No. 470.
Mr. Maynard to Mr. Evarts.

No. 327.]

Sir: The affairs of the two Bulgarian provinces have received little consideration of late in these dispatches, partly because exact information has been difficult to obtain, and partly because, when obtained, it was not specially important.

That part of Bulgaria south of the Balkans, organized by the Treaty of Berlin into the dependent province of Eastern Roumelia, has been the scene of most of the events which during the last three years, have attracted so much attention and sympathy in Europe and America. It was here that Mr. Schuyler made observations in July, 1876, with such startling effect.

By Article XVII of the Treaty of Berlin, the governor-general of Eastern Roumelia is to be nominated by the Sublime Porte, with assent of the signatory powers, for a term of live years, and by Article XVIII a scheme of government was to be arranged by a European commission, in concert with the Ottoman Porte. This organic law or constitution, as we should call it, has, I understand, been completed, but I have not seen it. The first nomination for governor-general was of His Excellency Rustem Pasha, for several years past the governor-general of the Lebanon, in Syria. This not being acceptable to the Bulgarians, it was recalled and given to His Excellency Aleko Pasha Vogorides, or Prince Vogorides, as he is now designated. He is, in part at least, of Bulgarian descent, and appears to have been very well received by the Bulgarian portion of his subjects. He has been criticised a good deal for wearing the Bulgarian cap rather than the Turkish fez, and for displaying the Bulgarian and not the Turkish flag, when the constitution was publicly read. These and similar criticisms demonstrated on the one hand a readiness to find fault, and on the other that in the weightier matters there is little to censure.

An English nobleman, the Marquis of Bath, has recently spent some time at Philippopolis, the capital of this newly-erected province, and was most favorably impressed. An article ascribed to his pen was reproduced in the city last evening, and it is inclosed, being at once instructive and authentic, more than anything I have met with.

The first article of the Berlin Treaty constituted the territory between the Balkans and the Danube an autonomous and tributary principality under the suzerainty of his imperial majesty the Sultan, and gave it the name of Bulgaria, providing for it a Christian government and a national militia.

The third article provides that the Prince of Bulgaria shall be freely elected by the population, and confirmed by the Sublime Porte, with the assent of the powers, the only restriction upon the unlimited power of choice being that the prince chosen should not be a member of the reigning dynasties of the great European powers. The assembly of notables of Bulgaria, also convoked by virtue of that treaty, elected a young German prince, Alexander of Battenberg, a favorite if not a protégé of the Czar, and provided for him a salary of 600,000 francs (say, $120,000) a year.

Before assuming authority the prince visited the courts of the several great powers. * * * A Russian imperial yacht met the prince at Brindisi, and a week ago anchored off Seraglio Point. This was early [Page 985] in the afternoon. The prince immediately waited upon the Sultan at the palace of Yeldez, and, after a very brief call, returned on board and proceeded up the Bosphorus to the Russian embassy. The entire stoppage did not exceed two hours. For want of time, it was alleged, the imperial firman had not been prepared, and could not therefore be delivered in person, but would be forwarded as soon as completed. The prince dined at the Russian embassy, and the same night continued his voyage for Varna, the chief port of the principality.

The resident Bulgarians had prepared a demonstration, but this was promptly suppressed by the Ottoman authorities. A deputation of Bulgarian students approached the prince while at the Russian embassy, with a floral tribute and an address of welcome, to which he replied in very gratifying terms. Both the address and the reply, I may remark, were in the English language, with which the prince is familiar, though he does not speak either the Bulgarian or the Russian. He assumes an arduous and unenviable task.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in dispatch No. 327.]

Report on the administration of Prince Vogorides, ascribed to the Marquis of Bath.

prince vogorides and the porte.

[From the Spectator.]

Considerable excitement was caused the other day in Philippopolis by news, which spread like wild-fire, that the Porte had addressed representations to the great powers demanding the recall of Prince Vogorides, on account of his action anent the wearing of the kalpak instead of the fez, and his refusal to hoist the Ottoman flag. The rumor was eagerly believed by the Turks, who saw in it the possibility of their immediate return to power; and also by the Greeks, whose ideas were that a new governor-general might do more favor to their cause and ambitious designs, than Prince Vogorides was inclined to do. No class has been more woefully disappointed at the turn affairs have taken than the Turks, who have of late weeks flocked into and around Philippopolis. They evidently believed that with the departure of the Russians and the arrival Of Aleko Pasha, the ancient régime would be at once restored, and they have therefore been furious that not only are the Christians still in the ascendant, but that the Sultan’s supreme authority has been quietly ignored for the present. An incident has just happened which shows the temper in which the Turks are at this moment. A friend of mine paid a visit to Tatar-Bazardjik, and when desirous of returning he missed his coachman, a Turk. Another servant was dispatched to hunt up the coachman. This servant is a Wallachian, long resident in Turkey, and he found the coachman in a mosque. Now, the mosque contained about sixty Turks, but, strange to say, they were utterly neglectful of worship. Indeed, they were holding a private discussion, the burden of which was that in a few months the Turkish troops would enter Eastern Roumelia, and that there would be a general rising against the Christians, not one of whom, it was determined, should be spared. All were to be exterminated. This is simply confirmative of what I have heard in the cafés and bazaars of Philippopolis, and while there can be no immediate danger, it is well that the existence of this feeling should not be ignored.

