EXECUTIONS IN TURKEY
APOSTACY FROM ISLAMISM.
[stamped:] BIBLIOTHQUE DU PALAIS DE LA PAIX
Presented to the House of Lords, by Her Majesty's Command.
PRINTED BY T. R. HARRISON.
EXECUTIONS IN TURKEY
APOSTACY FROM ISLAMISM.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received September 20.)
(Extract.) Buyukder, August 27, 1843.
Within the last few days an execution has taken place at Constantinople under circumstances which have occasioned much excitement and indignation among the Christian inhabitants. The sufferer was an Armenian youth of eighteen or twenty years, who having, under fear of punishment, declared himself a Turk, went to the Island of Syra, and returning, after an absence of some length, resumed his former religion. Apprehensive of the danger but resolved not to deny his real faith a second time, he kept out of sight till accident betrayed him to the police, and he was then thrown into prison. In spite of threats, promises, and blows, he there maintained his resolution, refused to save his life by a fresh disavowal of Christianity, and was finally decapitated in one of the most frequented parts of the city with circumstances of great barbarity.
Inclosed herewith is a statement of the particulars drawn up by Mr. Alison.
It is not merely on grounds of humanity that I would draw your Lordship's attention to this incident: political considerations of serious importance are connected with it; and on this account, no less than from regard for the tears and entreaties of a distracted family, I exhausted my influence in vain endeavours to divert the Porte from its purpose. Every Member of the Council to whom I applied, returned the same answer, expressing a willingness to meet my wishes, and regretting the inexorable necessity of the law.
For my own part I do not believe that any such necessity exists. The determination of the Government to sacrifice the Armenian youth, in spite of my earnest solicitations, unless he recanted publicly, is part and parcel of that system of reaction which preceded my arrival here, against which I have constantly struggled, and which, notwithstanding the assurances given to me, and the efforts of its partisans to conceal it, is day by day gaining strength, to the despair of every enlightened Turkish statesman, to the prejudice of our relations with this country, and to the visible decline of those improvements which, in my humble judgment, can alone avert the dissolution of the Sultan's empire.
The law, which, in this instance, has torn a youth from the bosom of his family, and consigned him to an ignominious and cruel death, would apply with equal force to a subject of any Christian Power.
Such of my colleagues as I have consulted upon this subject appear to take a view of it similar to my own, I refer, in particular, to the Austrian, French, Russian, and Prussian Ministers: each of them has told me that he intended to recommend the question to the serious consideration of his Government.
Since my arrival here one British and two French subjects have declared in favour of Mahomedanism, and much difficulty has been experienced in dealing with the individuals concerned. The British subject, a Maltese, returned to the Catholic faith a few days after he had declared himself a Turk, and he was privately conveyed out of this country. The Porte, on that occasion, evidently identified the change of allegiance with the change of creed, and not only would a trifling incident have sufficed to raise the question arising out of that principle between Her Majesty's Embassy and the Porte, but had the man been arrested after his recantation, I should perhaps have been reduced to the necessity of putting all to hazard in order to snatch him from the hands of the executioner.
The only* Articles relating to this matter in our Capitulations with the Porte are the sixty-first and seventy-first. The French have an Article of similar meaning in their capitulations, and by the Treaty of Kainardji between Russia and the Porte it was agreed that individuals who had changed their religion should be mutually exempted from the operation of the Article, which otherwise stipulates for the extradition of refugees and malefactors.
* Article LXI.—That if any Englishman should turn Turk, and it should be represented and proved that besides his own goods he has in his hands any property belonging to another person in England, such property shall be taken from him and delivered up to the Ambassador or Consul, that they may convey the same to the owner thereof.
Article LXXI.—That should any Englishman coming with merchandize turn Turk, and the goods so imported by him be proved to belong to merchants of his own country, from whom he had taken them, the whole shall be detained, with the ready money, and delivered up to the Ambassador, in order to his transmitting the same to the right owners, without any of our judges or officers interposing any obstacle or hindrance thereto.
Under these impressions I trust that your Lordship will not think I have exceeded the bounds of prudence in stating confidentially, though without reserve, to the Grand Vizier the impressions made upon my mind by the recent execution. Couched as my message was in respectful and kindly terms, I hope it will operate as a salutary admonition. The interpreter's report of his Highness' reply is inclosed with this despatch.
Inclosure l in No. 1.
Case of the Armenian Avakim, son of Yagya, of the parish of Top Kapousee.
About a year and a half ago Avakim having had a drunken quarrel with some neighbours, was sentenced at the War Office to receive 500 bastinadoes.
Fear and intoxication induced him to become a Mussulman, and he was conducted on the spot to the Mehkem where the name of Mehemet was given him.
Some days afterwards Avakim repented of what he had done, and fled to Syra, from whence he returned a few months ago.
About three months ago, while returning from his sister's house with a small bundle containing wearing apparel, he was recognized by the Kolaga of the quarter, Mustapha, and denounced at the War Office of having renegaded from Islamism. He was then submitted to the most cruel punishment to compel him to re-abandon his original belief, and was even paraded through the streets with his hands tied behind his back as if for execution. Avakim, however, unintimidated by torture or the prospect of death, proclaimed aloud his firm belief in Christianity, and was led forth to suffer on Wednesday last amidst the execrations of the Ulema partisans.
Only one man, Taouk-Bazarli Ali, among the thirty armed police who conducted him, could be prevailed upon to strike the blow. Many of the Turks spat on him as they passed, and openly reviled the faith for which he had died. A Yafta, in the following terms, was affixed on the opposite shop:—
"The Armenian shoemaker, Avakim, son of Yagya, having last year, in the beginning of Moharrem, while at an age of discretion, accepted Islamism, and received the name of Mehemet, some time afterwards renegaded, and having now obstinately persisted in refusing the proffer made to him by the law to re-become a Moslem, sentence of death was awarded unto him according to fetwa, and he has thereby suffered."
The first intelligence received in Pera of this occurrence was the appearance in the streets of the unfortunate lad's mother tearing her grey hair, and rushing distractedly from the scene of bloodshed. The poor old woman, when assured of her boy's fate, returned and sat in grief by the corpse, from which she was afterwards removed.
A petition of the Armenians for the corpse was rejected, and it was after three days exposure cast into the sea.
Constantinople, August 27, 1843.
Inclosure 2 in No. 1.
M. Pisani to Sir Stratford Canning.
Excellence, Pra, le 24 Aot, 1843.
Conformment vos ordres, j'ai vu le Grand Vizir, et je lui ai rendu, mot mot, le message contenu dans votre instruction confidentielle en date d'hier, relativement au jeune Armnien qui vient d'tre excut. Son Altesse a rpondu de la manire suivante:
"Quant moi, personnellement, j'ai en horreur mme d'gorger une poule. Les excutions, si frquentes dans l'ancien systme, sont trs rares aujourd'hui. Mais dans le cas rcent, je vous ai dj dit, et je vous rpte, qui ni les Ministres, ni le Sultan, ne pouvaient absolument pas sauver la vie de l'Armnien. Les lois du Coran ne forcent personne de se faire Musulman; mais elles sont inexorables tant l'gard du Musulman qui embrasse une autre religion, qu' l'gard du non-Musulman qui, aprs avoir de son propre gr embrass publiquement l'Islamisme, est convaincu d'y avoir renonc. Nulle considration ne peut faire commuer la peine capitale laquelle la loi le condamne sans misricorde. Le seul, l'unique moyen d'chapper la mort, c'est pour l'accus de dclarer qu'il s'est fait de nouveau Musulman. C'est dans le seul but de sauver la vie a l'individu en question que nous avons, contre la lettre de la loi, qui exige que la sentence dans le cas dont il s'agit soit mise excution aussitt qu'elle a t prononce, que nous lui avons laiss quelques jours de temps pour y bien rflchir, avec l'assurance que la dclaration voulue par la loi une fois faite, il serait mis en libert, et qu'il pourrait partir de Constantinople; mais comme il a rsist toutes les tentatives faites pour le persuader de recourir au seul moyen d'chapper la mort, force fut la fin d'obir la loi, sans quoi les Oulmas se souleveraient contre nous. L'excution a d, aux termes de la loi, tre faite publiquement."
Voyant que le Grand Vizir n'avait rien dit par rapport aux observations de votre Excellence sur ce qui arriverait si un tranger, un Anglais par exemple, se trouvait dans des circonstances analogues, j'ai pri son Altesse de considrer et de faire considrer au Ministre Ottoman, dans quelle position la Porte se mettrait vis vis du Gouvernement Anglais, si elle recourait des violences. Le Grand Vizir a dit alors: "Je ne sais pas vraiment ce qu'un cas pareil exigerait s'il s'agissait d'un tranger; j'ignore ce que les lois disent l'gard d'un Franc qui se trouverait compromis par les circonstances qui ont fait condamner la mort l'Armnien, qui est un rayah."
Le Grand Vizir a fini par dire; "Faites mes complimens Monsieur l'Ambassadeur, et dites lui que j'apprcie ses sentimens d'humanit et de bienveillance; mais que ce qui vient d'arriver tait un mal tout fait sans remde."
J'ai l'honneur. &c.,
(Sign) FRED. PISANI.
Excellency, Pera, August 24, 1843.
