18. The Bargain

© 2022 William St Clair, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0136.18

Why did the Ottoman leadership actively preserve the Parthenon and the other ancient monuments of Athens during the six years of the Revolutionary War? And why during the six years of military occupation that followed the surrender, did they continue to do so? And why, when it was made known to them that the European powers would compel them to leave Athens and Attica, if necessary by force, did they not carry out their often-repeated threat to destroy the monuments? It was not, we can be confident, the result of a sudden outbreak of respect for the ancient, let alone for the modern, Greeks. In exchange for not destroying the monuments, the Ottoman leadership gained something far more valuable to them: a reputation for being able to act as a power with a disciplined army, whose confidential promises could be trusted and whose bargains implemented. By their actions in Athens from 1827 to 1833, the Ottoman authorities demonstrated that they were committed to reforming their Ottoman institutions on the European model, as had been their own long-term policy and as the ambassadors of the powers had urged on them from the beginning of the Greek Revolution and long before.1 In preserving the monuments, the Ottoman authorities had demonstrated to ‘Europe’ that they deserved to be treated as a European power.

The monuments were, therefore, not just hostages and pawns in a multilateral diplomatic negotiation, although they played these roles too. As the focal point of a bargain that gave the different parties what each immediately wanted, they were able to act as a pivot on which a geopolitical shift could occur. And never was the need for such a shift more apparent to all parties than during the six years when the Parthenon was saved from destruction. For the western European countries, enabling the Ottoman Empire to be redefined as a European state was a further step in withdrawing from what was now embarrassing and burdensome juridical and ecclesiastical teaching, which stretched back through the Crusades to the Mediaeval period and claimed that there was a essential and unbridgeable difference between Christendom and ‘barbarous nations’.2 It had the potential to enable the international system to work more effectively in one of the regions where it had apparently so far failed. For the western countries, the Parthenon represented the classical antiquity to whose intellectual and artistic achievements they claimed to be the heirs. For them to allow it to be destroyed would proclaim their weakness. To the neo-Ottomans as to the neo-Hellenes, by contrast, the ancient monuments represented an aspired-to future as part of ‘Europe.’ For all the parties concerned, as Edgar Quinet had remarked when he had seen the monuments standing undestroyed among the ruins of modern Athens, it was as if the future had need of them.

And when, as a result of Reschid’s success in reconquering Athens, he was appointed grand vizier, the highest office in the Ottoman Empire, the benefits of the bargain soon began to flow. Even before the Ottoman army had left Athens, the British invited senior Ottoman officials to visit one of their modern warships and gifted twenty guns ‘to the Sultan’.3 Soon a new European style-army was being trained with the help of French instructors, to replace the now militarily ineffective Corps of Janissaries whom Sultan Mahmoud had caused to be put to death en masse in 1826. In 1831, a second printing press was established in Constantinople mainly to print military works, which employed lithography, then the most advanced technology for circulating manuscripts, maps, and visual illustrations in cases where these were permitted.4 In January 1836, the Ottoman Government established Le Moniteur Ottoman as an official newspaper, an example of modernization but also of the downgrading, if not the dethroning, of the former techniques of display and performance.5

While the Ottoman leadership angrily rejected the humiliation of being dictated to be foreigners, they also now found themselves becoming increasingly aligned with the foreign policies of the British and French leaderships. As one group after another, beginning with the Circassians of the Crimea, and then Poles, demanded that the powers listen to their claims for independence, they began increasingly to realize that the arriving idea of ‘nation’ would not stop at the geographical borders of Europe or of Greece, but could be taken up by many other communities as indeed happened. Greece might draw political support, sympathy, and legitimacy from the ancient Hellenes whose ruins dotted the landscape, but other nationalisms could thrive on other myths either already in existence or invented for the purpose. In July 1830 a second French Revolution broke out in Paris that, although not as successful as the first, showed that the post-Waterloo attempt to return to pre-1789 forms of ancien regime monarchical government could not be sustained. Might Britain, where agitation for reform of Parliament looked increasingly unstoppable, itself be on the verge of a popular revolution? Had the policy of supporting revolutionary movements been a mistake?6

When in 1833, after a succession of defeats and concessions, the Ottoman Government made a treaty with Russia, with secret articles, a fear, approaching panic, that the whole Ottoman system might collapse and the city of Constantinople and the seaways to the Black Sea fall under the control of Russia, gripped the foreign offices of Britain and France.7 The imagined community of the Orthodox Christians of which Russia was the leading member, and that in Greece had recently been overlaid by a secular philhellenism, had not gone away and there was a strong pro-Russian constituency in independent Greece, eager to join a new Russian-led alliance.8 The policy advocated by Volney and others in the previous century, which had been to hasten the apparently inevitable break-up of the Ottoman Empire, with much it going to Russia, was losing support.9 The new answer to what now came to be known as the ‘Eastern question’ was to try to prop up the Ottoman Empire politically and militarily as a counterweight to Russia.

