Title:
PP/GC/PO/241 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the plans for General Skranowsky to go to Constantinople secretly for discussions with the Seraskier, the unlikelihood of the British officers being accepted by the Porte until England replies to the Sultan's request for help against Mehemet Ali, the measures taken in the case of ill treatment of Mr Churchill, the joint instructions from Nesselrode on Egypt and Syria, the mission of Monsieur Blacque to secure a loan, the need to gain the confidence of the Sultan, the presents given by the Russian government on the occasion of the restoration of Silestria to Turkey, 16 May 1836
Date:
16/05/1836
Content:
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: [Transcript] "I am happy to tell you the Sultan has directed that General Sebrynowski [Skranowsky] should come secretly to the neighbourhood of Constantinople to confer with the Seraskier Pasha. I have sent by consul Brant * as * the general acquainting him that he is expected to go forthwith from Smyrna to Brousa where he will find or be found immediately by a confidential agent who will conduct him to the [f.1v] place appointed for the meeting. I will take care the Seraskier shall send only proper [word underlined on manuscript] agents to meet the general and I hope this matter will be satisfactorily settled. I have had great difficulties to surmount arising from the fear entertained of Russia, operating upon all those who surround the Sultan, and it is from himself [word underlined on manuscript] this thing has been obtained. The answer I have received respecting the British officers is very unsatisfactory but [f.2r] I am far from despairing of obtaining what you desire to have though it must be delayed for a time. The answer is to the following effect. 'The Sultan is pleased with the communication, particularly as he sees in the zealous interest the ambassador \ takes / in this question. That as to the officers, seeing that his ministers are not able to manage the affair before Russia gets information of the officers arrival, and as it is not considered prudent at present to give more occasion to the [f.2v] Russians to intrigue with Mehemet Ali. The Sultan thinks it proper and prudent to defer his consent and decision 'till England has declared her decision on the substance of the document which he has transmitted to the British government relating to the affairs of Syria and Egypt.' The above are the words I confess I hardly know how the Sultan could be blamed for this prudence, though I hope, as I said before, to be able to induce him to act with [f.3r] that courage which I consider to be a better prudence than he is now guided by. I have sent a long despatch concerning a most unpleasant affair. My report is necessarily incomplete but I think you will not be at a loss to understand the matter. You must have seen how anxiously hitherto I have avoided pushing questions of misconduct on the part of the pasha's and their subalterns, towards the British to any great length. [f.3v] I have always done enough to assert our rights and to endeavour to obtain redress, but I have never risked a quarrel with the Porte because I conceived it contrary to our interests to do so, and because I have never before had such a case to deal with as I thought strong enough to be fully relied upon, and because I have been certain that sooner or later such a case would arise as would place me palpably in the right. The case of Mr Churchill (see my despatch) not only places me in [f.4r] the right but absolutely commands the most absolute measures on pain of incurring absolute disgrace for myself and the greatest injury to his Majesty's subjects. I have taken very strong measures. I must go through with them and I am certain the people of England will support them. I have not as you will see had any quarrel with the government and I am certain almost [word underlined on manuscript] the Sultan will support me when he shall be made acquainted with the facts. I have attacked in the strongest manner the Reis Effendi and I think ruined him. I must attack Ahmed Pasha [f.4v] (mouschir) and probably ? ruin him also. I expect to be supported by the Seraskier Pasha and by the Kiahya Bey who see and deplore the folly of the other two. The whole population of rayahs and ? francks and Armenians are with me from motives of the strongest personal interest. I fear nothing. I have no cause to fear anything except that the Sultan may be deceived [word underlined in ink on the manuscript]. I hope you will take what I am about to say, in the sense I intend it to have, and not as offensive expression of sentiment [f.5r], I mean that if His Majesty's government disapprove of what I have done in this matter they should send out somebody to perform such orders as they may give in contradiction to it. His Majesty's government ought not to depend upon me for executing them. I have strong reason to believe Mehemet Ali was made acquainted with the project of Nesselrode to procure instructions to be sent to me to act conjointly with Monsieur de Bouteneff imperiously. [f.5v] The Sultan to abstain from all ideas of hostility against ? Thiers, Mehemet Ali and Ibrahim and I know that there was great exultation amongst intimates of Mehemet Ali at the prospect of the restraint to be put upon the Sultan, who in the vulgarisation of this country, it's said had never been crowing like a cock but now was made a capon. By the time you receive this I presume Monsieur Blaque will be on his road from Paris \ (Mr Blacque died at Malta) / [f.6r] to London. I am unwilling to plague you with