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ever the General came to see him at Thorapin,
and, when asked whether he had come bv road



312 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

or by water, replied, e.g., that he had driven out
in his carriage, one might be certain to see his
caique alongside the Embassy quay, or the reverse,
as the case might be. Hitrovo, one of his staff, told
me that he was standing talking to him one day
in the Grande Rue at Pera, when some Turkish
troopers, passing on their way to their barracks
at the Taxim, deliberately hustled the Ambassador
so roughly a pleasant way the soldiery had at
this period, and from which even ladies were not
safe that he lost his balance and was nearly
knocked over. Hitrovo went after the fellows with
his stick, but they, realising they had to do with
important people, fled up the hill. When he re-
joined him, his chief exclaimed, to his amazement :
" Vous avez vu comme je les ai fait fuire ! " In fact,
as the lamb innocently and unconsciously bleats,
so did the general tell his little fibs. Not that he
failed to be unveracious en grand with an object
and to good purpose, but that he was so constituted
that inaccuracy oozed out of him, as it were. He is
said actually to have pleaded hereditary tendencies
on the point. On some occasion when he had made
an unusually startling statement to a colleague
with whom he was on intimate terms, the latter,
with a friendly dig in the ribs, told him he was
really surpassing himself. " Vous me flattez trop,
mon cher," replied the General, " vous n'avez pas
connu mon pere." With all this, a pleasant-
mannered man and a most amusing companion,



AN OUTBREAK OF CHOLERA 313

even though his vulpine Tartar countenance and
crafty eyes told against him from the first. The
graceful, high-bred Madame Ignatiew, a Princesse
Galitzine, did the honours of the Russian Embassy
quite charmingly.

About a month after my arrival there was a
bad outbreak of cholera at Constantinople, which, on
the Pera side, was mostly confined to the populous
suburbs, like Kassim Pasha, down by the waters
of the Golden Horn. A sanitary cordon of sentries
was drawn just beyond the Embassy garden and the
houses, including the one we lived in, that stand
on the ridge above the cemetery, known as the
Petit Champ des Morts, which stretches down to
the infected districts. The weather was still very
hot, and remained so until well into November ;
indeed, nothing could exceed the beauty of this
autumn season on the Bosphorus. Unfortunately
the heat of course increased the virulence of
the epidemic, which at one time threatened to
assume formidable proportions. Its worst centre
was the more distant suburb of Hasskeui, situated
higher up the Golden Horn, where a large number
of English engineers, employed at the Arsenal,
lived with their families. Outcries soon reached
the Embassy and the Consulate - General from
these poor people, who, being rigidly hedged in
by a sanitary cordon, were not only left without
adequate medical assistance, but were deprived in
some measure of the necessaries of life, which



314 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

had to be fetched from certain points within the
cordon, whither they were brought in insufficient
quantities from the outside. Sir Henry came up
one day from Therapia to visit the scene of this
calamity, and rode out there with the Consul Gen-
eral, Sir Philip Francis, a clever doctor of the name
of Paterson who was attached to the Consulate,
one of the dragomans, and myself. The ambassa-
dorial cavalcade, preceded by cavasses, was at once
let through the cordon, and we spent the after-
noon interviewing and inquiring into the wants
of the unfortunate inhabitants, who were panic-
stricken at being inhumanly confined to a place
the air of which was poisoned by open sewers and
reeked with the emanations from a large slaughter-
house close by. The whole suburb was a veritable
pest-house, and the percentage of fatal cases among
the women and children and old people showed
how greatly the terrors of the situation told upon
the mortality. The Ambassador arranged that
Doctor Paterson should have free access to them,
and, after considerable difficulty, the Porte agreed
to remove the wretched community at night to
some hulks that lay at a distance outside the
harbour in the Sea of Marmora. What struck me
most about this expedition was the absurdity of
our being permitted to go in and out of this rigid
cordon, and hence the fallacy of the entire system,
for our party, in returning to their several homes,
logically became so many plague-spots imported



HOBART PASHA 315

into the uncontaminated area. But these severe
quarantine measures, even when most strictly and
intelligently enforced, are only useful for confining
the malady to some particular spot on its first
appearance, and, applied too late, as they had been
in this case, only occasion useless hardship and
suffering. The epidemic of 1871-72, which broke
out at the beginning of October and lasted till
the middle of January, will long be remembered
for the barbarities attending it.