In Britain, it was the young Benjamin Disraeli who was now the coming man. Indeed, by his writings, he helped to change the policy. When, in October 1830, aged twenty-five, Disraeli arrived in the Ionian Islands, he was hoping to join the Ottoman forces as a military volunteer. And he was already viscerally pro-Ottoman. As he wrote on his arrival: ‘I am glad to say the Porte every where triumphant’.10 And even after he reached the mainland and had seen for himself the devastation and misery that the Revolution had brought about, he wrote that: ‘I detest the Greeks more than ever’.11 Writing later, he declared that, ‘always having had a taste for a campaign’, he had intended to volunteer to fight on the Ottoman side and had been disappointed to find that the fighting was over.12 When, on his first arrival in the Ionian Islands, he was asked by the British High Commissioner to act as personal courier of a letter that the he wished to send to Grand Vizier Reschid, Disraeli jumped at the chance.13

Disraeli, who spent ten days at Ioannina, where Reschid had established the headquarters of his army which was engaged in crushing an insurrection in Albania and Epirus, knew that the grand vizier wished to lead the Ottoman Empire towards European-style reform. We hear of new military books being studied and comparisons being made with Peter ‘the Great’ who had modernized Russia. As Disraeli wrote of his interview with his hero: ‘Suddenly we were summoned to the awful presence of the pillar of the Turkish Empire, the man who has the reputation of being the main spring of the new system of regeneration, the renowned Redschid, an approved warrior, a consummate politician, unrivalled as a dissembler in a country where dissimulation is the principal portion of their moral culture’.14 In what appears to be the only description of Reschid as a man to be recorded, Disraeli described how he bowed to ‘a little, ferocious looking shrivelled, careworn man, plainly dressed, with a brow covered with wrinkles and a countenance clouded with anxiety and thought’. After pipes and coffee, the room was cleared, and as Disraeli continued the account in his letter: ‘We congratulated him on the pacification of Albania. He rejoined that the peace of the world was his only object and the happiness of mankind his only wish’. Disraeli reported in letter to Edward Bulwer, who was already a successful novelist, that, although Reschid was impatient to bring the interview to a close, he himself was flattered by the ‘delight of being made much of by a man who was daily decapitating half the province’.15

An extended version of the account, with many of the same phrases, was included in Disraeli’s own novel Contarini Fleming, first published anonymously in 1832 and whose authorship was publicly acknowledged in 1845. In the novel, frequently reprinted for much of the century after Disraeli became a famous politician and prime minister, the fictionalized Disraeli achieves his wish to take part in an actual battle, which he greatly enjoys, after which he is congratulated by Reschid and, as a special honour, is given a draw on the grand vizieral pipe.16

As with his visit to Reschid, so too for Disraeli’s visit to the Acropolis of Athens, we have the evidence both of his on-the-spot letters and a fictionalized account put into the mouth of Contarini Fleming, from which I quote: ‘For myself, I confess I ever gaze upon the marvels of art with a feeling of despair […] The arts are yielded to the flat-nosed Franks. And they toil, and study, and invent theories to account for their own incompetence. Now it is the climate, now the religion, now the government; everything but the truth, everything but the mortifying suspicion that their organisation may be different, and that they may be as distinct a race from their models as they undoubtedly are from the Kalmuck and the Negro’.17

Readers of the novel would have recognized Disraeli’s summary of the arguments that had been offered by the philosophers of history in the long eighteenth century and the emerging consensus that the only explanation lay in positing essential racial difference. Earlier in the novel, that with its subtitle, ‘A Psychological Romance’, has some of the characteristics of a German ‘bildungsroman’, the character of Fleming had been awarded a gold medal by his university for writing an essay on the Dorians, an allusion to the work of Karl Otfried Müller that was to play a part in providing legitimation for the genocides perpetrated by the modern German state in the 1940s.18 As the narrator explains, picking up the word frequently used from the time of Volney and Chateaubriand: ‘These are a few of my meditations amid the ruins of Athens. They will disappoint those who might justly expect an ebullition of classic rapture from one who has gazed upon Marathon by moonlight and sailed upon the free waters of Salamis’.19

