Mr. MacNutt to Mr. Blaine.
Constantinople, September 10, 1891.
(Received September 26.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose for your information a copy, in translation of a recent note from the Sublime Porte, upon the subject of the alleged conversion of private dwellings into churches or schools, by the American missionaries, without proper authorization. A similar, if not identical, note has been received at the British embassy, which, the ambassador tells me, he has referred to Her Majesty’s Government before answering.
It may be readily seen that the terms of this note are loose and elastic in the extreme, and that the pretension therein put forward might easily become an instrument for intolerable prying into the private lives and acts of peaceable foreigners.
It may very well be that there are instances of missionaries and teachers holding prayer meetings or Bible classes in their private houses, or having children’s classes or evening readings at home, but it can hardly be admitted that such meetings change the character of the dwelling house in which they are held. It would seem to be eminently necessary that the Porte be required to define, nicely, what it holds to constitute the distinction between a private dwelling and a place for public worship or instruction.
I beg to inclose the draft of a note which I design sending to the minister of foreign affairs upon this subject, though it has been more or less understood between the British ambassador and myself that we should make our replies as nearly identical, at least in their sense, as might be; therefore, this draft is but an outline of what would appear to me to be the natural basis of our reply, but in its form, subject to change and improvements.
I have, etc.,
Charge d’Affaires, ad interim.