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expressed any jealousy as to England's granting that assistance, the Russian ambassador officially communicated to him (Lord Palmerston), while the request was still under consideration, that he had learned such an application had been made, and that, from the interest taken by Russia in the maintenance and preservation of the Turkish empire, it would afford satisfaction if they (the English Government] could find themselves able to comply with the request.'-—Par. Deb., 29th August.
The Sultan, thus abandoned by England, because she had not so much as a single sloop-of-war to spare, and pressed almost in his very residence by the advanced posts of Ibrahim, was reduced to the painful alternative of soliciting, at his utmost need’ (2nd Feb. 1833), the protection of Russia. Russia acceded; and a fleet in the Bosphorus, and 20,000 men on the Asiatic side of the strait, interposed between it and Ibrahim, induced the Pasha, who had till then been deaf to all proposals, to listen to overtures made by the Porte through the French ambassador, Admiral Roussin, seconded—we cannot say supported—in the most vague, feeble, and desponding tone by the British Chargé-des-affaires; and at length an arrangement was made, on terms exorbitantly favourable to Mehmet Ali, granting him, in addition to Egypt and Arabia, the government of Syria and of Candia, and even the province of Adana in Asia Minor—which commands the passage of the Taurus, and thereby secured to him, whenever he should see a favourable opportunity, the road to Constantinople. Though this humiliating escape from his immediate danger had been arranged chiefly through the mediation of the French ambassador, the Sultan felt that it was the aid of the Russians that had really saved him from still more disastrous results; he clearly saw that from France and England, who had been forward to advise these fatal sacrifices, he had nothing to expect in any future emergency; and that Russia, dangerous as her alliance might eventually be, was his best, and indeed his only resource. This produced (July, 1833) the celebrated treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, which has been not unaptly described in a single phrase, that it gave Russia the exclusive protectorate of the Porte. Great outcries were raised against the ambition of Russia in obtaining this treaty; but let us look impartially at all the circumstances. Turkey had pressed for British protection-Russia had joined in that request-England refused to interfere, except to invite the Sultan, as the jailor did Master Barnardine, 'to go forth to be executed'-France also advised submission, and assisted to make it. How then was it possible that the Porte and Russia, thus isolated—thus left to themselves-should not have consulted their own mutual interests—the Porte its safety, and Russia her influence-by some such treaty as that of Unkiar Skelessi?-We
will not debate whether such a treaty was reasonable, or politic,
-it was inevitable; and it was, as far as we know—and what we know is from his own lips—Lord Palmerston himself who had created that necessity.
One of the pretences under which France, and the few persons in the rest of Europe who take part with Mehemet Ali, attempt to justify their favourable disposition towards him, is his “enlightened government,' and the vast improvements which he has made in the condition of all his subjects. We admit that the political tranquillity of the provinces—the interior police—the protection of strangers—the facilities of commercial relations, can be better established and maintained by a single despot, who has all affairs under his own eye and all power in his own hand, than by the delegated and desultory authority of the old Turkish Pachas, Paris was much quieter under Buonaparte than under Louis Philippe. But Mehemet's administration of Syria has been the most cruel and calamitous that can be conceived, and frequent insurrections, excited by intolerable oppression and punished by the most frightful atrocities, are indisputable evidence that humanity and real civilization have gained nothing, and have nothing to gain, from the success of Mehemet Ali.
We have no official documents to explain what may have passed upon this Eastern question between the settlement, as it is miscalled, of 1893, and the beginning of 1838; but many circumstances should have convinced Lord Palmerston that the arrangement of 1833 could not be permanent, and that it was of great importance to arrive as soon as possible at some definitive solution of a dificuity which every day's delay served to increase and complicate. We have certain unofficial --- but, we have no reason to doubt, substantially accurate-statements, that so early as 1835 Mehemet Ali opened to England, France, and Austria his real design of erecting his vicarious authority as a vassal of the Porte into an independent and hereditary sovereignty; and that this overture, then decidedly rejected by England, was renewed towards the close of 1836 (Life of Mohamed Ali, p. 39) with no better success. We have no means of knowing the precise truth of these statements, and still less the circumstances by which the alleged overtures may have been preceded or followed,—but we must say that a heavy responsibility weighs on Lord Palmerston to give some sufficient reason why those audacious pretensions, if really advanced in 1855, were not at once extinguished, but, on the contrary, permitted to remain festering and inflaming till, in July, 1840, they required-immedicabile vulnus, ense recidendum-the last fatal remedy of the sword. But we do know, from the papers already laid before parliament, that in the beginning of 1838, at
latest, Lord Palmerston was apprised of the Pacha's ambitious projects to disturb the status quo :· Viscount Palmerston to Colonel Campbell, British Consul
at Alexandria. Sir,
'Foreign Office, February 6, 1838. With reference to your despatch of the 27th December, 1837, from which it appears that the Pacha of Egypt is exerting himself to increase his army in Syria, I have to direct you to state to the Pacha, that you are instructed to warn him against the evil consequences which will result to himself, if he recommences an attack upon any part of the Sultan's forces. You will also represent to the Pacha that his extensive conscription, his active military preparations, and his concentralion of troops in Syria, are all calculated to excite great distrust as to his intentions with respect to the Porte.'— Par. Pap. 1839. Again:
"Viscount Palmerston to Colonel Campbell. 'Sir,
Foreign Office, March 29, 1838. “With reference to your despatch of the 7th February, reporting the assurances, given to you by Mehemet Ali, that he had not the most remote view of conquest on any part of the Sultan's territory, beyond the limits of his own government-[was not this a notorious falsehood ?]—I have to instruct you to state to Mehemet Ali that you have been ordered by your government seriously to warn him of the consequences to himself which will follow any attempt on his part to extend his authority, by force of arms, in any direction.