Already by 1832, when the Ottoman army was still in occupation of the Acropolis, Disraeli’s fictionalised self, a Byron-like resister of humbug, was ridiculing the pieties of philhellenism that Byron himself had helped to entrench across western Europe and beyond, including within Greece itself.20 But the young Disraeli who, behind the mask of an autobiographical fiction, was attacking the narrative of moral degeneration and regeneration associated with philhellenism, and indeed, of the search for a philosophy of history itself, was championing another explanation: racial essentialism, that, being allegedly genetic and ‘psychological’ in a scientific sense, offered little or no prospect of social, moral, or intellectual improvement.21

In November 1831, Stratford Canning, who had returned home and was now a Member of Parliament, was sent by London on a special mission to Constantinople, tasked by Lord Palmerston, and the other two powers, with the specific aim of settling the international borders of Greece.22 He had been reluctant to accept the request. His first wife, Harriet had died in childbirth with their child in 1816, the year after their marriage, and his second wife, Eliza, to whom he was married in 1825, was pregnant and had already lost one child by miscarriage. Canning hated leaving her.23 But, as he would have regarded the choice, he put his duty to nation above his duty to family. If ‘England’ called, Canning could not refuse. In Canning’s day, ‘England’ was not so much a political or a geographical term, but rather, as ‘Hellas’ had been to the ancient Greeks, an imagined community and rhetorical construction that could not be adequately displayed on maps.

Canning had been instructed to conclude the negotiation speedily, as he himself also wanted, and attempts were made to keep him on a tight leash. Formally on a ‘special mission’ to territories in which accredited British diplomatic representatives were in already in place and who might legitimately feel aggrieved at being sidelined, he arranged for his letters of accreditation to be made out, unusually, not only to the Emperor of the Empire, but to the grand vizier, so giving him authority to deal direct with Reschid, as he done so successfully in the correspondence about saving the Parthenon and the other monuments of Athens.

And his visit appears to have sealed the bargain of 1826. He also brought something to Constantinople that was as valuable to the success of British policies as his experience and personal links. In August 1828, in one of the fires that frequently struck Constantinople, the British embassy building, shown as Figure 18.1, despite being surrounded with extensive open grounds, was burned down. With the loss of the archives of the embassy, the official ambassador, Sir Robert Gordon, had lost one of the main instruments of British influence.

Figure 18.1 appears to be the only image ever made of the place where Canning had dictated so many letters and had driven his clerks to translate and copy so many of the documents on which much of the present book draws. It appears to have been modelled upon Broomhall, Lord Elgin’s house in Scotland, which is now a repository of much of the correspondence and other documents relating to Elgin’s removals, and where they are conserved for public use.

Figure 18.1. The British Palace in Constantinople. Lithograph.24

Not for the first or last time, Canning’s tireless energy had come to the rescue. As part of his mission he brought dozens of cases of documents that he and his predecessors had sent from Constantinople, transcribed by clerks from the copies that Canning, the workaholic, had sent to London and which were now on their way back as new copies of the copies.25

The bargain that Canning had to offer, with the authority of the powers, which had been trailed in his correspondence with Reschid about the monuments, was now made explicit in a written diplomatic note prepared by Canning for the Ottoman Government, namely ‘to see her [The Ottoman Empire] in a situation to receive the full tide of European civilization [and] […] take her proper place in the general councils of Europe.’26 The Ottoman Empire was being promised a seat at the top table alongside the three powers who, with mixed and belated success, were attempting to manage the world’s first international political system.

Canning also knew that, whatever the formal position, the sultan in Constantinople would not come to a decision on a matter of such importance without the approval of his grand vizier. And since Reschid was on campaign in Albania, and had taken many prominent men with him, Canning appreciated that the real centre of power was where Reschid himself happened to be. As part of the plan hatched in London, when Canning arrived in Greece he sent Reschid a personal letter introducing his personal confidential representative, David Urquhart, who made his way from London to Scodra in Albania by way of the Ionian Islands at the same time as Canning set sail to Constantinople.

Urquhart, who had taken part in the battles round the Acropolis in 1827 as a philhellene officer on board the Greek steam warship, the Hellas, and later on land, had now become an eager supporter of the Ottoman Empire, and had learned enough of the Turkish language to be able to correct the interpreter.27 It was at almost exactly the same time as Canning’s visit to the Acropolis that Reschid, now the grand vizier, was writing a letter to five selected Ottoman boys who were being sent to Paris for advanced modern military training, a city that he described as ‘the very metropolis of science’ and ‘this fountain of light’. The letter included the thought: ‘You belong to a nation which has long been thought incapable of taking part in the sciences and arts of Europe and in the advantages which result from them. Prove that we have been wrongly judged’.28 Until the Ottoman archives are explored these are the last words of which we have a record.

