PP/GC/PO/227 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning paying Dr MacGuffog for intelligence, and news of the Egyptian army in Syria, 12 January 1836
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: he reminds Palmerston of the useful work that Doctor MacGuffog has done and asks for a salary for him from the secret service fund. He notes how much has been achieved in Constantinople at very little cost to the British government. The Sultan has been removed from the clutches of the Russians "although he has been all the time watched by his favourite who is in the pay of Russia". Ponsonby has prevented the Reis Effendi from speaking to his sources, except Doctor McGuffog who always procured the best information. Ponsonby has started paying ten pounds a month to a man whom he uses as a Turkish translator. He assumes that Palmerston will agree to this sum being paid. 12 Jan 1836 Palmerston has written on the docket "to be allowed P. 7/2 -36" Enclosed is a letter from John William Percy Farren, consul general at Damascus, [Damascus], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] [f.3r] "Sheriff Pacha, the governor general of Syria residing here received a private letter, yesterday from Ibrahim Pasha directing him to take measure for a further levy of 10000 men in Syria and that the peasants of the villages around Damascus should now be seized with those of other parts. My information of this being secret, I feel greatly embarrassed as to what I ought to do. It appears to me proper that your lordship should be acquainted of [f.3v] the measures without delay of waiting for the February steamer from Egypt, before which occasion for sending it * would * will not be public. On the other hand your lordship has desired me to send all my official communication under flying seals to Colonel Campbell though in the present instance I could not do so without a breach of confidence which might place in the most serious situation the author of my information forever it to transpire in Alexandria before it became public in this country it would be traced to me and suspicion falling on the only individual from whom I could have obtained it, his life probably would be the penalty [f.4r] and by such an example as impression created discreditable to the British name any effectually interdicting all confidential information hereafter of public measures. I have every reason to believe that the report I made to your lordship of my private conservation on public matters with Ibrahim Pasha at Beyrout, became acquainted with him, and on first seeing him the other day since his return from Egypt I not only observed a difference in his manner, but he remarked in a very pointed manner that he considered our conversation to be private and not official, and conveyed to me that he was aware of some of my reports to England, not taking the most [f.4v] favourable view of some of his measures and the state of the country. All of which I regret as it is unfavourable to the British interests in this country by predisposing all the authorities against our officers and any personal and confidential relations with them. It is this consideration and this only which causes me regret that your lordship should have desired me to send all my reports under flying seal through Egypt, and I would beg your lordship to view the case as I now lay it before you. I assure you. my lord, it is unjust to say that Colonel Campbell is left in ignorance of the events of this country, three of the consular agents are of his own appointment, and he is in direct and constant communication with a [f.5r] Mr Werry at Aleppo, and Mr Moore. By making all the reports to your lordship from this country pass through one channel there is not only that disadvantage I have described but it is impossible but that neither should there be a constraint on the opinions and statements known to be opposed to those which are to supervise them nor personal jealousy and misunderstanding engendered by their collision, while by submitting the whole correspondence to be influenced by the prevailing characteristics of one medium, be it what it may, the reports of the different officers to your lordship will cease to convey that contrast and variety of information, and originality and freshness of a remark from which your lordship may best acquire a correct knowledge of the character of events, and the state of affairs. I hope there is nothing in these remarks to offend your lordship, or cause [f.5v] them to be imputed to an actual freedom of opinion, or to personal motives, or which I think I have unjustly prejudiced unfavourable