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Title: Under the Turk in Constantinople - A record of Sir John Finch's Embassy, 1674-1681.
Author: Abbot, George Frederick
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [Illustration: (colophon)]




  [Illustration: SIR JOHN FINCH.

  From the Portrait by Carlo Dolci at Burley-on-the-Hill.]













Whoever discovers a dark bypath of history and opens it up by
careful research renders a service to scholars. If he has also
the gift of presenting the results of his investigation in a form
agreeable to the general reader who has a taste for novelties
in other books as well as in novels, he earns a double meed of
thanks. Mr. Abbott has not only had the good fortune to find such
a bypath and the acuteness to note its interest, but is also the
possessor of a talent enabling him to make the best use of his
materials. To most Europeans and Americans, even among the class
which reads for instruction as well as for pleasure, the annals of
the Turkish Empire had remained almost a blank from the triumphant
days of Solyman the Magnificent through the long process of decay
down to the time when Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt and Syria and
thereafter the Greek War of Independence had drawn attention to
the long-forgotten Near Eastern countries. Just in the middle
of this period of two and a half centuries several intelligent
observers from England and France visited Constantinople and
described the singular phenomena of a semi-civilised Empire which,
despite its internal corruption and weakness, was still strong
enough to threaten its neighbours, maintain a long sea war against
Venice and besiege Vienna. One of these observers was Sir John
Finch, a man of learning and ability, who had begun his career by
studying medicine at the University of Padua, had held the chair
of anatomy in the University of Pisa, and had for five years been
King Charles II.’s Minister at Florence. In 1672 he was named
ambassador at Constantinople, and accepted, somewhat reluctantly,
the post, yielding to the counsels of the influential friends who
had procured it for him. There he remained till 1681, and his
experiences in the discharge of his functions there are recorded
in this volume. The letters on which it is based, and from which
many extracts are given, present a vivid picture of what Turkish
administration was, and of the way in which the long-suffering
representatives and merchants of civilised countries had to adjust
themselves to it. Mr. Abbott’s book is not only a contribution to
history, but a narrative lively enough and dramatic enough to be
worth reading as a study in human nature, and more particularly of
that Oriental human nature in which guile and folly, inconstancy
and obstinacy are so strangely combined.


The history of Anglo-Turkish relations as a whole still remains to
be written--a strange and not very creditable fact, considering
the part which the Ottoman Empire has played in our commercial and
political career since the age of Queen Elizabeth. This monograph
deals only with a fraction of a vast subject--the English Embassy
to Turkey from 1674 to 1681, though for the sake of intelligibility
it glances at the years which preceded and followed that septennium.

Critics, I hope, will not do my work the injustice of thinking that
it is not serious because, perhaps, it is not very dull. A piece
of historical narrative is a sort of superior novel: it has its
heroes and its villains, its vicissitudes, its catastrophes: all
of which are eminently capable of administering amusement even to
the most seriously minded. Only the amusement must be founded in
truth; and the discovery of truth requires painstaking industry.
This condition I have endeavoured to fulfil to the utmost of my
ability. Every bit of the story here related is the result of
careful research among original and, for the most part, hitherto
unexploited documents--chiefly the Manuscripts preserved at the
Public Record Office (Foreign Archives, _Turkey_ and _Levant
Company_) and the Coventry Papers in the possession of the Marquis
of Bath, by whose courtesy I was able to make use of them.

It is impossible to convey the impression given by
seventeenth-century despatches in any words but their own: nothing
can be more striking to modern eyes and ears than their language,
their spelling, their grammar and punctuation, or want of it.
The handwriting itself betrays not only the writer’s normal
character, but often the particular emotions which swayed him
at the moment of writing: as we peruse those ancient sheets of
paper--extraordinarily fresh most of them, with sometimes the
sand still clinging to the dry ink--we see the person who penned
those lines, the very way in which he held his quill. The same
facts, extracted, paraphrased, and printed, no longer arouse the
same sense of reality, nor grip the imagination in the same way as
they do when presented in their native garb. I have attempted to
reproduce something of this effect by transcribing as frequently
and fully as it is convenient the original utterances in all the
individuality and quaintness which belong to them.

In addition to this mass of manuscript, there exists for the
period a surprising amount of printed material, some of which,
though available for centuries, has not yet been exhausted, and
the rest was but recently made public. It so happened that,
besides our Ambassador, there resided at the time in Turkey three
other Englishmen who left behind them records of current events.
They were our Consul at Smyrna, Paul Rycaut; our Treasurer at
Constantinople, Dudley North; and the Chaplain, John Covel: all
three men of leading and light in their day. Their letters,
memoirs, and journals, written independently and from different
angles of vision, go a long way towards supplementing, confirming,
or correcting the Ambassador’s reports, as well as the information
handed down by several foreign contemporaries.[1] For, by another
rare coincidence, the representative of France, Nointel, whose
history blends with that of Finch, also had round him a number of
Frenchmen busy writing. Joseph von Hammer had access to some of
these sources and drew in some small measure upon them; but it was
left for a modern French writer to turn them to full account in a
book which I have consulted with much pleasure and some profit.[2]
Lastly, reference should be made to two new works bearing on the
subject. Although both publications deal with matters mostly
outside the scope of this book, they have furnished me with a
number of suggestive details.[3]

I may take this opportunity of mentioning that, in my dates, unless
otherwise stated, I follow the Old Style, which still was the style
of England, and, in the seventeenth century, lagged behind the
New by ten days; but I reckon the year from the first of January.
All lengthy notes are relegated to an Appendix, so that matters
calculated to benefit the seeker after solid instruction may not
bore the reader who seeks only entertainment.

  G. F. A.

  CHELSEA, _March 1920_.


[1] My references are to the following editions:--

_The Memoirs of Paul Rycaut, Esq._, London, 1679; _The Present
State of the Ottoman Empire_, by Sir Paul Ricaut, Sixth Edition,
London, 1686; _The Life of the Honourable Sir Dudley North, Knt._,
by the Honourable Roger North, Esq., London, 1744; _Extracts from
the Diaries of Dr. John Covel, 1670-1679_ (in _Early Voyages and
Travels in the Levant_), edited by J. Theodore Bent, The Hakluyt
Society, London, 1893; _Some Account of the Present Greek Church_,
by John Covel, D.D., Cambridge, 1722.

[2] _Les Voyages du Marquis de Nointel (1670-1680)_, par Albert
Vandal de l’Académie Française, Paris, 1900.

[3] _Report on the Manuscripts of Allen George Finch, Esq., of
Burley-on-the-Hill_, edited by Mrs. Lomas for the _Historical
Manuscripts Commission_, vol. i., London, 1913; _Finch and Baines_,
by Archibald Malloch, Cambridge, 1917.


  A DIPLOMAT IN SPITE OF HIMSELF                                   1


  SIR JOHN’S PROGRAMME                                            24


  LIFE IN CONSTANTINOPLE                                          33


  THE MEN ABOUT THE AMBASSADOR                                    46


  STRENUA INERTIA                                                 68


  SIR JOHN GOES TO COURT                                          89


  THE FESTIVITIES                                                105


  DIPLOMACY--HIGH AND OTHERWISE                                  116


  THE SUBLIME THRESHOLD                                          136


  HOPES DEFERRED                                                 147


  FROM PURGATORY TO PERA                                         163


  HALCYON DAYS                                                   178


  THE STOOL OF REPENTANCE                                        196


  KARA MUSTAFA AND THE ALEPPO DOLLARS                            227


  INTERLUDE                                                      246


  THE CASE OF MRS. PENTLOW                                       266


  THE PILOT AT REST                                              278


  THE PRICE OF PARCHMENT                                         290


  SIR JOHN’S “TICKLISH CONDITION”                                301


  A LULL IN THE STORM                                            322


  RELEASE                                                        339

  CONCLUSION                                                     355

  APPENDICES                                                     377

  INDEX                                                          409

_The portraits of Sir John Finch and Sir Thomas Baines are supplied
by the Cambridge University Press by permission of Dr. Malloch and
Mr. Wilfred Finch._

  “_Under the Turk in Constantinople._”


  Sir John Finch. From the Portrait by Carlo Dolci at
  Burley-on-the-Hill                                  _Frontispiece_
                                                         FACING PAGE
  Sir Thomas Baines. From the Portrait by Carlo Dolci at
  Burley-on-the-Hill                                              42

  Paul Rycaut. From the Engraving by R. White after the
  Portrait by Sir Peter Lely                                      53

  Sultan Mahomet the Fourth, Emperor of the Turks. From an
  Engraving by F. H. van den Hove                                106

  Dr. John Covel. From the Portrait by Valentine Ritz at
  Christ’s College, Cambridge                                    372

  Sir Dudley North. From an Engraving by G. Vertue, 1743         376



It was apparently an invincible fatality that compelled Sir John
Finch to accept, in the month of November 1672, the appointment of
English Ambassador to the Porte, in place of Sir Daniel Harvey who
had died at his post some weeks before.

Finch sprang from a family which, under the Stuarts, had attained
to great eminence in the law and in politics. His father, Sir
Heneage Finch, had been Recorder of the City of London and Speaker
of the House of Commons in the reign of Charles I. During the
same reign his father’s first cousin, Sir John (afterwards Baron)
Finch, had been Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas
and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, as well as Speaker of the
House of Commons: in all these capacities he had shown himself so
ardent a Royalist that, in 1640, he was impeached together with
Lord Strafford and Archbishop Laud, and barely saved his head by
flying to Holland. His elder brother, the eloquent Sir Heneage
Finch, whose pleadings, in the years that immediately followed
the Restoration, were the delight of the Council Chamber and of
Westminster Hall,[4] after serving the Crown as Solicitor-General
and Attorney-General, was about to become Lord Keeper of the Great
Seal, and in due time Lord High Chancellor of England and Earl
of Nottingham. His nephew (another Heneage Finch), “a celebrated
orator in Chancery practice,”[5] was Solicitor-General in 1679, and
crowned a long and distinguished Parliamentary career under Charles
II. and James II. with a Barony from Queen Anne and an Earldom from
George I.

Notwithstanding this remarkable family record, Sir John had evinced
no inclination for a public career. After a brief residence at
Balliol, he was obliged, when Oxford became the headquarters of
the Royalist troops, to migrate to Christ’s College, Cambridge,
and thence, in 1651, he pursued his studies at Padua, where he
took a medical degree. From that University, of which he was made
Pro-Rector and Syndic, he went, in 1659, to Pisa, to occupy the
Chair of Anatomy, having refused the post of English Consul at
Padua, ostensibly because it meant getting drunk “at least forty
times in the year,” more probably because he did not wish to
compromise himself by accepting office under the Usurper. Thus,
while Cromwell ruled in England, Finch led a severely private life
in Italy, and at the Restoration, like other Cavaliers, he came
home to reap the reward of his loyalty. Unlike most of them, he was
not disappointed. Honours of all kinds awaited him. In 1661 he was
elected an Extraordinary Fellow of the College of Physicians of
London, was created M.D. by the University of Cambridge, and was
knighted by the King.[6]

Such was the position in which, at the age of thirty-five, when
one might think enough of a man’s zest and freshness are left to
give an edge to ambition, Finch found himself. The embarrassments
which had overcast his earlier prospects were lifting; royal favour
seemed assured; the path to fortune lay open before his feet; and
there were his brother Heneage and Lord Conway, the husband of
his theosophical sister,[7] who wished for nothing better than to
smooth it for him. But Finch was a singularly unenterprising man.
With a natural propensity to solitude, increased by exile, and
with a desultory inclination to poetry and philosophy, he found
the boisterous Court of Charles little to his taste. After a very
short stay in England, he went back to Tuscany and Anatomy (1663).
His friends, amused rather than annoyed at such perversity, did not
cease to conspire for his good, and, next year, they prevailed on
him to return and let them make his fortune.

Not long afterwards (March 1665) Lord Arlington, then Secretary
of State, fulfilled a promise they had extracted from him by
appointing Sir John His Majesty’s Minister at Florence. If there
was any foreign country which Finch liked, it was Italy: he had,
since he came to manhood, resided principally there, had learned
its language, and had made himself thoroughly familiar with its
manners and customs. If there was any Italian State for which he
felt a preference, it was that of Tuscany, where he was highly
esteemed and beloved by the Great Duke, his brother Prince Leopold,
and every one whose love and esteem were worth having. Yet Finch
was not happy. He complained that the dignity of his employment
far exceeded the emolument: he would gladly have exchanged it for
something better paid at home. His friends agreed; but that ideal
something could not be found. The only alternative to Florence
was Constantinople. To that post the Finch family, since the
Restoration, seemed to have established a sort of prescriptive
right: Charles II.’s first representative at the Porte, the Earl
of Winchilsea (yet another Heneage Finch), was Sir John’s first
cousin, and the second, Sir Daniel Harvey, his elder brother’s
near relative by marriage. Sir John could have Constantinople for
the asking. But Sir John cherished a profound and, in the light
of subsequent events, one might well say, a prophetic aversion to
Constantinople: “Nay, though to be sent to Constantinople were a
charge of great gaine, yet I would not buy that charge with the
affliction so long a separation would create mee,” he wrote to
Lord Conway in 1667; and again, a little later: “I doe perfectly
abhorr the thoughts of goeing to Constantinople.” He would rather
“undertake anything then to be banished any longer from seeing
your Lordship and my sister.” But at the same time he admitted,
“any thing is better then my present condition, in which I neither
enjoy myselfe nor any thing else.”[8] His friends sympathised
and continued their efforts on his behalf with indefatigable

There is still extant a letter in which Lord Conway describes
how, in 1668, he lingered in London after the adjournment of
Parliament on purpose to get an opportunity of speaking to Lord
Arlington about him. The Secretary of State hesitated: to attach
to himself, partly by services and partly by hopes, the greatest
possible number of adherents was Arlington’s constant aim; but what
if Mr. Solicitor-General should enlist his brother in the hostile
camp of the fallen Chancellor Clarendon? Conway overcame these
apprehensions by bringing about a personal interview between the
Secretary and the Solicitor, who assured his Lordship that Sir John
would be his Lordship’s faithful retainer. Arlington, satisfied,
promised to recall Sir John from Florence and to recommend him
to the King for preferment in connexion with foreign affairs.
This arrangement Conway thought much better than bargaining
for a reversion of some lucrative Court office--a boon perhaps
more tempting, but less certain. As to fitness, he assured his
brother-in-law that he would have no competition to fear: “You will
have the advantage of coming into a Court where there is not one
man of ability.” The King, “destitute of counsel, is jealous of all
men that speak to him of business.” All that was really needed was
a good word from Lord Arlington, “for though Lord Arlington labours
with all art imaginable not to be thought a Premier Minister, yet
he is either so, or a favourite, for he is the sole guide that the
King relies upon.”[9]

And so, after five years of eminently undistinguished and
discontented sojourn at Florence, Sir John returned home, in August
1670, served for two years on the “Councell for matters relating to
Our Forreigne Colonies and Plantations,” and then, the ideal office
still failing to present itself, he had, after all, to accept the
Embassy he abhorred.

He set out in May 1673. His frame of mind on leaving England can
be seen from the note by which he bade Lord Conway farewell: “This
is the third time I have left my Native Soyl,” he wrote. “If God
Almighty make me so happy as to return once more to your Lordship,
I shall then thinke it is time to fix at home and leave of (_sic_)
all thoughts of further wandering. But [if] my life by its period
abroad putts one to my Travell I beseech your Lordship to believe
that you have lost the most faythfull and zealous servant the World
yet was ever possessed of....”[10]

This letter brings into relief the writer’s characteristic
attachment to home and dislike of separation from dear relatives,
heightened by a vague anxiety not unnatural in the circumstances. A
man who had fretted for five years in Italy could not look forward
to an exile of at least six years in Turkey without some alarm.
Turkey was not then the accessible, comparatively debarbarised
country of our time: the Grand Signor’s dominions were two and a
half centuries ago regarded as an obscure and distant region of
disease and death. Sir John, in leaving England, felt like one
stepping into the unknown: melancholy filled his heart, and pious
prayer seemed the only refuge from despondency. Indeed, if he could
have foreseen what lay before him, it is a question whether any
earthly consideration could have induced him to quit his “native
soyl.” One of the many dubious blessings granted by the gods to men
is the inability to see into the future.

Meanwhile Sir John knew that, short as it fell of his aspirations,
the Constantinople post had not a few advantages. It was the only
English mission abroad that, under a King who had little money
to spare from his personal pleasures, rejoiced in the rank of
Embassy; it carried with it a salary of 10,000 dollars, or about
£2500, a year, not to mention perquisites of various kinds; and,
be it noted, this salary, not coming out of the reluctant purse of
a capricious and impecunious prince, but out of the Treasury of a
wealthy business corporation--the Company of “Merchants of England
Trading into the Levant Seas”--entailed no heart-breaking delays,
no wearisome solicitations of friends at Court, but could be
depended upon with as much certainty and regularity as any dividend
from a sound investment: all the more, because Finch’s kinsmen,
the Harveys, were leading members of that Company. Distinctly, a
diplomat might go farther and fare worse. As to the duties of the
post, Sir John was well equipped. Apart from ceremonial functions,
his time at Florence had been taken up by questions arising out of
the English trade in the Mediterranean; and both his correspondence
from that place and a report on commerce with Egypt which he had
drawn up lately[11] prove that he could do that sort of work easily
enough. Now, that was the sort of work he would be called upon to
do at Constantinople.

Owing its origin to the enterprise of merchants and maintained
entirely at their expense, the English Embassy on the Bosphorus
existed chiefly for their benefit; the principal part of the
Ambassador’s mission being to promote trade and to protect those
engaged therein both against the Turks and against each other.
Politics, it is true, were not altogether lost sight of. The
Ottoman Empire, though past its meridian, still weighed heavily
in the “Balance of Europe,” and the Grand Signor’s attitude was
an object of no small concern to the rival groups into which
Europe was divided. In the abstract, political writers continued
to echo, with unction, the admonitions which the celebrated
Imperial Ambassador Busbequius had addressed to Christendom a
hundred years before. But since no means had yet been devised
“to unite our Interests and compose our Dissensions,”[12] what
were we to do? Obviously, what everybody was doing. When occasion
arose, it was part, if only a subsidiary part, of an English
envoy’s business to intrigue for the good of his country and try
to defeat the intrigues of those wicked foreign diplomats who
intrigued for the good of theirs. Thus, in the time of Queen
Elizabeth, her representatives had exploited Turkey’s hatred of
Spain to some purpose; and again during the Thirty Years’ War the
representative of Charles I. made strenuous efforts, not of course
to set on the “common enemy of Christendom” against the Emperor
directly--that, as he recognised, would have been too great a
“scandal”--but to procure the Sultan’s indirect support for the
Prince of Transylvania who was fighting the Emperor. During the
earlier period of Charles II.’s reign, too, Lord Winchilsea had
exerted himself to prevent the establishment of friendly relations
between Stambul and Madrid, and both he and his successor Harvey
had endeavoured to bring about a cessation of hostilities between
Stambul and Venice. The former of these ambassadors, in fact, was
very eager to play a great political rôle, urging that, as, with
the acquisition of Tangier, English sea-power and possessions were
expanding Eastwards, the English envoy should no longer confine
himself exclusively to mercantile affairs.[13] But Charles had
neither funds nor thoughts for such ambitious schemes. So his
representative at the Porte had nothing more to do, as regards
State affairs, than “to be truly informed of all negotiations and
practices in that Court which may disturbe the peace of Christendom
in any part of it,”[14] and to transmit his information to London:
a passive rôle which suited Sir John’s temperament admirably. As
his _alter ego_ wrote to Lord Conway: “Your Lordship will say your
Brother here will have little to doe in State Affayrs, which my
Lord is very true and so much the more is his quiett.”[15]

This was only one of several happy auspices under which
Sir John Finch entered upon his new employment. As a rule,
the diplomatic seat on the Bosphorus bristled with thorny
peculiarities--peculiarities that had proved trying to most of his
predecessors and to some even fatal.

To begin with, our representatives at Constantinople, unlike their
colleagues at other capitals, had not one master, but two: the
Court from which they held their commission and the Company from
which they drew their pay. It is proverbially difficult to serve
two masters to the satisfaction of both, and in this case the
difficulties of the servant were often accentuated by differences
between his employers. With characteristic repugnance to clear
definition, our ancestors had left the question of appointment
open. There was neither fixed rule nor consistent precedent to show
with which of the two masters lay the choice of servant. Hence a
periodical feud between the Court and the Company, each claiming
a right which the other was loth to concede. Under James I. and
Charles I. the Court had more than once forced upon the Company its
own nominees, with disastrous results to all concerned. Sir John
Eyre, appointed in 1619 under pressure from the Duke of Buckingham,
after barely two years, which he spent making himself obnoxious to
the English residents and contemptible to the Turkish Ministers,
had to be recalled in disgrace. Sir Sackville Crow, similarly
appointed in 1638, rivalled Eyre in incompetence, surpassed him
in iniquity, and was at last brought home by force and cast into
the Tower (1648). At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Company,
having thrown in its lot with the Rebels, obtained from Parliament
a recognition of its claim to elect and remove the Ambassador,
and, much as Cromwell would have liked to follow the example of
the Stuarts, he had found it expedient to acquiesce. When the
Commonwealth collapsed, the Levant Merchants, who had joined in
acclaiming the Restoration as heartily as they had acclaimed the
Rebellion, got Charles II. to renew their Charter (April 2, 1661).
But submission to the Crown had become so much the fashion that
this Charter again left the question of the Ambassador’s election
open, thereby affording zealots for the royal prerogative a chance
of stirring up discord.[16]

In practice, however, a new spirit seemed to animate the rival
authorities now. Both sides had learned by suffering the wisdom of
compromise. Now the Merchants begged from the King, as an act of
grace proceeding solely from his goodness, leave to offer for his
Majesty’s approval such a person as they esteemed most competent to
manage their affairs at Constantinople, thus loyally acknowledging
the King’s right; while the King, on his part, graciously granted
their request, thus waiving the exercise of it. In this way the
dignity of the Crown was saved, and the interests of the Company
did not suffer. This sweet reasonableness breathes through the
petition by which, on Sir Daniel Harvey’s death, the Levant
Merchants approached the King for a successor: “They have,” so runs
the document, “at a General Meeting of their Company, presumed
to fix upon the Hon. Sir John Finch, as one they humbly desire
may undertake that affaire, if your Majestie will be graciously
pleased to afford your Royal assent; which they humbly beg, wholly
submitting the same to your Majestie’s pleasure.”[17] The King,
as was expected, readily assented; and thus Sir John set out with
the goodwill of both his employers. He travelled across France and
North Italy to Leghorn, and there met the _Centurion_, a frigate of
52 guns, which was to carry him to Turkey.

If we turn from those who sent the Ambassador to those to whom
he was sent, we shall see here also Finch greatly favoured by
circumstances. Most of his predecessors had found themselves
engaged in a Sisyphean labour. For the wrongs to which the English,
like other Frank dwellers in the Grand Signor’s dominions, were
constantly exposed at the hands of insolent and rapacious
officials they could only procure redress, if at all, by purchasing
the friendship of the Grand Vizir and of the two or three other
grandees who between them ruled the Empire. But, such had long been
the stability of the Ottoman Government, none of those personages
remained in power for more than a few months--a military mutiny,
a popular upheaval, or a palace intrigue was sure to hurl them
down the moment after they had reached the top; and our Ambassador
was obliged to seek new friends. This state of things had come to
an end. In 1656 Mohammed Kuprili assumed the Grand Vizirate with
a free hand to purge the body politic of its corruptions, and he
performed the task by cutting off all the parts that he could not
cure: a dreadful remedy, but not more dreadful than the condition
of the patient demanded. Turkey was so split up by factions that
it could not have survived, unless all rebellious spirits were
implacably extinguished. This great practitioner, who alone had
preserved the Empire from falling into as many fragments as there
were Pashaliks, died in 1661 of old age, and was succeeded by his
son Ahmed--a fact which, being utterly unprecedented in a country
where the hereditary principle, except in the royal family, was
unknown, amazed the Turks even more than the miracle of a Grand
Vizir maintaining himself in office for five whole years and then
dying peaceably in his bed.[18]

Ahmed Kuprili at first seemed to have inherited, together with his
father’s power, his father’s recipe. The late Vizir’s dictatorship
had raised up a multitude of malcontents who imagined that his
successor’s youth offered them an opportunity for revenge:
“every hour he has a new game to play for his life,” wrote our
Ambassador.[19] But once rid of his enemies, the son presented a
pleasing antithesis to his father. Mohammed had been an uncouth
and illiterate warrior who cared for no laws that stood between
him and his will, who valued no arguments that conflicted with
his preconceived notions, who even in his dealings with foreign
envoys employed methods only one degree less savage than those
he applied to the treatment of domestic problems. Ahmed, on the
other hand, was the first Grand Vizir with a political, instead
of a martial, mind. He had been bred to the study of the Law and
had actually practised as a judge in civil causes. By temperament
and education alike he was averse to violence. It is true that
he had already carried out two successful campaigns and was now
engaged in a third. But to this he was impelled by necessity: the
Ottoman Empire, having arisen out of war and being constituted for
war, would perish in peace. Its rulers could only avoid rebellion
at home by providing their turbulent subjects with constant and
congenial occupation abroad--a bleeding operation intended to
relieve the body politic of its “malignant humours”--and it was
particularly necessary for Ahmed, in order to keep his place, to
show that he could graft the soldier on the lawyer. But he never
became a general. His successes were won in spite of his strategy.
In his war against the Emperor he was defeated at St. Gothard (Aug.
1, N.S. 1664), yet immediately after, profiting by the Emperor’s
difficulties, he secured a treaty (Peace of Vasvar, Aug. 10, 1664)
as advantageous as if it had been the fruit of victory. In Crete
his military operations against the Venetians (1666-69) were so
clumsy that at one moment he seriously meditated abandoning the
siege of Candia, “his ill success having given his enemies hopes of
supplanting him.”[20] Yet he obtained by negotiation the surrender
of a fortress which until then had been deemed impregnable, and
brought a twenty-five years’ struggle to a glorious conclusion. The
Polish war which he was now conducting was likewise a matter of
diplomatic as much as of military manœuvring. There can be no doubt
that, if he had the choice, Ahmed would never have striven to get
by force what might be got by subtler means.

To these traits, common among lawyers, he added a genuine love of
justice and a scrupulous integrity rare among lawyers everywhere,
and nowhere rarer than in the East. Endowed with such qualities,
Ahmed proved himself one of the most moderate, and, at the same
time, one of the least pliant Ministers that Turkey ever knew.
Under his firm and equitable administration the Ottoman Empire
recovered some of its prosperity, and, what is more pertinent
to note here, the Frank residents enjoyed a Sabbath of rest.
Tyranny, of course, could not be altogether avoided. But, on the
whole, the privileges conferred upon them by their Capitulations
were respected, extortions (_avanias_) were seldom indulged
in with impunity, and the foreign merchants were treated with
unexampled forbearance.[21] Towards the English the Grand Vizir was
particularly well disposed, and with good reason.

The main principle of Charles II.’s policy in foreign as in
domestic affairs was to avoid friction. Indolent, unambitious,
and a hater of everything likely to disturb the even flow of
his voluptuous existence, the Merry Monarch would sooner have
surrendered his rights than have taken the trouble to defend
them. No prince ever stood less upon his dignity; perhaps because
no prince ever had less dignity to stand upon. In the course of
their protracted struggle for the conquest of Candia, the Turks
repeatedly pressed English ships into their service. Cromwell
had opposed vigorously all encroachments of the sort; but the
representatives of Charles, after some feeble and ineffectual
protests, not only acquiesced tamely, but bitterly blamed those
captains who ventured to resist; and, while the Grand Signor
violated the neutrality of England, the English Secretary of State
overwhelmed him with assurances that his Majesty “does inviolably
observe his peace with the Grand Signior.”[22] Nor were these empty
assurances. Individual Englishmen might assist the Venetians in
what contemporary Christendom regarded as a holy war, but, unlike
the French, whose volunteers passed on in a steady stream from
Paris itself to reinforce the garrison of Candia, they did so at
their own risk and peril without the least countenance from their
Government. Indeed, such crusaders were so few and far between that
Ahmed Kuprili commented on the fact that he did not find “soe much
as an English seaman amongst his enemies att Candia.”[23]

To these general conditions which at the time rendered our Embassy
unusually comfortable for any tenant of average tact, must be
added an event that secured for Sir John Finch’s person special

Soon after his appointment, an English ship, the _Mediterranean_,
on her passage from Tunis to Tripoli, had been met by the
redoubtable corsair Domenico Franceschi--a Genoese by birth, but
then domiciled at Leghorn and holding a privateering commission
from the Great Duke of Tuscany. Normally an English vessel had
nothing to fear from a Tuscan man-of-war; but the _Mediterranean_
happened to carry the retiring Pasha of Tunis, homeward bound with
his family and the spoils of his province, and, as the Duke was
at perpetual war with the Sultan, Domenico could not well forgo
such a chance of serving his sovereign and enriching himself.
The _Mediterranean_ managed, before the corsair could come up
with her, to set the Pasha with some of his belongings ashore at
Tripoli, but she was captured, taken to Malta, and pillaged of the
bulk of the Pasha’s treasure, including his women. The incident
was serious: it was one of those incidents which often strained
Turkey’s relations with Western Powers in those days; and with
no Western Power more often than with England. Not to dwell on
remoter instances,[24] only a year before some other Turkish
passengers on another English ship, the _Lyon_, whilst sailing
from Tunis to Smyrna, had been carried off with their goods by
the same pirate. At that time Sir Daniel Harvey addressed to the
home Government an energetic protest against “the insolence and
piracy” of a person in the service of a friendly prince, pointing
out that his exploit endangered the safety of the English colonies
in Turkey, and, if not taken notice of, might be an encouragement
to him and others to do likewise.[25] But nothing was done, and
the late Ambassador’s prediction had now come true even beyond
his anticipation. For in that case the victims were Turks of very
humble rank (a cap-maker with his two servants, and two old men
who had just been redeemed at Malta, one after 48, the other after
50 years’ captivity), and the booty a trifle--3 chests of caps,
3 bales of blankets, and 3 boxes of botargoes.[26] This time the
victim was a high functionary of the Porte, and the loot enormous.
The Turks’ wrath was proportionate. They threatened that, if the
property was not restored, the loss should be made good by the
English residents; the Porte’s position always being that a Frank
nation was collectively responsible for any Turkish passengers or
goods that fell into the hands of pirates whilst travelling under
that nation’s flag. Matters were not improved by the fact that the
_Mediterranean_ had offered no resistance, but was seen sailing
away in the corsair’s company with every appearance of being a
willing captive.

The directors of the Levant Company in London were not slow
to realise the gravity of the situation. As soon as official
reports from the Consuls at Leghorn and Tripoli reached them,
they petitioned the King to write to the Great Duke and to demand
complete restitution of the Pasha’s property and reparation for
damages, with due punishment of “so notorious an offender.”[27] The
King hastened to indite an epistle in that sense to the Duke,[28]
and, at the same time, instructed Sir John Finch, then on his way
out, to repair to Florence and make the necessary representations
to his Highness by word of mouth. These instructions found Finch
at Genoa; and he applied himself to the task with energy, anxiety
for his own future in Turkey lending a spur to his concern for the
public good.

In order to simplify matters, he procured, before leaving Genoa,
the banishment of the corsair from that State, and then proceeded
to Leghorn. There he found an Aga whom the Pasha of Tunis was
sending to England as his Procurator on that very business. When
he heard of Finch’s arrival, the Aga thought to save himself
the journey to London by laying his case before him. Finch made
the most of this lucky encounter. Concealing from the Aga his
instructions, he gave the affair a totally different turn. The
_Mediterranean_, he argued, was not an English ship. It is true
that her Master, Captain Chaplyn, was an Englishman; but he had
changed his religion, renounced his country, and, having for ten
years lived at Leghorn and married there, had become a Tuscan
subject, so that his Majesty of England was no longer concerned
in him. With these “and other motives” (a delicate euphemism for
the motive vulgarly known as bribery), the Ambassador prevailed on
the Aga to give him a declaration in writing, attested by public
notaries, that he had no claim upon Captain Chaplyn or any other
Englishman; only, as Finch was accredited to the Porte, it would be
taken very kindly of him if he would assist a Pasha in distress,
the more as he lay under no obligation to do so. Having had this
document signed and sealed, the resourceful diplomat approached the
Duke in another way--the way dictated by the facts of the case and
his instructions.

In that quarter also, Sir John’s efforts, thanks to his long
connection with the Tuscan Court, met with success. At Florence
itself he recovered 5000 dollars in ready money and a portion of
the stolen goods. Then, armed with letters from the Duke, and
accompanied by the Aga and Captain Chaplyn, he went on to Malta,
where he managed, though not without great difficulty, to obtain
the restitution of 75 more bales of goods and the redemption of
seven captives, among them the Pasha’s sister-in-law, whom the
Pasha afterwards made his wife. At Smyrna, where the Ambassador,
still accompanied by the Turkish Aga and the English Captain,
landed on the 1st of January 1674, he caused the former to give
him before the Cadi of that place an official receipt for all the
recovered goods--30,000 dollars--and a full discharge to Captain

We are told that the Turks expressed boundless admiration at this
action--an action without a parallel in the annals of piracy: who
had ever heard of a corsair being made to disgorge? They applauded
the Ambassador’s skill and regarded his success as a manifest
proof of his sovereign’s influence over foreign Governments. They
were also impressed by his luck--no small recommendation to a
superstitious people in an astrologically-minded age. Had not his
landing on Turkish soil synchronised with the celebration of the
holiest of Moslem feasts--the Feast of the Bairam?[30] As to the
English Factory, its sixty members (merry young blades most of
them) manifested their joy at the sight of their long-expected
Ambassador after a fashion which must have made it a little
difficult for his Excellency to maintain the reserve and gravity
proper to his exalted station.

From Smyrna Sir John continued his journey to Constantinople,
arriving there about the end of March; and some two months after,
in the absence of the Grand Vizir, he had audience of the Vizir’s
Kaimakam, or Deputy. On this occasion the new Ambassador gave the
first evidence of that meticulous devotion to forms which made up
then an enormous, and still makes up a very considerable, part of
the complete diplomat’s mentality. Before going to audience he
took care to find out how many _kaftans_, or robes of honour, the
Kaimakam meant to present him and his suite with. “I was offerd’,”
he says, “But 15: no English Ambassadour ever having had more from
the Chimacam: But understanding the Venetian Bailo had 17, I would
abate nothing of what he had had.” After a tug of several weeks, he
wrested the two extra vests from the Turk.

One or two other features of that ceremony remain on record.

“I am,” said the envoy to the Kaimakam, “I am come Ambassadour from
Charles the Second, King of England, Scottland, France and Ireland;
sole and Soveraigne Lord of all the seas that environ His Kingdome:
Lord and Soveraigne of Vast Territory’s and Possessions in the
East and West Indy’s: Defender of the Christian Faith against all
those that Worship Idolls and Images, To the Most High and Mighty
Emperour Sultan Mahomet Ham, Cheif Lord and Commander of the
Mussulman Kingdome, Sole and Supream Monarch of the Eastern Empire,
To maintain that Peace which has bin so usefull and that Commerce
which has bin so profitable to this Empire; For the continuance and
encrease whereof I promise you in my station to contribute what I
can; And I promise to myselfe that you in yours will doe the like.”

Sir John had written this speech in Italian and given it to his two
chief Interpreters, with orders to study it carefully beforehand,
so that they might not omit one word in interpreting what he
should say. The Interpreters having fulfilled their function, some
conversation ensued, in the middle of which the Kaimakam, abruptly,
“as if he had much reflected on what his Lordship said,” asked
whether the King of England had any fortresses in the Indies. Finch
answered: “He had very many and not a few of those Inexpugnable.”
The Kaimakam did not carry his cross-questioning any further.
Presumably he understood that the English were imbued, like other
nations, with a very sincere opinion of their own greatness.

Sir John reported this his début on the official stage of Turkey
to his patron with evident self-satisfaction.[31] He had every
reason to feel proud of the past and confident of the future. He
had shown himself possessed of energy, finesse, firmness, and,
though innocent of any acquaintance with the habits and prejudices
of the Turks, he was already _persona gratissima_ with them. The
flattering way in which he had been received on his arrival in
the Grand Signor’s dominions gave him not only the hope, but the
certainty of a residence agreeable to himself and profitable to
his country. Clearly, the Turks had been much maligned by common
report. These feelings are faithfully reflected in a letter which
Sir John’s _alter ego_ penned to Lord Conway, while Sir John
himself was penning his report to Lord Arlington:

“Give me leave to turne to ... your Brother my Lord Ambassadour’s
condition under this Embassy: He hath dealt with the crafty close
Genevese; with the wise and stayd Florentine; with the untameable
and rugged Maltese; with the faythlesse Greek and false Jew; and
lastly with the sober and stubborne Turk,”--then, leaving the
others to rejoice in their respective epithets, the writer fixes
his penetrating eye upon the Turks: “Under correction and with
modesty I will say that I find them a sober and ingenious people;
sober they are because they never drink wine, ingenious I call
them from the Bassa who came to visit my Lord at the galley, so
soon as he arrived at the port, for I seldom heard in Europe a
more dextrous, short, and courtly reply then what the Bassa made
to my Lord. I, over and above, find an Ambassadour here to have,
according to their customes, as much respect as they have in most
places in Europe. Certainly there is a mutuall and reciprocall
jealousy betwixt the Court and foreign publick Ministers, between
which there is neither religion nor custome of life, nor laws that
beget any confidence or publick tie, and to the captious it gives
many exceptions. But, setting these things apart, as yett I can
call nothing strange.” Thus wrote this acute judge of national
characters, after seeing only one Turk for a few moments; thus he
wrote, no doubt with my Lord Ambassador’s concurrence, and thus he
thought. Yet even in the midst of his rosy illusions, he had some
dim, subconscious perception of realities. For he adds: “But, my
most noble Lord, these are my first sentiments, perhaps when I have
stayed here longer, I may have as much reason to reclaime against
them as other men....”[32]


[4] Evelyn’s _Diary_, Oct. 27, 1664; Pepys’s _Diary_, May 3, 1664,
April 21, 1669.

[5] Roger North’s _Life of Guilford_, p. 226.

[6] _Dictionary of National Biography_; Malloch’s _Finch and

[7] Anne, Viscountess Conway--a very learned lady and a very odd.
There is a notice of her in the _Dict. of Nat. Biog._, where her
father’s name is given wrongly as “Henry.”

[8] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 54.

[9] _Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1667-68_, pp. 258-9.

[10] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 59.

[11] Finch to Arlington, Dec. 23, 1672, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[12] Rycaut’s _Present State_, p. 404.

[13] Winchilsea to Secretary Nicholas, March 18-28, 1660-61, June
12, 1661, _S.P. Turkey_, 17.

[14] Instructions for Sir John Finch, Cl. 6. See Appendix I.

[15] Sir Thomas Baines, May 25, 1674, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[16] See Appendix III.

[17] _Register, 1668-1710_, p. 22; _S.P. Levant Company_, 145.

[18] Winchilsea to Nicholas, March 4, 1660-61, Nov. 11-21, 1661,
_S.P. Turkey_, 17; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 68; J. von Hammer’s
_Histoire de l’Empire Ottoman_, vol. xi. p. 111. Winchilsea
mentions only the “six thousand Bashaws and great men,” whom
Mohammed put to death “partly by his own hands and by his
commands.” Rycaut gives the total of the Vizir’s victims as
“thirty-six thousand persons.” Hammer, though he does not consider
this statement excessive, is content with an estimate of “trente
mille personnes,” or an average of 500 executions a month--figures
which, even if reduced by a nought, would still appear respectable.

[19] Winchilsea to Nicholas, May 20, 1662, _S.P. Turkey_, 17.

[20] Harvey to Arlington, Jan. 31, 1669 [-70], _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[21] See Appendix IV.

[22] For illustrations of this timorous attitude see Winchilsea
to Nicholas, March 4, 1660-61, Feb. 11, 1661-62; the Same to
Arlington, March 26, 1668; Rycaut to Arlington, July 18, 1668;
Letters from Messrs. Thomas Dethick & Co., Smyrna, Feb. 7, March 1,
1667-68; Harvey to Arlington, June 19, 1669, _S.P. Turkey_, 17 and

[23] Harvey to Arlington, Aug. 18, 1669, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[24] See Appendix V.

[25] Harvey to Arlington, Jan. 24, March 15, 1671-72, _S.P.
Turkey_, 19.

[26] “A Relation of the Damage rec. by me, Thomas Parker, Master of
the _Lyon_ pinke from a Corsair near the Island of Delos. Smyrna, 9
Dec. 1671,” _ibid._

[27] _Register_, p. 39, _S.P. Levant Company_, 145.

[28] _Ibid._ pp. 40-41. This letter, written in Latin, is dated “ex
pallatio nostro Westmonasteriensi, Quarto die Augusti, Anno Doñi
1673, Regni nostri 25^o.”

[29] Sir John Finch’s own Narrative, Sept. 24, 1680, _S.P. Turkey_,

[30] Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 312.

[31] Finch to Arlington, May 25, 1674 (with Inclosure), _Coventry

[32] Sir Thomas Baines to Conway, May 25, 1674, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.
The letter, though unsigned and unaddressed, carries within it
conclusive proof of its authorship and destination.



Sir John regarded his audience with the Kaimakam as nothing more
than a prologue: the real action had yet to begin. His first
business was “to make my selfe an Ambassadour by delivering His
Majesty’s Credentials to the Gran Signor and His Letter to the Gran
Visir.”[33] But that could not be done at Constantinople. For over
a dozen years the seat of the Ottoman Empire had been at Adrianople.

Mohammed IV. nourished an unconquerable detestation of
Constantinople. It was said that when any of his Ministers ventured
to urge upon him the advisability of showing himself there, he
used to answer: “What shall I do in Stambul? Did not Stambul
cost my father his life? My predecessors, were they not always
the prisoners of rebels? Rather than go back to Stambul, I would
set fire to it with my own hands.” True or apocryphal, these
words describe the position accurately. Constantinople under the
Sultans, like Rome under the Caesars, was the home of an insolent
militia and a turbulent mob. The maladies which infected the
Empire had their breeding-ground in it. It supplied a centre for
all the intrigues and seditions which time and again had brought
Turkey within an inch of disruption. Its revolutionary habits
made it insecure. So the reigning monarch, except for occasional
visits reluctantly undertaken and speedily terminated, kept away
from the ill-omened city. Love of sport conspired with fear of
death to drive the Grand Signor from his capital. For never had
Turkey known so great a Nimrod. With other Sultans the chase
had been a recreation; with Mohammed IV. it was an obsession--a
monomania. “When He cannot range to Hunt,” says Finch, “He is
never well.”[34] Hence his nickname of _Avji_, or the Hunter.
The fatigues he underwent in the indulgence of this consuming
passion are almost fabulous: in the height of summer as well as in
the depth of winter, he sallied forth two or three hours before
sunrise and spent the whole day dashing up hill and down dale like
one possessed by a thousand restless demons. The courtiers whose
privilege it was to ride in the Sultan’s train looked back with
unfeigned regret to the soft vices of his father: what were the
amorous whims of Ibrahim compared with the strenuous vagaries of
Mohammed? But if he spared his courtiers as little as he spared
himself, this sportsman spared his humbler subjects even less.
Wherever he hunted, the inhabitants of the district were obliged
either to provide beaters--sometimes as many as 30,000--or to beat
the woods themselves. In the summer, they had, in addition, their
crops ruined. In the winter, numbers of these wretched peasants,
exposed to cold and hunger during several days and nights, paid
for their master’s pleasure with their lives. So it came to pass
that, while the titular capital of the Empire, in the absence of
the Grand Signor’s luxurious Court, drooped like a flower in the
shade, the Imperial sun shone upon Adrianople: the environs of that
town affording exceptional facilities for the pursuit of game--of
all pursuits the one this degenerate son of Osman loved the most
and understood the best.[35]

To Adrianople, therefore, Sir John would have to betake himself.
The journey was expensive, and the Levant Company extremely
close-fisted. But in this juncture our Merchants could not stint
the piper, seeing that they called the tune. For the presentation
of his Credentials, though the first, was the least of the motives
that impelled Finch to the Sublime Threshold.

It had been the ambition of every English Ambassador up to
that date to renew the Capitulations originally granted to
the English by Sultan Murad III. in 1580,[36] with a view to
obtaining a confirmation and elucidation of old and the addition
of new privileges. During the reign of the present Sultan the
Capitulations had already been renewed twice, by Sir Thomas
Bendyshe and by Lord Winchilsea; and Sir Daniel Harvey would have
renewed them for the third time, if death had not prevented him.
Sir John Finch was anxious to tread the path of his predecessors
and to go farther than they.

There were, in the first place, tariffs to be revised and
Customs-duties to be reduced, or defined to our advantage. For
instance, by a Hattisherif, or Imperial decree, granted to Sir
Sackville Crow, the Merchants of Aleppo had to pay 3 per cent
_ad valorem_ on the goods they imported--cloths, kerseys, cony
skins, tin, lead--as well as on the goods they exported--raw
linen, cotton yarn, galls, silk, rhubarb and other drugs. This
decree determined what was to be called 3 per cent in terms of
Turkish weights, measures, and money, leaving no loop-hole for
extortion. But, resting as it did solely upon the Sultan’s word, it
was regarded as reversible at his pleasure. Therefore, Sir John’s
predecessors had laboured to have it inserted in the Capitulations,
but without success, and the Hattisherif had gradually become so
antiquated that not only the local Customs authorities refused to
obey its provisions, but the Grand Vizir himself refused to enforce
them. Finch wished to embody this decree in the Charter, so that
the English should henceforth have not only the Grand Signor’s
signature but also his oath, and convert what was a mere concession
to merchants into a covenant between prince and prince.

Another Article coveted by the Ambassador aimed at securing a
similar definition for duties levied upon our Factors at Smyrna
and Constantinople. By the Capitulations they were obliged to pay
3 per cent on imports and exports. But differences had lately
arisen between them and the Customs authorities concerning English
cloth. The duty had been fixed when the English imported only a
kind of coarse cloth called “Londras,” for which they were content
to pay _ad valorem_; but since they had begun to import finer
cloths they demurred, insisting that the Customs authorities were
not entitled to more than the amount of duty established of old.
The authorities, on their part, to avoid what they considered an
attempt to cheat the Grand Signor, insisted that the duty should
be paid in kind. Sir John had so far let the merchants compound
with the authorities underhand, in order that our case might not
be prejudiced by the judgment of inferior Courts; but it was his
intention to have the matter settled at Adrianople: success on
this point, he reckoned, meant some 60,000 dollars a year saved;
and besides, it would enable the English to trade in cloth of
equal fineness with that of their Dutch competitors on infinitely
more advantageous terms--paying only two where the Dutch paid six
dollars per piece.

Next, there was in our Capitulations a clause by which Englishmen
engaged in litigation with natives for a sum above 4000 aspers were
entitled to bring their case before the Divan. But this clause,
being limited to private individuals, did not protect the English
against the Grand Signor’s officials, whose arbitrariness grew in
proportion to their distance from the “Fountain of Justice”; for
they had it in their power to squeeze the defendants by detaining
them and sequestering their ships and goods. The Ambassador wished
to deprive the local tyrants of every temptation by introducing
into the Capitulations an Article which authorised the English
Consul on the spot to become surety for his countrymen.

Another abuse Finch sought to remedy was of a converse nature.
Native defendants used to evade prosecution by putting in a claim
not to be sued except before the Divan, where the practice was for
the successful litigant to pay 10 per cent on the debt recovered,
instead of the 2 per cent with which the provincial Cadis were
nominally content. This frightened Englishmen from suing in the
best Court of Justice, and gave the Cadis a chance of extorting
from them 6 or 8 per cent. It was the Ambassador’s object to render
such evasions and extortions impossible by obtaining an Article
which made the fees uniform.

Further, Sir John wished to establish uniformity in the anchorage
charges imposed upon English shipping, and to remove a chronic
grievance by exempting a ship which had paid anchorage at one
Turkish port from a like liability in another she might call at in
the course of her voyage.

