PP/GC/PO/373 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Ponsonby, concerning Ponsonby's disagreement with Admiral Stopford over Admiralty instructions, 26 August 1839
Letter from John Ponsonby, first Viscount Ponsonby, [ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: he encloses a letter from Admiral Stopford and his reply. Stopford evidently thinks the instructions of which he sent copies to Ponsonby are applicable in current circumstances. Ponsonby disagrees, or if they are applicable, he cannot understand them. 26 Aug 1839 Enclosed are: (i) Letter from Admiral Sir Robert Stopford, ?Cargofort, to John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby: he sends for Ponsonby's inspection some letters from Lord Minto and a draft of the instructions which are to be sent to Stopford once they have received the consent of the government at Paris [not enclosed]. Stopford intends to stay put until he hears that Roussin has received similar instructions for the French squadron. Ponsonby knows what effect the demonstration before Alexandria will have on Mehemet Ali and, considering the very limited means the fleet has to use force due to the nature of the harbour, and Lord Minto's advice to warn Navarino, Stopford does not know the best way to carry out the instructions. It is unlikely that the united Turkish and Egyptian fleets will come out to fight seventeen sail of English and French ships. It seems unnecessary to use such a large force to stop merchant vessels. With respect to the supplementary instructions, Stopford must depend upon Ponsonby's knowledge of circumstances to decide how to proceed. 26 Aug 1839 The letter is marked: "Confidential". (ii) Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, Therapia, to Admiral Sir Robert Stopford: he had seen Stopford's instructions before and sends them back. Concerning the supplementary instructions, he assumes they are the same in fact, though not in form, as the last instructions sent to Admiral Lalande: that he should not leave Besika Bay before he received further instructions. Ponsonby states his opinion as asked, but Stopford himself can see from the supplementary instructions and Ponsonby's information about the French Admiral's instructions, which Ponsonby read himself, that there has been a considerable change in circumstances since Lord Minto wrote. It seems that the Egyptian fleet is in the harbour of Alexandria, so what Stopford has been asked to do in that respect is impossible. As to the seizure of merchant ships, if it is intended that Stopford should do so, it cannot be done legally without the sanction of the Porte, and that sanction has not even been sought. Ponsonby does not pretend to understand Stopford's instructions, and has no clear idea of what is intended. 26 Aug 1839: contemporary copy The letter is marked: "Private".
Three papers
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Admiral Sir Robert Stopford of the Royal Navy, commander in chief of the Mediterranean fleet
Gilbert Elliot Murray Kynynmound, second Earl of Minto, First Lord of the Admiralty
Admiral Albin Reine Roussin, French ambassador at Constantinople
Alexandria: Egypt
Muhammad Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Navarino Bay: Greece
Vice Admiral Julien Pierre Anne Lalande, commander of the French Mediterranean fleet
Besike, or Besika Bay: Turkey
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