No. 686.
Mr. King to Mr. Bayard.

No. 307.]

Sir: Some weeks ago I received a note from the minister of police stating that he desired to send an official from the board of public instruction, accompanied by a police agent, to search the book-store [Page 1092] opening on the street, forming a part of the Bible House. I sent the dragoman of this legation to accompany him, and instructed him not to allow him to search the whole Bible House accompanied by a-policeman. The official expressed his desire to search not only the bookstore but the entire building, and on being informed that he would not be allowed to do that, he refused to make any search whatever. He was then asked to go through the entire Bible House alone and search it as carefully as he desired) this he refused to do.

In my dispatch No. 277, of January 15, 1887, I inclosed a copy of a note addressed to the Porte regarding the interference with the colporteurs. Shortly afterwards there were three more arrests of colporteurs; whereupon I sent another note to the Porte.

In these dispatches I made no mention of the Bible House incident, but the Porte has seen fit to connect the two matters, probably because they both touch the sale of books.

I inclose for your consideration a copy of my reply.

I hope that my dispatch will be found correct in its claims, and will meet your approval.

I have, etc.,

Pendleton King.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 307.]

The Sublime Porte to Mr. King.

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: I have received the two dispatches that you kindly addressed to me under the dates of 13th of January and the 21st of February last, Nos. 40 and 47, with regard to the colportage of the books of the Bible Society.

The information which has been furnished on this subject to the legation seems to be incomplete. According to the reports of the prefecture of the police, the missionaries of that society having commenced the spreading of certain tracts which are injurious and calumnious to the Mussulman religion, it had been decided to enforce the seizure of them. A search made in the Bible House, with the assistance of the consular dragoman, brought the discovery of many volumes of those tracts and others not less injurious, but the dragoman opposed their seizure by the agents of the authority. This opposition of the dragoman is the less justifiable, as under the clauses of the protocol annexed to the law of the seventh Sepher, “the action of the police outside of an abode must be exercised freely and without reserve.” Now the Bible House is v not a private abode; it is a vast establishment, containing a printing establishment, a book-store, an editing bureau of a journal, and a school—the whole making a public place, where the imperial authorities could have free access, and practice, in case of need, a direct supervision.

The foreign and native printing and newspaper establishments being governed by the same law, the consular assistance itself would not be necessary. But as long as it has been requested, the dragoman could not oppose the seizure of subversive books pointed against the religion of the state or against the public order, and obstruct in this way the action of the authority. Therefore I would be very much obliged to you if you would give the necessary instructions to whom it belongs, so that similar difficulties shall not be raised any more, in the absence of which the imperial authorities would be justified in acting by themselves, as moreover the aforesaid protocol confers upon them the power.

As regards the colporteurs themselves, who are all Ottoman subjects and not citizens of the United States, and of the promulgation a regulation on the bookhawking, a question purely interior, the imperial authorities will not fail to take the measures which they will consider useful and necessary.

Accept, etc.,

[Page 1093]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 307.]

Mr. King to the Sublime Porte.

No. 57.]

Excellency: In your dispatch of 22d March, yon state that “d’après les rapports de la préfecture de police les missionaires de cette société ayant commencé à répandre certaines brochures injurieuses et calomnieuses pour la religion musulmane, il avait été décidé d’en opérer la saisie et de les détruire.”

I am glad to be able to say, and I think that you will be pleased to learn, that the information which has been furnished you on this point is totally devoid of truth. On the contrary, the missionaries do not offer for sale, either at the Bible House or through their colporteurs, a single book or pamphlet which they are not ready to have examined by the proper authorities; no book nor pamphlet which has not been sanctioned by the ministry of public instruction or passed the censorship of the custom-house.

They offer for sale nothing against the Mussulman religion or public order.

A grave charge of this kind, which does great injustice to our missionaries, should be accompanied by definite facts. What books or pamphlets have been offered for sale to which objection can be made?

Possibly the erroneous information furnished you arose from the fact that some years ago the missionaries offered for sale some copies of a Greek book, which came from Athens, passed the censorship, and paid duties, but later it proved to be objectionable.

But being informed that such was the case, they immediately withdrew them from sale, and struck the title from their catalogue.

Furthermore, your statement that, when the Bible House was recently visited by an official of the board of public instruction and an agent of the police and our dragoman, this “perquisition avait amené la découverte de plusieurs exemplaires de ces brochures et d’autres ouvrages non moins nuisibles” likewise rests on false information.

How can such an assertion be made, when said official refused to make a search in the store, contemplated in the request of the minister of police, unless he was also allowed to make a search through the whole Bible House, accompanied by the police agent and the dragoman?

This request was not granted, but he was invited to visit the whole establishment and examine it by himself; this he refused to do.

Afterwards two of our missionaries called on his excellency Munif Pacha, minister of public instruction, and explained to him that nothing objectionable was offered for sale, and at their request the same agent visited the Bible House, accompanied by another gentleman, made a search and said that he found nothing objectionable.

The Bible House is free to be visited at any time by officials in an unofficial manner and without police.

Your claim of right to search it officially without the assistance of the legation can not for a moment be granted by this legation and has never been granted. By reference to dispatches from this legation, No. 25, of April 4, 1874; No. 38, of June 6, 1874; No. 77, of March 12, 1875, your excellency will see that not only was such a claim disputed, but in No. 77, it is stated that “la Sublime Porte s’engagea à prendre les mesures nécessaires à ce que l’incident du Bible House ne se renouvelle pas par la suite.”

This legislation can not admit that the protocol to which your excellency refers grants the right of officially visiting the Bible House, and if such visits are at times granted it is a matter of courtesy and convenience, and not from any admission of your right to make an official search.

Finally, in reference to the colporteurs, your excellency knows that within a few years many of them have been arrested and hundreds of books taken from them. How many of these books, excellency, have been found objectionable? Since not a single one of them has been ‘found objectionable, I hope you will see that the necessary measures are promptly taken (as requested in my dispatches No. 40, of January 13, and No. 47, of February 21) to prevent further interference with said colporteurs.

A cessation of such interference will remove a chronic cause of complaint and will be not only a great benefit to this legation, but, as it seems to me, a great convenience to your Government. Accept, etc.,

Pendleton King.