Such were the most important innovations Sir John contemplated.
But the most piquant of all referred to the contingency of English
factors in Turkey robbing their principals in England and shielding
themselves from English justice by becoming Mohammedans--“turning
Turks,” as the phrase went. This interesting problem had arisen
out of a recent incident at Smyrna. In September 1673 a young
gentleman of good family and rigid religious upbringing, one, too,
who had a fair fortune of his own, was tempted by the Evil One to
commit a deed that covered the English “Nation” in the Levant with
shame. Availing himself of his partner’s absence, he appropriated a
large quantity of goods and gold belonging to several merchants at
home. Then he went before the Cadi and made a solemn profession of
Islam, so that he might shelter himself under the Moslem Law, which
admitted no Infidel’s evidence against a True Believer. We possess
a full account of this scandalous affair from the pen of our Consul
at Smyrna, who tells how, after seven months’ unremitting pursuit,
he managed to recover the best part of the property and to reduce
the culprit to such distress that at last the wretch humbly begged
him to contrive his return to Christendom and Christianity in the
frigate which had brought Sir John out.[37] As a safeguard against
similar accidents, the Ambassador proposed that the Porte should be
asked to allow in future Christian witnesses in such cases.[38]

Over and above all these matters of business, there was a point
of honour to be struggled for--a point by which Sir John set
immense store. The French enjoyed a privilege which the English
had for generations craved in vain: the King of France, alone
among Christian monarchs, was honoured by the Turks with the
title of _Padishah_, or Emperor; the King of England was styled
simply _Kral_, or King. The representatives of Queen Elizabeth,
it seems, not caring much for titles, had acquiesced in that
modest designation, and the precedent once established, all the
efforts of later envoys had failed:[39] “So hard a thing it is
to unrivitt what Time has fixd’,” moralised Sir John; but the
hardness of the thing, instead of damping, fanned his ardour. If
he could only get that high-sounding title for his sovereign, what
a feather would it be in his cap! He had already, at his audience
with the Kaimakam, taken the first step towards that goal. He had
commanded his Interpreters most particularly not to forget, in
translating his speech, to render the word “King” by “Padishah,”
_not_ “Kral”; and as they, aware of the tenacity with which the
Turks clung to established customs, evinced some reluctance to
attempt an innovation, Sir John had agreed, when he uttered the
word “King,” to add “or Padishah,” thus securing the Interpreters
by his authority. That was done accordingly, and “taken without any
exception.” But it was only the thin end of the wedge. Sir John was
resolved to prosecute “with my utmost Vigour” the insertion of the
title into the new Capitulations;[40] and so to score off all the
ambassadors who went before and bequeath a legacy of imperishable
lustre to all those who should come after him.

A comprehensive programme, excellent in conception; but for its
execution Sir John had to wait.

While the Grand Signor hunted, his Grand Vizir was busy conducting
hostilities with Poland and, simultaneously, negotiations for
peace. Sir John was kept informed of these proceedings by the Dutch
Resident, who, with his wife, his children and his Secretaries,
followed the Ottoman camp, having orders from his Government to
watch the march of events in concert with the Emperor’s Resident.
Holland and Germany were then at war with France, which endeavoured
to bring about an agreement between Poland and Turkey and to induce
the latter Power to turn her arms against the Emperor. England, on
the other hand, had recently made peace with Holland, and the Dutch
Resident, before his departure from Constantinople, had recommended
his “Nation” to Sir John’s protection. He now wrote to him about
the prospects of peace.

An envoy from the new King of Poland, John Sobieski, was expected
in the Grand Vizir’s camp every moment; and in case of an
agreement, it was said that the Ottoman Army would join the Polish
in a common campaign against the Muscovite. What inclined the Turks
to an accommodation, besides Sobieski’s conciliatory attitude,
was the fear of an attack from Persia. So Sir John’s informant
reported. “But, My Lord,” said Sir John, “notwithstanding these
fayr Intimations of Peace there can be no certainty of it, For the
Publique Prayers have bin made these ten dayes over the Empire
for the Gran Signor, which begin not till He is out of His own
Territory’s, and must continue till victory or Peace.... In the
Interim it seems by the vast Quantity of Slaves that dayly from
the Black Sea are sent hither, that the Turke meets with little

In the interim, we, for our part, cannot do better than take a look
round at the place in which Sir John lived, the people among whom
he moved, and the things that occupied his enforced leisure. Such
a description will make the subsequent narrative more intelligible
and instructive, without unduly delaying the action; for, truth to
tell, many months had to elapse before there was any action worth


[33] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675, _Coventry Papers_.

[34] Finch to Coventry, Jan. 11-21, 1674-75, _Coventry Papers_.

[35] See Winchilsea’s despatches, _passim_, _S.P. Turkey_, 17, 18,
19; _Finch Report_; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_; Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 207.

[36] The Latin version of that Charter is preserved at the Public
Record Office, _S.P. Turkey_, 1. A copy of it, with an English
rendering, will be found in Hakluyt’s _Navigations_ (Glasgow,
1904), vol. v. pp. 178-89.

[37] Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 311. For an amusing example of the
young man’s Puritan scrupulosity see Covel’s _Diaries_, pp. 107-8.

[38] See “New Articles added to the Capitulations,” together with
“The Grounds and Advantages” thereof, by Sir John Finch, in the
_Coventry Papers_.

[39] _E.g._ Sir Thomas Glover to Salisbury, March 3, 1606-7;
Winchilsea to Nicholas, Nov. 11-21, 1661, _S.P. Turkey_, 5 and 17.

[40] Finch to Arlington, May 25, 1674; the Same to Coventry, Sept.
9, 1675, _Coventry Papers_.

[41] Finch to Arlington, July 27, S.N., 1674, _Coventry Papers_.



To a man who had passed the better part of his life in the elegant
cities of Italy--cities like Florence, famous for its neat streets
and palaces of sculptured stone--Constantinople assuredly was no
paradise. Its streets were narrow, crooked, and dirty. The houses,
built of timber and sun-dried brick, soon fell into decay. Nor was
there the least attempt to make up in style what these ephemeral
habitations wanted in solidity. In the whole of the Ottoman capital
you would not have found one stately house. Western visitors,
impressed by this phenomenon, endeavoured to account for it, each
according to his lights. Some saw in it a manifestation of Turkish
other-worldliness; making the Turk say to himself: “’Tis a sign of
a proud, lofty and aspiring mind, to covet sumptuous houses, as if
so frail a creature as man did promise a kind of immortality and
an everlasting habitation to himself in this life, when alas! we
are but as pilgrims here. Therefore we ought to use our dwellings
as travellers do their inns, wherein if they are secured from
thieves, from cold, from heat, and from rain, they seek not for
any other conveniences.”[42] But this pretty theory was refuted
by the fact that not only the Turks, but the Greeks, the Jews,
and the Armenians manifested the same studious avoidance of any
approach to architectural display. The true explanation was much
more prosaic: a fine dwelling would have been a proof of wealth,
and wealth, in a country where all men were slaves except one, was
a dangerous thing. A trumped-up charge, on the sworn testimony of
two incredible witnesses, was enough to bring about the ruin of the
man who had the misfortune to be rich. So, while the interior of
an Eastern home might teem with all the luxury that vanity could
prompt and money procure, outwardly it presented to the onlooker
a picture of abject meanness.[43] The picture had its charm; but
it was a charm too subtle for ordinary seventeenth-century eyes.
Judged by contemporary aesthetic standards, the metropolis of the
Ottoman Empire was, as a predecessor of Sir John’s had described
it, “a sink of men and sluttishness.”[44] Sir John must have often
wondered what his cousin Winchilsea could have meant when in years
gone by he had written to him: “This city I hold much better worth
seeing then all Italy.”[45]

On the other hand, there were the magnificent relics of Greco-Roman
antiquity, brought into strong relief by their paltry surroundings:
towers and arches, aqueducts and temples, that had defied the havoc
of the ages. For such antiquarian treasures seventeenth-century
Europeans had an eye, and they lavished upon the past all the
enthusiasm which the Orient of their day failed to evoke in them.
There were also the public buildings added by the Turks--superb
mosques, vaulted baths, and bazaars resplendent with the fabrics
and redolent of the spices of the East. Above all, there was the
matchless beauty of the situation--a natural privilege which
rendered the capital of the Sultans beyond comparison the most
wonderful city on the face of the earth; and of all parts of that
capital not the least advantageously situated were the suburbs of
Galata and Pera in which the Franks had their residence, separated
from Stambul by the harbour of the Golden Horn.

Galata, the business quarter, occupying the lower slopes of a
hill, and Pera, where the Embassies stood, the higher, formed an
amphitheatre which commanded a panoramic view of the circumjacent
seas with all their bays and islands. Down below gleamed the
Golden Horn: a scene of ceaseless animation: merchant ships of all
nations riding at anchor; light caïcks flitting to and fro with
the grace and the swiftness of swallows; enormous, heavily gilded
galleys sailing in and out, some bound north for the Black Sea,
others south for the Aegean. From behind this ever-moving panorama,
the city of Stambul surged up in all its majesty; a sierra of
seven hills broken by the massive domes and slender minarets of
innumerable mosques, it glittered in the sunlight and moonlight of
the East like a jewel in a silver setting. The most precious gem
in this regal jewel was the Grand Signor’s Seraglio--a gorgeous
assemblage of palaces, mosques, baths, and kiosks scattered
amidst gardens and groves. It covered a walled space four miles
in circumference, with the Golden Horn on one side, the Sea of
Marmara on the other, while round the third side, blue and limpid
as the sky itself, swept the rapid stream of the Bosphorus. Across
the Bosphorus, on the coast of Asia, rose the bold promontory of
Scutari, its slopes encrusted with kiosks and grottos, thickets and
hanging gardens, its summit crowned with the domes and minarets of
a stately mosque. And close by, in striking contrast, were seen the
dark cypress-groves of Scutari--a procession of mourners watching
over a city of the dead. In these congenially solemn groves the
Turks loved to sleep their last sleep, permitting the infidels to
plant their cemeteries with other trees, but reserving the cypress
jealously to themselves. Hither, to the soil of Asia, whence he had
come, the Turk loved to return at the last, as if he considered
himself a stranger and a sojourner in Europe, as if he felt that
here alone his remains would not be disturbed by the revengeful
Giaour, when the day of reckoning dawned.

Amidst these exotic scenes, the witchery of which no artist has
yet found means to represent on canvas, our countrymen dwelt in
spacious and commodious, if unpretentious, houses, with many
servants and slaves to minister to their wants. His rank naturally
imposed upon the Ambassador proportionate magnificence, and before
leaving England he had laid out no less than £2500 on clothes and
plate: he knew that his foreign colleagues tried to outshine each
other, and he was resolved not to be eclipsed by any of them.[46]
The merchants also, though free from such onerous obligations,
lived on a scale which at the present day would be pronounced
extravagant. Every self-respecting factor kept horses, dogs, and
hawks; dressed, drank, gambled--led in the East the existence his
contemporaries led at home: we are dealing with English gentlemen
of the Restoration, a period when the excessive austerity of the
Puritan regime had yielded to a reaction of debauchery.[47] Only in
the East the opportunities for self-indulgence were more ample.

No part of the globe has been so liberally blessed with the things
that enter into the mouth as the Levant. Western residents and
travellers grew ecstatic at the abundance of good cheer they
found in Turkey and its amazing cheapness. For a halfpenny it was
possible to buy bread enough for three meals; for little more than
a halfpenny a robust man might get as much mutton as he could
consume; a pheasant could be had for five pence, and a brace of
partridges for nine farthings.[48] The soil there yields its
fruits and the sea its fish in equal profusion and variety; and a
temperate climate imparts to everything an exquisite flavour. Not
less remarkable than the abundance of food was the multiplicity
of forms under which it made its appearance on the table. Greek,
Turkish, and Italian Masters had combined for centuries to bring
the gentle Art of Levantine cooking to a height of perfection that
only the Archimageirus of Zeus could have excelled. It is not hard
to understand the sentiments of mingled pleasure and mystification
with which these succulent dishes were approached by people fresh
from a land where a sirloin of beef or a venison pasty represented
the utmost achievements of the kitchen, and where every meal
was haunted by the unsalted and unsanctified presence of the
tedious boiled potato. Turkey was, indeed, a veritable Academy
for any Englishman who chose to devote himself seriously and
single-mindedly to the cultivation of his stomach.

As for drink--a mighty question!--at home few Englishmen could
afford to intoxicate themselves and their guests properly with
anything less coarse than beer; in the Levant the choicest wines
were common beverages; and those Franks whose palates craved
greater variety supplemented their cellars with the products of the
West. Ambassadors were even privileged to import 7000 measures of
wine a year duty-free. Sir John Finch, who loved the wines of Italy
dearly, but could not consume in his own household more than 2000
measures, was thus able, by selling the surplus, to have his annual
supply for nothing.[49]

Things being so, Britons, on the whole, found life in Turkey
tolerable enough, and in a place like Constantinople well worth
living. To be sure, there were frequent earthquakes and fires,
which always caused inconvenience, often grave trouble, sometimes
severe suffering. But the most vexatious affliction of all--Turkish
oppression--was least felt at Pera. In that suburb Europeans
tasted a snatch of liberty not to be found elsewhere throughout
the Ottoman Empire, except at Smyrna. There hats and wigs might
show themselves abroad with little fear of being struck off the
wearer’s head. In each other’s houses the merchants could indulge
their sociable proclivities without let or hindrance. Those among
them who had more room than they knew what to do with harboured
paying guests, and every now and again there arrived from England
a transient visitor whom the residents entertained with hospitable
prodigality; for the English in the Levant had caught all the
geniality of the Levantine climate, and prided themselves on
nothing more than on their warmth towards strangers.

When the summer heats and the Plague, which visited every
Turkish town with devastating regularity, made Pera unendurable,
the English “Nation” resorted to Belgrade--a well-wooded and
well-watered, peaceful little village not more than ten miles
distant, open to the fresh and wholesome breezes of the Black
Sea. Here, in the company of other Franks, they could dine and
dance on the grass near the rivulets and fountains as freely as
in any country-place in Europe. Here the ladies also, who at
Constantinople were obliged to efface themselves, more or less, in
conformity to Oriental notions of decorum, joined in the amusements
of the men. All this served to alleviate the pains of exile for
ordinary Britons.

But alas! the best of these sources of happiness--the happiness
that comes from free and unrestrained human intercourse--was sealed
to seventeenth-century ambassadors. The trammels of Etiquette
lay upon them heavily, and their method of living was calculated
to inspire respect, not to promote good fellowship. Although
they might receive any visitors they liked, they visited only
their colleagues, and those rarely. When they issued from their
houses, they did so with all the pomp and circumstance of Eastern
satraps--attired in the most sumptuously uncomfortable clothes,
attended by numerous servants in gaudy liveries, hampered by
half-a-dozen led horses. This state they affected, were it only
to cross a narrow street. For the rest, they never appeared in
the streets of Pera on common occasions, nor went over to Stambul
except on ceremonial occasions. With such solemnity and mystery
they surrounded themselves in order to create among the Turks the
impression that an ambassador was a different being from the common
run of his countrymen--that he stood in the scale of creation as
far above them as the Grand Signor stood above his own subjects.
This splendid isolation, whether impressive or not, was very
irksome. Men used to liberty and to living in their own way could
not easily submit to such constraint, self-imposed though it was;
and, indeed, there were few among those arrogant Excellencies who
could afford to dispense with society, who could find a sufficient
fund of entertainment in their own minds to make solitude pleasant.

Fortunate in this respect also, Sir John Finch had under his own
roof all the society he needed. It consisted of one person--Sir
Thomas Baines, another Doctor of Medicine, some years his senior.
Finch had made Baines’s acquaintance at Christ’s College, and from
that moment the two had become inseparable. Together at Cambridge,
they went together to Padua, where they read the same books and
took the same degrees. When Finch returned to England in 1661, he
saw to it that Baines shared his good fortune. Both were elected
Fellows of the College of Physicians of London on the same day,
and together they were made Doctors of Medicine at Cambridge.
Finch’s devotion knew no bounds. When he was appointed Minister at
Florence, he got his friend appointed physician to the Legation,
interested all his relatives in him, and, through the influence
of his brother-in-law, Lord Conway, procured him the honour of
Knighthood in 1672. After living with Finch in Italy and England,
Baines followed him to Turkey in the character of a comrade and

His life-long attachment to this College chum is the one romantic
episode in Sir John Finch’s history. Without wife and children, he
had concentrated all his unused affections on this friend for whom
he entertained an admiration little short of idolatry, to whom he
communicated all his thoughts, and whose advice he sought in all
his difficulties. At Constantinople it soon became a current jest
that there were two Excellencies, and the merchants humorously
distinguished between them, by referring to the one as the
Ambassador, and to the other as the Knight or the Chevalier.[50] It
must be owned that the sight of that eternal pair of middle-aged
physicians turned diplomats, each wrapped up in the other and each
sufficient unto the other, had its comic as well as its romantic
side. They presented to our ribald factors an object lesson in
what the French call _égoïsme à deux_--natural only in the case of
married couples, especially if they have not been married long.

Truly, it was, in Sir John’s own words, “a beautiful and unbroken
marriage of souls”--_suave et irruptum animorum connubium_; and,
like all unions of the kind, it owed its strength to a happy
meeting of opposites. If we may judge from the correspondence
of the pair, their minds belonged to widely different types.
The letters of the younger man are, on the whole, simple,
straightforward, and spontaneous; the writer every now and again
proves himself capable of a picturesque phrase, of a pithy
statement, of a sound, if not very profound, observation. On the
other hand, the elder man’s ponderous and pedantic epistles are
unreadable, often unintelligible; his attempts at pleasantry
painful; his whole style that of a pompous pedagogue. Of the
talents which Sir John attributed to him no trace is visible in
these dissertations. It is impossible to find in any of them a
single remark on philosophy, religion, or society which is not
dreary commonplace. And the same thing applies to the records of
his conversation: they reek of stale school-learning. There can
be no doubt that Finch, though no dazzling genius, had the finer
intellect of the two. But intellect is not everything. As the
portraits of the two friends stand confronting each other, Finch’s
sensitive face with its weak mouth and melancholy eyes contrasts
very suggestively with Baines’s stronger and coarser countenance:
look at those lips still shaped in a firm, superior, benignant
smile--the smile of one sure of his own wisdom and of his power of
guiding weaker mortals! It is easy to guess at a glance to whom, in
this “marriage of souls,” belonged the masculine and to whom the
feminine part.

[Illustration: SIR THOMAS BAINES.

From the Portrait by Carlo Dolci at Burley-on-the-Hill.

  _To face p. 42._]

Further, Finch’s face reveals vanity, and Baines’s letters a turn
for flattery--gross and inflated beyond even a seventeenth-century
measure. Thomas, clearly, had established over John an ascendancy
by accustoming him to lean upon his strength and to feed upon his
praises. There is also evidence to show that Thomas was not the
man to relax his hold: to surrender or share a domination which
interest and sentiment alike made precious to him. In 1661 Finch
met in Warwickshire a young lady who had the good fortune to please
him. The moment Baines got wind of this matrimonial project, he
set vigorously to work to defeat it. He used many arguments of a
prudential nature, but the one that clinched the matter was this:
Suppose you have children, then you die, and she marries again,
how can you be sure that she will not dispose of her estate to her
second husband and his progeny?[51] The logic of Thomas triumphed
over what John called his love, and he never again caused his
friend any uneasiness upon that score. Thenceforward his whole life
was annexed and welded to the life of Baines in a degree which,
perhaps, has no counterpart in authentic history. As to Baines, he
does not seem to have ever loved anybody except Finch and himself.

Needless to say, Sir Thomas did his best to solace Sir John for
the loneliness which is the penalty of greatness. That he was a
cheerful companion it would be absurd to imagine: he was just as
cheerful as could be expected from one who often lay, as he himself
tells us, “under the torment of gout and stone both in bladder
and rheyns”[52]--common distempers of the times. Not that Finch
enjoyed wild spirits either. Both were of a studious and sedentary
disposition, and their long residence in Italy had confirmed their
constitutional languor: so much so that their friends in England
had found the ways of these “Italians,” as they nicknamed them, a
little hard to understand. As a consequence, they both indulged
rather freely in exercises of a theologico-philosophical character
and in the pleasures of the table. For the rest, their recreations
appear to have been of a strictly conventual innocence. Let us
intrude for an instant upon their domestic privacy.

It is the beginning of summer, 1674, and Sir Thomas is seated at
his escritoire, writing to Lord Conway. After enumerating “my Lord
Ambassadour’s” multitudinous achievements, he descends to matters
of a less exalted and more pleasing nature. His very style loses
much of its rhetorical affectation as he writes:

“As to the House in itself, it affords no great aspect to the eye
without, but truly it is very convenient within, and I think it
gives great content to my Lord, as I am sure it does to me. We both
taking a great delight to set in our chairs and see the birds in
the court lodge upon the cypress tree with as much alacrity and
security as the malefactors fly into a church in Italy or a publick
Minister’s house, upon the foresight of which my Lord from his
first coming gave order to all his servants not only [not] to shoot
a gun at them, but not to throw a stone: insomuch that at this time
we have little wrens which begin to learn to fly first from bough
to bough, then from tree to tree, then from tree to the top of the
house and so back again, and all under safe protection.”[53]

It is a vividly realised picture, sympathetically painted. We see,
across the dead years, that long since vanished courtyard at Pera,
with its tall bird-haunted cypress tree--and on the open gallery
above, behind its wood railing, two clean-shaven, middle-aged
English bachelors in full-bottomed wigs, seated side by side,
watching the young wrens try their wings; while around them lay the
splendour and the havoc of the East: a world in which semi-tones
existed not--in which the dominant note was exaggeration--where
life was a singular, often a sinister, mixture of brilliant light
and deep gloom, and reality partook alternately of the enchantments
of a dream and the horrors of a nightmare.


[42] _Busbequius_ (Eng. Tr., 1694), p. 18.

[43] Roger North’s _Life of Sir Dudley North_, pp. 118-19; Covel’s
_Diaries_, pp. 178-9.

[44] Sir Thomas Roe to Lord Carew, May 3, 1622, _Negotiations_
(London, 1740), p. 37.

[45] March 30, 1663, _Finch Report_, p. 247.

[46] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 58.

[47] See Appendix VI.

[48] Henry Blount’s _Voyage into the Levant_, in Pinkerton’s
Collection, vol. x. p. 263; Thevenot’s _Travels into the Levant_
(Eng. Tr., 1687), Part I. pp. 27, 92; Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_,
p. 58. More than two generations later, the famous French renegade
Comte de Bonneval could keep an establishment including six wives
and twenty horses at less than 20 sequins, or £10, a month. See his
_Mémoires_ (Paris, 1806), vol. ii. p. 339.

[49] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 58.

[50] See _Life of Dudley North_, _passim_.

[51] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 33.

[52] Baines to Conway, June 1-11, 1677, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[53] Baines to Conway, May 25, 1674, _ibid._



Not the least of the many features that differentiated the
Constantinople Embassy from all other embassies was the institution
of the Dragomans[54]--persons through whom all transactions
with the Porte were carried on and upon whom therefore the
Ambassador had to depend for the most essential part of his work.
The Dragomans, in their dual capacity of Intelligencers and
Interpreters, had always been important members of the Embassy
staff. But their importance had increased immeasurably since the
Elizabethan tradition of appointing ambassadors who had served
their apprenticeship as secretaries to their predecessors had
yielded to the practice of sending out diplomats new to Turkey,
her language, and her ways. Cut off from direct contact with
the country, the Ambassador now relied almost entirely upon his
Dragomans’ reports. The Dragomans were his eyes and his ears, as
well as his mouth: they were, in fact, absolute masters of business
and of their employer.

The system laboured under the usual disadvantages of dealing by
proxy, and a good many more peculiar to Turkey. As Intelligencers
the Dragomans were not all that might have been desired: their
information was often inaccurate, and sometimes, when information
failed, they, in order to keep up their reputation for omniscience,
had recourse to invention. Our Ambassadors had already learnt
from experience to receive their news with extreme caution.[55]
Hardly more satisfactory were the Dragomans in their character of
Interpreters. Absurd as it may sound, the persons who performed
this most delicate and confidential function were not subjects
of the sovereign they served, but of the Grand Signor: natives
of Pera, mostly of Italian extraction. This rendered them very
indifferent vehicles of the ambassadorial mind. When the message
with which they were charged happened to be disagreeable to the
Porte, they manifested the strongest disinclination to deliver
it. Fear tied their tongues: they would much rather risk their
employer’s displeasure than the brutal fury of an angry pasha.
There was nothing to wonder at in this: Dragomans had often been
drubbed, sometimes even hanged or impaled, for doing their duty. So
real was the danger and so powerless was the Ambassador to protect
his own servants against the savagery of their liege lords that
even in his presence the Dragomans dared not translate faithfully
his words, if they were of a nature to irritate his Turkish
collocutor. At the mere sound of such words, they were seized with
panic: their faces grew red and white by turns, their foreheads
were covered with beads of sweat, their limbs trembled, their
mouths went suddenly dry--as if they already felt the stick on the
soles of their feet or the halter round their necks. It was no
unusual thing to see the Dragoman of a European Ambassador, after
stammering out an expurgated version of the message, drop on his
knees before the Turkish Minister and burst into abject apologies
for his temerity. At times, ingenious interpreters gifted with
presence of mind were known to improvise imaginary dialogues--to
substitute speeches of their own inspiration for those really made
by the parties on whose behalf they acted. The position was both
tragic and ludicrous; but no ambassador not utterly devoid of
reason and humanity could complain. He himself, if he were in the
Dragoman’s shoes, would behave as the Dragoman behaved. Even as it
was, despite his non-subjection to the Grand Signor, despite also
the theoretical inviolability of his person, a prudent ambassador
shrank from irritating a Turkish pasha: envoys of various Powers
who had forgotten to hold their tongues had been affronted,
assaulted, dragged down the stairs by the hair of their heads,
imprisoned in noisome dungeons. All things considered, the wonder
is not so much that the Dragomans fulfilled their perilous task
inadequately, as that they dared undertake it at all.

Other inconveniences connected with the system enhanced its
inherent viciousness. The Dragomans of the English Embassy were
Roman Catholics, and as all Roman Catholics in Turkey were
protected by the representatives of the Catholic Powers, they
were so much biassed in favour of their patrons that, when the
interests of England clashed with those of a Catholic Power, the
English Ambassador could scarcely trust them. Again, the Dragomans
were often men with large families, and they were very poorly
paid. The temptation therefore to betray their trust for money
was hard to resist. Further, motives of religious sympathy and
cupidity apart, there was the lure of vanity which frequently
impelled a Dragoman to babble out the secrets of his employer in
order to show his own importance. As if to multiply the dangers
of indiscretion, Dragomans serving different ambassadors were
often nearly related to one another, or a Dragoman who served one
embassy at one time might later on transfer his services to its
rival. It was even possible for a Dragoman of an embassy to become
a Dragoman of the Porte, or, while employed by the embassy, to have
a kinsman similarly employed at the Porte. How secrecy and fidelity
under such conditions could ever be looked for it is not easy to

The vices of the system were flagrant; but the difficulty of
finding a remedy was no less great. An interpreter to do his duty
satisfactorily had to be both competent and courageous. But no
interpreter, under the Turkish rule, could possess both these
qualifications in the same degree. If he was a foreigner, he could
not have the necessary knowledge of the Turkish language, customs,
and character. If he was a native, he could not have the necessary
courage. The French, whose Dragomans had suffered most grievously
from Turkish ferocity, were the only European nation to attempt a
solution of the problem. Their great Minister Colbert had, a few
years since, initiated a reform by sending twelve young Frenchmen
to Smyrna, there to be taught in the Convent of the Capuchins
Turkish, Arabic, and Modern Greek, and then be distributed among
the French Consulates, the ablest of them being destined for the
service of the Embassy. This departure secured to the Diplomatic
and Consular services of France in the Levant a supply of
interpreters who, though they might not possess a native’s intimacy
with Turkish ways, could be trusted to carry out their instructions
honestly and boldly. The advantage gained by this change was so
patent, that the best-informed Englishmen hastened to recommend its
adoption;[56] and, in fact, it was adopted by England--two hundred
years later.

Meanwhile, Sir John Finch had to work through his Perote,
Italian-speaking “Druggermen.” The chief of them, Signor Giorgio
Draperys, “knight of Jerusalem, and of the most noble and ancient
family in this country,”[57] was a man well stricken in years.
He had served the English Embassy for half a century, and had
witnessed all its vicissitudes under six different occupants. His
long and varied experience made Signor Giorgio invaluable to a
novice: no man had a more thorough acquaintance with the rules of
Turkish procedure or with the usages and precedents that governed
the mutual intercourse of foreign envoys than this Patriarch of
Pera. His honesty was not above the normal. For instance, a Prince
of Moldavia, who owed his elevation to Lord Winchilsea, presented
the Dragoman with 6000 sheep for himself, and with 12,000 sheep--as
well as 4000 crowns in cash, a ring worth 1000 crowns, and a horse
worth 300 crowns--for the Ambassador. There is reason to believe
that none of these tokens of Moldavian gratitude ever reached His
Excellency.[58] Of the second Dragoman, Signor Antonio Perone, who
eventually succeeded Signor Giorgio, we shall hear enough in the
course of this story.

In addition, Sir John had an English Secretary, a Mr. William
Carpenter, of whom little more than the name is known to us; and,
besides, he was assisted by the Levant Company’s Cancellier, an
officer whose business it was to draw up all legal documents and to
register them in the Embassy Cancellaria. This office was at the
time filled by Mr. Thomas Coke, a man small in stature, but, it
would seem, of great ability and amiability.[59]

Three other Englishmen with whom business brought Sir John
into frequent contact were personages sufficiently notable in
themselves, and they play sufficiently prominent parts in our story
to deserve special notice.

[Illustration: Paul Rycaut Esq. late Consul of Smyrna; Fellow of
the Royall Societie.

From the Engraving by R. White after the Portrait by Sir Peter Lely.

  _To face p. 53._]

At Smyrna he had met our distinguished Consul, Mr. (afterwards
Sir) Paul Rycaut, a graduate of Cambridge, a Fellow of the Royal
Society, and an author of European reputation. As his name implies,
Rycaut was of foreign extraction--the son of a wealthy banker of
Brabant who, having settled in England under James I. and ruined
himself for Charles I., died leaving a large family all but
destitute. It fell to the lot of Paul to provide by his labours for
most of these victims of Loyalty. After six arduous years at the
Constantinople Embassy, as Secretary to Lord Winchilsea--who found
him “so modest, discreet, able, temperate and faithfull” that he
transferred him from the steward’s table to his own and treated
him “more like a friend than a servant”[60]--he obtained from the
Levant Company the Consulate of Smyrna. Important and lucrative as
this post was, it was hardly one of those that give tranquillity
to an ambitious heart or enjoyment to a cultivated mind. While
performing its duties with exemplary energy and conscientiousness,
Rycaut looked upon it as a stepping-stone to higher things. In
1666, during a long visit home on public business, he had brought
himself to the notice of the Court by his work on _The Present
State of the Ottoman Empire_--a book which, running into many
editions and translated into French, Italian, German, and Polish,
made the author famous,[61] without, however, making him what he
wished to be. Lord Arlington testified to Rycaut’s “good parts”
and other good qualities,[62] but did nothing for him. We may
congratulate ourselves that his promotion was postponed so long; to
that circumstance we are indebted for much valuable information.
But Rycaut had small cause to feel pleased. The Smyrna Consulate
cramped him like a prison cell. His discontent is written
as plain as large print can make it in the Epistle Dedicatory
prefixed to the _History of the Turkish Empire_ which he published
a few years later: “Ever since the time of Your Majesties happy
Restauration,” he grumbles, “my Lot hath fallen to live and act
within the Dominions of the Turk.” The same feeling is not less
plain in the portrait (a fine engraving after Sir Peter Lely) which
adorns the volume. It shows us a refined face that combines the
irritability of a scholar with the keenness of a place-hunter; an
emaciated face with eyes large, expressive and aggressive, thin
lips tightly pressed, and a chin of remarkable pugnacity--the face
of a man determined to get on and very angry at Fortune’s slow
pace. It is said to resemble Molière’s. The resemblance certainly
does not extend to a sense of humour. Perhaps it was this want
(for assuredly it was not want of push) that condemned a person
of Rycaut’s abilities and attainments to rust in the Consulate of
Smyrna, when his intellectual inferiors became Secretaries of State
in London. Charles II. had little use for men who could not laugh.

Many were the prickly problems that Sir John Finch and Mr. Paul
Rycaut had to handle together during the next few years; and on
all occasions the Ambassador found a most loyal and respectful
lieutenant in this highly accomplished and polished Cavalier.

Of quite a different mould was the Rev. John Covel, Chaplain to the
Embassy and afterwards Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge. Like Finch
and Baines, Covel hailed from Christ’s College. Like them, too, he
had studied Medicine in early life, but eventually discovering an
easier vocation, he threw physic to the dogs, took holy orders, and
got a Fellowship at his College. To him also, as to the others, the
Restoration had come as a providential blessing: witness the Latin
prose and English verse wherein he vented his feelings. The merits
of his Latin performance were such as might have been expected from
an erudite young don. Those of his English effusion may be judged
by the following sample:

      The horrible winter’s gone,
        And we enjoy a cheerful spring;
      The kind approach of the Sun
        Gives a new birth to every thing.

Among other things, it gave a new birth to the songster’s prospects.

In 1670 an adventure beckoned the Rev. John from afar, and his
heart leapt to greet it. The Constantinople chaplaincy had fallen
vacant by the retirement of the learned Dr. Thomas Smith (known to
history as “Rabbi” Smith). There was the romance of the East with
its new skies and seas and lands; there were curious old creeds to
be investigated, a strange world of Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews,
Franks, with their various ways of life: by all means let us go! He
obtained the appointment from the Levant Company, and from the King
a dispensation which enabled him to retain his Fellowship at the
same time. Thus, while drawing at Constantinople a handsome salary
and considerable perquisites for the little he did, our lucky
divine also received from Cambridge, for doing nothing at all,
“all and singular the profits, dividends, stipends, emoluments,
and dues belonging to his Fellowship in as full and ample manner
to all intents and purposes as if he were actually resident in the

It may be doubted whether a happier Englishman ever trod the
soil of the Grand Signor than the Rev. John. He revelled in the
rich colours and savours of the Levant. The ceremonies of the
Turkish Court and the rites of the Greek Church were a perennial
fountain of interest to him, while the noisy wrangles of theology
touched a vibrant chord in his sympathetic breast. Did Eastern
Christians believe that the bread and wine in the Eucharist
turned into flesh and blood, or did they believe that it remained
bread and wine? This riddle raged just then at Constantinople;
and the reverberations of the controversy, expanding in wider
and yet wider circles, reached Rome, Paris, London, stirring up
everywhere suitably attuned minds to intense, passionate, and
to us almost incomprehensible virulence. The Rev. John plunged
into the transubstantial vortex with all the polemical zest of a
theologian and with a vague notion of writing a big book about
it one day. He discussed the holy and unwholesome question with
everybody--Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant--he could lay hands
on, always ending at the point whence he started--the creed of
Christ’s College, Cambridge. Not less eagerly did our Chaplain
plunge into the ecclesiastical politics than into the metaphysical
polemics of the place. The age-long feud between Greek and Latin
was then blended with the squabbles of rival Greek pretenders to
the Patriarchal throne of Constantinople: Patriarchs arose and
Patriarchs fell as Grand Vizirs did formerly; anathematising their
predecessors cordially and being as cordially anathematised by
their successors, to the Rev. John’s indescribable delight.[64]
That was life, pardieu--the absorbing interplay of warm human
hearts and even warmer human heads.

Though Covel devoted some attention to archaeology, it was with
a lack of interest which he is at no pains to conceal. He could
hardly express his scorn for the “whiflers” who came out of
England and France and careered over the Ottoman Empire buying or
stealing classical antiques. The lore he really loved was folklore:
Greek legends, Turkish songs, living superstitions. If we except
manuscripts dealing with early Heresies, for which he had a passion
(even the sanest of us are mad), the Rev. John only collected
curios that appealed to his sense of the beautiful--if he came
across them cheap. For the same reason he had an appreciative eye
for costumes, jewels, carpets, and other articles of personal or
domestic adornment: they all served to make life pleasant. On all
these topics our Chaplain would talk and scribble with unflagging
volubility--“at full gallop,” to use his own racy simile--repeating
himself, digressing, returning to the subject, straying from it
again, losing himself in a labyrinth of minute irrelevancies. Fond
of shooting and riding, a friend of gay young men and no enemy
to gay young women, especially pretty ones, the Rev. John was
immensely popular with our factors, who found in him a “papas”[65]
after their own hearts.

To the Ambassador also the Rev. John was very acceptable. Going
everywhere, seeing everybody, and hearing everything, the
divine had much to say that was useful for a diplomat to know,
particularly about Greek Patriarchs, Latin friars and their
quarrels; a subject, as we shall see hereafter, by no means foreign
to an English ambassador’s business in those days. Precluded by
his dignity from crossing the water in person, Sir John could
employ the Rev. John as a channel of communication between Pera
and the Phanar. And the Rev. John, as one gathers from his own
voluminous writings, was versatile enough to act as the friend of
all contending parties in turn, according to the exigencies of the
political vane, far too worldly-wise to let consistency interfere
with preferment. For Covel, though content with the present, never
forgot the future; he was not less anxious to get on than Rycaut,
only built on softer, more supple and sinuous lines, he glided
where the other stumbled.[66] Altogether an astonishingly brisk,
jovial, garrulous parson of six-and-thirty this, full of harmless
little vanities, human levities, and healthy little profanities.

But the most striking personality among the English residents, and
the one Sir John Finch had most to do with, was the Treasurer of
the Levant Company at Constantinople, the Honourable (afterwards
Sir) Dudley North, younger son of Lord North,--a handsome man
of thirty-three, already eminent and destined to be famous. In
literary attainments North fell far short of Rycaut and Covel, but
in natural intelligence, in initiative, in resource, in tenacity,
in self-command, in knowledge of the world, and in the other
qualities which conduce to success in life, he was surpassed by no
man of his time. His career is one of the most deeply interesting
documents that have come down to us from the seventeenth century;
even episodes apparently trifling in themselves become full of
meaning when viewed in connection with the general character of the

Like all younger sons Dudley had to carve his own way to
independence. One of his brothers went to the Bar,--ending as Lord
Keeper of the Great Seal in succession to Sir John Finch’s own
brother,--another went into the Church. Dudley might have followed
in the footsteps of either. But the Bar required much reading, the
Church imposed many restraints. Dudley, not studious enough for the
one profession and too lively for the other, revealed at an early
age the calling for which Nature designed him. At school, while
proving himself a hopeless dunce at book-work, he drove a most
profitable trade among the other boys, buying cheap and selling
dear. Manifestly commerce was his metier.

In seventeenth-century England no social cleavage existed between
the world of commerce and the world of the Court. Since Feudalism
had expired in the Wars of the Roses, differences of birth had
ceased to divide the landed from the moneyed classes. All the
county families had their kinsmen in the towns, and the ambition of
many a nobleman’s younger son was to become an alderman, to attain
which eminence he had to serve his apprenticeship behind the
counter and to work with his hands like a menial. The snobbishness
which again divides the two worlds in our day did not set in until
the latter part of the eighteenth century. It is necessary to
emphasise this fact in order to correct an erroneous impression
promulgated by brilliant and superficial historians.[67]

So young Dudley was forthwith placed in a London “writing school”
to acquire the arts of book-keeping and penmanship. At that school
he gave further evidence of his financial genius by extricating
himself from the clutches of his creditors through the simple
device of presenting his noble parents with faked bills of
expenses--not crudely, as an amateur might, but as a born artist
would. The next step in our promising youth’s fortunes was his
being bound apprentice to a Turkey Merchant. By this time Dudley,
with remarkable precocity, had sown his wild oats and had made
up his mind on the one thing needful. As his master’s limited
business left him ample leisure, he employed it in helping his
landlord, a packer, at the packing-press, whereby he not only eked
out his slender allowance, but also acquired experience which was
to be of great value to him--the skilful packing of cloth sent
to Turkey being one of the first mysteries of the trade a novice
had to master. His initiation over, North at the age of eighteen
was sent out to Smyrna as a factor. For capital to trade with on
his own account he had only four hundred pounds advanced him by
his family, and he depended therefore chiefly on the commissions
from his master, supplemented by an occasional order from some
other Turkey Merchants he had ingratiated himself with in London
by officiously doing odd jobs for them. These resources were very
meagre, and the standard of living in the Smyrna Factory, as at the
other Levant factories, was very high. Nowhere did conviviality
reach greater heights.[68] With extraordinary strength of mind
young North refused to bow to fashion. He lodged humbly, dressed
plainly, fed simply, kept no horses, dogs, or hawks, made in every
way a virtue of penury; his settled principle being to save abroad
that he might one day be able to spend at home. From that principle
neither the gibes of his fellows nor the impulses of his own young
blood ever swayed him. Once the others pressed him very earnestly
to go a-hunting with them. The wise youth, not to give offence,
complied--but with characteristic originality, instead of buying a
horse he hired an ass.

In this thrifty way, mindful of his high aim and philosophically
indifferent to public opinion, North passed several years at
Smyrna, working hard, thinking hard, conciliating by his wit the
young whom his eccentricity would otherwise have alienated, earning
by his capacity the respect of the old, and making his company
sought after by “the top merchants of the Factory.” His letters are
full of acute observations and mature reflections on all matters
that fell within his vision. His curiosity was as voracious as
Covel’s, but it did not feed on the external aspect of things.
North took nothing for granted. He burnt with a desire to know the
cause and reason of everything--from an earthquake to a fever, from
the navigation of a ship or the construction of a building to the
government of an empire. He was perpetually on the path of inquiry
and discovery, never allowing his faculties to rest or rust. While
engaged in the practice of commerce, he brought his vigorous
analytical mind to bear on its underlying laws, striking out, in
opposition to the generally accepted views of his day, a theory
of trade which anticipated David Hume’s and Adam Smith’s economic
philosophy by nearly a hundred years.

The chance for which North waited and prepared came at last. There
was a celebrated house of English commission agents and merchants
at Constantinople--the house of Messrs. Hedges and Palmer. Their
business was very large, but through mismanagement it had fallen
into the utmost confusion. North was invited to become a partner
and set things straight. He jumped at the invitation. Through
his doggedness, resourcefulness, and adroitness, old debts were
recovered, compounded for, or written off, the book-keeping
department was reorganised; and order was evolved out of chaos. As
soon as Mr. Hedges saw the business fairly under way he retired to
England at the beginning of 1670, leaving him and Palmer to carry
on by themselves. Then the trouble began. Palmer was everything
that North was not. He lived in a great house and at great expense.
His table was loaded with plenty, and guests were never absent from
it. They came at noon and spent the rest of the day helping their
host to empty his bottles. By the time North had finished his work
Palmer had finished his dinner. North returned home very tired
and found his partner very drunk. After many unpleasant scenes,
he took a strong line. He wrote to all the correspondents of the
firm in Europe, explaining the reasons which led him to break with
his partner and soliciting the continuance of their patronage to
himself. His reputation stood so high, and apparently Palmer’s so
low, that the principals did not hesitate.

This may be described as our Factor’s first stride. He was now
captain of his own ship. Only, as English merchants did not care
to trust single agents abroad, because on their deaths, or even in
their lives, there was always danger of embezzlement, he thought
fit to take into partnership his younger brother Montagu, who,
like himself, had been bred a Turkey Merchant and then resided as
factor at Aleppo. Henceforward North’s career was one continuous
run of prosperity. He soon became the chief English merchant in
Constantinople, was elected Treasurer by the Levant Company, and
went on amassing wealth at a great rate, deeming no enterprise too
high or too low for the end he had in view, imparting to everything
he did a touch of his own original genius.

The ordinary Englishman in the polyglot Levant was content to
transact his business through interpreters. North would have
nothing to do with vicarious communication. He acquired Italian,
which was the Lingua Franca of the Near East, the debased Spanish
spoken by the Jews of Turkey--descendants of the refugees
expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella--who had made themselves
indispensable as brokers to Franks and Turks alike, and (a much
rarer accomplishment) the Turkish tongue. Moreover, he learnt the
laws of Turkey. In litigation before a Turkish court he was his
own pleader, as in conversation he was his own interpreter. He
did not, however, trust implicitly to his own intimacy with the
subtleties of Ottoman Justice. He kept a tame Cadi to whose advice
he had recourse upon occasion. Further, before a trial, he took
care to make his case known to the judge and to quicken the judge’s
intelligence with a present. When his case came on, if North had
no true witnesses to produce, he produced false ones. Indeed, he
preferred the latter kind on principle, having found by experience
that a false witness was safer; for, if the judge had a mind to
confuse a witness, an honest man who did not know the game could
not so well wriggle through the net of captious questions as a
rogue versed in all its rules.

The Honourable Dudley showed equal tact in his other dealings
with the Turks. Not the least remunerative of his occupations was
usury--lending money to necessitous pashas at 20 or 30 per cent.
Now, by Turkish law all interest was illegal, and the debtor could
not be forced to pay a farthing on that score. So a world of
cunning and caution was needed, and the wisest might suffer through
inadvertence. To avoid accidents, North combined hospitality with
business. He built and furnished a room where his victims could
loll on soft cushions, sip endless cups of coffee and liquids
stronger than coffee, smoke endless tchibooks in safety (under
Mohammed IV. tobacco was rigorously forbidden), and be fleeced
in comfort. The host, it goes without saying, was not fastidious
about the morals of his guests. No narrow prejudices of virtue ever
hindered his familiarity with all human beings that chance might
fling in his way. The sinner and the saint were equally welcome,
so long as there was anything to be got out of them. Among his most
intimate boon companions and clients was a particularly unsavoury
captain of one of the Grand Signor’s galleys. North used to lend
him money and also to palm off upon him his rotten cloths.

The fertility of North’s invention did not stop there. His shrewd
study of human nature had taught him that men are influenced by
externals far more than by essentials. He endeavoured to make the
Turks feel at home with him by making himself outwardly like one of
them. Knowing their prejudice against clean-shaven faces he grew
a prodigious pair of moustaches, such as the best of them had. He
tried to sit cross-legged, as they sat, and learnt to write as they
wrote, resting the paper on his left hand, and making the lines
slope from the left top corner downwards. He taught himself to use
parables, apologues, and figures of speech, as they did, and to
swear as they swore. Of this last accomplishment he was especially
proud. He held that for purposes of vituperation Turkish was more
apt than any other language, and he grew so accustomed to its
aptness that even when he returned home his tongue would run into
Turkish blasphemy of itself. Let us add another external trait that
tended to make this infidel acceptable to true believers, though
it was a trait for which he was indebted to nature rather than to
self-culture. “It seems,” says his biographer, “that after he found
his heart’s ease at Constantinople he began to grow fat, which
increased upon him, till, being somewhat tall and well whiskered,
he made a jolly appearance, such as the Turks approve most of all
in a man.”

North’s pains to please had not been wasted. The Turks whom he
entertained at 30 per cent were so delighted with this wonderful
Giaour that they pressed him to become really and wholly one of
them by abjuring his false religion. North always parried these
awkward blandishments with his usual adroitness. He never argued on
religion, or indeed on any other subject, with the Turks. Nobody
likes to be contradicted, and the Turks were not accustomed to bear
dissent from a Giaour. Our Treasurer would not lose profitable
customers for any consideration. He had not gone to Constantinople
to quarrel but to climb; and he had long since learnt that at
Constantinople, as elsewhere, climbing could only be performed in
the same posture as crawling. So without attempting to argue, he
laughed away the suggestion of apostasy by saying, “My father wore
a hat and left that hat to me. I wear it because my father left it,
and”--clapping his hands on his head--“I will wear it as long as I
live!” He knew the Turks well enough to know that he lost nothing
in their eyes by his attachment to the paternal hat. For though
keen on proselytising--always by temptation and persuasion, hardly
ever by constraint--they had little respect for the proselyte.

By such means our Treasurer waxed not only wealthy but also wise.
The Turks, as a rule, were too proud to converse familiarly
with Christians, thinking (perhaps not without reason) that few
Christians were worthy of their confidence. The result was that the
English and other Franks who lived amongst them and dealt with them
knew about as much of Turkish life, of Turkish ways of thought,
of Turkish maxims of conduct, as an undesirable alien dwelling
in Whitechapel knows of English life. Dudley North was the only
Frank who, thanks to his natural adaptability and flexibility,
had contrived to insinuate himself, more or less, into the spirit
of Turkey. On those occasions of convivial expansion, while his
guests sedulously swilled his liquids, North not less sedulously
pumped their minds. He picked up every hint that dropped from their
lips, hoarded it in his retentive memory, connected it with other
hints, and, assisted by uncommonly quick powers of deduction and
induction, learnt a good deal more in five minutes than the average
European would in as many months. Conscious of his unique position
as a first-hand authority on the Turks, he thought very little of
Rycaut as an expert in the religion, manners, and politics of the
Ottoman Empire. He described his work as very shallow. Once he went
over the whole of it, and noted on the margin its errors. That
copy, with some other curiosities he had collected and a Turkish
dictionary he had compiled, was stolen from him. He could never
discover the thief, but he thought that the things he had lost
might perhaps be found among the belongings of the Rev. John Covel.

From this it would appear that the Consul and the Chaplain had not
an admirer in our Treasurer. Nor, it may be presumed, had he in
them fanatical worshippers.

Such was the Honourable Dudley: independent, self-reliant,
holding in profound contempt the weaknesses, stupidities, and
conventionalities of his neighbours; yet withal knowing how to use
them for his own ends; a man infinitely flexible of plan, but
fixed of purpose, and, happen what might, intent not to play the
dilettante in this world.[69]


[54] “Dragoman” is of course a clumsy transliteration of
the Turkish, or rather Arabic, _Targuman_, interpreter.
Seventeenth-century Englishmen gave to this word many forms,
more or less fantastic and more or less remote from the original
(_drichman_, _truckman_, etc.), but it most commonly figures as
Druggerman (pl. Druggermen).

