Mr. Maynard to Mr. Evarts.
Constantinople, February 15, 1878. (Received March 12.)
Sir: For several days past there has been in the city much anxiety and public excitement. In a recent dispatch, No. 219, I mentioned the movement of the British fleet from Besika Bay to the entrance of the [Page 854] Dardanelles. On the 10th instant the fleet was announced once more, and its arrival expected that day. It did not come as anticipated, and it was derisively placarded as lost. This morning, however, four ironclads arrived off the Bosphorus and anchored at the Prince’s Islands. Five more ships are reported inside the Straits, making a fleet of nine vessels near at hand, and it is understood against the protest of the Sublime Porte.
It has been the current belief that the Russian army, but a few hours distant, would be allowed by the Turks, if not invited by them, to march upon the city, should the British fleet arrive, and it is now hourly expected, and rumors many are afloat of its near approach. Apprehension is alive. There seems to be no available Turkish force remaining, and it is supposed the Sultan will retire to Broossa or to some other point in Asia, if indeed he has not, as many think, already gone. The Sultan gone, the grand vizier no more, the general assembly dissolved, the army practically disbanded, a Russian force in the capital, a British fleet equally unwelcome in the harbor, altogether seemed an ill-boding concurrence of events. The papers this evening contain a carefully-prepared statement, evidently authorized, purporting to give the actual condition; and considerably modifying the popular estimate. A copy is inclosed. Even as here stated the situation is very critical, and gives food for serious thought. The inquiry is constantly heard, Is the war ended, or has it only just begun?
I have, & c.,