Mr. Heap to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have not informed the department of the various plans of reform which have been, within the last few months, successively proposed, momentarily entertained, and finally postponed or rejected by the Bey’s government, as they have resulted in nothing definitive.
The dilapidation of the finances, the venality of the employés engaged in the collection of the revenue, the entire disregard of the claims of the government creditors, the reckless issue of tiskerus or obligations, which have been sold in London and Paris at a discount of 96 per cent., the misery of the people, and the oppressive burden of the taxes which paralyze every branch of Industry, are all evils which cry aloud for immediate and radical reforms.
A project has latterly been submitted to the Bey by the representative of France, whose citizens with those of England and Italy are the principal creditors of the government. But as it placed the finances under the exclusive control of a commission composed in majority of Frenchmen—one of whom, the vice-president, was to be named by the French government—and allowed two only of the eight members to be named by the Bey; and, moreover, as the project ignored the interests of the English and Italian bondholders as well as the sovereign rights of the Bey, the consuls of England and Italy exerted their influence to cause the rejection of this scheme and urged the adoption of one more in accord with principles of justice. His Highness was made to see that the acceptance of this project would be virtually equivalent to delivering his government into the hands of Frenchmen and himself subsiding into a French prefect, administering the government of his country for the benefit of France.
The whole question, through the strenuous exertions of the consuls of England and Italy, has been referred to their respective governments, and is now being debated in Paris, where, it is hoped, some plan will be adopted freed from the objectionable features so easily engendered by local and individual jealousies, and comprehensive enough to guard not only the sovereign rights of the Bey and the interests of his creditors, but also to protect in some measure his unfortunate subjects, who are, invariably made to suffer the most for the ignorance, dishonesty and disloyalty of the government.
When definite reforms are inaugurated, I shall lose no time in transmitting the details to the department.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.