PP/GC/PO/330 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, regarding Madame Blaque and the employment of foreign army officers in Turkey, 11 May 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 delayed the messenger for a day in order to talk to Reschid Pasha, as the Sultan ordered. The conversation is detailed in a despatch. He has much more to say but will only deal with part of it at present. He spoke to Reschid about the exploits of Madame Blaque, and said that he did not care much about the truth or what Madame Blaque published from his writings. It might, however, be very disagreeable to the Sultan to be shown up to the Russians, as the letters might possibly do. Reschid was himself a confidant of Pertev Pasha and connected with the late Monsieur Blaque, so he knows as much as most people about the affair. He jumped at the proposal that Madame Blaque should be told by the Porte that if any of her late husband's papers were printed, the Porte would hold her responsible for it. Whether she accepted the blame or not, the Sultan would deprive her of her pension and her son of the allowance he received. The decision about the son was proposed and resolved upon by Reschid, who gave orders to the Prince of Samos, in Ponsonby's presence, to notify Madame Blaque of the Sultan's wishes. "Colonel Considine is a good sort of man and I do not mind his being a little foolish and vulgar." Ponsonby hopes Palmerston will be able to send the "little Pole" [Chrzanowski] to Turkey. He thinks he will be more useful than he had thought, and will certainly get a more complete hold on Reschid Pasha. "He is really a most clever little fellow in his way and knows so well how to deal with men wholly unorganized and so difficult to be guided for any length of time as these Turks are. Anybody can succeed for a short time and may lead them into folly, but a permanent influence is hard to be obtained and nothing so difficult as to make sense agreeable to them." Reschid is a favourite of the Sultan's and openly admits that he trusts nobody except Ponsonby, and wants to know Ponsonby's opinion on everything. "We shall see. I do believe he means well and he is before his countrymen in knowledge and in the understanding of things that a liberal nature gives." It is a great advantage that Reschid understands French, although he may be jealous of Sarim. Sarim is "a sound man" and worth "cultivating", although he is not as quick as Reschid or as well informed at present. Reschid will nevertheless be pleased if Palmerston is kind and civil to Sarim. Ponsonby hopes Palmerston will use strong language with Sarim in the way of his conversation with Reschid, but he should also praise Reschid and his talents. "It is necessary to gain him. He is vain, he is honest and he has abilities and is all powerful and sees that Turkey depends upon the goodwill of England, but he may again fall into the weakness of granting too much to Russia under the notion of calming suspicion and saving the country from danger. My opinion is, the Porte should make a stand when wholly and obviously in the right and I am certain Russia will not face the exposure of her unjust and improper demands to the public knowledge of your government and the world. She will yield if the Porte calls for our advice and protection of her rights." Whatever turn events in Persia take, and whatever course the Shah takes when McNeill speaks to him, it will be bad for Russia. McNeill has done admirably well in his Russian. He has not yet heard that Bulwer is at Naples. He hopes Palmerston will approve of his action in calling for Colonel Hodges. It would not be easy to get on without Hodges. The Milosh affair is very serious, and will have great consequences. The Russians in the provinces will be ruined if matters are well managed, since they will be unable to oppose the progress of events there, which will be all against them. There are no grounds for violence on the part of Russia, nor would England or France or Austria allow it. Ponsonby hopes Palmerston has not given up on the plan for a Black Sea operation. Reschid Pasha spoke about the Caucasians. Ponsonby told him how important he thought that country was to the future of Turkey. The result would be dependent on the amount of gunpowder, lead and flints the natives possessed, or lacked, and it was important they did not waste them at present. Reschid said he would send plenty of ammunition if Ponsonby could tell him how it might be transported. Ponsonby said he did not know how, but that it must be easy to do. Reschid asked him to find a merchant who would be willing to take on the task. Ponsonby promised to think about it, although he is not certain how he could commit himself to a merchant. He will not use the leave of absence he is hoping Palmerston will send him, unless all the important business is finished at Constantinople, or his own affairs concerning the settlement of a large estate call him home. He would rather postpone his own pressing business than leave his post. He will not abuse the leave he is granted, and it looks as if he will not be able to move until the following spring or the end of winter anyway. "I am very old. I have very hard work here. I shall like a little repose. I have done you good service here. I think the conduct I pursued here has been largely instrumental in producing such a state of affairs as has prevented Russia trying her fortune against Turkey by arm and thereby occasioning war. This has been my object, because you disliked war. Had Russia not been unmasked, had she thought the eyes of Europe blinded she might have gone so far as to make her retreat impossible and hostilities necessary. I certainly wished for stronger measures than your government thought right. I feared the disertion of France and the complications derived from Algiers and I wished to settle Turkey whilst we could be reasonably sure of France. The folly of Nicolas has been a great cause why France is still so hostile to Russia, but time should not be lost by us and I hope the things to be done may be soon done. Ships in the Black Sea would at once settle the whole question for ever. I beg you will excuse everything about this Allen-style writing nonsense and all for I am tired to death." 11 May 1838 The letter is marked: "Private" and it is noted that it was received on 31 May 1838.
Four papers, punched for disinfection, tied with a blue ribbon
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Reschid Mustapha Pasha, alias Reshid Mustafa Pasha, Reis Effendi or Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Madame Blaque, wife of Alexander Blaque or Blacque, editor of LE MONITEUR OTTOMAN, deceased
Pertev Mehmed Seid Pasha, alias Muhammad Said Pertew, former Kiahaya Bey or Turkish Minister of the Interior
Stefanaki Vogorides, Prince of Samos, known in Turkey as Istefanaki Bey
Lieutenant Colonel James Considine of the Fifty Third Regiment of Foot
General Adalbert Chrzanowski, Polish officer formerly in English employ in Turkey
Ibrahim Sarim Effendi, Turkish ambassador at London
John McNeill, later Sir John McNeill, British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Teheran
William Henry Lytton Earle Bulwer, known as Sir Henry Bulwer, later first Baron Dalling and Bulwer, nominated as secretary of the British embassy at Constantinople
Colonel George Lloyd Hodges, commander in chief of the Mediterranean fleet
?Bennet Allen, miscellaneous writer and journalist
Milosh, alias Michael Obrenovic, Prince of Servia
Tsar Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia
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