No. 539.
Mr. Wallace to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 205.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to the Department a copy and translation of a note upon the subject of the books of the American Bible Society, containing a statement from the imperial minister of public instruction of his plan of sealing or stamping volumes with a view to prevent seizures and detentions by officials in the interior.

* * * * * * *

A copy of my communication in reply is herewith forwarded.* * *

Very respectfully, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 205.—Translation.]

Aarifi Pasha to Mr. Wallace.

Mr. Envoy: I have had the honor to receive the note your excellency kindly addressed to me on the 14th of January last, No. 141, relative to the books and tracts of the American Bible Society.

[Page 838]

The minister of public instruction, to whom your excellency’s observations have been communicated, just gives the following reply:

The examination of foreign books and tracts is solely in view to prevent the circulation within the Empire of all works contrary to the morals and usages of the country, or hurting any of the creeds recognized by the state. The mode of inspection adopted by the imperial authorities is the best suited to reach the result in a practical manner.

With regard to the American Bible Society, it will not suffer from it, inasmuch as all its printed, or to be printed works which do not present the inconvenience of ridiculing the religious opinions officially recognized, treat either of Protestantism or of scientific and literary matter, which are not in any way in opposition with the essential view heretofore indicated. Therefore the council of public instruction, every time that such works are to be published in one of the languages spoken by the Christians of the country, does not hesitate in granting the required authorization in accordance with the law and the general rules. Consequently, the question is confined to the inspection of such works as are to be found in the depots of the society which have been printed without authorization or have been received from abroad. This point as well cannot present any difficulty, inasmuch as they will confine themselves to putting a seal on the religious and other books which the law authorizes, that which, besides, is admitted in your excellency’s before-mentioned note.

With such conditions a conference has no reason to be. At the same time, in order to avoid any occasion for complaint, the authority promises to make the examination of the religious books and others with the greatest possible celerity.

Such is, in substance, Mr. Envoy, the answer the above-mentioned minister forwarded to me.

In submitting it to the equitable appreciation of your excellency, I avail. &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 205.]

Mr. Wallace to Aarifi Pasha.

Highness: In the note with which you favored me under date of April 2 instant, you are good enough to give the answer of his excellency the minister of public instruction to my communication of, January 14 last, No. 141, relative to the books of the American Bible Society.

The object of his excellency, in his proposal to attach a seal to such books as have been inspected to the satisfaction of the proper officers of his department here in Constantinople is, as I take it, that the seal may be evidence to officials elsewhere in the Empire of the fact that the volume to which it is appended has been duly licensed according to law, rendering a further inspection by them unnecessary, and a stoppage for purposes, other than examination, to see if the seal is in fact attached, unlawful. To this object I do not see how an objection can well be made. It is, therefore, with the more regret I find myself obliged to ask a more definite understanding than is afforded by your highness’s note touching the point heretofore presented by me (No. 141), as to the difficulty, if not impossibility of affixing the seal to the thousands of volumes already dispatched to the interior of the Empire for sale and distribution. It is also highly important to be exactly informed what is to be the cost of sealing the books. Both these points, you will observe, are without mention in the answer of his excellency the minister of public instruction.

Possibly his excellency will permit a suggestion that he furnish me a copy of the regulations which may have been issued upon this subject. That, it seems to me, is but right, particularly as a mode of dealing with the Bible society whose property is the subject of regulation. Until full information is furnished as requested, it will be my duty to adhere to the objections stated more at length in my aforesaid dispatch, No. 141, and to protest against the execution of the plan of his excellency, above referred to.

I avail, &c.,