In 1833 Urquhart published a book that described the reforms that Reschid, ‘the grand vizir, a man of strong and original mind, and unconnected with the intrigues of the Porte, [who] was alone capable of carrying such a reform into execution’, was carrying out in the region of what is now mainland Greece that remained under Ottoman control. Determined not only to reconcile the inhabitants to the new status but to tackle the causes of the Greek Revolution, Reschid had abolished taxes on trade and given powers to localities. He also abolished the external distinctions of dress that had helped to set one community against another and had facilitated the genocides.29 And he encouraged the rebuilding of churches.30 Urquhart recorded a remark by a Vlach, a member of one of the smaller communities: ‘If the grand vizir lives ten years longer we shall sup with the Turks in Lent, and they will dine with us in Ramazan’, and how the Turks had playfully asked the Greeks, ‘Why they had not added four minarets to it’.31

Urquhart spent over ten days as Reschid’s guest, with many meetings. In his long, almost verbatim record of the visit, Urquhart noted that Reschid never once called him a giaour (infidel) and, in effect, discussed the problem of how to bring the Greek Revolution to an end as if he was already sitting at the top table. The phrase in Canning’s 1826 letter about the Athenian monuments, ‘though of small importance in the eye of Reason or of Religion and wholly unconnected with affairs of State’, on which the personal trust between the two men had been founded, had evidently matched his own sentiments which he now reflected back to Canning and the powers in a virtuous feedback circle.

Reschid, who told Urquhart that he had planned to march his army south to subdue Greece, a task that he had expected to be militarily easy, had now pragmatically adopted another strategy that led him in a different direction. The interests of Greece and Turkey, he was prepared to agree, now coincided. The ‘regeneration’ of the one could help the ‘regeneration’ of the other. After conversations that continued into the night, the care-worn Reschid promised Urquhart that he would advise the sultan to accept Canning’s proposal. He even made a joke that would eventually make its way back to Foreign Secretary Palmerston and his colleagues in London. As Urquhart reported, describing Reschid’s giving an assurance that he would write immediately: ‘the delays, he added smiling, “will not be occasioned by me.”’32 And Canning’s visit does appear to have marked the consummation of the political bargain that had been offered and accepted in 1826. The first international protocol to mention the Ottoman Empire as a party to an agreement with the powers is the ‘Arrangement’ of 30 August 1832, which, although signed in London, reported the recent discussions in Constantinople and elsewhere in which Canning had participated.33

This was another shift of the geopolitical plates. As recently as April 1828, Reschid had sought out a meeting with William Meyer, the British Consul-General in Albania, to deliver a personal message that he knew would be passed to Canning and the British Government.34 In many hours of confidential talks with Meyer, the still only recently appointed grand vizier had set out an apocalyptic vision of what would happen if the powers attempted to impose on the Ottoman Empire, as set out in the Treaty of London of 1827, a settlement ‘repugnant to their conscience; subversive of their Religion and Laws; and incompatible with their honor’. The whole Ottoman leadership, he declared, had ‘resolved on offering up the whole Nation as a sacrifice to such an overruling destiny; that they would begin by destroying their Women and their Children, and would then perish swords in hand against their foes’. Meyer remembered the self-immolation of the ancient Jews in the face of the Roman army in CE 70, but the more immediate parallel was with Missolonghi in 1826 and the declarations of the besieged Greeks in the Acropolis of Athens that had been successfully set aside. Although we can only recover occasional and indirect indications of Ottoman thinking, Reschid seems to be imploring the British and French to come up with a solution on the lines of the agreement he had made in Athens.

In The Spirit of the East, a famous book that Urquhart wrote about his mission, Reschid’s efforts to bring about Ottoman imperial reform are reported and praised. The sufferings of the Greek Revolutionaries in accordance with the old Ottoman laws and customs were replaced by a display of admiration for Reschid’s charisma and success. As Urquhart wrote: ‘True, he had ordered executions ruthless in their severity. He had caused the heads of the guilty to fall, and had made use alike of treachery and wholesale execution; but he had never shed blood wantonly, and his purple vengeance had fallen without partiality’.35 Although nowhere does Urquhart mention that he was on an unofficial British Government mission, his book can be regarded as a semi-official announcement of a successful change of policy negotiated at the highest level.

