Sublime Porte: trade, commerce
Felix, Prince Schwarzenberg, President of the Austrian Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs, formerly Austrian minister at Naples and at St Petersburg
Auguste, Baron Koller, Austrian charge d'affaires at London
Ali Pasha or Aali Pasha, Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
John Arthur Douglas Bloomfield, second Baron Bloomfield, British envoy at St Petersburg
Fuad Mehemed Pasha, alias Fuat Effendi, Turkish envoy to St Petersburg
Reschid Mustapha Pasha, alias Reshid Mustafa Pasha, Grand Vizier
Tanzimat; Turkish reform movement, westernisation, administration, army, troops, improvements
Charles Alison or Allison, oriental secretary at the British embassy at Constantinople
Abdul Mejid, alias Abd al-Majid, Ottoman Sultan
Anglo-Turkish alliance
Bartholomeus, Baron von Sturmer, internuncio or Austrian ambassador at Constantinople
Present giving to the Sultan or Sublime Porte, official gifts
Ottoman Imperial University or Dar ul Funun-u Osmani, later known as Istanbul University
Vladimir Pavlovich Titov, alias Titoff, Russian ambassador at Constantinople
General Jacques Aupick, French ambassador at Constantinople
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