In conformity with your orders I saw the Grand Vizier and communicated to him, word for word, the message contained in your confidential instruction of yesterday respecting the young Armenian who has just been executed. His Highness made answer to the following effect:—
"As regards myself personally, I have a horror of even putting a fowl to death. Executions, so frequent under the old system, are now of rare occurrence. But in the late instance, as I have already said to you, and again repeat, positively neither the Ministers nor the Sultan could have saved the life of the Armenian. The laws of the Koran compel no man to become a Mussulman, but they are inexorable both as respects a Mussulman who embraces another religion, and as respects a person not a Mussulman, who, after having of his own accord publicly embraced Islamism, is convicted of having renounced that faith. No consideration can produce a commutation of the capital punishment to which the law condemns him without mercy. The only mode of escaping death is for the accused to declare that he has again become a Mussulman. It was only with a view to saving the life of the individual in question, that we—contrary to the letter of the law, which requires that the sentence in cases of this nature, should be executed as soon as pronounced—allowed him some days respite to think over the matter carefully, with the assurance that having once made the declaration required by law, he would be set at liberty and would be able to leave Constantinople; but inasmuch as he resisted all the attempts which were made to induce him to have recourse to the only means of escaping death, it finally became necessary to obey the law, otherwise the Ulemas would have risen against us. The execution, according to the terms of the law, was necessarily public."
Seeing that the Grand Vizier had said nothing with reference to your Excellency's observations as to what would occur if a foreigner, an Englishman for instance, were to be placed in similar circumstances, I begged His Highness to consider, and to direct the consideration of the Ottoman Ministry to the nature of the position in which the Porte would place itself as regards the British Government, were it to have recourse to violence. The Grand Vizier then said, "I really do not know what would become necessary in such a case if a foreigner were concerned; I am ignorant as to what is said in the law as regards a Frank who should be compromised by the circumstances which caused the Armenian, who was a Rayah, to be condemned to death."
The Grand Vizier concluded by saying, "Present my compliments to the Ambassador, and tell him that I appreciate his humane and well-intentioned sentiments, but that what has occurred was a misfortune for which there was no remedy whatever."
I have, &c.
(Signed) F. PISANI.
Lord Cowley to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received September 20.)
My Lord, Paris, September 18, 1843.
M. Guizot informed me this morning that he had received a communication from M. de Bourqueney, relative to a most unjustifiable act of the Turkish Government, in having, under circumstances of great cruelty, put to death an Armenian Turk who had embraced Christianity, and had refused to renounce that religion and resume the Ottoman faith.
M. Bourqueney having asked for instructions for his guidance in this matter, the Minister for Foreign Affairs sent him a protest which he is to present to the Ottoman Government on the behalf of the Government of France.
M. Guizot observed, that as the Great Powers of Europe were using their best endeavours to induce the Sultan's Christian subjects to live peaceably under the Ottoman rule, they could not allow of such arbitrary acts of cruelty as that which had been perpetrated, and which was sufficient to rouse the whole of the Christian population against the Government. He understood, he said, that Sir Stratford Canning had asked for instructions from your Lordship in this matter, and that he trusted that they would be in a similar tenor to those he was about to send to M. de Bourqueney.
I have, &c.,
Chevalier Bunsen to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received September 29.)
Le Soussign, Envoy Extraordinaire et Ministre Plnipotentiaire de Sa Majest le Roi de Prusse, a l'honneur de transmettre son Excellence le Comte de Aberdeen, Principal Secrtaire d'Etat de Sa Majest Britannique pour les Affaires Etrangres, copie d'une dpche qu'il vient de recevoir, avec l'ordre d'en donner connaissance sa Seigneurie.
En s'acquittant de cette commission, il profite, &c.
Londres, le 28 Septembre, 1843.
The Undersigned, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from His Majesty the King of Prussia, has the honour to transmit to his Excellency the Earl of Aberdeen, Her Britannic Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a copy of a despatch which he has just received, with instructions to communicate it to his Lordship.
In executing this instruction, he avails himself, &c.
London, September 28, 1843.
Inclosure 1 in No. 3.
Baron Blow to Chevalier Bunsen.
Monsieur, Berlin, ce 21 Septembre, 1843.
Vos rapports au Roi jusqu'au No. 91 du 15 du courant nous sont parvenus et ont t placs sous les yeux de Sa Majest.
Vous tes sans doute dj instruit, par la voie des journaux, des dtails de l'excution de l'Armnien Serkiz Papazoghlou, mis mort dernirement Constantinople pour avoir reni la foi de Mahomet qu'il avait embrasse quelque temps avant. A la vrit, la lettre du Coran inflige la peine de mort tous ceux qui abandonnent le Mahomtisme, mais longtemps dj l'usage avait adouci la rigueur d'une loi si peu en harmonie avec les prceptes de la civilisation, et depuis nombre d'annes aucune excution de ce genre n'avait eu lieu. Celle du malheureux Serkiz doit par consquent tre considre comme un triste retour aux barbaries du fanatisme Musulman. Elle le doit d'autant plus que, d'un ct, l'nergique intercession de Sir Stratford Canning en faveur de la victime est reste infructueuse; et que, de l'autre, les autorits Turques, en conduisant Serkiz, quoique Armnien, en costume Franc et la casquette sur la tte au supplice, semblent avoir voulu donner ce sanglant spectacle le caractre d'un dfi public port par l'ancienne cruaut Mahomtane l'influence des moeurs Europennes et de la civilisation Chrtienne.
Partant de ce point de vue et regardant la catastrophe qui vient d'avoir lieu comme un symptme de plus d'une tendance rtrograde et pour ainsi dire anti-Europenne dont, dans son propre intrt, il importe de dtourner le Gouvernement Ottoman, les Rpresentans des Cinq Grandes Puissances Constantinople ont cru qu'un avertissement unanime, la fois bienveillant et srieux, que ces Puissances feraient parvenir cet effet la Sublime Porte, produirait sur elle une impression salutaire. Ils ont, en consquence, et sur l'invitation spciale de Sir Stratford Canning, sollicit de leurs Cours respectives les instructions ncessaires pour se porter la dmarche en question, et M. l'Ambassadeur d'Angleterre voulait en outre proposer Lord Aberdeen de s'employer dans le mme sens auprs des Cabinets de Berlin, de Vienne, de Paris, et de St. Ptersbourg.
Je n'ai pas encore reu de communication ce sujet de la part de Monsieur le Principal Secrtaire d'Etat, mais je me suis empress de rpondre par la dpche dont je joins ici une copie, celle que l'Envoy du Roi Constantinople a adress Sa Majest sur cette affaire.
Veuillez, Monsieur, en donner connaissance, ainsi que de la prsente dpche, Lord Aberdeen, et exprimer de ma part sa Seigneurie l'espoir d'tre all de cette manire au devant des ouvertures qu'elle serait peut-tre dans le cas de me faire faire [sic] sur la dmarche propose par les cinq Reprsentans Constantinople, mais mise, de prfrence, sur le tapis par M. l'Ambassadeur d'Angleterre.
Sir, Berlin, September 21, 1843.
Your reports to the King, to No. 91 of the 15th instant, have been received and laid before His Majesty.
You are doubtless already acquainted, by means of the newspapers, with the details of the execution of the Armenian, Serkiz Papazoghlou, lately put to death at Constantinople for having renounced the Mahomedan faith, which he had embraced some time before. In truth, the letter of the Koran inflicts the punishment of death upon all those who abandon Mahomedanism, but for some time past custom had mitigated the rigour of a law so little in harmony with the precepts of civilization, and for a number of years no execution of this kind had taken place. That of the unfortunate Serkiz must therefore be considered as a sad return to the barbarity of Mahomedan fanaticism. It must be so much the more so because, on the one hand, the energetic intercession of Sir Stratford Canning in behalf of the victim was fruitless; and because, on the other, the Turkish authorities, in leading Serkiz, although he was an Armenian, in the Frank costume and with a cap upon his head to execution, seem to have wished to give to this bloody spectacle the character of a public defiance offered by the old Mahomedan cruelty to the influence of European manners and Christian civilization.
Setting out from this view of the case and looking upon the catastrophe which has just taken place as a fresh symptom of the retrograde, and it may be said anti-European, tendency from which it is important that the Turkish Government should, in its own interest, be diverted, the Representatives of the Five Great Powers at Constantinople thought that a joint representation, at once kind and earnest, which those Powers should make for this purpose to the Sublime Porte, would produce a salutary impression upon it. They, therefore, and at the special request of Sir Stratford Canning, applied to their respective Courts for the instructions necessary to enable them to take the step in question, and the English Ambassador wished moreover to propose to Lord Aberdeen to communicate in the same sense with the Cabinets of Berlin, Vienna, Paris, and St. Petersburgh.
I have not yet received any communication upon this subject from the Principal Secretary of State; but I lost no time in replying by the despatch of which I inclose a copy, to that which the Envoy of the King at Constantinople addressed to His Majesty respecting this affair.
Have the goodness, Sir, to communicate it, as well as this despatch, to Lord Aberdeen, and to express to his Lordship, on my part, the hope that I have in this manner anticipated the overtures which he would perhaps have caused to be made to me with reference to the step proposed by the Five Representatives at Constantinople, but especially suggested by the English Ambassador.
Inclosure 2 in No. 3.
Baron Blow to M. Le Coq.
Monsieur, Berlin, ce 20 Septembre, 1843.
Vos rapports au Roi, &c., &c.
Ce que vous avez mand sur l'excution de l'Armnien Serkiz Papazoghlou n'a pu manquer de nous inspirer un intrt aussi vif que douloureux. En effet tous les dtails de cette sanglante catastrophe sont bien de nature mriter la srieuse attention des Puissances Europennes. Ce sont autant de symptmes d'une tendance rtrograde laquelle la Sublime Porte parat s'tre abandonne depuis quelques annes, et qui, en tolrant et en favorisant peut-tre mme les excs du fanatisme Musulman, est aussi contraire aux lois de l'humanit qu'aux rgles qu'une saine politique devrait dicter au Gouvernement Ottoman.
