PP/GC/PO/203 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning his conversations with Baron Sturmer about Russian influence in Turkey and about Mehemet Ali, the payment of agents, British policy towards Turkey, Mehemet Ali's government of Syria, improvements in the Turkish army, and a request to visit Egypt, 20 July 1834
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, [British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: he received Palmerston's letter dated 24 June 1834, and Captain Jones, who will soon travel back [to England] via the steamer at Semlin, will carry back this reply. Ponsonby has been asked by Sturmer, just as Metternich asked Palmerston, about the British squadron in the Mediterranean. He replied, in the same way as Palmerston reported that he did to Metternich. Ponsonby emphasised in his replies to Sturmer the British government's determination not to let Russia unduly influence the Sublime Porte, which Sturmer did not contradict. Wallachia and Moldavia are still totally dependent on Russia, despite the withdrawal of Russian troops from those areas. Sturmer asked about Mehemet Ali, as he has worried about Britain using the Mehemet situation against Austria. "I told him Mehemet must submit to our will and would not dare to move against it that certainly we should protect the Sultan, unless by throwing himself into the arms of Russia should a war arise." Sturmer had said at the start of the conversation how the Russians were acting in good faith in Turkey but Ponsonby said that he was well informed on the subject and consequently did not believe it. Sturmer agreed that the treaty of 8 July 1833 [between Russia and Turkey] "was a great political error committed by Russia", and asked whether it was possible to disarm "the great [illegible]". Ponsonby thought the East was too unsettled to discuss such a thing but that England would want to be secured against Russia's right to act whenever and however she wanted in furthering her ambitions. Ponsonby would not specify how England would achieve this security but probably by negotiation or by war. It was desirable for Austria and England to return to their previous positive relationship. Sturmer admitted that Austria has become worried about the British squadron in the Mediterranean because of reports about it by Baron de Martens, Prussian envoy [this name is underlined in pencil on the manuscript], some of which were not true. Ponsonby has not changed his opinions about Turkey, the idea of England freeing Turkey from Russia has the support of all classes especially the Sultan. His contacts in the Porte, Vogorides and Dr MacGuffog continue to be helpful, Vogorides particularly so he "has more influence as well as more information than any other man in the country". They should pay Vogorides well for his services especially as he will be even more useful when England decides to act on the current situation. Vogorides needs money as he has recently married his daughter to the Prince of the Divan. Ponsonby has asked Vogorides to collect all the hatti sherif's and firmans which give Russia rights in Turkey. A current article which came from the Marseilles semaphore on 11 June 1834, echoes Ponsonby's opinions very closely, which is basically correct but in the illustration of some facts. The Reis Effendi is to have the article translated for the Sultan. The author of the article is, he wrote it to raise his profile in France and will debate the subject when he arrives in Paris. Roussin, the French ambassador, has told Ponsonby that Palmerston will not overtly do anything to rest Turkey from Russia. Ponsonby, obviously cannot make policy but he disagrees which this inactive policy. "You must dispossess Russia of the Crimea" which will not be difficult if it is done quickly, apparently the crops are very good in the Southern provinces of Russia, so the best time for action has already passed. The Turkish population are hostile to Russia but they would change this attitude if Russia did take over. The news from Syria, might show that Mehemet Ali's hold on power is not as strong as previously thought. "There is a desire to conspire against him almost universal in his new dominions." He has heard of Mehemet's new regulations there from Colonel Campbell, and thinks they will join up the opponents of them. The corn and meat monopolies were still in place there on the 12 May 1834 when the goods were auctioned. Mehemet and Ibrahim hold the power in Egypt and Syria and Ibrahim is in a poor state of health "chiefly in consequence of his inebriety". If Ibrahim and Mehemet fall than England will lose a force against Russia but it will strengthen Turkey. Mehemet is seen as the upholder of Islam by the faithful in Turkey, who see the Sultan as almost a giour [non Moslem] by comparison, they might not fight for the Sultan, although the Turkish army is improving greatly. "They fire as well as our own soldiers, they are full of zeal to learn ..... the cavalry is excellent, there are schools to teach the officers." Ponsonby would like to have British officers train the Turkish ones but does not think it is possible. He does not think there is a need to consider Russian feelings about this. He emphasises British support for the Porte's right to do what is right for Turkey whether Russia likes it or not. The squadron of the British fleet at Vourla has shown Turkey and Russia of her determination to act. Ponsonby believes that the Russian army and navy at the Crimea are not in a condition to defend themselves effectively. The Seraskier said he would not let the Sultan in if he visited him under the instigation of the Russians. The Sultan has ordered Halil Pasha to convince the Russians of the need to drop this project. Ponsonby believes that it is possible Roussin was misled by his dragoman into believing the Russian version of the British anchorage in the Bospherous. Ponsonby will try to establish the veracity of the story with the Reis Effendi. He congratulates Palmerston on seeing off the Tory threat to his post. He would like to visit Alexandria to see Mehemet Ali for himself. He apologises for the bad grammar and writing in this letter, which he has not read through "I never do trouble myself much about concords or orthography or anything connected with good writing." 20 Jul 1834 This letter is marked: "Private". It was received on 15 August 1834.
Five papers
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Ottoman Empire, Sublime Porte, Turkey, reform, army, military
Captain Harry David Jones, Royal Engineers, later Lieutenant General Sir Harry David Jones
Bartholomeus, Baron von Sturmer, internuncio or Austrian ambassador to Constantinople
Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Prince Metternich-Winneburg, Chancellor of Austria
Semlin: Yugoslavia
Akif Muhammad Effendi, alias Akiff Mehmed Pasha, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha, leader of the invasion of Acre, and governor of Syria [Damascus and Aleppo], son of Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Baron de Martens, Prussian minister at Constantinople
Stephen Vogorides, Prince of Samos, known in Turkey as Istefanaki Bey
Dr Samuel MacGuffog, physician at the British embassy at Constantinople
Admiral Albin Reine, Baron Roussin, French ambassador at Constantinople
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Campbell, British consul general and agent at Alexandria
Syria: Jerusalem, uprising, revolt, conscription of Christians, taxes, trade, commodities, auctions, grain, produce, sales
Giaour or giour or gower or gaure or gawar or goure or giaur: a term of reproach applied by the Turks to non Mussulmen especially Christians
Husrev Mehmed Pasha, alias Chossrew Muhammad Pasha, Seraskier or Turkish Minister of War
Halil Mehmed Rifat Pasha, Commander of the Turkish Artillery, former Kapudan Pasha or Grand Admiral
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