PP/GC/PO/134 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the truce of the Emir of the Druse with Ibrahim Pasha after the fall of Acre, 13 January 1833
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, [outgoing British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at] Naples, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: he has met Sheikh Stephano Habesh, a Maronite priest and agent of Emir Beschir of the Druse, who has given him some intelligence about Syria. Ponsonby does not know the veracity of this intelligence. Stephano does have a good reputation and has been long employed at Rome in the conduct of religious affairs between the Pope and the Emir. Stephano said that, with the fall of Acre to Ibrahim Pasha, the Emir wished to avoid the danger of pillage and harm to his people, and so concluded a truce with Ibrahim. The Emir does not wish to overthrow the Sultan under whom the Druse have had a happy and tranquil existence at the expense of a reasonable tribute; in fact, he wishes for the continued success of the Sultan. Stephano "thought Ibrahim not likely to succeed finally, notwithstanding the formidable force under his command, which he asserted to be greater than that under the Grand Visir, and that Ibrahim was like a balloon which would float in the air for a certain time and then fall". He was also of opinion that the European powers would support and save the Sultan if they had time to act. If the Emir Beschir called upon his troops to act in support of the Sultan, their lawful sovereign, he would then have the power to destroy Ibrahim Pasha. This Emir Beschir would do, if it were known that he had the support of the European sovereigns. Nearly twenty thousand of the Emir's men were now acting with Ibrahim. The advance of Ibrahim to Adana and the lapse of time since the capture of Acre now gave the Emir the power to act. Ponsonby thinks that Stephano has exaggerated the number of Druse under the Emir, but a revolt by the Emir's troops would adversely affect Ibrahim Pasha, and could seriously affect the overland supply line from Egypt to Ibrahim. "The Sheick says the main strength of the Pasha of Egypt in the border cities and districts of Syria is derived from the religious character Mehemet Ali has been able to give to the war by having induced the Sheriff of Mecca to contradict and abrogate the excommunication issued by the Sultan against him (the Pasha) and to say that it is the Sultan himself who is the enemy of religion and a man unfit to govern the Musselmen because he has been unable to preserve the barristers he had received from his father, that he had lost Wallachia, Moldavia, Greece, Algiers." 13 Jan 1833 This letter is marked: "Private"
Two papers
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John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, outgoing British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Naples: credentialed as British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Ottoman empire; Sublime Porte; Turkey: army; troops
Ottoman-Egyptian war: invasion of Syria by Egypt
Muhammad Ali, alias Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Sheikh Stephano Habesh, agent of the Emir of the Druse
Emir Beschir or Emir Basir of the Druse: army, troops
Pope Gregory XVI
Acre or St Jean d'Acre: Syria, later Israel
Adana, Turkey: capture by Ibrahim Pasha
Sharif, alias Sheriff, of Mecca: hereditary local governor of Mecca
Algiers: seizure by the French
Greece: independence
Wallachia, later Romania: granted autonomy under Russian protection
Moldavia, later Romania: granted autonomy under Russian protection
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