As Edmund Spencer, a well-informed British military explorer, wrote from personal knowledge, Grand Vizier Reschid was then ‘at the very zenith of his glory’. It was generally agreed, Spencer went on, that he had ‘saved the Turkish Empire from imminent peril, if not total ruin’. Reschid, it was now being claimed, had been consistent in his aim of maintaining the Ottoman Empire by any means, fair or foul, killing enemies by fighting, execution, and trickery, but always ready to accept and reward surrender. It was said that, as a true Muslim, if the sultan, as calif, had commanded it, Reschid would have become a Christian.36

If the monuments of Athens were mentioned in the talks with Urquhart, the fact was not reported either in his book or in his personal report. However, if Urquhart was reticent about some matters involving Greek antiquities, he was less so in others. At Battis, near Salonica (modern Thessaloniki) he reports that he saw men rebuilding their village after the damage done in the war. There were, he noted, ‘not twenty houses roofed; they were, however, busy re-building, their quarry being old Hellenic blocks; and, to my horror, I saw the fragments of a statue piled in a limekiln by the hands of Greeks’.37 It is generally supposed, he went on, that ‘Mussulmans mutilate and deface ancient structures’, but that assumption, he declared, was not the case, as Joseph François Michaud had also confirmed. He was referring to the observations of Joseph Michaud, soon to be famous as the historian of the Crusades, who had been in Athens in June 1830, and whose reports of his travels across the Middle East with his assistant Jean J.F. Poujoulat were already being published in a multi-volume series.38

Linking the Parthenon in Athens with the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem, Urquhart quoted Michaud as saying: ‘posterity will learn with amazement, that to the Turks we are indebted for the conservation of the two noblest relics of religion and the arts’.39 Urquhart also noted, ‘there is a saying of Mahomet to this effect: Let the man be a reprobate who sells a slave, who injures a fruit-bearing tree, and who makes lime from chiseled marble’.40 In a single footnote Urquhart had dismissed the claim made by Lord Elgin that he had ‘saved’ the sculptures of the Parthenon from suddenly, after four hundred years, being pounded into lime by the Turks.

The Ottoman side exploited the political leverage of the new situation immediately. It was at almost exactly the same time as Canning’s visit to the Acropolis that Reschid was writing his letter to the five Turkish boys already mentioned. And on 9 August 1832, Canning was told at a personal meeting with the sultan that the Ottomans wanted to make an alliance with Britain against Egypt and Russia.41 He was pressing on an open door, as is shown by the cartoon reproduced as Figure 18.2.

Figure 18.2. Le Dejeuner a la Fourchette [‘fork supper] 1829. Contemporary cartoon.42

The Russian bear is shown about to gobble up the Ottoman Empire, ‘Turkey’, taking over Constantinople and becoming the dominant power in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond.

In a short-lived serial publication that he edited in which he published many primary documents on current international affairs, Urquhart, who knew the role that intercepted correspondence had played in British policy-making, published a sardonic ‘intercepted’ cartoon such as might have appeared in Russia, where the Ottoman sultan has become a Russian puppet of the Russian bear, and the powers are made to dance, rather badly, to the bear’s military fife and drum (see Figure 18.3).

Almost immediately Britain began supplying modern weapons, warships, and expertise. The Ottomans, now accepted as a European power, were given a seat at the top table in the conference that led to the Treaty of Constantinople, and not long afterwards were formally invited to join the concert of Europe.43

Figure 18.3. ‘Intercepted Caricature’. Lithograph, dated 1st June 1836.44

As for Reschid, he played little part in the follow-up to the bargain. In 1832 he was called upon to use his military talents against Ibrahim, his former ally in the Peloponnese, whose father Mehmet Ali had not only made Egypt independent but was now attempting to conquer Syria. A description of Reschid’s march from Albania to confront Ibrahim and his Egyptian army near Konya is given from Ottoman sources by Adolphus Slade, the senior British naval officer employed as an admiral by the Ottoman Government as part of their modernizing effort.45 As Slade, a military man, remarked, the tactics that Reschid had used with such success against the Revolutionaries in Greece were ineffective against an army trained to European standards, and he succumbed to catastrophic defeat in December 1832. When the situation became hopeless, Reschid allowed himself to be captured, the only grand vizier in the history of the Ottoman Empire to be so humiliated, but he was allowed by Muhammad Ali, Ibrahim’s father who was ruler of Egypt, to remain as nominal grand vizier, installed in a palace in Cairo. He died in 1836.