Sir Philip Francis, with whom I had a good
deal to do in connection with this cholera affair
and others, was a very able official, and worked
hard, with good effect, at checking the abuses
of the Turkish system and the gross neglect of
the Turkish authorities in all municipal concerns.
Francis was, besides, a most agreeable companion,
and had a caustic wit well worthy of his celebrated
namesake, the supposed Junius, with whom, by
the way, he disclaimed all connection, frankly
and jokingly describing himself as being of no
family in particular. He died early, and was a
distinct loss to the Consular Service. Another
Constantinople character of that period was Hobart
Pasha. 1 After showing himself the most daring
of blockade runners in the civil war in the United
States, he had done the Turkish Government good
service in blockading the coast of the Island of

1 Vico- Admiral the Honourable II. C. ITobart, third son of the
6th Earl of Buckinghamshire.



3 i6 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

Crete during the insurrection of 1867-68. The
vessels he had then had under his orders, and on
which so much money, wrung from the unfortunate
tax-payers of the decaying Empire, had been
wasted, now lay at anchor in the Golden Horn,
half dismantled and quite unfit to go to sea, while
their gallant commander was kept equally idle
held in leash, as it were, like the British bulldog
he was for pluck and tenacity by his Turkish
employers. He greatly fumed and fretted over
this enforced inaction, in a ramshackle house in
one of the steep lanes that branch down to the
water from the main street of Pera, and in winter
are only accessible in a sedan-chair. Here he and
his wife and a nice-looking niece of hers made
one very welcome. Dauntless, though somewhat
tactless, and, as he has been well described, "a
bold buccaneer of the Elizabethan period, who
by some strange perversion of fate was born into
the Victorian," Hobart certainly deserved a better
fate than to vegetate in the service of the un-
speakable Turk.

In January 1872 the Elliots left for England
on four months' leave, and I assumed charge of
the Embassy under, as it turned out, very un-
favourable circumstances. I still to some extent
suffered from nervous depression, one of the after
effects of my insurance mishap in London ; and
the irritating climate of the Bosphorus, too, told
upon me as it does on many people. Scarcely



A RUSSIAN TRAP 317

had the Ambassador left, when I felt so seriously
unwell that I sent for Dickson, the physician to
the Embassy, who, as soon as he entered the
room, burst out laughing in my face and said :
" Go to bed at once ; you have got the measles ! "
Nothing could be more annoying, situated as I
was, but fortunately the attack was slight, and,
more fortunately still, my devoted little wife enabled
me to carry on the indispensable Embassy work
after a fashion, by writing my despatches for me
under dictation. I must also do my bete noire,
Etienne Pisani, the justice to say that he reported
to me regularly all through my illness without
showing any fear of infection. I recovered very
soon, and in fact felt all the better for this
visitation.

About this time it was that my weakness
for theatricals led me into a trap adroitly set
for me by the wily Russian Ambassador. It
was Madame Onou the wife of the Russian
First Dragoman, and step-daughter of Jomini of
the Imperial Chancellerie at Petersburg, a very
clever woman and a good actress who enticed
me into taking part in a performance at the
Russian Embassy, which both she and the Am-
bassador positively assured me would be quite
private, the audience being limited to a few
colleagues and other friends. Quite un spectacle
intime. I had misgivings as to the propriety of
lending myself to anything of the kiud in my



3 i8 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

present position of Chargd d* Affaires, but allowed
myself to be talked over, and was soon hard at
work rehearsing the difficult part of the husband
in Octave Feuillet's Pdril en la Demeure. Madame
Onou herself played the Baronne de Vitre\ and my
wife, who showed very great aptitude for acting,
gave a charming rendering of the Madame de la
Roseraie, round whose peril the plot of this well-
known play turns. 1 Hubert Jerningham likewise
acquitted himself well, and the performance was, on
the whole, praiseworthy. Short-sighted, however,
as I am, my equanimity and, to some extent, the
fortunes of the piece were put to a sore trial
when on reaching the footlights I at once realised
that the front row of seats was almost entirely
occupied by high Turkish officials, including the
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Server Pasha ! It
was, in Yankee parlance, a smart trick on the part
of the general, but in diplomacy, more even than in
love or war, all stratagems are permissible. Given
Turkish ideas, the sight of the British representative
though only an ephemeral Charge" d'Affaires
buffooning on the stage for the amusement of
the dignitaries of the Porte, was one scarcely cal-
culated to improve his standing with the Ottoman
Government. At the mature age of past forty I
ought assuredly to have known better.

