PP/GC/PO/220 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning Lord Durham's visit to Constantinople, the lessening of the Sultan's trust in the Russians in favour of England, raising the idea of establishing an embassy at Rome with himself as ambassador, the possibility of a war between the Sultan and Mehemet Ali, 19 August 1835
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople, [Constantinople], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcription] "I am not going to answer your letter of 16 July [1835], except to express my satisfaction that Durham is to come here and I shall have the opportunity of shewing him the whole case of this country, which it is hardly possible for me to have [f.1v] done in writing to you, as I did not intend to write folios that neither you nor any other person would read. I have told you the facts but I have not laid before you anything like the multitude of proof I possess of their accuracy, and then as to the arguments I can use, common charity has obliged me to spare you the infliction of a hundred of them. [f.2r] Still less have I bored you with the detail of my daily work (I have no sinecure) but you have had a specimen in the instructions to the dragoman concerning the Euphrates. I have already written a long letter to tell you I would not do that which I actually have been doing, c'est le premier pas que conte, say the French and so I will go on a little. I have no doubt of having entirely destroyed in the Sultan's mind [f.2v] all the ideas that led him to cling to Russia. He is ours whenever we shall think fit to take measures necessary to enable him with common prudence to risk the anger of Russia. In the foregoing lines you will see, if what I say be true, that I have fully performed my duty here. Now for the matter I have to write upon and for entering upon perhaps you may think [f.3r] I ought to apologize to which however I am not about to do because it mainly affects the interests of Ireland with which I have a right to meddle and also it affects England, which I certainly may speak about, and lastly it touches my selfish views for which no apology will avail. Many years ago I thought it would have been wise that England should have an ambassador at Rome. When the Catholic question [f.3v] was carried it appeared to me that prudence required it and now I think it necessary, and this in the force of the word. I know a good deal, perhaps a great deal of the interviews that has long been and still is carried on between Rome and the Catholick priests ? and some of the laity also, of Ireland. I am certain you ought to have in Rome somebody able to give a proper direction to [f.4r] Roman influence over the clerical body in Ireland. I imagine that O'Connell would like to have the embassy established, though it is possible he might have some fear of its influence. All other Catholic Irishmen would assuredly like it. I am now in danger * but * I am doubtful if the statute of Henry 8th of ought to bear the constriction given to it. I suspect that man, a King with a Pope in his belly did not cause a statute [f.4v] to be passed that should have the effect of limiting his own power, and that the said statute was intended to be used is only a limit to the power of others and that the King can at his leisure hold correspondence with Rome under that act. I have not that act, nor have I seen it these thirty years. I do not know if there be any other statute that ties up the King. I conceive that Parliament would not object to grant powers if they be necessary to establish a communication [f.5r] calculated to guard the county against dangers from those intrigues which have always been one of the causes of the alarm felt by the dishonest for the consequences of that wise conduct which circumstances and the nature of things have forced the government and legislature to pursue more or less fully. The above being said I [f.5v] have to add that I hope you will think of me if you send an ambassador to Rome or even a minister though the first rank ought to be given. I am too old to be very modest and I know to a certain extent what I can and what I cannot do. I feel satisfied that I could serve you well at Rome. I have done here everything [f.6r] that can be done to establish the means for acting if the government chuses to act, but to be frank with you, I do not think the government has vigour of mind enough to go into the oriental question as \ it / must be done by those who will bring it to a happy conclusion. You [word underlined in ink on the manuscript] I believe have strong nerves and sound opinions on this question. I am not desirous of being here when it shall [f.6v] become evident to the Porte and to the world at large, that Turkey will be abandoned in fact [last two words underlined in ink on the manuscript] by England. This, I think, depends upon, what may be called accident, it depends upon the decision of the Sultan as to a war with Mehemet Ali. If that take place the British government will have no choice, it will be forced to act with arms in its hand or give up the ghost. I think the Sultan will make war on Mehemet Ali, [f.7r] I am certain he ought to do so. He cannot long support the present state of things in comparison with which defeat by Mehemet in the field would be an advantage. I will no further pursue this topic because it would require a large portion of your time to read what is to be said upon it. I confine myself to saying remember I tell you that I think it probable the Sultan will make [f.7v] war and that if so he shall be completely victorious you must interfere, and even if he be so I doubt if you will be able to avoid taking a strong part. There are most active means taking by the Russian government to cajole Durham. Momentary success may possibly be obtained but time will show what cunning and manoeuvre may have concealed at first. I have marked this letter [f.8r] private but I do not care what use you make of it." 19 Aug 1835 This letter is marked: "Private". It arrived on 10 September 1835.
Four papers
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Ottoman Empire, Sublime Porte, Turkey
John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham, British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at St Petersburg
Frederic Pisani, dragoman to the British embassy at Constantinople
Overland route to India via the Euphrates
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Diplomatic appointments
Ireland: politics, religion, clergy, Catholic emancipation
Daniel O'Connell, 'the liberator', Irish politician, Member of Parliament for Dublin, Catholic Association
Henry VIII, King of England, deceased, non-recognition of the Pope (28 Henry VIII, c.13)
Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
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