A en juger d'aprs les circonstances qui ont prcd, accompagn et suivi la mort de cette malheureuse victime de la rigueur Mahomtane, ne serait-on pas tent de croire que ce Gouvernement a oubli ce qu'il doit aux efforts runis des Grandes Puissances, leurs conseils dsintresss, la salutaire influence de la civilisation Europenne? Ne semble-t-il pas, en opposant aux moeurs plus douces qui sont la suite de cette civilisation la lettre impitoyable du Coran, avoir l'intention de faire sentir l'Europe entire le peu de cas qu'il fait du bienveillant intrt, de la constante sollicitude que lui ont vous les Cabinets Europens,
Or, les graves consquences, qu'un pareil sytme [sic] entranerait pour la Porte, en finissant par lui aliner rellement l'intrt de ces Cabinets, sont si videntes, que nous aimons croire qu'un avertissement unanime de leur part suffira pour la dtourner d'une voie galement dsastreuse sous le point de vue politique et moral. Je me range sous ce rapport entirement l'avis de Sir Stratford Canning, et aprs avoir pris les ordres du Roi, notre Auguste Matre, je vous invite, Monsieur, vous associer la dmarche que, je n'en doute pas, Messieurs vos collgues d'Autriche, de France et de Russie seront galement autoriss faire cet effet auprs du Gouvernement Turc en commun avec M. l'Ambassadeur d'Angleterre. Dans cette occasion o les Reprsentans des Cinq Grandes Puissances agiront en quelque sorte comme organes de la civilisation Europenne, il importera surtout de constater leur unanimit. Veuillez par ce motif, Monsieur, attendre que les instructions que Messieurs vos collgues ont sollicites, leur soient parvenues, et alors vous concerter avec eux sur la meilleure forme donner la dmarche qu'elles prescrivent. Si contre toute attente ces instructions n'taient pas de nature tablir un accord entier des Cinq Puissances dans cette affaire, vous voudrez bien, Monsieur, m'en informer, pour que je puisse, selon les circonstances, vous faire parvenir des directions ultrieures. En tout cas la dmarche en question devra se borner tre simultane et non pas collective, et le langage que vous tiendrez la Porte, pour tre srieux et ferme, ne s'en tiendra pas moins dans les bornes d'un conseil amical, et vitera tout ce qui pourrait blesser la susceptibilit politique et religieuse du Gouvernement Ottoman.
Nous n'avons pas encore reu la communication laquelle nous pouvons nous attendre de la part de Lord Aberdeen, en suite de la demande que Sir Stratford Canning lui a adresse au sujet de l'affaire qui fait l'objet de la prsente dpche. Mais j'envoie une copie de cette dernire l'Envoy du Roi Londres, pour en donner connaissance M. le Principal Secrtaire d'Etat, et pour informer de cette manire sa Seigneurie que, d'accord avec Sir Stratford Canning sur l'opportunit de la dmarche qu'il a propose, le Cabinet du Roi s'est empress de vous autoriser y concourir.
Sir, Berlin, September 20, 1843.
Your reports to the King, &c. &c.
The account which you have given of the execution of the Armenian Serkiz Papazoghlou could not fail to excite our lively and painful interest. Indeed all the details of this bloody catastrophe are well calculated to deserve the serious attention of the European Powers. They are so many symptoms of a retrograde tendency to which the Sublime Porte appears to have given itself up for some years past, and which, by tolerating, and perhaps even encouraging the excesses of Mahomedan fanaticism, is as contrary to the laws of humanity as to the rules which a wholesome policy should dictate to the Turkish Government.
To judge from the circumstances which preceded, attended, and followed the death of this unhappy victim of Mahomedan severity, should we not be tempted to think that that Government has forgotten what it owes to the united exertions of the Great Powers, to their disinterested advice, and to the salutary influence of European civilization? Does it not appear, by placing in opposition to the milder customs which are the result of that civilization the inexorable letter of the Koran, to intend to make the whole of Europe feel the little importance which it attaches to the benevolent interest and the constant solicitude with which the European Cabinets have regarded it?
Wherefore, the serious consequences, which such a system would entail upon the Porte, by finally alienating from it in reality the interest of those Cabinets, are so evident, that we are fain to believe that an unanimous intimation on their part will suffice to turn it aside from a course equally disastrous in a political and in a moral point of view. I side entirely in this respect with the opinion of Sir Stratford Canning, and after having taken the orders of the King, our august Master, I request you, Sir, to join in the step which I doubt not your colleagues of Austria, France and Russia will be equally authorized to take to this effect towards the Turkish Government, in common with the Ambassador of England. On this occasion when the Representatives of the Five Powers will act in some manner as the organs of European civilization, it will above all things be important to evince their unanimity. For this reason, have the goodness, Sir, to wait until the instructions for which your colleagues have applied, have reached them, and thereupon concert with them as to the best form to be given to the step which those instructions prescribe. If, contrary to all expectation, those instructions should not be such as to demonstrate an entire agreement of the Five Powers on this matter, you will have the goodness, Sir, to inform me of the fact, in order that I may, according to circumstances, transmit to you further instructions. In any case the step in question should be limited to being simultaneous and not collective, and the language which you will hold to the Porte, while it is serious and firm, must not the less be confined within the bounds of friendly counsel, and must avoid everything that could wound the political and religious susceptibility of the Ottoman Government.
We have not yet received the communication which we may expect from Lord Aberdeen, in pursuance of the application made to him by Sir Stratford Canning, on the subject of the matter treated of in this despatch. But I send a copy of this last to the King's Envoy in London, in order that he may communicate it to the Principal Secretary of State, and in this manner acquaint his Lordship that the King's Cabinet, agreeing with Sir Stratford Canning as to the fitness of the step which he has proposed, has hastened to authorize you to concur in it.
The Earl of Aberdeen to Sir Stratford Canning.
Sir, Foreign Office, October 4, 1843.
The barbarous execution of the Armenian, recorded in your Excellency's despatch of the 27th of August, has excited the attention and interest of Her Majesty's Government in an unusual degree; and they highly approve the line of conduct which you pursued in reference to it.
Her Majesty's Government had hoped that the time had passed away when the perpetration of such acts of atrocity could have been tolerated; and that the law by which they are permitted or enjoined, although it might still disgrace the Mahomedan code, had fallen so completely into disuse as to have become virtually null and of no effect.
It is, therefore, with the most painful feelings, that Her Majesty's Government have seen so cruel a law brought so injudiciously again into operation; and they consider every Christian Government not only justified, but imperatively called upon to raise their voices against such proceedings, whether the law be executed to the prejudice of their own subjects, or of the Christian community in general.
Her Majesty's Government confidently trust that no repetition of so unjustifiable an act as that against which your Excellency so properly remonstrated will ever be suffered, and still less authorized by the Turkish Government; and they earnestly counsel that Government to take immediate measures for effectually preventing the future commission of such atrocities.
Under the full conviction that the Sultan will have the humanity and wisdom to listen to this counsel, which is given with the most friendly feeling, and which will, I doubt not, be equally impressed on His Highness by other Christian Governments, I do not think it necessary to enter further at present into the other points set forth in your Excellency's despatch above referred to.
You will not fall to communicate this despatch to Rifaat Pasha.
I am, &c.,
The Earl of Westmorland to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received October 30.)
My Lord, Berlin, October 23, 1843.
I have communicated to Baron Blow your Lordship's despatch of the 4th instant to Sir Stratford Canning relative to the late execution of an Armenian at Constantinople, and his Excellency has requested me to express the interest with which he had learnt your Lordship's views on that subject.
I have, &c.,
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received November 2.)
My Lord, Buyukder, October 11, 1843.
The Prussian Minister has communicated to me an instruction addressed to him by Baron Blow in reply to his representations on the subject of the Armenian youth, whose execution and its natural consequences were brought under your Lordship's notice in my despatch of August the 27th.
The French Minister has also communicated to me a note, transmitted to him from Paris for presentation to the Porte, with reference to the same deplorable act of the Turkish Government.
Copies of these two papers have not been given to me; but I understand that the Prussian instruction has been sent to your Lordship, and it is probable that the same degree of confidence has been shewn to your Lordship by M. Guizot. I have only to remark that the terms in which these documents are respectively expressed, appear to me highly creditable to the Cabinets from which they have issued, and, should your Lordship see fit to instruct me in a similar sense, it would afford me great satisfaction to repeat to the Turkish Minister, with the immediate authority of Her Majesty's Government, what I ventured at the time to intimate by anticipation on my own suggestion. Baron Blow and M. Guizot appear to be equally impressed with the dangerous character of that policy to which the Armenian execution is traceable, and their reprobation of the act itself is proportionally strong. Baron de Bourqueney is prepared to give in his note without waiting for the concurrence of his colleagues. M. Le Coq is instructed to act simultaneously with the other Representatives of the Five Powers.
With respect to the Austrian and Russian Ministers, I am informed by M. de Titow that the Emperor of Russia's absence from St. Petersburgh has prevented his receiving an immediate answer to his despatches; and I hear that the Internuncio refers to a communication made by Prince Metternich to the Turkish Ambassador at Vienna as sufficiently expressive of the sentiments of his Court and superseding the necessity of any step on his part without further instructions.
I would venture humbly to submit that a concurrent expression of the sentiments of the Five Courts on such an occasion would hardly fail of producing a most beneficial effect upon the counsels of the Porte.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) STRATFORD CANNING.
The Earl of Aberdeen to Sir Stratford Canning.
(Extract.) Foreign Office, November 4, 1843.
I have received your despatch of the 11th of October, reporting that the French and Prussian Ministers had received instructions from their respective Governments on the subject of the execution of the Armenian referred to in your despatch of the 27th of August.