prepossessions have I fear been too hastily conveyed to your lordship's mind in regard to the consular affairs of this country, but your lordship has heard only one side of the case, and that perhaps not free from its own prejudices and I have now positive evidence which will shortly be addressed to Colonel Campbell through him to your lordship officially, in regard to his letter to Mr Moore and the accompanying papers \ the late Mr Abbots' proceedings and / consular abuses in Syria, which will fully satisfy your lordship of the hasty manner in which the conduct of public officers may be misrepresented and your lordship's mind in regard of them, and their official relations prejudiced. Let me at least beg that your lordship will not change any favourable disposition you may one have entertained towards me, until you find on impartial grounds that I deserve it. An extensive and increasing commerce now exists in this country, since my appointment and projected by it, which before did not. The first European officer to settle here, our national character has been respected and known in a metropolis where European relations are interdicted by the prejudices of the people. My reports have contained extensive matter and information respecting events, affairs and prospects of a country which was little known in Europe, and whatever ill-natured, or jealous report may have conveyed to the contrary, I defy anyone to prove that in my public character I have acted in any one respect improperly or unbecoming the trust and influence confided to me; and without occupying any longer your lordship's attention on this subject [f.6r] I confess the fullest confidence that I shall some day entirely clear entirely to your lordship's satisfaction from every prejudice that may have been entertained in regard to my public actions in the country. I beg to enclose a paper of the places in which this new levy is to be made. I will seize the first moment for safely do, to apprise Colonel Campbell of this new levy, but I beg your lordship will not allow the information I now convey of it, to be known in Egypt." 11 Dec 1835 This letter is marked: "Private". Enclosed is a list of the geographical distribution of the new conscripts in Syria, drawn up by Mr Farren: [Transcript] [f.7r] "Distribution of the new levy of conscripts in Syria Men Druse Mountains: 1500 Damascus: 500 Villages of Damascus: 1000 Zahaya: 210 Rachaya: 200 Dufan Shoga: 300 [Total] 3710 Aleppo Aleppo: 300 Sirmeen and dependencies: 150 Reha: 150 Other parts of Aleppo: 450 Edliss: 150 Ayas: 200 Arabs of Hamah: 500 Hasafuta: 200 Districts of Lalkea: 300 Tripoli: 75 Beyrout: 50 Sidon: 29 [Total] 6064 Soor: 10 Rastan and Tilese: 60 Hamah: 50 Homs: 50 Baalbec: 50 Acre: 20 County of Saffit: 600 Gaza and Ramel: 500 Agloon and Akoora: 250 Jaffa: 50 Nablus district: 550 Jerusalem district: 450 Hebron district: 400 Druzes in the Hauran: 100 [Sub total] 3240 [Sub total] 6064 [Total] Conscripts: 9304" n.d. c.11 Dec 1835 This document is stamped: "Purife lazaret Marseille".
Three papers, one of which is punched for disinfection.
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Ottoman Empire, Sublime Porte, Turkey
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Dr Samuel MacGuffog, physician at the British embassy at Constantinople
Spies, intelligence, agents
Akif Muhammad Effendi, alias Akiff Mehmed Pasha, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
John William Percy Farren, British consul general at Damascus
Dr Samuel MacGuffog or McGuffog, physician at the British embassy at Constantinople
Damascus: Syria, army, recruitment, conscription, trade, commerce
Sherriff Pasha or Sharif Pasha, governor general of Damascus
Ibrahim Pasha, son of Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Campbell, British consul general and agent at Alexandria
Beyrout, Beirut: Lebanon
Flying seal: a letter with a seal attached but not closed, so that it may be read by a person who is requested to forward it to its destination
Mr Werry, British consul at Aleppo, Syria
Mr Moore, British consul at Beirut, Lebanon
Diplomatic procedure, communications, protocol, appointment of diplomats
Mr Abbott
Tripoli: Libya
Sidon: Lebanon
Beirut or Beyrout: Lebanon
Soor or Sur or Tyre: Lebanon
Rastan or Er or El Rastan or Al Rastan: Syria
Hama or Hamah: Syria
Homs: province in Libya and Syria
Baalbec or Baalbek or Baalbak: Lebanon
Saffit or Saffita: Syria
Gaza: Israel
Jaffa: Israel
Nablus: Israel
Jerusalem: Israel
Hebron: Israel
Hauran: Syria
Lazaret or lazaretto: disease, epidemic, infection, quarantine
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