No. 463.
Mr. Boker to Mr. Fish.

No. 123.]

Sir: I have the honor to say that no slight excitement was lately produced in Constantinople by the unexpected announcement that the Sultan had accorded a new firman to the Viceroy of Egypt, which would render the latter almost independent of his sovereign. The firman has not yet been made public, but I have had an opportunity of examining its contents, the substance of which is as follows:

The document begins by confirming to the Viceroy all the privileges heretofore secured to himself or his ancestors, by any previous firmans or hatts whatsoever. These edicts related chiefly to the settlement of the hereditary succession in the male line of the Pashalic of Egypt.

Then follow grants of certain new privileges. The entire internal government of Egypt is confided absolutely to the Khedive. He is empowered to make treaties of commerce, but of commerce only, with foreign powers, provided these treaties shall not conflict with those already made by the Sublime Porte. He is empowered to raise loans, without previous authorization by the imperial government. He is empowered to keep on foot any military establishment that he may desire. He is empowered to construct a fleet of any kind, with the exception of ironclads; for the building of the latter class of ships he must obtain, as occasion for their construction may arise, a separate permission from the Sultan. The firman concludes by graciously continuing to the Viceroy the privilege of paying into the imperial treasury the annual tribute of one hundred and fifty thousand purses.

The terms of the new firman have occasioned severe comments among the old Turkish party, and the representatives of the protecting powers. By them the conditions are interpreted to imply a virtual surrender of the Sultan’s sovereignty over his richest and most powerful province. The increase of strength and of independence which will follow the execution of the terms of the firman will in a few years certainly place the Viceroy in a position to rupture at will the last tie which binds him to the empire. But as in times of peace the connection between Turkey and Egypt has been of little real value to the former, and as in times of war, the Sultan would be in no condition to compel the fidelity of his great vassal, the future of the question may be said to rest, where it will always rest, whether Egypt be weak or strong, upon the loyalty of the Viceroy. Of this quality he makes ample professions at present, and if he should change his mind, I cannot see how Turkey could avoid the consequences of his inconstancy.

I have, &c.,