my sentiments respecting the manner in which I think his demands ought to be received. I am more loath to speak on the subject because I cannot help using language so very strong as to be capable of giving offence to those whose opinions upon the point are in opposition to my own, and yet I cannot with pulsimanious abandoning my duty be silent, when my conscience tells that I am convinced that great and most [f.6v] important English interests imperatively command those who are charged with them, to conform substantially with the desires and demands of the Sultan. I know there is a strong party governed either by ignorance, or folly, or interest, willing to sacrifice all the advantages England will necessary ? devise for having firm possession of the Sultan's confidence. I know how successfully Nesselrode has duped Lord Durham and I know the nonsense written from by Lieutenant Slade and those who [f.7r] are supposed to understand the affairs of this country and above all I know the morbid timidity of persons in England who I could have hoped might have a stouter mind, and a clearer judgement of the actual state of things and of the probable future. I have done my duty. I have gained the Sultan, it will not be my fault if he be lost, no man can [word underlined in ink on the manuscript] deny, without talking striking nonsense that the Sultan is everything in this question. No man, I presume, [f.7v] who has common sense will propose to His Majesty's government to ruin the Sultan for the purpose of setting up his rebel subjects, and nobody can deny that we are bound by treaty and good faith to support our ally and must not injure her without a strong necessity that shall force us to do so. The projects, then, must have the destruction of the Sultan for their end. Now that the Sultan is willing to be true to himself and to Europe and to snatch [f.8r] his crown from the gripe [grip] of Russia and not [word underlined in ink on the manuscript] to throw it in her lap, are projects wholly iniquitous, as well as senseless politically speaking. It appears then to me that the reasons urged in favour of refusing to concur with the substances [word underlined in ink on the manuscript] of the Sultan's demands, are formed either upon erroneous notions of the situation of material affairs and political, or upon the * [illegible] * most undeniably untenable doctrines. I have the intention of sending off another messenger in ten days and I will [f.8v] no longer trouble you now. The Russian government have made the following pecuniary gifts on the occasion of the convention for the restoration of Silestria to Prince Haudgerle first dragoman 3000 ducats Mr Pisani Russian dragoman 1500 [ducats] Mr Titoff 1000 [ducats] Monsieur Foch a years pay 500 [ducats] Presents to every member of the mission, Monsieur Bouteneff made Councillor Prince. The Reis Effendi has received one million of piastres. This government pays well and is well served. 16 May 1836 This letter is marked: "Private".
Extent:
Five papers, punched for disinfection and tied together with blue ribbon
License:
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Subject:
Ottoman Empire, Sublime Porte, Turkey
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
General Adalbert Chrzanowski, alias Skranowsky, Polish officer in English employ in Turkey
Husrev Mehmed Pasha, alias Chossrew Muhammad Pasha, Seraskier or Turkish Minister of War
James Brant, British vice consul at Trebizond
Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Alexander Blaque or Blacque, editor of the late COURIER DE SMRYNE formerly SPECTATEUR D'ORIENT and the LE MONITEUR OTTOMAN [an official French language newspaper which provided news to European residents in the Ottoman empire, sister paper to the Turkish language TAKVIM-I VEKAYI (Calendar of Events)]
William Churchill, British journalist [sometimes described as a merchant] in Constantinople; Churchill affair: Churchill accidentally shot a Turkish boy at Scutari and was severely bastinadoed and thrown into the bagnio, Ponsonby demanded senior members of the Porte be dismissed from the Turkish government
Akif Muhammad Effendi, alias Akiff Mehmed Pasha, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ahmed Fevzi Pasha, alias Achmed Pasha, Kapudan Pasha or Grand Admiral, former Turkish special envoy to St Petersburg
Pertev Mehmed Seid Pasha, alias Muhammad Said Pertew, Kiahaya Bey or Turkish Minister of the Interior
Rayahs or Roum, Greek Christian population living under the rule of Turkey
Karl Robert, Count Nesselrode, Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Apollinariy Petrovich Buteniev, alias Boutenieff or Butenev, Russian envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Ibrahim Pasha, son of Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Louis Adolphe Thiers, French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham, British ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at St Petersburg
Lieutenant Adolphus Slade, later Vice Admiral Sir Adolphus Slade, later attached to the Turkish navy, known in Turkey as Mushaver Pasha
Silestria or Silistria: Bulgaria
Agreement between Russia and the Porte as to the amount of indemnity to be paid to Russia by Turkey, the money to be transferred after the Russians have withdrawn from Silistria
Prince Haudgerle or Hauchery, dragoman to the Russian embassy at Constantinople
Vladimir Pavlovich Titov or Tifoff, first secretary later ambassador at the Russian embassy at Constantinople
Monsieur Foch, fourth secretary at the Russian embassy at Constantinople
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