[55] See _e.g._ Harvey to Arlington, Dec. 4, 1670; April 30, July
19, 27, 1671, _S.P. Turkey_, 19. But the most eloquent testimonial
to Dragoman information is furnished by Harvey’s Secretary: “Here
seldome happens anything worthy remarke and when there does it is
so uncertainly reported to us by our Druggermen who are our only
Intelligencers, that experience makes us very incredulous; what
wee heare one day is com͡only contradicted the next, and shou’d I
give you a dayly account of things according to your desire, my
busines wou’d bee almost every other Letter to disabuse you in what
I had writt to you before.”--Geo. Etherege to Joseph Williamson;
Endorsed: “R. 8 May, 1670,” _ibid._

[56] Rycaut’s _Present State_, pp. 169-70. For examples of the
terrorism exercised by the Turks towards European envoys and
their Dragomans, see that work, pp. 155 foll., as well as the
same author’s _History of the Turkish Empire_, and his _Memoirs_,

[57] Finch to Coventry, Jan. 6-16, 1675-76, _Coventry Papers_.

[58] See _Finch Report_, p. 521.

[59] “A man of singular parts, an excellent gentleman’s
companion, capable to undertake and go through with any business
whatsoever.”--Lord Pagett to the Right Hon. James Vernon, July 23,
1698, _S.P. Turkey_, 21.

[60] Winchilsea to Sir Heneage Finch, Jan. 11, 1662 [-3], _Finch
Report_, p. 233. How much the Ambassador owed to his Secretary is
shown by a comparison between his despatches and Rycaut’s _Memoirs_.

[61] Pepys, after the Great Fire, which burnt most of the first
edition, had to pay 55 shillings for a copy. It is true that this
was one of the six copies printed with coloured pictures, “whereof
the King and Duke of York and Duke of Monmouth, and Lord Arlington
had four.”--_Diary_, March 20, April 8, 1667.

[62] Arlington to Winchilsea, Oct. 13, 1666, _Finch Report_, p. 442.

[63] “Extracts from the Diaries of Dr. John Covel,” in _Early
Voyages and Travels in the Levant_, Introd. p. xxix. This essay
can be safely recommended only to experts capable of checking its
innumerable ineptitudes.

[64] See such a scene in his _Diaries_, p. 145, where for the
printed date “Nov. 8th 1674” read “Nov. 8th 1671” (cp. his _Account
of the Greek Church_, Pref. p. xi).

[65] Greek for priest: so the English in the Levant styled their
parsons familiarly.

[66] Among the State Papers at the P.R.O. (_Turkey_, 19) there are
several letters from him to Lord Arlington and his secretary Joseph
Williamson. The one in which Covel congratulates this very mediocre
gentleman (to whom he was a perfect stranger) on his elevation to
the post of Principal Secretary of State, dated “Pera, Jan. 8th
1674-5,” breaks all the records of adulation known even to that
sycophantic age.

[67] See Appendix VII.

[68] See Appendix VIII.

[69] My sketch of Dudley North is based on the _Life_ of him by
Roger North. It is amusing to find the biographer, who idealised
and idolised his brother, holding him up as a pattern of
truthfulness, probity, and honour, and at the same time relating
all the above facts, without the least suspicion of the impression
that some of them might convey to an unbiassed reader.



We must now return to Sir John Finch.

We left him in the middle of 1674 at Pera, and there we still
find him at the end of the year. In the interval the Grand Vizir,
after a successful summer’s campaign, had returned to Adrianople
and taken up his winter pastime--negotiations for peace. French
emissaries and Hungarian malcontents fostered these attempts with
all their might in the hope of turning the attention of the Turks
against their Austrian enemy. The Turks, Sir John understood,
were “heartily weary of this lean warr in so cold and beggarly
a country, having spent allready in it 13 Millions of Dollars,”
but as the Poles were in precisely the same mood, Ahmed Kuprili,
like a good diplomat, had no mind to come to terms in a hurry.
Hostilities, therefore, were to be continued, but in a languid
fashion, and to be pleasantly diversified with festivities. The
Sultan had decided to pass the next season in mirth and jollity,
celebrating the circumcision of his son and the marriage of his
daughter. Both these interesting domestic events had been in
contemplation since 1669--when the boy was about six and the girl
not more than one year old; but circumstances over which the
happy father had no control had caused their postponement. They
were at last to take place in the spring of 1675, “with all the
magnificence that at such a feast can be shown. The Records of the
Serraglio here being to this effect sent for to Adrianople, it
being 60 years since this publick festivall has bin celebrated.”
So Sir John reported, adding, “My Audience I have designd’ to be
at the same time that I may see the Grandeur of this Empire in all
its glory; I imagine that I shall see a Great Army, Great Quantity
of Excellent Horses; Most rich furniture and Livery’s as to Jewells
and all Pompe of Embroaderys.”[70]

It would have been better for Sir John, if he had hastened to a
Court whither business called him, and where he was expected,
instead of waiting for festivals to which he had not been invited.
But, at any rate, in the months that were yet to elapse before
he moved, he found at Constantinople plenty of scope for his
diplomatic skill.

First of all, it was in these months that the thread of Sir
John Finch’s career became intertwined with that of his French
colleague, the extravagant, eccentric, magnificent, and altogether
picturesque Marquis de Nointel, who aimed at notability and
achieved notoriety. He broke in upon Sir John’s life at this
moment like a flaming meteor, to illumine it or otherwise we need
not say: perhaps the story itself will show. The connection was
inevitable. By the Treaty signed at Dover in May 1670, Charles,
for a consideration which he hoped would enable him to settle
domestic affairs to his own liking, had bound himself, in foreign
affairs, to the chariot of Louis. Thanks to this covenant, the
secular antagonism between the Governments of England and France
had ceased, and together with it the friction between their
representatives at the Porte. This is not to say that English
diplomacy in Turkey had become entirely subservient to French
diplomacy. Sir John’s immediate predecessor Harvey, as is made
abundantly clear by his despatches, knew perfectly well where
to draw the line. During his last two years at Constantinople
(1671-1672) he had lived on the most intimate terms with Nointel.
Yet not only he never did anything calculated to prejudice the
interests of his country, but showed the greatest vigilance in
checking every encroachment on the part of his friend: watching his
attempts to obtain from the Porte privileges detrimental to English
commerce or prestige, preparing to counteract all such attempts, if
necessary, and reporting home the French Ambassador’s failures with
undisguised satisfaction.[71] In the queer business of diplomacy
co-operation on some points does not preclude opposition on others,
and the closest friendship can flourish beside the bitterest
enmity. It is perhaps the only field of human activity that
presents such a constant combination of incompatibles. It was part
of Sir John’s duty to continue this qualified cordiality.

Unfortunately, since his arrival, there had occurred some incidents
which, unless very tactfully handled, threatened to jeopardise the
success of his efforts.

Although the Courts of England and France were at this time allies,
the English and French nations in the Levant continued to be as,
without interruption, they had always been, jealous rivals in
trade and everything else; and the intercourse between them had
not been improved by the character of that alliance: the English
felt irritated at the humiliating position in which the policy
of Charles placed them, while the French felt proportionately
vain of the eminence they owed to the power of Louis. In these
circumstances every tiff was magnified into a tempest, as must be
the case whenever the point at issue, however trivial in itself,
can be brought into any relation with national pride. When men meet
each other in a spirit of discord, predisposed at every moment to
give or receive offence, how soon is difference converted into
hostility, hardened into hatred, exasperated into rage. What folly
and outrage may not be expected to ensue! These psychological
conditions rendered the incidents Sir John had to deal with
serious--even alarming.

The first had occurred at the very moment of his landing at
Smyrna. A number of French merchants had been sent by their
Consul to greet him and to grace his entry into the town. But the
cavalcade had scarcely moved when a lively dispute about precedence
broke out between the French and the English Factors, and the
former--hot-tempered and not overbred Marseillese for the most
part--in spite of Consul Rycaut’s endeavours to appease them, left
the procession, hurling at the English words unfit for polite ears.
After this scene Sir John during his sojourn at Smyrna received
from the French “Nation” none of those civilities to which the
representative of a Court in alliance with theirs was entitled, nor
any mark of respect from the French ships on his departure, though
all the other European vessels in the harbour hoisted their flags
and fired their guns in his honour. Sir John was sorely vexed:
he had intended his advent to be an occasion for strengthening
Anglo-French relations, and it had been the signal for fresh
animosities. Doubtless he would have offered an explanation to
the French Ambassador as soon as he reached Constantinople,
but that gentleman was at the time away on a tour through the
Levant--visiting the various centres of French enterprise,
commercial and religious, and spreading the fame of France over
the Orient. Thus the matter remained pending, and meanwhile to the
Smyrna incident had been added another at Aleppo.

On June 22nd, 1674, three Majorca corsairs--part of a squadron
of 20 that was infesting the Syrian coasts--entered the port of
Scanderoon, where an English man-of-war, the _Sweepstakes_, lay
refitting after a bad storm, and two French merchantmen ready
to sail for home. On the appearance of the corsairs the French
vessels besought the protection of the English warship, the
captain of which, though in a sad plight himself--his topmast was
down--promised to protect them, on condition they took no action
until they saw him begin. In accordance with this promise, when
the pirate flagship came within speaking distance, he hailed
her and warned her not to violate the peace. The pirate replied
in the affirmative, and then, passing under the stern of the
_Sweepstakes_, cast anchor between her and the French vessels.
The latter, panic-stricken, fired, whereupon the Majorcans made
short work of them. The French of Aleppo furiously denounced the
English commander to the Turkish authorities as an accomplice of
the pirates, and, when they had cooled a little, referred their
grievance to M. de Nointel, who just then was at Tripoli in Syria.
The English Consul of Aleppo stopped the mouth of the Turkish
governor with a bribe of 1500 dollars and wrote to the French
Ambassador the truth of the matter. But Nointel, unconvinced, sent
to Sir John the French version of the affair, accusing the English
commander of treachery and collusion, and asking that Finch should
give a proof of his friendship and at the same time furnish the
King of England with the means of restoring the honour of his flag
by procuring the punishment of one who, whether from interest or
from whatever other motive, had tarnished it in such a cowardly

This “imbroyl” had cost the English Factory no small trouble.
Nevertheless, when presently M. de Nointel came to Aleppo,
our factors went out in a body to meet him--a troop of young
cavaliers whose looks, mounts, and garments excited in the
French Ambassador’s entourage admiration and envy mingled with
astonishment. Why, these English traders were cadets of good
family--even “des fils de milords,” making their own fortunes in a
far-away land! But M. de Nointel spurned them, for they had come
without their Consul, and therefore their homage was not “dans les

Evidently the noble Marquis was, to use the slang of the times, “in
a Huff”; and it was in no amiable frame of mind that, on the 31st
of December, the very anniversary of Sir John’s arrival, he touched
at Smyrna on his return voyage.

Our Factory seized the opportunity to pay the French back in
kind: neglect for neglect, and slight for slight. Twenty-four
boats, carrying the French Consul and all his compatriots--also the
Consuls of Venice, Genoa, and Messina, each in a boat flying his
national colours--met the man-of-war that bore the noble Marquis
in the middle of the bay; but of the English Nation there was no
sign or ensign. Neither did the good ship _Hunter_ that chanced
to be in port hang out her “Ancient” or fire a gun as the French
Ambassador passed by. We simply did not know that “any such person
was come.” The French received exactly the treatment they had meted
out to us a year ago. “Onely our Consul did more like a Gentleman
then theirs.” That this snub might not seem strange to the noble
Marquis, Mr. Rycaut sent him a letter in beautiful French,
explaining at length the weighty reasons of national dignity
which compelled us to abstain from paying his Excellency the
homage, etc. M. de Nointel returned a verbal answer: he was sorry
for that misunderstanding, but he was none the less the courtly
Consul’s friend and servant. “Thus farr things seemd’ to looke like
reciprocations, and to be layd asleep.” But Eris--the dread goddess
of strife--slept not. She lay awake revolving in her heart how to
set the “Nations” by the ears. And behold: twenty-four hours after,
at break of day, discord broke forth afresh.

As dawn spread her saffron twilight over the Bay of Smyrna, two
French ships sailed in: they came from Marseilles, bringing, among
other things, many letters for the English Factory. The _Hunter_
did not salute them. And M. de Nointel retaliated by detaining the
English letters. Let it be said at once that this fresh neglect
had nothing of human design in it: it was a pure accident--solely
the work of the mischievous goddess aforesaid. The commander of
the _Hunter_, in Sir John’s own words, “having bin merry over
night, was not so early in the morning fitted either for ceremony
or buisenesse.” Mr. Rycaut, after reprimanding him very severely,
sent to the French Consul his excuses, protesting that what seemed
a deliberate affront was really done without order and was due
entirely to the fact that Captain Parker had passed the night
ashore--folk at all acquainted with the traditions of Smyrna did
not need to be told more. He begged that the letters might be
delivered. But our candid apology met with a worse response than
it deserved. The French Consul, in a mighty passion and with much
noise, cried out that his Ambassador was highly offended with Mr.
Rycaut, that he regarded both him and his Nation as enemies, and
that his Excellency was resolved not only to keep those letters,
but also to give orders at Marseilles to throw overboard all
English despatches that should be consigned to French vessels.

This was surely hitting below the belt: this was degrading a
stately duel to the level of a sordid business squabble. Not thus
did Mr. Rycaut understand the law of retaliation. He sent his
passionate colleague word that this was more than the English in
time of war did to their foes; but it mattered not: every day the
Smyrna factors expected English ships which would bring them copies
of their letters, and also many letters for the French, which he
would deliver, notwithstanding the detention of ours. But both
this and several subsequent applications remained fruitless: the
English mail was kept from the 2nd of January until the 8th of
February, to the great prejudice of the whole Levant Company and
to the scandalisation of all disinterested foreigners who, looking
upon letters as the life of trade, pronounced the interception of
them an act unfriendly and all the more unpardonable since the
Dutch, who were actually at war with France, had their mail duly
delivered to them. Meanwhile Mr. Rycaut makes another effort “to
moderate,” as he says, “the heat of contests, not knowing how
farre they may proceed nor in what point they may terminate.”
Two English ships, the _William and John_ and the _Bonaventure_,
as they came into port, saluted, by order of their Consul, the
French man-of-war; but they received no return of the compliment
by express order from the French Ambassador. So pass the days; and
one’s hopes of reconciliation are baulked; and Eris goes on adding
fuel to the flame....

The French then, as now, were governed by their hearts more than by
their heads. But, in the present instance, they were not prompted
wholly by wounded _amour propre_. Their vindictiveness had its
roots somewhat deeper. Just before M. de Nointel’s arrival at
Smyrna a French manufacturer of spurious dollars had been detected
by an interpreter of the English Embassy who had had a number of
such coins foisted upon him, and through Mr. Rycaut’s exertions
had been caught in the act and committed to the French Consul’s
prison, whence, however, he was soon after released. In the same
way, during the last year, two or three other French coiners had
been exposed and allowed to escape, the French authorities, in
order to save the face of their Nation, smothering the crime
and spiriting away the criminals. The English, however, whose
business suffered by the circulation of false money, considered
it a vital interest to bring the culprits to book, and Mr.
Rycaut, despite the rejection of his apologies, lodged a vigorous
protest with the French Ambassador against the release of that
offender. M. de Nointel, in a very short and very sharp reply,
characterised the Consul’s Memorial as “ripiena di falsità”--“full
of falsehood”--denouncing the English factors as abettors of the
forgeries, and declaring that he would demand from their Ambassador
reparation for the “calumny.” This scurrilous reply inflamed
the whole English colony. In a petition to Sir John Finch they
indignantly repudiated Nointel’s aspersion--“an accusation of
this nature, given under the handwriting of an Ambassador,” they
said, “carry’s force of beliefe and weight and authority in it
selfe”: what would the Levant Company think of them: what would
be the impression upon their principals, “and perhaps some of our
Relations at home?” Therefore, they concluded, “Wee most humbly
beseech Your Excellency to take this matter into your serious
consideration, that in some publick manner the ancient repute of
our Nation may be justify’d and maintaind’, and that this occasion
may be so improved by a strict examination of this affayr as may
wholely discover and disappoint the farther progress of false
coyners by the punishment of whom others taking example may be

Here was a pretty state of things for a diplomat anxious to
consolidate the Anglo-French alliance. But diplomacy is nothing if
not the application of intelligence and tact to the management of
international susceptibilities. Sir John could not believe that
M. de Nointel would push matters so far as to make accommodation
impossible. Their correspondence had hitherto been marked by
a friendliness which he hoped a personal interview would not
diminish. Certainly he intended to do all that in him lay to
preserve a good understanding with the impetuous Frenchman. At the
same time, he was not prepared to sacrifice one jot of his dignity.
“If He comes in Person to make me a Visit as Ambassadours of long
Residence, are obligd’ to them that come after them;” he wrote to
the Secretary of State, “Our Intercourse will not easily breake
off; But if by the returning newly from a long Journy, He hopes,
or designs, to evade that Act of respect due to my character; His
Majesty’s Honour will never permitt us to meet. But,” he added,
“the Prudence of His Excellency conversant with buisenesse; will I
presume never putt me upon that necessity.”

A few days afterwards M. de Nointel arrived at Constantinople,[75]
and immediately Sir John sent his Secretary to inform him of a
fact with which the Marquis was already perfectly well acquainted:
namely, that he had come here, whilst Nointel was touring, as
English Ambassador to the Porte, and to congratulate him on his
safe return to his accustomed residence: so there could be no doubt
which of the two was the new-comer and entitled to the first visit.
Very politely Nointel, within half-an-hour, sent _his_ Secretary
to tell Finch that it was that Secretary’s fault that he had been
forestalled, adding that he desired very close relations with him.
Finch thanked the Marquis, assuring him that, on his own part,
nothing would be wanting to promote such relations, “since that,
there passing between both the Kings our Masters a friendship of
most entire confidence, t’ would be scandalous in the face of the
world for their Ministers to admitt of a conversation that had
anything repugnant to intimacy.” Would the noble Marquis take the
hint? Desire for cordiality battled with sense of dignity in Sir
John’s bosom, filling it with tremulous speculation: “When He has
made me a visit, as according to His obligation He is bound, and
His Secretary tells me He designs; I shall then see upon what Basis
our conversation is like to be built. I have reason to believe,
if once wee meet, that all the past misunderstandings will be
rectifyd’ and redressd.” But would they meet? Would the noble
Marquis be reasonable enough to pay the first visit?

For about a fortnight this question racked the bosom of Sir
John. During that fortnight the Carnival ended and Lent began.
M. de Nointel, a good Catholic, sent to Sir John “for some white
Herrings.” Sir John gave his Excellency not only herrings, but “all
the sorts of our English salt fish” that were to be found among our
factors at Galata. Not to be outdone in generosity, his Excellency
“made a return of a Doz: bottles of Vin de St Laurens and a Barell
of Cyprus Birds”--a veritable Trojan of a Frenchman this: rare
wines and birds for white herrings. It augured well. Better still,
at the end of the fortnight M. de Nointel’s Chief Dragoman made
Sir John “a very large complement in his Name; and the Visit is
appointed at three of the clock this afternoon.”

Sir John, you see, and from this you may gauge his trepidation,
rushed to his escritoire and picked up his quill the moment the
Dragoman was gone: he could not wait until the visit was over to
let the Secretary of State know how it went off: he must needs
relieve his heart by pouring out what was in it: “When I receive
him, this being the first time wee have seen each other, I shall
give a fayr guesse how affayrs are like to proceed between us.” It
would all depend on the Marquis’s manners and pretensions: he would
have measure for measure: neither more nor less: “This, Sir, you
may be assurd’ of, I shall not part with the least puntiglio of the
King’s Honour, or the Publick Interest. And I am halfe perswaded
He will decline the trespassing against either, for I hear that He
is a Prudent, and Good Naturd’ Gentleman, but how he comes to be
misled by false informations I know not.”

The momentous interview took place on the 24th of February 1675.
It lasted three hours--three hours spent mostly “in Expostulations
upon the mutuall dissatisfactions receivd’ and given.” Item was set
against item, in the usual debit-and-credit style, so that it might
be ascertained on whose side lay the balance of offence. And now
it transpired that, after all their neglects at his entrance into
Smyrna, our factors had inflicted upon M. de Nointel an affront
of a peculiarly exasperating nature. It was this: one fine day,
as the noble Marquis was passing by the sea-shore, he espied on
a gallery that overlooked the sea three or four of those blades.
Did they salute him? Far from it: the moment they saw him, they
set their hats fast upon their heads, lest peradventure the wind
should blow them off and the accident be construed into a salute,
and then sat still with their arms “a kimbow.” Stifling his wrath,
the Marquis tried a ruse, by ordering those of his retinue who
followed close behind him to salute first, which was accordingly
done; but it worked nothing: the young Englishmen kept their
original posture, for all the world as if they were not aware of
his Excellency’s existence. What had Sir John to set against this
piece of cool effrontery? Sir John rose to the occasion: “As to
the unmannerly young men; I could not but confesse That it was
high rudenesse”; but when he was at Smyrna he passed, not once
but several times, under the French Consul’s gallery without his
taking any notice of him: “And this was done by a Magistrate in
goverment who should know and practise more Civility.” Having thus
beaten back the attack, Sir John proceeded to carry the war into
the enemy’s territory: “I told Him He must now Give me Leave to
Instance in Two things which I had reason to beleive He could not
Parallel.” The first was the detention of the English mail, the
second the aspersion on the English factors’ character. Nointel
answered the first by explaining that it was done upon the petition
of the French Captains whom the _Hunter_ had omitted to salute, but
it was only a temporary delay: the letters were delivered after
his departure. As to his accusation of our factors, he confessed
that he had been provoked to it by Mr. Rycaut’s assertion that the
French coiner had paid to one of Sir John’s interpreters “35 false
Dollars, which in Truth were but five.”

Enough has been said to show that in this combat of wits, which was
continued for three more hours on Sir John’s return visit three
days later, the French Marquis found more than his match in the
English Knight. On this, as on other occasions of the same kind,
Finch proved, to the satisfaction of any impartial critic, that he
had inherited a sufficient share of his family’s forensic talent.
It is pleasant to hear that the combat was conducted on both sides
“with patience, mutuall deference, and reciprocall respect.” It
ended as it ought. “I thought it most proper,” says Sir John, “that
they who had first divided us, should make the first step towards
the uniting us. And therefore I propounded that the French Consul
meeting our Consul at Smyrna in the usuall walke of the Cappuchin’s
Garden; Should Be the First to addresse Himselfe to our Consul
Telling Him That He had orders from His Ambassadour to endeavour
to begett a mutuall good understanding between themselves and the
reciprocall Nations; which passe being made, our Consul is to reply
That He has the same orders from me.” The proposal, after some
hesitation, was accepted, and the incident closed, to Sir John’s
no small content with himself and with his French colleague: “I
cannot but say That the character I formerly gave His Excellency is
fully made good by Him; of being a Gentleman of Great Prudence and

No sooner was this bone of contention “buryd” than another affair
rose on our Ambassador. The Barbary Corsairs--those redoubtable
sea-wolves who seemed to take a perverse pleasure in harassing
the friends of their suzerain--were once more at their old game.
For some time past English navigation in the Mediterranean had
enjoyed exceptional prosperity: all sorts of foreign merchants,
whose nations were at war, choosing to convey their goods under the
flag of the only country that was at peace with the whole world.
By these voyages between Spanish, Italian, and Turkish ports, our
countrymen not only reaped the benefit of the foreign freights,
but besides put out their money at “Cambio Marittimo”--that is, on
security of the merchandise they carried, at 20 and 25 per cent: an
immense gain. But lately the Tripolines disturbed this lucrative
traffic by seizing two of the vessels engaged in it. The English
Consul at Tripoli managed to free the ships, as well as the English
men and goods in them, but the property of foreigners, which
constituted the bulk of the cargoes, could not be rescued: even as
it was, the liberation of the ships and crews had raised a loud
outcry against the Dey, whose subjects were either pirates or such
as got their livelihood from them; and a revolt had barely been
averted. In the circumstances the Dey, even if he had the will,
lacked the power to restore the booty, claiming that by her Treaty
with England Tripoli had the right to search English ships and to
confiscate foreign goods.

These outrages had dealt a severe blow at the prestige of the
English flag, and it was feared that they might prove a cause of
greater damage still, if left unavenged: “unlesse His Majesty
is pleasd to resent this searching of His ships and taking out
Strangers Goods,” wrote Finch to the Secretary of State, “T’
will be impossible to keep long Argiers and Tunis from the same
Trade and liberty; and at last the Maltese and other Christian
Corsari will pretend to the same.” He went on to suggest that the
appearance of an English squadron in the Mediterranean would have
a salutary effect both as a corrective and as a preventive.[77] As
a fact, the English Government had anticipated the suggestion; and
presently the Ambassador received from Smyrna a letter enclosing
a communication from Sir John Narbrough to Mr. Consul Rycaut: the
Admiral, having been denied by the Dey satisfaction, had commenced
hostilities. This vigour, no doubt, redounded to the glory of
England; but at the same time it created a delicate situation for
her representative at the Porte.

The Barbary States still were, at least in name, parts of the
Ottoman Empire. When their enormities were brought to the notice
of the Porte by European ambassadors, the Grand Signor’s Ministers
professed themselves greatly shocked. But what would you? they
said. The Barbary people were rebels for whose sins the Grand
Signor could not be held responsible. When the ambassador requested
that, such being the case, the Grand Signor should not consider
himself aggrieved if his master should take his own vengeance and
right his own wrongs, the Ministers used to answer that it was only
just that malefactors should suffer and that those who inflicted
injuries on others should receive injuries themselves. But the
Grand Signor could not see with indifference his vassal States
attacked: the utmost he would permit was reprisals on pirate ships
afloat--an assault on the towns ashore would be regarded as an act
of hostility against himself. Hence, every time an English fleet
came forth to punish the African rogues, the English in Turkey
trembled lest it should do something that might draw the Sultan’s
wrath down upon them. Such was the situation created in 1661 by Sir
John Lawson’s, and in 1669-71 by Sir Thomas Allin’s and Sir Edward
Spragge’s expeditions against Algiers.[78] As Winchilsea and Harvey
on those occasions, so Finch now had to bestir himself to prevent
disagreeable developments. He began by transmitting the news of
the rupture with Tripoli to the Grand Vizir, “that it might not be
thought His Majesty Our Master had broken with those Vile People an
Agreement subscribd’ by both Monarchs, but according to the Tenour
of the Articles.”[79]

And that was not all: troubles seldom come single. The Pasha
of Tunis, it now appeared, was not satisfied with the 30,000
dollars the Ambassador had recovered for him. He affirmed that
this sum represented only a fraction of his loss, and claimed
60,000 dollars more. As to Sir John’s settlement with his Aga, the
Pasha had already shown what he thought of that transaction in an
unmistakable manner. The moment the Aga reached home he received,
in lieu of thanks, a merciless drubbing. When he could walk,
the wretched Procurator came to Finch, told him how he had been
treated, and left with him the written dismissal he had from his
master, saying that the Pasha was a bad man, and that document
might be of use to the Ambassador one day. Then he went away to
Trebizond, where he died. In the meantime the Pasha had obtained
a new post at the Porte, and now favoured Sir John with a list of
his alleged losses, sent through no less a person than the Grand
Vizir’s Kehayah or Steward. How much this unexpected missive
perturbed Sir John may be judged by his own expression: “The storm
which I had thought had bin blown over, as to the depredation of
the Pashah of Tunis, is turnd’ upon me more violent then ever.”[80]

He did not think it politic, however, to betray his agitation by
taking direct notice of the claim. But he immediately despatched
to Adrianople his second Dragoman, Signor Antonio Perone, under
pretence of finding lodgings for his Audience, with instructions
to own no other errand: only, after he had been there four or five
days to invent an excuse for waiting upon the Kehayah and, in case
that official made no mention of the matter, to say nothing about
it; but if he broached the question, the Dragoman was primed what
to answer. Should the Kehayah prove obstinate, the Dragoman was
to address himself, in the Ambassador’s name, to the Grand Vizir
and complain of the Tripoline outrages, thus meeting the Pasha’s
grievance with a counter-grievance. Even if the Grand Vizir did
not allude to the subject of his own accord, Signor Antonio had
orders, unless he found him out of humour, to open it himself
and predispose him in Sir John’s favour. It was not the weakness
of his case that troubled our Ambassador: he believed that in an
argument he could more than hold his own; what made him fear was
the fact that the Pasha had presented one half of his claim to the
Sultan, who just now wanted money badly to defray the cost of the
coming festivities: “in order to which extraordinary expense He has
imposd’ a great Taxe upon all those that have any charge under Him
throughout the Empire.”[81]

The inadvisability of further inaction thus borne in upon our
Ambassador from more quarters than one, he hurried on his
preparations for the trip to Adrianople.

It was “a grand equipment,” and the task of providing the
thousand and one things needed for it--tents, horses for saddle
and carriage, hired servants, and so forth--devolved on the
Levant Company’s Treasurer. The Ambassador was far too great a
man to concern himself about matters of this sort. He serenely
abandoned to Dudley North all the drudgery, and, with the drudgery,
all the amusement and emolument. North enjoyed both. The only
matters connected with the expedition that Sir John seems to
have considered worthy of his care were matters which gave rise
to points of honour--sundry acts of commission or omission, mere
pinholes, maybe, to the ordinary eye; significant enough to one
whose guiding maxim was, “Never to part with the least Puntiglio of
the King’s Honour.”

Signor Antonio at Adrianople demanded a Command for the Kaimakam
of Constantinople to supply the Ambassador with carts. The Command
was issued, but it was worded in a way which suggested that the
Porte had been annoyed by Sir John’s delay in presenting his
Credentials: the Kaimakam was ordered to _send_ the Ambassador to
Audience. Signor Antonio returned the document, saying that his
Excellency would never come on such terms: why should he be sent,
when he had offered to come? The phrasing was altered accordingly.
But when the Command reached Constantinople, Sir John found himself
obliged to fight for the King’s honour on another “puntiglio.”
The Kaimakam allotted him thirty carts, as he had done to his
predecessor (Harvey, it would seem from this as well as from other
instances, was not very sensitive on “puntiglios”--but then he had
not the advantage of an Italian education). On being informed that
the French Ambassador, when he went to Adrianople, had double that
number, Sir John declared that he “was an Ambassadour of no lesse
King, and had as good a Retinue,” consequently he required an equal
number of carts. The Kaimakam said it was true that Nointel had
been assigned sixty, but had been content with fifty. Very well,
was Sir John’s rejoinder, “I would have the same assignment to me
and I would be content with fifty-five.”[82]

These points carried, Sir John could proceed to his Audience with
an easy mind.


[70] Finch to Coventry, Jan. 11-21, 1674-75, _Coventry Papers_.

[71] Harvey to Arlington, July 1, 1672. Cp. Rycaut to the Same,
June 29, 1671, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[72] Nointel to Finch, A Tripoly le 12 Juillet 1674; Consul
Gamaliel Nightingale to the Same, Aleppo, July 10, 1674; Finch to
Arlington, July 27, S.N., 1674, _Coventry Papers_.

[73] A. Vandal, _Les Voyages du Marquis de Nointel_, p. 155.

[74] Rycaut to Nointel (in French), Smirne ce 31 Décembre 1674;
the Same to the Same (in Italian) 8, 4-14 Jennaro, 1674-75, with
Nointel’s reply (in Italian); the Same to Joseph Williamson, March
8, 1674-75, _S.P. Turkey_, 19. Finch to Coventry, Feb. 1-11, 4-14;
the Factory of Smyrna to Finch, Jan. 19, 1674-75, _Coventry Papers_.

[75] The exact date of his Excellency’s arrival can scarcely be a
matter of deep concern to any man now living; yet, as an example of
the discrepancies which beset the path of the historical student,
the following may be of some interest: “The French Amb.: the
Marquis de Nointell arrivd’ here the 13th at breake of day.” Finch
to Coventry, Feb. 5-15; “His Excellcy: arrivd’ here Saturday Febr.
the 15-25.” Same to Same, Feb. 24-March 6; “Le 20 février 1675,
Nointel rentrait à Constantinople,” Vandal, p. 175.

[76] Finch to Coventry, Feb. 5-15, Feb. 24/March 6, March 1-11,
1674-75, _Coventry Papers_.

[77] Finch to Coventry, Jan 11-21, 1674-75, enclosing letter from
Consul Nathaniel Bradley, dated Tripoli di Barbaria, Nov. 23, 1674,
_Coventry Papers_. Cp. Rycaut to Arlington, Smyrna, Nov. 21, 1674,
_S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[78] Winchilsea to Nicholas, March 4, 1660-61; Aug. 20, Oct.
19, Nov. 11-21, 1661; Jan. 13, 1661-62; May 24, 1662; Harvey to
Arlington, Aug. 18, 1669; Jan. 31, 1669-70; April 30, 1672, _S.P.
Turkey_, 17 and 19.

[79] Finch to Narbrough, May 24: S V. 1675, _Coventry Papers_.

[80] Finch to Coventry, Feb. 24/March 6, 1674-75, _Coventry Papers_.

[81] Finch to Coventry, Feb. 24/March 6, 1674-75, _Coventry Papers_.

[82] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675, _Coventry Papers_.



On Sunday, the 2nd of May 1675, after morning prayers and a sermon
by the Rev. John Covel, his Excellency set out from Pera with
a very great retinue. Besides the Embassy staff and servants,
there were all the English merchants of Constantinople and some
of Smyrna with their own servants--altogether one hundred and
twenty horsemen, fifty-five baggage-wagons, three led horses in
rich trappings, a gorgeous coach-and-six with postillions, a
coach-and-four for the Chief Dragoman, and a double litter canopied
with fine wrought cloth and carried by four mules harnessed
together two and two: in that litter, attended by four muleteers
and preceded by two link-bearers, Sir John Finch and Sir Thomas
Baines lay in state.

It must have been a comely sight to watch these English travellers
on that spring day, two hundred and fifty years ago, clatter over
the wooden bridges which spanned the streams at the head of the
Golden Horn, skirt the walls of Stambul, and enter upon the highway
to Adrianople. We will follow their slow progress along that dusty
road; for the details of their journey are all on record, and one
might do sillier things than that.

Four hours through clouds of dust brought our wayfarers, hot
and hungry, to their first _konak_ or stage: Kuchuk Chekmejé--a
township “about the bignesse of Newmarket,” half Turkish, half
Greek, near the Sea of Marmara. There they halted for the night.
His Excellency with his suite was lodged in a Moslem hostel--one
of those pious foundations which, by their statutes, were obliged
to afford travellers shelter and some food. As to bed, they had to
bring their own. The Ambassador and the Knight, after supping on
rice boiled with onions, fish, and bread, had their travelling beds
set up indoors and slept in stuffy state. The Chaplain and two or
three other humble mortals, as the night was very warm, slept on
carpets in the cloisters that ran round a fair-sized quadrangle
with a fountain murmuring in the middle--not unlike, thought the
Rev. John, a Cambridge College court. The Treasurer--there had been
little or no sleep for him that night; for here he was surprised
with a “jolly fever” (his own phrase), got by over-harassing
himself about the expedition. For this reason next morning, when
the journey was resumed, the coach-and-six fell to his share. The
Ambassador and the Knight continued their progress as before,
leaning back in their canopied litter, so that, though all the rest
might sweat and swear at the sun, the dust, and the flies, they
were cool and collected, free to doze or to survey the scenery at
their ease.

The country traversed was, to speak in the language of that time,
“perfect champion ground”--a lovely plain, here swelling to low
mastoid hills, there sinking into green valleys. But though the
land appeared naturally fertile, our wayfarers were struck by its
desolation. About the towns and villages they saw good husbandry;
but elsewhere they saw nothing to remind them of man and his works.
For many miles the Rev. John could discover neither cornfield nor
vineyard, neither flock of sheep nor herd of cattle: only a fair
wilderness--an ideal place for beasts to lie down in. It was easy
to understand the Imperial Hunter’s attachment to this plain.

On our pilgrims crept and on, at the rate of three miles an hour
and an average of six hours a day, every evening halting at some
township or village--Buyuk Chekmejé, Selivria, Chorlu, Karistran,
Lule-Burgas, Eski-Baba, Hafsa--and always sending ahead to each
stage a caterer with two chaoushes to procure them board and
lodging by force: “else the people would in most places not afford
us anything.” Small wonder. The Grand Signor’s subjects had long
since learned to shun travellers of quality as they shunned other
robbers. For such a traveller’s progress bore a strong resemblance
to a hostile invasion: his Janissaries raided the villages,
slaughtering all the sheep and fowls they could lay hands on, with
absolute impartiality and, of course, with absolute impunity. When
provincial governors travelled to or from their Pashaliks, it
was even worse. The Pasha drained the very vitals of the country
he passed through, sparing neither Turk, nor Christian, nor Jew;
and (in Turkey humour was seldom far from horror), after cramming
himself and his numerous retinue, he levied upon his hosts what
was called “teeth money” (_dishe parassi_)--a tax for the use of
his teeth, worn in the process of devouring their substance.[83]
The peasants had recourse to all sorts of prophylactics dictated
by the instinct of self-preservation. Among other things, they
made their doors just big enough for a man to creep in at, so that
distinguished travellers might, at least, not be able to use their
houses as stables.

So the English Ambassador journeyed on, extorting the necessary
provisions from the Greeks, for his myrmidons knew better than to
touch Turks on behalf of a Giaour. All this was in strict accord
with the custom of the country. And so was this: wherever his
Excellency took up his lodging, as soon as it began to grow dark
the link-bearers would come and plant their beacons before his door
and intone a sonorous prayer for the Grand Signor, the Ambassador
and all his company, naming every one: the Treasurer, Secretary,
Chaplain, Dragomans, and the rest, even as was done to the Grand
Vizir and all other grandees on their journeys.

For eight days the long train of horses and carriages and
baggage-wagons straggles across the Thracian plain in mediaeval
caravan style: of all styles of travel the most delightful as an
experience, the most refreshing as a memory.

At the last konak, Sir John sends for Signor Antonio Perone, to
make sure, before it is too late, that the arrangements for his
reception are correct; and “taking an account,” he finds, to
his immense satisfaction, that the Dragoman has not only kept
a vigilant eye on “the King’s Honour,” but has “exceeded any
example.” And so he moves forward, another day’s march, five
and a half hours, say seventeen miles, to the consummation of
his journey. He moves, rehearsing in his mind the ceremonial
theatricalities that lie ahead; and by and by, as a sort of
curtain-raiser, we have the first of them. When within six miles
of his destination, our Ambassador is met by a party of Frenchmen
and Dutchmen--residents of Pera who were then at Adrianople
sight-seeing; mere private, unofficial folk, yet well-meaning, and
they help to swell our train. We move on, and presently, in the
early afternoon, the sight we long for bursts into view: stately
cupolas, slim white minarets, brown tile-roofs amidst green
leaves--a dream of urban beauty completely realised.

About two miles from this magic city, at a spot where a fine
_kiosk_, or summer-house, stood beside a sparkling fountain, a
dozen grooms are waiting, with a dozen of the Grand Signor’s
horses--“all admirable good ones, and set out as rich as possible”:
bridles, saddles, stirrups, and buttock-cloths aglow with gold and
silver; the animal destined for the Ambassador himself glittering,
in addition, with precious stones and pearls “most gloriously.”
My Lord, quitting his litter, mounts this steed, the staff follow
suit, and the cavalcade moves on. They have not gone far before
they are met by a guard of honour of sixty chaoushes under the
command of the Chaoush-bashi, who acts as Master of the Ceremonies,
and the Capiji-bashi, or Marshal of the Court. The two parties
exchange the usual compliments, then the guard of honour faces
about, and the procession enters the city.

It was a triumphal entry, attended with an éclat that left
nothing to be desired. The chaoushes, in their tall white turbans
of ceremony, marched first, two abreast. After them rode the
Chaoush-bashi and Capiji-bashi in their gala uniforms: long
sleeveless cloaks of cloth of gold lined with rich furs. His
Excellency followed, with the French and Dutch holiday-makers
before him; then came the Englishmen, with their servants behind
them; then the link-bearers with Sir Thomas Baines; then the
coach-and-six; then the Chief Dragoman’s coach-and-four; the
baggage-wagons bringing up the rear. Janissaries flanked the narrow
streets through which the procession threaded its way. Everything
was marked by a splendour that did the Chaplain’s ritualistic
heart good, and wrung even from our cynical Treasurer a grudging
admission that the Merchants had full value for their money. As
to the Ambassador, no sordid thought of cost, we may be certain,
sullied his soul, as he rode in, high-headed, high-hearted, proud
of his trappings, horses, chaoushes, and what not, feeling that he
was received with all the honour and glory due to his character.
In this fashion our visitors reached the house allotted his
Excellency--and there, by one of those strokes of grim humour in
which (as has been said) the Turkish genius delighted, the whole
scene underwent a sudden transformation.

“The house,” says the Rev. John, astonished into a fit of most
unclerical eloquence, “was the damn’dest, confounded place that
ever mortall man was put into: it was a Jewes house, not half big
enough to hold half my Lord’s family--a mere nest of fleas and
cimici [bugs] and rats and mice, and stench, surrounded with whole
kennells of nasty, beastly Jewes.”[84]

In his wildest nightmares Sir John had never seen himself living
in a Ghetto. And this was no nightmare, but hard, solid, filthy
reality. A spasm of rage came over him--rage at everybody, but
more especially at Signor Antonio Perone who had had two months
in which to provide for his honourable accommodation. He swore
at the miserable Dragoman as perhaps no ambassador had ever sworn
before. “He vowed,” says our Treasurer, whose mischievous spirit
had been moved to impish glee, “he vowed with the most execrable
protestations never to be reconciled to him.” He ordered him off
to Constantinople in twenty-four hours, else he would have him
drubbed.[85] Apparently Sir John knew not that the magnificent
Marquis de Nointel had been treated to precisely the same fragrant
surprise;[86] or if he did, the knowledge carried no comfort.

Signor Antonio retired to his private lodging to wait for the
ambassadorial wrath to evaporate; and three days later, by the
mediation of Mr. Hyet, the oldest English merchant, he received
plenary absolution. Meanwhile, after an unforgettable night in
that salubrious abode, Sir John had sent his Chief Dragoman, the
venerable Signor Giorgio Draperys, to the Grand Vizir to beg for a
better residence. With gratifying celerity the Vizir turned a rich
Jew out of his home; and the Ambassador, accompanied by his staff
and the friend of his bosom, removed thither, still keeping the
other house for the servants. Mr. North turned Signor Antonio out
of his quarters and made himself comfortable therein. The others
shifted as best they could, until little by little every infidel
dog found his kennel.

Quickly as these transmigrations were effected, Sir John had had
time, in the midst of them, to save the King of England’s honour
from some fresh perils that menaced it. There were at Adrianople
several foreign diplomats: Count Kindsberg, the German Emperor’s
Resident; the Ambassador, as they called him, of the little
Republic of Ragusa; and M. de La Croix, second secretary to the
Ambassador of France. Contrary to Sir John’s expectations, none of
these, save the Ragusan, had sent out to meet him on his approach
to the city. So, the instant he set foot to earth, he “searchd’
into the Point Whether the Emperors Resident was wont to send to
meet the Ambassadour of France,” and heard that “for certain,
yes.” Immediately after, one of the Resident’s gentlemen came to
tell Sir John that the Caesarean Excellency desired to wait upon
him. Sir John answered that the house he was in “was so infamous”
that he could receive no one, but when in a convenient lodging he
would invite the Resident, “unlesse He, as I was informd’, had
sent to meet the French Ambassadour, which He had not done to me.”
Similar overtures from the French diplomat met with a similar
rebuff. Count Kindsberg hastened to explain that his Excellency
was terribly misinformed: “He never sent to meet the Ambassadour
of France in his life, but he had sent to meet me, had not the
Gran Signor at the same time sent for Him to Audience; which I
knew to be true, and amongst other Reasons this was one that he
would have sent out to meet me, because my Lord of Winchelsea
did so to Count Lesley”--Walter Leslie, the Scottish Ambassador
Extraordinary from the Emperor to Turkey, whose mission had
created a great sensation ten years before.[87] Mollified by these
explanations, Sir John intimated to the Resident that he “would
gladly receive His Favour in another House.” When he moved to that
new house, Count Kindsberg came; Sir John returned his call two
days after; and their intercourse acquired a distinct flavour of
familiarity thenceforward. The Resident turned out to be “a Civill
understanding Gentleman. He invites me to Dinner, and I Him, and
frequently comes to visitt me.”

Would that all “Publick Ministers” were equally reasonable! “But
Monsieur Le Croix (_sic_) Huffs and gives out that He could not
come to see me being once refusd.” He had reported this affront to
his master and was waiting for instructions. When these arrived,
however, La Croix called to apologise. He was, he said, “tender
of His Master’s Honour”--Nointel “had raisd’ Him from nothing,
and all he had was owing to Him.” The Frenchman’s words and his
tone appealed to Sir John’s magnanimity. With a gracious air and
a smiling look, he told the penitent that “He did ill to take
exceptions at that at which Ministers of farr greater figure took
none, and so Wee friendly parted.”[88]

It was well for Finch that he established good relations with these
gentlemen: their society would go a long way towards making his
sojourn in that environment bearable. The Greeks have a saying,
“Without fair as a doll, within foul as the plague.” To this
description Adrianople answered admirably. Despite its Seraglio,
its mosques, its baths and bazaars, it was, in our Chaplain’s
words, a “very mean and beastly” city, and just now it was crowded
to overflowing by all sorts and conditions of strangers drawn
to the spot by the lure of profit or pleasure, or by the Grand
Signor’s commands. And of all quarters of this dirty and congested
city the most dirty and congested was the Jewish quarter where our
pilgrims had their habitation: a slum that offended every sense
at every hour. At night rest was impossible: a multitude of pests
conspired to murder sleep: rats, mice, bugs and fleas indoors;
outside, carts rumbling over the rough cobbles, and legions of
pariah dogs brawling in the moonlight. During the day, as during
the night, “the stink of the Jewes did give us no small purgatory,”
wails the Rev. John. Even the sense of novelty could not atone for
the sense of discomfort and disgrace.

The only compensation for Sir John was the promptitude with which
the Grand Vizir granted him an audience, in little more than a week
after his arrival (May 19). This smoothed somewhat the Ambassador’s
ruffled feathers and, moreover, induced the consoling belief that
his purgatory would, at all events, not last long. Why should it,
anyhow? Lord Winchilsea had started for Adrianople on December 5th
(1661); by January 13th he had the Capitulations renewed with all
the additions obtainable; and by January 23rd he was back at Pera.

The audience, as all men conversant with such matters assured
Sir John, was “very courteous and very honorable”--even the most
captious eye could detect no “puntiglio” to cavil at.

Like all state apartments in Turkey, the room in which this
function took place had for its main feature a Soffah--part of
the floor raised a foot or so higher than the rest and furnished
with cushions and bolsters. When an ambassador was received with
great formality two chairs appeared on this dais: one for him and
the other for the Vizir; when the audience was less formal, the
Vizir sat cross-legged on his cushions in the corner, and the
ambassador had a stool set for him upon the dais--a point worth
remembering. It was upon such a stool that Sir John was now placed,
while his suite stood close behind him, on the common level of
the floor. Round about the room stood many chaoushes and other
attendants, motionless and mute. At the end of a quarter of an
hour, there was a loud “_Whish! whish!_”--to impose silence, rather
unnecessarily--and the Grand Vizir entered.

He was a man of about forty, of medium height and somewhat inclined
to corpulence. He had a small round face thinly fringed by a
short black beard, and a smooth erect forehead crowned, as far
as his turban permitted to see, by thick, close-cut hair. His
complexion was of a dark brown, and as his cheeks were deeply
pitted with small-pox the general impression was hardly one of
enchanting beauty.[89] Walking with a slight limp and a slight
stoop--though young in years, Ahmed Kuprili was already loaded with
infirmities--he dropped down upon the cushions and crossed his legs.

The Ambassador’s stool was moved nearer to the Vizir, and, once
seated again, his Excellency delivered the royal letter,[90] saying
that his Master commanded him to do so and withal to give him a
message by word of mouth: namely, to solicit for his Majesty’s
subjects trading in the Grand Signor’s territories protection in
the enjoyment of all their privileges and immunities, according
to the Capitulations, assuring him, on the other part, of his
Majesty’s desire, not only to confirm the good relations already
existing between the two Courts, but also to improve them. He
was told in reply that, as long as his Master observed the laws
of friendship with the Grand Signor, the Grand Signor would
reciprocate. These mutual civilities were exchanged through the
Dragoman of the Porte, Dr. Mavrocordato, who stood at the edge of
the Soffah, in stereotyped phrases which had suffered no variation
since the foundation of the Ottoman Empire.

At that point, the Ambassador and the Vizir were treated to
coffee, sherbet, and perfume; and then Sir John and his gentlemen
were clothed with _kaftans_, or robes of honour--loose garments,
shaped like night-gowns and bespangled with large yellow flowers,
half-moons, and other decorative devices. The material of which
they were made varied according to the rank of the recipient: cloth
of gold or silver, or silk with more or less of gold and silver
wrought in it. At most audiences such garments were given to the
visitors, in return for the many valuable cloaks of cloth, silk,
velvet, cloth of gold and silver, which the visitors had to give at
all audiences: as the English of the period proverbially said of
the Turk: “if he gives you an egg, he will expect at least a pullet
for it.”[91]

While refreshments and investments were proceeding, the Ambassador
and the Vizir continued their conversation. Sir John dwelt at
some length on the steadfast friendship the English nation had
shown towards Turkey for nearly a hundred years, laying stress
on the fact that during the protracted war for the conquest of
Candia, which the Vizir had brought to a happy conclusion, not one
Englishman had appeared amongst the numerous Christian volunteers
who had assisted the Venetians. Ahmed replied that it was true: he
himself was witness to it. Next Finch thanked him for so speedy an
audience. Ahmed said it was a time of mirth, great affairs were
laid aside for a while, so he had leisure. Finch expressed the
wish that it might always be a time of mirth with him, and went on
emitting many other compliments, to which he got the briefest of
answers--or no answer at all.

