PP/GC/PO/314 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, regarding Vogorides' retirement and the poisoning of Pertev Pasha, 26 November 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 hopes the enclosed report [not present] from the dragoman will be agreeable. What has happened should have a good effect. The Sultan was gratified by the efforts taken to prove Palmerston's respect for him. Ponsonby was careful to show that Reschid Bey acted only through his anxiety to uphold the dignity of his master, and Ponsonby has heard that the Sultan is pleased. "Follies sometimes do good." It seems it was intended to get rid of Reschid Bey, but hopefully he is safe for the present. Vogorides has felt insecure since the death of Purtev Pasha and a few days previously he said to Akif that, "being grown old, he was no longer equal to the fatigue of all the work he had to do and should be glad to reture from the Porte and attend exclusively to his government of Samos and his agency for Moldavia; that he has served the Sultan very many years with entire fidelity and zeal, honored and obeyed his sovereign's minister, that he has been diligent and faithful under Purtev Pasha, who he must always esteem because he had been kindly treated by him, who was one known to be an enemy to Christians and not gifted with that liberality of feeling possessed by Akif; that he had been called a partizan of the English; that it was true he did consider England to be the only country to which the Sultan had any right to look with confidence for support, and therefore it was his duty to his master to wish for the maintenance of the best understanding between the Sultan and England; that he believed the French late conduct would satisfy Akif that France had objects to be obtained at the expence of the Porte, but it would not be shewn that England had any other interest than the great one she naturally had in supporting the independence of Turkey, in order to prevent the aggrandizement of Russia which would be dangerous to Great Britain; that as things were actually circumstanced, he believed the support of England to be necessary to the Sultan and that he was guided and influenced wholly by that opinion." Akif replied that both he and the Sultan were pleased with Vogorides' services, and the Porte could not spare him. He would not, however, be required to attend every day, but perhaps three times a week, and business would be sent to his house as often as possible. Akif then claimed that Vogorides had not been as well treated by Pertev Pasha as he thought, and promised to show him a note from Pertev Pasha to prove it. Ponsonby hopes Vogorides will be safe after all this, especially as the Sultan has shown him personal favour by writing a note to his son-in-law, Seid Pasha, ordering him to desist from some plan by which Vogorides would have lost a house and garden. It is of the utmost importance that Vogorides continues about the Porte. He can place affairs before the eyes of the ministers so that they are comprehended and often judged more rationally than they would otherwise be. Vogorides speaks the truth when he gives his motives for being pro-English. The Russians would give almost anything for him to be pro-Russian. Vogorides has objects which Russia cannot forward, and which Russian success would ruin. He feels that Russian dominion would be the "curse" of his country, although he would probably yield to power and is not anxious to be a political or religious martyr. He has given prudent advice to Reschid Bey, which should keep the minister in his place if he follows it. Akif Pasha's recent actions indicate that his feeling is anti-Russian, as indicated in Ponsonby's despatches. He seems to be less in dread of the Russian dragoman, a Greek, than previously, for he ventured upon a witticism. Prince Haudgerle reproached him for having acknowledged Leopold, "'So, you have made an eighth King.' 'No', replied Akif, 'I have made a ninth King, for you made the eighth, King Otho'. I am told the saucy Greek looked foolish and was angry." Halil Pasha has probably become anti-Russian too, now that he is at the head of affairs and exposed "to feel the weight of the yoke the Ottoman government has to support" every day. Despite this, Ponsonby is sure these men will "crouch down" before Russia unless they are confident Palmerston will support them, although they are fast advancing to a belief that England will do so. "It must be allowed they have reason enough to be slow in arriving at the conviction, and the Russians spare no pains, no lies, no insinuations to shew that England is afraid to oppose the will of the Emperor Nicolas, and they avail themselves, to establish that notion, of the reported inclinations of more than one of our political men supposed to have influence and weight in our country." The Sultan is interested in what happens in Europe, and has translations made of articles in the French newspapers and of pamphlets. Vogorides is the main translator, and he picks the best selections he can to defeat and expose Russian stories. Ponsonby recently heard a story from a physician who practises in the seraglio, which, if true, accounts for the death of Pertev Pasha, who was poisoned by order of the Sultan. "It is said that by some written document or other satisfactory evidence, it was proved to the conviction of the Sultan's understanding that, at the time when