I calculate that your Excellency will have received on the 24th ultimo my despatch of the 4th, by which your Excellency will have been enabled to acquaint the Porte with the feelings with which Her Majesty's Government had received the intelligence of that melancholy transaction. I have nothing to add to that instruction.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received November 23.)
My Lord, Buyukdr, October 31, 1843.
The instruction which I have received from your Lordship respecting the Armenian decapitated for returning to the Christian faith, cannot fail of making a deep and, I hope, a salutary impression upon the Ottoman Ministers.
I have had it carefully translated into Turkish, and placed in M. Pisani's hands for communication to the Porte, accompanied with an instruction of which I have the honour to inclose a copy herewith.
Monsieur de Bourqueney having been directed to present an official note upon the same subject, I thought it advisable to give a certain degree of formality to the communication of your Lordship's despatch, and particularly to leave it with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in writing. A copy of the French Minister's note is herewith inclosed.
The presentation of this remonstrance has strongly excited the public attention, and occasioned no small embarrassment at the Porte. It was proposed in Council to return it, but the suggestion was overruled, and I hear that nothing will be added to the verbal reply already given.
The substance of that reply, which M. de Bourqueney read to me from the report of his first interpreter, is by no means unfavourable. The language employed by Rifaat Pasha in speaking of the French Minister's note to M. Pisani, admitted, in substance, that much might be said with reason against the manner and circumstances of the execution, but as to the act itself, he said that nothing could be alleged against a judgment founded upon the express will of God. His answer to the communication of your Lordship's instruction has not yet reached me. It will have the greater interest as two more cases of religion involving capital punishment have recently occurred. The offender in each instance is a native Mussulman; and nothing, I conceive, but the late expression of indignation has prevented the Porte from executing the sentence of the law.
I am informed that Rifaat Pasha, on consulting the Grand Mufti as to one of these cases, was advised not to bring it under His Holiness' notice as he had no choice but to declare the law; and a charitable intimation was added, that where a State necessity existed, the Porte would herself be found the most competent judge.
The Russian Minister informs me that he is still in expectation of instructions from St. Petersburgh. The Internuncio refers to the remarks addressed by Prince Metternich himself to the Turkish Ambassador at Vienna. M. de Le Coq reserves the communication of his instruction, in the hope of being able to act simultaneously with M. de Titow. The silence of any one of the leading Courts on such an occasion would be a cause of just regret.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) STRATFORD CANNING.
Inclosure l in No 8.
Baron de Bourqueney to Rifaat Pasha.
Thrapia, 17 Octobre, 1843.
Le Soussign, Ministre Plnipotentiaire de Sa Majest le Roi des Franais prs la Porte Ottomane, a reu de son Gouvernement l'ordre de faire son Excellence le Ministre des Affaires Etrangres la communication suivante.
C'est avec un douloureux tonnement que le Gouvernement du Roi a appris la rcente excution d'un Armnien qui, aprs avoir embrass la religion Musulmane, tait revenu la foi de ses pres, et que pour ce seul fait on a frapp de la peine capitale, parcequ'il refusait racheter sa vie par une nouvelle abjuration.
En vain pour expliquer un acte aussi dplorable voudrait-on se prvaloir des dispositions imprieuses de la lgislation. On devait croire que la lgislation faite pour d'autres temps tait tombe en dsutude; et en tout cas il tait trop facile de fermer les yeux sur un pareil fait pour qu'on puisse considrer ce qui vient d'arriver comme une de ces dplorables ncessits dans lesquelles la politique trouve quelquefois non pas une justification mais une excuse.
Lors mme que l'humanit, dont le nom n'a jamais t invoqu en vain en France, n'aurait pas t aussi cruellement blesse par le supplice de cet Armnien, lors mme que le Gouvernement du Roi, qui a toujours protg, et protgera toujours la religion Chrtienne en Orient, pourrait oublier que c'est le Christianisme qui a reu ce sanglant outrage, l'intrt qu'il prend l'Empire Ottoman et son indpendance, lui ferait encore voir avec une profonde douleur ce qui vient de se passer.
Cette indpendance ne peut aujourd'hui trouver une garantie efficace que dans l'appui de l'opinion Europenne. Les efforts du Gouvernement du Roi ont constamment tendu lui mnager cet appui. Cette tche lui deviendra bien plus difficile en prsence d'un acte qui soulevera dans l'Europe entire une indignation universelle.
Le Gouvernement du Roi croit accomplir un devoir imprieux en faisant connatre la Porte l'impression qu'il a reue d'un fait malheureusement irrparable, mais qui, s'il pouvait se renouveler, serait de nature appeler des dangers rels sur le Gouvernement assez faible pour faire de telles concessions un odieux et dplorable fanatisme.
Le Soussign, &c.,
Therapia, October 17, 1843.
The Undersigned, Minister Plenipotentiary of His Majesty the King of the French at the Ottoman Porte, has received orders from his Government to make the following communication to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
It has been with a painful astonishment that the King's Government has learnt the late execution of an Armenian who, after embracing the Musulman religion, returned to the faith of his fathers, and who, for this act alone, has been capitally punished, because he refused to redeem his life by a fresh recantation.
In vain can the imperious terms of the law be appealed to for an explanation of so lamentable an act. It might have been supposed that a system of law formed for other times had fallen into desuetude; and at all events it was too easy to overlook such a circumstance to admit of that which has happened being considered as one of those lamentable cases of necessity, in which policy sometimes finds not so much a justification as an excuse.
Even had not humanity, whose name has never been vainly invoked in France, been so cruelly hurt by the punishment of this Armenian,—even could the King's Government, which has always protected, and ever will protect, the Christian religion in the East, forget that it is Christianity which has been thus cruelly outraged,—the interest which it takes in the Ottoman Empire and in its independence would still cause it to behold what has occurred with profound regret.
That independence can in these times find a real security only in the support of the public opinion of Europe. The efforts of the King's Government have been constantly directed towards obtaining for it that support. This task will become much more difficult after an act which will excite universal indignation throughout the whole of Europe.
The King's Government considers that it discharges an imperious duty in making known to the Porte the impression which has been made upon it by an event unfortunately irreparable, and which, were it to occur again, would be likely to cause real danger to a Government weak enough to make such concessions to a hateful and lamentable fanaticism.
The Undersigned, &c.,
Inclosure 2 in No. 8.
Sir Stratford Canning to M. Pisani.
Sir, Buyukder, October 30, 1843.
In presenting to the Minister for Foreign Affairs the accompanying translation of an instruction addressed to me by the Earl of Aberdeen, with reference to the Armenian who was lately executed at Constantinople, you will be careful to impress his Excellency with a conviction of the deep and painful sentiments excited throughout Great Britain by that deplorable act.
You will require that the instruction be forthwith submitted not only to his Highness the Grand Vizier, but also to His Imperial Majesty the Sultan.
A copy of this letter, with a translation in Turkish, is to be left with Rifaat Pasha.
(Signed) STRATFORD CANNING.
Sir Stratford Canning to Mr. Addington.—(Received November 23.)
Sir, Buyukder, November 3, 1843.
A delay in the departure of the messenger affords me the opportunity of transmitting to you at once the inclosed report addressed to me to-day by M. Pisani. Though not official, it shews the strong impression which has been made upon the Porte by a knowledge of the sentiments entertained throughout Europe with reference to the Armenian lately executed. The Porte will probably seek to avoid replying ostensibly to the remonstrances of the several leading Courts, but means will, no doubt, be taken to prevent the necessity of practising such atrocities in future. A degree of success so important, though limited, might reasonably encourage the allied Courts to enter into a more complete understanding for the removal of other blots from the legal or political practice of the Turks, in their intercourse with Christians.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) STRATFORD CANNING.
Inclosure in No. 9.
M. Pisani to Sir Stratford Canning.
Excellence, Pra, ce 3 Novembre, 1843.
J'ai conformment vos ordres remis Rifaat Pacha la traduction en Turc des instructions du Comte d'Aberdeen et de la lettre de votre Excellence, avec une copie de votre lettre.
Rifaat Pacha a lu la traduction des deux pices qu'il a trouves trs-importantes. Il m'a dit qu'il mettra les instructions de Lord Aberdeen sous les yeux du Grand Vizir et du Sultan.
Rifaat Pacha m'a dit confidentiellement que les mesures qu'il est question de prendre sont, d'ordonner toutes les autorits Constantinople et dans les provinces, d'avoir dsormais soin, lorsqu'un Turc qui tait Chrtien, se fait Chrtien de nouveau, et lorsqu'un Turc dit des injures contre Mahomet ou contre les Prophtes, ou vomit d'autres blasphmes, de ne pas permettre qu'il soit traduit et jug devant un Mehkem quelconque; mais si le cas arrive Constantinople, d'envoyer l'accus la Porte, et s'il arrive dans un pays hors de Constantinople, de l'envoyer au Pacha de la province, sans aucune espce de jugement pralable. De cette manire-ci, dit Rifaat Pacha, la Porte et les Pachas au-dehors songeront aux moyens de terminer ces sortes d'affaires sans clat, et (j'ose infrer des paroles de son Excellence) sans recourir la peine capitale.
Rifaat Pacha a ajout que la Porte ne peut faire aucune rponse par crit sur cette affaire sans se compromettre, soit vis—vis des Puissances Chrtiennes, en disant qu'elle est oblige de mettre excution la loi qui regarde les Chrtiens qui, aprs avoir embrass l'Islamisme de leur propre gr, y renoncent et redeviennent Chrtiens, et qui encourent par l la peine de mort,—soit vis—vis de la loi, en dclarant qu'elle ne sera pas excute l'avenir dans un cas semblable celui de l'Armnien.
