PP/GC/CA/214 Letter from Sir S.Canning to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the Sublime Porte's lack of progress in reform, the employment of Poles and Hungarians in the Turkish army, and Turkish ships visiting British ports, 20 May 1850
Letter from Sir Stratford Canning, [British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at] Constantinople, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "An illness, which kept Reschid Pasha at home for ten days and from which he is not quite recovered may explain the reports which have lately prevailed of his being less in favour. He has seen the Sultan, and been well received. It is, nevertheless, true that some differences of opinion have lately existed between him and the Sultan's two brothers in law, which [f.1v] though denied by the latter and now made up, are not unlikely in the end to prove troublesome. The truth is that matters are not going on prosperously. The Porte is losing a precious time for improvement and preparation. Little or nothing is done. There is a considerable deficit in the revenue, and the committee of finance, which is sitting on a budget for the ensuing year, does not seem to hatch its egg. Reschid accuses the Sultan of timidity, and too much consideration for people of opinions less enlarged than his own. But Reschid himself errs in the same manner, which he has grace enough [f.2r] to agree with me that an extra effort must be made to bring the Sultan's mind into a more courageous and decisive course of policy. I am prepared for this enterprize, acting in concert with him, but endeavouring to keep him steady and up to the mark. The procrastination of the Porte continues to be quite insupportable; but I have obtained the commencement of an inquiry into the causes of it. The Vizier lays a portion of the mischief at Aali Pasha's door. Mr O'Reilly has left us for Paris, if not London. His scheme is altogether unpracticable for the present. I was ready [f.2v] to assist him in getting into the Turkish service as a military inspector, but success was doubtful, and he did not seem to be sufficiently interested in the prospect. He saw the exiles at Kutahia, and General Dembinsky at Broussa. The latter has given him a memorial for you, with reference, it would seem, to a great military plan for Turkey. Mr O'Reilly was persuaded that Dembinski had only to speak the word to be made Seraskier of the Turkish armies. But the Grand Vizier assures me than no such plan is in contemplation, and I do not see how it can be in the General's present circumstances, [f.2v] when, if an Austrian he is to be detained, and if a Russian, to be sent about his business. I doubt whether the Porte is quite prudent in receiving so many Poles and Hungarians into her military service. She wants preparation and improvement, but in more effectual ways and with less excitement of imperial jealousy. But the poor devils are in such distress that it would be cruel to deprive them of their only means of subsistence. I hope that you will not be embarrassed by the Turkish ships destined to visit Portsmouth [f.3v] and Woolwich. On the arrival of your dispatch with the Admiralty's interdiction, I found that too much progress had been made under Slade's inculcation to admit of an entire veto, especially as a vessel was also preparing for Toulon. My share in the business was confined to a welcome reception given to the proposal when it was originally introduced. I learn from Mr Morris's dispatches that Urquhart has been playing one of his pantomimes in Mount Lebanon. I presume he has left the country by this [f.4r] time, but I have endeavoured to give the Porte a correct notion of his tricks. There seems to have been a something of Cobden in his fancy, but on the lowest conceivable scale. The late American charge d'affaires, Mr Brown, being on his departure for America on conge, has caught a young Turk in the arsenal and carries him out to the United States as a first specimen of the genus, Mussulman, ever seen in Yankeeland, and probably with the hope of his reports in due season engendering more intimate relations, and perhaps even a reciprocation of diplomatists between the two countries. [f.4v] The Americans, considering their distance, appear to take an almost unnatural interest in these oriental countries, whether in a commercial or in a religious sense." 20 May 1850 [Postscript] "Your furniture instructions have been difficult to execute owing to the things already put up or ordered by Mr Smith, in many respects in the worst possible taste, yet not the less on that account requiring conformity. It is really time that the concern should be finished not only for occupation but for reception on a proper scale". 20 May 1850 The letter is marked: "Private".
Two 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; Constantinople: army, military, navy, ships
Reschid Mustapha Pasha, alias Reshid Mustafa Pasha, Grand Vizier
Abdul Mejid, alias Abd al-Majid, Ottoman Sultan
Tanzimat; Turkish reform movement; westernisation; organisation; administration, trade
Aali Pasha, alias Ali Pacha, Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Eugene O'Reilly, Irish nationalist and mercenary soldier
Austrian empire
Refugees, exiles, fugitives from Hungary
General Henryk Dembinski, Polish nationalist: his participation in the Hungarian uprising
Seraskier or Turkish minister of war
Turkey; relations with Great Britain
Adolphus Slade, later Sir Adolphus Slade
David Urquhart, formerly assistant to Sir Stratford Canning
Mr Morris, ?British diplomat at Mount Lebanon
Shumla, alias Shumna or Shumen, later Kolarovgrad, Bulgaria
Richard Cobden, Member of Parliament for the West Riding of Yorkshire Adate=20/05/1850
Major John P.Browne, American charge d'affaires at Constantinople
Great Britain: relations with America
American orientalism
British embassy at Constantinople, furnishings, equipment, taste, style
Kutahya, alias Kutahia, Turkey
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