PP/GC/PO/317 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning the decoration offered to Colonel Considine, and the possibility of General Chrzanowski returning to train the Turkish army, 10 January 1838
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 believes the nishans offered to Considine should be refused and is not sorry for the opportunity to show the Turks that Palmerston can be angry. The present ministers, however, can claim that what was done was mainly the work of their predecessors, or of Nouri Effendi and Reschid Bey. Halil Pasha, in fact, is to blame, and Ponsonby is glad that the decorations have not been given and therefore he does not have to give them back. Under the circumstances, to return them would perhaps have been too personal to the Sultan. The enclosed letter shows that Considine spoke about being ordered to return the decoration, and indeed all Pera knew about it. Ponsonby was sure therefore that the ministers would know too, and so would not offer the decorations to the Colonel. He found himself at liberty to lecture Akif Pasha severely about Halil, "without the risk of counteracting anything you might have in view". Ponsonby claimed that he had been instructed to return the decorations, and that the Porte ought to be careful how it "trifled" with the British government, for "in seeking to please some other power the Ottoman government might displease that of Great Britain. I added that if the Sultan should be made publickly acquainted with the consequences of the conduct pursued by his ministers, that is to say, the obligation thrown upon Her Majesty's government to mark the just dissatisfaction they felt, it was probable His Highness would not be well satisfied with those ministers who had brought about such an event." Ponsonby hopes Palmerston approves of what he has done. He believes General Chrzanowski is at Paris, but Colonel Chesney, who lives in Down Street [London], can provide his address. The Seraskier has often asked after Chrzanowski who and Ponsonby believes has the "art of guiding the Turks". Chrzanowski certainly understands the Turkish army and told Ponsonby he could bring fifty thousand men into the field within six months in a fit state to fight the Russians. He served with the Russians for a long time, and so knows all about their military qualities. If Palmerston did send Chrzanowski back, which Ponsonby thinks is the best way to make the Turkish army good for anything, he would have to be protected against Russian violence. If Ponsonby is given the authority to protect him, the Russians and Turks will only have him on Ponsonby's life. Chrzanowski could be protected without it being blazoned abroad, and Ponsonby thinks he could manage matters satisfactorily. It would also be advisable to do something to give Chrzanowski weight with the Turkish ministers, and the current quarrel about British officers might be used for this purpose. Palmerston could tell the Sultan confidentially that he knows the Turkish troops require instruction to put them on a par with others, "who though by nature less warlike have the advantages of modern science and so forth". The Pole is "eminently skilled in the art of war", and if the Sultan will not act to put himself in a defensive position, Palmerston will not regard him as the means to uphold the interests of Europe. "I beg pardon for suggesting this and I am fully aware of the strength of the language I use in the latter part of what I have written, but I incline to think it is necessary to take strong measures and the more so, if you intend to carry into effect your admirable plan of sending surveying ships into the Black Sea in the spring." Ponsonby has mentioned the employment of Captain du Plat before, and has since had further confirmation of his particular suitability for Turkey, and as a second best to Chrzanowski. He has had to send du Plat home without waiting for further orders from Palmerston, since he wants Palmerston to be able to ask du Plat about the real state of affairs in Turkey. He can provide more information than anybody else, and he will not tell "the trashy stuff that is passed off for knowledge of these countries". Ponsonby will prepare du Plat to answer Palmerston's questions. If Palmerston attaches du Plat to the British embassy, it will only be emulating what is done with the French embassy and need not cause any surprise. The objection will be the cost, for du Plat will have to be paid, and Turkey is not cheap and is getting more expensive every day, "besides which, you get nothing good for your money". If the appointment is made, part of the officer's duty should be to inspect everything military and be available for military service, should his skills be required. Ponsonby is gratified that Palmerston approves of his conduct over the Reschid Bey affair. He is also glad Palmerston approves of the suggestions he made about the house on the Bosporus. "I think it will be a treasure if it can be got on a good title and I will set to work about it as soon as the weather will allow me to put my nose out, and then I will write officially." He is very anxious to know if Palmerston approves of his conduct in the affairs between the Porte and the French regarding Africa. "I have considered it to be extremely important that we should shew them and the world that we have acted a fair and sincere part, and it is fortunately true that policy would have dictated such conduct had we only to take into consideration the interests of the Porte itself. The Turks hate the French only less than the Russians, for they believe they are upholding Mehemet Ali (by the Turks I mean the Sultan) and certainly these are not wanting things to give color to that notion." Ponsonby tries, in his relations with the ministers, to maintain his opinion that France will not quarrel with England. Louis Philippe is too wise to do so, "but these are suspicious looking things and it is so easy to be foolish". 10 Jan 1838 The letter is marked: "Private". PP/GC/PO/309, PP/GC/PO/312 and PP/GC/PO/314 also refer to the Reschid Bey affair. Enclosed is a letter, in French, from Frederic Pisani, dragoman to the British embassy at Constantinople, Pera, to John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby: the affair of Colonel Considine has been raised with Akif Pasha. Considine and Captain Cooke were both promised decorations, but there has been some incomprehensible delay. Akif Pasha told Pisani three days previously that Halil Pasha had had the decorations designed, and once he had approved them, they had been sent to the ?House of Zarabhana to be cast. Akif Pasha said that he intended to ask Halil Pasha if the decorations were ready. Pisani learnt that day that Considine is on the point of departure and that he has said to Etienne that he has received orders to accept the decoration but then to return it immediately through Ponsonby. Pisani asks what he should do, given this state of affairs. The Colonel, according to what Pisani has learnt from Etienne, was delighted with the promise of a decoration, but told Etienne the previous day that the British government was much offended at the turn the affair had taken, adding that he had received the order to take and then return the decoration. 8 Jan 1838
Five papers, punched for disinfection
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Turkey: decorations; nishans
Lieutenant Colonel James Considine of the Fifty Third Regiment of Foot
Muhammad Nouri Effendi, alias Nuri Mehmed Effendi, incoming Under Secretary at the Turkish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, former Turkish envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Paris
Reschid Mustapha Bey, alias Reshid Mustafa Bey, later Reschid Mustapha Pasha, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, formerly Turkish envoy at London
Halil Rifat Pasha, former Seraskier or Turkish Minister of War
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Pera, suburb of Constantinople, later Istanbul
Akif Muhammad Effendi or Akiff Mehmed Pasha, Kiahaya Bey or Turkish Minister of the Interior
General Adalbert Chrzanowski, Polish officer formerly in English employ in Turkey
Captain Francis Rawdon Chesney of the Royal Artillery, with a local rank of Colonel in Asia
Halil Rifat Pasha, Seraskier or Turkish Minister of War
Captain Gustavus Charles du Plat of the Royal Engineers
Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Louis Philippe, King of the French
Frederic Pisani, dragoman to the British embassy at Constantinople
?Captain John Henry Cooke of the Royal Artillery
?Etienne Guillaume Theophile de Bionneau, Marquis d'Eyraques, first secretary to the French embassy at Constantinople
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