Mais Rifaat Pacha m'a paru convaincu qu'aprs le bruit que l'Europe a fait, une scne semblable celle de l'Armnien ne se renouvellera point. Les mesures que le Gouvernement se propose de prendre ont pour but d'viter un jugement; et sans jugement on ne peut condamner personne mort. L'Armnien avait t jug au Mehkem dit du Stambol Effendi, avant d'tre envoy la Porte. Le Kiatib qui est en prison pour avoir dit des injures contre Mahomet, a t jug au Mehkem de Salonique, avant d'tre envoy Constantinople; et le Conseil suprme l'a dclar digne de mort, quoiqu'il n'ait pas t juridiquement et formellement condamn ici encore. La circonstance que le Kiatib a t jug dj et convaincu d'avoir blasphm le nom de Mahomet, expose ses jours au plus grand danger.
J'ai l'honneur, &c.,
(Sign) FREDERIC PISANI.
Excellency, Pera, November 3, 1843.
In conformity with your orders, I placed in the hands of Rifaat Pasha the Turkish translation of Lord Aberdeen's instructions and of your Excellency's letter, with a copy of your letter.
Rifaat Pasha read the translation of the two documents which he considered to be of great importance. He told me that he will lay Lord Aberdeen's instructions before the Grand Vizier and the Sultan.
Rifaat Pasha told me confidentially that the measures which it is proposed to take, are to order all the authorities at Constantinople and and [sic] in the provinces henceforth to take care that when a Turk who was a Christian, becomes again a Christian, and when a Turk speaks insultingly of Mahomet or the Prophets, or utters other blasphemies, he shall not be allowed to be given up to, and judged by, any Mehkem whatever; but if the case occurs at Constantinople, the accused shall be sent to the Porte, or if it occurs in a district beyond Constantinople, he shall be sent to the Pasha of the province without any previous judgment. In this manner, said Rifaat Pasha, the Porte and the provincial Pashas will devise means for terminating affairs of this kind without noise, and (I venture to infer from his Excellency's words) without having recourse to capital punishment.
Rifaat Pasha added, that the Porte can give no written answer respecting this affair without compromising itself either as regards the Christian Powers, by stating that it is forced to execute the law regarding Christians who, after having of their own accord embraced Islamism, renounce it and become Christians again, and thus incur capital punishment,—or as regards the law, by declaring that it will not for the future be executed in cases similar to that of the Armenian.
Rifaat Pasha, however, seemed to me convinced that after the noise which has been made in Europe, a scene similar to that of the Armenian cannot be renewed. The measures which the Government are about to adopt have for their object to avoid a trial, and without a trial no one can be condemned to death. The Armenian was tried at the Mehkem called that of the Stambol Effendi, before being sent to the Porte. The Kiatib who is in prison for having uttered blasphemies against Mahomet, was judged at the Mehkem of Salonica, before he was sent to Constantinople; and the Supreme Council has declared him worthy of death, although he has not yet been judicially and formally condemned here. The circumstance of the Kiatib having already been tried and convicted of uttering blasphemy against the name of Mahomet puts his life in the most imminent danger.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) FREDERICK PISANI.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received December 5.)
(Extract.) Buyukder, November 17, 1843.
I am happy to state that a serious and salutary impression has been made upon the Turkish Government by the communication of your Lordship's instruction respecting the Armenian decapitated in the streets of Constantinople. Preceded as that communication was by the delivery of M. Guizot's impressive note, and followed, as I believe it to have been, by the presentation of Baron Blow's instruction to M. de Le Coq, the Porte has felt, even in the absence of any similar declaration from the Austrian and Russian Legations, that she cannot with prudence or safety repeat an atrocity tending so directly to excite the indignant feelings of Christendom against her. I have not received, nor indeed have I yet demanded, an official answer to my remonstrance. M. de Bourqueney, though, like myself, without instructions on that point, has made the demand, but, at my request, he has abstained from pressing it, agreeing, on reflection, with me, that it would be advisable at all events to afford time for M. de Titow to hear from his Government, and to take a step more or less in harmony with ours. It remains indeed to be considered whether it would be prudent, even with that advantage, to insist upon receiving a formal answer. I have already forwarded to your Lordship's office the substance of Rifaat Pasha's remarks, and they convey an assurance that the Porte will in future find means to avoid the application of the law in cases like that which proved fatal to the unfortunate Armenian.
The apparent consequences of what has been done in this matter are, a Ministerial understanding that occasions of calling the law into action as to religious offences involving a capital punishment are for the future to be avoided, and a proclamation addressed to the Turkish authorities in Roumelia for the better treatment and protection of the Sultan's Christian subjects.
I venture to believe that your Lordship will derive the same gratification which I do from this result.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received December 18.)
My Lord, Buyukder, November 20, 1843.
I have the satisfaction to state, that the Russian Envoy has informed me of his having received an instruction from his Court on the subject of the Armenian youth decapitated at Constantinople. His Excellency has given me to understand that the terms of this instruction are in harmony with the sentiments of Her Majesty's Government; and I presume that he will make me a more complete communication of its contents the first time we meet.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) STRATFORD CANNING.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received December 24.)
(Extract.) Constantinople, December l, 1843.
Having sounded Rifaat Pasha as to his intention of answering the representations of the Five Powers concerning the late religious execution, I was told by his Excellency that, although the Porte wished to avoid any recurrence of that atrocity, yet, as such executions, divested of the objectionable forms which accompanied the Armenian's death, were obligatory under the law considered by Mahomedans divine, and might be forced incidentally upon the Government, it would be embarrassing to give an official declaration to that effect. Some ostensible record of the Porte's intention to avoid religious exeutions [sic] in future would, I humbly conceive, be satisfactory to Her Majesty's Government, and it would not perhaps be impossible to frame a reply, which might convey the required security without coming into collision with the Mussulman faith. There is reason otherwise to apprehend that the advantage now obtained will be of very short duration.
P.S.—There is reason to fear that another religious execution has recently taken place in the Pashalic of Brussa.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received January 5, 1844.)
(Extract.) Buyukder, December 17, 1843.
I have the honour to state, and I do so with much concern, that the rumour, which has for some time prevailed, of another execution, similar to that of the Armenian youth, having taken place by order of the Porte, is now confirmed. The statements inclosed herewith describe the circumstances as far they are known. One of them is an extract of a despatch addressed to me by Her Majesty's Consul at Brussa, which is at no great distance from Biligik where the Greek was executed. The other was communicated to me by one of my diplomatic colleagues.
Rifaat Pasha in conversing with me some time ago alluded to this execution, of which I had then scarcely heard the rumour, and he spoke of it as a kind of accident, which had occurred prior to the late remonstrances respecting the Armenian, and which was not to be taken in proof of an objectionable policy at the Porte. With a variation of terms, and in some degree of facts also, he has offered the same kind of vague excuse to others, and I believe in particular to the Internuncio.
I presume that your Lordship would not approve of such an occurrence being thrown into oblivion without an attempt at explanation, and I am persuaded that any backwardness under such circumstances would only serve to confirm the Porte in her present infatuated course of policy. I have, therefore, communicated upon the subject with my colleagues of Austria, France, Russia, and Prussia, and finding them all substantially of the same mind, I have drawn up the instruction of which a copy is here inclosed, and sent it to Rifaat Pasha by M. Pisani. Similar instructions were sent in by the others, though neither collectively, nor simultaneously, and perhaps not in writing by the Austrian and Russian Ministers.
Your Lordship will observe that we ask for a distinct assurance from the Porte that measures shall be taken to prevent the recurrence of such revolting punishments in future. In proposing to make this demand I had in view the corresponding passage in your Lordship's instruction, communicated to Rifaat Pasha, and I thought to satisfy M. de Bourqueney, who had presented an official note in the former instance and applied for an answer, without exceeding the limits which my other colleagues were prepared to observe. Their joint acceptance of the suggestion, and their engagements to make the same demand, induce me to hope that the Porte's reply will prove satisfactory, though I cannot yet speak with confidence in that respect.
Inclosure I in No. 13.
Mr. Consul Sandison to Sir Stratford Canning.
(Extract.) Brussa, December 9, 1843.
A fresh instance, I learn, has unfortunately occurred about a week ago of the sanguinary spirit of the Turkish law and people against relapsed proselytes. A young Greek at Biligik in the adjoining district, who had become a Mussulman and returned to his own creed, has been put to death by hanging. He must have been a willing victim from what my informant states, as his profession of Islamism had been complete according to the usual rites.
P.S.—The execution of the Greek at Biligik took place, I further learn, after the return of an answer from the Turkish Government to a report on the case from the municipality of Biligik.
Inclosure 2 in No. 13.
Extract of Letter communicated by M. de Cordoba to Sir Stratford Canning.
Constantinople, 6 Dcembre, 1843.
Un jeune Grec s'tait fait Turc dans un moment de mauvaise humeur; revenu a lui, il tait all trouver un prtre et avait tmoign le dsir de rentrer dans sa croyance. L'ecclsiastique, approuvant sa pense, lui dit qu'il devait rparer sa faute en revenant publiquement sur son erreur. Le jeune homme, g de 22 ans, fit la chose comme elle lui tait ordonne. Aussitt les autorits Turques s'emparent de lui et le mettent au secret: ceci se passe aux environs de Brousse. L'on rapporte le fait Constantinople: ici, en dpit des notes Franaise, Anglaise, &c., on tient conseil, et l'ordre est envoy de l'excuter, et en effet il y a quatorze quinze jours cet infortun a t pendu publiquement Biligik. L'effet qui cet vnement a produit sur les habitans Turcs du lieu a t tel que le Gouverneur a d prendre les plus grandes prcautions pour empcher le massacre de tous les habitans.