Despite Reschid’s downfall, the bargain was a gift that went on giving. During the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Government issued firmans to enable the British state, with the help of the British navy, to remove the remains of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Many of the pieces had been built into what was then an imperial Ottoman fortress, and detached metopes and pieces from the friezes had been fixed to the walls by the Frankish Crusaders, apparently without their knowing what they were—but this allowed them to survive as symbols of a superseded past. A view of the courtyard before they were removed is shown as Figure 18.4.

Figure 18.4. ‘Interior of the Citadel of Halicarnassus’ Engraving on steel.46

Even larger gifts of antiquities were made to the French, as anyone who visits the Louvre can now see. In 1846, at a time when there were as yet no representative institutions, the Ottoman Empire founded its own museum of antiquities, mainly, as Wendy M.K. Shaw has noted, as a way of showing that it too was a European country, had European cultural institutions, and had positioned itself as yet another claimant of the ancient Hellenic heritage.47

And within a generation of the establishment of the kingdom of Greece, British and French armies were deployed in the Crimea against Russia in defence of the Ottoman Empire. In January 1854, in the midst of that war, during a visit to Constantinople by a senior member of the British royal family who was the nominal commander-in-chief of the British army, the then sultan took the highly symbolic step of visiting the British ambassador’s house. As the Illustrated London News reported, in publishing a picture of the reception. It was a ‘startling innovation […] to comply with Christian usages so far as to allow the presentation of ladies’. The picture of Canning, now ennobled as Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, as he presented his wife and daughters is shown as Figure 18.5.

Figure 18.5 ‘Visit of the Sultan to the Duke of Cambridge at Constantinople’. Woodcut.48

Who could now doubt that the Ottoman Empire had become a ‘European’ country, if not yet quite a ‘nation’? And, as many who were present knew, less than half a century had passed since the young Canning, as a junior attaché, had been among those kept waiting to be presented to a previous sultan in accordance with the age-old Ottoman ceremony of the public humiliation of foreigners.

1 The reputation of the Turks for keeping promises was noted by Alcock, Thomas, Travels in Russia, Persia, Turkey, and Greece, in 1828–29 (London: privately printed, 1831), 128.

2 Discussed by Malcolm, Noel, Useful Enemies, Islam and the Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought 1450–1750 (Oxford: OUP, 2019), 19 and later.

3 Ponsonby to Foreign Office, dated 30 March 1833. Kew FO 78/220, 17 and 43.

4 Neumann, Christoph K., ‘Book and newspaper printing in Turkish, 18th–20th century’, in Hanebutt-Benz, Eva, Dagmar Glass and Geoffrey Roper, eds, Middle Eastern Languages and the Print Revolution: A Cross-Cultural Encounter. A Catalogue and Companion to the Exhibition (Mainz: Gutenberg Museum Mainz, Internationale Gutenberg-Gesellschaft, 2002), 235.

5 Noted by Coller, Ian, ‘Ottomans on the Moves: Hassuna D’Ghies and the ‘New Ottomanism’ of the 1830s, in Isabella, Murizio and Zanou, Konstantina, eds, Mediterranean Diasporas, Politics and Ideas in the Long 19th Century (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 97–115.

6 The internal discussions in London that led to the shift in policy, with contemporary documents transcribed, are summarised in Balfour, Lady Frances, The life of George, fourth earl of Aberdeen, K.G., K.T. (London: Hodder, 1922), i, 216 –244.

7 The Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi, then commonly spelled Unkiar Skelessi, signed on 8 July.

8 Discussed by Ković, Miloš. Disraeli and the Eastern Question; translated by Miloš Damnjanović (Oxford: OUP, 2010).

9 Notably by Volney, Considérations sur la Guerre Actuelle des Turcs (Londres: [but actually Paris]: ‘printed by Cole and Hoddle’, 1788). Volney was honoured with a gold metal by the Russian Empress Catherine.

10 Disraeli, The Letters of Benjamin Disraeli, edited by John Matthews et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982–2014), i, 164.

11 Disraeli Letters 30 November 1830, i, 174.

12 Ibid., 27 December 1830, i, 107.

13 Sir Frederick Adam, the High Commissioner, had been among a party of foreigners who explored Athens in 1818, in the period of misleadingly peaceful normalcy before the outbreak of the Revolution in 1821. Woods, ii, 274.

14 Disraeli Letters, i, 170. The editors note that a printed account ‘A Visit to the Grand Vizier’ appeared the Court Journal, no. 92, 29 January 1831, 66–67, but I have not been able to find a copy.