To return, however, to the governor-general and the rumors of his recall. I thought it well to wait upon his excellency, and hear what he himself had got to say upon the matter. Accordingly, I sought an interview, which was readily granted. The prince received me in his bureau, and the numerous papers scattered about showed that he was not a man of indolent ease. He was dressed very simply, almost negligently; tweed pantaloons and vest, and a blue-cloth loose jacket. His manner was frank and easy, his speech open, and his sentiments always directed straight to the point. After apologizing for the disorder in which everything was, he told me that he was having the konak thoroughly overhauled, indeed the internal arrangements almost reconstructed, so as to make it a comfortable residence according to western ideas. He was busy, he continued, perfecting and completing the administrative changes necessary from the departure of the Russians. He had a good set of men around him, and while there was much to do and think about, he anticipated no difficulty in not only [Page 986] establishing, but maintaining, perfect order and good government. There was no truth in the absurd tales that had been told about the reasons for the princess’s departure for Constantinople. It was said, among other things, that she had gone away previous to his departure; that he was disgusted with his post, and wished to resign. It was also said that the princess had gone to plead with the Sultan in favor of her husband, who had incurred the Porte’s displeasure by the manner in which he had taken possession of his government. As he had said, all these were absurd fabrications. The princess had gone to Constantinople simply to be out of the way while the alterations were being made in the konak, for while the house was occupied by masons, and plasterers and painters, there could be no comfort for a lady. “Then,” said I, “there is no truth in the statement that your excellency is about to leave Eastern Roumelia, and throw up the post of governor-general?” “None, whatever,” he replied. “I don’t intend to leave and I don’t want to leave. The Porte can’t dismiss me, for I am appointed for five years; and as for asking the powers to recall me, they can’t do that. I might be tried, if I was stepping beyond the law laid down in the statute organique; but then there is no provision for a tribunal to try me. I did not,” he went on, “at first desire the appointment of governor-general of Eastern Roumelia. I was living very quietly in Paris, for I did not do well with the Sultan [sic] for a long time. I did not visit Constantinople, although the Sultan asked me to go many times. When Rustein Pasha was proposed as governor-general of Eastern Roumelia, he was objected to very strongly by Russia, who desired that a governor-general of Bulgarian origin should be appointed. I suppose they wanted to establish a precedent from the first holder of the high office. I was then pressed to accept the office, and I did so, in the hope that I might contribute something to the peace of my country and of Europe. When I went to Vienna and saw Count Andrassy, the count said to me, ‘Above all things, we desire that the Russians should go away from Eastern Roumelia and Bulgaria; and you must do everything that will expedite that, and so secure the peace of Europe.’ ‘We want peace,’ added Count Andrassy, ‘and not the outbreak of another war which would spread all over Europe.’ Well, when I came to Constantinople, the Sultan gave me instructions that I was to wear the fez and to hoist the Ottoman flag, as a sign of his sovereign authority; and that if I did not choose to wear the fez, I was to return to Constantinople. When I got to the frontier of Eastern Roumelia, up to which point I had worn the fez, I heard that powder and shot had been prepared for me, if I came wearing the fez. I had to decide, if I wished to continue to wear the fez, either to go on and be shot, or return to Constantinople. On the one hand, if I returned to Constantinople because of such a trivial thing as the wearing of a fez, the whole tranquillity of Europe might have been disturbed. Certainly all that has been accomplished by the Berlin Treaty might have been jeopardized. A new governor-general would need to have been appointed; delays would have taken place. No matter who was proposed, there were certain to have been objections made by one or other of the great powers, and God knows when a governor-general acceptable to all would have been found. In the meantime, the Russian occupation of Eastern Roumelia would have been indefinitely prolonged. Now, it was the wish of all the powers of Europe that the Russians should go away, and therefore it came practically to be a question with me whether I should obey the voice of Europe or the instructions of the Sultan, and, by doing the latter, in all likelihood meeting my own death and letting slip the dogs of war. In Europe they do not reason as they do at Constantinople, and I should have been very much blamed if I had run the risk of disturbing peace, and destroying all that had been done by the Treaty of Berlin, because of a childish dispute about a head-dress. I therefore put on the kalpak and came on to Philippopolis, where I was very well received indeed. I have no penchant for the kalpak, because I have worn the fez since I was a boy, but it was best that I should put on the Bulgarian head-dress. In the same way, I knew that the Bulgarians were not prepared to see the Ottoman flag, the symbol of the sovereignty of the Porte. I heard that they were prepared to tear it down, and there might have been disturbances which would have spread into a revolution, for in the then condition of the country one does not know where such a disturbance, once begun, would have ended.