I fell upon relatively uneventful times during

1 The English version of this ]>l.iy, V>y Tom Taylor, is called "The
House and the Home," and was written for the Wigans.



THE NEW GRAND VIZIER 319

my four months' Charge'ship at Constantinople
the lull, in fact, in European affairs that followed
upon the great Franco - German struggle. There
was none the less plenty to watch and to report
upon. That very distinguished statesman, Aali
Pasha, had died a few days before my arrival in
September. His successor, Mahmoud Nedim, came
into office with a very commendable programme,
the chief points of which were administrative
reform and a strict enforcement of economy in
all branches of the expenditure. The new Grand
Vizier was a Turk of the old school, and reputed
to be honest and trustworthy in his dealings,
though later on he showed himself so subservient
to Russian influences as to earn the nickname of
Mahmoudoff. At first, however, he was much less
transparently Russian than the Foreign Minister,
Server Pasha. Unfortunately, unlike his polished
predecessors, Fuad and Aali, Mahmoud was igno-
rant of any language but Turkish, and this placed
me, in my intercourse with him, more or less
at the mercy of an interpreter whom I greatly
mistrusted. My interviews with this genuine old
Osmanli were thus attended with much vexation
and annoyance to me. My visits to him were
pretty frequent, being quite irrespective of poli-
tical questions taken up in urging, as best I could,
the redress of some grievance, or the settlement
of some old claim regarding which promise upon
promise had been repeatedly made and as repeatedly



320 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

broken. The only mode that suggested itself to
me of convincing the officials at the Porte, and more
especially the Grand Vizier, that I was very much
in earnest in these troublesome affairs mostly sent
up to us from our Consulates in distant provinces
was to bring home that fact to Pisani himself.
I made it a rule, therefore, to send for him and hold
to him the very language I wished to be conveyed
by him, using the strongest terms, blowing him up
vicariously, as it were, and thoroughly washing his
dirty old Levantine head in the hope that some, at
least, of the impression I had produced upon him
might be passed on, when he presently told the
Grand Vizier what this unreasonable Englishman
wanted and had come to insist upon.

I generally went to the Porte about two o'clock,
and found Mahmoud in a somewhat torpid condition
after his midday meal. The preliminary courtesies
accomplished, I proceeded to business by repeating
in brief to Pisani what I had already tried to hammer
into him, and he would then begin translating I
fondly hoped in some degree faithfully what I
had said. The Grand Vizier, after resuming his
seat on the divan, soon relapsed into his familiar
native attitude, tucking up his legs and crossing
them on the cushions in true Oriental fashion. lie
would then remain perfectly stolid and immovable
all through Pisani's discourse, and, at the end of
it, would, to my distress and disgust, open his jaws
as wide as he could and give two or three mighty



THE BULGARIAN EXARCHATE 321

yawns, like a wild beast in a menagerie, when one
stands watching him in front of his bars. These
probably dyspeptic manifestations mortified me
more than I can say, and I generally left the old
Pasha in a most despondent frame of mind. I
soon found, however, that the best way of expedit-
ing an affair was to go to whatever department it
concerned at the Porte, and state that I proposed
staying there until I had assured myself that the
orders repeatedly promised me had been issued.
Finding they could not get rid of me, they often
ended by doing what I wanted. I wasted a good
many afternoons in this way, but generally carried
my point, and among the chers collegues was con-
sidered to be very successful in getting my com-
plaints attended to.

Much the most important political question I
had to do with was the long-standing quarrel which
then came to a climax between the Greek Patriar-
chate and the Bulgarian clergy. It arose out of the
firman of 1870, by which, under the administration
of Aali Pasha, certain concessions, amounting prac-
tically to autonomy in ecclesiastical matters, had
been granted to the Bulgarians. Of these the most
essential was the creation of a Bulgarian Exarchate
which was, however, still to remain subject to the
spiritual supremacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch. In
according these concessions, long 1 agitated for by
the Bulgarians, Aali Pasha had been moved partly
by the old principle, clear to despotic ^overnmeuts,



VOL. II.



