PP/GC/CA/227 Letter from Sir S.Canning to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, suggesting action against anti Christian outbreaks in Syria and referring to the timidity of the Sultan towards reforms, British gunners for the Turkish navy and the despatch of the Sultan's doctor to the embassy at Vienna, 20 November 1850
Letter from Sir Stratford Canning, [British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], Therapia, [Turkey], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "I hope you will find yourself at liberty to bring the five powers, or at least two or three of them, together for the purpose of a joint declaration to the Porte in consequence of the late anti-Christian outrages. It would not only have a salutary effect for the immediate object of the step and occupy ground which Russian might take up alone, but I think it would help me considerably in the separate, though [f.1v] larger, enterprize of cleansing this more than Augean stable. I have just had news of Reschid who is gone to town for the season. He is reported to be in high spirits and full of friendly manifestations towards me. The successes in Syria and Bosnia have set him up. When I saw him a few days ago, he was very low and a little inclined to be querulous. His constitution is not made for hard work or trying circumstances. He throws all difficulties about the memorandum upon the Sultan, and assures me that the [f.2r] brothers-in-law evidently spoke of His Majesty's sentiments at the cabinet meeting. This may or may not be true. I shall, however, try to make the Sultan apprehensive of being found out. Those who see most of him say that he is not only timid, but full of duplicity. I have had no reason in the course of my personal communications with him to think so; but it may well be the case with anyone on such a throne. Reschid expects to be turned out on the `reform question', when it is passed home, and he assures me of his readiness to make every sacrifice short of life. I hope to test his sincerity without endangering [f.2v] his office; though if he does not set his treasury to rights and shew more pluck, he may fall without any help from me. Your policy with respect to Egypt will, of course, command my attention; but you must excuse my entertaining some little mistrust of consular impressions in political matters. Artin Bey is still here. He lives in retirement at a relation's house. I have not seen him for some time. When he comes here I listen to all that he has to say and when he was here as Abbas' minister, I turned him [f.3r] to account, as you may remember, for the questions of transit and Christian evidence. Abbas Pasha, however inclined towards us by his present interests, is a regular blackguard, and he may easily put us to shame if our intimacy with him be not conducted without circumspection. If you decide on sending out a couple of gunners, they might be more serviceable if one of them at least was young and unmarried, with a turn for picking up the language, qualities which are not necessarily inconsistent with [f.3v] steadiness of character and good practical knowledge. There has been a small blow-up in the medical department of the Seraglio. The result is the departure of a clever German Jew doctor with a pretty wife in the capacity of second `conseiller' to the Ottoman embassy at Vienna. Various conjectures are afloat; amongst others that the late Nekkim Basdee had taken measures for poisoning his successor, that the lady was in fault and required change of scene, that the doctor had been too much given to [f.4r] intrigues of another kind; but what is the only point of interest, I cannot succeed in finding out whether the diplomatic appointment was the object or consequence of the doctor's detachment from the Seraglio, where he had a capital position both as to salary and consideration." The doctor's name is Spitzin." 20 Nov 1850 The letter is marked: "Private" and it is noted on the docket that it was answered on 8 December 1850. PP/GC/CA/300 is a copy of Palmerston's letter in reply.
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: navy, arms, fleet
Tanzimat; Turkish reform movement; westernisation
Reschid Mustapha Pasha, alias Reshid Mustafa Pasha, Grand Vizier
Abdul Mejid, alias Abd al-Majid, Ottoman Sultan
Damat Mehemet Ali Pasha, brother-in-law of the Ottoman Sultan
Damat Ahmed Fethi Pasha, brother-in-law of the Ottoman Sultan
Artim Bey, alias Artin Bey, former Egyptian Minster for Foreign and Commercial Affairs
Turkey: relations with Egypt
Great Britain: relations with Egypt
Abbas Pasha, Viceroy or Pasha of Egypt
Dr Spitzin, former doctor to the Ottoman Sultan, councillor to Turkish embassy at Vienna; Mrs Spitzin
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