Ahmed Kuprili was no great dealer in words. Platitudes, especially
when the speaker repeated himself, as Sir John was prone to do,
wearied him. But he did not interrupt: he simply did not listen.
He sat in the corner of the Soffah, with his hands glued to his
knees, and his countenance fixed in a sort of stony composure:
hardly did a hair of his beard stir to show that he breathed. He
was somewhat short-sighted, which caused him to knit his brows and
peer very intently when a stranger entered his presence; but after
that one searching look his small eyes, having taken the visitor’s
measure, remained resolutely half-closed. Once, and only once, when
he said it was a time of mirth, his English guests fancied they saw
some shadow of a smile on his lips: so faint that it was hardly
perceptible. Thus he sat, dark, remote, silent, and inscrutable,
looking at the verbose Frank through half-closed, bored eyes. Such
calm, such silence, such hauteur, in any other man, would have been
exasperating. As practised by Ahmed Kuprili, they were simply
subduing. For even his quietude conveyed somehow a suggestion of
latent energy--of strength in reserve. On the present occasion,
however, we discern a little relaxation from this glacial grandeur.
“He look’t very pleasantly,” says the Rev. John, “and as we were
inform’d, with an unusuall sweetnesse; though, at best, I assure
you, I thought he had Majesty and State enough in his face all the
time.”[92] Sir John describes the Vizir as “in his discourse very
free and affable, oftentimes inclining his body towards me, which I
am told was not usuall.”[93]

These exceptional tokens of affability emboldened the Ambassador,
contrary to the rules and the plain hints given him that this was
no time for affairs, to broach the question of Tripoli. As we
know, he had already notified to the Vizir the rupture. “Here,”
he says, “I renewd’ my complaints desiring him over and above
that the Gran Signors owne hand being to that Treaty he would not
onely approve of the King my Master’s just vindicating the Right
of his Treaty by Arms, but also make his due resentment upon their
perfidiousness to his Imperiall Majesty. Answer was made me that he
would take nothing ill of the Kings part in that affayr, but that
he would seek to remedy what they had offended in, as to their owne
score.”[94] Whereupon Ahmed rose to his feet, and with a slight bow
to the Ambassador limped out of the room.

The visitors departed carrying away with them a mental picture of
an overpowering personality, and sixteen _kaftans_, which they
had the curious taste to appraise. The Ambassador’s was valued
at 25 or 30 dollars; those of the Treasurer, Secretary, and Chief
Dragoman at about 8 dollars apiece: the Chaplain sold his for 6½

All this was most interesting, but it was not business. The
interview was an empty formality. Nor could Finch hope for many
direct business dealings with the Vizir. It is true that Ahmed
Kuprili’s established monopoly of power saved an ambassador a
world of trouble. Often the Grand Vizirs were mere ciphers, and
the Palace usurped all the functions of the Porte. At such times
the Grand Signor’s minions counted for a good deal more than his
Ministers. The ambassador, therefore, was obliged to discover those
minions and the subterraneous channels which led to them, and,
while openly carrying on formal conversations with the Vizir, to
conduct real negotiations secretly with the Kislar Aga, or Chief of
the Black Eunuchs, and other magnates of the Harem. Again, common
Grand Vizirs, even when they had no rival in the Harem, had a
master at home. They were generally governed by some old friend, or
perhaps a favourite slave, through whose hands the great man’s most
momentous affairs passed, and who had such an ascendancy over his
mind that he could bring him to accept any proposals he liked. To
discover and propitiate this omnipotent adviser was no easy matter.
Ahmed had simplified a foreign envoy’s task in this respect also.
He never had any favourites, or if he had, he was never governed by

But still Turkey was Turkey. The Grand Vizir did not quite
correspond to a European Prime Minister. Sir John spoke with awe
of “this most great and most important charge; the like to which
no age at no time under any Christian prince could ever parallel,
either as to grandeur or authority.” In fact, Ahmed, though more
accessible than many of his predecessors and successors, being the
Grand Signor’s vicar, was only less unapproachable than his master.
The way to him lay through his Kehayah, or Steward, and his Rais
Effendi, or Chief Secretary. With these officers all preliminary
negotiations had to be conducted.

Sir John, already initiated in the rudiments of Turkish procedure,
shaped his course accordingly. In consultation with the leading
English merchants, he had the new Articles of the Capitulations
drawn up, translated into Turkish, and sent by his Dragomans to the
Kehayah that he might submit them to the Vizir, after first taking
the advice of the Rais Effendi, who had been gained in advance.
The Kehayah had received the document very favourably and promised
his assistance. That was done as soon as Finch had settled down at
Adrianople. Since then nothing more had been heard from the Porte.
The Ambassador thought the Pashas should not be allowed to go to
sleep. So he despatched his Dragomans, soliciting an answer from
those obliging functionaries, but he was put off with the reply
that he must wait till the festivities were over.[96]

Alas, poor Ambassador! What maladroit demon had inspired thee to
select for business a time of mirth?


[83] See Appendix IX.

[84] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 190.

[85] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 103.

[86] “Imaginez-vous la puanteur et la vilenie des Juifs causées
par la quantité de misérables familles qui logent ensemble, et
vous jugerez qu’on a besoin de bonnes cassolettes pour s’en
préserver.”--Nointel à Lyonne, in Vandal’s _Nointel_, p. 58.

[87] See Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 180-2, 188. Cp. _Present State_,
Epistle Dedicatory to Lord Arlington.

[88] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675, _Coventry Papers_.

[89] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 195; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 332. J. von
Hammer’s portrait of Ahmed Kuprili (_Histoire de l’Empire ottoman_,
vol. xi. p. 434) is singularly inaccurate.

[90] See Appendix II.

[91] Covel’s _Account of the Greek Church_, Pref. p. lv.

[92] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 195.

[93] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[94] _Ibid._

[95] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 196.

[96] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 104.



Recking nothing of State affairs, the Turks, from the highest to
the lowest, rejoice as they have not rejoiced for many a long
year. The scene is the plain outside the walls. There, in the
part farthest from the city, the Grand Signor, the Grand Vizir,
the Mufti, and all the great pashas have pitched their sumptuous
pavilions. Opposite, in the part towards the city, stand poles
and frames for the illuminations. The space between lies open
for the sports. Every day about noon there is an entertainment
of the craftsmen and tradesmen, not only of Adrianople but also
of Constantinople, all of whom have been invited for the sake
of the presents they have to make. Each guild comes out of the
city in procession, with some pageant representing its particular
occupation, and passes before the Sultan, who sits on a lofty
platform, upon a richly-wrought quilt, under an awning of cloth of
gold stretched between two tall elms.

At this time the Hunter is in his prime: a lean, long-visaged,
sparsely-bearded man of thirty-five, with a skin tanned to a
shiny brown, a “beetled” nose, and sparkling black eyes--not
disagreeable to look at, though generally accounted almost as
ugly as his son.[97] He sits with unsmiling gravity, and about
him stand eight or ten handsome youths continually fanning him
by turns. Day after day he takes up that position to receive the
offerings of his subjects--according to rigidly fixed scale:
from him who has much, much being expected; and woe betide him
whose performance disappoints expectation! Thus, the shoe-makers
present shoes adorned with precious stones; the bakers and
butchers velvet cushions and rich Persian stuffs; the jewellers
a garden with begemmed nightingales perched on silver trees; the
farriers horse-shoes of silver; and so on. As Mr. North gazes
upon this great idol of human worship, to which so much gold is
offered up every day, his mind whirls: “What a world of riches
must be gathered from such a vast concourse of people! I say no

The gifts delivered, all the givers retire to their appointed
places, where they are regaled liberally with mountains of boiled
rice and oceans of cold water.

After the meal, those who have children of a suitable age bring
them to the Grand Signor, and he bestows upon each some garments
and a pension of three _aspers_ (about 2d.) a day for life--quite
a competence for a Turkish artisan of the period. In addition,
there is no dearth of Christian converts to Islam appearing to be
circumcised with the others.


From an Engraving by F. H. van den Hove.

  _To face p. 106._]

To the solemnities of the day succeed, after about an hour’s
respite, the jollities of the night. They are ushered in by public
prayers held just as the dusk begins to overcast the plain. From
every minaret in the city and every pavilion in the encampment
outside, the muezzins lift their sonorous voices. For a few minutes
the message floats, with a strangely touching sweetness, through
the deepening twilight: a chorus of aerial criers calling upon each
other to worship the Creator of all things. Suddenly the chants die
away; and then the whole multitude from the Grand Signor to the
meanest of his slaves, wherever each happens to be, single or in
groups, begin their prostrations: kneeling, sitting back on their
heels, rising, bowing, kneeling again, and again, and again, in
perfect silence and with the regularity of a perfectly drilled army
on parade. Who, having once witnessed, can ever forget the sight,
so simple and so sublime?

Devotions ended, the music bands strike up: trumpets, hautboys,
great drums, little kettle-drums, brass platters. At the
signal, a broad glare is seen to appear from the Grand Signor’s
stables--a troop of link-men march forth, with lighted grates
in their hands: onward they come chanting; and soon the plain
is ablaze with myriads of lamps arranged in various patterns
in the frames prepared for the purpose. By their light the
sports go on: wrestling-matches, athletic feats, acrobatic
performances, conjuring tricks, puppet shows, dances of young men
disguised as women (like the ancient Romans, the Turks believed
that no man danced unless he was drunk or mad), and theatrical
exhibitions--farces amusing, obscene, or insipid, according to the
spectator’s point of view. These pastimes go on with all alacrity
till about midnight, and conclude with a display of fireworks,
which does credit to the ingenuity of the two renegades--a Venetian
and a Dutchman--responsible for them.

There are monstrous giants, many-headed and stuffed with rockets,
which burst out of their eyes, nostrils, and ears, fly writhing and
hissing up into the night air, leaving a trail of sparks in their
wake, and then break into a rain of stars. There are artificial
trees with all manner of explosive fruit fastened to their
boughs. There are fountains gushing forth jets of fire. There are
hobby-horses which, taking fire, run up and down and encounter one
another most bravely. There are hanging galleys most dexterously
contrived: each with a crew of two or three men who manage the guns
and fireworks on board, and pull the vessels backwards and forwards
to imitate sea-fights against Christian corsairs. There are huge
castles of pasteboard: one of them, the biggest of the lot,
representing the Castle of Candia. After an infinitude of rockets
discharged from its battlements, it catches fire at last and burns
in a most realistic manner, till the whole fabric collapses in one
vast heap of flames and smoke. Besides these and countless other
pyrotechnic devices, there is one that thrills the spectators with
more dread than delight: iron tubes, much like the chambers of
petards, but far larger and longer, fixed into the ground, which
vomit up a continuous stream of fire at least sixty feet high, with
a roar that makes the very earth tremble.

In this fashion the circumcision festival goes on from May 11th
till May 25th, with little variation, the same things being done
over and over again. It culminates in a stupendous cavalcade in
which all the grandees with their guards take part and of which
the young Prince himself, blazing with jewels, forms the central
figure: “an ugly, il-favour’d, and (I guesse) very ill-natured
chit” of about twelve, with a low forehead, a short flat nose
embellished by a little lump at the end, and ears the size of which
even his turban cannot hide.[99] He is mounted on a splendid horse,
smothered from head to tail under precious metals and stones, led
by two richly clad officers of the Janissaries, one on each side,
and fanned by two others with large fans of bustards’ feathers. The
press is immense: men and women of every degree throng the lanes
through which the procession passes; yet the order is perfect, and
the silence almost uncanny.

After an interval of two weeks begin the wedding celebrations
and continue from June 10th till June 25th: the same old sports,
the same old dances, the same old plays and pyrotechnic displays
over again; punctuated by similar processions to and from the
Seraglio, with drum-beating and pipe-blowing enough to sing in
one’s ears for a lifetime. First there is the procession of the
bridegroom’s presents to the bride--strings of mules loaded with
sweet-meats and sugar-works made up in all sorts of fantastic
shapes: elephants, camels, lions--so fashioned that there is no
breach of the commandment which forbids Moslems to counterfeit
the likeness of any living thing; then rows of men loaded with
vests of silk, cloth, velvet, and cloth of gold; then open baskets
exhibiting jewels worth half-a-million dollars. Next comes a
counter-procession of the bride’s dowry: including a dozen
coachfuls of female slaves and three dozen black eunuchs. Lastly,
the world beholds the carrying of the bride to the bridegroom’s
house. She is conveyed hidden in a closely-latticed, gold-plated
coach drawn by six plentifully plumed and bejewelled white horses,
and escorted by troops of black eunuchs, some of whom scatter
handfuls of aspers among the rabble. The pageant is headed by
hundreds of slaves carrying pyramidal candelabra as tall as the
masts of ships (_Naculs_)--perhaps emblems of phallic significance;
and it closes with scores of music-makers perched upon camels,
whose gruntings and gurglings contribute a vocal note to the
instrumental din.

Such, by all first-hand accounts, pruned and trimmed into
legibility, were these famous entertainments--a medley of grandeur
and grotesqueness which could hardly have been matched outside
Turkey. Sir John had postponed his journey in order to witness
this grandeur. But, having received no invitation (only envoys
from tributary States had that expensive honour) he felt compelled
by his dignity to hold aloof, and never saw anything. The other
Englishmen, however, were not so punctilious. They mixed with
the mob which, on foot or on horseback, filled the plain and was
kept in disorder by a body of policemen armed with oil-smeared
sheep-skins. Wherever they saw the crowd pressing most, they rushed
to disperse it by laying about them with their skins. To save their
holiday garments from greasy defilement, the crowd surged this way
and that, in terrible confusion, those on foot treading on each
other’s heels, those on horseback being flung by their stampeding
steeds one over another in a hundred different directions. “There
never was such a dance of brave horses seen as at that place,”
declares our Treasurer; adding, with an engaging candour, “to tell
you the truth, I had small joy in this diversion; and, however we
endeavoured all that was possible to procure horses that were
temperate, yet I could not help making one in the dance, and
that not without much hazard, which not a little retrench’d my
enjoyments, till I found out the way to leave my horse at a good
distance from me.”[100]

Our Chaplain had to pay much more dearly for his insatiable
curiosity: “My horse snorted and trembled, so I suspected no good,
yet I was resolved to stay and see all. Just as the fireworkes
began, he and many other horses by ran mad and rising up fell on
his hams, then, trembling, on his side; [he] fairly layd [me] along
[the ground] and ran away as if the Divel had drove him. I was
getting up, but seeing many, many mad Jades coming, I fell flat on
my face, and committed the event to God.” Thus the Rev. John lay
prostrate on the broad Thracian plain that dreadful night, while
crazy stallions with cocked ears and flying manes dashed about,
snorting, squealing, thundering this way and that. The reverend
gentleman listened to the drumming of their hoofs with a horror
which his dislike of death rendered agonising. His terror grew as
the sound of those irresponsible, irreverent hoofs drew nearer.
He heard the frantic animals as they went by, rocking, leaping,
plunging, slipping, recovering themselves within the ever-narrowing
circle of which he formed the unhappy centre. Their iron shoes
rang in his ears--an odious knell. He could do nothing but
crouch, stupefied, against the Thracian plain. He had just enough
initiative left to pray to God that He might save a future Master
of Christ’s College, Cambridge, from a premature demolition under
infidel hoofs. Never before, and never after, did the Rev. John
Covel feel so paralysed or so pious. But God did not forsake him:
“His name be ever praised! for though I dare sware at least 100
horse and people came over me, I got not the least harm imaginable
in the world.”[101]

After this miraculous escape, our Chaplain hastened to attach
himself to the Ambassador of Ragusa, “a lusty, gallant fellow,”
who, as the representative of a tributary State, had the privilege
of participating in the celebrations and making presents. Under
this minor Excellency’s wing, he was able to go everywhere, to
stare at everybody, to pry into everything, to glut himself on
pomp, without the least danger. They had always a Janissary or two
who looked after them and treated them to sherbet. Thus attended,
they strutted about as they liked, sat on quilts, and lolled on
cushions near the Grand Vizir’s own tent--nay, several times the
Rev. John found himself near to the Grand Signor himself: once
he actually stood within five yards of his Majesty, all the time
his Majesty prayed! How eagerly he noted everything, how glibly
he gossiped afterwards to his companions, how keenly he enjoyed
their envy! And the friends at home--those poor untravelled Fellows
in Cambridge: think of their wonder and awe as they perused his
immense, discursive epistles from Adrianople--messages from
fairyland, sent to reveal to them the existence of a strange,
wondrous world, beyond the humdrum of their drab academic routine.
The Rev. John could hear himself quoted in every Combination Room
as one versed in all the secrets of the mysterious East. Verily our
Chaplain had much to praise God for.

How did the Turks view the intrusion of these unbidden and
inquisitive unbelievers? Covel speaks with rapture of the
“strange prodigious civility all Franks found everywhere at these
festivals.” The Turks, he says, “took the greatest pride that we
should see and (at least seem to) admire everything.” He gives
examples from his own experience. He had been taken twenty times
to see the sights, while the Turks themselves were being “huncht
away.” He had been many times “very, very near the G. Signor
himself (sometimes ½ an hour together, as long as I pleased),
with my hat and in my hair, both which they hate as the Divel.”
He had walked right through the city, once or twice, “al alone,”
in the midst of great Moslem multitudes, and “never met the least
affront in the world, but rather extraordinary kindnesse.”[102]
No one who knows Covel’s writings can doubt that he believed what
he said. Only he failed to make allowance for the privileged
position he occupied in Turkish eyes, first, as the guest of their
Ragusan guest, and, secondly, as a priest; the Turks had unbounded
respect for all religious ministers quite irrespective of their
creed. North’s evidence, as always, is less uncritical. The Turks,
he tells us, incurious themselves, did not suffer curiosity in
others gladly, and were “apt to beat a man that pretends to it.
They look upon those idlenesses and impertinences (as at best they
account them) with a sinister eye; and always suspect mischief at
the bottom, though they do not discern it.”[103] In other words,
strangers were tolerated as long as they did not make themselves
conspicuous. Once our Treasurer had the misfortune to draw
attention to himself; and never forgot the result.

The occasion was an acrobatic performance of extraordinary
interest: a rope-dancer sliding down from a lofty tower. North,
for whom feats of skill possessed a peculiar fascination, thought
to time him by his watch. As he stood counting the seconds, the
rope broke, and down came the dancer. He heard the Turks around
him asking one another how the accident had happened; then he
heard some one say that he believed “that fellow,” pointing to our
Treasurer, was the cause of it: he had seen him hold something
in his hand and mutter over it. North, well acquainted with the
Turkish fear of witchcraft, and also with the summary methods of
Turkish mobs, did not wait to hear more, but slank away as fast
as he could. That was the only way: the Frank who did not like
being beaten should slink away from an excited Turkish crowd. With
many of our merchants this habit of slinking endured after their
return home: the sight of a mere church beadle made them think of
a Turkish chaoush.[104] Modern tourists who fill their books with
scornful comments on the servile attitude of Greeks and Armenians
towards the Turk would do well to remember their own ancestors.

While all this went on, what was Sir John doing?

It would argue a profound misconception of Sir John’s character
to suppose that, because he had been told that no business could
be transacted until the feasts were over, he kept quiet. Much
otherwise was the fact. His Dragomans, at his behest, seized every
opportunity to come to speech with either the Kehayah or the Rais
Effendi and to worry these worthies away from thoughts of mirth and
sprightliness. The Ambassador himself paid several visits to the
Kehayah in person. To quote his own words: “I attempt all wayes I
can thinke of, that since I could not have Audience till the Feasts
were done, in the mean time my Capitulations may goe forward.”[105]

We will look into these activities and try to set them forth as
briefly as we can.


[97] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 206; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 317. Cp.
George Etherege to Joseph Williamson, “R. 8 May. 1670,” _S.P.
Turkey_, 19.

[98] Letter from Adrianople, in _Life of Dudley North_, p. 213.

[99] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 203.

[100] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 217.

[101] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 226.

[102] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 205.

[103] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 116.

[104] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 124, 197.

[105] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675, _Coventry Papers_.



Our Ambassador’s first interview with the Kehayah had for its
primary object a demand of the greatest delicacy, though no
way connected with English interests in the Levant: a sort of
“side-show” springing out of Charles II.’s secret diplomacy and
directed from the inmost recesses of the Cabal. Whether Finch knew
the dark inwardness of the policy he served can only be matter of
conjecture: his despatches are too guarded.[106] But certain it is
that he threw himself unflinchingly into measures which he knew to
be agreeable to his master and his patron, Lord Arlington.

The custody of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem had for ages
supplied an apple of discord between Greek and Latin monks, who
fought for the tomb of the Prince of Peace with more rancour than
monarchs ever displayed in their struggles for temporal gains. It
was not the ownership of the holy places, which belonged to the
Grand Signor; it was not even the exclusive occupation of them that
the unholy contest raged about. The whole feud was for certain
honorific privileges or tokens of pre-eminence, such as the right
to decorate a shrine, to light the lamps, or to keep the keys of
a church. For these trifles both sects were prepared to spend
thousands in corrupting the pashas of the Divan with whom the
decision lay, and, besides, the Latin friars in Palestine, though
being Spaniards, they had no ambassador of their own to assist
them, enjoyed the diplomatic support of France, of Germany, of
Venice, and of Poland. The Greeks would fain rely on their wits
and their dollars. So equipped, each sect had alternately turned
the other out. When M. de Nointel came to Turkey in 1670, he found
the dispute in progress: it was one of the aims of his mission to
have it settled in favour of the Latins, and on renewing the French
Capitulations, in the summer of 1673, he had, as he imagined,
carried his point.

The Greeks, however, had at that time a powerful champion in the
First Dragoman of the Porte, Panayoti Nicusi, commonly called by
the diminutive Panayotaki--an exceedingly clever and accomplished
Greek, who easily persuaded the Vizir of the impolicy of taking the
custody of the Holy Sepulchre from subjects of the Grand Signor
and giving it to the protégés of foreign Powers--Powers which
once owned the Holy Land and hoped to own it again: religious
penetration being but the first step to ultimate conquest. A
Hattisherif was, accordingly, handed to Panayoti, confirming the
Greek claim. But, as Germany and the other European Powers whom
Panayoti, before entering the service of the Porte, had served
in the capacity of interpreter, were patrons of the Latins, and
Panayoti did not wish to appear as his former employers’ opponent,
the grant remained dormant until after his death, which took
place in October 1673. Once the Dragoman safe in his grave, his
countrymen produced the document and asserted their rights. The
feud had reached its climax at Easter 1674, when M. de Nointel was
on the spot.

Greek and Latin friars were preparing to adorn their respective
portions of the marble shrine that covered the Tomb, when,
stimulated by the presence of the French Ambassador, they fell
out about the use of a ladder. The quarrel soon grew into a free
fight which ended in the murder of one or two--some said two or
three--Greek Caloyers. Result, in the French Ambassador’s own
words, “un enfer déchaîné”--hell let loose. The whole of the Greek
community, clergy and laity, men, women, and children, rushed to
the Cadi clamouring for help against the Latin assassins; the
Latins stoutly denied the deed, affirming that the Caloyer or
Caloyers had died of old age. M. de Nointel, in a paroxysm of
diplomatico-religious frenzy, wrote to his King, to the Pope, to
the Queen of Spain, to all the Catholic princes and potentates in
Europe, denouncing the Greeks as usurpers, calling for vengeance,
begging for money--much money wherewith to purchase the favour of
the pashas and foil the intrigues of the schismatics.

All this, however, had failed to undo the dead Panayoti’s work.
Ahmed Kuprili never was the man to be moved by any one, least of
all by the representative of a nation which, while calling itself
the ally of Turkey, openly aided Turkey’s enemies: the Vizir had
met thousands of Frenchmen fighting against him both in Hungary
and in Crete. Moreover, as Sir John remarks, the murder of the
Greek or Greeks had “highly displeasd’ the Gran Visir.” The Spanish
Cordeliers of Jerusalem, reduced to their own devices, sent to
Adrianople Padre Canizares, their Commissary at Constantinople,
armed with letters from the Bailo of Venice and good store of gold
of his own, to see what they could do at the Porte. The Greeks,
on their part, sent to Adrianople the Patriarch of Jerusalem,
Dositheos, armed with the Sultan’s Hattisherif and good store of
gold of his own, to see that the Spaniards did nothing at the
Porte. Thus things stood on the eve of Sir John Finch’s appearance
on the scene: Greek and Latin Christians wrangling for the
possession of Christ’s grave before a Moslem tribunal.[107]

Our Ambassador had followed the feud from Pera with profound
attention. England, looking upon the Greeks as natural allies
against the common enemy--Popery--had, since the time of Elizabeth,
consistently supported them in all their quarrels with the Latins.
That Queen’s representative, Edward Barton, lived on terms of
affectionate intimacy with the Patriarch Meletios. His successors,
Henry Lello and Sir Thomas Glover, likewise maintained the closest
friendship with the successors of Meletios. After enduring unabated
throughout the reign of James I., this Anglo-Greek alliance
had attained its height in the time of Charles I., during the
Patriarchate of the renowned and unfortunate Cyril Lucaris, when
the Catholic intrigues against the Greek Church reached their
depth. Sir Thomas Roe and Sir Peter Wych, all the years they were
at Constantinople, strove to save that prelate from the infamous
plots of the Jesuits and their patron the French Ambassador, who,
however, succeeded at length in compassing his strangulation
at the hands of the Turks.[108] The first departure from this
policy appears, strangely enough, to have occurred during the
Commonwealth. When Lord Winchilsea arrived at Constantinople, in
1661, the Latin President of the Holy Sepulchre appealed to him for
his favour on the ground that his antecessor, Sir Thomas Bendyshe,
was a great defender of the Catholics in Turkey against the
Greeks[109]--at a time when the Catholics in England were treated
as almost outside the Christian pale and all heretics scattered
over the Catholic world regarded Cromwell as their protector! Such
a paradox might give food for interesting speculation indeed.[110]
What concerns us here is Winchilsea’s response to the appeal: it
forms a tolerably good example of the edifying ways of diplomacy.

Among the King’s Instructions to Winchilsea there is a clause
bidding him “show all kindness and humanity to those of the Greek
Church,” and counteract, by all the means in his power, the
machinations of her antagonists, “especially such Jesuits and
Friars as under religious pretences compass other ends.”[111] This
looks as if at the beginning of his reign Charles II. meant to
revert to the ancient tradition. Very soon, however, his attitude
changed. As everybody now knows, though at the time the thing was
a secret known to very few, Charles, already a crypto-Catholic,
promised himself to establish papacy in England--to re-unite his
kingdom to the Church of Rome. After the displacement of Secretary
Nicholas (who, like Clarendon, always opposed the King’s favour for
the Catholics) by Arlington, in 1662, the Romanist tendencies of
the English Court became more pronounced, culminating in the Treaty
of Dover which, among other things, stipulated the subversion of
Protestantism in England. It was natural, therefore, for a king who
entertained such projects at home to foment similar designs abroad;
that his representatives at Constantinople should promote in the
East the cause which their master promoted in the West.

What verbal orders Winchilsea may have had it is impossible to
say; but it can be shown that, even while pretending to exert
himself on behalf of the Greek Patriarchs of Constantinople and
Jerusalem, he earned the gratitude of their Latin rivals. After
the supersession of Nicholas, he dropped all pretence, obtained
His Majesty’s authority to disregard the pro-Greek clause, and
thenceforward made the protection of the Roman Catholics an
integral part of his programme.[112] His successor, Harvey, went
out to Turkey with Instructions from which the awkward clause
was significantly omitted,[113] and this negative evidence is
supplemented by that Ambassador’s confidential relations with the
Marquis de Nointel who had on his eager mind the “re-union” of the
Greek and Roman Churches under the aegis of Louis. The Rev. John
Covel, who assisted at many after-dinner discussions between the
two diplomats about the doctrine of Transubstantiation and kindred
topics, makes it quite clear that in Harvey the Catholic cause had
found, at least, a benevolent neutral.[114] In the more zealous and
less discreet Finch it was to find an active ally.

From his arrival in Turkey Sir John had shown his bias. The Greek
Patriarch of Constantinople who had been deposed in 1674 would, in
pursuance of the old tradition, have fled to the English Embassy.
But Sir John refused him asylum.[115] In the quarrel over the Holy
Sepulchre, without hesitation or examination, he adopted the Latin
view and offered Padre Canizares his assistance--an offer which the
monk declined, to the Ambassador’s intense annoyance: “He thankes
me, but desird’ not so much as a letter from me. I keep this in
Petto.” It was not long before the Providence that watches over
aggrieved diplomats supplied Finch with a chance of unburdening
his “petto.” The Commissary of the Cordeliers, by means either of
the Bailo’s letter or of his own gold, had contrived to obtain
from the Porte a suspension of the sentence which assigned the
custody of the Holy Sepulchre to the Greeks, and a revision of the
case; but in this new hearing the Vizir upheld the Greek side,
acting, as the Latin Fathers said, rather the part of an advocate
for the Greeks than of a judge. The upshot was that the former
sentence was confirmed; and, though no order for its execution had
yet been issued, the Cordeliers were in such a fright that Padre
Canizares sent an express to Jerusalem requiring them to remove out
of the holy places all the costly plate which had been presented
by several Christian princes, so that, if the worst came to the
worst, their rivals might find the prize denuded. At the same time,
two of them came to Finch with an account of their parlous state.
This was Sir John’s opportunity: “I told them that I was sorry as
a Christian, that they had lost their just Possessions, But as a
Publick Minister I was not the least concernd’ in it. P. Canizares
having, though I offerd’ him my Assistance at a time when He found
himselfe in so great danger, wholely declind’ all application to
me, as if the King of Englands Ambassadour weighd’ nothing at this
Court: and thus much occasionally I causd’ to be signifyd’ to the
Bailo of Venice; and upon occasion shall doe the like to the French

The French Ambassador had already written to Finch from Rama[117]
on behalf of the Jerusalem Friars, and on his return to
Constantinople in February 1675, after adjusting his differences
with Sir John, he renewed his efforts to engage the Englishman’s
co-operation. With this object in view he paid Finch a visit a
little before the latter set out for Adrianople, and urged him
to befriend the Latin Fathers near the Grand Vizir and Grand
Signor, vehemently complaining of the Greeks, whom he described
as “a company of Traditori, treacherous false wretches.”[118] The
Venetian Bailo also approached our Ambassador on the same subject,
and our Ambassador was not a little flattered to find himself, all
of a sudden, the arbiter of Christendom.

It was, then, as a champion of Papacy that Sir John came to
Adrianople: an odd rôle for one who had taken such pains to
introduce himself to the Turks as the envoy from a “Defender of
the Christian Faith against all those that worship Idolls and
Images.” Whether the incongruity struck the Turks, we do not
know. It certainly did not strike Sir John. The Jerusalem Fathers
hastened to wait upon him, and “having excusd’ themselves and
askd’ Pardon,” they “beseechd’ the King of Englands Protection,”
declaring that they were prepared to spend for the purpose a sum
of 15,000 dollars. Sir John willingly acceded to their request and
promised to set about it straightway. What form was the protection
to take? Sir John tells us that the money placed at his disposal
was to be used “for the obtaining a Hattesheriffe for the clear
possession of the Rights that were in dispute.” Dudley North
asserts that the Fathers proposed and the Ambassador agreed to get
an Article in their favour inserted into our Capitulations, adding
that they showed Sir John the Article they desired ready-made both
in Italian and in Turkish; and North’s assertion is inherently
very probable. Lord Winchilsea in a letter to the Latin Procurator
of the Holy Land had long ago stated that he found himself much
hindered in his efforts to act as a patron of the Jerusalem Fathers
by the fact that their protection was not mentioned in the English
Capitulations.[119] However that may be, Sir John immediately
procured a private interview with the Kehayah, and asked him
“whether there was any hopes left for the Latin Fathers.” He was
told that the Grand Vizir had sent to Jerusalem to inquire into
the case, and “upon the sentence that was given no execution would
be issued forth till the messenger was returnd’.” Thereupon the
Ambassador prayed “that the execution might not be given out,
untill I was heard what I had to say,”--intimating that he was able
to bring forward 15,000 arguments. The Kehayah, in the kindest
possible manner, agreed that a case so well supported was entitled
to respectful consideration; and the Ambassador went away persuaded
that the difficulties of the question had been greatly exaggerated:
his only fear was lest some other diplomat should steal a march
upon him.[120]

Thus blithely did Sir John thrust his hand into that hornets’ nest.

As was to be expected, the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem very soon
got wind of this step. He had already made the English Ambassador’s
acquaintance at Constantinople through the Rev. John, who, being
intimate with both sides, knew of the Latin design to turn the
Greeks out of the holy places even before Sir John Finch’s arrival
in Turkey, and thought it in his heart an unjust design: they
should be kept in, for they were natives and in possession. To the
sympathetic Chaplain, therefore, Dositheos now had recourse and
through him obtained an audience of our Ambassador.[121]

Simmering with excitement, his Holiness reminded his Excellency of
the protection the Greeks had always had from the English nation,
and desired that his Excellency should continue it. Finch replied
in most courteous terms that his wish was to adjust the controversy
between them and the Latins: they should abide by what was right
and reasonable; and he argued at great length in favour of the
Latins. The Patriarch went away highly dissatisfied.

A few days later, he wrote that he was not well enough to wait on
his Excellency in person again, but asked that Mr. Covel might be
sent to him, as he had to say some things which could not be said
in a letter. When Covel went, Dositheos told him plainly that he
knew well the Ambassador had taken up the Latins’ part for a sum of
money, and that he meant to write to the King of England and to the
Archbishop of Canterbury about it.

Whether these threats would have had any effect upon Finch may
be doubted. But, as luck would have it, at this juncture letters
reached him from home, relating that the Catholic cause was in a
bad way. The Parliament which met on April 13th, 1675, had drawn
up a new Bill against Popery. In the circumstances, his Excellency
thought it expedient to modify his enthusiasm for the Cordeliers,
and began to declare that he would not put their Article into the
Capitulations, but would endeavour to procure a Hattisherif on
their behalf. At this change of tone the Friars were much troubled,
and pressed him to fulfil his original promise, offering more
money; but they had to be content with what Sir John now promised
them.[122] And even for that they would have to wait.

Sir John was meditating another descent upon the Kehayah, when the
latter sent for his Dragomans and told them that the Grand Signor
desired an English ship to convey to Tunis an Aga on important
business: the old story of requisitioning over again!

The situation was one of those that Sir John loved to deal with
and to describe in detail: they called for precisely the sort of
qualities he possessed: he felt that in such a situation he looked
at his best. Do not let us, then, withhold from him the pleasure of
telling how he acquitted himself:

“I make my Druggermen return with this answer, That there could not
be a thing more grievous to the King my Masters subjects then to
have their ships employd’ in this manner, for our ships were not
like the French ships and other Nations, but ships that carry’d
great wealth, besides that the Captains were bound by Charter Party
not to goe out of their way upon forfeiture of their estates, if
not their lives; That if I being at the Court could not be heard as
to the defence of this Right, what could I doe when I was absent
from the Court?”

The Kehayah replied that there were no ships in the port of Smyrna
ready to sail but the English, and the Grand Signor’s need was
urgent: he looked upon Finch as the greatest friend to the Empire
amongst all Ambassadors, so that a denial would be taken very
unkindly, especially when he came to the Court to ask favours and
would grant none. Sir John realised that it would never do to
disoblige the Turks at a moment when he needed their goodwill, by
refusing what they considered a very small thing--a thing to which
they had been used, and, for the rest, a thing which they could
take by force. But he thought to try a personal appeal first, “and
then, if I must, to doe it in as obliging a manner as I could.” So
he sent his Dragomans back to tell the Kehayah that he would wait
upon him and bring his own answer.

“When I came to him I gave him leave to use all his Arguments and
all his pressures, which he did with great earnestnesse, before I
spake one word; but thereby having a sense within my selfe that it
could not be avoided, before I answerd’ him one word, I plucked out
the letter of Command, which I had in my pockett, prepared in case
I found things irremediable, which I wrote to the Consul of Smyrna
for to land the Aga at Tunis, which I deliverd’ him, and told him,
Sir, There is the Command, of which you now being in possession you
may well give me leave to speak all the Arguments of prejudice that
wee lye under by this action, the end of which onely is to make you
sensible that you ought not to presse me in this point at any other
time. So I made him very apprehensive of the inconveniences he
brought us to, and he promisd’ me to be very tender allway’s in it,
and this way of treating with him seemd’ to please him very much.”

Did diplomat ever yield to pressure with a better grace? And what
shall we say of that dramatic plucking out of the letter from his
pocket: just when the Kehayah least expected such a thing? It was
a great gesture. Then, again, think of the originality of yielding
first and arguing afterwards! No wonder the Kehayah was delighted
at “this way of treating with him.”

But Sir John had not yet exhausted the possibilities of the
situation: “Being thus reducd’ to order a ship to land him at
Tunis, I bethought my selfe how to make use of a bad markett, and
so made it my request to him that, finding in my last Audience with
the Gran Vizir that he did utterly disapprove the actions of the
Tripolines, promised me to endeavour to remedy them, I offerd’ him
amongst other expedients this for one that the Gran Vizir would be
pleasd’ to write a letter of resentment to them at Tripoli, and
command them to make restitution of what depredations were made
upon His Majesty’s subjects ships, which if they gave obedience
to, I would write to His Majesty’s V: Admirall Sir John Narbrough,
to prepare him for it, and that if the Commission He had from His
Majesty would permitt Him to accept of it (which I had reason to
beleive) Peace would follow.”[123]

A promise was given that the Vizir would write in that sense.
Whether he did or not (nobody ever saw the letter),[124] Sir John,
taking much for granted, wrote on his own account to Narbrough, how
in consequence of his representations “the Gran Signor was this day
pleasd’ to give by the Visir Azem His severe Commands to the Dei of
Tripoli and that Goverment, to make you Restitution of whatsoever
was by the men of warr of that place taken out of the ships of His
Majesty’s subjects.” He added: “the Gran Visir desird’ me to write
to you,” (a bit of diplomatic licence--nothing to speak of!) “that
having Restitution made you, the warr might cease.” For such a
consummation Sir John devoutly prayed, not without good reason;
but, of course, he did not presume to dictate to the Admiral.

“Sir,” he goes on, “Persons in your command are under Instructions
from which you cannot deviate: I can onely tell you, that His
Majesty having Restitution, has a dore opend’ with Honour to goe
out of a warr that will be of a certain expense but of an uncertain
issue, for I am not so great a stranger to your worth, but that
I know t’ will be harder for you to find the Enemy then to beat
Him: In the Interim when Restitution is offerd, the Agreement
between the Crowns seems to enjoyn a Peace. If so, your Prudence
knows how to serve yourselfe of this advice, and to endear the
manner of doeing what His Majesty’s Interest requires to be done
howsoever. But if you have orders of a different nature, and of
later injunction, then I know of, I cannot who owe entire obedience
to the King our Masters Commands to the utmost Puntiglio, speake
any thing: Onely if your orders allow you to conclude Peace upon
Restitution, I think you will doe His Majesty’s Honour right, and
your owne Reputation no wrong to renew the Peace; which if you doe,
I pray send me early notice of; and if you doe not, the Reasons
why, that in this great Empire I may vindicate the friendship his
Majesty owns with the Gran Signor and secure the great estates of
his subjects the Levant Company.”[125]

These transactions illustrate sufficiently the graver side of Sir
John’s employment during the festive season; what follows exhibits
him in a lighter vein.

Our Ambassador knew that there is nothing people like better than
attentions: those little offices of civility which, by flattering
their pride, never fail to conciliate their friendship or at least
their good-will; and he carried his attentions from the highest
down to the lowest with an assiduity which would have done credit
to Dudley North himself.

For instance, he had a large English mastiff which had worsted
bears of the greatest size and savagery in single-fight. Aware
of the Imperial Hunter’s tastes, he hastened to send him this
ferocious dog as a present: “which,” the Rev. John tells us, “the
Grand Signor took mightily kindly.”[126] This courtesy, let us
hope, made the Avji more friendly towards us than a more important
service would have done. His subordinates had to be wooed according
to their own particular weaknesses.

Among these, sad to relate, none was more prevalent than a weakness
for wine and spirits. The Sultan, himself an habitual abstainer,
had twice (in 1661 and 1670) forbidden the use of intoxicants: the
second time by a most drastic edict most drastically enforced:
taverns pulled down, butts broken in pieces, wine spilt, and the
making and selling of it banned “upon no less penalty than hanging,
or being putt into the Gallies.”[127] Yet the cult of Bacchus
flourished more luxuriantly than ever. Legislation had overreached
itself. The abolition of the tax had lowered the price of the
article, so that those who before could afford to drink only one
bottle openly, now drank two in secret. During Sir John’s stay at
Adrianople intoxication was common among Turks of all classes, and
particularly rampant in Court circles. With the exception of the
Grand Signor and the Mufti, there was hardly a sober grandee. Our
Chaplain, whom nothing escaped, has much to say about this phase
of Turkish life also: “I have seen,” he declares, “the Vizier
himself _mamur_, that is, crop sick severall times.” Alas! it was
only too true. Ahmed Kuprili, up to the end of the siege of Candia
(1669), had never tasted a drop of anything stronger than sherbet.
But on his return from that campaign he stopped at the fair isle
of Chios to refresh himself from his toils. This holiday, the
first he had ever had, proved his undoing. For a whole fortnight
he refreshed himself among the mastic groves of Chios, allowing no
public affairs, however urgent, to interrupt his potations. Ahmed
was nothing if not thorough. From that date he seemed anxious to
atone for his past temperance, and at such a rate that, by 1675,
his stomach could no longer keep warm without the most fiery of

It was with wine, therefore, that Sir John wooed those whom his
Dragomans worried. He sent them, at short intervals, samples of
his cellar, and anxiously inquired how they were appreciated. “My
Florence wines,” he reports, “were not likd’ at the Court, the
wines I had out of the Pope’s State well approved; but the sack
that I brought with me mightily admird’, and none esteemd’ to come
near it; so that I gave Him [the Vizir] all I had, save onely one
double Bottle I kept to drink His Majesty’s Health for the day that
I should receive my Capitulations.”[129]

This way of dealing with the Turks was so novel that it excited
comment among Sir John’s colleagues; and one day Count Kindsberg,
as the two were “talking merrily together,” ventured to say “that
He understood I went on with this Court by fair and Courtly
mean’s, which was not others, nor His practise.” Sir John readily
answered, “that he did well, and very possibly I might doe so to,
he immitating his Master who hath had allway’s Warr with the Gran
Signor and I mine who had allwayes Peace.”[130]

In another matter, too, Sir John showed himself surprisingly
careless of his neighbours’ opinion. There was at Adrianople a
disreputable Italian renegade, Count Bocareschi. The Ambassador
shared this highly undesirable acquaintance with--the Rev. John
Covel. Our Chaplain had known the Count for years and cherished
no illusions about him: “this Bocareschi,” he told one of his
Cambridge correspondents, “was a very parasite as [ever] lived: an
excellent wit, and some little learning, the Latin toung perfectly;
but for his damned traiterous perfidious tricks, was kick’t out
of all publick ministers’ companyes.”[131] Yet, though he knew
the Italian well for “a damned rogue” and “a beast,” as he calls
him elsewhere, he cultivated him because the adventurer, being a
Muteferrika, or quartermaster, had access to many places which
the Rev. John itched to explore. From a like opportunism, his
Excellency now entertained the ignoble Count at dinner nearly ever
day. Diplomacy, like Providence, is not very particular in its
choice of instruments. The proud Lord Ambassadour must stoop to
caress a Muteferrika; the representative of a monarch who styled
himself Defender of the Faith must consort with a renegade.

Thus during the six weeks that the Festivities lasted Sir John
utilised every means he could think of for making himself popular
with everybody and anybody who might be of use to him in his
mission: bakshishing and flattering the Turks up to the scratch.
His methods, scandalous though they might seem to others, to him
appeared successful. The officials who received his fine wines gave
him in return fair words: the Capitulations, Sir John understood,
had been read over to the Grand Vizir several times: article
after article was considered and passed. Finally, one day, as his
Dragomans went by the house of Hussein Aga, Director of Customs,
or, as the English of that day styled him, Chief Customer, that
officer called them up and told them that all the demands his
Excellency had put forward were granted; but he wondered that they
should think such boons were to be had for nothing! Whereupon the
Dragomans went to the Rais Effendi, who corroborated the Customer’s
statement, adding that he had reason to believe that the Kehayah’s
sentiments were the same. When this was reported to Sir John, he
sent the Dragomans to the Kehayah, promising him 1000 sequins
(£500) for the Grand Vizir, 1000 dollars (£250) for himself, and a
similar sum for the Rais Effendi.[132]

That Sir John was overjoyed at the near prospect of his release
it would be superfluous to state. There is a satiety of all
things, even of rats, mice, fleas, bugs, Jew-stenches and Turkish
festivities. How ill-advised he had been to put off his journey
till this season! But now it is only a question of days--he will
soon have done now.


[106] Even in touching upon such an open secret as the Turkish
Ministers’ susceptibility to the charm of dollars, Finch dares not
speak out: “the greatest arguments I cannot write to you without a
Cipher, reflecting upon great Persons,” he tells Coventry: Sept. 9,

[107] Finch to Coventry, Feb. 24/March 6, 1674-75, Sept. 9, 1675;
Covel’s _Greek Church_, Pref. pp. lii, liv; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp.
315-7; _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 104-5; Vandal’s _Nointel_, pp.
136, 141-2; Hammer, vol. xi. pp. 362, 425.

[108] See the despatches of all those ambassadors in _S.P. Turkey_.
A few of them are in print: Sir Thomas Roe’s _Negotiations_
(1621-28). The story may be read, however, in Rycaut’s _History_
and in Covel’s _Greek Church_.

[109] Father Bonaventura to Winchilsea, July 24, 1661, _Finch
Report_, p. 137.

[110] At the same time we find “the Eldest Son of the Church”
supporting in Germany and Hungary the Protestants he persecuted
in France; yet historians with a faculty for generalisation and
idealisation tell us that the struggle which rent Europe at that
period was essentially a religious struggle!

[111] _S.P. Turkey_, 17.

[112] Winchilsea to Nicholas, Dec. 19, 1662, _S.P. Turkey_, 17.
In contrast with this, see numerous letters, beginning so early
as April 1662, in the _Finch Report_. The same volume (p. 297)
contains the King’s permission to the Ambassador to ignore his
Instructions regarding the Greek Church; it is dated, Dec. 23, 1663.

[113] See “Instructions for Our Trusty and Wellbeloved Servant Sir
Daniell Harvey, Knt., at Whitehall, Aug. 3, 68,” _S.P. Turkey_,
19. The clause in question is also omitted from the Instructions
to Finch. It reappears in those to Lord Chandos, 1680--when the
anti-Catholic agitation in England was at its height.

[114] Covel’s _Greek Church_, Pref. p. xi.

[115] Finch to Arlington, July 27, S.N., 1674, _Coventry Papers_.

[116] Finch to Coventry, Feb. 24/March 6, 1674-75.

[117] Nointel’s letter from Rama seems to have been lost, but its
purport is preserved in his letter from Tripoli, July 12, 1674.

[118] Covel’s _Greek Church_, Pref. p. lii.

[119] Winchilsea to Fra Dominico del Arzival, Oct. 10, 1662, _Finch
Report_, p. 218.

[120] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675; _Life of Dudley North_, p.

[121] Covel’s _Greek Church_, Pref. p. vi.

[122] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 106-7.

[123] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[124] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 106.

[125] Finch to Narbrough, Adrianople, May 24, S.V. 1675, _Coventry

[126] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 238.

[127] Harvey to Williamson, Sept. 5, 1670, _S.P. Turkey_, 19. Cp.
Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 105, 285.

[128] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 245; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 282-3, 318.

[129] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[130] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675. Rycaut, who always reflects
the conventional view, would have agreed with Kindsberg: “It is
certainly a good Maxime for an Ambassador in this Countrey, not to
be over-studious in procuring a familiar friendship with Turks,”
_Present State_, p. 170. This maxim arose from the belief that “a
Turk is not capable of real friendship towards a Christian.”

[131] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 226.

[132] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 107.



