Mr. Maynard to Mr. Evarts.
Constantinople, July 11, 1879. (Received August 14.)
Sir: I had the honor in my dispatch No. 316, of June 28, 1879, to announce the recent action of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan deposing the Khedive, Ismail Pasha, and appointing his son Mohammed Tewfik Pasha in his stead.
Ismail Pasha was evidently a favorite with the late Sultan Abd-ul Aziz. They were nearly the same age, both born in 1830, and came into power, the Sultan in 1861 and his protégé in 1863) young men, it will be observed, little more than thirty years old. Ismail Pasha was the fourth Viceroy of Egypt. The first was Mohammed Ali Pasha, a native of European Turkey, appointed Pasha of Egypt in 1805 by the Sultan Selim III. After a stormy controversy of thirty years or more with the great Sultan Mahmoud II, and after the death of that potentate, his successor, the Sultan Midjid, brought the strife to a close by a firman, dated February 13, 1842, granting the Government of Egypt as a hereditary right to the family of the unruly Pasha. (See Commodore Porter’s dispatches from Smyrna of July 13, 1839, July 22, 1839, and July 25, 1839, and No. 79 of February 16, 1841.) He continued to rule until his death in 1849, and was succeeded by his grandson, Abbas Pasha, the second viceroy, who died in 1853. The third viceroy was Mohammed Said Pasha, the third son of Mohammed Ali Pasha, and the uncle of his predecessor, though younger. At his death, January 18, 1863, he was succeeded, as has been stated, by Ismail Pasha, the son of his eldest brother, Ibrahim Pasha. To this time, I may observe, the succession had been regular according to the canon of Mussulman law, which grants it to the oldest living male member of the reigning family, irrespective of his relation to the immediate predecessor. The first viceroy had been succeeded by his grandson, the second by his uncle, and the third by his nephew. The next, according to this law of succession, was Prince Halim Pasha, the fourth son of Mohammed Ali Pasha, now fifty-seven years old, who was a claimant with considerable support. But in 1866 the Sultan gave Ismail Pasha a firman establishing-the right of succession in his branch of the vice royal family, in the male line direct, according to the usages of Western Europe, a rule which has excluded the prince hereditary by Mussulman law, in favor of one fully twenty years younger. How far this action will be accepted by the Moslems does not yet appear. This action of Sultan Abd-ul Aziz gave color to the charge referred to in my dispatch No. 66, of May 12, 1876, that he intended to establish this rule of succession in his own family, in disregard of the traditional practice.
The late Sultan’s favors to Ismail Pasha did not stop here. By a firman of 1867 he conferred upon the Viceroy the title of Khedive or sovereign; by another of 1872, the right to increase at pleasure his army and navy, and to contract loans; and finally, in 1873, the right to conclude treaties of commerce, with complete autonomy in the administration of his country.
The policy of the two rulers was much the same, to embellish their capitals and increase the military strength of their governments, and generally to adopt the methods of the West, especially those of France until the fall of Napoleon III, more influential both in Constantinople and Cairo than any other power. They may certainly be excused for [Page 983] having been dazzled into the belief, shared by many others, that the second empire was the highest expression of the world’s civilization. To carry out their various projects of reform they borrowed largely, and with fatal effect. The high rate of interest offered attracted lenders of a certain class, and the expenditure of the loans a multitude of greedy adventurers, whose noisy admiration of the imperial and vice-regal intelligence and enlightened magnanimity, was very naturally mistaken for the approving judgment of mankind. Nobody thought of the oppressed and overburdened tax-payers, whose unrequited toil was at last to be the sole dependence for this costly pageantry. Their stripes were unfelt, their groans unheard.
As long as the interest on the debts was regularly paid, all went swimmingly. But there is a limit to human endurance. What were euphemistically called the resources of the country were doubtless very great, and yet they were exhausted at last, and the end came. In October, 1875, the Grand Vizier published a rescript suspending payment on the Turkish debt. Before twelve months he was in exile and his master in the tomb. (Dispatches No. 36, of November 15, 1875; No. 69, of June 5, 1876; No. 322, of July 7, 1879). The Khedive bore up awhile longer, struggling vainly to compass the demands of his usurers with the sweat of his taxpayers. The hungry pack spurned and tore the empty hand. He succumbed, and in his fall generously gave to the Sublime Porte an opportunity dexterously seized.
He refused to abdicate and appealed to the Sultan, who thereby could exercise a long dormant authority of deposing him. By hesitating whether to appoint in his stead Halim Pasha, according to Mussulman usage, or Mohammed Tewfik Pasha, according to the firman of 1866, the Sultan showed that, in his opinion, the latter has no obligatory force. In a word, the precedent is made by the Sublime Porte of removing a Khedive whenever the public good may seem to require it, and of appointing to succeed him any lineal male descendant of Mohammed Ali Pasha.
Had nothing more been done, the parties in pursuit of the Khedive would have cared very little. Their object had been accomplished, and no matter how. The experienced ruler was down, and a pliant, easygoing young man was in his place. But much more was done. The firman of 1873 was revoked, and administrative autonomy, and the right to conclude treaties of commerce withdrawn. Thus the tributary state is relegated, almost with the stroke of the pen, and without the firing of a gun or the payment of a piastre, into the category of provinces, or sandjaks of the empire. It is, perhaps, needless to add that the throne of the Sultan is strengthened amazingly, and his authority in Africa practically restored, as it was at the beginning of the century. There has been no finer display of those peculiar powers in which, above all others, Ottoman statesmen are gifted.
Already it is beginning to dawn upon those who were urgent in demanding the recent change, that they have gotten more, a great deal, than they wanted, and they are understood to be equally urgent in seeking a reconsideration, a matter about which the Turks may be expected long, if not seriously, to reflect.
I have, &c.