Mehemet Ali advanced to attack the Sultan, he was in league with Purtev Pasha, who was induced by his bigotry and horror of the changes introduced by the Sultan to concur with the Pasha of Egypt in a plot to dethrone Mahmoud and to place the eldest of the Princes on the Ottoman throne. You may recollect that I reported early after my arrival in this country the facts, for such they were, of designs entertained by Mehemet Ali to execute exactly that measure and of his having the countenance and support of several great men here, and even ministers. I did not hear then that Purtev was the man, nor can I now believe it, because I am satisfied of his having been an honest man, at the same time I cannot pretend to limit the power of religious bigotry over even the honestest minds, and it is certain Purtev was a bigot, so that it may be true that at the time in question he lost sight of the duty of allegiance which he may have supposed to be incompatible with a due regard to the interests of his faith. I hope it was not so, and I think it was not, but it seems more than probable that nothing less than an accusation of so deep a crime and supported by evidence that convinced the Sultan of Purtev's guilt would have produced the catastrophy that took place. Purtev was poisoned by Emin Pasha of Adrianople, who is a man well fitted for the perpetration of every crime. It is certain that Reschid Bey was detained on the road in his journey to Constantinople to prevent his arrival at Adrianople before the death of Purtev. I do not precisely see why that was done, and the fact occasioned me uneasiness on account of Reschid. I hope it is now clear that he could not have been suspected by the Sultan to have been an accomplice of Purtev's and I trust Reschid is in safety." The Sultan is very angry with the French, but he and his ministers seem to think, like Ponsonby, that it would be imprudent for the Porte to take steps which would give a pretext to France to justify contradiction of her obligation to respect the possessions of an unoffending ally. Ponsonby argued to the Ottoman ministers that, if left alone, France would eventaully end her African conquests, but if "molested and excited", her national pride would demand they be permanently retained. "My reasons stated were the great expence and the no return made for it to France and the certainty that every well-informed statesman must feel that those possessions could not be kept in despite of England, unless her maritime power should be beaten down, and at the same time the real friendship of the Arabs obtained by France; that otherwise, id est, if England should be strong as she is likely to be and should go to war with France, the French would lose the possessions and therefore the prudent government of France would not willingly engage itself in obligation to hold that which the power of France was unequal to keeping, but would seek the first occasion when the French feeling had subsided, and when the pecuniary burthens were severely felt, to rid themselves of Africa." Ponsonby has stated this in a letter, as he does not want it to be made public that he has been talking about French affairs with the Turkish government. He hopes Palmerston approves of what he has said. Colonel Considine is still at Constantinople, waiting for the next messenger, and for the nishan that is being made for him. Ponsonby regrets that things have not worked out as Palmerston wished, but he does not think it has made much difference. Captain Campbell has returned from Russia, where he spoke to Count Woronsow and other leading men about Circassia. They thought it probable that Tsar Nicholas would put to death any Englishman he could lay hands on in Circassia, and Campbell also believes that the Tsar detests the Poles so much that he would destroy them all if he could. 26 Nov 1837 It is noted that the letter was received on 5 January 1838. PP/GC/PO/309 and PP/GC/PO/312 refer to the explanation made to the Sultan for the alleged insult suffered by his envoy, Reschid, while in England.
Six papers, punched for disinfection
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Mahmud II, alias Mahmoud, Ottoman Sultan
Reschid Mustapha Bey, alias Reshid Mustafa Bey, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, formerly Turkish envoy at London
Stefanaki Vogorides, Prince of Samos, known in Turkey as Istefanaki Bey
Pertev Mehmed Seid Pasha, alias Muhammad Said Pertew, or Purtev Pasha, former Kiahaya Bay or Turkish Minister of the Interior, deceased
Akif Muhammad Effendi or Akiff Mehmed Pasha, Kiahaya Bey or Turkish Minister of the Interior
Mehmed Seid Pasha, alias Muhammad Said Pasha, husband of Sultana Mihrou Mah, second daughter of Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Prince Haudgerle or Haucery, dragoman to the Russian embassy at Constantinople
Leopold I, King of the Belgians
Otho, or Otto, King of Greece
Halil Rifat Pasha, Seraskier or Turkish Minister of War
Tsar Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia
Newspapers; the press; journalism
Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Emin Pasha of Adrianople, alleged poisoner of Pertev Pasha
Lieutenant Colonel James Considine of the Fifty Third Regiment of Foot
Nishan; Turkish decoration
Captain Campbell
Michael, Count Woronsov, Russian Governor General of New Russia and Bessarabia
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