“I consulted with the European commission as to what should be done about hoisting the Turkish flag. They said to me, undoubtedly, as a symbol of the sovereign authority of the Porte, it ought to be hoisted, but at the opportune moment. ‘It was, however,’ the commission further told me, ‘a matter lying wholly between the Sultan and the governor-general.’ I began to think, and I saw that if I hoisted the flag when the Sultan’s firman was read, and if disturbances took place, the commission would turn round and say, ‘We only advised that the flag should be hoisted at the opportune moment, and certainly that was not the opportune moment.’ Again, the municipality and the heads of the religious bodies and the best representative men told me that if the flag was to be hoisted on the occasion, they would not appear at the ceremony. Therefore, I determined not to hoist the flag, and everything passed off agreeably and tranquilly. If we must have peace, and must have the Russians out of the country, I must so act that both shall be secured, irrespective of childish questions about drapery [Page 987] or bonnets. I know that they are angry with me at Constantinople because of what I have done, or, rather, because of what I have not done; but I cannot risk: peace and good government for such childish matters. When the opportune moment arrives, I shall hoist the Ottoman flag.”

“When does your excellency think the opportune moment will come?” I inquired. The prince replied, with an expressive shrug of the shoulders, “I don’t know; it may be some time. If the Porte wished to place so much stress on its sovereign authority, it ought not to have given up the right of garrisoning the Balkans.” But, I said, I thought the Porte had acted very wisely in its own interests, and also for the sake of European peace and humanity, in waiving its right of sending Turkish garrisons to the Balkans. From what I had seen all over the country in the way of preparation and from what I knew of the sentiments of the people, I did not believe that the Turkish troops would have been allowed to take up a position in the Balkans without a long, severe, and bloody fight, in which the Bulgarians on both sides of the Balkans would have taken part against the Turkish troops. And I added that I could scarcely blame them, after I had seen what they had formerly suffered from the presence of Turkish troops. Prince Vogorides did not seem to attach much importance to the resistance which the Bulgarians would have made. What he dreaded was outside interference. “The Russians,” said he, “would have stepped in, and prevented Turkish garrisons going to the Balkans. Then that would have involved Turkey in a new war with Russia and Austria, and England would certainly also have joined in the war.” I said I did not think the people of England would permit their government to go to war in order that the Bulgarians should be oppressed by an army of Turkish soldiers, or have their dearly bought liberties made a dead letter; to which Prince Vogorides said nothing, except, “The government is supreme, and the people can’t help themselves.” Courteously turning the conversation, his excellency began to talk in terms, of high praise of the industry, thrift, and natural gifts of the Bulgarians. They were, from the effects of the war and the devastating raids of bashi-bazouks and Circassians very poor just now, but he hoped that, with peace and good government, they would soon recover their prosperity. They were especially poor near the Balkans, where they had lost nearly all their cattle, and where, even in the spring, they had no seed-corn to sow to raise crops. I told him of the generosity of the Russian administration in giving away so many horses and selling others at a low price to the peasants, and he admitted that this good action would help the people considerably. The land was as fertile as a garden, and in a few years it would bloom as the Garden of Eden. He looked forward with hope to the future, and expressed his determination to apply the laws of the statute organique honorably and honestly. He praised the statute as a compendium of laws as liberal as was to be found in the world, and the nation was bound to prosper under it, if wisely governed and directed. As to the union of Eastern Roumelia with the principality of Bulgaria, he did not look forward to that being accomplished soon. “And,” he said, “if it does not come soon, there will be the less likelihood of its ever coming.” “Why so? “I asked. “Well,” he answered, “the Bulgarians of Eastern Roumelia are much more intelligent than those north of the Balkans; their country is much richer, and by and by they will see that it will be more to their advantage to remain an autonomous province than to be united with the principality. For they would, if united to the principality, be more heavily taxed, and be bound up with the fortunes of a less civilized and less progressive people.” There was some plausibility in this reasoning, and as one of his secretaries appeared in the room at this moment, I took the opportunity of closing the interview, by thanking his excellency tor his frank and free expression of his views.—[From the Daily-Levant Herald of July 11, 1879.]