322 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

of divide et impera, and partly by a dislike to and
distrust of the Greeks, traditional at the Porte,
but which was now quite out of date, seeing how
greatly diminished were the power and influence
formerly wielded by the Patriarchate throughout
the Eastern world down even to the Greek revolu-
tion and the martyrdom of the venerable Gregorios.
In favouring the Bulgarians at the expense of the
Greeks, Aali Pasha and his successor imprudently
lost sight of the fact that, in all the regions at that
time still subject to Ottoman rule, the Church in a
great measure embodied the national sentiment, so
that, in preparing the birth of a free Bulgarian
Church polity, they awakened partially dormant
political aspirations, and fostered the growth of a
distinct Bulgarian nationality. Of Bulgarians in
Turkey there were, of course, a couple of millions
or so humble, laborious folk, excellent at agricul-
tural work, and perfectly phenomenal as hammals
(porters) I once met one carrying a piano on his
broad back up the steepest pitch of the Grande Rue
but, excepting in the inner consciousness of the
students at the Roberts College, a Bulgarian nation
was scarcely dreamt of at that time. I took it upon
myself to call the Grand Vizier's attention to the
dangers I apprehended, but the weight and influ-
ence of a Charge d' Affaires are so small compared to
those of an Ambassador, that I could not hope to
effect much. Nevertheless I worked hard I mi^ht
almost say single-handed, the Foreign Office strangely



RUSSIA AND THE SLAVS IN TURKEY 323

taking but little interest in the affair to stave off a
final rupture between the Patriarchate and the Bul-
garian bishops. The blindness and fanaticism, how-
ever, of the effete old Patriarch a man of ninety
and the weakness of the Grand Vizier, insidiously
guided by General Ignatiew, eventually led to an
irremediable breach which had far-reaching conse-
quences for the authority of the Porte and, among
other things, contributed to bring about the disas-
trous Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

To give him his due, the Russian Ambassador
showed much skill and prescience in this matter.
He for some time affected complete abstention and
neutrality his hands being no doubt tied by in-
structions from Prince Gortchacow but early in
February he admitted to one of his colleagues, in
a conversation which came to my knowledge, that
his policy, the only true and natural one for a
Russian, was to stand by his Slav co-religionists,
and that he had strongly urged the Porte to concede
the Bulgarian demands. Being in one of his indis-
creet, boastful moods, he added that his line of con-
duct with the Ottoman Government was simply to
make them realise that they must lean on Russia,
whether they liked or not, since Russia controlled
all the Slav races of the Empire, and could use
them as she pleased, either for or against their
rulers. The position of Russia, he said, was made
so strong by this Slav connection, that she alone of
all the Powers could afford to follow an audacious



324 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

(sic) policy towards Turkey. I suspect that in this
business Ignatiew scored off Prince Gortchacow,
who could not abide him, and probably hampered
the Ambassador as much as he could. I recollect
Ignatiew on one occasion coming to Petersburg on
leave of absence no doubt granted him unwillingly
and his friends in the Panslavist press and others
giving out that he had really been sent for to re-
place the old Chancelier. This time, however, the
scoring was on the side of the Prince, who, when
the General returned to his post empty-handed,
maliciously expressed his disappointment at having
reluctantly convinced himself that the man whom
he had always looked upon as his successor was
by no means of the calibre to relieve him of the
heavy cares of office.

In this ecclesiastical conflict the Cabinet of
Vienna likewise unfortunately favoured the Bul-
garian pretensions ; Count Andrassy vainly imagin-
ing that he could compete in it with Russia, and
thus acquire a lead with an important section of
the Southern Slavs still subject to Turkey. In the
question of the succession to the throne, the Austro-
Hungarian Premier was also ill-inspired. He pri-
vately instructed the Austrian Minister, Count
Ludulf, to back up, if necessary, the project which
the Sultan Abdul Aziz was believed to meditate of
changing the order of succession hitherto obtaining
in the Imperial family, and substituting for it primo-
geniture in the direct line of his own descendants,



THE SUCCESSION TO THE THRONE 325

thereby making his eldest son, Youssouff Izzedin,
his heir in the place of Murad Effendi (afterwards
Murad V.), the eldest son of the late Sultan Abdul
Medjid. The change in this sense already effected
in Egypt was supposed to have been sanctioned by
the sovereign with the object of creating a precedent
for his own family.