As soon as the Feasts ended (June 25th) the Ambassador applied
for his Audience--“and here,” he says, “I find I was mistaken,
that it was not the Feasts that hinderd’ my Audience, but a Pay
day to the Souldiery.” The Turks commonly chose that day for the
reception of new ambassadors in order to dazzle them with the sight
of their strength and wealth. But Sir John, who did not yet know
all the ins and outs of Ottoman etiquette, readily believed what
he was told--“that the Gran Signor had an Intention to place the
highest Respect upon me in giving me audience on the pay day of his

This honour is promised him at once; but the days pass, and it is
still to come. Instead, other things come--things enough to try the
temper of a saint. Just then--beginning of July--the Plague breaks
out in the overcrowded city of Adrianople; and to the nuisance of
interminable festivals now succeed the horrors of interminable
funerals. Hundreds die every day. It is impossible to stir out of
doors without meeting a corpse. All slaves and poor people, the
moment they expire, are wrapped up in some rag, thrust upon the
back of a _hamal_, or porter, and conveyed to their destination
like bales of cadaverous goods. What is worse, one knows that there
lies as much danger of contagion in touching the clothes of the
living as the bodies of the dead. There is no protection against
the foul disease except in flight. Even the Turks, who are much
less given to panic than the Franks, fly in great numbers from the
town into the country. The Grand Signor himself, good Mohammedan
though he is, sets the example of lack of faith by retiring to a
palace which he has built at Ak-bonar, some ten miles north of
Adrianople, leaving the Grand Vizir in the infected city to carry
on the business of government as usual. What is left for mere

They retreat as fast as they can to Karagatch--a Greek village
about a mile and a half south-west of Adrianople, on the river
Arda. There the Ambassador gets a house for himself, Sir Thomas
Baines, and their servants; the Chaplain, through the kind offices
of his brother-papas, the village priest, obtains a tiny apartment
in a cottage close by; and the others lodge, one here, one there,
wherever they can find room--no easy matter in a small village for
a company of one hundred and twenty persons. For the Treasurer
alone there is no escape from the pestilent city. Business compels
him to be always there. “Care was taken,” he says, “to find me
constant employment, and for the most part I went at the will
and pleasure of his Excellency.” North is a philosopher, and
takes health and sickness as he does light and darkness or the
vicissitudes of the seasons: as things to which a wise man has to
accommodate himself; only taking care, whatever befalls him on this
moonstruck planet, not to lose his temper with it. Nevertheless,
though prudence holds his tongue, he cannot help some sarcastic
reflections on “the Italick caution of the Ambassador and
selfishness of the Knight,” who thus shift almost the whole burden
on to his shoulders.[134]

Curiously enough, while showing so little regard for the English
Treasurer’s safety, Sir John invites the Spanish friars to share
his retreat with him--an invitation which is, naturally, accepted
with gratitude and alacrity.[135] Let us hope that they repay
him by their saintly exhortations and example of patience under
affliction: there is call enough for both from that day onward.

As the weeks go by, and the Plague, with the increasing heat, grows
fiercer, the Ambassador’s desire to have his Audience and his
Capitulations, and to be gone, becomes acuter. His Dragomans are
incessantly at work, pressing the Kehayah for dispatch; and, to
add weight to their solicitations, Sir John writes to that worthy,
desiring to know if there is any hitch in the business, declaring
himself ready to argue any point before the Grand Vizir against
any one, and asking whether he should make a direct application
to the Vizir. The Kehayah answers, with his accustomed suavity,
that his Excellency should not fret: all is well. As soon as the
Tefterdar, or Lord Treasurer, can get ready the money for the pay
of the Janissaries, Sir John will have his heart’s desire. There is
nothing to be done but to let things take their course.

At last the Grand Signor decides to return to the Seraglio for
the Audience. And, on the 27th of July, an hour before dawn, two
chaoushes arrive at Karagatch to fetch his Excellency.

“Is my Lord ready?”

Ready for anything is my Lord--anything that promises deliverance
from purgatory. Dressed and wigged and breakfastless, he and his
companions follow briskly the thrice-welcome messengers to the head
of a wooden bridge on the Arda, and there wait till the rest of the
chaoushes who compose the guard of honour make their appearance.
Then, crossing the river, our pilgrims mount their horses and set
off through the dim twilight. About them the plain lies veiled in
pestiferous mists; overhead a few stars still twinkle in the pale
sky; the dew sparkles on the bare sandy soil underfoot. In front,
with its solemn domes and slender minarets silhouetted against the
horizon, looms the city of Adrianople.

They enter, and ride up the crooked, deserted streets, pitch-dark
under the overhanging upper storeys of the houses, the noise of the
horses’ hoofs on the rough cobbles rousing the inhabitants from
their feverish dreams. Sir John’s heart grows almost merry within
him at the thought that he is seeing that mournful city of death
for the last time.

At about half-past five they alight at the great gate of the
Seraglio. Our old friends, the Chaoush-bashi and Capiji-bashi,
reinforced by a new one, the Peskeshji-bashi, or Chief Receiver
of Gifts, come forth and conduct the visitors across a vast court
lined with Janissaries to whose officers the Ambassador bows as
he goes on, prompted by the Peskeshji-bashi, who walks before him
with a long silver staff in his hand. After traversing this court,
they step through a stone porch into the Divan: a small hall--not
more than eight or nine yards square--with a bench running round
the three sides, covered, as is also the floor, with embroidered
silk. This hall serves many purposes: it is here that laws are
enacted, lawsuits decided, troops paid, and ambassadors made fit to
be introduced to the august presence of the Grand Signor: it has no
doors, but stands always open for all the world to enter and seek

The visitors look about them curiously: “The Truth is, Right
Honorable, it was a sight worthy of any man’s seeing,” says Sir
John, “but I have not here any time to dilate upon it.” Fortunately
the Rev. John has and does. On one side of the bench sits a
Secretary of State designated Nishanji-bashi, whose function it is
to affix the Sultan’s cipher (_toughra_) to Imperial decrees. On
another sits the Grand Vizir, with the two Cadileskers, or Supreme
Judges of Europe and Asia. On the third side sits the Tefterdar.
Over the Vizir’s head protrudes something that every one present
thinks of all the time, though no one dares for a single moment
gaze at--a bow-window screened with gilded lattice-work, through
which, it is understood, the Grand Signor watches the proceedings

Having made his obeisance to the Vizir and the rest, the Ambassador
is given a velvet stool to sit on, and, after “a little discourse,”
is conducted to the bench on the Vizir’s right-hand side and placed
beneath the Nishanji-bashi, “which, as I am told, was a Respect.”
Next to him stands Dr. Mavrocordato, the Dragoman of the Porte, and
his own two chief Dragomans. The other members of the suite take
their appointed places at the farther end of the room: they may
turn sideways to look out into the court, but when one or two of
them, in so doing, venture to turn their backs to the Vizir, they
are sharply reprimanded.

Several hundred small leather bags, each containing coin to the
value of 500 dollars, are brought in and piled in heaps of ten
upon the floor. The Tefterdar presents his accounts to the Vizir.
He, after kissing them, sends them to the Grand Signor by the
Peskeshji-bashi, and by him they are presently returned to the
Vizir, who receives them with another kiss. Thereupon the bags are
taken out to the porch; the companies of the Janissaries are called
by the Peskeshji-bashi, one after another, and each company comes
running up to receive its quota. When they are all paid off, their
officers step into the Divan and, kneeling down before the Vizir,
lift the corner of his cloak to their foreheads and lips; then,
retiring three or four paces backwards and sideways, go out again;
Ahmed Kuprili all the time sitting as one who does not know what is
going on.

This solemn tomfoolery over, there follows another performance more
cheering for the wearied and hungry Englishmen. Ewers and basins
are brought in, and when the Vizir, Tefterdar, Nishanji-bashi,
and the Ambassador have washed their hands, three little round
tables are planted respectively in front of the three grandees and
covered with leather mats. Upon these tables are laid flat loaves
of bread like pancakes, coarse wooden spoons, some saucers of
capers, olives, parsley, and pickled samphire, a little salt-cellar
and a little pepper-box. The Ambassador sits at the Vizir’s table,
having beside him only his chief Dragoman, who “rendred us mutuall
Intelligible to each other.” He sits on a velvet stool, facing his
host, who is seated on the bench. Three similar stools are set at
the Nishanji-bashi’s table for our Treasurer, the oldest merchant,
Mr. Hyet, and Dr. Pickering of Smyrna. Three more stools at the
Tefterdar’s table are occupied by the Ambassador’s Secretary, the
Cancellier, and the Chaplain. All these are “most Civilly and
Courteously entertaind’.” The rest of the suite dine in the porch
outside, some with the Rais Effendi, some with the Chaoush-bashi,
and are none too gently treated by the Turkish attendants, who
shove them with their elbows and address to them rude words. The
two Cadileskers dine by themselves--too strict observers of the Law
to eat with infidels.

Thanks to our parson’s loquacious quill, supplemented with a few
touches from the Ambassador’s pen, we are able to raise the ghost
of that repast of long ago from the limbo of dead dinners. It is a
banquet in the very best Turkish style. There are roast chickens
and roast pigeons piled one upon another; kebobs, or bits of
mutton, both roast and boiled, skewered in alternate layers; gourds
stuffed with minced meat, and soups of several sorts, and puff
pastry pies, both plain and stuffed, and pillaf, and dates, and
pine kernels, and very, very many other things, sweet or savoury,
solid or sloppy--anything from fifty to a hundred courses--served
up in dishes of a glazed metal (_martaban_) much heavier and
costlier than china, and whipped away with disconcerting swiftness,
to be scrambled for by the Janissaries in the courtyard. The soups
are eaten with the wooden spoons; for the meats the banqueters have
to use the implements provided by Nature. At each table the host
begins by pinching the flesh with his finger and thumb and inviting
the guests to fall to; which they do, nipping and tearing lustily
with hands and teeth. About half-way through this “horse-feast,”
as the Rev. John calls it, the Ambassador asks for something to
drink, and is given--a cup of water. As he takes it, he catches the
Grand Vizir’s eye fixed upon his Dragoman with a quizzical smile,
“knowing very well that I usd’ to drink very Excellent Wines, for
He Himselfe had tasted of it.” But, at the other tables, the diners
have excellent lemon sherbet to wash down the viands with; the host
at each table beginning with a hearty draught and then passing the
cup round. The Rev. John deeply regrets that after this one round
he sees that blessed cup no more.

Turkish banquets, as a rule, were funereal affairs. But this one
was enlivened by some “very free and merry discourse” between the
Ambassador and the Vizir, the latter “often laughing out right,
though the Gran Signor stood in the window all the while to look on
us.”[136] It was over much sooner than the hungry Englishmen would
have liked or than might have been expected from the number of
courses; but the waiters at each table kept such good time that all
ended, as they had begun, together: even in their dinners the Turks
forgot not their discipline.

After the necessary ablutions, the guests are led by the Dragoman
Mavrocordato out into the porch, where they sit on a long bench and
are vested with kaftans. In this masquerade they wait for half an
hour, till the Vizir and the other Ministers come forth on their
way to the Grand Signor’s Audience Chamber. Shortly afterwards
the Ambassador is summoned to proceed in the same direction, and
he does so, followed by his presents and accompanied by all his
gentlemen; but only six are allowed to enter--the two Dragomans,
the Treasurer, the oldest merchant, the Cancellier, and the
Secretary, who carries the royal letter on his head. The Rev. John
is bitterly disappointed. Both the Ambassador and the Knight had
solemnly promised him before they set out from Constantinople and
all along that he should infallibly be one of the persons admitted
to the presence--and he has been left out. ’Tis no use for the Rev.
John to assure us that he does not mind a bit, because, forsooth,
he has already seen the Grand Signor again and again--that it is
only the furniture of the room he wishes to see. He does mind,
very, very much. But he consoles himself with the reflection that
he has not missed much that was worth having.

The proceedings appear to have been marked by rather more than the
ceremonial violence customary on such occasions: so much so that
those who took part in them could afterwards give only the vaguest
and most confused account of what had happened: it looked as if
the Avji wished to pay the giaours back for bringing him into the
plague-stricken city.

At the entrance they were each seized by two capijis, one holding
them under one arm, the other under the other, and were dragged
in. As soon as ever they crossed the Sublime Threshold, their
conductors, laying their hands on their necks, forced them to bow
down till their foreheads touched the floor: once-twice-thrice; and
immediately afterwards all, except the Ambassador, his Secretary,
and Chief Dragoman, were hustled out again in such a manner that
the Treasurer who came out first swore that he saw practically
nothing--only in a general sort of way he had an impression of a
very large, dimly lighted room with in it something that looked
like a thing they call the Grand Signor. The poor Cancellier, being
a little man, was crushed quite down at the door, and the oldest
merchant nearly tumbled over him as he lay sprawling over the
Sublime Threshold: so they saw even less than the Treasurer.

The Ambassador stayed in about four minutes altogether: the
Chaplain timed him by his pulse--a method of measuring time which
the Rev. John had often practised at sea by a half-minute glass.
All his Excellency could tell of the interview was this: the Grand
Signor sat upon a sort of four-post bed covered with a crimson
counterpane embroidered with pearls, and had by him “a Rich
Cabinett or Standish, sett all over with larg Diamonds to a great
Value.” The front of his cloak from the neck down was also set with
large diamonds and pearls. He wore on his head a small plain turban
with a little feather fastened to it by a jewelled brooch, and upon
his face a most severe, terrible, stately scowl.

After the three compulsory prostrations, Sir John’s Dragoman was
ordered to read his Excellency’s address--just twelve and a half
lines given to him beforehand in Italian: “wherein was all His
Majesty’s titles that I could thinke of, and the word Padesha in,
where there was occasion to putt it, at which my Druggerman being a
little startled when I gave Him the Paper the day before I went in,
I bad Him fear nothing for I was to be by Him.”[137] But in spite
of the brevity of the speech, in spite of his rehearsal of it, in
spite of the Ambassador’s protecting vicinity, poor old Signor
Giorgio, what with the violent exercise he had just undergone,
what with the Grand Signor’s scowl, was so flurried that he very
nearly lost the thread. That done, the Secretary handed the King’s
Letter to the Dragoman, who passed it on to the Vizir, who laid it
on the bolster at the Grand Signor’s right hand, who cast a kind
of scornful eye towards it and said--nothing. Whereas, the Rev.
John well remembered, he had spoken to Finch’s predecessor Harvey a
great deal. Clearly, the Avji was sulking. The Vizir spoke instead,
saying, “All right,” and, without more ado, Ambassador, Secretary,
and Dragoman were dragged out again.[138]

Pitiful to see the representative of a great Christian Power
crawling to the Ottoman throne in such a manner--and glad to arrive
there at all. The more we gaze on the picture, the more pitiful
it seems: that free men should from interest adopt an attitude to
which slaves are compelled by fear! That is the permanent fact we
discover in this passing show; and it is inevitable that we should
discover it. As long as our policy has an essentially illiberal
aim--be it dollars, be it domination--so long will our posture be
servile: to reach what lies low, you must stoop. Such is the tragic
moral of the picture; yet there are many touches of comedy in it,
too. A picture well worth looking at, in more ways than one.


[133] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[134] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 227, 116; Covel’s _Diaries_, pp.
242, 244.

[135] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[136] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[137] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[138] Covel’s _Diaries_, pp. 257-67. See also Appendix X. For the
King’s Letter to the Sultan, see Appendix II.



Having duly “wiped the dust of the Sublime Threshold with his
face”--a Turkish figure of speech not far removed from a literal
statement of fact--Sir John expected that the Capitulations would
forthwith be handed to him. There was not, in his mind, the shadow
of an excuse for putting him off longer. But when he applied to
the Kehayah, he found that, instead of everything being settled,
as he had been led to believe, the Grand Vizir and his Ministers
had only just begun to study the Articles. Indeed, the draft which
he had sent in two and a half months ago had been lost during the
festal confusion, and, after a long search (the Kehayah and the
Rais Effendi each saying that the other had it), was but lately
discovered in the hands of a page of the Grand Vizir’s.[139] So
all those messages about the Articles being read over, considered,
passed, etc. etc., had been from beginning to end a tissue of
poetic inventions! The trick was gross, but not unusual. Nor,
fairly viewed, was it undeserved: the Turks had begun by telling
Sir John frankly that no business could be transacted during the
Feasts; as he went on pestering them, they had no alternative but
to lie--politeness forbade any other course towards a man whose
wine they drank.

Although unspeakably disgusted, our Ambassador would fain suppress
his mortification: he was old enough, and man of the world
enough, to know that, where one cannot strike, one must smile.
But never was smiling more difficult. The Plague from Adrianople
now travelled to Karagatch, and first seized the daughter of our
Chaplain’s landlady.

Up to that moment the English had dwelt there as happily as might
have been expected. In spite of the Grand Signor’s edicts, the
village was a notorious resort for citizens in quest of liquid
solace. Every now and then the Aga of the Janissaries came to
see that the law was observed; but, as he made at least 10,000
dollars a year by its breach, he gave at least one hour’s notice
of his raids. The greatest purveyor of spirituous consolation in
the locality was Covel’s friend, the village priest, who used to
secure his stock by hiding it in the church. Englishmen could not,
of course, let themselves be outdone by Turks and Greeks. It has
always been the way of our race to develop its greatest capacity
in the hour of sternest need. So they drank deeply to find joy,
more deeply still to drown fear: trying all the while to appear
outwardly unconcerned. The Rev. John wrote home that he frequently
went into Adrianople, and had become so inured to funerals that he
minded no more meeting a dead man than a dead calf. That may be;
but when the little girl with whom he had been prattling died, it
was not so pleasant.

In a few days the epidemic spread through the whole village, and
drove the Ambassador and his party out into the fields, where they
set up their tents, and waited.

The Articles, once recovered from the Vizir’s page, were studied
by the pashas, revised by the Rais Effendi, and brought to the
Ambassador in what he understood to be their final form. When they
were read over to him, Sir John heaved a sigh of relief: this time
there could be no doubt that his ordeal was at an end. But alas!
when they were shown to the Grand Vizir, he caused some of them to
be straightway incorporated in the Capitulations, but the financial
clauses to be submitted to the Tefterdar for his opinion, and the
Article regarding Englishmen turning Turks to be referred to the
Mufti. So the pudding that had for a moment appeared ready to be
served up, was once more in the pot.[140]

The situation might have been amusing, but for the fact that Sir
John did not think it so. Sir John felt intensely unhappy, and when
Sir John was unhappy nobody connected with him could be happy. How
those wretched Dragomans must have blessed him!

A fresh series of conferences ensues. First the Dragomans are
sent to the Tefterdar, who wishes to know what do we want these
new clauses for, and why the Capitulations may not stand as they
are. They reply that the reason is very simple: we want to be
certain and not fall every day into disputes with ignorant and
impertinent Custom-House officials. The Tefterdar smiles: That,
he says, is not the true reason: we intend to start importing a
finer cloth and want to pay no more duty than for the cheaper.
The Tefterdar has hit the mark with wonderful accuracy; but the
Dragomans repudiate the vile insinuation. Then again, he goes on:
that Aleppo Hattisherif--why can it not remain as it has been for
so many years: why must it needs be put into the Capitulations now?
However, in the end, he declares himself satisfied and promises to
pass everything.[141]

But Sir John, whose soul has been stirred to most dismal
scepticism, cannot rest. “What troubled me most,” he says, “was
for the three Articles referrd’ to the Tefterdar which were of the
greatest concern, knowing that he was a Judicious, sower, severe
man, and in His apprehension very quick also.” What harm might
not this shrewd Turk work? Full of misgivings, next morning the
Ambassador goes once more into Adrianople and seeks a personal
interview with the Kehayah. At this conference he surpasses
himself: “I muster up all the Arguments that I could think of.”
After listening to his Excellency’s oration, the Kehayah, suave as
ever, says: “Ambassadour, all things by the Grace of God will be
well, for I will stand by you to the outmost, but send not your
Druggermen to the Tefterdar till I advise you the hour.”[142]
This speech brings sweet balm to the soul of Sir John, who then
proceeds to touch upon the title, Padishah. He is very proud to
have been the first to give His Majesty this title before the Grand
Signor; but that was only planting the seed: the fruit had yet to
be plucked. He receives assurances that, as the Kehayah thinks the
claim just and reasonable, he will move the Vizir again about it.
Further, our Ambassador mentions the question of the Latin friars,
and on this point also the Kehayah is eager to oblige: only he
needs a Petition (_Arz_) for the Vizir. Sir John, who has the paper
ready, hands it to him, and departs recomforted.[143]

The Cordeliers had all this time been with Sir John, filling
his ears day and night with the tale of their misfortunes,
exaggerating them, and laying the chief blame for them upon the
French Ambassador. They had received him at Jerusalem with all
honour imaginable and at great cost, expecting wonders from his
protection, and he had caused their ruin. The object of these
tirades obviously was to inspire Finch with the desire to capture
the position which Nointel had forfeited; and Finch would very
much like to do so. But he was cautious. He defended Nointel,
telling the Friars that the noble Marquis certainly did intend
nobly, according to his power; but the inexpedient murder of the
Greek Caloyers, added to Ahmed’s dislike of the French, had made
the Grand Vizir implacable. Of course, he would do all he could
for them. But the Ambassadors of France and Venice were their
official protectors. Therefore he advised them to inform those
Ambassadors that he was disposed to protect them, but that he
would be more earnest in it if they who had orally solicited his
aid before he left Constantinople would repeat their request in
writing. The “good Fathers” did as they were bidden; but the result
was negative. The Venetian replied that, for certain reasons, he
could not write to Sir John to undertake their protection, and
that he verily believed his undertaking it would not be pleasing
to the French Ambassador. The French Ambassador did not reply at
all. While both diplomats wished to make use of the Englishman
as an auxiliary, neither wanted to be supplanted by him. Sir John
understood the position perfectly: “if a Hattesheriffe had bin
procurd’ by me in favour of the Fathers it must have runn in the
King my Masters name, which the Fathers Protection being in both
their Capitulations had bin a slurr to them.”[144] Nevertheless, he
pursued his way, and after that most satisfactory interview with
the Kehayah he had great hopes of success.

Meanwhile he thought it advisable, plague or no plague, to go into
Adrianople again and pay his respects to the Mufti, upon whose
decision depended one at least of the new Articles. He found the
“Wisest of the Wise” sitting cross-legged, with a coarse kind of
linsey-woolsey blanket over his knees and three or four books
beside him: a swarthy, good-natured elderly gentleman, who received
the Ambassador with the same ceremony as the Grand Vizir. There was
no conversation worth mention. After some formal compliments, Sir
John hurried back to his rural retreat.[145]

There was another personage that Sir John would have been well
advised to cultivate even at some personal risk: a certain Mustafa
Pasha, the Grand Vizir’s brother-in-law, who, having already acted
as Ahmed’s Deputy, was destined to rise at no distant date to the
highest post open to a Turkish subject. But Sir John, whose energy
was limited and whose fear of the Plague was unlimited, contented
himself with sending to that pasha his Dragomans with a present and
an excuse. No doubt, he felt that by calling on the Mufti he had
done his part. It was now Sir Thomas’s turn to do his. Had they
not always hunted in couples?

To the Knight’s lot fell a far more interesting figure--the
much-honoured and fawned-upon Sheikh Vani Effendi, chief counsellor
and preacher to the Grand Signor: a holy man who knew how to retain
the Imperial favour by reassuring the Imperial conscience on
such points as giving to hunting and to the harem what was meant
for the Empire. Ahmed Kuprili had wisely avoided making a rival
of this redoubtable saint by taking him as an ally. In personal
appearance, the two had nothing in common. What Ahmed was like,
we know. Vani, as painted by the Rev. John, was a repulsive old
hunch-back with shrivelled flesh and one eye smaller than the
other, as if it had shrunk in the washing: an uglier saint could
not easily be imagined. Yet they shared a common passion. Ahmed
was animated by a statesman’s love for political morality; Vani
burned with a fanatic’s zeal for religious purity. It is hard to
determine which of the two unclean things he hated most: Moslem
heretics or Christian infidels. But it was amongst the latter that
his fervour had found its choicest victims. As far back as 1661 he
had announced that the decline of the Ottoman Empire was due to the
excessive liberty permitted to its Christian subjects--the liberty
to live amongst the Turks and to sell wine to them. The fires and
plagues which afflicted Constantinople were likewise traced to
divine anger at such unseemly tolerance. It was at his instigation
that Imperial edicts were issued forbidding the reconstruction of
ruined churches and the consumption of wine, and commanding all
infidels to clear out of the capital. While the Sultan threatened
wine-bibbers with death in this world, the Sheikh promised them
eternal damnation in the next. Every Friday he fulminated in one
mosque or another, and the Grand Signor himself was an assiduous
listener to his sermons.

Nevertheless, one regrets to hear, Vani Effendi imbibed in his
closet vast quantities of the liquor he cursed from the pulpit. It
may be, of course, that, like other saints, he issued some kind
of a special dispensation to himself in the matter. He certainly
held that indulgences which in an ordinary man would be sinful
were lawful to a saint. When one of his disciples asked him how he
reconciled the anathemas he continually hurled against the use of
gold and silver, of silk and pearls, and against certain other joys
of the flesh, with his own marked predilection for such things,
he replied: “Worldly goods are not evil in themselves; it is the
manner they are got by and used that decides the cases in which and
the persons to whom they may be permitted or forbidden.” For the
holy nothing is impure.[146]

Benighted unbelievers looked upon the Sheikh as a ranting
hypocrite--he reminded the English Cavaliers in Turkey of
the Puritan Pharisees they knew at home. But among his own
co-religionists Vani was above scandal. He was “more than a Pope
amongst them,” says the Rev. John: nay, in a sense, “this old
coxcomb” was more than the Grand Signor himself. For your Grand
Signor could only put you to death. But your saint could put you
in a particularly unpleasant corner of a particularly unpleasant
place, where people had garments of fire fitted unto them, boiling
water poured on their heads, and were beaten with maces of iron
for ever and ever. Or, on the other hand, he could procure you an
exceptionally comfortable pavilion in Paradise, furnished with
green cushions and beautiful carpets, and couches of silk and
gold; and a garden planted with shady trees full of all kinds of
fruit growing close at hand; and rivers of milk and honey flowing
conveniently by; and troops of fine black-eyed dancing girls with
complexions like rubies and pearls, to ensure domestic peace and
felicity. Either of these lots it was in Vani Effendi’s power to
bestow, and he made a very good thing of it in the way of presents:
a poor saint’s only recognised source of revenue.

From all this it is easy to understand the Knight’s anxiety to win
over Vani Effendi.

One of Sir John’s Dragomans and the renegade Count Bocareschi were
sent to solicit an interview. They returned with the answer that
Sir Thomas would be welcome. He went and acquitted himself after
a fashion which showed that he had not spent so many years in
diplomatic circles for nothing. With exquisite tact he attacked the
Sheikh on his weak side, putting to him a number of questions in
the tone of one consumed with a violent thirst for illumination.
Did women and children have souls of the same size as men’s? Could
women go to heaven? What infidels might be suffered to live amongst
True Believers? Had a good Christian a chance of salvation?

The Sheikh found some of these questions rather embarrassing,
and met them with evasions; but on others he was as precise and
positive as became one who had direct access to the Creator’s
inmost secrets. He seemed very glad to parade his exclusive
information, and very pleased with the man who gave him the
opportunity. The crafty Knight followed up his advantage by
becoming confidential. He told the Sheikh what kind of Christian he
was: he would rather die than worship images, pictures, crosses, or
the like abominations. He adored only one God, and he believed that
a Mohammedan who lived up to his Law would undoubtedly be saved.
For his part, he would never hurt a hair of a Mohammedan’s head on
account of religious difference, but would rather help and cherish
him in every possible way. On hearing this confession of faith,
all the bystanders (needless to say, the saint had taken care that
there should be a full house) cried out:

“_Ey adam_--a good man!”

Vani Effendi burst into tears, and said he had never thought any
Christian could come so near to being a Mussulman. But--but there
was no real perfection except in Islam. Would not Sir Thomas----?

Sir Thomas shook his curls, sadly. He was now over fifty-five years
of age, he said; his bones were hardened to their shapes, and so
were his opinions; it would be a difficult process, and one that
would require some time, to unrivet his mind.

Vani did not despair of completing the education of so promising a
pupil. He pressed him to come again, guaranteeing him full security
and freedom of speech. The Knight went no more. If the way to
Mohammed’s Paradise lay through the plague-stricken streets of
Adrianople, he preferred to stay outside it. But he continued the
discussion through the disreputable Count, until Vani (with better
taste) intimated that Bocareschi was not a fit channel for divine
truth, and desired the Knight, if he had any more questions, to
put them down in writing, and he would answer in like manner. But
the Knight had had enough.[147] By that time the necessity which
had impelled him to brave the sickness and enter the lists of
Moslem theology appeared to be over, or nearly over.

The Tefterdar, having made it quite clear that he was not duped
by our diplomacy, passed the clauses submitted to him; and the
Kehayah, having thus redeemed his pledge, reminded Sir John’s
Dragomans of the bakshish they had promised. Sir John wasted no
time. He gives twice who gives quickly; besides, the reminder was
tantamount to an intimation that his deliverance was now actually
at hand. In the plenitude of his gratitude, Sir John even proposed
to bestow some of the Levant Company’s gold upon the Tefterdar,
who had never asked for any. Then, contrary to every expectation,
new difficulties sprang up; bringing with them fresh doubts and

When, on the appointed day, the Treasurer of the Levant Company and
the Dragomans came to the Kehayah with the cash, that gentleman
said he could not touch it before he had spoken with the Vizir.
The Rais Effendi proved less coy. He very kindly pocketed his
present and showed the bearers the Capitulations being drawn up
fair. Fair they were, indeed, so far as calligraphy went; but the
Dragomans noted that one Article--the Article about English factors
turning Turks--had, in the process of copying, undergone a curious
transmutation. In the draft read to Sir John, though the evidence
of Christian witnesses was not granted, it had been conceded that
the proofs of embezzlement should be derived from the Levant
Company’s books and bills of lading: wherewith his Excellency was
well satisfied. This concession had entirely vanished.[148] In Sir
John’s own phrase, “the Mufti castrats the Article as to manner of
Proofe,” or, “the Byshop had His foot in it.” However, the point
was not worth fighting for--English factors were not likely to
turn Turks every day. The thing that made Sir John uneasy was the
Kehayah’s new-born repugnance to bribery. What did it mean?

Sir John was not left in doubt long. When his Dragomans went to
the Kehayah for an answer to his Petition on behalf of the Latin
Fathers, they brought back word that his Excellency would do well
to give up all thoughts of that matter. The Vizir was inflexible:
“He cannot deferr the Execution of the sentence any longer; for the
messenger being now returnd’ from Jerusalem which He had employd’,
He was resolvd’ to issue out the Gran Signor’s Command immediately
in order to putt the sentence in execution.” Sir John bore this
blow with comparative equanimity. He had at first been led to
believe that the sentence involved expulsion of the Cordeliers
from Jerusalem and confiscation of their convents. But two months’
close intercourse with the “good Fathers,” assisted perhaps by the
wish to minimise in his own eyes the magnitude of his failure,
enabled him to see things in their true proportions. “Now, Sir,”
he tells the Secretary of State, “you will wonder that so great a
noise should be made about so small a thing, the sentence being
onely this, That the Latin Fathers who were in possession of the
Luoghi Santi at Jerusalem are to be lookd’ upon as living in the
Patriarchicall See of Jerusalem, and so under the Patriarch: which
jurisdiction is onely to be shown in this, that when the Greek
Easter and theirs fall on the same day, the Ceremony’s of Palme
Sunday and Easter Day are to be performd’ first by the Greeks,
and the Latins are to pay a small recognition besides in mony;
Both which points the Latin Fathers look upon as renouncing the
Pope’s Supremacy; For the rest they are to enjoy their convents and
freedome of Mass as formerly.”[149]

It was less easy for our Ambassador to bear another disappointment.
For months the Kehayah had nourished his hopes about the title of
Padishah; and now he sent him word that this also was a thing that
the Grand Vizir would not hear of: “He was loath that I above all
should depart from this Court any wayes discontented, but He could
not with safety alter the ancient style.”[150] Had mortal ever
suffered such vexing frustrations? Why did the Turks tease him
so--holding the cup to his lips only to snatch it away?

On the other hand, the copying out of the Capitulations seems to
be going on satisfactorily. The Dragomans daily report progress;
they are engrossed; signed by the Rais Effendi; decorated with
the Imperial cipher by the Nishanji-bashi; and so on. At last
it is announced that they are in the hands of the Grand Vizir,
who only waits for an opportunity to present them to the Grand
Signor for signature. That opportunity seems to the sorely tried
Ambassador very long in coming, and he thinks to accelerate matters
by ordering his Dragomans to inquire into the Vizir’s pleasure
concerning his bakshish. But here also the unexpected happens: the
Dragomans are told that Ahmed Kuprili has never hitherto taken
anything from any ambassador and will not now: what he did, he did
purely for right and justice.[151] It was an astounding statement
for a Grand Vizir to make, and the most astounding part of it was
that it was true. Ahmed had never soiled his hands. His probity was
notorious. Strange, that Sir John alone should never have heard of
this peculiarity.

At any rate, it now became evident to him that the Vizir knew
nothing of the demand made on his behalf by his underlings. It was
another of their little tricks; and another lesson for Sir John
in the mysteries of Ottoman procedure. He does not seem to have
profited greatly by it. For he sends his Dragomans again to press
the Kehayah about the title of Padishah. The Kehayah replies that
he has done all he could, but without effect. Yet, that wily and
oily one adds, the Ambassador need not despair: so desirous is
he to oblige the English, and to spite the French, that he would
gladly spend five purses (or 2500 dollars) of his own money to get
this feather for the King of England. On whom was he to spend that
money? The matter rested entirely with the Vizir, and the Vizir was
proof against corruption. Obvious as these reflections were, they
did not occur to Sir John. The Kehayah’s suave message, and the
gentle hint it conveyed, spur him to fresh exertion: he immediately
orders the Treasurer and the Dragomans to renew to the Kehayah
their offer of bakshish, and moreover, since the Grand Vizir has so
courteously refused money, to tell his Steward that the Ambassador
has a copy of the Atlas which the Dutch Resident some time before
had presented to the Grand Signor--a work in twelve volumes which
had pleased the Sultan so much that he had commanded its instant
translation into Turkish.[152] If the Kehayah thinks this gift
would be acceptable, his Excellency will bring it to the Vizir
together with some superfine vests of cloth at his final audience.
The Kehayah undertakes to sound the Vizir, and meanwhile graciously
signifies his own readiness to pocket the English gold without
further delay.

Even bribery, however, did not run in Turkey smoothly. Early next
morning the Treasurer and Dragomans carried the moneybags to the
Kehayah’s house and waited for him to come out of the women’s
apartments. After waiting for some time in vain, they were informed
that he had taken horse at the door of his harem and was riding
away to the Vizir’s. Swiftly they ran after him with the coin. He
bade them deliver it to his Hasnadar or Treasurer. Back to the
house they went and begged the Hasnadar to relieve them of their
burden. But the Hasnadar absolutely refused to touch the money
without a formal order from his master. He had many times suffered
in such cases--the sum paid him proving less than it ought to have
been. So the Dragomans went to the Vizir’s palace and spoke to the
Kehayah of this new difficulty. He was kind enough to write two
words on a scrap of paper, which removed the Hasnadar’s scruples.
The transaction was concluded as if it had been payment of a debt:
the Hasnadar bending and testing the pieces of gold and counting
them twice over.[153]

By this time Sir John was fairly tired. Italian diplomacy was
simple, transparent, and child-like beside this Ottoman maze with
its supple turns and sudden twists, its infinite ambiguities and
bewildering mutabilities. The game was much too elusive for Sir
John’s grasp: the moment you thought your fish safe in the net,
somehow it slipped through the meshes; the moment a concession
seemed crystallised, it melted again. Nothing was ever fixed;
everything was fluid. Our metaphors are rather perplexed; but so
was Sir John’s mind: so would be anybody’s mind after several
months of promises and refusals continually interchanging. He did
not know what to think. “I am sensible enough,” he confesses, “that
all buissenesse of moment is hardly done; but here the perplexity
of doeing affayrs is still attended with more of difficulty and
intrigue, by having to doe with a people who neither in language,
custome, manners, or religion, have any affinity with us.”[154] He
longs to leave this baffling scene of suave, slippery Kehayahs and
be back in his peaceful house at Pera--that scene of retirement
and wrens from which he set out--how long ago? But hitherto his
fortitude has not been tried beyond easy endurance.


[139] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 108.

[140] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 108; Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9,

[141] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 109.

[142] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[143] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 109.

[144] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[145] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 268.

[146] See Winchilsea to Nicholas, May 20, 1662; Harvey to
Williamson, Sept. 5, 1670, _S.P. Turkey_, 17 and 19. Rycaut’s
_Memoirs_, pp. 105, 154, 285; Hammer, vol. xi. pp. 163-4, 336.

[147] Covel’s _Diaries_, pp. 269-72.

[148] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 110.

[149] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[150] _Ibid._

[151] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 110.

[152] See Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 318.

[153] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 111.

[154] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.



The price had been paid. Yet the goods were not forthcoming.
The pashas were always about to act, but never acted. And, in
the meantime, the Plague grew fiercer and fiercer. There was no
escaping the foul visitant: it pursued the fugitives even into
their privacy. Count Bocareschi came constantly to dine with the
Ambassador, and one day, as he sat next to him at table, Sir John
noticed that, contrary to habit, he ate little. After looking at
him he remarked that his countenance was changed. The Italian
answered that he died daily of fear: he was not yet Moslem enough
to despise the Plague, but his wife, a born believer, would not
hear of moving: however, whether she would or not, he had made up
his mind to move. Alas! it was too late--the noble parasite had
eaten his last free meal.[155] All this was very depressing, and it
was not all: “The weather was excessive hot, and the air stagnated
in a manner, we being placed in a pan or flat: so that it was
plague enough merely to stay there.... The terrible heat of the sun
reflected from a dry barren sandy soil, and the fulsome foggy aire,
broyled us and choked us.”[156] So pass the sultry dog-days in the
most purgatorial manner; and the whole month of August. And still
nothing accomplished.

Under these conditions the poor Ambassador’s patience and temper
broke down utterly. For weeks he had waited weary and dissatisfied
with everything and everybody: not knowing what to trust to after
so many disappointments, or where to lay the fault, whether in
the incapacity of his Dragomans or the insufficiency of his own
diplomacy. In this uncertain and perplexed state, often abused and
deceived by the men who professed to be his friends, Sir John had
possessed his soul. He could possess it no longer. One day his
feelings burst through all restraint and leapt from his lips. He
railed against the Dragomans, blaming them for all the delays and
vowing that, if in forty-eight hours he had no categorical answer
as to when his business should be done, or where it had stuck,
he would apply to the Grand Vizir through Dr. Mavrocordato, or
himself go to the Kehayah without them. This explosion braced up
Signor Giorgio and Signor Antonio to fresh efforts, and about three
days after they brought Sir John word that all was arranged: next
Friday, please God, his Excellency would have his farewell audience
of the Grand Vizir and receive from his hands the new Capitulations
as well as the Grand Signor’s and his own answers to the King’s

A little psychological essay would not be out of place here. The
English of that day attributed the Porte’s dilatoriness to sheer
indolence intensified by debauchery. They noted that, since Ahmed
Kuprili had espoused the bottle, State affairs had suffered as
much as his health, “soe that all business which must pass the
Vizir is done with great disadvantage and after many delays.”[158]
That was true; but perhaps it was not the whole truth. In the first
place, we know that the Turks had been offended by Sir John’s
delay in coming to present his Credentials, and we may surmise
that they paid inertness for inertness. This so far as the Vizir’s
subordinates are concerned. As to the Vizir himself, Ahmed may have
been above petty pique; but Ahmed, as the Rev. John described him,
as everybody who had dealings with him said, was “a subtle cunning
man.”[159] All his actions and inactions were premeditated, all
his steps were measured, all his words were carefully weighed.
The whole of his life was nothing but a part which he played with
that consummate astuteness, dissimulation, and suppleness of
mind which mark the born diplomat. He knew human nature, and he
had apparently gauged pretty accurately Sir John’s nature. The
Ambassador, the Vizir reasoned, if he only made his sojourn long
enough and disagreeable enough, would get impatient to return to
his comfortable home at Pera, and would waive points that he might
otherwise have insisted upon. All he had to do was to wear him out
by a process of procrastination. For the rest, Ahmed had tried
exactly the same system a few years before in the same place on
another highly-strung Frank, the Marquis de Nointel, with complete
success. That he was no less successful now can easily be shown.

Just as things had reached that point, there arrived from Smyrna
an express courier with a letter from Consul Rycaut. It was
signed by all the English merchants, who prayed his Excellency to
protect them against an administrative innovation that threatened
their interests and privileges. In different circumstances, Sir
John would have turned every stone: as it was, he did not even
acknowledge receipt of the complaint.[160] The same lassitude and
anxiety to shake the dust of Adrianople from off his feet were
manifest in what follows.

On the Thursday before the Friday fixed for his farewell audience,
Signor Antonio Perone went to the Kehayah to see if the appointment
held. He found that the appointment stood good, but that--the
Capitulations lacked the Grand Signor’s autograph (_Hattisherif_).
To his protest the Kehayah blandly replied that, as the Venetians,
the French, and the Dutch were content to do without the Imperial
autograph, there was no need for it. The Dragoman insisted;
but all the answer he obtained was, _Olmaz_--it could not be!
Thereupon, without going back to the Ambassador for instructions,
he ran straight to the Rais Effendi and besought his help. The
Rais Effendi also said, _Olmaz_: the Grand Vizir had decided that
there should be no Imperial autograph--only the Imperial cipher.
It was no use pressing him: he knew the Vizir to be a man who
never changed his mind. Signor Antonio returned to the Kehayah
and implored him so earnestly that at last he got him to write to
the Vizir’s Muhurdar, or Keeper of the privy seal, and ask him to
approach his master on the subject. But the Muhurdar also declined
to interfere. The Dragoman, at his wits’ end, ran and fetched the
old Capitulations, as renewed by Lord Winchilsea, and, laying
them before the Kehayah, showed him the Grand Signor’s handwriting
upon them: here is the precedent, he said, and pointed out what
an unreasonable thing it was that the new Charter should want
the force of the old. In the end the Kehayah unbent so far as to
send a Memorial to the Grand Vizir, and by and by informed Signor
Antonio that the thing was as good as done: “Give the Ambassador
my salaams,” he said, “and tell him that I hope to get everything
ready in a few days more: you may say three to the Ambassador,
but I doubt not that I shall have it done in two.” Meanwhile, the
audience, naturally, was postponed.

The news was calculated to perturb a nature much less combustible
than Sir John’s. No language could express his rage and despair.
He was furious--furious with the Kehayah and Rais Effendi for
not informing him of the hitch sooner, but at the eleventh hour
putting him off; even more furious with the Dragoman for having
insisted on the Hattisherif! Rather than wait another day, Finch
would have gone without, thinking it enough that the other
Europeans had none, and forgetting how it must have reflected on
his diplomatic dexterity to lose an advantage his predecessors
had secured--and one, too, “whereof,” says Dudley North, “we had
swaggered and gloried so much!” So efficacious was Ahmed’s system
for dealing with ambassadors. Luckily, there was our Treasurer
to prevent mischief. In him both the Vizir and the Ambassador
had found their match. To Ahmed’s impassivity North opposed his
tireless perseverance, and to Sir John’s febrile impatience his
imperturbable phlegm. Often, disapproving of his Excellency’s
orders to the Dragomans, he countermanded them behind his back, and
now he defeated his insane inclination to play into Kuprili’s hand:
all the time managing Finch’s pride by an attitude of absolute
submissiveness.[161] North had a sense of humour.

“In two days,” had said the Kehayah. But many more than two days
pass, and the thing is not yet done. The Dragomans are at their
old trade of soliciting for dispatch, prodded on by the Treasurer.
Sometimes they find the Kehayah arguing against the necessity of
having the Grand Signor’s autograph, but he always ends by telling
them that they will have it. One day he says that the Capitulations
are in the hands of the Vizir’s Muhurdar, waiting to be presented
to the Grand Signor with several other documents as soon as the
signing-time should arrive. Thereupon Sir John orders four vests to
be sent to the Muhurdar.

At length, the Turks having exhausted the possibilities of delay,
news comes that the Grand Signor has signed the Capitulations and
that his Excellency should be ready to receive them from the Grand
Vizir’s hands on Wednesday, the 8th of September, at three in the

Of a truth, the long-promised will now be done!

Sir John, in his eagerness, went too soon and had to wait in the
Kehayah’s apartment till prayers were over. Coffee and sherbet were
served, while Dr. Mavrocordato, like Finch a medical graduate of
Padua, entertained him with light talk about the Plague--no topic
could be more topical: in that very apartment there were many sick
Turks. After a time Ambassador and suite were conducted into the
Vizir’s room. Ahmed’s face, especially about the eyes, looked
bloated. The guests understood that the Vizir had had as much as
he could carry the night before. Yet he was in very good humour.
“He vested eleven of my Retinue, besides my selfe: my Druggerman
informing me that my Predecessor had none at all, and that usually
besides the Ambassadour but one was vested who was thought to be
Him who was to carry the Gran Signor’s Letters to the King. Thus
the Vizir and I setting downe after welcome given me, in the first
place He gives me with His owne Hands (which He did not to the
French Ambassadour) the Capitulations.”[162]

No bond could be more binding. It secures to the English all their
privileges “so long as Charles the Second King of England (whose
end may it terminate in Happynesse) maintains good friendship and
corrispondence with Us,” and it concludes with a solemn oath to
this effect: “Wee swear and promise by Him that has created the
Heaven and the Earth and all creatures: By that Creator, the One
God, Wee do promise, that nothing shall be done contrary to this
Imperiall Capitulation.” There follows the name of the Sultan “in
a knott of Great Letters”--and the famous autograph: “Lett every
thing be observd’ in conformity to this Our Imperiall Command, and
contrary to it lett nothing be done.” So much concerning the form;
as to substance, besides the additional articles already familiar
to the reader, the Charter contains a surprise: “There passing good
corrispondence between Us and the King of England, out of regard
of this good friendship, Wee doe grant that two ships lading of
Figgs, Raisins, or Currants, may be yearly exported for the use of
His Majesty’s kitchin.”[163]

Sir John rose up to receive the imposing document and kissed it.
How his fingers must have trembled as they clutched at last that
precious, never-to-be-enough-valued parchment which had cost him so
many hours of unutterable anguish!

Next the Grand Vizir handed to the Ambassador the Grand Signor’s
Letters for his Majesty. Sir John received them standing and
likewise kissed them. Then Ahmed gave him his own letter for his
Majesty, “which I onely carryd’ to my Breast, at which He smild’.”
This done, Sir John, in touching and dignified language, thanked
the Vizir for his particularly tender care of our interests,
adding that he would see that it received a particularly grateful
acknowledgment from our King. Ahmed replied “He knew there was
great favour done in them [the Capitulations], but all was owed
justly to the Friendship of the King your Master; for He was
esteemd’ here for one of the best friends amongst the Christian
Princes that the Emperour had.”

There ensued some conversation about international affairs.
It turned on the seizure of Prince William of Furstenberg, a
plenipotentiary at the Congress of Cologne, by the Imperialists and
the consequent breakdown of the negotiations between France and
Germany. In reply to a question from the Vizir, the Ambassador said
this outrage made Peace very difficult: the French king declared
that the Prince was under his protection and refused to treat
before his release; while the Emperor would not deliver him until
after a Treaty was concluded.

“That,” said Ahmed, “is easily adjusted: Lett the Emperour take off
His head, and then all Questions about Him are ended.”

“This had better bin done the first day then now,” replied Sir
John, and went on to give another reason why he thought the
prospects of peace remote: “The King of France had many of the
Town’s and Fortresses of the King of Spaines in Possession, which
would hardly be deliverd’, and particularly France could not
abandon nor Spayn quitt Messina.”

“This is something,” said Ahmed.

“But Sir,” came from Finch, “now I think better of it, there is one
way which if it is taken an adjustment will questionlesse suddainly

“What is that?”

“Your Excellency’s goeing once more as a Generall into Germany with
a Powerfull Army.”

“At which the Gran Vizir laughd’ profusely; and so Wee made a
friendly Parture.”[164]

Jubilant at such issue of his labours--not quite equal to the
best he had hoped, yet far above the worst that, in moments of
despondency, he had feared--our Ambassador returned to the camp
outside Karagatch; and drank his Majesty’s health in the double
bottle of sack he had saved up for the occasion.

