Mr. Maynard to Mr. Evarts.
Constantinople, May 9, 1878. (Received June 8.)
Sir: I have just returned from a short excursion on the United States steamer Despatch into the Archipelago, visiting in succession Salonica [Page 881] and Mytilene. I invited to accompany me the Rev. Dr. Long, professor of natural science in Robert College, and, in the absence of the Rev. Dr. Washburn in America, the acting director, and Lieut. F. Y. Greene, United States Army, military attaché to the United States legation at St. Petersburg, and at present with the Russian army near this capital. As we were about to leave, Mr. J. Henry Fawcett, Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general and supreme judge, requested to be taken as far as Salonica, where he would meet a British ship and proceed to Yolo for an investigation into the death of Mr. Ogle, a correspondent of the London Times, who was killed in that neighborhood a few weeks ago under circumstances to excite profound interest. His request was cheerfully granted.
I had been unable to go to Salonica, as I desired to do, since the massacre of the French and German consuls two years ago, in which the American consular agent was so seriously, and, I am persuaded, so unjustly implicated. (Dispatches No. 66 of May 12, 1876, and No. 71 of June 13, 1876.) I examined the locality of the tragedy and inquired into some particulars for my own better satisfaction, and was further confirmed in my previous impressions. You will recollect the subject was revived last summer to the prejudice of Mr. Lazzaro (dispatch No. 180 of August 30, 1877). He has been absent by leave a good deal of the time since that date, but returned about a month ago. Meanwhile the governor of Salonica, has been changed, and the animosity against him appears to have subsided. While an unworthy official should not be protected, it is quite as important that none should suffer from intrigue and covinous practices.
On the way from Salonica to Mytilene we touched at Mount Athos, from the tenth century a vast monastery of the Eastern Church. It is a promontory about 40 miles long and from 3 to 5 miles wide, connected with the mainland by an isthmus’ about a mile in width, across which are the remains of a canal excavated by Xerxes. The extremity, which rises to the height of 6,350 feet, is a conspicuous object, and can be seen many miles in every direction. There are in all no less than twenty separate establishments, each independent, though all are associated ecclesiastically for certain common objects. Three of them are Russian, two are Bulgarian, and the others mostly Greek. The Russian convents are large and apparently wealthy and flourishing, with several dependencies, or sketes, as they are called. My predecessor, Mr. Boker, and Baron Werther, the German ambassador, had visited there a few years ago, in company with the Count Ignatieff, then Russian ambassador, and the visit is remembered with a pleasure of which I and my party enjoyed the usufruct.’ After seeing these retreats and their inmates, I could easily appreciate the feeling which induced the Russian plenipotentiaries to stipulate for their security by article 22 of the treaty of San Stefano. The female sex of both man and beast is rigorously excluded, and the life and manners of the Middle Ages prevail.
Going from Mount Athos, we encountered a storm of unusual violence even for these seas, from which we took shelter in a bight of the Mysian coast, near the ancient city of Assos, now mostly in ruins and with only a few hundred inhabitants. During the two days we were detained there “I went to it and examined it sufficiently to be satisfied there is much to be found on and around the site interesting to the antiquary and the archaeologist. As the place is out of the line of ordinary travel, and therefore rarely visited and but little known, I should, had time been at my command, have extended my researches.
At Mytilene where we have an earnest, I might say enthusiastic representative, [Page 882] I found him involved with his superior, the experienced consul at Smyrna, in a question relating to one of his dragomans. By the Turkish regulations each consular officer in the empire is allowed to retain four dragomans and four cavasses, and most of them, I am told, avail themselves of the entire complement. The consular agent at Mytilene, however, has had heretofore but a single cavass and two dragomans. A few months ago one of the latter died, and on application through the consulate-general at Constantinople the legation procured from the Sublime Porte a firman for a successor. This instrument was transmitted from the consulate-general to the consul at Smyrna to be forwarded to the consular agency at Mytilene. The consul at Smyrna, it seems, is embarrassed by an instruction received by him several years ago from the Department of State on the subject of consular dragomans. I hope I shall be deemed neither officious nor superserviceable in suggesting how very little inconvenience is likely to arise from these humble appointments, while they contribute much to the standing and influence of the offices to which they belong. Wherever it is worth while to plant the flag it is surely of importance to make it respected. No one can be a long time in the East without observing the consequence that attaches to a retinue. In this particular instance, inasmuch as the firman has been requested and granted, it will be better, and avoid inquiry and remark, to have it delivered and duly recognized by the governor of Mytilene. Unless the Department think proper otherwise to instruct, I shall give directions in that sense.
There are on the island of Mytilene few American citizens, and these naturalized; but I was quite unprepared to hear, as I did, that there are no less than one hundred natives of the island in different parts of the United States.
Arriving early this morning at Constantinople, I found everything remarkably quiet—the tranquillity of returning peace, or the stillness which precedes the storm?
I have, & c.,