Mr. Maynard to Mr. Evarts.
Constantinople , October 15, 1879. (Received November 10.)
Sir: Some of our countrymen, who have a strong personal interest in observing the signs of the times and watching the temper of the people, detect, as they suppose, an unusual activity in the religious zeal of the leading Mussulmans.
From Syria and other parts of the empire are received items of intelligence, more or less important, indicating an unwonted degree of impatience, amounting at times to intolerance, and quite sufficient to render the Christian population very uneasy.
Within the last few days an occurrence at the capital has occasioned remark. It seems that a missionary of the Church Missionary Society, an English organization, has been engaged in translating into the Turkish language certain religious books, the book of common prayer of the number, employing a khodja (learned man), a Turk and a Mussulman, to assist him. This coming to knowledge of other parties, he and his assistant were denounced to the police, by whom the missionary was arrested on his way in the street, and taken to the police station, where he was detained several hours, and some manuscript translations which he chanced to have with him were forcibly seized and kept. His assistant was also arrested and condemned to fifteen years’ imprisonment.
I do not apprehend anything very serious, much less that the Sublime Porte will sanction a policy so momentous as to challenge Christendom, yet these outcroppings of latent sentiment are significant, showing how little can be expected in the matter of reforms, as that term is understood in Western Europe and America. I have already had occasion in these dispatches to explain that reform from the Mussulman point of view is something quite different from the reforms demanded by the Christian subjects of the Sultan.
I have, &c.,