PP/GC/CA/244 Letter from Sir S.Canning to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning his dispute with Colonel Rose at the British embassy in Constantinople, 31 December 1851
Letter from Sir Stratford Canning, [British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], Therapia, [Turkey], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "On reading over my letter to you of the 26th [December 1851] I am struck with the difficulty of doing justice to myself on ground of so delicate a description. [f.1v] When there is no question of preferring regular charges, it is better, generally speaking, to be silent. In the present case, I am called upon to give explanations with respect to a complaint brought against myself, and attended with consequences annoying to me and contingently prejudiced to [f.2r] the public service. If I keep silent, I expose myself to the suspicion of having been influenced by wrong or insufficient motives. If I go into the causes of that reserve, which was the real origin of Colonel Rose's discontent, I may incur the reproach of making clandestine intimations to his disadvantage. This [f.2v] embarrassment was, I thought, to be avoided in the public service by trust in the character and consideration for the credit, convenience and opinion of the local chief, whether general, governor, admiral or ambassador. I was myself deprived of the embassy to Russia [f.3r] on the bare plea of 'non amo te'. The only use of a secretary of embassy, according to general practice, is to act for the ambassador in case of his absence or retirement. The present secretary I could neither employ with comfort, nor leave with satisfaction. The Turkish ministers [f.3r] dislike his appointment in no slight degree. A consul acquires independent habits which make him but little fit for the necessary restraints of an embassy. Remember too that I have daughters, grown or [f.3v] growing up, and it is not pleasant to hear both from Syria and London that Colonel Rose had views to marriage in seeking his present post. Had time permitted you to look closely into the 'Djibran' papers, I think you might have perceived indications [f.4r] of something more than an abstract love of justice. A violence of temper, which makes servants unwilling to stay and which has caused one of them to complain of having a knife thrown at his head, might account for much of the zeal so opportunely displayed: [f.4v] a spirit of persecution so keen as to overleap the most palpable considerations of propriety and service, is not without its inconveniences. In short, my diplomatic experience of more than forty years suggests no similar case, and I must think myself fairly entitled [f.5r] to complain, if I am to be made the victim, without any apparent necessity, of so vexatious an anomaly. Official respect has restrained me * from * \ in / answering your ex cathedra distribution of rooms in the embassy house at Pera, though you have evidently gone [f.5v] upon the erroneous supposition of my intending to exclude Colonel Rose altogether, and although the dispatch appears to sanction the novelty of an official correspondence between a subordinate member of the embassy and the secretary of state, independent of the ambassador. [f.6r] It would be idle to say more. If you refuse me the consideration, which I seem to have earned from the public, you will, in fact, disable me from serving longer under you with honor. You need not risk committing an act [f.6v] of injustice, as means of employment elsewhere are pretty constantly at your disposal. At all counts there is no room for mistake, and I await your earliest decision." 31 Dec 1851 The letter is marked: "Very private" and was received on 1 February 1851. The earlier letter referred to is numbered PP/GC/243. The paragraph alluding to Canning's continuance in service has been underlined in pencil, possibly by Palmerston.
Four papers
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Sir Stratford Canning, later first Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, British ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Ottoman Empire, Sublime Porte
Diplomatic appointments, protocol
Colonel Hugh Henry Rose, later first Baron Strathnairn, secretary of the British embassy at Constantinople
Djibran, an Abyssinian servant of Colonel Rose in Constantinople
Sir Stratford Canning: his diplomatic career, appointment as ambassador at Moscow refused by the Tsar
Louisa Charlotte Canning, daughter of Sir Stratford Canning
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