Constantinople, December 6, 1843.
A young Greek turned Turk in a moment of ill temper; having come to himself, he went to a priest and evinced a desire to return to his faith. The priest, approving his intention, told him that he must repair his fault by a public retractation of his error. The young man, who was twenty-two years of age, did as he was ordered. Forthwith the Turkish authorities lay hold of him and shut him up: this happens in the neighbourhood of Brussa. The transaction is reported to Constantinople: here, notwithstanding the French and English notes, &c., a Council is held, and the order to execute him is sent off, and in fact this unfortunate person was publicly hanged at Biligik fourteen or fifteen days ago. The effect which this event produced on the Turkish inhabitants of the place has been such that the Governor has been under the necessity of taking the greatest precautions to prevent the massacre of all the inhabitants.
Inclosure 3 in No. 13.
Sir Stratford Canning to M. Pisani.
Sir, Buyukder, December 16, 1843.
It is with sentiments of deep concern that I have received unquestionable intelligence of another religious execution, similar in principle to that of the Armenian Avakim. In stating this circumstance without delay to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, you will lay before his Excellency the substance of the two accompanying papers, which contain a relation of the principal facts. You will express the surprise and disappointment which I feel in the contemplation of so revolting an act, after the very distinct communications which had recently taken place between his Excellency and myself respecting the previous case. A full knowledge of the sentiments entertained by Her Majesty's Government, and also by four other leading Cabinets of Europe, has not to all appearance prevented the Porte from again publicly outraging the principles of humanity, and again exposing herself to the just animadversion of those friendly Powers.
Under these circumstances, and referring to the instructions of my Government already communicated to Rifaat Pasha, I deem it an indispensable duty to invite the explanations of the Porte, and to state my expectation that the Turkish Government will not only declare its regret for the two executions in suitable terms, but that it will accompany the declaration with an assurance, admitting of no question for the future, that effective measures will be immediately taken to preclude the recurrence of such unwise and odious acts.
You will conclude by leaving with Rifaat Pasha a copy of this instruction, and by calling upon his Excellency to lay it before the Sultan, and to apprize you on an early day of the answer sanctioned by His Majesty, for the information of my Government.
I am, &c.,
(Signed) STRATFORD CANNING.
M. Guizot to Count Ste. Aulaire.—(Communicated by Count Ste. Aulaire to the Earl of Aberdeen, January 13.)
(Extract.) Paris, le 9 Janvier, 1844.
Malgr les promesses formelles de la Porte, et les mesures qu'elle disait avoir prises pour empcher le renouvellement du douloureux scandale auquel avait donn lieu, il y a quelques mois, l'excution d'un Armnien supplici pour tre revenu la religion Chrtienne aprs avoir embrass l'Islamisme, un Grec des environs de Brousse vient encore d'tre mis mort dans des circonstances absolument semblables. Interpell ce sujet par M. de Bourqueney, la Porte n'a su allguer pour se justifier que des malentendus et des mprises dont les allgations mme sont contradictoires. Un tel fait n'est plus seulement un outrage l'humanit, c'est une insulte jete l'Europe civilise par le fanatisme d'un parti que le Gouvernement Ottoman n'a pas le courage de contenir et de rprimer, supposer qu'il n'en soit pas lui-mme le complice dans une certaine mesure. Ce courage, il faut le lui donner en lui faisant craindre d'encourir le srieux mcontentement des Puissances dont l'appui bienveillant lui est si ncessaire.
Je vais charger M. de Bourqueney de faire cet effet une dmarche nergique auprs de la Porte, et je ne doute pas que Lord Aberdeen ne donne Sir Stratford Canning des instructions analogues. Le Gouvernement Britannique croira certainement aussi devoir se joindre nous pour demander le concours des autres Grandes Puissances.
Paris, January 9, 1844.
Notwithstanding the formal promises of the Porte, and the measures which it had declared that it had taken to prevent the repetition of the mournful scandal to which a few months ago the execution of an Armenian who was punished for having returned to Christianity after having embraced Islamism, gave rise, a Greek of the neighbourhood of Brussa, has now been put to death, under circumstances precisely similar. On being questioned on this subject by M. de Bourqueney, the Porte could only allege in its justification misunderstandings and mistakes the very allegations with regard to which are contradictory. Such a transaction is no longer only an outrage to humanity, it is an insult cast upon civilized Europe, by the fanaticism of a party which the Ottoman Government has not the courage to keep within bounds and repress, supposing that it is not itself to a certain degree an accomplice in the measure. This courage must be given to it by causing it to apprehend that it will incur the serious displeasure of the Powers whose benevolent support is so necessary to it.
I am about to instruct M. de Bourqueney to take an energetic step for this purpose towards the Porte, and I doubt not that Lord Aberdeen will furnish Sir Stratford Canning with corresponding instructions. The British Government will likewise assuredly think fit to unite with us in demanding the concurrence of the other Great Powers.
The Earl of Aberdeen to Sir Stratford Canning.
Sir, Foreign Office, January 16, 1844.
I have received your Excellency's despatch of the 17th of December, reporting that a Greek had been executed near Brussa as an apostate from Islamism, and inclosing a copy of the communication which you had directed Mr. Dragoman Frederick Pisani to make to the Porte in consequence of that transaction.
I have to state to your Excellency that Her Majesty's Government entirely approve the promptitude with which you acted on this occasion. But the repetition of a scene of this revolting kind so soon after that which had, in the course of last summer, excited the horror and indignation of Europe, evinces such total disregard, on the part of the Porte, for the feelings and remonstrances of the Christian Powers, that it is incumbent upon Her Majesty's Government without loss of time to convey their sentiments on the matter still more explicitly to the knowledge of the Porte. They take this course singly, and without waiting for the co-operation of the other Christian Powers, because they desire to announce to the Porte a determination which, though it doubtless will be concurred in by all, Great Britain is prepared to act upon alone. Her Majesty's Government feel too that they have an especial right to require to be listened to by the Porte on a matter of this nature, for they can appeal to the justice and to the favour with which the vast body of Mahomedans subject to the British rule are treated in India, in support of their demand that all persons, subjects of the Porte and professing Christianity, shall be exempt from cruel and arbitrary persecution on account of their religion, and shall not be made the victims of a barbarous law, which it may be sought to enforce for their destruction.
Whatever may have been tolerated in former times by the weakness or indifference of Christian Powers, those Powers will now require from the Porte due consideration for their feelings as members of a religious community, and interested as such in the fate of all who, notwithstanding shades of difference, unite in a common belief in the essential doctrines of Christianity; and they will not endure that the Porte should insult and trample on their faith by treating as a criminal any person who embraces it.
Her Majesty's Government require the Porte to abandon, once for all, so revolting a principle. They have no wish to humble the Porte by imposing upon it an unreasonable obligation; but as a Christian Government, the protection of those who profess a common belief with themselves, from persecution and oppression, on that account alone, by their Mahomedan rulers, is a paramount duty with them, and one from which they cannot recede.
Your Excellency will therefore press upon the Turkish Government that, if the Porte has any regard for the friendship of England,—if it has any hope that, in the hour of peril or of adversity, that protection which has more than once saved it from destruction, will be extended to it again, it must renounce absolutely, and without equivocation, the barbarous practice which has called forth the remonstrance now addressed to it. Your Excellency will require an early answer; and you will let the Turkish Ministers understand that if that answer does not fully correspond with the expectations which Her Majesty's Government entertain, your Excellency is instructed to seek an audience of the Sultan, and to explain to His Highness, in the most forcible terms, the feelings of the British Government, and the consequences, so injurious to Turkey, which a disregard for those feelings will involve. Her Majesty's Government are so anxious for the continuance of a good understanding with Turkey, and that the Porte should entitle itself to their good offices in the hour of need, that they wish to leave no expedient untried before they shall be compelled to admit the conviction that all their interest and friendship is misplaced, and that nothing remains for them but to look forward to, if not promote the arrival of, the day when the force of circumstances shall bring about a change which they will have vainly hoped to procure from the prudence and humanity of the Porte itself.
Your Excellency will seek an interview with the Reis Effendi, and, having read to him this despatch, leave a copy of it, with an accurate translation in his hands.
I am, &c.,
The Earl of Aberdeen to Sir Stratford Canning.
Sir, Foreign Office, January 16, 1844.
With reference to my other despatch of this day upon the subject of the execution of the Greek near Brussa as an apostate from Islamism, I inclose, for your Excellency's information, an extract of so much of a despatch from M. Guizot to Count Ste. Aulaire as relates to this matter, which Count Ste. Aulaire communicated to me a few days ago.
Your Excellency will perceive from this paper that M. Guizot anticipates that Her Majesty's Government will be disposed to invite the co-operation of the other Great Powers with the view of making a simultaneous appeal to the Porte on that subject. But although Her Majesty's Government would certainly be glad to see the other Powers of Europe declaring their abhorrence of so revolting a system as that against which your Excellency and your French colleague will be instructed to protest, they consider it, nevertheless, unnecessary formally to solicit their co-operation in a matter in which they all may be supposed to take a common interest, and to be prepared to act without previous concert with each other.
I have however directed Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris to communicate to M. Guizot a copy of my other despatch of this day; and I should wish your Excellency to concert with M. de Bourqueney as to the manner in which the instructions which I have addressed to your Excellency and those which M. de Bourqueney will receive from his Court on this matter, and which I conclude will closely correspond with those addressed to yourself, shall be carried into execution so as to produce a salutary impression on the Porte.
