PP/GC/PO/183 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the Russian treaty with Turkey, overland route to India, the French attitude to Turkey, Austrian and Prussian alliance with Russia, Russian instigation of the Greek war of independence, governorship of Candia, and the new house for ambassador at Constantinople, 12 February 1834
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby,[British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], [Constantinople], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "My despatch contains communications to me from the Reis Effendi through the regular channel of our dragoman, which I send to corroborate the intelligence I have furnished you with, derived from other sources. I now enclose a note which is very important as evidence of what will be the conduct of the leading men of this country. The first part of it alludes to the information I gave respecting the notes on the subject of Ricord's squadron and [f.1v] the operation of treaty of 8th July. I have secured and I enclose a copy of the answer the Porte will give to that concerning Ricord's passage. I have not had anything touching the treaty which I take to be a difficult thing to manage with the Russian minister. I have told the Porte that I only desired the answer to be so worded as not to force me to take any steps at present and I have thus acted knowing that you desire to gain time, and preserving your main view for the present with respect to that note is to record your [f.2r] protest or rather to take ground for further proceedings whenever you may like to go on. You will see how much pleased the Sultan is. I do not pretend to say whether or not he is sincere but I think it impossible that he must not be in his heart adverse to Russia, and I do believe he would be ready to go with you if he had a reasonable hope of success. His ministers' have spoken out as appears both in the Reis Effendi's communications to me and in what is stated in the note I have been speaking of. [f.2v] * [illegible] of the troops [illegible] *. I hardly expect to learn what is the amount of territory taken from Turkey by the arrangement forced on Ahmed Pacha at Petersburgh, we know enough as it is, to shew the true nature of Russian's benevolence etc. I believe it \ may / be intended also to [the next fourteen words are underlined in pencil on the manuscript] approach our route from Trebisend into Persia where there is growing up a large commerce of which the Russians have deprived themselves by their conduct. You will bear in mind what [f.3r] I told you respecting Silistria. I will repeat it. The Russians have settled that the money due by the Sultan for which Silistria is in pledge, shall be paid by instalments so that the total debts shall not be liquidated till the expiration of eight years - by this arrangement Russia will hold the key of European Turkey for eight years longer and will boast of having conferred a favour on the Sultan by having delayed the period of his payments. [f.3v] Broglie's speeches have astonished us here, and will be used by the Austrian and Russian ministers to shake the faith of the Porte in the union between England and France. I was very happy to find Admiral Roussin ready and even eager to put in our official notes, notwithstanding the Duc's speech, and in spite of the view taken by the disposition of the French government by Monsieur Bois Le Comte and the bulk of all the French embassy, who all believe that the French [f.4r] is strongly indisposed to vigorous measures, that is to say, ready to yield to Russia, if Russian should use soft words and make promises. Monsieur Bois Le Comte is the leader in this, and no doubt has directed all his correspondence with de Broglie to the production of a similar view of things in his merit. I have no opinion of Bois Le Comte, though I believe him to be a most assiduous collector of facts. He has a very large [f.4v] stock of provisions, a pretty good skill in cookery, but a bad digestion. I have ceased to be confident that [the next four words are underlined in ink on the manuscript] it is the interest of Austria to oppose Russian establishment at Constantinople; and I confess I incline to the contrary opinion. Austria and Prussia also see in France the only powerful enemy to their security in the enjoyment of Italy and the provinces on the Rhine, and of their darling despotic power. They will perhaps think that Russia in [the next seventeen words are underlined in pencil on the manuscript] possession of that country would have both greater inclination [f.5r] infinitely greater means to aid them against France in case of need and undoubtedly possessed of those \ means / [this insertion was written in pencil on the manuscript] for making such diversion of the forces of France as would be of the highest advantage to her enemies. I confess I think it would be so. [The next twenty six words are underlined in pencil on the manuscript] Metternich may think that by sharing with Russia in the spoils of Turkey he shall secure himself against the undivided exertion of French power against him, because France be exposed to attack from Russia, when masters of this post [f.5v], whilst as things are such attacks are impossible. Prussia may think the same, and justly - so that the mere territorial interest of both may obtain additional security in the vital parts of their dominions, whilst the aggrandizement of Russia is the eastern region would be compensated by a large aggrandizement of the one Austria, [this word is bracketed in pencil on the manuscript] and would have no direct evil consequence for the other, Prussia, [this word is bracketed in pencil on the manuscript] and all three would be benefited by the great general [f.6r] increase of power of resistance against French principles. I doubt then, more and more of the possibility of trusting to Austria as the guarantee of any arrangement, though I will continue to hope that the ancient policy of Austria, binding her to England, will operate still upon her conduct and that she may think it unwise to abandon an ally whose interest it will always be to support her unless she makes common cause with those who endeavour to strike [f.6v] at the welfare of England. Appearances, however, are all against this and Sturmer's conduct is certainly such as to make one think Metternich \ is / sold body and mind to Russia. If it be so, Austria will endeavour to procure the acceptance of some mezzo termine which shall leave \ to / her the means of permitting Russia to act whenever a favourable opportunity offers, and that will probably be as soon as England and France shall have disarmed; and then the blow [f.7r] may be struck which will put all of Europe in danger and make a war of propaganda necessary and justifiable. Do pray turn your thoughts for a minute to what Russia has done in Greece ! Russia originated the revolution there, to enfeeble Turkey. She completed it for the same purpose and now she tries to disturb the settlements there in pursuit of her constant * and * aim. See what her late intrigue has shown her power to be. I prey, never believe that [f.7v] the Greek will resist bribery in wholesale or retail ! Russia will carry the nation with her by offering increase of territory, and the individuals by putting money in their purse. If Russia should be allowed to occupy Turkey during six months, Greece would be more hers than it was ever Otho's, and with Greece being a bulwark, being so easily defensible by boats and small graft, might not the maritime means of England [f.8r] be infinitely less formidable to Russia and need France expect to be long what she now is in the Mediterranean sea ? Nobody can over state the marine element [underlined in ink on the document] contained in Turkey and Greece and I fear we ourselves shall rue the day we suffer those resources to fall into the hands of Russia. It seems to me that if you are resolute Russia must yield, that if Austria will mind her own business and not interfere there is not danger of a general [f.8v] war. We could shut up Russia by our blockades in the most comfortable manner and not a single soldier need be employed. I presume Russia could out support the total interrupter of her trade by the sound and the Dardanelles. I have said in previous letters that I incline to think of the Sultan's attempts to have two strings to his bow and I now repeat advisedly that I believe he would be glad to be ours [underlined in ink on the manuscript] if he could be so without great danger. I beg you will observe [f.9r] how carefully I have guarded against making any promise to the Sultan of support though I have studiously shown him that England is deeply interested in supporting his independence and cannot ever permit Turkey to the avowed or secret property of Russia. I wish Candia may be an arrangeable matter. I think the late Russian intrigue at Greece may make new difficulties. The \ embassy / house ! ! Prey." 12 Feb 1834 This letter is marked: "Private". It arrived on 9 March 1834. Enclosed is a copy of notes of a meeting between ? Prince Vogorides and the Porte on behalf of Lord Ponsonby: [Transcript] [f.10r] "I called today, as you requested on our friend and read to him the contents of yours note of yesterday the entire of which was taken down for translation. He requested me to communicate the following information to your Lordship; 'The Sultan, after having read the report of my last conversation with His Excellency the ambassador, wrote to this ministers saying "the last interview of the Prince Vogorides with ambassador merits the [f.10v] serious consideration I am sensible of the condescension and confidence of the ambassador in agreeing to an understanding with us on the nature and tenor of the answer which we are to give to the 'note'. He directed the ministers (i.e. the Kiahaya Bey and Reis Effendi) to prepare the answer and to return the report to him after having perused it with attention. The report was returned to His Highness as directed. [f.11r] Private [underlined in ink on the manuscript] information from our friend [underlined in ink on the manuscript]. The Reis Effendi said in conversation with him 'we are certain that when England determines to defend us, that she is in a state to do so, but in all the struggles we have sustained with Russia during 50 years we have always [the next eight words have been marked on the manuscript in pencil] in the end been abandoned to our fate - it is for that reason that we are afraid to put ourselves forward.' The Kiahaya Bey said [this sentence is underlined in ink on the manuscript] 'It is only when we bear the cannon roaring on the Baltic that we begin.' Our friend particularly requests that your lordship will [f.11v] send in the note with as little delay as possible in order to prevent any suspicions arising on the part of Russia as to any understanding betwixt the Porte and you. I enclose to you the Turkish translation [underlined in ink on the manuscript] of the note and [the next five words are underlined in ink on the manuscript] the answer of the Porte to the same for your Lordship's approval and correction. [The next sentence is underlined in ink on the manuscript]. You are particularly requested to return it in due time." 7 Feb 1834 Written on this document is "Secret communications made to Lord Ponsonby".
Six papers
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John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Ottoman empire, Sublime Porte: economy, debt, trade, colonies, provinces, regions
Akif Muhammad Effendi, alias Akiff Mehmed Pasha, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Frederic Pisani, dragoman to the British embassy at Constantinople
Admiral Ricord, Russian resident
Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi or Hunkar Iskelesi between Russia and Turkey, signed on 8 July 1833
Ahmed Fevzi Pasha, alias Achmed Pasha, Turkish special envoy to St Petersburg
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Silistria or Silistra: Bulgaria
Trebisend or Trebizond: Turkey
Persia: Iran
Achille Charles Leonce Victor de Broglie, Duc de Broglie, French Minister for Foreign Affairs
Bartholomeus, Baron von Sturmer, internuncio or Austrian ambassador at Constantinople
Apollinariy Petrovich Buteniev, alias Butenev, Russian envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Admiral Albin Reine, Baron Roussin, French ambassador at Constantinople
Charles Edmond, Comte Bois Le Comte, French diplomat
Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Prince Metternich-Winneburg, Chancellor of Austria
Greek war of independence
Greece, Greeks: borders, corruption, bribes
Otto or Otho I, King of Greece, formerly Prince Otto of Bavaria
Candia: Crete, ruler, governorship, constitution
Stephen Vogorides, Prince of Samos, known in Turkey as Istefanaki Bey
Pertev Mehmed Seid Pasha, alias Muhammad Said Pertew, Kiahaya Bey or Turkish Minister of the Interior
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