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of this intention, and was willing to defeat it, for on CHAP,

. XI

the 9th he sought a private audience of the Sultan: •—^—>

he sought it, of course, through the legitimate channel. The Minister for Foreign Affairs went with Lord Stratford to the Sultan's apartment, and then withdrew. The Ambassador spoke gravely to the Sultan His audiof the danger with which his Empire was threatened, sultan.* e and then of the grounds for confidence. He was happy, he said, to find that His Majesty's servants, both Ministers and Council, were not less inclined to gratify the Russian Ambassador with all that could be safely conceded to him, than determined to withhold their consent from every requisition calculated to inflict a serious injury on the independence and dignity of their Sovereign. 'I had 'waited,' said Lord Stratford, 'to know their own 'unbiassed impressions respecting the kind of gua'rantee demanded by Prince Mentschikoff, and I 'could not do otherwise than approve the decision 'which they appeared to have adopted with unanimity. 'My own impression is, that if your Majesty should 'sanction that decision, the Ambassador will probably 'break off his relations with the Porte and go away, 'together perhaps with his whole embassy: nor is it 'quite impossible even that a temporary occupation, 'however .unjust, of the Danubian Principalities by 'Russia may take place ; but I feel certain that neither 'a declaration of war, nor any other act of open hos'tility, is to be apprehended for the present, as the 'Emperor Nicholas cannot resort to such extremities 'on account of the pending differences without con

CHAP. 'tradicting his most solemn assurances, and exposing •—^—' 'himself to the indignant censure of all Europe. I 'conceive that, under such circumstances, the true po'sition to be maintained by the Porte is one of moral 'resistance to such demands as are really inadmis'sible on just and essential grounds, and that the 'principle should even be applied under protest to 'the occupation of the Principalities, not in weakness 'or despair, but in reliance on a good cause, and on 'the sympathy of friendly and independent Govern'ments. A firm adherence to this line of conduct as 'long as it is possible to maintain it with honour 'will, in my judgment, offer the best chances of ulti'mate success with the least practicable degree of 'provocation, and prevent disturbance of commercial * interests. This language,' writes Lord Stratford, 'appeared to interest the Sultan deeply, and also 'to coincide with His Majesty's existing opinions. 1 He said that he was well aware of the dangers to 'which I had alluded; that he was perfectly pre'pared, in the exercise of his own free will, to con'firm and to render effective the protection pro'mised to all classes of his tributary subjects in 'matters of religious worship, including the immu'nities and privileges granted to their respective 'clergy. He showed me the last communications in 'writing which had passed between his Ministers and 'the Russian Embassy; he thanked me for having 'helped to bring the question of the Holy Places to 'an arrangement; he professed his reliance on the 'friendly support of Great Britain.'

But now Lord Stratford apprised the Sultan that C HA p. he had a communication to make to him which he >—^—' had hitherto withheld from his Ministers, reserving ^t-hfch it for the private ear of His Majesty. The pale ^,{£ Sultan listened. *he,Sul

tan s ear.

Then the Ambassador announced that, in the event of imminent danger, he was instructed to request the Commander of Her Majesty's forces in the Mediterranean to hold his squadron in readiness.*

This order was of itself a slight thing, and it conferred but a narrow and stinted authority; but, imparted to the Sultan in private audience by Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, it came with more weight than the promise of armed support from the lips of a common Statesman. Long withheld from the Turkish Ministers, and now disclosed to them through their Sovereign, it confirmed them in the faith that whatever a man might know of the great Eltchi's power, there was always more to be known. And when a man once comes to be thus thought of by Orientals, he is more their master than one who seeks to overpower their minds by making coarse pretences of strength.

On the 10th the Secretary for Foreign Affairs sent Turkish his answer to Prince Mentschikoff's demand. The Mentschiletter was full of courtesy and deference towards JL>* e" Russia: it declared it to be the firm intention of the Porte to maintain unimpaired the rights of all the tributary subjects of the Empire, and it expressed a willingness to negotiate with Russia concerning a

* ' Eastern Papers,' part i. p. 213. VOL. I. M the Sultan.

church and an hospital at Jerusalem, and also as to the privileges which should be conceded to Russian subjects, monks and pilgrims; but the Note objected to entertain that portion of the Russian demands which went to give Russia a protectorate of the Greek Church in Turkey.* Mentechi- On the following day Prince Mentschikoff sent an

koff"a an- . .

gry reply, angry reply to this JNote, declining to accept it as an answer to his demand. He stated that he was instructed to negotiate for an engagement guaranteeing the privileges of the Greek Church as a mark of respect to the religious convictions of the Emperor; and if the principles which formed the basis of this proposed mark of respect were to be rejected, and if the Porte, by a systematic opposition, was to persist in closing the very approaches to an intimate and direct understanding, then the Prince declared with pain that he must consider his mission at an end, must break off relations with the Cabinet of the Sultan, and throw upon the responsibility of his Ministers all the consequences which might ensue. The Prince ended his Note by requiring that it should be answered within three days.t

On the second day after sending this Note, Prince Mentschikoff was to have an interview with the Grand Vizier at half-past one o'clock; but before that hour came the Prince took a step which had the effect Hispri- of breaking up the Ministry. Without the concurrence"^ rence, and apparently without the previous knowledge, of the Ministers, he found means to obtain a CHAP, private audience of the Sultan at ten o'clock in the •—^—> morning. The Sultan did wrongly when he submitted to receive a foreign Ambassador without the advice or knowledge of his Ministers, and the Grand Vizier had the spirit to resent the course thus taken by his Sovereign; for upon being sent for by the Sultan immediately after the audience, he requested This permission to stay at home, and at the same time gave change of up his seals of office. The new Ministry, however, at Conwas formed of men who, as members of the Great UOpie; Council, had declared opinions adverse to the extreme demands of Russia."" Reshid Pasha became the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; and this was not an appointment which disclosed any intention on the part of the Sultan to disengage himself from the counsels of the English Ambassador.

* May 10. 'Eastern Papers,' part i. p. 196. t May 11. Ibid. p. 197. * 'Eastern Papers,' part i. p. 194. t Ibid. p. 195.

If the Sultan had erred in granting an audience without the assent of his Ministers, he had carried his weakness no further. It soon transpired that Prince but fails to Mentschikoff had failed to wring from the Sultan any Sultan, dangerous words. It seems that when the Prince came to press his demands upon the imperial ear, he found the monarch reposing in the calmness of mind which had been given him by the English Ambassador five days before, and in a few moments he had the mortification of hearing that for all answer to his demands he was referred to the Ministers of State.t In the judgment of Prince Mentschikoff, to be thus

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