Next morning he proceeded to draw up his report: not a syllable had
he yet written to the Secretary of State from Adrianople, reserving
all he had to say for the end. The letter (eighteen pages) is as
interesting as it is long, and not the least interest of it lies
in the light it throws upon the writer. The honours he received
are accented, while only the faintest allusion is made to the
Jew’s house; Kuprili’s affability is heavily underlined; the Grand
Signor’s ungraciousness is entirely suppressed; and the whole
of the ceremonial part of his mission is presented to the best
possible advantage. But it is when he comes to business that Sir
John shows how little free he was from the weakness of glorifying
his own achievements. He speaks of the “Five Moneths and some
dayes” spent on this negotiation and dwells upon the difficulties
and dangers it entailed: “I was never under a more tedious,
troublesome, and more perplexd’ Negotiation in my life.” But it was
worth it. Such Capitulations had never been known: “Taking them at
the worst and lett the lowest estimate passe which can be made of
them, yett I think, with modesty I may say, that they are farr the
greatest Present that ever was made to the Company since the first
forming of this Trade.”[165]

For this estimate Sir John had the authority of the crafty Rais
Effendi who affected wonder at his phenomenal success, “saying he
never knew the like before,”--“that I went away with an honour
No Ambassadour had ever receivd’ in this Court, which was the
having every Article granted me that I gave in writing”--this,
while admitting that one of the Articles had been so eviscerated
as to be worthless. Likewise as to the title of Padishah upon
which he had set his heart, that it proved unobtainable Sir John
could not deny; but he flattered himself that “it was not wholely
lost, for at another time it should be brought again,”--so “the
Kehayah assured me.” Such was Sir John’s capacity for believing
what he wished. In the same way, if he realised how much he owed
to others, he was not the man to admit the debt, even to himself.
His self-esteem was of that sensitive quality that the slightest
wound to it had to be carefully avoided. Not only in general terms
he attributes the whole of his success, under God (whom he duly
thanks), to his own resourcefulness, energy, and resolution, but
he specifically states that it was he who carried the point of the
Imperial autograph.[166] Perhaps if the Treasurer’s account had
not come down to us, the Ambassador’s claims would have been more
convincing. But that he himself was convinced that everything was
due to him and him alone can hardly be doubted. The Rais Effendi
had told him, “Two things, the first was that I came into this
Empire with a great stock of reputation in having bin able to doe
so much in Christendome for the Bassà of Tunis; but that I had
like to have forfeited it all by staying so long before I came
to Audience: The Court being putt upon resolutions to oppose my
Instances for that Neglect; But in the second place he told me my
way of Treaty had regaind them.”[167]

The “Bassà of Tunis”--yes, indeed, not the least of the results
of his trip to Adrianople that Sir John congratulated himself
upon was connected with that gentleman. The Vizir was so far from
countenancing the Pasha’s pretensions, that he publicly thanked
Finch for the service he had done, and sent the Pasha away to a
Governorship in the uttermost confines of Arabia. This curious
affair was not really over. Resentment had struck root so deeply
in the bosom of the Pasha of Tunis that afterwards it shot up and
flowered afresh, and grew into a noxious umbrage which was to
darken Sir John’s latter years. But of this Sir John knew nothing
at the time: he only knew that he had triumphed.

Thus ended the most adventurous and most important transaction Sir
John Finch had ever been engaged in. But his troubles had not yet
ended. Before he could get away, he had to take out Commands to
give effect to the new Articles, also to pay farewell visits to the
Kehayah and the Rais Effendi--to thank those worthies for their
help. In the houses of both the Plague was more rife than at the
Vizir’s; but he “must run the Gantlett.” Fortunately, “both did me
the Civility to appoint me a meeting in _luogo terzo_: the Kehaiah
at an Appartment of the Visir’s and the Rais Affendi at his Garden
House. A condiscension seldome practisd’ by any Turkes, especially
of so great a Figure.”

These “visits of congé” took place on September 16th. “The Kehaiah
was very melancholy, having that very morning buryed four out of
his house, two of which were his near kinswomen.” The Rais Effendi
felicitated Sir John on his release, saying that there never had
“bin in the memory of man known such a Plague in Adrianople.” At
one of these calls, two men with running sores stood for a full
quarter of an hour within a yard of the Ambassador: even the _luogo
terzo_ offered no security.[168]

The final departure for Constantinople was a hustling and
thoroughly undignified affair: all other considerations yielding
to that of self-preservation. Not only the ceremonies but the very
decencies of life were sacrificed, without scruple or shame, on the
altar of the primitive goddess who knows no law. At her behest all
those acquired habits fell away from our punctilious diplomat like
so many borrowed plumes.

After his leave-takings, the Ambassador went back to the tents,
where thirty carts had already arrived to load for the return
journey; and there, within twenty-four hours, five of his retinue
were stricken with the hideous pest. Sir John and Sir Thomas fled
incontinently to the village again, leaving the rest to shift for
themselves--and even leaving one of their Greek servants unburied
in the fields. The other Greek and Armenian servants, utterly
unable to appreciate this knightly conduct, mutinied and were going
up to the Ambassador’s cottage in a threatening tumult, when the
invaluable Mr. North came to the rescue, and quelled the riot.
After this, Sir John would not wait another minute. With the carts
already provided he set out, leaving his luggage to be sent after
him, and two of his Dragomans to receive the Commands which had
been promised.

But notwithstanding his haste, Sir John had not yet seen the end
of his woes. Just as he was starting, one of his carters dropped
dead beside his cart; and before he reached the first station, news
overtook him that a servant of one of the Dragomans left behind
had fallen sick. His anxiety on account of the long-suffering
and indispensable Dragomans increased as he went on, for though
they had both given him assurances to overtake him before the end
of the journey, he heard nothing from or of either of them for

All the way home our pilgrims felt miserable in a transcendent
degree. The road was full of the disease and full of robbers. To
escape the first peril, they shunned the towns and camped in the
open. Every day they sent their tents before them to be pitched at
the next _konak_. When they arrived there, they drew all the carts
and coaches around them, made a great fire, supped, and then lay
down to rest, as best they could, in their boots and clothes. But
though they themselves did not go into the towns, most of their
wagoners and servants did, so the danger of infection was, in a
measure, the same. As to the other danger, not a day passed but
they heard of some fresh exploit of the gangs that scoured the
country-side. These stories had a most deplorable effect upon their
nerves. They dared not straggle an inch from the road, and, the
Rev. John says, “a calf with a white face disheartened them all”;
observing thoughtfully, “if we had not had guards, it would have
been very easy cutting our throats.”[170]

In this dishevelled manner our friends journeyed back the way they
came, reaching their destination on September 27th.

It was a very weary ambassador who returned to Pera. But there
was no rest for him yet. The Plague raged at Constantinople as at
Adrianople. And that was not the worst. Two of his retinue, it
now appeared, had the disease all the way home undiscovered. One
of them, an Arab conductor of his litter, died the day after his
arrival. The other, a young footman who always was about Finch and
Baines, fell sick two days later in the Embassy. “I suspecting
it might be the Plague, sent him out of my House to be attended
by Armenians that are accustomd to it; and within two days the
Boy dyed of the Plague.” With wondrous agility both knights fled
to St. Demetrius Hill, which henceforth became Sir John’s summer

Distressing as all this was, it might have been worse. Lord
Winchilsea had lost not only two servants, but also his
daughter, and fled from place to place--from Pera to Yarlikioi,
from Yarlikioi to Belgrade, from Belgrade to Zacharlikioi--in
“perplexity where to find security unless in the providence of
the Almighty,”--he fled with a wife in hourly expectation of a
child, pursued by “this disconsolate disease.” Sir John’s other
predecessor and kinsman, Harvey, on his way to Salonica had to
carry in his own coach a friend who had fallen sick of the Plague
on the road, “as longe as he was able to suffer the Journie,” and
“to leave him att last at a town,” in Macedonia, where he died.[172]

It was all in the day’s work.


[155] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675.

[156] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 246.

[157] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 111.

[158] Harvey to Williamson, Nov.... 1670, _S.P. Turkey_, 19;
Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 318.

[159] Covel’s _Diaries_, p. 195.

[160] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 111; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 327-8.

[161] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 112-13, 116.

[162] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675; _Life of Dudley North_, p.
113; Covel’s _Diaries_, pp. 272-3.

[163] “New Articles added to the Capitulations Renewed by Sr John
Finch Knt, and Deliver’d to His Excell^{cy} by the Hands of the
Gran Vizir In Adrianople, September the 8-18th 1675,” _Coventry

[164] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675. The Rev. John mentions this
dialogue as taking place at the banquet of July 27. See _Diaries_,
p. 263.

[165] Finch to Coventry, Sept. 9, 1675. Seeing that Sir John did
not arrive at Adrianople till May 10, it is a little hard to
understand how he arrives at his “Five Moneths and some dayes.”
Dudley North also speaks of “our tedious Attendance at Adrianople,”
as having lasted “near five Months,” _Life_, p. 113. No doubt, to
them the time seemed longer than it was.

[166] See Appendix XI.

[167] Finch to Coventry, Oct. 6-16, 1675.

[168] The Same to the Same, Oct. 6-16, 1675. Cp. Covel’s _Diaries_,
p. 274.

[169] Finch to Coventry, Oct. 6-16, 1675.

[170] Covel’s _Diaries_, pp. 274-5.

[171] Finch to Coventry, Oct. 6-16, 1675.

[172] Winchilsea “Intelligence,” Aug. 24 [1661]; Harvey to
Arlington, Jan. 31, 1669 [-70], _S.P. Turkey_, 17 and 19.



The Plague over, Sir John resumed his quiet life at Pera; and for
the space of a twelvemonth we find him resting on his laurels and
garnering the fruits of his labour complacently.

He had, indeed, much cause for complacency. Our Levant Trade
flourished as never before, and the Constantinople Factors were
guilty of no exaggeration when they told the Ambassador that it was
twice, if not thrice, bigger than the trade of all other European
nations put together. Sir John took the keenest interest in this
progress and foresaw even greater development at the expense of
our rivals, if only we would sell on credit, as they did, and if
we could keep the privileges secured by the new Capitulations in
force. As to the first point, the Ambassador’s exhortations fell on
deaf ears. The Levant Company had a rooted objection to the credit
system, being on the contrary persuaded that the growth of their
business was due to the prohibition of “Trusting” which they had
enacted a few years before.[173]

Nor did the home authorities sufficiently appreciate the
Ambassador’s services with regard to the Capitulations. As so often
happens, the giver and the recipient differed widely about the
value of the gift. Indeed, the Levant Company’s attitude in this
matter was so ungracious and ungrateful that Sir John, stung to
the quick, wrote to the Secretary of State: “Lett them make the
Service as mean as they please now they are in possession of it;
were the new Articles I obtaind, to be again procurd’, I very well
know at what rate they would be content to purchase them. Neither
in the estimate of their advantage which I sent your Honour, did
I write any thing more, then what fell from the Merchants mouths
here, before I had obtaind them. But it may be tis esteemd’ by
some a good Method, to depretiate that Merit, which being ownd’;
would become an obligation, and begett the incumbence of an
acknowledgment.”[174] Like others before him, and after him, Sir
John had to learn the lesson that “He who serves a community must
secure a reward by his own means, or expect it from God.”[175]

Particularly hurt was our Ambassador by the total lack of
enthusiasm which both the Merchants and the King showed on the
Article of the figs. The former made no haste to avail themselves
of the concession, and their indifference filled Sir John with the
fear lest the privilege should lapse through disuse. The latter
did not, as he expected, write to the Grand Signor and Vizir to
thank them for the favour conferred upon his kitchen. After waiting
long and in vain, Sir John felt constrained to urge his Majesty
to rectify the omission, though late, “as having tasted and bin
pleasd’ with some of that fruit.” It was clear that people at home
did not care a fig for Smyrna figs. They were wrong; for, under
the “two ships lading” figment, the English were able as time
went on to export vast quantities of dried fruit from Smyrna--and
housewives yet unborn would have blessed the name of their
benefactor, if they knew it.[176]

However, happily for his peace of mind, it was some time before Sir
John heard of this ingratitude; and meanwhile he did everything to
ensure the execution of the Articles he had obtained at the cost of
so much hardship and hazard. The task presented some difficulties;
for, though the Grand Vizir granted the Commands which the
Ambassador asked readily enough, the local officials evinced the
strongest disinclination to part with any profit to which they
had been used. A test case was offered by the Chief Customer of
Constantinople, who, on the arrival of the first English ship,
detained five bales of cloth--the duty in kind which he had been in
the habit of levying under the old Capitulations. Finch immediately
sent his Dragoman with the new Capitulations and required Hussein
Aga to restore the goods at his peril. The Customer complied,
but, at the same time, got the Vizir’s Kehayah to write to the
Ambassador complaining that the English merchants were trying to
defraud the Grand Signor. Sir John’s reply was that his good friend
the Kehayah was misinformed: the merchants were not to blame, for
they acted by his own order. To the Customer also he declared
that if any English merchants should dare, directly or indirectly,
pay for any cloth one asper more than the sum specified in the new
Capitulations, he would imprison them, adding that for what he
did he had the Grand Signor’s oath and hand, and if the Customer
engaged in a dispute on that point, either he or the Ambassador
must sink. This peremptory message made Hussein Aga submit to the
new dispensation. Sir John, however, did not rest satisfied with
his victory: to prevent any “after claps,” he exacted from the
Customer a letter to the Kehayah formally acknowledging the justice
of our proceedings, and this letter he caused to be registered
by the Cadi as well as in his own Cancellaria. The effect of his
action appeared when, on the arrival at Constantinople of two more
ships, the goods passed through the Custom-House without the least
controversy. At Aleppo he met with similar opposition and overcame
it with equal success. And all this without any bakshish, except a
few judiciously distributed bottles of Canary, “which the Grandees
at Court baptize by the name of English sherbett.” In the same way,
every other question relating to commerce was settled as it arose
by means of Imperial Commands, so that in a year’s time the New
Articles were firmly established over the Empire.

Not a little of this success was due to the happy termination
of our Tripolitan enterprise, which “has given great reputation
and terrour to His Majesty’s arms in this Court.” While Finch
was negotiating at Adrianople, Narbrough had been capturing or
destroying pirate galleys; and, on January 14th, 1676, the boats
of his squadron had even forced their way into the port of
Tripoli and there burnt four men-of-war. The upshot of these bold
operations was a Peace by which the Dey agreed to release all
English captives, to pay an indemnity, and to grant a number of
commercial privileges. The Ambassador made the most of our triumph.
As soon as he received from the Admiral the terms of the Treaty, he
sent his Dragoman to inform the Kehayah, who said that he believed
the Grand Vizir’s letters had helped to bring the Tripolines to
reason. The Dragoman was far too polite and prudent to contradict a
Turk, but he remarked that “the firing of their men-of-warr in port
had much of perswasion in it.” “Wee know it, wee know it,” replied
the Kehayah, with a laugh.[177]

Other circumstances helped Finch to strengthen his position at the
Porte. In the spring of 1676 the Grand Signor, after ten years’
absence, surprised Constantinople by appearing in its environs: a
step which was hailed as a sign that the sovereign’s distrust of
his capital had vanished, and that henceforth he would refresh the
eyes of its inhabitants with his presence and fill their purses
by his extravagance. It is true that these expectations were not
fulfilled. Instead of taking up his abode in the Seraglio which
had been prepared for him, the Grand Signor encamped outside the
city “like an enemy,” and only ventured to pay spasmodic visits
to some of its mosques. Nevertheless, the vicinity of his camp,
with all its pomp, created a welcome diversion for the Franks as
well as for the Turks. The Rev. John Covel was once more in his
element. With a roving, inquisitive eye, he prowled about the
Imperial tents, comparing them with those he had seen at Adrianople
and taking stock of every detail.[178] The Ambassador himself was
not less excited. He reports to the Secretary of State the various
theories current about the motives which had induced the Sultan to
come so near and those which prevented him from coming any nearer;
he describes his movements; and he relates how adroitly he managed
to turn them to account. The Sultan often went by water from place
to place. Finch noted this, and one day, “making inquisition when
His Majesty would passe,” he ordered the two English ships in
port to give him a salute; and that the performance might be more
impressive he ordered the guns to be fired from the lower tier: so
that they might speak louder than those of two Algerine men-of-war
which were also then in port. His orders were carried out to the
letter. As the Grand Signor passed by our ships, a fanfare from
their trumpets entertained him: when he was a little past them,
they began to fire: 31 guns from the _Mary and Martha_, and 21
from the _Hunter_. The Grand Signor stopped his barge to receive
the salute, and till it was quite done rowed very slowly. The
performance was repeated on his return; “which was very kindly
taken.”[179] Presently, “by reason of dust in foule weather, dust
in fayr weather, and want of water,” the Grand Signor pitched his
camp in a new place--“just before my house, and I sitt at dinner in
the Prospect of His own Tent and His Trayn about Him!”[180]

Then, suddenly, turning from the contemplation of externals, our
Ambassador penetrates for a moment into the passions that seethed
inside those stately pavilions.

There lived in Stambul an unvenerable old Princess, popularly
known as Sultana “Sporca,” or “the Dirty”--an epithet which she
had earned by making it her profession to bring up young girls for
the entertainment of the grandees. Among her troupe of nymphs she
had “a Circassian slave that was extraordinaryly beautifull, and
did dance, sing, and tumble in the height of perfection after the
Turkish mode.” During the previous year the Grand Signor, hearing
of this prodigy, had sent for her. But the old lady, unwilling to
lose so lucrative a pupil, evaded the Imperial command by alleging
that she had given the girl her freedom and therefore could not
dispose of her. Now, however, the truth came out. One day, while
the girl was exercising her arts for the amusement of some pashas,
she attracted the attention of the Captain of the Grand Vizir’s
Guard, who gave her 300 sequins and sent 1000 more to the Sultana
on condition that she let the damsel and her companions perform
in his house. The Sultana readily agreed to the bargain; but she
reckoned without her client. After the performance the gallant
Captain, while dismissing the other members of the troupe, kept
the handsome slave. Next morning the Sultana petitioned the Grand
Signor, confessing her former deception. The Grand Signor, enraged
at his own disappointment, ordered the Sultana to be banished, the
damsel to be annexed to his harem, and the Captain’s head to be
exposed in his camp: “So true is that of Virgil:

                        “Quisquis amores
      Aut metuet dulces, aut experietur amaros.”[181]

His Christian colleagues this year afforded our Ambassador as much
food for self-satisfaction as the Ottoman Court. There had lately
arrived at Constantinople two new Ministers: a Venetian Ambassador
and a Genoese Resident. The former, Signor Morosini, who had
already represented Venice at Paris and Vienna, was “an experiencd’
and dexterous” diplomat with whom one found it easy to maintain
“good corrispondence.” The latter, Signor Spinola, “really acts
such low and mean things that he exposes the dignity of a Publique
Minister both to Turkes and Christians” and renders friendly
intercourse with him impossible.

On Spinola’s arrival, which occurred during our absence at
Adrianople, Finch had ordered the merchant left in charge of
the Embassy to compliment him in his name. Yet when the Genoese
sent his Dragoman to Adrianople, he gave him no orders to make
any compliment to Finch. We magnanimously passed this slight by,
attributing it to “his want of breeding and experience.” Some
weeks later, finding himself embroiled with his predecessor,
Spinola begged for our mediation--a request to which we acceded,
only to hear suddenly, not from Spinola himself but from a third
quarter, that a reconciliation had been effected through the good
offices of the Bailo of Venice and the Resident of Holland. This
discourtesy also we put up with patiently. But at last the Genoese
did something we could not digest.

“The story is this. S: Spinola brought over with Him a pittifull
fellow under the name of a Merchant, who sett up His onely Trade of
Distilling strong waters (a thing in the highest degree forbidden
by the Turkes). For secrecy He with Jewes that assisted Him make
their Destillation in an upper Room where there was no chimney;
This comes to the Notice of the Community of Pera, amongst whom
three of my Druggermen are the chief; The Community reflecting upon
the last firing of Galata by destilling of strong waters, Resolvd’
amongst themselves to goe to the Laboratory and complain of the
danger Apprehended. My First Druggerman, being Prior or Chief
Magistrate, accompanyd’ with others went to the House, and finding
at the Door two Jew servants to this Distiller, tells them that
the Community if they did not leave of (_sic_) their distilling of
strong waters where there was no chimney nor hearth, they would
complain to the Chimacam, who immediately would send those Jewes
to the Gally’s. Their Master comming home the Jewes tell him what
happend’, The small Merchant Recurrs to his Resident, His Resident
sends him to me, He relates His story, I askd’ Him what He was, He
told me He was a Merchant that came over with the Resident, I told
Him that I usd’ not to receive messages from Publick Ministers but
by Druggermen or their own Secretary’s, nor to other Informations
would I give any credence. However having taken my Informations
from my First Druggerman I sent my Third Druggerman to the
Resident, first to tell him that either He knew not the Respect
due to Publick Ministers Here, or else that He was very wanting in
it towards me, in sending me a message neither by his Secretary
nor his Druggerman, That the grounds of this complaint were so
just, that must in my own name renew the complaint against this
Destiller in order to the Preservation of my Merchants’ estates, as
well as of my Druggermen’s Houses, That what my First Druggerman
had sayd’ was to the Jewes and not to His Merchant and that they
would certainly goe into the Gally’s if the Destillator continud’
His Trade there, That however he had never enterd’ into the House,
but sayd’ this to them in the street. The Resident answerd’ That he
knew Signor Giorgio Drapery’s very well, and knew as well that he
was not within the House, For had he gon in, he should have mett
with Bastonate.

“Upon the return of this answer I sent him word, That both with
the Ambassadour of France and Bailo of Venice, Persons of the same
character with me, our meanest servants were mutually treated with
greater respect then he showd’ to my First Druggerman, Knight
of Jerusalem, and of the most Noble and Ancient family in this
Country, and that therefore, unlesse that the Resident did make
Him some Reparation or Satisfaction, I must be forcd’ to resent
it: wondring both at His Passion and Indiscretion to say at the
same time he knew him to be my First Druggerman, he should tell the
other Druggerman the Jewes should have bastonadod’ him, had he said
those words within the House.”

Thereupon Signor Spinola’s Secretary came to beg Sir John’s pardon,
offering him all reparation in his master’s name, “even submitting
himselfe to be bastonadod’.” Sir John, however, who felt that he
had been wounded in his most tender point, was not yet satisfied:
to appease him, it was necessary that the atonement should be as
public as the injury: “the thing being Publick and making no passe
to Sigr Giorgio I told him, till he had sent some message to him
I could not admitt of any corrispondence.” Accordingly he cut off
all relations with the Resident and declared to the Secretary
of State that he would continue “so to doe till I have farther
satisfaction.” The Secretary of State duly expressed his resentment
to the Genoese Minister in London. But in the meantime Sir John
had received Spinola’s submission as he desired, in the form of “a
passe toward the personall satisfaction of my Druggerman done in
Publique before my servants, and then after four moneths I returnd’
him his visit.”

Thus ended “this Storm in a Bason.”[182]

Not very long afterwards our Ambassador found himself involved in a
difference with his French colleague.

Sir John’s religious activities at Adrianople had led to a little
coolness between those hitherto firm friends. In five months
Nointel had not paid Finch one visit, and now that he had to see
him on a matter of business (a dispute between the English and
French merchants of Aleppo referred to the adjudication of their
respective ambassadors), he pretended that it was Finch’s turn to
call. Hence a pretty quarrel. Finch declared that he had made the
last visit. Nointel maintained that that visit was a return to one
he had made and insisted that Finch should begin afresh. Finch
protested that this was contrary to the diplomatic practice of
Pera, and “a most dangerous point--to make two visits for one, it
being the note of distinction between Ambassadours and Residents.”
No doubt the noble Marquis’s _amour-propre_ would be gratified by
such a recognition of French superiority, but the honour of his
Majesty did not permit Sir John to afford him that gratification
on any account. Both by letters and by oral messages he assured
Nointel, blandly but firmly, that, unless he made the first visit,
all intercourse between them would cease. “And certainly,” he wrote
to the Secretary of State, “I shall not give way to him one hair,
without the orders of the King my Master.” Courteous as Sir John
was, he could be very obstinate where his King’s honour was at

For three weeks both ambassadors remained immovable; and then the
Frenchman sent to inform the Englishman that he desired to call on
him in the afternoon. But it so chanced that Finch had just engaged
himself for that very afternoon to the Bailo of Venice. He was
therefore forced to beg Nointel to excuse him for that day. It was
a most unfortunate _contretemps_: Finch, on one hand, feared that
Nointel might think he had put a slight upon him by feigning that
engagement, and on the other he suspected that perhaps Nointel had
heard of it and, knowing that it was impossible for him to receive
his visit that day, imagined that the offering of it should serve
for the having paid it and oblige Sir John to make one in return.
Tormented by these doubts, he sent his own Dragoman to repeat
his explanations and excuses. Great was his relief when Nointel
appointed the day following for his visit, which accordingly he
performed; and the day after Finch returned it. “So that all things
were reducd’ to the ancient friendship and cheerfullnesse.”[183]

We may picture the noble Marquis once more adorning Sir John’s
dinner-table. Nointel was a great table-talker, and he had varied
experiences which he could narrate with all the vivacity of his
race. But the conversation at our Ambassador’s board must have
seemed to him painfully restrained in its tone and restricted in
its range of subject. It turned persistently on religion, and was
carried on under the unexhilarating auspices of Sir Thomas Baines.
He was the conductor of the theological concert, and there was a
deferential manner in the bearing of the host towards him which
must have stifled in the guest all sense of freedom. What weighty
dogmas Baines uttered, what profundities of erudition he disclosed,
how he answered the arguments he provoked--all these things Finch
noted down with the reverence of a disciple and the vicarious
pride of a lover. In such an atmosphere thoughtless loquacity was
obviously out of place, memories gained in wanton ways had to be
kept under lock and key: the only proper demeanour was that of a
prig or a prude. One day the Frenchman, who was neither, stirred
by Florentine wine or by the spirit of mischief, kicked over the
traces. After a discussion concerning the Crucifixion, he wandered
off into some reminiscences of his early life in Paris. Sir Thomas
listened scandalised but self-possessed: of the jarring sensations
that ran along his spinal cord there was no sign upon his austere
countenance; only when the raconteur had done, he leaned forward
and remarked:

“_Che dirà il Crucifisso?_”

The reproof brought the errant Marquis back to his actual
milieu and its proprieties. He was, Sir John tells us, “struck
dumbfounded and was filled with astonishment at so unexpected a
glosse, which he sayd was a more efficacious sermon then he had
heard from the Capuchin Fryers.”[184] What he said to himself we do
not know.

From these trivialities, which enveloped his mind like fine-spun
cobwebs, Sir John was suddenly roused by a very serious event:
nothing less than the death of the great Ahmed Kuprili.

At the approach of the autumnal equinox the Grand Signor broke
up his camp and began his migration to Adrianople. The Vizir
was then ill--so ill that he refused Sir John’s request for a
farewell audience with these words: “If God pleasd’, wee should
meet in the Spring, but then he was not in a state to receive my
Visit.” Nevertheless, Ahmed followed his master in a galley as
far as Selivria, where our Ambassador’s Dragoman, who had been
sent to obtain some Commands, saw him, on his landing, carried by
four persons to a litter, on which, too weak to sit upright, he
stretched himself at full length. In this critical condition he
went on another day’s journey, and at that point, his strength
failing him, he had to be taken a mile off the road into a private
house. Mindful of the public interest to the very last, he called
his Kehayah and ordered him to march with the army to Adrianople.
The Kehayah, with tears in his eyes, begged to be allowed to stay
and wait upon him, saying that no man could serve him with so much
care or so much affection. “No,” replied Ahmed, “the Gran Signor’s
Army ought not to want a Head, and since I cannot, you must Head

The Grand Signor at the moment was, as usual, hunting; but as
soon as news of the Vizir’s state reached him, he hastened to
his bedside--a signal proof of the sentiments which the master
cherished towards his illustrious servant. Sir John was deeply
impressed: “I must needs say,” he writes, “That I have read of
the Privacy’s of many Great Ministers of State with their Prince,
I have livd’ to be no stranger to the story’s of the Modern
one’s. But Nothing in Christendome neither Card: Richlieu, Card:
Mazarin, or Don Louis de Haro, or any other Christian favourite
can parallell either the Power, Influence, or Intimacy, That this
Gran Visir had with this Emperour.” Thus Ahmed lingered on till the
24th of October, when he succumbed to a dropsy inherited from his
father but intensified by worries of government, hardships of war,
and excessive indulgence in strong waters. He had ruled the Ottoman
Empire for fifteen years, and at the time of his death he was not
above forty-five.

His body was brought back to Constantinople in a plain coach drawn
by six horses and attended by only half-a-dozen footmen. It was
taken to a mosque where the Kaimakam and other dignitaries awaited
it with the religious ministers, and was laid in the same sepulchre
as his father’s. No pomp distinguished Ahmed’s funeral from that
of an ordinary pasha. But the mourning was universal. Moslems and
Christians, natives and aliens joined in paying tribute to the
virtues of the departed statesman, to his moderation, his justice,
his inflexible probity. He was a pasha free from greed; he was
an autocrat who knew how to temper absolutism with gentleness: a
memorable, and in some respects a unique exemplar of a beneficent
despot. The English, in particular, remembered with gratitude
Ahmed’s scrupulous observance of their Capitulations, and his
readiness to punish any official who violated them. It was not
probable that they would see his like again.

To Sir John Finch the death of Ahmed, “my Great and Good friend,”
came as a severe shock, and it evoked from him a eulogy more
eloquent in its unaffected simplicity than any elaborate panegyric:
“Most certainly He was a Great Minister of State, and Master of
Great Resolutions; For whatsoever He sett upon He allwayes went
through. He was undoubtedly Just; and the freest from Corruption of
any that ever held that charge, for He was no lover of mony.” How
was the event likely to affect himself? This question, naturally,
mingled itself with Sir John’s sorrow: “I hope things will not upon
the change of the Ministers change their Face too; But the Truth is
In the Visir I lost a True friend, and with Him all the Rest, For
they will be Turnd’ out of their severall charges, so that I must
begin my Interest anew.”[185]

Immediately on Ahmed’s death the Seal was carried by his brother
to the Grand Signor and, according to general expectation, was
conferred upon Mustafa Pasha--commonly called Kara Mustafa, or
Black Mustafa, from the darkness of his complexion. He was a man
of fifty-three. Having begun as a page in the household of old
Mohammed Kuprili and married his daughter, he had risen under that
Vizir to the position of Capiji-bashi. Ahmed had made him Capitan
Pasha, or Lord High Admiral, and, on going to Candia, left him as
his Deputy with the Sultan. Mustafa had taken the utmost advantage
of this proximity to the sovereign, pandering to all his passions
and always accompanying him in his hunting. He was just about to
marry one of the Grand Signor’s daughters--a damsel of six.

As soon as the appointment was announced, Sir John hastened to find
out all about Kara Mustafa’s character and antecedents, so that he
might from the past form a forecast of the future. Information was
easy to obtain: a person who had for so many years been the second
grandee in the Empire had naturally become an object of interested
study to every one that came into contact with the Court. Had he
access to the Foreign Office archives, Finch would have found a
terse summary of the new Vizir’s character from the pen of Sir
Daniel Harvey’s secretary: “well spoken, subtill, corrupt, and a
great dissembler.”[186] As it was, he learnt that Kara Mustafa
was reputed “a Great Souldyer, and a Great Courtier; and of a
very Active Genious.” But these qualities were marred by two very
pronounced vices: avarice and arrogance. The English merchants had
suffered from his cupidity, and all the foreign envoys from his
pride. These reports made Sir John uneasy: he saw the outlines of
trouble in the future: he had a disquieting sense of uncertainty;
but he hoped that the example of his famous predecessor and the
responsibility of his present position might cure Kara Mustafa of
his propensities.

The new Grand Vizir began his career after a fashion which
justified Sir John’s best hopes. He removed no Minister from his
post, except the Kehayah, a necessary measure, and he softened it
by making him Master of the Horse to the Sultan: a place which, if
less profitable, was not less honourable. Neither did he put any
man to death, except a paymaster, and that was an act of justice
rather than of severity, for the official had been convicted of
paying out false money. In brief, Ahmed’s death did not seem to
have produced any change at the Porte other than the change of
the Vizir’s person. Sir John felt reassured: much as he missed
the suave Kehayah, he was glad to know that he still occupied a
position of influence; and that, apart from this alteration, he
would not have “to begin his Interest anew.” As late as the first
of March 1677 he was able to write: “Both with the Court it selfe
and the Publick Ministers that reside Here, things passe with me
so peaceably that I am in a perfect calme.” Indeed, the Government
was so “regular,” that, in the dearth of “occurrences of remarque,”
the Ambassador could scarcely find “materialls enough to furnish a

For the fact is that Kara Mustafa was to be six months a Grand
Vizir before anything happened. But what then happened was in
itself a drama.


[173] See Appendix XII.

[174] Finch to Coventry, May 26: S.V. 1677. See also Appendix XIII.

[175] Such was the mournful reflection of a contemporary merchant
who, after doing the “Nation” a great service at Constantinople,
got not “common thanks and scarce good looks” for his pains. See
_Life of Dudley North_, p. 102.

[176] Richard Pococke, who visited Smyrna in 1739, notes: “they
export a great quantity of raisins to England, under the pretence
of a privilege they have by our Capitulations of loading so many
ships for the King’s table.”--_A Description of the East_ (London:
1745), Bk. II. ch. i.

[177] Finch to Coventry, May 4-14, _Coventry Papers_; the Same to
Right Hon. [Joseph Williamson], May 31: S.V. 1676, _S.P. Turkey_,

[178] Covel’s _Diaries_, pp. 163-8.

[179] Finch to Coventry, May 4-14.

[180] The Same to the Same, June 20-30, 1676.

[181] Finch to Coventry, Aug. 4-14, 1676. Cp. Covel’s _Diaries_,
pp. 160-2; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 331-2.

[182] Finch to Coventry, Jan. 6 16, 1675-76; May 4-14; Aug. 4-14,

[183] Finch to Coventry, Aug. 4-14, enclosing Nointel to Finch (in
French), Aug. 11 and 13 (N.S.); Finch to Nointel (in Italian), Aug.
2-12 and 4-14. The Same to the Same, Aug. 29/Sept. 8, 1676.

[184] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 68.

[185] Finch to Coventry, Oct. 26, S.V. 1676. Cp. Rycaut to John
Field “At Mr Secretary Coventry’s office att Whitehall,” Dec. 13,
_Coventry Papers_; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 332-3.

[186] George Etherege to Joseph Williamson, letter endorsed “R.
8 May, 1670,” _S.P. Turkey_, 19. It is interesting to compare
this verdict with this: “One of the most refined witts, the most
accomplished Courtier, and a person of the greatest experience,”
Rycaut to Field, _loc. cit._ Etherege was a poet, Rycaut a
historian; which of the two had a truer insight time was to show.

[187] Finch to Coventry, Nov. 20-30, 1676; March 1-11, 1676-77. Cp.
Rycaut to Field, _loc. cit._, Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 334-5.



Early in March 1677 Mohammed IV. returned to Constantinople,
followed three weeks later by his Vizir; and behold, all of a
sudden, the government which hitherto had been a model of mildness
took on a face such as “the Oldest Man here never saw.”[188] Of
this metamorphosis the representatives of foreign States became
aware when they asked to be permitted to offer the new Grand Vizir
their felicitations.

Before this epoch Christian envoys had often been subject to
contumely, violence, and outrage at the hands of the Grand Signor’s
curious Ministers. But no attempt had ever been made to treat them
systematically as pariahs. To Kara Mustafa--“an embitterd’ enemy
to all Christians,” as Sir John calls him--belongs the credit of
evolving out of those desultory essays in truculence a regular
system of calculated indecency--a system which was to endure
for more than a hundred years, becoming, in course of time, as
established things do, respectable, consecrated, all but decent.
He it was who collected every planless affront, threat of rage,
artifice of greed--every caprice of a decrepit despotism,--and
wove them all together into one net of humiliation out of which
only force could liberate its victims.

The process was inaugurated with the representative of France, the
excitable Marquis de Nointel, who, eager for precedence, hastened
to seek the first audience, and after a month’s solicitations
secured an appointment. His Dragomans then, according to custom,
asked to have the number of _kaftans_ which were to be bestowed
upon the Ambassador fixed; but they were told that the Ambassador
was to expect none. This was only a slight prelude to what was to
follow: “where,” as Sir John sententiously remarks, “the Preface
speaks innovations, the body of the discourse will have them at

On arriving at the Porte on the appointed day (Sunday, April 22nd),
Nointel had to wait three whole hours in the room of the Kehayah--a
surly Turk--without conversation or any other entertainment; and
when at last he was called in, he found the narrow corridor that
led to the Audience Chamber crowded with chaoushes who jostled
him most rudely. Truth to tell, this rudeness, at all events, was
not premeditated. The poor chaoushes had come in the turbans of
ceremony worn on such occasions, but had been ordered by the Vizir
to go and exchange them for their ordinary headgear: hence their
hurry to get back to their places before the Ambassador made his
entry. Nointel, however, whose nerves were already on edge with
the long waiting, saw in their behaviour a fresh insult, and he
elbowed his way down the passage fiercely flinging the chaoushes
to right and left against the walls. In this temper he entered the
Audience Chamber, and there he observed something at which his
resentment reached the height of exasperation: the stool destined
for him was not upon the Soffah, but on the floor below! He ordered
his Dragoman to set it where it should be; one of the Vizir’s pages
brought it down again. Then the Ambassador, in a towering rage,
seized the stool with his own hand, carried it to the Soffah, and
sat upon it.

When this act was reported to the Vizir, who was in an adjoining
apartment, he sent for the Ambassador’s Dragoman and commanded
him to tell his master that he must move his seat back where he
had found it. The trembling Dragoman delivered the message and
was bidden by the angry Ambassador to hold his tongue. Next the
Vizir sent his own Dragoman, Dr. Mavrocordato, with whom Nointel
maintained the closest friendship. In vain did the Greek try to
soothe the enraged Frenchman, imploring him to moderate his temper
and yield gracefully to the inevitable. Nothing could prevail over
M. de Nointel’s obstinacy: the pride of the wig was pitted against
the pride of the turban, and it must be remembered that both wigs
and turbans were then at their zenith. In the end, Mavrocordato,
finding argument useless, changed his tone and said, in Italian:
“The Grand Vizir commands the chair to be placed below.” Nointel
replied: “The Grand Vizir can command his chair: he cannot command
me.” At that moment the Chaoush-bashi burst into the room, roaring,
“_Calder, calder_--Take it away, take it away!”--and before he
knew what was happening, Nointel found the stool snatched from
under him. In an access of fury, his Excellency dashed out of the
room, sword on shoulder, pushed his way through the throng, and,
ordering the presents which he had brought to follow him, mounted
his horse and departed, exciting, as he boasted, by his firmness,
“the astonishment of the Turks and the joy of the French.” Kara
Mustafa alone remained calm. His comment, when he heard that the
Ambassador was gone, was one word: “_Gehennem_” (Let him go to

One barbarous word, that can be shown to be authentic, is worth
volumes of descriptive writing.

Such was the beginning of the celebrated “Affaire du Sofa”--a
quarrel which drew the attention of all Europe and nearly led to a
rupture between France and Turkey. The question arises: was Nointel
justified in resenting so violently Kara Mustafa’s innovation?
Here, more fitly perhaps than afterwards, we may discuss this
question, and try to obtain that true perspective of things,
without which there can be no true understanding of our story, nor
any appreciation of the agitations and mortifications which its
chief character underwent from that day onward for about eight
months to come.

Much ridicule has been poured by modern English writers upon the
vanity of seventeenth-century French courtiers--a foible which made
the most insignificant trifles swell in their minds to matters of
the highest moment. What, indeed, could be more puerile than for
the representative of a great monarch to quarrel with the head of
the Government to which he was accredited about the position of a
stool? But we, wise democrats of to-day, ought not to be surprised
that frivolous nobles of the old régime displayed such childish
folly and petulance: these are the natural characteristics of every
monarchical régime, of every hereditary aristocracy, melancholy
features of a state of things which has now happily passed away.

That the French nobility under Louis XIV. carried punctiliousness
to the length of absurdity is well known to readers of contemporary
French literature: the memoirs and letters of the men and women
who composed the Court of Louis are full of serious, sometimes
dangerous, disputes arising out of the most ludicrous points of
etiquette, and narrated with a becoming sense of their importance.
Nowhere was this triumph of Ceremonialism over common sense more
notable than in the rules that governed diplomatic relations.
But--a thing forgotten by modern critics--the French Republic
of our time is hardly less tenacious of ceremonial forms in
its international relations than the French Monarchy was. Nay,
democratic America herself, as everybody acquainted with her
State Department will bear witness, sets as much store by these
trifles as any country of aristocratic Europe. The truth is that,
when nations deal with one another, they have to stand on strict
ceremony: forms have been invented to prevent friction; and States
which wish to cultivate mutual friendship are therefore extremely
wary of departing from established usages.

The extreme irritability of M. de Nointel may have been relative
to the nation--a great nation, but a thin-skinned--to which he
belonged. But its cause, however contemptible it may appear to
us, to English diplomats of his time--men not wholly devoid of
understanding--did not appear so.

Sir John Finch was at dinner with some of the merchants, when one
of the Embassy Janissaries, whom Nointel had borrowed from him for
the solemn function, returned home bringing the sensational news
that the French Ambassador, after four hours’ stay at the Porte,
had gone away without audience.

From all he had heard of Kara Mustafa Finch had foreseen that
many strange things would befall; and for that reason, instead of
competing with the Frenchman for precedence, as his habit was,
he had deliberately let him have the first audience: much as the
polite fox in the fable let the elephant try first the rickety
plank that bridged a dangerous-looking stream. Nevertheless, he
was greatly startled by the news. What had happened to Nointel
might happen to him. So, dismissing his guests, he set at once to
work to ascertain what _had_ happened: there was not a moment to
lose; and indeed, before he had completed his investigations, a
messenger arrived from the Porte. Finch easily guessed the purport
of his errand, and in order to gain time for further information
and reflection, he decided to have an attack of diplomatic fever.
To give his fiction verisimilitude, he retired hastily to his
bedroom and received the messenger in his bed. The message was as
he expected: “The Grand Vizir desired that His Excellency should
come to audience on the following morning.” Sir John answered from
his couch that it was a favour which he had sought for, but he was
sorry that his “indisposition of body” would not permit him to
accept it. He prayed the Grand Vizir to excuse him.

Kara Mustafa had no difficulty in diagnosing the “indisposition
of body” which afflicted Sir John, but dissembling his wisdom,
he promptly ordered that, since the Ambassador of England was
indisposed, the Bailo of Venice should take his place next morning,
and the Resident of Holland should come in the afternoon. Both
these diplomats were content to receive their audiences on the
Vizir’s terms, while the Resident of Genoa sought for audience
on those same terms and could not obtain it. Such, then, was the
position of the Diplomatic Corps on the Bosphorus in the spring
of 1677: the French Ambassador in open defiance of the Porte; the
Venetian Ambassador, the Dutch Resident, and the Genoese Resident
in open compliance with it; the English Ambassador alone remained
uncommitted, “as lying under the Maschera of indisposition of body.”

Sir John counted that by his clever strategy he had at least
gained this: that he had not set the example of submission. Had
he done so, the King would have received complaints from all
Christendom that his envoy was the first to put on “the yoke of
this high-minded Visir” and by his example had forced the other
foreign Ministers to take up the same yoke: ay, the meanest of them
would have said that, had he not established a precedent, they
would have scorned to submit. As it was, Sir John had freed himself
from any imputation, and left the others to answer for their own
pusillanimity. “Neverthelesse,” he naïvely admits, “this Maschera
of a distemper at the first seen clearly through both by Turk and
Christian must not be wore long.”

Seven days he considered enough to get well. He spent this period
of convalescence studying the situation and deliberating what
“prudent and wary resolutions” it befitted him to take. Then he
called his Dragomans to him and asked them whether they had ever
known an English ambassador receive from a Grand Vizir audience
with his stool below the Soffah? They answered with one voice No!
such a thing had never been known; and their memories served them
so readily that they went through eight or nine Vizirates by name,
as if they were repeating a lesson they had by heart. Whereupon Sir
John bade them deliver to the Vizir a Memorial which he had drawn
up. In this document the Ambassador informed Kara Mustafa that the
King his master was known to be equal to the greatest prince in
Christendom, but he was even more widely renowned as surpassing
all other princes in the sincerity and constancy of his friendship
towards the Sublime Porte: his Majesty had at all times not only
abstained from sending succours to any of Turkey’s enemies, but
supplied her with whatsoever served for the convenience of peace
or the necessity of war. After thus hinting at his claim to better
treatment than his French colleague, Sir John pointed out that not
only he himself in all his audiences of the deceased Vizir had his
seat upon the Soffah, but that, as far as he could learn, there had
never been an instance of a Vizir denying an English ambassador
such a seat. Lastly, he declared that he was under rigorous
instructions from his King to preserve intact the respect always
rendered him in this Court; and his master might justly shed his
blood, if he should do anything repugnant to his Majesty’s honour
and commands.[190]

When the Dragomans came to the passage in which Finch, as his
composition originally stood, told the Vizir that he had about him
servants of so many years’ standing who knew what the practice had
been under so many Vizirs, they said that they dared not deliver
“such a Paper.”

“Why,” asked the Ambassador, “is this part not true?”

“Yes,” they agreed, “but we dare not say it is so.”

His Excellency had the inconceivable fatuity to retort:

“Do I name you as the informers?”

“No,” was the obvious answer, “but the Vizir must know it can be
none but us.”

It is amazing to find Sir John, in his report to the Secretary
of State, while moralising on the terrors of Turkish tyranny,
also complaining of the “timidity and cowardesse of Druggermen,”
who refused to risk hanging and impaling in order to please
him. However, in the end, finding it impossible to overcome the
Dragomans’ perverse regard for their lives, he couched his Note in
vaguer terms.

To this Note Sir John received no answer for three days, and on
the fourth he had one which he did not know what to make of; it
looked as if Kara Mustafa had been rather annoyed by his Memorial,
though he did not tear it up. So next day he sent his Dragomans
to sound the Rais Effendi. This Minister told them that he
would be sorry to see an ambassador who enjoyed so good credit
at the Porte forfeit it by opposing the Grand Vizir, who, if the
Ambassador came to audience, was ready to embrace him. Encouraged
by this message, Sir John wrote to the Rais Effendi, thanking him
for his friendship, hinting at a more substantial reward for any
good offices he might do him with “the Most Excellent Vizir,” and
protesting his willingness to give his Excellency every possible
satisfaction. His one passion was to maintain his ambassadorial
character with due decorum, to preserve the peace and commerce
according to the “Sacred and Sublime Capitulations,” and to
render to the Imperial Majesty of the Grand Signor “all acts of
obsequiousness and reverence.” His heart being thus disposed, he
hoped that it would be clear “to the lucid understanding of the
Most Excellent Supream Visir” that a first-class Ambassador from
one of the greatest potentates in Christendom ought not to be
treated in parity with a Resident of whatsoever prince, much less
with the Residents of inferior Republics. Therefore he trusted that
some expedient would be found to make a distinction between the
highest and the lowest sorts of foreign Ministers; for he burned
with a desire to do reverence in person to the Most Excellent Vizir
Azem. Such was the tenor of his letter.[191] The Rais Effendi read
it but said nothing.

We may observe here that the distinction between Ambassadors and
Residents which meant so much to European envoys did not exist
for the Turks. Whenever an Ambassador claimed precedence over a
Resident upon the ground of superior rank, they used to say:
“What, has he not a Commission? have you more?” For all diplomatic
agents they had only one name, _Elchi_, and their attitude towards
them all was equally contemptuous.[192] This, however, as we shall
see in the sequel, did not prevent them from exploiting a prejudice
which they did not share.

Having made such advances as he deemed compatible with his dignity
to very little purpose, Sir John resolved to wait and see what Kara
Mustafa’s next move would be. Meanwhile he ordered his Dragomans to
frequent the Porte as usual, so that the other foreign Ministers
might not think that he had either given or taken offence--M. de
Nointel had withdrawn his Dragomans; but Sir John judged himself
“to be in no way, nor in no condition, in his case.” How long the
affair would last or how it would end he had no idea. He wished
he were nearer home that he might have instructions from the King
for his guidance. As it was, he was obliged to walk by his own
lights, hoping that in all he had done hitherto and in all that he
should do hereafter, if he did not deserve his Majesty’s approval,
he might at least obtain his pardon. Of one thing he asked the
Secretary of State to be sure: “I shall to the uttmost of my
possibility keep my selfe off from any condescention.” “For if I
should condescend and the French Ambassadour afterwards gain the
Point, then for him to be receivd’ with a distinction of Honour
from the Ambassadour of the King my Master would be an everlasting
Blemish.” Of course, if he capitulated, Sir John would do his best
to hinder his colleague from stealing a march upon him; but “the
best may not be good enough.” Then, again, there was another thing
to consider: suppose he yielded to the Porte on this point, no man
knew what the Porte would exact next: all the present Ministers
were “sower, ante Christian Turk’s, and very Covetous”; and of them
all Kara Mustafa was the worst. Sir John was unaffectedly afraid of
Kara Mustafa; “and what gives me to fear him the more,” he says,
“is that he is like allway’s to continue Visir; for there was never
no Visir yett that ever was the tenth part, nay the twentyeth, so
free or rather profuse in his gifts to the Gran Signor as he is.”

Now, Kara Mustafa assuredly deserved all, or nearly all, that
Sir John said about him. But it must not be supposed that, in
this particular case, he had not something to say for himself.
His self-justification, according to Sir John’s own report, was
this: Though it might be an undeniable truth that no Vizir had
ever received an ambassador but with his stool upon the Soffah,
yet he, whilst only a Kaimakam, had never received any but with
their stools below the Soffah. It was thus that he had received
M. de Nointel himself, and, what troubled Sir John most, it was
thus that he had received Sir John’s own predecessor Harvey. M. de
Nointel might argue that he had paid Kara Mustafa then only a visit
of courtesy, and that as Ahmed Kuprili, the then Vizir, received
him on the Soffah, he had not thought it worth his while to make
a fuss about a subordinate pasha’s manners. This argument was not
open to Sir John, for when Harvey called on Kara Mustafa, Ahmed
Kuprili being away in Candia, Kara Mustafa acted as his Deputy, nor
was that a mere courtesy call, but a solemn audience. Therefore,
Kara Mustafa reasoned, why should Sir John object to paying him
now, when he was a full-blown Grand Vizir, the respect which his
predecessor had paid him without the least reluctance, when he was
but the Grand Vizir’s shadow?