I have further to instruct you specially to state to the Pacha that the frightful atrocities committed in Syria by his troops, under the pretext of enforcing the conscription, have produced in all Europe the most unfavourable and painful impression.'--Par. Pap. 1839. We request our readers' attention to this last paragraph; its importance will be seen presently. And again :• Viscount Palmerston to Colonel Campbell.
Foreign Office, June 9, 1838. I have to acquaint you that reports have reached her Majesty's Government from various quarters, tending to show that the Pacha of Egypt has it in contemplation to throw off his allegiance to the Sultan, and to declare himself independent. The Pacha may have been led to imagine that Great Britain would view with passive acquiescence such a proceeding on his part; and as it is of the utmost importance that no illusion should exist in the mind of the Pacha, upon a matter so pregnant with serious consequences to himself, you are instructed to lose no time in dispelling any error under which the Pacha may labour, as to the course which Great Britain would take in any conflict which might arise between him and the Sultan upon such a ground.'- Par. Pap. 1839.
We lay no stress, as others of Lord Palmerston's critics do, on the vagueness of the menace denounced against Mehemet Ali in these instructions-stronger and plainer language might perhaps have been better, but the menace was still sufficiently clear ; and what we complain of is Lord Palmerston's subsequent delay in giving it effect. Suaviter in modo is good policy only when you are resolved on the fortiter in re; for, after all these reiterated warnings and hypothetical menaces, Colonel Campbell inforins Lord Palmerston that 'the intended realisation by Mehemet Ali of his long-meditated plan to declare his independence has at length been unequivocally communicated by him both to M. Cochelet, the Consul-General of France, and myself.'—25 May, 1838. Par. Pap. 1839. And this is followed by all the details of the communication, which established, in the clearest terms, that the Pacha's resolution was maturely formed and would be steadily pursued. Here, then, was the very casus to which Lord Palmerston had directed so many minatory warnings,—and what did he do?-Nothing ! But he wrote an expostulatory despatch, which certainly was as little suited to the dignity of England as it was to the real state of affairs. It sets out with a declamatory and puerile panegyric on Mehemet Ali, involving an almost direct retractation of the important passage in the despatch of the 29th March to which we directed the notice of our readers; instead of being reproached with the frightful atrocities which have produced in All EUROPE the most unfavourable and painful impressions, the Pacha is now flatteringly told
* With respect to his own fame, he ought to recollect that, if he has hitherto risen progressively in the esteem of the nations of Europe, it has been in consequence of the pains he has taken to establish the authority of the law among the people whom he has governed, and by reason of his successful exertions to give the ascendancy to justice in all the transactions between man and man.'-- Par. Pap., 1839. And then Lord Palmerston proceeds to argue, in a style that might have been very proper in the beginning of the correspondence, but was now quite out of season, how very much it would be for the Pacha's own honour and comfort to be so good as to adopt his Lordship's kind advice :-'tis true that, in the course of the despatch, his Lordship states, in strong terms, that which ought rather to have been exhibited to the Pacha by the appearance of the allied fleets off Alexandria
‘Her Majesty's Government at once, and decidedly, pronounce the successful execution of the attempt to be impossible ; and its inevitable consequence to be ruin to the Pacha; because they know that the conflict which must necessarily be brought on by such an attempt would not be between the Pacha and the Sultan single-handed, but between the Pacha and the Sultan aided and supported by all the Powers of Europe.'—Par. Pap., 1839. But this very important paragraph is, to be sure, a little attenuated by what follows:
'If he, the Pacha, should unfortunately proceed to execute his announced intentions, and if hostilities should (as they indisputably would) break out thereupon between the Sultan and the Pacha, the Pacha must expect to find Great Britain taking part with the Sultan, in order to obtain redress for so flagrant a wrong done to the Sultan, and for the purpose of preventing the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire; and the Pacha would fatally deceive himself if he were to suppose that any jealousies among the Powers of Europe would prevent those Powers from affording to the Sultan, under such circumstances, every assistance which might be necessary for the purpose of upholding, enforcing, and vindicating his just and legitimate rights.'- Par. Pap., 1839.
This allusion to the jealousies amongst the Powers of Europe' was certainly not adroit: but the whole despatch, read altogether, is a substantial declaration by Lord Palmerston, on his official responsibility, - that all the powers were bona fide and firmly united in support of the Sultan; and ready, unanimously, to effect the utter 'RUIN’ of the Pacha, if he should persist in his intentions.' The Pacha did persist: he boldly and unequivocally announced his persistance (Par. Paper, 11th Aug. 1838). What was done?- Nothing ! Here, again, Lord Palmerston has a heavy account to render.
But worse remains.
Lord Palmerston had repeatedly pledged himself that all the Powers, and England especially, would, if the Sultan and Mehemet Ali should come into hostile collision, take an active part with the Sultan. Well, these parties did come into hosiile collision; and what did Lord Palmerston to redeem these pledges ?-Nothing! And on the 25th of June the army of the Sultan, with which all the powers of Europe were pledged to co-operate, was, after a skirmish rather than a fight, at Nezib, in a couple of hours utterly annihilated ; and on the 14th July the Sultan's fleet was carried off, by the treachery of its commanders, into the ports of the Pacha, passing through the fleet of France, which seemed to look with favour on the treachery, and close to that of England, which more modestly shut its eyes, that it might not see it; and this British fleet, thus playing at bo-peep with the honour of England and the safety of Turkey, was of at least equal force with that which has since şufficed for the late glorious operations in Syria,
cha did pecka, if he show unanimousin. firmly