I soon ascertained that so radical an alteration in
the laws of the State was viewed with apprehension
at our Foreign Office as being fraught with peril to
the Sultan, who, by attempting it, would run counter
to the traditions and sentiments of his subjects.
When, therefore, Count Ludolf an amiable but
very weak man mentioned his instructions to me,
I frankly told him that I did not think the course
his chief proposed to himself of running races with
Russia for the Sultan's favour a very judicious one,
and added that I should probably find it my duty to
discourage, as far as I could, what was considered
by our Government to be the dangerous design
harboured by the Sultan. There were ominous
indications of its being intended to carry out that
design suddenly and without any warning. Yous-
souf Izzedin, only a boy of fourteen, had been
appointed to the command of the ist Army Corps,
composed of the Imperial Guard, and was encour-
aged to show himself a i^reat deal in the barracks

o O

and curry favour with the soldiers, much to the
detriment of discipline among these praetorians.
Most significant of all was the report that the



326 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

Sheik-ul-Islam had been gained over by the Sultan,
and was prepared to issue a fetvah sanctifying the
proposed change by authority derived from the
Koran. The crisis appeared thus to be imminent,
but it was nevertheless desirable that I should avoid
moving at all openly in a question which most
true Moslems deemed unfit for discussion with an
unbeliever. I sent for Dickson an exceedingly
shrewd man, though but a poor physician who,
through attending their harems, had considerable
influence with some of the Pashas, and told
him to take an early opportunity of letting the
Grand Vizier and other influential dignitaries
know privately what were the sentiments of our
Government on the subject. I cannot say whether
this contributed to the abandonment of the scheme,
but before long it was certainly dropped.

Abdul Aziz at this period revealed some of the
tendencies which have since been so disastrously
discernible in the reigning Sultan. Like him he
was disposed to assume a more direct share in
the government of the Empire, and to curtail the
authority of his counsellors at the Porte. Like him
he favoured the movement tending towards a re-
vival of militant Islamism, which in the latter days
of those Frenchified statesmen Aali and Fuad,
who were imbued with Western ideas, was quite
unheard of. In smaller matters, too, such as the
severe repression of the habit adopted by many of
the Turkish ladies of visiting the millinery and other



SULTAN ABDUL AZIZ 327

stores at Pera in the most transparent of yashmaks,
the Sultan showed the old retrograde Mussulman
spirit.

Unlike his present successor, Abdul Aziz granted
but few audiences. I only saw him once, as it
happened, at a short distance. One morning in
April Mme. de Vogue sent us word to come at
once to the French Embassy, the garden of which
overlooked the entrance to the Austrian Embassy,
as the Sultan was expected there to return the visit
of the Archduke Charles Louis, then on his way to
the Holy Land. Very soon a few Imperial cavasscs
in gorgeous array debouched from the open square
of Tophaneh, not two hundred yards off, into the
narrow street below us, followed by a small group
of officers in very smart uniforms, immediately pre-
ceding the Padischah, who was mounted on a
beautiful Arab with splendid gold trappings, behind
which came an equally fine spare horse similarly
caparisoned; then more officers, cavasses, tcliibouk-
<7;Y.v, &c., and, bringing up the rear, a motley gang
of Oriental tag-rag and bobtail, the meagre cortege
thus presenting the strangest mixture of finery and
squalor. The Sultan himself, wearing the ordinary
Turkish-cut frock-coat and fex, slouched in the
saddle with bent head, so that we, looking <lo\\n
upon him, could scarcely discern his features. He
dismounted at the Embassy door, where the Arch-
duke, in his spruce white tunic, was waiting to
receive him, and vanished into the house for a



328 RECOLLECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIST

most a quarter of an hour. The younger officers of
the Imperial suite meanwhile lounged about the
entrance, twirling their moustaches and ogling the
bright cluster of foreign ladies who stood by the
high garden wall over against them. Suddenly
there occurred the funniest of transformations. The
brilliant group, cheekily airing their graces for
the benefit of Giaour womankind, were apparently
seized simultaneously with severe internal discom-
fort, clapping their hands to their stomachs, and
bending in two as if in great pain. It was of course


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