No. 629.

Mr. Heap to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 457.]

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.,

Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
[Inclosure in No. 457.]

Mr. Gargiulo to Mr. Heap.

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 disregarded.

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 required.
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.,

Interpreter of Legation.