Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward.

No. 242.]

Sir: The Cretan question has of late assumed a more serious aspect. The want of success of the Turkish troops, and the apparent unanimity with which the insurgents and the Christian population have rejected the propositions made to them through the grand vizier, has provoked new demonstrations on the part of the great powers in favor of peace. The French ambassador, I am informed, on Saturday last presented a note to the Porte on the part of his government, in which,in very positive terms, a commission of inquiry is demanded to ascertain the sentiment of the Cretan people, with the view of allowing them to determine their future destiny. This commission is to be comprised of representatives of the great powers, with a Turkish commissioner adjoint. In this note the Porte is advised of the imminent certainty of a war by Russia against Turkey, and the declaration is made that in such a war France will remain perfectly neutral if the Porte rejects the proposed commission of inquiry. * * * * * *

England, indirectly co-operating with France, has, through her ambassador, Mr. Elliott, recommended the establishment of a principality, without, however, resorting to menace to support her counsel. The Austrian ambassador, a fortnight since, in behalf of his government, urged also a commission of inquiry. This particular proposition was first advanced last summer by France, Russia, Austria, Prussia and Italy as an alternative to their recommendation for the cession of Crete to Greece. It is of Russian origin. * * * *

The last advices from Crete report new disasters to the imperial forces, and that they have been unable to make any progress in the reduction of the rebellion. Sawas Effendi, an employé of the Porte, who has been made pasha of Spakia, left Canea with six battalions, about 10,000 men, for the purpose of taking possession of his pachalik. At about three hours from the point of departure, on the verge of the mountain district of Spakia, he was met by an insurgent force, and after a desperate combat of some duration the Turkish troops were driven back and were obliged to return with the pasha to Canea, or rather they accompanied him to a safe distance, whence he was enabled under escort to reach that town. Thus ends the attempt to revive the Turkish government in the famous district of Spakia.

Although 60,000 women and children, by the Christian charity of the great powers, have been transported to Greece, the suffering for want of food is very great in Crete, and many helpless non-combatants perish from starvation. The situation of this once beautiful and flourishing island is indeed deplorable, and it justly commends itself to the sympathies of the Christian world.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.