A copy of my former instruction will be transmitted to Her Majesty's Ambassador at St. Petersburgh for communication to the Russian Government; but Lord Stuart de Rothsay will not be instructed, for the reason stated in this despatch, to invite the Russian Government to make a similar representation to the Porte.
I inclose a copy of my despatch to Lord Stuart de Rothsay. A corresponding despatch will be addressed to Sir Robert Gordon and to Lord Westmorland.
I am, &c.,
The Earl of Aberdeen to Lord Cowley.
My Lord, Foreign Office, January 16, 1844.
I inclose, for your Excellency's information, a copy of a despatch from M, Guizot which has been placed in my hands by the Count de Ste. Aulaire, expressive of the just indignation of the French Government on receiving the tidings that, notwithstanding the representations which were made to the Porte by the Five Powers on the occasion of the execution of the Armenian at Constantinople in September last, a Greek has now been put to death near Brussa for returning to Christianity after having embraced Islamism. This event had been already made known to Her Majesty's Government by a despatch from Sir Stratford Canning of which I herewith transmit a copy.
The Government of the Queen share entirely the feelings of indignation and disgust which the French Government evince on this occasion; and I have consequently instructed Her Majesty's Ambassador at the Porte to make a fresh and more energetic representation than before to the Turkish Government, in condemnation of this repeated act of barbarity.
I inclose a copy of this instruction to Sir Stratford Canning, and also of a further one of the same date, in which I direct his Excellency to concert with the Baron de Bourqueney in carrying that instruction into effect.
Your Excellency will communicate these instructions to M. Guizot.
I am, &c.,
The Earl of Aberdeen to Lord Cowley.
My Lord, Foreign Office, January 16, 1844.
With reference to my other despatch of this day, inclosing, for communication to M. Guizot, a copy of an instruction which I have addressed to Sir Stratford Canning respecting the execution of a Greek near Brussa who had apostatized from Islamism, I have to state to your Excellency that, in the event of your making the communication to M. Guizot in sufficient time to enable him to send his instructions to the French Minister at Constantinople by the steam-vessel which leaves Marseilles on the 21st of this month, the post for which is made up in Paris on the evening of the 18th, I should wish your Excellency to acquaint Sir Stratford Canning by that opportunity with what may have passed between you and M. Guizot.
The despatch will be sent this evening by post through France so as to go on by the Marseilles steam-vessel of the 21st.
I am, &c.,
The Earl of Aberdeen to Lord Stuart de Rothsay*.
My Lord, Foreign Office, January 16, 1844.
I inclose for your Excellency's information, a copy of a despatch from Sir Stratford Canning reporting that a Greek has been executed near Brussa as an apostate from Islamism; and a copy of an instruction which I have in consequence addressed to that Ambassador. Your Excellency will communicate this instruction to Count Nesselrode for the information of the Russian Government; but although Her Majesty's Government would doubtless see with pleasure that the other Powers of Europe should declare their abhorrence of so revolting a system as that which the Porte has twice acted upon within the last few months, they do not think it necessary formally to solicit their co-operation in a matter in which they all may be supposed to take a common interest, and to be prepared to act without previous concert with each other.
Your Excellency will therefore merely put Count Nesselrode in possession of the instructions given to Sir Stratford Canning, and leave to the Russian Government to determine for itself whether it shall instruct M. de Titow to the same effect.
I am, &c.,
* A similar despatch was addressed on the 20th January to Sir Robert Gordon and the Earl of Westmorland.
Lord Cowley to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received January 22.)
My Lord, Paris, January 19, 1844.
With reference to your Lordship's despatches of the 16th instant on the subject of the execution of a Greek for returning to Christianity after having embraced Islamism, I have the honour to report that I had yesterday evening an interview with M. Guizot, when I communicated to him the contents of those despatches, and also of your Lordship's instructions to Sir Stratford Canning in consequence of the aforesaid transaction; and I have now the honour to inclose a copy of the despatch which, conformably to your Lordship's instructions, I have addressed to Sir Stratford Canning informing him of what passed upon this subject between M. Guizot and me.
My despatch was forwarded last night to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, and will reach Marseilles in time to go by the steam-vessel which sails from that port on the 21st.
I have, &c.,
Inclosure in No. 20.
Lord Cowley to Sir Stratford Canning.
Sir, Paris, January 18, 1844.
I have received instructions from Lord Aberdeen to communicate to the French Minister for Foreign Affairs your Excellency's despatches to his Lordship respecting the execution of a Greek near Brussa who had apostatized from Islamism, as also his instructions to your Excellency, under date the 16th instant, in consequence of that transaction. I am also desired to take the earliest opportunity of acquainting you with what may have passed between M. Guizot and me after this communication.
I had this evening a conference with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, when I communicated to him the contents of your despatches upon this subject, and also Lord Aberdeen's instructions to you of the 16th instant, and I am happy to be enabled to state that M. Guizot expressed his entire approbation of those instructions.
He also assured me that he had signified to M. de Bourqueney, in terms not less strong than those used by Lord Aberdeen in his instructions to you, the indignation and disgust of the French Government at this transaction, affording as it did a painful testimony of the total disregard of the Porte to the remonstrances of the Allies upon a previous act of a similar kind.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs then assured me that he had directed M. de Bourqueney to consult with your Excellency as to the best manner of carrying into effect the instructions of the two Governments. The Representatives of France at St. Petersburgh, Vienna, and Berlin, have likewise been directed to bring the subject under the consideration of those Courts; but M. Guizot inclines to the opinion that a separate, rather than joint, representation to the Turkish Government would be advisable. He trusts, however, that the British and French Plenipotentiaries will act in concert upon this occasion, as they have done successfully in every other transaction at Constantinople in which the Allies have taken any interest.
I have, &c.,
The Earl of Westmorland to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received January 30.)
My Lord, Berlin, January 24, 1844.
In compliance with the directions contained in your Lordship's despatch of the 20th instant, I have communicated to Baron Blow your instructions to Sir Stratford Canning relative to the late execution of a Greek at Brussa. Baron Blow gave me an instruction to read addressed to M. de Le Coq, which was dated only two days later than your Lordship's, and which expressed in strong terms his reprobation of the conduct of the Turkish Government upon this occasion. Baron Blow felt the greatest satisfaction at the statements made by your Lordship, and determined to write again to M. Le Coq directing him to act in accordance with them. He hopes that by conduct and language so energetic as that adopted by your Lordship an impression may be made upon the Turkish Government, and an end be put to the barbarous cruelties of which it has of late been guilty.
I have, &c.,
Sir Robert Gordon to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received February 24.)
(Extract.) Vienna, February 16, 1844.
In compliance with your Lordship's instructions, I have communicated to Prince Metternich, for the information of the Austrian Government, your despatch to Sir Stratford Canning relating to the execution of the Greek renegade by the Turkish authorities at Brussa on the ground of his apostacy from Islamism.
Whilst I stated to his Highness that my Government did not think it necessary formally to solicit the co-operation of the Internuncio in a matter which could only be viewed by every Government in Europe with the greatest abhorrence, I have been anxious to ascertain in how far the instructions which are forwarded from hence would be made to coincide with your Lordship's; and I have now to state that, although agreeing in the principle upon which have been founded the remonstrances of Her Majesty's Government, and seeking to arrive at the same result, the Austrian Minister has nevertheless a decided objection to the wording of your Lordship's instructions, and the peremptory terms in which it is endeavoured by them to enforce the Sultan's compliance.
Lord Stuart de Rothsay to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received February 24.)
(Extract.) St. Petersburgh, February 6, 1844.
In obedience to the orders contained in your Lordship's despatch of the 16th January, I have communicated to Count Nesselrode a copy of your instructions to Sir Stratford Canning upon the subject of a Greek who had been executed near Brussa as an apostate from Islamism.
I did so without alluding to the wish of Her Majesty's Government that the Russian Minister at Constantinople might be furnished with instructions on the subject. The Vice-Chancellor, nevertheless, said that he should consider attentively the communication I had made, and see how far it might be useful to adopt a similar course, adding, that although he quite participated in the feelings which actuated Her Majesty's Government, he thought that other means might be tried which would be more efficacious in attaining our common object. He afterwards remarked that through the instrumentality of some of the Russian Consular Agents Pashas had not unfrequently been persuaded, in an unofficial manner, to facilitate the removal from their Government of Greeks and others who had rendered themselves liable to capital punishment for apostacy; and he gave me to understand that he was of opinion that greater security to Christians would be obtained by the exercise of the individual influence of foreign agents, than by seeking an alteration in the fundamental laws of the Turkish Empire, such as appeared to be the object of Her Majesty's Government.
Count Nesselrode appears disposed to instruct M. Titow to give his general support to Her Majesty's Ambassador.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received March 8.)
(Extract.) Constantinople, February 10, 1844.
On the 5th instant I received your Lordship's instructions of the 16th ultimo, relating to the execution of a Greek near Brussa for relapsing from Islamism, and directing me to require of the Porte an unequivocal renunciation of the principle involved in that barbarous act. I received at the same time, from Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris a despatch informing me that he had communicated those instructions to M. Guizot, and was authorized by him to express that Minister's approbation of their contents, and his intention of ordering M. de Bourqueney to concur with me for the attainment of the object to which they were directed.
I proceeded at once to execute the commands of Her Majesty's Government. To the French Minister I read your Lordship's first instruction, and also Lord Cowley's despatch. He returned my confidence by putting me in possession of M. Guizot's instructions to him of the 13th ultimo, and by expressing his readiness to act in concert with me for the accomplishment of our common purpose. To Rifaat Pasha I communicated a copy, together with an exact translation, of your Lordship's first instruction. I waited upon his Excellency by appointment for this object on the 9th instant, having apprized the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian Ministers of my intention the day before.