15 Disraeli Letters, 18 November 1830, i, 173.

16 The description of his time with Reschid, which mainly follows the evidence and wording of the letters, is in pages 460 to 467 of the undated nineteenth-century Ward Lock edition of the works, after which page it slides into fiction and fantasy. Since the Victorian editions were made from the same stereotype plates, the pagination of the British editions is usually the same.

17 Ward Lock edition, 474. The reference to ‘flat-nosed Franks’ is an example of Disraeli’s philo-semitism or perhaps of anti-anti-semitism. Disraeli’s description of his actual visit to the Acropolis was discussed in Chapter 16.

18 As will be discussed in Chapter 23.

19 Disraeli, Contarini Fleming, 474–75.

20 Disraeli’s novel had been commended to the publisher as ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage in prose’ by the ecclesiastic and historian H.H. Milman, as noted by Sultana, Donald, Benjamin Disraeli in Spain, Malta, and Albania 1830–32; a monograph (London: Tamesis, 1976), 22.

21 An example of the contradictions involved in trying to catch in words the mobility of inner thoughts is given in his summary, Disraeli, Contarini Fleming, 746: ‘Ardently I hope that the necessary change in human existence may be effected by the voice of philosophy alone; but I tremble, and I am silent. There is no bigotry so terrible as the bigotry of a country that flatters itself that it is philosophical’. In the novel, Contarini Fleming goes on to have an interview with the sultan in his palace in Constantinople, when the pair discuss political reform and ‘regeneration’.

22 Lane-Poole, Canning, i, 483.

23 Richmond, Steven, The Voice of England in the East: Stratford Canning and Diplomacy with the Ottoman Empire (London: Tauris, 2014), 140, 133, 158. Canning’s mission and the ways in which he communicated with the Ottoman authorities without involving the official ambassador, Sir Robert Gordon, are described by Richmond, 193–98, without mention of the detour to Athens.

24 Walsh, Residence, frontispiece to volume 1.

25 Summaries of what the cases contained are given in Kew FO78/208.

26 Quoted by Lane-Poole, Canning, i, 508.

27 Urquhart’s role in directing the field artillery during the battle of Athens of 1 May 1827 is noted by Jourdain, whose claim there is no reason to doubt, at ii, 339–44. Urquhart’s knowledge of Turkish and his adopting of Turkish manners and dress are described from contemporary sources by Robinson, Gertrude, David Urquart [sic], some chapters in the life of a Victorian knight-errant of justice and liberty (Oxford: Blackwell, 1920), 46. Despite his having, in effect, changed from phil-hellene to phil-ottoman, Urquhart’s name was added to the roll of honour of names of philhellenes prepared by Makriyannis as ‘an act either of ignorance or magnanimity’. The identification was made by Eliot, C.W.J., ‘Makriyannis, Zographos, and the Roll of the Philhellenes’ in Nind, T.E.W., ed., The Mediterranean World, Papers presented in honour of Gilbert Bagnani, D.Litt, F.R.S.C., LL.D, 26 April 1975. Published in typed version by Trent University, Ontario, 1976, 120, 133.

28 Brewer and Barber, Patmos and the Seven Churches of Asia, together with places in the Vicinity, from the Earliest Records to the Year 1850, compiled principally from the MS. Journals of Rev. Josiah Brewer, Missionary to Asia Minor, by John W. Barber, Author of Connecticut and Massachusetts His. Collections etc, (Bridgeport: Bradley and Peck, 1851), 74. The letter, which was said to have been furnished by the boys’ teacher for publication in the Paris newspapers, is, we may guess, too near to what the French public was expected to want to hear to be a spontaneous composition, but even if it was run up, there is no reason to doubt that Reschid and the Ottoman leadership had long resented the centuries of humiliation and exclusion and were eager to embrace the new opportunities that acceptance as ‘European’ offered. The modernization of the Ottoman state was conventionally regarded as having been carried forward by Reschid’s near namesake, Mustafa Reshid, who orchestrated the Tanzimat decree of 1839. At the time the elder Reschid wrote the letter, the younger Reschid who was not related by family, was Ottoman ambassador to Paris.

29 ‘… in the commencement of this year (1832) I observed with no less gratification than surprise in passing through Turkey in Europe. The Greeks are allowed to wear turbans, yellow slippers, and generally any dress and any colours they chose. This may appear a mere trifle, but it is far from being so. The marks of distinction between Greek or Christian and Turk, are dress, name, and mode of salutation; the most important, however, is dress …’ Urquhart, David, Turkey and its resources: its municipal organization and free trade: the state and prospects of English commerce in the East: the new administration of Greece, its revenue and national possessions (London: Saunders and Ottley, 1833), 5. Given the dedication to the British king, who is praised for philanthropy and enlightenment, it seems likely that the book was semi-official.