An interesting point, but not worth dwelling upon. Whether right
was on Kara Mustafa’s side or not, might certainly was; and
he exercised it without pity. Leaving Finch for the moment in
suspense, he turned his undivided attention to Nointel. After
tearing up a Memorial of the French Ambassador’s and abusing the
Dragoman who presented it, he confined the noble Marquis in his
house and threatened to commit him to the Seven Towers--an old
Byzantine fortress which served the purposes of an Ottoman Bastille.

M. de Nointel’s distress was indescribable. From his King he could
expect no support. For some time past, owing to his consistent
failures at the Porte, he had been under a cloud at Versailles--a
cloud that not one ray of royal clemency or one livre from the
royal exchequer came to pierce. An attempt to make both ends meet
by fleecing French merchants with the help of Turkish soldiers
had deepened his disgrace without relieving him permanently from
his financial difficulties. Day after day his debts mounted; day
after day his spirits sank. Creditors clamoured for payment at his
door, and not daring to attack him directly as yet, attacked his
secretaries. Any day he might find himself in the Seven Towers.
At last, in despair, the miserable Marquis sued for peace on the
Grand Vizir’s terms, and only procured it by agreeing to pay him
an extraordinary present of 3000 dollars--in household stuff and
plate, for of ready money he had none. In spite, or perhaps
because, of his abject surrender, the representative of the great
Louis was made to drink the cup of humiliation to its bitterest
dregs. Twice Kara Mustafa summoned him to audience, and twice he
sent him away without audience; and when the third time he did
receive him, he declined to partake of coffee and sherbet, or to
be perfumed with him, but let the Giaour have his refreshments

Sir John had not been ignorant of Nointel’s overtures to the
Porte, nor was he unaware of the fact that, after the Frenchman’s
capitulation, his own position would be much worse. Yet what could
he do? To forestall Nointel by submitting first would have been too
great a degradation, and would have afforded the French Ambassador
a warrantable excuse for transferring the whole responsibility for
his own submission upon Finch’s shoulders. In this dilemma, our
Ambassador displayed his noted talent for expedients. He ordered
his Dragomans to tell the Vizir’s Kehayah that he had received
instructions from the King of England to thank the Grand Signor
by the Vizir’s mouth for a favour (meaning the Smyrna figs,
though he did not say so), and that he was ready at any time to
wait upon his Excellency, if the Grand Vizir would be pleased to
receive him “with any distinction from the lowest Minister of the
meanest Prince.” But in vain: Nointel’s pliancy had stiffened Kara
Mustafa’s back. So Sir John acquiesced in his destiny, and again
let the Frenchman proceed first. The day after Nointel’s surrender,
he applied for audience without reservations or conditions. He
received a patronising reply, that his “Motion was very good”; but
the Vizir was so taken up with the Polish Treaty that he could not
at present appoint a day. Several times, during the next three
months, Sir John repeated his “motion,” and every time he met with
the same evasive answer.

For the first time since his strategic retreat to his bedroom Sir
John doubted the wisdom of that step. Even now he did not regret
the deed itself--that was worthily done. Any other conduct would
have been inconsistent with punctilious care for the honour of
the King his master. Sir John tried to fortify himself with these
thoughts. But as week after week came and went, and still there
was no invitation to audience, he could not but feel that a deed
which is right in principle may be pernicious in its consequences.
At length, beginning to grow seriously anxious, he begged his
very good friend Hussein Aga to find out the real origin of these
delays. The Chief Customer sent back word that there was not the
least “disgusto” against him at Court: the Polish Treaty really
took up all the Vizir’s time, and he would have his audience in
due course and with due honour--that was the whole truth of the
matter “upon his head.” This reassuring message allayed Sir John’s
anxiety, till--let Sir John himself speak--“till an unpreventable
accident disorderd’ and discomposd’ all things and incensd’ the
Visir so much that He satisfyd’ his passion upon me.”[194]

The accident deserves to be related at some length; for, besides
the effect it had upon our Ambassador’s fortunes, it illustrates
very vividly, if not very pleasantly, the manners of the times and
the morals of the men involved.

An English merchant of Smyrna had lent to a Venetian native of
Candia, called Pizzamano, 3000 dollars, and received some goods as
security. After the merchant’s death, his partner, Mr. John Ashby,
who at the time of the deal was away, found this pledge among the
assets of the deceased, and also found that, in the interval,
Pizzamano had gone bankrupt and was hiding from his creditors.
Although the term of the loan had not yet expired, Mr. Ashby,
fearing no trouble from a man who was unable to show his face,
proceeded to sell the goods at the Consul’s gate, in the usual
Frank fashion, “by inch of candle.”[195] Besides being premature,
the proceeding was irregular in other respects. Turkish law did
not recognise a sale at the Consul’s gate by inch of candle, but
ordained that all auctions should be held in the market-place, by
leave of the Cadi, and after three days’ public notice. Further,
it must be observed that Mr. Rycaut, in sanctioning the sale, had
exceeded his powers: an English Consul’s jurisdiction was limited
to persons of his own nation, and he had no right to settle an
affair between an Englishman and a foreigner.

These grave irregularities gave Pizzamano a chance, when he found
that the sale of his goods had yielded not only less than they were
worth, but even less than they had been pawned for, to denounce
the transaction and to claim compensation. Armed with an authentic
copy of the sale, which he had procured from the Cancellaria of the
English Consulate, he went up to Constantinople; and there this
bankrupt who was regarded as utterly helpless, by a singular piece
of luck, found powerful friends in Court. It was one of those odd
coincidences that seem to occur in order to show how much more
romantic life can be than the wildest fiction. The Venetian, before
setting up as a trader, had served as a purser on a French pirate
ship which Kara Mustafa, whilst Capitan Pasha, had captured. Now it
so happened that among the captives was a French cabin-boy who had
found favour in Kara Mustafa’s eyes, turned Turk, and become his
Hasnadar or Treasurer. For the sake of old times, the ex-cabin-boy
espoused the cause of the ex-purser heartily; several influential
Turks, creditors of Pizzamano’s, joined the crew in hopes of being
repaid out of the loot; and thus supported, the Venetian appealed
for redress to the Vizir as a Candiote and therefore now a subject
of the Grand Signor.

The Vizir immediately sent a chaoush to fetch Mr. Ashby up to
Constantinople, without notifying the Ambassador, who, according
to the Capitulations, should have been informed in order to
lend the defendant his assistance. This snub, however, did not
prevent Sir John from making Ashby’s quarrel his own. Ashby had
been exalted by the Smyrna factors into a popular hero: great
numbers of them accompanied him to the capital, “with swords and
pistolls”--quite a guard of honour; and he arrived bringing a
petition to the Ambassador signed by the Consul and forty members
of the Factory, that the expenses of the case should be defrayed
out of public funds. To this request Sir John demurred on purely
tactical grounds: “fearing that if I had declard’ my sense at
first, wee should starve our cause, I told Ashby that it was time
enough for my Answer when the thing was brought to a period.” With
this reservation, which shows that a man can be at once indiscreet
and cautious, Sir John made the defendant an object of his warmest
solicitude: the merits of the case seem to have had as little
weight with him as with the English colony in general.

At first everything went well. The Grand Vizir, when the litigants
appeared before him at the Divan, treated Ashby and his supporters
with the utmost indulgence, looking upon them, “as my Druggerman
told me, with the same smiling countenance as when he was
Chimacham,” and even declining to take notice of an aggravating
circumstance brought forward by the plaintiff--namely, that the
English factors who had accompanied Ashby to Constantinople
had tried on the way to rescue him by force of arms and had
actually come to blows with the Turks at Magnesia. Ignoring this
charge--which, in itself, might have supplied material for very
serious trouble--Kara Mustafa referred the case for trial to the
Stamboli Effendi, or Chief Justice of Constantinople, precisely as
we desired. On the eve of the trial an attempt was made to settle
the dispute out of court. Our friend Hussein Aga undertook the
part of arbiter and, after estimating the goods in question by the
advice of Turkish and Jewish merchants, he condemned Ashby to pay
the Venetian 1600 Lion dollars. But as Ashby would not abide by the
arbitration, the matter went before the Judge.

And now, to all the other illegalities mentioned, our countrymen
added an offence of a truly shocking nature. Ashby and his
abettors, from the Ambassador down, had by this time come to see
that a sale of pledged goods to which the owner’s consent could
not be proved was indefensible in Turkish law. They, therefore,
thought fit to deny the sale, and to affirm that the goods
were _in esse_--an attitude to which they were prompted by the
knowledge that the goods could easily be got back from those who
had bought them. In vain did Pizzamano produce his copy of the
sale, signed and sealed by the English Consul. Mr. Ashby, backed
by the Ambassador’s Dragoman and all the Englishmen present,
stoutly denied the authenticity of the document. Pizzamano then
produced two Turkish witnesses who had assisted at the sale. But
these witnesses, not being professional rogues, found themselves
unable to answer some questions on matters of detail put to them by
the Judge, and the bad impression which their inadequate replies
produced was deepened by the vehemence and apparent sincerity
with which the English persisted in affirming that the goods had
not been sold and would be restored on payment of the debt. The
Stamboli Effendi, confounded by this mendacious unanimity, departed
from the ordinary Turkish maxim of considering the word of two True
Believers worth more than that of a crowd of Infidels, and gave
sentence that both litigants should return to Smyrna, the one to
receive his money and the other his goods.

So far the English had been guilty only of a crime which, as long
as it remained undetected, could not hurt them. From this point
they began to commit blunders which were to cost them dearly.
Sir John congratulated Mr. Ashby on his victory, but at the same
time, knowing its seamy side, strongly advised him to come to an
adjustment with the Venetian, who offered to cry quits for 1000
dollars. Ashby, however, would not think of sacrificing an atom
of his ill-gotten advantage. And that was not all. Blinded by a
false sense of security and by cupidity, he did something that
proved fatal. The Grand Vizir’s complaisance and his reference of
the dispute to the Stamboli Effendi had been procured in the usual
way. At the very outset of this unfortunate business, Sir John had
got his friend Hussein Aga to buy off Kara Mustafa’s Hasnadar by a
bribe of 500 dollars. This sum had been handed to Dudley North and
Mr. Hyet, who deposited it by Hussein’s order in the Custom-House.
Soon after obtaining his verdict, Ashby met in the street a servant
of Hussein Aga’s who had charge of the 500 dollars, but did not
know what they were for. “My master,” he said, “has not yet asked
for that money. What am I to do with it?” The merchant’s avarice
got the better of his prudence: “Give it back to me,” he said, and
carried the dollars away. A day or two later Hussein Aga asked
his servant for the money, and on hearing what had happened,
sent to Ashby for it. Ashby refused to part with his dollars
again. Thereupon the Customer, already piqued by the rejection
of his arbitration, lost his temper completely. “He stormd’ like
a madman, and swore he would be revengd’ of the whole Nation for
this affront.” The Hasnadar was not less enraged at this breach of
faith. And the two, seconded by all their friends, revealed to the
Grand Vizir the whole plot, telling him how the English Ambassador
had, through his Dragoman, deceived the Stamboli Effendi about the
sale, and substantiating their damning statements with documentary
and other evidence. In great fury Kara Mustafa summoned once more
all parties concerned to the Divan, and there and then, without so
much as waiting to hear one word in Ashby’s defence, shouted to the
Chaoush-bashi: “Take that Giaour to prison, till he has satisfied

Let us now leave Mr. Ashby in his dungeon, with an iron collar
round his neck and iron manacles on his hands, ruminating on the
fruits of fraud aggravated by folly, and see how this “accident”
affected his august protector.

The great Feast of the Bairam, at which it was customary for all
ambassadors to send presents to the Grand Vizir, drawing near,
Sir John’s Dragoman went to the Porte to ask when he should bring
his “Bairamlik,” and, incidentally, to see if he could not for
once get access to Kara Mustafa, who, “beyond all the example of
his predecessours had not yett sufferd’ any Publick Ministers
Druggerman to speak with him.” A fruitless endeavour! Kara Mustafa
is invisible, and his Kehayah coldly replies that there is no need
of a Bairamlik from you, since your Ambassador has not yet paid his
respects to the Vizir. The Dragoman protests that his Excellency
has constantly pressed for audience and is ready to come either
that night or next morning. “No,” answers the Kehayah; adding that
perhaps the Ambassador thought the Vizir would be content with the
ordinary first audience presents, but that was a delusion--“vests
would not doe the buisenesse.” From the surly Kehayah our Dragoman
goes to Dr. Mavrocordato: they talk the matter over, and it is
agreed between them that we should give fifty vests of a much
larger size than the usual; but when this agreement is propounded
to the Vizir, he rejects it scornfully.

Alarmed by these symptoms of ill-humour, Sir John addressed to Kara
Mustafa, through the Kehayah, a conciliatory message: he was very
sorry to have incurred the Grand Vizir’s displeasure, and begged to
know precisely what would restore him to his favour. He appealed
to the Vizir’s equity by pointing out that he had been obliged to
act as he had done by the exigencies of his position: “If I was in
the same conjuncture again I could doe no lesse: in regard that
if I had submitted to what the Ambassadour of another Christian
Monarch had refusd’, the King my master might justly have cutt off
my head.” He ended by expressing the hope that the Grand Vizir
would not enjoin upon him “any thing exorbitant or dishonourable,”
but that he would rather command his decapitation, “for that I had
rather submitt to the latter, then the former.”

The message was delivered to Kara Mustafa immediately after his
noon prayers, and “he seemd’ to be very much surprisd’” by it--as
well he might. After passing a whole hour in profound meditation,
he said to his Kehayah: “Methinkes the Ambassadour should not
thinke much to send me four thousand zecchins”--say, £2000. The
Kehayah added four hundred on his own account. As the result of
much haggling, the demand fell to 6000 dollars, or £1500, which
included the usual presents, amounting to 600 dollars.

This was Kara Mustafa’s prescription for Sir John’s diplomatic
fever. It plunged the patient into gloom. What could he do? He
could, no doubt, continue staying in his house, even in his bed.
But that would have deprived the English of their protector and
delivered them up to the tender mercies of every official robber
in the Empire. There was already the wretched Ashby groaning in
his chains. There was a claim on the Aleppo Factory for silk dues,
and an accusation of buying Turkish goods from Christian pirates
at Scanderoon. There was the charge, which Kara Mustafa had
brushed aside when in a good temper, against the English factors
of Smyrna of attempting to rescue Ashby by main force: now that
Kara Mustafa was in an ugly mood that charge might be brought
on the tapis again. Sir John considered these things, and also
another thing that concerned him more directly--the old pretensions
of the Pasha of Tunis, which, should a breach take place, were
not likely to remain dormant long. Even as it was, Sir John had
reasons to apprehend a revival of that nasty affair. The Pasha,
it is true, was still in his distant province on the borders of
Arabia, “where,” Sir John says, “I pray God detayn him”; but he
had at Constantinople a Vekil or Procurator in the person of--the
Grand Vizir’s Kehayah: an ominous connection. Lastly, Sir John
had to consider the feelings of the English merchants about him.
Their standard of values was the standard of the counting-house,
not of the Court. They thought it worse than futile to resent
affronts which we had not the means of resisting. Where the Turks
knew that big words were empty bluster, where business men could
be hurt without hope of redress--the only way to peace lay through
bakshish.[196] The factors with one voice urged Sir John to pay up.

There was not much time for hesitation. The Vizir had presented his
final demand in the form of an ultimatum: the Ambassador should
give a “categoricall and positive answer,” Yes or No, not later
than the day following. Sir John said “Yes.” He agreed to purchase
his audience for 6000 Lion dollars, ready money; and tried to
persuade himself that, all things considered, the price was not
excessive: he would save on the size of the vests--one yard here,
two there-so that “in time, though with length,” we should get our
money back! But nothing could minimise the cost in self-respect.
“I never in my life enterd’ upon a Resolution more unwillingly,
nor more against my Genious,” complains the poor diplomat, and we
may well believe him. No Englishman ever “sent to lie abroad for
the good of his country” had a keener sense of honour (we use the
term in its technical acceptation). As we have seen, not once or
even twice, the “point of honour” was to him what his creed is to
a monk, what his flag is to a soldier, what her virtue is to a
maiden--and now he had parted with it.

At the same time, we may ask (certain that Sir John will not mind
our impertinence), was that solution really as inevitable as it
was unpalatable? Was there no other way? On one hand, it is
possible to argue as our merchants argued, and to reinforce the
argument with such considerations as these: although the Law of
Nations which prescribes respect for ambassadors--a law older than
Homer--was not unknown to the Turks, no law is binding upon men
unless it is backed by fear. This requisite was completely absent
in the relations between the Western Powers and the Ottoman Empire.
There were no Turkish ambassadors resident in foreign capitals upon
whom to retaliate, and the Turks were at liberty to act as they
pleased without fear of reprisals. For the rest, their brutality
had been encouraged for generations by impunity. A whole series
of European envoys had been treated by them in the most revolting
manner, and their sovereigns had submitted with true Christian
meekness. On the other hand, there is on record a case which
suggests the existence of a more excellent way.

In the reign of James I., whilst the Elizabethan spirit still
lingered among us, the great English ambassador Sir Thomas Roe,
fired with indignation at the contempt shown by the Sultan’s
Ministers to the representatives of Christian Europe, took a
strong line. He began by writing to the Grand Vizir that he had
orders from his King either to obtain the respect due to English
ambassadors or else to break off relations. The Vizir promised
reform, but forgot to keep his promise. Roe did not waste any more
time, but threw the Capitulations at the Vizir’s feet, and invited
his colleagues to joint action. They all met and set out for the
Seraglio, determined to procure from the Grand Signor either
the Vizir’s head or leave to withdraw their subjects and their
goods out of the country. It so happened that a superior power
intervened. On the way the procession was met with the news that
the Janissaries had risen, that the Vizir had fled, and that orders
had been issued that he should be killed wherever found.[197]

Suppose Finch had taken a leaf out of Roe’s book? Was it not a
fact that the impotence of the European envoys was essentially the
result of their disunion? Finch himself confesses that “had Wee all
united, the case had bin easily carryd’ against the Visir.” But he
excuses himself to himself for making no attempt to unite them,
partly on the ground that the Turks had forestalled him by inviting
the Venetian and the Dutchman to audience the moment they got his
refusal: “so diligent were they in using this pressure, least Wee
Ministers should unite”; partly on the ground that his colleagues
neglected to profit by his “indisposition of body”: they all knew
it was an artifice, why then did they not copy it, or why did they
not put off the Vizir by saying that the priority of audience
belonged to the Ambassador of England? Thus by hastening to submit,
they left him no alternative. It was not his fault: it was the
fault of his colleagues, particularly of M. de Nointel: “The
French Ambassadour’s example and desertion of me, together with
the unadvisd’ deportment of the Factory (for neither of them alone
could have done it),” compelled him to that ignominious surrender.

Thus Sir John bought his peace. He bought it upon assurances that
he would be reinstated in the Grand Vizir’s good opinion, and
have his audience at once. But what with the celebrations of the
Bairam, the payment of the troops which began as soon as the Feasts
ended, and several other excuses (whether real or pretended, Sir
John could not say), the audience was deferred from day to day.
In the meantime Mr. Ashby continued to groan in his chains; which
grew, as such things are apt to do, heavier with every day that
passed. The Ambassador, having some grounds to believe that the
Vizir did not wish to see him till that disagreeable affair was
settled, exerted himself to this end, with the result that the
prisoner was first relieved of his collar and wristlets, then
had the 5000 dollars to which he had been condemned reduced by
one-fifth, and at last, after about twenty days’ incarceration,
was set at liberty. Temporarily cured of his avarice, Mr. Ashby,
besides paying Pizzamano 4000 dollars, also paid 500 to the
Hasnadar, and, we may suppose, resolved not to prevaricate again.

The last obstacle having been removed, our Ambassador found the
Porte open to him, and on the 12th of December (nearly eight months
since that memorable Sunday when Nointel’s mishap had thrown him
into a diplomatic distemper--a truly fatal illness) he had his
audience. It went off without a hitch.[198]

Kara Mustafa, at close quarters, appeared somewhat less terrible
than Sir John had pictured him at a distance; and, although he did
not honour the visitor with any vests, he accorded to him several
marks of (shall we say?) respect, which he had denied to the other
foreign Ministers. Instead of three hours, he kept him waiting only
a quarter of an hour; he permitted all the members of his suite to
enter the Audience Chamber; he deigned to drink coffee and sherbet
with him; and (greatest condescension of all!), while he had let no
ambassador talk for more than seven minutes, and then only about
news, he suffered Sir John to go on for over three-quarters of an
hour, and (“bating the first Ceremony of Congratulation,” and a few
words “of how things passd’ in England”) all about solid business.

Sir John took full advantage of this unexpected amiability. Very
adroitly he began with the Smyrna figs and currants: the King his
master was infinitely grateful for the favour conferred upon his
kitchen; but the benefit was mutual: the Grand Signor’s subjects
had already made 130 walled vineyards where there was nothing
but stones before, and, if the Vizir was pleased to encourage
the trade by enlarging the concession, “gold would grow instead
of pebbles”--a million of dollars a year which we now spent in
Christendom for fruit would then most probably come to Turkey. The
topic was eminently calculated to capture Kara Mustafa’s attention.
He asked with interest whether this concession was in the
Capitulations; and, on hearing that it was, he said that it would
be punctually observed together with the rest of our privileges.

Following up this propitious opening, Finch broached a number of
kindred subjects, begging, among other things, that in future no
Englishman might be dragged to the Divan by a chaoush for debt,
until after his creditors had applied to the Ambassador for
satisfaction. He implored the Grand Vizir to consider that the
calling of a merchant from his business upon any frivolous or false
claim often spelt ruin for the merchant. The Grand Vizir replied
that, so long as the English merchants acted with sincerity, they
should be protected; but if they acted unjustly and dishonourably,
they must answer for their bad actions like other men.

Impartial justice, however, was not quite what the Ambassador
wanted. He dwelt on the fact--a fact which, he said, must be well
known to “a great captain in warr and a great Minister of State
in peace,” such as Kara Mustafa was--that the Porte had never
encountered at sea any English ships nor on land any English troops
operating against it: a proof positive of the reality of the King’s
friendship for the Grand Signor. After all this, it must surely be
a subject of great joy to the enemies of the Porte, and a great
discouragement to its well-wishers, to see no distinction made
between friend and foe, but its best friends treated, if anything,
worse than “those that exercise acts of hostility against it.” To
this tender appeal, with its covert hit at the French, Kara Mustafa
made a suitable answer: “He very well knew our friendship and he
had a very great value for it.”

Towards the close of the interview Sir John expressed a hope that
he was now entirely in the Grand Vizir’s good graces and that he
might henceforth count on his favour and protection, declaring,
upon the word of an Ambassador, that, unless assured of it, he was
so unwilling to see the ancient friendship between England and
Turkey grow cold on his account, that he would immediately write
and ask the King his master to recall him and send some other
person who might be more acceptable to his Excellency. “There is
no occasion for any such thing,” replied the Vizir, looking very
kindly upon the Ambassador: He had both esteem and kindness for
him, and the Ambassador would find it so in all his business.

Then Sir John, besides the presents which he had delivered already,
presented to Kara Mustafa “an incomparable perspective glasse[199]
of 4 feet made by Campana, and a pockett one, also of Campana’s,
and one of ten feet made in England,” and took his leave with a bow
which the Grand Vizir was good enough to return.

Such, in substance, is Sir John’s own version of this historic
interview. His feelings after it may be described as a mixture
of relief and doubt, in which doubt predominated. “The
misunderstandings between the Visir and me have, like the breaking
of a Bone well sett, made our friendship the stronger,” he reported
to the Secretary of State; and immediately, as if fearing the
Nemesis which pursues boastfulness, he hastened to add: “But who
can promise himself any thing in these times out of a certain
prospect, or who can say that any thing is well done?”

Who, indeed! Turkey was no longer the Turkey to which Sir John
had come, in which he had dwelt for three uneventful years so
happily--the Turkey “of the two famous Visirs, Kuperli the father
and Achmett his sonne; whose Justice, Detestation of Avarice, and
Accesse renderd’ their Administration and all Buisenesse under it
easy.” Gone was that golden age, and all men who during that twenty
years’ interlude of righteousness had forgotten the normal rigour
of Turkish rule, protested that “the Violence of this Goverment,
as to Pride and Rapine is beyond all Memory and example.” Only
a man like Dudley North saw that Kara Mustafa’s régime was not a
departure from, but a return to normality. Finch, like the rest,
stood aghast at a “barefacd’” arbitrariness utterly new to his
experience: “I would,” he wrote, “all the Mutineers in England
against their too much happinesse were exild’ for two yeares onely
to be under this present Goverment!” and made no attempt to conceal
his apprehensions for the future; “I shall count it a wonder, as
well as a blessing,” he says, “if I scape thus.”

Prophetic words!


[188] This quotation and those that follow (until further notice)
are taken from Finch’s despatch to Coventry, May 26, S.V. 1677,
and the inclosed “Account of what Relates to Publick Ministers and
their affayrs”--an astonishing document of fourteen closely written
pages, _Coventry Papers_.

[189] Besides Finch’s “Account,” see his despatch of Nov. 29, S.V.
1677; Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, p. 335; Vandal’s _Nointel_, p. 230; _Life
of Dudley North_, p. 74. If we are to believe the version of the
incident transmitted by the Imperial Resident Kindsberg, Nointel’s
exit was still more dramatic: two chaoushes flung him down from
the Soffah, shouting to him, “_Haide, kalk giaour_” (Off with you,
infidel), Hammer, vol. xii. p. 8.

[190] Two copies of this Memorial, an Italian and an English one,
both dated April 28, 1677, accompany Finch’s despatch of May 26.
For the instructions to which he refers see Appendix I. Cl. 2.

[191] See copies of it, dated May 12-22, 1677, _ibid._

[192] See Rycaut’s _Present State_, p. 166; _Life of Dudley North_,
p. 114.

[193] Finch to Coventry, Nov. 29, S.V. 1677, _Coventry Papers_;
_Life of Dudley North_, p. 75; Vandal’s _Nointel_, pp. 231-2. This
last version, based on Nointel’s own despatches, suffers from
excess of discretion.

[194] Finch to Coventry, Nov. 29, S.V. 1677. This monumental
despatch (22 pages), which the writer himself describes as “rather
a History then a Letter,” is my main authority for what follows.

[195] Dudley North (_Life_, p. 77) says that the time for repayment
of the debt had passed and that Ashby did not proceed to the sale
until repeated applications to the Venetian had made him despair
of ever getting his money back. A similar assertion appears in a
thoroughly partisan “Narrative” presented by the Levant Company
to the King (_Register_, _S.P. Levant Company_, 145). But this is
flatly contradicted by Finch’s definite statement that the sale
was carried out “three moneths before the mony was due.” The only
palliation the Ambassador offers for an act which he condemns as
“unjustifiable” is that Ashby had obtained Pizzamano’s verbal
consent to the sale: a point which, in the absence of written
evidence, could not be proved. It need hardly be said that Sir John
had no motive to represent things as worse than they were, or that
he was not prejudiced in favour of the Venetian, whom he describes
as “a Rogue declard’”--“a Merchant that robbd’ all his Principles
(_sic_) of Venice, and the Captain that brought him thence, and is
by order of that State to be hangd’ if they can gett him.”

[196] On this point see _Life of Dudley North_, p. 76.

[197] See Roe to Calvert, Feb. 9-19, July 1, 1622, _Negotiations of
Sir Thomas Roe_ (London, 1740), pp. 18, 61-2.

[198] We have “a precise Account of it, and all the Circumstances
that attend it, without the least variation,” in Finch to Coventry,
Dec. 15-25, 1677, _Coventry Papers_.

[199] Telescope.



Sir John Finch, on second thoughts, did not hold the Ashby
“accident” entirely responsible for the grievous _dénouement_ at
which we have assisted. That bit of ill-luck, he believed, had but
precipitated a crisis which was bound to come anyway--any spark
will set fire to a train already laid. If the Grand Vizir had not
met with a ready-made pretext for “satisfying his passion upon
him,” he would have manufactured one--perhaps even a worse one. For
such a belief Sir John had ample warrant. We know how M. de Nointel
had been made to purchase his peace. Sir John, who always measured
his own fortunes and misfortunes by those of his French colleague,
and with whom the wish generally was father to the thought, had
by degrees convinced himself that the price paid by the Marquis
was much higher than his own.[200] But, after all, Nointel had
provoked Kara Mustafa. The Bailo of Venice, though he had tried to
propitiate him by taking his seat below the Soffah without demur,
was immediately afterwards forced by threats of imprisonment in
the Seven Towers to pay 45,000 dollars in settlement of a claim
which his predecessor had actually settled four years before, under
Ahmed Kuprili, for 1500 dollars. The Resident of Holland had been
driven out of his house, and was glad to take 2500 dollars for what
had cost him 10,000. The Emperor’s Resident was made to disburse
daily large sums of money on every idle plea that arose out of the
chronic disturbances on the Hungarian frontier. The Ambassadors
of Ragusa trembled under an “avania” which menaced their Republic
with ruin; Kara Mustafa demanding no less than 1,600,000 dollars
as compensation for the Customs-duties which Ragusa had levied
on Turkish goods these forty years past, though in so doing the
Republic had only exercised a legal right. Sir John ends his list
of fellow-sufferers with a most sympathetic account of the plight
of the Genoese Resident. How he spoke of Signor Spinola in bygone
days, we have already seen. Now he refers to him as that “poor
gentleman”; and, in truth, the tribulations of this diplomat were
such as to touch a much harder heart than Sir John’s. Ever since
his arrival he had been begging for an audience; and recently,
on the very day before Kara Mustafa sent his ultimatum to Finch,
he had been haled to the Porte by an Aga and a Chaoush, like a
prisoner, and after being detained there all day without seeing
the Vizir, was given the option to sign a promissory note for 7500
dollars or pass the night in the Seven Towers. “And what was his
fault? They calld’ him Infidell, Dog, and Thief, because he durst
keep so long by him the Gran Signor’s presents the Republick had
sent. It being, they told him, his duty to have sent the presents,
though he himselfe was not worthy to see the Gran Signor.” Spinola
promised, but, on failing to pay up at the appointed time, the
Vizir, to punish him for his unpunctuality, raised the sum to
20,000 dollars and, for security, seized a Genoese ship then in
port. So prolific was Kara Mustafa in pretexts for extortion. His
subordinates were not less ingenious:

“They have introducd’ a new Custome of giving no Commands to any
Publick Minister without extravagant Demands: selling them as if
they were in a Markett at the highest of their value. The French
Ambassadour told me that finding himselfe dayly aggrievd’ with this
innovation, he went in person to the Rais Affendi to expostulate
the matter: he told the Ambassadour he askd’ no presents; but the
Ambassadour sending the day following the very same Druggerman
who had heard and interpreted the words, for some Commands, he
had urgent occasion of, the Rais Affendi plainly told him that,
if he brought no presents he should have no Commands. The Holland
Resident payd’ beforehand thrice as much as ever yet he gave for
a Command, and after a moneth was past urging the expedition of
those Commands, he was told that they knew nothing of the matter,
and denyd’ the having receivd’ any presents, so he was forcd’ to
present again and has not yet his Commands out. The Venetian Bailo
after the payment of his Avania, having gott a Nisanisheriffe
for his discharge, though the Visir sent his Command to the Rais
Affendi for it, he refusd’ to under-write it unlesse the Bailo
would give him 500 Dollars, though his Fees were never above 30,
or two vests, and he was so insolent that he bid the Venetian
Druggerman goe and tell the Visir that he would not sett his hand
to it under that summe: so the Bailo thought himselfe well usd’
when at last he gott him to take 300. Thus is the Turkish Proverb
verifyd’: Goverment like Fish beginns to stink from the head.”[201]

Let it not be supposed that the Turks themselves escaped Kara
Mustafa’s far-reaching shears. His appetite for money was both
keen and catholic. He collected it wheresoever he could find it,
making no invidious distinctions between True Believer and Infidel,
between native and alien. It was enough that a man should have
money to become at once an object of the Grand Vizir’s special
attention. Not without reason did the Rais Effendi ask the Ragusan
Ambassadors, when they pleaded for mercy, to consider “how many
rich Musulmen the Visir had stript to their shirts.” And again,
when some despoilt Beys heard the ambassadorial Dragomans murmur
at the Porte, they cried out: “You Giaours: how can you wonder
at being hardly dealt with, whenas we Musulmen, who for many
generations have spent our blood in service of the Empire, are thus
dealt withall?”

Kara Mustafa, of course, was not tyrannical for the mere pleasure
of being so; he had to think of his finances. No Grand Vizir was
ever burdened with heavier domestic obligations. He kept a harem
of more than fifteen hundred concubines with at least as many
slaves to serve them and half as many eunuchs to guard them. His
attendants, his horses, his dogs, his hawks were counted by the
thousand. How could he meet all these pressing claims upon him
without cash? Besides, all the cash Kara Mustafa collected did not
flow into his own coffers: he had to let considerable rivers of it
pass into the lap of the Grand Signor, who since Ahmed Kuprili’s
death had been growing more and more dissolute, and squeezed his
Vizir as hard as his Vizir squeezed others. Further, like most
great collectors of cash, Kara Mustafa had a conscience; and
conscience is an expensive luxury. It made Kara Mustafa devote no
small part of his plunder to works of piety, charity, and public
utility: mosques, schools, baths, fountains, bazaars.[202] Let
us add that Kara Mustafa was as ambitious as he was ravenous. He
cherished grandiose dreams of conquest. He saw in fancy the Ottoman
Empire spreading to the West as far as it had spread in the East:
swallowing up new kingdoms--fulfilling its Imperialist destiny.
Thus, the poor man could not possibly dispense with rapacity--it
was his one resource for humbling his enemies and the enemies of
his country; for extending the dominion of Islam; for procuring
for himself glory and power in this world and bliss in the next.
He needed money: he must have it from any hand, on any pretext,
by any means--except one. Sir John notes the exception: “hitherto
the Visir has showd’ no inclinations to shed blood.” It is well to
remember this virtue of Kara Mustafa’s; for it is his only one.

From this exposition of Kara Mustafa’s methods and motives it
is evident that the case of Mr. Ashby had only served him as an
excuse. For all that, the figure which we made in that case must
have contributed not a little to our disgrace. Indeed, a better
case could not well have been devised for extinguishing in the
Grand Vizir every spark of respect he might have had for the
English and their Ambassador. As we know from his own despatches,
Sir John laboured under no illusions as to the merits of Ashby’s
cause; yet he did not hesitate to defend in public--and by the most
disreputable means--what he condemned in private as unjustifiable.
In so doing, of course, he acted as any other ambassador would
have done. A diplomat everywhere is essentially an advocate whose
duty it is to make the worse case seem the better. And in Turkey,
perhaps more than elsewhere, it has always been the tradition of
European representatives to shield their nationals from punishment
at all costs; imagining that thus they saved their nation’s
“honour”--a whimsical conception not very closely related to
honesty. What was the use of Sir John telling the Vizir, as he did
at his audience, that he was “so great an enemy of dishonesty and
injustice that I should begg protection for my merchants no further
then they were honest and just”? The Vizir, in listening to him,
must have only wondered at the Giaour’s effrontery. And how could
he, after that shameful exhibition, ever believe an Englishman
again? This is not a mere inference of the present writer’s. The
Treasurer of the Levant Company, who participated in the whole
performance, had the candour, after it was over, to acknowledge,
without mincing words, that the part he and the rest had played was
“impudent,” “base,” and such as “must needs make an ill impression
on the Vizier against our Nation, not easily to be removed.”[203]

It was not long before the distrust thus sown in Kara Mustafa’s
mind bore fresh fruit.

To make this new Avania intelligible to the modern reader it is
necessary to say something first about the fiscal chaos that
reigned in seventeenth century Turkey.

The only money coined by the Grand Signor’s mint, and therefore the
only money properly speaking Turkish, was the _asper_--a very small
piece of _white_ (Greek _aspron_) metal, once upon a time silver
and worth over 2 pence, now so much debased that it was worth
about 3 farthings, and so badly made and so sadly clipped that it
commanded very little esteem even at that price. The coin most
generally current in the Empire was of foreign manufacture--Spanish
pieces of eight, Lion dollars of Holland, the Rix dollars of
Germany, the Quarts of Poland, Venetian and Hungarian sequins,
French scudes, and, lately, French five-sous pieces of silver
worth about 5 pence English and called by the Turks _temeens_,
by the Franks _Luigini_ or _Ottavi_. These polyonymous coins
had experienced many vicissitudes, and our tale is indissolubly
intertwined with the history of their rise and fall in the Ottoman

First introduced about 1660 by a French mariner, they immediately
acquired a great vogue among the Turks. They were bright little
things, most attractive to the eye by their pretty stamp of
fleurs-de-lys, most agreeable to the touch, and altogether ideal
for small change. The mariner made a handsome profit out of his
adventure, bartering his five-sous pieces at the rate of 8 to the
dollar--getting, that is, about 5 shillings for 3s. 4d. Tempted by
his success, the merchants of France began to import _temeens_ in
enormous quantities, till the market was glutted, and the dealers
had to pass them at 10 to the dollar. To make up for the decrease
of profit, they increased the alloy; of course, that could not be
effected in the Royal Mint of France: it was effected by a French
lady who had the privilege of coining and who luckily bore in her
coat-of-arms three fleurs-de-lys. The fraud was not detected by the
Turks, and the _temeen_, debased, once more became so profitable
a commodity that others stepped in to compete with the French in
fraud: the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Republic of Genoa, all
the petty Italian States that could by hook or by crook put in
fleurs-de-lys; and those who were not fortunate enough to boast
such flowers put in something else that looked more or less like
them--for example, spread eagles so cunningly contrived as to need
an expert in heraldic natural history to tell the difference.
Never was the subtle East more grossly outwitted by the West;
and the swindlers had the impudence to add ribaldry to injury by
adorning their bastard coin with such legends as “_Voluit hanc
Asia mercem_--That’s the stuff Asia wants,” or “_De procul pretium
ejus_--Don’t look at it too closely.” Dutch, German, and English
speculators joined in the nefarious traffic, so that by 1668 it
was estimated that there was forty million dollars’ worth of this
debased currency in Turkey, and more was coming--whole shiploads of
it. Naturally, the more _temeens_ flowed in, the lower they sank in
value (in 1668 they passed at Smyrna for 20 or 24 to the dollar);
and the lower they sank in value, the higher rose the proportion of
alloy. By gradual transmutations the original silver of the coin
became almost pure copper. Rascals had the time of their lives. All
men who failed as merchants became bankers, flooding the country
with counterfeit silver and draining it of all the gold and genuine
silver that fell into their hands.

Hitherto the Porte, engrossed by the Cretan War, had made no effort
to check the evil. But it was thought that, the moment peace was
signed, the first thing taken in hand would be the regulation of
the currency. And if the Sultan’s Ministers were not disposed to
move of their own accord, there were those whose interest it was
to instigate them. English merchants considered that the vast
importation of false money must at last redound to their serious
prejudice: the French and Italian importers, making 50 per cent
profit on the _temeens_, were able to outbid us in the Turkish
market. Therefore, in 1668, the Levant Company forbade under severe
penalties its Factors to receive this money, and, at its instance,
the King ordered Sir Daniel Harvey to call the attention of the
Grand Signor to “the mischiefs and ill consequences of that abuse.”
The Ambassador was so successful as to get the Turkish Government
to forbid the circulation of the _temeens_ by Proclamation: “I
have,” he reported, “spoyld I hope the Trade of the French and
Italians, with thare false mony, every body refusing to take them.”
But this sudden and absolute denunciation of the most common coin
in the country spelt ruin for millions of people, especially of
the poorer classes, and the distress was heightened when the
tax-gatherers refused to accept the _temeen_ as legal tender,
but demanded Lion dollars or Seville and Mexico pieces of eight,
coins which had by now become almost unobtainable. The upshot was
drubbings and imprisonments on one side, riots on the other: at
Brusa and Angora the outraged taxpayers rose in rebellion, and
some of the Grand Signor’s officers fell victims to their wrath.
However, from that hour the _temeen_ was irrevocably doomed; and
fraudulence had to seek a new field in the false dollar, which
was now pushed into the market with as much vigour and as little
scruple as its predecessor. Harvey lost no time in obtaining
samples and in lecturing the Grand Vizir on the subject, with the
result that, in 1671, a severe inquiry was instituted and several
officials who connived at the importation of these products of
Western Art smarted for it.[204]

Nevertheless, the traffic continued to flourish, Lion dollars being
manufactured even at Smyrna, as we have seen from Mr. Rycaut’s
dispute with the French Consul at the end of 1674;[205] and the
Levant Company, fearing lest, in spite of its prohibitions, some
Englishmen should again engage in it, passed an order that all
specie arriving in Turkey on English bottoms should be examined by
the Ambassador and Consuls, and none, save such as was of perfect
alloy, should be permitted to enter the country. Further, to
prove their good faith, the directors of the Company ordered that
the examination should be carried out in the presence of Turkish
officials. From this well-intentioned measure were to spring some
very serious ills. The Turkish officials displayed the liveliest
reluctance to meddle in the matter. They frankly regarded the whole
business as a blind designed to cover the importation of false
money, and were afraid of laying themselves open to the charge
of connivance. In fact, the more earnestly the English invited
the Turks to witness their probity, the worse grew the Turks’
opinion of the English. Their attitude, not unreasonable in men
who had had such experience of Western probity, might have warned
our Ambassador that he was skating on exceedingly thin ice. But
he did not heed the warning. It was the Company’s order, and Sir
John, who had in a superlative degree the fault that so often
belongs to conscientious public servants--an excess of zeal over
discretion--was anxious not only to carry out his instruction,
but even to better it. Not content with inviting the Customer, he
invited the Kaimakam himself to the inspection. Nor did anything
occur to demonstrate the injudiciousness of these proceedings until
the Ashby case.

At that inauspicious moment the Levant Company’s “General” ships
arrived at Aleppo carrying, over and above their freight of cloth
and other English manufactures, 200,000 new Lion dollars. The
unusual quantity of the coin was in itself calculated to engender
doubts about its quality: never before had so vast a sum of new
money been imported in a lump--30, 40, or 50 thousand dollars had
hitherto been the maximum. And as if the quantity alone was not
enough, “our back friends” (Sir John’s expression), the Dutch
and the French, did all they could to confirm the Turks in their
scepticism by positively asserting that our dollars were bad.
However, the Pasha of Aleppo would have let the consignment pass:
2000 or 2500 dollars was all that he needed to be fully persuaded
of our probity. But as our Consul, having already been reprimanded
by the Company for indulging the Turks with bakshish, dared not
gratify him unless he was prepared to do so out of his own pocket,
the Pasha, in revenge, notified the Grand Vizir that the English
had imported so many thousands of false dollars and asked for

Kara Mustafa caught fire at the news, and all the foreign Ministers
at Constantinople hastened to blow the coals: the Dutch were angry
with us, because the coin was coin of Holland and by dealing in it
we, as it were, took the bread out of their mouths; the French,
because we had taken away from them all their Turkey trade, and
more particularly because our Aleppo Factory had just erected a
Company to trade directly with Marseilles in those very commodities
which the French had until now regarded as their exclusive
monopoly. The Venetians were dissatisfied because the influx of
silver dollars in such quantities hindered the advantageous vent of
their gold sequins. And all of them owed us a grudge for exposing
their fiscal frauds. Thus stimulated, Kara Mustafa ordered the
consignment to be sequestered, and two dollars out of each bag to
be sent to him for trial.

The English at Constantinople heard of these proceedings by
accident a few days before Sir John’s audience of reconciliation;
and the Ambassador seized that opportunity to discuss the matter
with the Grand Vizir, who told him plainly what he had done,
stating that, if the money proved good, it would be restored to the
owners, “for God forbid that any man should loose an Asper”; but,
if it proved bad; it should all be confiscated. Sir John, after
assuring him that it was perfectly good, pleaded that, in case some
small part of it, “either by the mistake of good men or malice
of ill men,” turned out bad, the error or knavery should not be
visited upon the innocent; let only that part of it be confiscated.
For the rest, he urged, all the English factors were under an oath
to receive no imported money till it was inspected by the Turkish
authorities, and if the Inspectors approved it not, they were
obliged to send it away again; so, as there was no clandestine
importation, there could be no possibility of fraud. Lastly, he
added, if difficulties were put in the way of good money, we who
now imported more than any other nation should be forced to give
up importing any at all. The Vizir, in answer to this plea, merely
said that, when the money came, he would communicate further with
the Ambassador.

Sir John, _en attendant_, could do nothing more than pray, “God
give me a just cause, and a just Judge!”

He was not kept long in suspense. On December 28th--a fortnight
after his audience--the Aga despatched to Aleppo returned bringing
with him 1000 dollars as a sample, and within two hours of his
arrival the Ambassador was invited to assist at the trial in the
courtyard before the Divan. He hurried to the scene, attended by
his Dragomans, the Treasurer of the Levant Company, and some of the
English merchants. There he found everything ready, and all the
principal Officers of State waiting: the Tefterdar, the Kehayah,
the Chaoush-bashi, the Chief Customer, the Master of the Mint,
the Dragoman of the Porte, and several others; the Grand Vizir
himself watched the performance from a window--not openly, but just
“peeping out.”

Decorum was the order of the day. As soon as the Ambassador
appeared, a seat was brought for him, and he sat down upon it for
a moment to assert his right; but, seeing that all those Ministers
of State stood, he rose too and sat no more--a courtesy which, as
he was afterwards informed, “was kindly taken by them.” Meanwhile,
the sample, in eight bags of 125 dollars each, was shown to him,
sealed up as it had left Aleppo with the Consul’s and Cadi’s seals;
and the test commenced. Two hundred and fifty dollars were taken
out. Young Dollars, fresh from your Maker’s hands, what destiny
awaits you? Are you pure and innocent, or born in sin? All eyes are
fixed upon them, spell-bound with hope and fear. They are melted
down--refined--the silver that is in them is carefully weighed....
But we must not go into details. On the whole, the result seems
satisfactory, and our friends go away in high spirits.

The Dutch raise a mighty and malicious clamour: your dollars are
7 per cent below the standard--we know all about them. Were they
not coined at Kampen? Here is a “Placart” sent to our Resident by
the States, wherein you may read, and the Turks may read, in a
translation we have taken good care to make for their edification,
that “certain false Lyon Dollars coynd’ at Campen this year were
prohibited, and that orders was given to enquire after the Persons
that coynd’ that false mony, whose punishment was to be boyld’ in
oyl.” Let the Grand Vizir release them, if he pleases, no Dutchman
will take any of them. A studied revenge, Sir John believed, for a
like boycott by the English Factory of Smyrna, which had banished
all the Dutch new dollars out of the country. Thus cry out the
Hollanders, and others, whom Sir John could name if High Diplomacy
did not forbid. Notwithstanding these ill-offices of “our back
friends,” the English persisted in their optimism that night; then
came the awakening.

Next morning Hussein Aga sent for Sir John’s Dragoman and the
Levant Company’s Treasurer, to inform them by order that the Grand
Vizir considered their dollars bad and had determined to fetch the
whole lot from Aleppo, melt it down, and return them the silver....
A very sore stroke--most stunning in its unexpectedness. What
they said to the Customer we are not informed. But the Customer,
after putting them in a fright and enjoying their emotions, hinted
to them that the catastrophe might be averted--the Vizir was not
implacable: he could be mollified.

Kara Mustafa, without a doubt, felt much disappointed by the result
of the trial. He had made sure that the money was defective, and
had counted on gobbling up the lot: otherwise he would hardly have
given himself the trouble of a public test. Hence his need of
consolation. The emollient suggested was 12,500 dollars for the
Vizir, and 2500 for his Kehayah: in all, 15,000 dollars. Could we
refuse such a trifle to a lenient Judge in want of cash?

Sir John called a meeting of the Factory, at which it was
unanimously decided to give the Vizir his due without delay: else
the merchants calculated that the loss would be nearly thrice
as much--to say nothing of the expense of getting the molten
silver out of Kara Mustafa’s grasp. Accordingly the Ambassador
sent to Hussein Aga word that “the least mischiefe being the
most eligible, Wee were resolvd’ to comply with the Visir. Upon
which promise, what doe you imagine they did?” They instituted a
second trial, conducted before the same high dignitaries, with the
same publicity, and palpably with a view to finding a favourable
verdict: so that the release of the money might appear as the
effect of justice, not of bribery. Ten ancient Lion dollars--some
of them aged 106 years--were produced as a pattern, and, after
being melted down, came out with a proportion of pure silver equal
to or even smaller than ours; which was not to be wondered at,
considering the attrition they had undergone in the course of their
long career. This done, the Judges solemnly reported to the Grand
Vizir that the new money was quite as good as, if not indeed better
than, the old!

One might have thought that a termination of their trials which
fell so much short of the hopes of their ill-wishers, would have
been welcomed by our countrymen with thankfulness. But, glad
as they were to have got off so cheaply, they imagined, in the
simplicity and cupidity of their souls, that they might get off
more cheaply still--thereby very nearly spoiling the comedy. Mr.
North and Sir John’s Dragoman went to Hussein Aga and pleaded for
a remission, or at least an abatement, of the fine they had agreed
to pay. “What fault was committed,” they asked, “since our Dollars
had proved as good as the old ones?” Not without humour, the
Customer replied, “As to fault, it was no small one in these times
to bring in 200,000 Dollars at a clap.” “But,” they insisted, “they
have been found as good as the old ones.” This was too much even
for the friendly Hussein. He retorted angrily that they owed that
finding to the bakshish they had promised. However, if they were
not satisfied, he would cancel the bargain and leave them to make
a new one with the Grand Vizir as well as they could.