The Ottoman Minister for Foreign Affairs read, in my presence, the whole of your Lordship's instruction translated into Turkish. Having finished it, he rose from his seat rather abruptly, without saying a word, and left the room for a few minutes. On his return, he told me that the subject was too important for him to give me an answer without referring to the Council; but, if I were inclined to listen, he would at once impart to me such observations as occurred to his mind. I assured him that I was willing to receive with becoming consideration whatever he thought proper to state; and he then proceeded to draw a strong line of distinction between custom and divine law, intimating that a practice derived from the former source might be abandoned to meet the wishes of Europe, or even of Great Britain alone, but that a law, prescribed by God himself, was not to be set aside by any human power; and that the Sultan in attempting it might be exposed to a heavy, perhaps even to a dangerous, responsibility. He sought to learn from me whether your Lordship had been fully aware of this view of the case in writing the instruction communicated to him; and it seemed to be his object both to prepare me for an unsatisfactory answer, and to obtain from me some admission which might give him an advantage in shaping the decision of the Council.
I had already, in presenting the instruction, endeavoured to make it clearly understood, that Her Majesty's Government had no object in view but the one so distinctly and powerfully stated therein; and also to show how imperiously the welfare of the Porte itself requires that a practice and principle which operate as moral barriers between Turkey and Christendom, should now be once for all renounced and utterly abandoned. I had every reason to believe that your Lordship had instructed me with a full knowledge of the question in all its bearings and eventual consequences; that the course deliberately adopted by Her Majesty's Government, and announced to the principal Courts of Europe previously united in reprobation of the late impolitic and atrocious executions, was not to be receded from; and that any opening to a compromise on so vital a point could only encourage resistance and endanger the most important interests. I, therefore, rested entirely on the terms of your Lordship's instruction, to which, in truth, there was nothing for me to add.
Although I replied to some of Rifaat Pasha's remarks in a considerate and conciliatory manner, I referred him steadily to your Lordship's instructions, and left no reason to hope that any evasive or temporizing assurance would be accepted as satisfactory by Her Majesty's Government.
Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen.—(Received March 8.)
My Lord, Constantinople, February 12, 1844.
The interview which I had on the 9th instant with Rifaat Pasha was followed yesterday by one of a similar character between that Minister and the French Representative. M. de Bourqueney obligingly called upon me as soon as he returned from the Pasha's house; and his report of the conference presented in substance a counterpart of what had before passed between his Excellency and myself. He stated that he had given in a paper composed of the strongest passages from M. Guizot's instruction to him of the 13th ultimo; that he had found in Rifaat Pasha's remarks the same indication of resistance on the ground of religion which I had experienced; that in reprobating the executions complained of, and urging the abandonment of so barbarous a law for the future, he had placed himself as nearly as possible on the same ground with me, and that he had carefully avoided any premature discussion of the form of declaration by which the Porte would probably, in the end, attempt to satisfy the remonstrating Governments without a surrender of the principle, or more than a virtual suspension of the practice.
Notwithstanding the want of any instruction from M. Guizot, subsequent to Lord Cowley's communication to that Minister, Baron de Bourqueney found himself sufficiently authorized by the instruction of the 13th to give me his cordial and unqualified support.
Agreeably to M. Guizot's suggestion, as conveyed to me in Lord Cowley's despatch, we have acted separately in form, though concurrently in substance.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) STRATFORD CANNING.
The Earl of Aberdeen to Sir Stratford Canning.
Sir, Foreign Office, March 19, 1844.
I have received your Excellency's despatch of the 10th of February, giving an account of the manner in which you had executed the instruction of the 16th of January, which I addressed to your Excellency on receiving your report of the execution of a Greek near Brussa on the ground of his having renounced his profession of Islamism and returned to Christianity.
I have to acquaint you that Her Majesty's Government entirely approve of your having rested your communication to the Turkish Minister on the terms of my instruction, and of your having steadily referred his Excellency to that document, while replying in a considerate and conciliatory manner to the remarks which he addressed to you.
Nothing, indeed, can be further from the wish of Her Majesty's Government than that a communication which they have been compelled by a strong sense of duty, and, I may add, by a sincere regard for the welfare of Turkey, to make to the Porte, should be rendered more unpalatable than from its nature it was likely to be, by being conveyed in harsh or dictatorial terms; and they wish, if the question is still under discussion when this despatch reaches your Excellency's hands, that you should constantly bear in mind, that Her Majesty's Government, although they propose to abide by the general tenour of the communication which you have been directed to make to the Porte, have no desire, and would deeply regret, that the acquiescence of the Porte in the demand which they have addressed to it, should be attended with unnecessary pain to the feelings of the Turkish Government.
Her Majesty's Government are persuaded that if the Ministers of the Porte will dispassionately consider what has been desired of them, they will find that, without any real sacrifice of national or religious opinion, they may place themselves in harmony with the wishes and the feelings of the Christian Powers. Her Majesty's Government have not urged, and do not propose to urge, them to abrogate any law, divine or human, but merely to revert to the system which Her Majesty's Government believe to have been for some time past constantly acted upon, and to allow the law to remain practically dormant, and thus silently withdraw from a practice which cannot be enforced without rousing the feelings of Christendom, and rendering it impossible for the Turkish Government to retain the good-will of Christian Powers.
The Ministers of the Porte cannot, on calm reflection, suppose that if they deliberately deprive their Government of the moral or physical support of Christendom, the Turkish Empire can long be preserved from the destruction with which, from numerous causes, it is continually menaced; neither can they believe that, although the sentiments of the various Powers of Europe on the question to which the revival of an obsolete practice has now unfortunately given rise, may be conveyed to the Porte in terms more or less decided, there is any real and essential difference between the expectations and the intentions of all. All must yield to public opinion universally expressed; and the Porte may rest assured that Christian States will, with one accord, refuse to tolerate any longer a practice which, both in the principle on which it rests and the manner in which it is carried into execution, is designed to stigmatize the faith which they profess and cherish.
I am, &c.,
Count Nesselrode to M. de Titow.—(Communicated by Baron Brunnow to the Earl of Aberdeen, March 19.)
St. Ptersbourg, le 15/27 Fvrier, 1844.
Je n'ai pas manqu de prendre les ordres de l'Empereur sur le contenu de votre rapport No. 10, du 21 Janvier/2 Fvrier, par lequel vous nous avez rendu compte de la fcheuse impression que la nouvelle excution religieuse qui a eu lieu Biligik a produite Constantinople.
Sa Majest a vou une attention srieuse aux diverses considrations que vous nous avez exposes pour dcider du plus ou moins d'opportunit qu'il y aurait pour les Puissances de l'Europe en gnral, et pour la Russie en particulier, protester contre des actes de cruaut incompatibles avec les principes d'humanit dont la Porte devrait se montrer pntre l'gard de ses sujets Chrtiens. D'une part, nous avons reconnu la difficutt, pour ne pas dire l'impossibilit, de dcouvrir le moyen propre pour paralyser d'une manire dfinitive les effets de la loi du Coran qui concerne les apostasies; d'autre part, nous ne saurions ne pas lever la voix, lorsqu'il s'agit de l'application de la peine de mort des individus qui, en embrassant le Christianisme, ou en retournant dans le sein de l'Eglise, invoquent notre protection, et nous imposent le devoir de les soustraire aux rigueurs d'une lgislation barbare.
Dans un tel tat de choses, l'opinion que vous a communique M. le Comte de Strmer, nous a paru celle qui offre le plus de chances de succs. Cette opinion est d'ailleurs conforme aux vues que j'ai t dans le cas de vous dvelopper sur la mme matire dans une occasion prcdente. Il est donc de l'intention de l'Empereur que vous dclariez la Porte Ottomane, sous la forme d'un conseil bienveillant, que nous nous attendons positivement ne plus voir se renouveler des excutions qui soulvent contre elle l'indignation de toute la Chrtient. C'est dans son propre intrt que nous lui adressons cette demande. La Porte ne doit pas se faire illusion sur les lmens qui fermentent en Turquie. Au lieu de s'aliner les sentimens des populations Chrtiennes, le Gouvernement Ottoman doit travailler plus que jamais, se les concilier. Qu'il comprenne enfin la ncessit de laisser tomber en dsutude des dispositions surannes de la loi Mahomtane, qui ne peuvent tre maintenues qu'au mpris des reprsentations unanimes de toutes les Puissances. Tel serait peu prs le langage que vous auriez tenir, Monsieur, la Porte Ottomane, de concert avec les autres Reprsentans, et nous esprons qu'en la rappelant ainsi la conscience de ses devoirs et de ses intrts rels, nous l'empcherons de retomber dans la voie vicieuse qu'elle a suivie en dernier lieu.
St. Petersburgh, 15/27 February, 1844.
I have not failed to take the orders of the Emperor upon the contents of your despatch No. 10, of the 21 January/2 February, in which you have reported the painful impression which the fresh religious execution which has taken place at Biligik has produced at Constantinople.
His Majesty has given his serious attention to the various considerations which you have laid before us in order to determine the greater or less degree of propriety there would be in the principal Powers of Europe generally, and in Russia particularly, protesting against acts of cruelty incompatible with the principles of humanity with which the Porte should show itself animated as regards its Christian subjects. On the one hand, we have perceived the difficulty, not to say the impossibility, of discovering the suitable means of definitively paralyzing the effects of the law of the Koran relating to apostacy; on the other hand, we cannot but raise our voice when it is a question of inflicting the penalty of death upon individuals who, in embracing Christianity, or in returning into the bosom of the Church, appeal to our protection, and impose upon us the duty of withdrawing them from the rigours of a barbarous legislation.