PP/GC/PO/160 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning a report that the Porte would not take action if the British fleet entered the Dardanelles, a confidential message from the Reis Effendi and measures to be taken by England and France to prevent war with Russia, 18 or 19 September 1833
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, [British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], Therapia, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "Mr Pisani informed me in confidence of a curious thing said by the Reis Effendi a propos of something stated in the conversation Pisani and he had together on the subject of the treaty. It is no matter how it was introduced. The Reis said, 'If the British squadron were to insist upon passing the Dardanelles, we would not oppose it by force, we would only protest against the act'. The Reis added, 'I say this to you as my private friend, in confidence, and not to the British dragoman'. I reported to you a long time [f.1v] ago, the desire expressed then by the Reis Effendi, that 'he could see the English fleet at Constantinople'. I cannot divest myself of suspicion that he intended Pisani should tell me what he said about the Dardanelles. The Reis Effendi sent me word that the Russians had forced the Porte to determine on making an official and written reply to your protest. It will probably consist of the arguments already put forward by the Chiahaya Bey, which are taken word for word from Monsieur Boutineff's representations to the Porte. I had a message from the Reis [f.2r] Effendi by a confidential agent, urging me to say something that might be stated to the Sultan as an engagement on our part to prevent Mehemet Ali injuring him, which he said ministers wished to have as an arm against the Russians who kept up their complete control over the Sultan's mind by filling it with fear of that Pasha and suspicion of a connection between him and England and France. I directed the messenger to say he had delivered the message and that I had not made any reply to it. I, however, confidentially told him that [f.2v] I would not give any such engagements. The Baron Roussin believes Mehemet Ali will be inactive, that the universal disaffection of the nation to the Sultan will lead to nothing. He gathers this from his dragoman, a man in whose opinion I place no value. I fear peace cannot be long preserved with Mehemet Ali. Interest and passion are both at work to destroy it, Russia must interfere if hostilities recommence and their first act will be to seize the Dardanelles and order the Sultan to prohibit the passage of your fleet and the French. The results will be war, or disgrace to you and loss of your [f.3r] commanding influence at home and in France where the people will not submit to the enormous encreas [increase] of Russian power in the Mediterranean. Think what it will be to have to support a war with Constantinople actually in the hands of Russia. If your fleets were ordered to pass up the strait and anchor in the Bosphorous, the reoccupation of this country by Russia would be impossible. The ships you have already here are enough, secrecy and dispatch alone are necessary to success. The Turks, encouraged by your presence, would [f.3v] do everything to resist Russians still more detested than the Sultan. Russia, by means of a treaty imposed * by them for * working on the fears of the Sultan, has closed the Dardanelles against you and France. It is Russia that has done it. You are injured and insulted by the act and may not England and France repay it in kind and force the Sultan to close the Bosphorous against Russia ? I know you will excuse my talking in this free way to you. [f.4r] I do not pretend to judge of your views of politicks formed with a knowledge of all the varied circumstances that exist in the world at large, but I have a very, very strong opinion that you cannot escape a war unless you cut short the question here. I send home some communications with the Reis Effendi to which you can, if you like, give an official character, I mean make despatches of them. I add the instruction I gave Pisani relative to the communication [altered] of the separate article. I had in view to force the [f.4v] disclosure of the part the Russians had in its formation, etc. I think I have succeeded. You will see from the construction of an Arabic word that the pretext set up by Cheahaye Bey is destroyed. I have sent a copy of treaty 8 July to Sir J.Campbell, envoy in Persia, and told him the nature of separate article." 18 Sep 1833 or 19 Sep 1833 This letter is marked: "Private". It is docketed as dated 18 September 1833, but the letter itself is dated 19 September 1833. The docket notes that the letter was copied for Lord Grey.
Three papers
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Charles Grey, second Earl Grey, British Prime Minister
Ottoman empire, Sublime Porte
Frederic Pisani, dragoman to the British embassy at Constantinople
Akif Muhammad Effendi, alias Akiff Mehmed Pasha, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Pertev Mehmed Seid Pasha, alias Muhammad Said Pertew, Chiahaya Bey or Kiahaya Bey, Turkish Minister of the Interior
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Bosphorous, alias Bosporus
Apollinariy Petrovich Buteniev, alias Butenev or Boutineff, Russian envoy extraordinary and minister plenipoteniary at Constantinople
Muhammad Ali Pasha alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Admiral Albin Reine, Baron Roussin, French ambassador at Constantinople
Monsieur la Pierre, dragoman to the French embassy at Constantinople
Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi or Hunkar Iskelesi between Russia and Turkey, signed on 8 July 1833
Sir John Nicoll Robert Campbell, British envoy, later consul general and plenipotentiary, at Teheran
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