30 ‘At the time to which I allude, in approaching Constantinople, I met several deputies returning with firmans for the erection of churches. The difficulties thrown in the way of the building and repairing of churches by the Turks are well known, as also the heart-burnings thereby caused to the Greeks. Now, not only was permission freely granted, but the grand vizir himself subscribed 80,000 piastres towards the erection of one at Monastir, which was erected of solid stone masonry, in an incredibly short period, the whole Greek population contributing labour as well as money, and was completed by the end of 1831’. Ibid.

31 Ibid.

32 Urquhart’s long, almost verbatim, report of his meetings with Reschid dated 1 February 1832 is in Kew 78/209.

33 The text is in Strupp LXIII, 139 and 144–46.

34 Transcribed in full in Appendix D from Kew FO 78/168, 65.

35 Urquhart, Spirit of the East, ii, 341. To the French admiral Jurien, Reschid was also honourable in accordance with his own standards that he saw as those of early modern Europe. ‘Reschid-Pacha, brillant, chevaleresque, véritable Murat ottoman’. Jurien, ii, 88.

36 Spencer, Edmund, Travels in European Turkey, in 1850; through Bosnia, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thrace, Albania, and Epirus; with a visit to Greece and the Ionian Isles (London: Colburn, 1851), ii, 126.

37 Urquhart, Spirit, ii, 55.

38 Michaud, J. Fr., Correspondance D’Orient, 1830–1831 (Paris: Ducollet, 1833–1835).

39 Urquhart Spirit, ii, 55. The passage he was referring to reads: ‘Lorsqu’on lira dans l’avenir l’histoire des ruines de l’Orient on s’étonnera que deux grands monumens, le Parthénon d’Athènes et l’église du Saint-Sépulcre de Jérusalem, soient restés debout au milieu de la destruction générale; mais la surprise sera bien plus grande encore, lorsque la postérité apprendra que ces deux monumens, auxquels se rattachent les plus grands souvenirs et les plus nobles pensées, les traditions de la religion chrétienne et celles de la philosophie, en un mot toutes nos idées de civilisation dans les temps modernes, ont été conservés par les Turcs !’ Michaud, Correspondence d’Orient i, 173. As far as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is concerned, Michaud may have had prior knowledge that the firman issued in 1853 for the restoration and preservation of the site and guaranteeing the rights of access of the competing religious communities was under consideration, or was already being observed on the ground in practice. That 1853 firman, translated and transcribed, for example, by Chesney, 402–04, was a reaffirmation of a policy of toleration of non-Muslim religions that went back to the earliest days of the Ottoman conquest of Palestine. The full series of firmans and much of the accompanying diplomatic correspondence is set out Ubicini, La question d’orient devant l’Europe: documents officiels manifestes, notes, firmans, circulaires, etc., depuis l’origine du différend / annotés et précédés d’une exposition de la Question des Lieux-Saints par M.A. Ubicini (second edition Paris: Dentu, 1854). Chesney’s version uses the Latin phrase’ ab antiquo’ (from ancient times) that also occurs in the 1801 firman given to Lord Elgin in 1801, set out in Appendix A.

40 Urquhart, Spirit, ii, 56. I have not found any reference to this saying in the English-language editions, whether modern or prepared in the early nineteenth century, that I have consulted.

41 Letter transcribed in Appendix E.

42 ‘Pubd. by J. Field, 65 Quadrant, Piccadilly.’ October 1829. Private collection.

43 The first international protocol to mention the Ottoman Empire as a party is that of 30 August 1832, that, although signed in London, reported the recent discussions in Constantinople in which Canning participated. Strupp LXIII, 144–46.

44 Urquhart, David, ed., The Portfolio, vol iii, 1836, 195. Private collection.

45 Slade, Adolphus, Turkey, Greece and Malta (London: Sauders and Otley, 1837), ii, 7–14.

46 Breton, Ernest, de la Société Royale des Antiquaires de France, etc., etc., Monuments de tous les peuples, décrits et dessinés d’après les documents les plus modernes (Brussels: Librairie historique-artistique, 1843), i, 267. Derived from a plate of a drawing by Mayer, Luigi, Views in the Ottoman empire (London: Bowyer, 1803).

47 Discussed by Shaw Wendy M.K., ‘From Mausoleum to Museum’ in Bahrani, Zeynep and Eldem, 423–41.

48 Reproduced from the Illustrated London News, 13 January 1855, 33. Private collection.

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