Mr. Heap to Mr.
the United States,
Constantinople, December 18, 1884.
(Received Jan. 5, 1885.)
Sir: The managers of the printing establishment at
the American Bible House having complained to the minister of public
instruction of certain measures tending to injure the sale of the Bibles
printed by them, he expressed the wish to see Mr. Gargiulo, the interpreter
of the legation, on the subject. The latter called at the ministry on the
15th instant and has embodied the conversation he had with the minister in a
report, copy of which is inclosed. It will be seen by this report, that the
new regulation of which the missionaries complain, will, if enforced, be of
a nature to inflict much injury to their trade in books.
An occurrence that has recently come to light will, I fear, cause trouble to
the missionaries and increase the prejudice of the Turks against the
dissemination of their books among Mohammedans.
Mr. Wyndham, the British chargé d’affaires, came to see me some days ago, and
informed me that Messrs. Bliss and Dwight, American missionaries, had called
on him to ask for his official ininterference in behalf of fifteen
Mohammedans who, they stated, having embraced Christianity, had been
imprisoned by the Turkish authorities in a village near Constantinople, and
were being starved to death. They added that there were some two hundred
others in the vicinity of Mersine on the Gulf of Carainania, who were ready
to abjure Islamism, and whose safety was in jeopardy. The missionaries,
assured Mr. Wyndham that these conversions were brought about by the reading
of their books and not by personal persuasion on their part. If this is the
case, the removal of obstructions to the sale of their books will become
still more difficult, [Page 824] In answer to
Mr. Wyndham’s inquiry as to what the United States legation would be
inclined to do under the circumstances, I replied that I was of opinion that
my Government could not interfere in the matter, as the converts are Turkish
subjects, but that I would report the subject to you and await instructions.
In the mean time I was ready to take any unofficial action that might be
thought useful. Mr. Wyndham had already seen the ministers of foreign
affairs and police, and had been assured that there was no foundation for
the assertion that these men were either imprisoned or being starved.
Nothing could have occurred of a nature more likely to arouse the violent
fanaticism of the Turkish population.
I am, &c.,
G. H. HEAP,
Chargé d’Affaires ad
[Inclosure in No. 457.]
Mr. Gargiulo to Mr.
Legation of the United States,
Constantinople, December 17,
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that his
excellency Moustapha Pasha, minister of public instruction, having
expressed the wish to see me on account of some matters concerning the
American Bible and Mission Societies, I called on him on the 15th
instant. He said he had sent for me to inform me that the books which
are published by the Bible and Mission Societies must hereafter bear on
their title-pages the inscription that they are “for the use of
Protestants”; that unless this is done no publications of these
societies will be allowed by the board of public instruction; that the
gospel as it is published by those societies differs from the gospel of
the Greeks, the Armenian, &c., and that if I doubted it he would
submit a copy of it to the Greek patriarch and ask him to express his
opinion on the matter.
I replied that the matter had already been argued and the discussion
exhausted as to the inscription on the title-page of those books. That
instead of that inscription, it had been agreed to insert on the
title-page that the book was “published and printed at the expense of
the American Bible and Mission Societies.” That there is but one Bible
and but one gospel universally for all Christians, and that it was not
my business to argue about it; and as to my consenting that it should be
submitted to the Greek patriarch, I could not acknowledge his authority
in this question nor recognize his right to intervene in our business
matters; but at the same time, I added, that I did not pretend to forbid
his submitting the gospel to whomsoever he pleased. That the American
missionaries had already objected to that inscription and that they will
never submit to a treatment different from that offered to other creeds
and sects. Finally, I asked him to show me the paragraph of the law
which requires such an inscription [there is none]. To this he replied,
“We make the law ourselves, to suit our convenience.” I closed the
discussion by saying that the question being brought to such a point, I
did not feel authorized to discuss it any further unless I received
instructions from the head of the legation, to whom I should report.
In connection with what precedes I must state that since three or four
years a great many difficulties have been raised to the circulation of
the books of the missionaries within the Ottoman dominions, in
consequence of which Mr. Wallace, United States minister, caused the
Ottoman Government to appoint a commission with the view of finding some
method to put an end to these constant vexations. That commission, which
was held at the board of public instruction, and on which Dr. Dwight and
myself were appointed as commissioners, agreed that every book that was
published should bear on its title page the number and date of its
authorization by the said board, with the indication that it was
published by the American Bible and Mission Societies; that with regard
to the books already printed and those coming from abroad, a slip of
paper with the same inscription should be pasted on their title-page.
There is hardly a year since this arrangement was made with the
department of public instruction, and it is already totally
The effect of accepting this new proposition will be the following:
- All the books which these societies have now in hand will be
excluded from circulation.
- No book coming from abroad will be allowed to enter the
Ottoman territory on account of its not having the inscription
- Finally, the Turkish authorities, immediately after its
acceptance, will forbid the introduction of the books thus
marked in places where there is no Protestant community, and
through this policy strike a deadly blow to the business of the
American Bible and Mission Societies, and completely destroy the
work of sixty years.
Such being the state of affairs, I respectfully submit the case to you,
sir, and await your further instructions.
I am, &c.,
A. A. GARGIULO,