PP/GC/PO/300 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the 'Vixen' affair and the state of affairs in Circassia, 19 July 1837
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, [ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: he forwards a letter from Mr James Bell [not present] and his reply. He will write at more length on the subject by the messenger. Everything that passed between Bell and Ponsonby was said in front of three or four people who heard every word, whom Ponsonby can name. "I say this in consequence of that part of Mr Bell's letter in which he talks of what he says I desired him to say. The prospect of that was exactly what you will find in my letter to Mr Bell, namely, to warn the Circassians against expecting that England would go to war for them, or their cause." He has hardly had time to write, as the Austrian post is early and departs punctually. 19 Jul 1837 It is noted that the letter was received on 11 August 1837. Enclosed is a copy of a letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, Therapia, to James Stanislaus Bell: he has received Bell's letter of 29 May. He is very interested in the affairs of Circassia and is always happy to receive intelligence about them. He believes the Circassians are right to be willing to undergo danger or suffering before submitting to a foreign yoke, and he applauds "any resolution they may spontaneously take of such a noble and generous character". He fears, however, that some Englishmen falsely believe that the English government is prepared to interfere in support of Circassia. Nothing could be more cruel to the Circassians, misleading them and inciting them to act otherwise than they would if they were not so deceived. "The Circassians ought not to be led to calculate on false grounds their chances of success; and the name and character of England ought not to be brought into even momentary discredit by any of the English race." If, as Bells suspects, his favourable treatment by the Circassians arose from the recommendations of Sefir Bey, Ponsonby cannot claim the credit for this, since he has never mentioned Bell's name to Sefir Bey; "nor have I ever had communication with him respecting any man whatever who has visited Circassia excepting that I told Sefir Bey that the Englishmen who went to Circassia had no authority from the British government to say or do or insinuate anything of any sort or kind as coming from the government of England and that those who told the Circassians England would go to war for them told them what is untrue". Bell has heard all this before, and Ponsonby is sure Bell will use all his influence with the Circassians to prevent them from being misled further. "No man estimates more highly than I do the importance of Circassia to the balance of power in Europe eventually, no man feels more for the brave defenders of their national rights, and no man can believe with more conviction than I do that even such a cause as theirs is, cannot be defended successfully excepting by fair open means and, above all, by perfect truth." Ponsonby will forward Bell's letter to London. 19 Jul 1837: contemporary copy
Three papers
All images are copyright. Please contact Archives@soton.ac.uk if you wish to reproduce this material
James Stanislaus Bell, British merchant, master of the 'Vixen'
Sefir Bey, Circassian rebel leader: ?Safar Bey Sharvashidze, alias Giorgi Sharvashidze, Prince of Abkhazia
Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg RSS