The rebuke brought our friends to their senses. Without another
word they parted with their 15,000 dollars, besides 1000 which
the Turks wanted for the Aga who had fetched the sample; and,
in return, they got back what remained unmelted of the sample,
together with the melted silver. Here ended the comedy--no, not
quite. The Pasha of Aleppo, before letting the treasure go out
of his grip, squeezed the merchants to the tune of 4000 dollars,
“which,” Mr. North wistfully observes, “was more than at first
would have done the business with him.”[206] It was not the first,
or the last, time our Turkey Merchants went near to losing the ship
for the sake of a ha’p’orth of tar.

Sir John’s reflections upon this fresh experience of Kara Mustafa’s
cash-collecting mania are interesting. That the Grand Vizir was
right in subjecting every importation of silver and gold to severe
scrutiny he would not deny: nor could we complain of measures
which we ourselves had instigated. “But,” with characteristic
imperception of the exquisite irony of the situation, he thought
“this is no reason why he should begin with us who have allway’s
bin innocent.” Worse still, he mulcted us, the authors of the
measure! “Here you see the justice of this present Goverment. It
is impossible if the Visir once getts ready mony into his power
that he can make any pretence upon whatsoever to lett it goe free
without his share of it. Neither is there any officer about him,
that has not the same tincture, but of a deeper dye.”

In the circumstances, the poor Ambassador sees ahead of him
nothing but “disasters from dormant pretensions awakend or from
unforeseen miscarriages.” He sees himself “being further preyd’
upon by Ravenous and Insatiable appetites upon dormant or future
pretences.” In the first category he places “the reviving of
the old Pretensions of the Bassà of Tunis.” In the second,
“the probability of a warr with Argiers.” Admiral Narbrough,
shortly after his return from Tripoli, was ordered back to the
Mediterranean to chastise the Algerine pirates: “if wee should
chance to batter any thing upon Terra firma, God knows what use
this Visir would make of it.” The prospect fills Sir John with a
dismay that has something of terror in it: “Capitulations being now
declard’ to be but contemptible things and like a peice of wett
parchment that may be stretchd’ any way, renders this place to me
very wearysome and tedious, for it does me a great deal of hurt,
both in body and mind, to see your estates rent and torne from
you, and no help to be avaylable, neither prudence nor language
having any place, where all accesse to the Visir is denyd’ not
onely to the Druggermen but to the Ambassadours themselves.” Thus
he wrote to the Levant Company, ending with a pious “God give you
and me patience for from Him alone must come deliverance.” In his
communications to the Secretary of State he was even more piteously
emphatic: “It makes my condition of life here very uneasy to me who
have the care upon me of the whole estate of His Majesty’s subjects
in the Levant.” And again, striking a more poignant note: “God
preserve us from unreasonable and inflexible men,” he cries. “I
beseech Almighty God to deliver me from unreasonable and wilfull
men; in the maintenance of His Majesty’s honour and defence of the
estates and Interest of His subjects.”

It is evident from these utterances that, by the end of 1677, Sir
John Finch felt the burden too heavy for his shoulders. But his
contract with the Company had yet some time to run, and besides
he did not wish to return home before his friends had found him
some other employment. His mentor Baines, to whom as usual Finch
delegated the task of string-pulling, had already discussed the
subject in a letter to Lord Conway, in the course of which he said:
“If your Brother leaves this charge without being in possession
of a fayr and convenient post in England, I shall think that He
hath not a friend there, or at least very few, and those of no
influence.”[207] Pending the fruition of these exertions on his
behalf, Sir John could do nothing but set his teeth and stick to
his saddle like a fearful rider.


[200] It is amusing to watch the process as mirrored in his
reports. On Nov. 29 Finch tells Coventry that his audience cost
Nointel “near the same with me,” which was not true. On Dec. 15 he
emends this statement: “I now judge His Expense to have bin much
higher; for one Persian carpett alone is valud’ to me by a Jew that
serves the Visir, at three thousand five hundred Dollars. This,”
he adds, “I mention, not to advantage my Own Condition, but to
compassionate His.” Very likely!

[201] Finch to Coventry, Nov. 29, S.V., 1677.

[202] Hammer, vol. xii. p. 136.

[203] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 78.

[204] See Rycaut’s _Memoirs_, pp. 258-60; _Life of Dudley North_,
pp. 79-80; and the following State Papers: Intelligence for Lord
Arlington, Constantinople, Feb. 22, 1667-68; Unsigned Letter dated
Smyrna, June 1, 1668; The King’s Instructions to Harvey, Aug. 3,
1668; Inclosure in Winchilsea’s despatch of April 4-14, 1669;
Harvey’s despatches March 10, 15, 1668 [-69]; Jan. 31, 1670 [-71];
April 30, 1671. _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[205] See above, p. 76. Cp. Instructions to Finch, Appendix I. Cl.

[206] _Life of Sir Dudley North_, pp. 81-4; Finch to Coventry, Dec.
15-25, 1677; Jan. 19-29, 1678; the Same to the Levant Company, Jan.
19-29, 1678, _Coventry Papers_; _Register, S.P. Levant Company_,
145. Wherever there is any slight discrepancy between North’s and
Finch’s accounts of this Avania, I have, for reasons which seem
adequate to me, followed the latter.

[207] Baines to Conway, June 1-11, 1677, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.



Despite his forebodings, Sir John during the year 1678 had no
oppression to complain of.

Hussein Aga, whom our Ambassador considered, in point of influence
with the Grand Vizir, to be the third man in the Empire, continued
most friendly. He swore by his head that he would make the Pasha of
Aleppo refund the sum he had extorted from our Factory, and, in the
event of a new importation of specie by the English, he promised
all possible favour. The first of these pledges could not be taken
seriously: as a predecessor of Sir John’s had observed long ago,
“Restitution of money was never yet procured from a Turk; his head
more easily.”[208] But with regard to the second, the Customer
proved as good as his word. A consignment of 30,000 dollars that
reached Constantinople was, thanks to him, brought off for nothing;
while a much larger sum (200,000 dollars) was landed at Smyrna
for a trifle--2180 dollars: “as Times goe, no ill Bargain.” Nay,
in another matter, the Customer proved even better than his word:
though he threatened, in pursuance of his old policy, to raise
the duty upon the finer cloth we now imported, “yet,” says our
Ambassador, “I have brought Him to Acquiesce with those very duty’s
I had ascertaind upon our Cloth by the New Capitulations I made;
to the grief of heart of them who have reason to envy our Great
and Vast Trade, because it Ruines Theirs.” In truth, both French
and Dutch had cause to gnash their teeth. The rigour with which
Hussein Aga treated them seemed to keep pace with the favour he
showed to us: he made both pay for goods that came from Smyrna to
Constantinople the difference between the duty levied at the former
and the latter port, while he ostentatiously let our goods, once
taxed at Smyrna, enter Constantinople scot free. This in addition
to the preferential tariff we enjoyed under the New Capitulations.
No wonder both the French Ambassador and the Dutch Resident
struggled by might and money at the Porte to resist the intolerable
tyranny of the Custom House. But nothing availed. They had “a hard
head to deal with, and one whose obstinacy is powerfully backd’
at Court.” All they gained was Hussein Aga’s anger: irritated by
these attempts to undermine his position, the Customer detained
the French merchants’ cloth till they paid up, and let that of the
Dutch rot in the Custom-House.[209]

What Frenchmen and Dutchmen thought of Hussein Aga’s partiality for
the English may be imagined. But it is to be noted that neither
our Ambassador’s despatches nor our Treasurer’s comments contain
any hint that the motives which dictated the Customer’s attitude
towards us were of a mercenary nature. In the absence of evidence
to the contrary, we must assume that he spared us because he liked
us. Hussein and Dudley North were fast friends: they often dined
together at each other’s houses, the Turk even partaking of the
Giaour’s pork and getting drunk on his wine like a good Christian.
From Finch, too, he had received more than once samples of his
cellar, as well as other civilities.[210] That seems to have been
the extent of his obligations to us; and he repaid us with interest.

Equally satisfactory was the attitude of some other Turkish
grandees. By the new Bostanji-bashi, to whom Sir John paid a visit,
he was received “with all possible demonstrations of respect and
kindnesse,” while he was captivated by the affability of the new
Capitan Pasha--a personage who by his place was the second man in
the Empire, and by his intimacy with the Grand Vizir certainly
the first. At the audience which he granted to the Ambassador he
was very polite, and they had “many pleasant Reparty’s upon each
other;” and what seemed more significant, he honoured the visitor
with six vests. Now, as Kara Mustafa made a practice of vesting no
man, and as the Capitan Pasha was Kara Mustafa’s prime favourite,
Sir John could not but think “that this was done by the Visir’s
Privity,” and drew therefrom the hope that maybe Kara Mustafa at
last “_Malis nostris mitescere discit_.”

As regards the pretensions of the Pasha of Tunis also Sir John’s
fears went off like other forebodings; and the emergency he
apprehended from Narbrough’s operations did not arise: the Admiral
managed to wage a successful war of reprisals against the Algerine
pirates--seizing their ships and blockading their ports--without
any infringement of the Sultan’s suzerain rights.

“In short,” Finch sums up, “though wee cannot bragg of our usage,
yet wee may justly say wee have fard’ better then any other Nation.
For hitherto though in the worst of Times, I have maintaind’ all
the Capitulations Inviolable.” He knew that he was well off, and
meant to continue so. He had had his lesson. If his cherished
Capitulations were attacked, he would indeed defend them to
the utmost of his ability. But as to matters of etiquette, the
King having graciously granted him his “dispensation for that
complyance” on the point of the Soffah, he registered a vow to “be
caught no more in a Ceremoniall Nett.”[211] Acquiescence, after
all, has this merit: it prevents noise and saves time.

In the absence of personal history, the Ambassador gives us the
history of others. Time was when Sir John, as we have seen, could
not find “materialls enough to furnish a Dispatch.” Now it is
“conveyances, not matter” that he wants, in order to keep abreast
of the “variety’s of change and newes” which crowd upon him.
Whatever else Kara Mustafa could not make, he could make things
move; and, under his rule, Turkey found herself transformed from
a placid lake into a foaming torrent. This transformation is well
depicted in our Ambassador’s despatches. A rich chronicle, alive
with events, domestic and foreign, civil and military, supplying
abundant food for reflection to those who have accustomed
themselves to meditate on the characters of men and the fortunes of
nations. A thoroughly honest chronicle too. Sir John scrupulously
discriminates between reliable intelligence and irresponsible
rumour. When dealing with first-hand information, he gives us its
sources; when not, his favourite expression, “Tis said,” serves us
as a warning that the writer relates what he has heard, but cannot
vouch for. He is deeply conscious of the extreme difficulty of
getting at the truth of things in Turkey, and does not by any means
profess always to believe the reports he transmits.[212] We have
variant accounts set forth with perfect candour, and statements
previously made corrected as the result of further inquiry. Fond
though he is of speculating on the causes and consequences of
events, our chronicler takes care to keep surmise severely distinct
from certainty. He never pretends to do more than present to the
Secretary of State the most plausible conjectures he can form, with
the proviso, “Time will make all things plain.”

Not the least interesting, or the least melancholy, of these
events is the conduct of Kara Mustafa--the ruler of a mighty
Empire--towards the representatives of the little tributary
Republic of Ragusa: one of them, Signor Caboga, the “lusty,
gallant fellow” whom we saw in happier days disporting himself
at Adrianople with our gay Chaplain. The Vizir had consented to
treat for an adjustment upon payment of a preliminary instalment
of 200,000 dollars, and despatched an Aga to collect this sum,
threatening that, in case of refusal, he would order the Pasha
of Bosnia to seize the City and territory of the Republic and
make slaves of the inhabitants. The messenger returned with the
answer that the Ragusans offered 100 purses (50,000 dollars) as a
ransom. This offer was rejected, and the Ambassadors were summoned
before the Divan, where they were asked whether they would pay
the sum demanded or not. On their replying that they could not,
Kara Mustafa “calld’ them Doggs, Infidells, Hoggs, and Atheists;
commanding them to be carryd’ to prison.” By and by one of their
pretended creditors visited them, and finding them sitting upon
their beds, cried out that this was not the way to pay their debts.
Signor Caboga was unwise enough to retort, “You see us on our beds,
but wee hope ere long to see you impald’ upon stakes.” For this
speech they were removed, by order of the Vizir, “into a common and
filthy gaole.” While they lay in that “infamous prison,” among the
vilest criminals, two more envoys arrived from Ragusa “to mitigate
the implacable mind of the Visir. But they no sooner came to
Silistria where the Gran Signor was, but they were suddainly clapt
in chaines and one of them dyd with the insupportable weight of the
chaines about his neck.”[213]

Hardly less drastic was Kara Mustafa’s treatment of the
representative of a much greater State than Ragusa. In the
previous autumn the Palatine of Kulm had come from Poland, with a
magnificent suite of at least three hundred persons, as Ambassador
Extraordinary, to conclude the long-drawn-out negotiations for
peace. On his arrival, Sir John had showered upon the newcomer
those tokens of friendship which he had never known to fail of
their effect: “I presented him with five chests of Florence and
other choice Wines out of Christendome, amongst which was one chest
of the Pope’s Wine; which he never drank of but that he first
signd’ himselfe with the crosse and rose up and was uncoverd!” But
Kara Mustafa nipped this friendship in its juicy bud. For reasons
which Sir John could not fathom, the Vizir forbade all further
intercourse with the Pole, at the same time ordering our Ambassador
to keep the prohibition secret. This embargo placed Sir John in
a very awkward position: the world wondered why he paid no visit
to his colleague, and Sir John had to dissemble until the Plague
breaking out in the Pole’s house afforded him a plausible excuse
for holding aloof.[214] But though he had no direct communication
with the Palatine, he kept himself informed of all that passed
between him and the Porte.

It is by no means our intention to recite the Iliad of miseries,
the humiliations, the terrors and utter harrowing to despair,
which the poor Palatine underwent incessantly till the end of his
mission. Let the following extracts from Sir John’s despatches
speak for themselves.

_Dec. 15-25, 1677._--“The Polish Ambassadour has the Plague very
hott in his house, 14 persons of quality being dead out of it
(for the Visir would suffer none of the Nobility to depart), and
two particularly last night; and yet I found one Druggerman who
had the courage to goe to him and wish him in my name a happy
Christmas: He sent me word that he intended to visit me before he
left this place; not knowing, good gentleman, the restraint that I
am under: tis hard really that in all this danger the Visir will
not permitt him to change his house, calling the motion when it was
made by him, a Christian Panick fear.”

_Jan. 19-29, 1677-78._--“The Polish Ambassadour is here still and
yet alive, though the Plague was very hott in his house, he could
not get leave to remove to another, having no other answer but
this, Let him run his destiny.”

_March 1-11, 1677-78._--“At last the Peace between the Port and the
Poles is concluded; which was effected three dayes since but is
not yet underwritten.... The Ambassadour was so long inflexible,
but he gott nothing by his standing out thus long but bad words
and worse Treatment, a great part of his trayn being dead of the
Plague by ill accommodation when Infection was gott amongst them.”
So if this treatment, as seems probable, was the result of policy
rather than of mere cruelty, it proved efficacious. “The Peace
was patchd’ up by the Tartar Han or Crim Tartar ... the Polish
Ambassadour applying himselfe to the Mediation of this Prince with
such Humility that though His Principality is so qualifyd’ ... He
kissd’ the very Hem of his Garment that touchd’ the Ground.”

_March 2-12, 1677-78._--“The Peace with Poland is subscribd’ on
both sides ... the Poles have deliverd’ up not onely a great part
of Ukrania, two places there onely remaining to them, but what is
of worse consequence to them, they have surrenderd’ all Podolia
entirely, the richest province they had.”

In return for these territorial sacrifices, the Ambassador
expected some religious concessions, among them the restoration
of our old friends, the Latin Fathers, to the possession of the
Holy Sepulchre. The Poles set immense store by this point, “for
their wisedome tells them, that if the Restitution of the Holy
Sepulchre depends upon the Peace with that Crowne, they shall be
sure hereafter of the assistance of all Christian Princes upon any
new warr with the Turk.” And in fact they had managed to insert an
Article to such effect in the Treaty. But it was not for nothing
that the Porte had for its chief Interpreter a Greek. The Treaty
had been drawn up in two languages--Latin and Turkish. Now, in the
Turkish version, that Article, from possession and guardianship of
the Holy Sepulchre--the form under which it figured in the Latin
text--had been whittled down to mere access to it: a privilege that
the Latin Fathers already enjoyed. The Ambassador demanded that
the Article should be interpreted according to the Latin text; the
Porte adhered to the letter of the Turkish text. Hence several
stormy conferences, in the course of which the Grand Vizir’s
Kehayah and the Rais Effendi told the Pole that they would give
him war if he would not have peace on their terms, called him a
faithless Giaour who would fly from what he had signed, and reviled
him with such violence that at length the poor Palatine, terrified
for his liberty, if not for his life, fairly gave in.

Immediately messengers were despatched to Jerusalem to acquaint the
Cordeliers “with to them most dreadfull Newes.” What made the news
exceptionally dreadful was the sinister circumstance that, as this
year the Latin and Greek Easter fell on the same day, the Greek
Patriarch had an opportunity of celebrating his victory with a _Te
Deum_ at which they themselves, as well as all Eastern Christians,
would of necessity be present. Sir John, who describes all these
diplomatic manœuvres in detail, could not have been very sorry to
see another foiled where he himself had striven in vain. So much at
least may be inferred from his sardonic comment on the sole favour
for the Faith his unhappy colleague seemed likely to secure: “He
shall have the honour of rebuilding two churches that have bin
burnt down: so wee encrease our churches here though the number of
Christians decreases dayly; and the Pastours are here equall in
number allmost to their sheep.”[215]

It should be mentioned that, apart from the other forces that
compelled the Palatine to an over-hasty signature of Articles
he did not fully understand, there was the fear of an agreement
between Turkey and Russia, which appeared imminent. Yet the envoy
from Muscovy, whose advent at that critical hour hastened the
Polish surrender, had little reason to feel pleased with the good
turn he had unwittingly done the Turks. He came from a Power which
by its military resources, its proximity to the Sultan’s Persian
enemies, and its influence over his Orthodox subjects, inspired
respect in the Turks. But he came at a moment when respect was
eclipsed by resentment.

In the preceding autumn, when peace with one country had come in
sight, Kara Mustafa had begun provoking war with another. Turkish
troops attacked the Russian fort of Zechrin, were badly beaten,
and only escaped a total rout by a speedy retreat. The news of
this disaster had been the signal for an Ottoman mobilisation on
a colossal scale and accompanied with commensurate squeezing. No
class or creed was spared: Moslems, Christians, and Jews, high
and low, laity and clergy, were all mulcted indiscriminately. The
Turkish ecclesiastics had to give up one-third of their income.
The feudal land magnates had to renew their ancient conveyances at
great expense, under pain of forfeiting their fiefs. The Prince of
Moldavia was ordered to contribute 150 purses, and the Prince of
Wallachia 300 purses, besides enormous quantities of provisions.
Throughout the Empire old taxes were increased and new ones
imposed: “All which things,” says Sir John, “make the people of
the Country ready to hang themselves.” The Janissaries alone were
left untouched by Kara Mustafa’s lash; for they alone could make
a revolution. Before the Muscovite envoy had crossed the frontier
the mobilised bodies had begun to move from the various provinces
to the place of rendezvous three miles outside the capital, where
the Grand Signor and Grand Vizir joined them about the middle of
March, with more than the parade usual on such occasions. It was
an astonishing sight. It lasted four days, and each day had its
peculiar pageant. Sir John was present at the most important parts
of the ceremony, and he sent to the Secretary of State a minute
description of what he saw.

On the first day the Grand Vizir’s retinue marched out under the
command of his Kehayah--over one hundred pages clad in cloth of
gold and coats of mail. On the second day there was a solemn
procession of the Guilds--weavers, tailors, shoe-makers, bakers,
blacksmiths, and so forth, about 12,000 men in all--one-third of
whom would accompany the Army on its campaign and minister to its
wants. Some of them rode past in glittering coats of mail with long
lances in their hands and swords at their sides, while musketeers
of the same trade marched on either side of the mounted squadrons.
In the middle of each squadron there were representatives of each
Guild engaged in their peculiar craft either on foot or perched
on the backs of camels, according to the exigencies of their
occupation. In this fashion they went on, fifty-three companies of
warrior-workers, with their kettle-drums, their great drums, their
trumpets and other instruments of barbaric music: “So the Turkish
Military Camp,” comments the chronicler, “is nothing else but a
civil camp being furnishd’ with all the Arts of Peace in Time of
Warr.” The third day witnessed the exodus of the Janissary Aga at
the head of his Janissaries--about 20,000 of the best Infantry in
the whole world. And then, on the fourth day, the Grand Signor in
person made his _Alloy_, as the Turks called this marching out in

He went forth accompanied by his son, his son-in-law, the Grand
Vizir, the Vizirs of the Bench, the Capitan Pasha, and all the
other great pashas of the Empire with their retinues “most proudly
clad, jackd’, and mounted.” Here was, indeed, the grandeur of which
Sir John had dreamed. He gazed on, dumbfounded by the profusion
of wealth that met his eyes; the Sultan’s led horses were almost
hidden under embroideries of gold, thick-set with jewels of
fabulous value. Behind them came a camel on the back of which
was strapped a chest of beaten gold, made in the form of a square
tower, richly encrusted with precious stones, and enclosing the
Alcoran. Immediately after rode the young Prince on “as fine a
Horse as Nature ever producd’”--bridle and trappings aglow with
diamonds. Last of all came the Grand Signor himself, attired in
a vest lined with black fox fur worth ten thousand crowns, and
bestriding a steed the furniture of which was “all over besett with
Jewells of Immense Price”--“really He appeard like an Emperour.” He
was followed by a numerous body of royal attendants of all ranks
and stalwart Spahis.

The procession closed with a caravan of camels, some laden with the
Imperial baggage, others carrying the Treasure--“a Million and a
halfe in Gold, and as much more in Silver: every cammel carrying
fifty thousand Zecchins, or ten Purses of silver”--under a guard of
trusty Janissaries.

“I do not know,” says the Ambassador, “whether what in the sight
gave so much divertisement, can afford any in the reading.”
The actual description of the pageant may not--descriptions
seldom do. But it is enlivened by notes which are certainly more
diverting than they could have been intended by the writer. One
of them reveals the diplomat’s keen eye for points of etiquette;
he observes that the Vizir rode with the Sultan’s son-in-law on
his left; “which seems to me to evidence that the right hand is
amongst the Turkes the Place of Precedence; though even in Turky
tis generally thought otherwise.” Another reveals his credulity:
in the train of the Sultan’s son-in-law Sir John saw, or imagined
that he saw, eight tamed tigers warmly clad, carried behind eight
horsemen: “of these I am informd’ the Gran Signor makes use when He
Hunts Hares and other Animals; They having gott their prey, leap
again upon the Horses behind their Masters.” What wag supplied
His Excellency with this valuable information must remain matter
of conjecture--one suspects the Honourable Dudley. A third note
reveals the Ambassador’s vanity. Speaking of the Guilds, he says:
“T was pretty to see the Respect of the Blacksmiths towards me;
for seeing me they layd one of their companions upon His back; and
placing Boards upon His Belly they layd’ a Great Stone upon them
for an Anvill and putting a Red Hott Iron upon the Stone, eight
of them with their Great Hammers fell to worke.” Another tribute
of respect paid to Sir John on the same occasion makes a less
severe demand on our faith: a large boat, like a brigantine, armed
with half-a-dozen small guns was drawn along on sledges: when it
passed by the Ambassador, the commander stopped and fired all the
guns for a salute--“a thing,” his Excellency adds modestly, “of
no great moment, but that any Civility is so when Turkes make a
solemnity; and especially No others having receivd the like.” For
all that, Sir John was very glad to see the backs of Kara Mustafa
and his satellites: “T’ is sayd that they cannot returne hither this
following winter. If so, t’ is very good new’s for me, for from
thence I hope for some quiett and repose after the turmoyls and
vexations I and all others have bin under.”[216]

It was shortly after this exit that the envoy from Muscovy arrived
and met with a reception which showed how little reasonable
accommodation was to the Grand Vizir’s taste. The first thing Kara
Mustafa did was to ask the envoy to hand over to him the letters
he had for the Grand Signor, and as the envoy refused to deliver
them into any but the Grand Signor’s hands, he had recourse to a
ruse. A day was appointed as if for an Imperial Audience, and the
Russian set out holding up his letters before his forehead, after
the Muscovite manner. On the way, the chaoushes who pretended to
be conducting him to the Sultan snatched the letters from him
and carried them to the Grand Vizir, who, on finding that they
contained expostulations for his hostile designs and expressions
of a desire for an amicable settlement, informed the envoy that it
was too late; the army was ready for a campaign; only if, before
it crossed the frontier, Muscovy would give satisfaction war could
be averted; the price of peace being a cession of the object under
dispute. With this message and without “any Testimony from the Port
of the least imaginable respect,” the envoy was dismissed. And the
march towards the Danube began.[217]

At this point Sir John ceases to be a mere spectator of the
international drama and becomes for a moment an actor. For
some time past a strong feeling of opposition to Charles II.’s
Francophile policy had been growing up in England; and at last the
King, yielding to public opinion, made an attempt to curb the power
of Louis, who so far had carried everything before him against the
whole Continental Alliance. France was asked to come to terms, and
as she returned an evasive answer England began preparations for
forcing her. News of the crisis had reached Turkey early in March,
and created a considerable flutter in the diplomatic dovecote;
but it was not until the end of April that the consequences of an
Anglo-French conflict, should it arise, were brought home to our

A drunken English sailor at Smyrna met some Frenchmen in the
street and, addressing them as “French dogs,” cried out that he
hoped ere long to get one of their jackets and be “Allamode.” The
Frenchmen fell upon him and wounded him in the head. Thereupon a
body of about thirty English seamen gathered together and rushed
to the French Consul’s house, breathing vengeance. The French
merchants hastened to the defence of their Consul, and tried to
repel the attack with stones and cudgels; but with no success. The
English, after breaking all the windows, climbed up into the outer
gallery, drove the defenders into the inner rooms, and were already
beginning to pull down the house, when our Consul, accompanied
by Sir Richard Munden, who was then in the Levant with H.M.S.
_St. David_ for the protection of English trade, and the other
Commanders then in port, arrived upon the scene. The assailants
at first refused to obey; “one of them swearing a desperate oath
that He would not give over till He had drunke the Bloud of a
Frenchman.” But in the end they were induced by threats of martial
law to abandon their sanguinary design.

This incident filled Sir John with alarm as to what might have
happened, “had these Mad fellows executed their fury according to
their Intentions either in Murdring the Consul or pulling down His
house.” Even in normal times the mutual animosities of the Franks
exposed them to rapine on the part of the Turks; in time of war,
and under a government like Kara Mustafa’s, such animosities might
lead to utter ruin; and the English, whose property in Turkey
was twenty times greater than that of the French, would suffer
in proportion: “where most mony is, the most will be extorted
even in a Parity of Crime.” Prompted by these considerations, Sir
John took a step never before taken in Turkey: he invited the
French Ambassador to a frank and free discussion of a situation
which was disagreeable for the present and might in the future
prove extremely dangerous. The result was as pleasing an example
of sweet reasonableness as is to be found in the whole domain of
Anglo-French diplomacy. The two ambassadors, after recalling to
each other’s mind what quarrels of this nature had cost in the
past (the Cancellarias of both Embassies abounded with cases in
point)--“when sometimes one Nation, sometimes the other sufferd’
highest under Avanias that arose from thence; though in the
Conclusion neither scapd’ without severe payments,”--agreed, if
war broke out between their Governments in Europe, to continue
living in Turkey “with all the same Circumstances of Civility and
formality as also respects towards each other; as if there was no
Warr: That by our Example the Factory’s under us might practise
the same.” Further, “considering that Example without Precept
is little, as Precept without Example is lesse,” they agreed to
send to their respective Consuls and Factories orders couched in
identical terms, requiring them to conform unswervingly to the line
of conduct pursued by the Ambassadors themselves.[218]

So unprecedented an action, taken by the Ambassador on his own
initiative, needed justification; and Sir John, in reporting it
to Whitehall, explains his motives at length, adding that, when
all the circumstances are weighed, he has reason to hope that the
King will be pleased to think that what he has done is “for His
Majesty’s Honour, and for the Interest of His Subjects.” As a
matter of fact, there was every reason to believe (and both Finch
and Nointel must have known it) that Charles, in his heart, had no
desire to fall out with France; and in due course Sir John received
His Majesty’s approval. But long before that approval reached him
all danger of war had blown over. The English Parliament, while
urging Charles to fight Louis, refused him the means of doing so,
for fear lest the arms placed in his hands for the humiliation of
France should be turned against the liberties of England. The only
practical fruit of the agitation was an interdiction of trade with
our rival. And so Louis, profiting by England’s neutrality, made a
peace (Treaty of Nimeguen, 1678) which put the coping-stone on his

After this little ferment Sir John relapsed into his rôle of
chronicler. At the beginning of summer a German Internuncio,
Hoffmann, arrived from Vienna, with a new Imperial Resident,
Sattler. Whereupon the old Resident, Kindsberg, broke up his
household, took leave of his colleagues, and set out, with the
newcomers, for the Vizir’s camp. But they had scarcely gone three
days when an express command from Kara Mustafa obliged them to
return to Constantinople and stay there till further orders.
Kara Mustafa had his reasons for postponing an interview: the
Internuncio’s business was to renew the truce between the Ottoman
and the German Empires, which was about to expire, and Kara Mustafa
wanted to see how the Polish Treaty was observed and how the
Russian campaign went, before he committed himself to peace or
war with Germany. The consequences were ghastly for the Caesarean
diplomats: Sattler died of the plague, Hoffmann was seized with an
apoplexy which paralysed him, Kindsberg, after losing his brother
and a number of his attendants through the plague, himself fell
victim either to the disease or to poison. The plague also carried
off the Venetian Bailo’s chief Dragoman and Treasurer. Sir John,
however, in his summer resort at St. Demetrius, was safe from
the terrible epidemic. As for that other pest, he reckoned that,
what with Muscovy and Germany, the Vizir was certain to be away
for two years at least, and his reckonings seemed confirmed by a
reported resolution of the Grand Signor’s to build a palace on the
Danube--“a sign there’s no quick Dispatch expected either with the
Muscovite or the Emperour. So that during the short remainder of
my Time, I have now a Probable prospect of Quietnesse and a Calm,
which I have not enjoyd hitherto One Moment Since my Arrivall.”
He could now take a dispassionate, even an amused, view of his
past calamities and cap Latin verses thereon with the Secretary of
State, sending him, in return for a line out of a Comedian, two out
of a Tragedian.[219]

But alas for the futility of human calculations! In the very
midst of his self-gratulation, Sir John received the news “that
Zechrin is taken by storm, And that the Triumphant Visir will
return hither this winter. When that Lion comes, if successe don’t
make Him milder, the contrary of which is to be feard, God direct


[208] Sir Peter Wyche to Lord Conway, Constantinople, July 26/Aug.
5, 1628, _S.P. Turkey_, 14. The occasion for this apophthegm was
supplied by another predatory Pasha of Aleppo.

[209] Finch to Coventry, March 1-11, April 12-22, May 14-24, 1678,
_Coventry Papers_.

[210] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 60-1, 107.

[211] Finch to Coventry, March 1-11, May 14-24, 1678.

[212] “I doe not find it easy to arrive to a true knowledge of
them; For things passe here under Great Taciturnity.”--Finch
to Williamson, May 31, 1676, _S.P. Turkey_, 19. “The New’s of
this Court (which would to God Christendome could imitate) is
secrecy.”--The Same to Coventry, June 20-30, 1676; “Things are so
secretly transacted at this Court that there is no certainty to be
had.”--The Same to the Same, March 9-19, 1677-78, _Coventry Papers_.

[213] Finch to Coventry, Jan. 19-29, March 1-11, 9-19, April 12-22,
Sept. 2-12, 1678.

[214] The Same to the Same, Nov. 29, S.V. 1677.

[215] The Same to the Same, March 2-12, 9-19, 16-26, 1678.

[216] The Same to the Same, March 9-19; 16-26, 1677-78.

[217] The Same to the Same, April 12-22, 1678.

[218] The Same to the Same, May 14-24, 1678, and inclosures: Two
Orders from Finch to the English Consuls of Smyrna and Aleppo (in
Italian), dated April 20-30 and May 2-12; and two from Nointel to
the French Consuls of the same places (in French), dated May 1 and

[219] The Same to the Same, June 20-30; Sept. 2-12, 1678.

[220] The Same to the Same, Sept. 2-12, 1678.



Among the numerous devices for the collection of cash to which the
Grand Vizir had recourse before setting out on the war path, were
some that touched foreign residents directly. Until his time all
Franks had been exempt, by virtue of their Capitulations, from the
_Haratch_, or poll-tax, levied upon non-Moslem Turkish subjects.
The immunity extended to the Dragomans of the various European
Embassies and Consulates, as well as to other natives under foreign
protection. Every Ambassador received from the Porte a number of
_Barats_, or Patents, which, though given to him for the benefit
of his own servants only, he was, by an abuse of privilege, in the
habit of selling to wealthy _rayahs_--Greeks, Armenians, or Jews:
so that the suburbs of Galata and Pera had come to be peopled very
largely by privileged persons (_Baratlis_). For some years past the
Farmers of the Revenue had been drawing attention to this state of
things, and even overstating it, in order to beat down the Farm;
but their representations had produced no effect until 1677, when
by order of Kara Mustafa an inquisitor was appointed to ascertain
the facts. This official came over, and not being offered a bribe,
as he expected and as one who had come on a similar errand some
time before had received, executed his commission with exemplary
conscientiousness. The upshot was an edict limiting foreign
Ministers and Consuls to three Dragomans and obliging them to
obtain fresh Barats for them. Moreover, the Grand Vizir ordained
that every Frank who was married to a country-born woman should
henceforth be deprived of the benefits of the Capitulations, pay
_Haratch_, and be treated in all respects as a _rayah_.

As was natural, married Franks denounced the measure bitterly:
they had come to Turkey on the understanding that they should
live in it as free men, and now by a stroke of Kara Mustafa’s
pen they were suddenly reduced to the position of slaves. The
outcry was loudest among the French and the Dutch, upon whom the
innovation fell most heavily: some forty Frenchmen, including the
chief merchants, and three of the principal Dutch merchants had
native wives. But notwithstanding all that the French Ambassador
and the Dutch Resident could say or do, and all the endeavours
of private individuals, and all their offers of money, not the
least grace was shown to them. The rich French merchants escaped
the consequences of the edict by purchasing titular Consulships
at Gallipoli, Athens, and so forth; but their poorer compatriots
were disfranchised. The English had so far been very little
affected. Sir John had easily obtained the necessary Patents for
his Dragomans. Nor did the marriage disqualification trouble
them, as, with very few exceptions, our colony consisted of gay

But now--soon after Kara Mustafa’s return to Adrianople--there
arose a case which was to cost our countrymen dearly.

Mr. Samuel Pentlow, a wealthy English merchant of Smyrna, who was
married to a Greek lady, had just died, leaving his widow and his
children--a son about three years of age and a daughter three or
four months old--to the care of his Assigns, Mr. Gabriel Smith
and our old acquaintance Mr. John Ashby, with instructions that
they should be sent home to enjoy the lands and other possessions
he owned in England, together with his Smyrna estate, which was
commonly estimated at something between two hundred thousand and
half a million dollars: fruit of thirty years’ labour in the
Levant. In obedience to the wishes of the deceased, the Assigns
took passage for his family in an English ship about to sail from
Smyrna. But the other residents, fearing, in view of Kara Mustafa’s
recent edict, that the departure of the woman and children without
official permission might expose the colony to the Grand Vizir’s
attentions, protested to the Consul and the Ambassador, who agreed
that this business could not safely be done in a clandestine
manner. The Assigns, therefore, entered into negotiations with the
Cadi. This gentleman was quite willing to wink; but he demanded his
reward in advance, while Messrs. Smith and Ashby would not part
with a single asper until after the thing was done. Their caution
offended the sensitive Cadi, who, out of spite, hastened to inform
the Grand Vizir of the contemplated elopement.

Kara Mustafa so far had only had enough of English gold to
stimulate his appetite, not enough to satisfy it: gratification
but gave him ampler zest. He only waited for an occasion to take
another and bigger bite. And here was the best of all imaginable
occasions. Without delay he passed the information on to the Grand
Signor, who, in his turn, consulted the Mufti: What should be done
to Turkish subjects that attempted to fly the country? The oracle
responded that they deserved to have their property confiscated:
that was the Law. A decree was accordingly issued, and despatched
to Smyrna by an Aga, who also had orders to bring Messrs. Smith and
Ashby to Adrianople that they might give an account of the estate.
This done, another messenger was despatched to Constantinople with
a letter from the Grand Vizir for the Ambassador, notifying to him
the fact and asking him to send to Adrianople a Dragoman to be
present at the examination of the Assigns: which, Sir John said,
was very civil of the Vizir; “but this civility was attended by a
Sting in the Tayl bidding me take care that in Smirna nothing was
acted contrary to this Command.”

The message upset Sir John very much. He did not want to have any
more trouble with the terrible Vizir. Things had been going on so
well--and now this Sting in the Tayl! Sir John was angry--not with
Kara Mustafa, nor even with Messrs. Smith and Ashby: strange to
say, he was angry with the late Mr. Pentlow. His thoughts of the
deceased, when he reported the case to the Secretary of State,
became winged words--his quill an arrow barbed and envenomed: “He
is the onely man since our Trade into Turky that ever marryed Here,
and was worth any thing,” he wrote, and as he wrote, his wrath grew
into virulence: “How it [Pentlow’s estate] was gott I know not, How
he livd’ I know, He would not afford Himselfe bread, but livd’
upon other Merchants’ Tables; After the Birth of His Sonne the
first child, when the Mother was bigg of a second, He dischargd’
a Pistoll unwares just behind her back to make Her miscarry, That
charges might not encrease.”[222]

It would be idle to enter into a serious examination of these
scurrilous irrelevancies. That the Pentlow fortune had not been
built up wholly with clean hands, may easily be credited (few
great fortunes ever are); and there is some evidence that the late
merchant had not been exceptionally careful about his methods.[223]
But what, in the name of common sense and common decency, had the
ethics of the deceased to do with the case? The question at issue
was one of law: it all turned upon the interpretation of a clause
in the Capitulations, which ran as follows: “If any Englishman
shall come hither either to dwell or traffique, whether he be
married or unmarried, he shall be free.” Hitherto this clause
(which figured in the Capitulations of all other nations also)
had been construed by everybody as including Europeans married
to native as well as to foreign women; and the Turks had never
questioned that construction, until Kara Mustafa, the year before,
had thought fit to announce that “that Article was to be understood
onely of such who were marryd’ to those that were not subjects
of the Gran Signor.” Was he justified in so doing? The Levant
Company thought not. In an account of this case presented to the
King, it emphatically maintained that the Turkish contention that
“Pentlow his wife and children were subjects to the Grand Signor”
was a breach of “the Article wee have in Our Capitulations to the
contrary.”[224] On the other hand, the Company’s Treasurer at
Constantinople, after recording both interpretations, refused to
commit himself to a definite pronouncement, though, on the whole,
he thought that, “in a case any thing dubious, it is shrewdly to
be feared that their [the Turks’] interpretation will stand before
ours.”[225] The Ambassador, however, preferred the line of least
resistance. Rather than risk another conflict with the Grand Vizir,
he accepted without question his view of the matter. “Pentlow,”
he wrote, “by marrying a Greeke made Himselfe a subject to the
Gran Signor, as the Visir in Pentlow’s life time had declard’; the
Turkish Law making them all so. But Pentlow having children They
without all dispute were by the Turkish Law born subjects.”

Acting upon this trouble-saving view, Sir John had tried to
dissuade the Assigns from sending away the widow and children,
and when he perceived that his remonstrances made no impression
upon them, he advised the Consul to keep out of the affair. But
he did not venture to issue a categorical prohibition, lest he
should be accused of betraying the Pentlow estate into the hands
of the Turks, “who,” it might have been said, “had not otherwise
taken notice of their advantage.”[226] From this neutral attitude
nothing could induce Sir John to depart. However, he sent his
Dragoman with a letter to the Vizir, to assist the Assigns--at
least so he says; though, according to another version, before the
Grand Vizir’s disturbing message had reached the Ambassador, his
Dragoman, Signor Antonio Perone, had gone to Adrianople with Mr.
North on some other affairs, and to their surprise they found the
Assigns with the Chief Dragoman of the Smyrna Consulate already
there. Be that as it may, Messrs. Smith and Ashby certainly did not
profit by the presence of those gentlemen; but, left to their own
resources, made a mess of the business.

To begin with, they declared that all the property entrusted to
them amounted to no more than 50,000 dollars. Kara Mustafa was
not convinced; common report credited the late merchant with ten
times that amount; and he already knew Mr. Ashby. He therefore
informed him and his co-administrator that, unless they rendered
a true account, they would have their arms and legs broken, or
at least be put into the galleys. At the sound of these gruesome
threats, Messrs. Smith and Ashby raised the inventory to 70,000
dollars: and that, they said, was all. But the Turks still refused
to believe them: the whole truth or torture! At length the Assigns,
overcome by fear, agreed to deliver within two months 90,000
dollars: 50,000 for the Grand Signor’s Exchequer; 30,000 for the
Grand Vizir; and 10,000 for his Kehayah. Then the Turks proceeded
to give a final turn to the screw--one of those humorous little
turns that marked every Turkish extortion: Messrs. Smith and Ashby
were made to promise the Aga, who had escorted them from Smyrna
and who would escort them back and keep them in custody until
payment was completed, a present of 3500 dollars “for his pains and

Kara Mustafa, too, had his little joke. After finishing with
the Assigns, he informed the Ambassador that he had done _him_
a friendly turn: he had interceded with the Grand Signor on his
behalf and had prevailed upon his Majesty to pardon him--for 90,000
dollars--the crime of endeavouring to send away the Grand Signor’s
subjects: the Ambassador must now take care that the money was paid
within the time agreed upon.

The humour of this message was lost upon Sir John: “Two things
here I cannot understand,” he gravely told the Secretary of State,
“First, How I come to be taxd’ of an Action I expressely wrote
against to the Consul at Smirna many moneths together, and made
him disown it. Secondly, how I come to be responsible for a summe
of mony, for the freeing of Private Persons and a Private Estate,
by virtue of an Agreement made without my Notice: Suppose the Rack
and Tortures had made them subscribe 10 Times that summe?” Was this
what he got after all his strenuous efforts not to enmesh himself
in the snares of that unspeakable Kehayah and his master? Verily,
the ways of the Turks were past comprehension. “It seems they looke
upon Publick Ministers Here as Publick Hostages; and will have
the Prince to answer for the miscarriages of every one of their

Meanwhile the subjects in question were beginning to regret at
leisure the bargain they had huddled up in panic. On their way to
Smyrna they paid the Turks 10,000 dollars on account, and when
they got there they made some further payments. But presently they
perceived that they had not so many assets of the deceased in their
hands as they thought, and what they had it was not easy to dispose
of--who dared buy goods that lay under Kara Mustafa’s thumb? After
selling all they could at such prices as they could get, they still
found themselves short of the stipulated sum by 20,000 dollars.
In their perplexity they asked the Nation for a loan wherewith
to clear themselves. Both the Factory of Smyrna and that of
Constantinople unanimously petitioned the Ambassador to advance the
money out of the Levant Company’s Treasury, in order to avoid an
“avania.” Kara Mustafa, they knew, would stick at nothing. But the
Ambassador refused to interfere. He would do nothing to countenance
the Turkish pretension that the Public was in any way responsible
for the liabilities of individuals.

To crown the wretched Assigns’ embarrassment, the Turks would not
wait for the day of payment. They demanded the balance at once,
and, on being told that the money was not available, they seized
the house in which the widow lived, broke open her late husband’s
warehouses, and put the goods they found therein up for sale. But
the plunder meeting with few buyers at Smyrna, most of it was sent
up to Constantinople, and the remainder, as was natural in the
circumstances, fetched only a fraction of its real value. When the
Turks had counted the proceeds, they declared that there was still
a deficit of 15,000 dollars to be made good. Utterly demoralised by
this catastrophe, Messrs. Smith and Ashby abandoned all thoughts
of fulfilling their bargain, and fled to the Ambassador for
protection. His Lordship answered that what they suffered was
entirely their own doing: he could not free them from an engagement
to which they had set their signatures; but he would see what he
could do to mitigate their distress by obtaining for them, if
possible, an extension of the time limit. The Assigns declined
such qualified assistance, and declared that they washed their
hands of the whole business. So the Turks, who, on their part, were
determined not to remit one asper of their bond, put them in prison.

This brought upon the stage Mrs. Pentlow. While our men of the West
were content with a rôle of Oriental passivity, this lady of the
East decided on direct action.

In the springtime of the year (1679), when the Imperial Court
arrived at Constantinople, the widow, taking one of her children,
went up to the capital with the intention, it was said, of making a
personal appeal to the Grand Signor. The Grand Signor’s Ministers,
alarmed, endeavoured, partly by fair and partly by other means,
to deter her. She persisted, and at last got back her house and
some money for her expenses, and, as to the Assigns, the promise
that they should be released for 2000 dollars--a concession which
Kara Mustafa could well afford to make, for the tin brought to
Constantinople from Pentlow’s warehouse, when sold, had yielded a
large sum above the estimate at which it had been taken, almost
making up the balance due.

Mrs. Pentlow returned to Smyrna thinking that the Assigns would be
pleased with her efforts. But Messrs. Smith and Ashby were past
being pleased with anything. Though their liability had narrowed
down to a matter of only 2000 dollars, they refused to pay. In vain
did their friends urge them to be sensible. They met all counsels
with the angry obstinacy of exasperated sheep: they would not
disburse another penny: they would rather lie in prison till a new
Ambassador came out, when, they doubted not, justice would be done
them. They had been robbed, they cried, by the Kehayah and his
accomplices. The Grand Signor knew nothing of it: it only required
a competent ambassador to bring their case to his notice, and all
would be well. The Turks, failing to bend, decided to break, their
obstinacy by throwing them into a dungeon. Our merchants, however,
had by this time lashed themselves into furious recklessness: they
resisted and very nearly killed the officer who came to remove them.

Things had reached this dangerous climax when the Smyrna Factory
stepped in to avert a tragedy. By the instrumentality of the
Chaplain there was raised a fund for the prisoners’ redemption; and
so Mr. Ashby is out of it again, without bone broken--not, we hope,
without instruction from the adventure. As for Mrs. Pentlow and her
children, we shall hear of them again in due time.

Sir John Finch, as usual, praised God that the trouble was over,
and took to himself credit for keeping it off himself and the
Consul of Smyrna and for saving the Company 20,000 dollars by his
non-interference. Things, he believed, might have been much worse
but for his masterly inactivity: “so high did the Sea’s run, which
God be thanked, are now brought to a Calm.” But how long would the
calm last?--“the being in Turky under this Goverment,” he says,
“is like the being in a ship, where though Wee are this houre under
a fair wind and a serene skye, the Next hour may bring us a cloudy
Heaven, and a fierce Storm. And I protest to you, it takes my whole
thoughts to become a Good Pilot.”[229]


[221] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 84-5; Finch to the Levant
Company, Jan. 19-29, 1677-78, _Coventry Papers_.

[222] Finch to Coventry, Feb. 17-27, 1678-79.

[223] See _Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1672-73_, p. 114:
“Thomas Bankes to the King. Petition for the needful order to Sir
John Finch, now going ambassador to Constantinople, to call to
account Samuel Pentlow, John Folio [Foley], and other merchants of
Smyrna, to whom he sent a large estate 13 years ago, which they
enjoy at their pleasure, that they may give satisfaction for the

[224] _Register, S.P. Levant Company_, 145. See also Appendix XIV.

[225] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 86.

[226] Finch to Coventry, _loc. cit._

[227] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 87.

[228] Finch to Coventry, Feb. 17-27, 1678-79.

[229] Finch to Coventry, Aug. 19-29, 1679.



For about ten months--that is, till the summer of 1680--Sir John
Finch had no further opportunity of displaying his skill as a
pilot. He was a mere passenger in the diplomatic vessel, and he
availed himself of the privilege which belonged to his position
by diligently noting the behaviour of his fellow-passengers.
Sir John’s despatches have none of the verve of M. de Nointel’s
descriptions of life and manners: he is never less entertaining
than when he means to be so. Yet casual notices--occurrences
mentioned as matters of course--sometimes creep in to relieve
the formality of the narrative. “This Imperiall City,” he writes
in June 1679, “is now filld’ with the whole Court; and the Gran
Signor has filld’ all his Serraglio’s to the heigth of any former
Precedent, with the choice Virgin beauty’s of his Empire, giving
order for the providing of no lesse then five hundred at one
time.” The writer, however, knows that this is not business: it
has nothing to do with those “negotiations and practices” which it
was his duty to keep an eye on. So he proceeds: “In the midst of
all these enjoyments, there wants not the application of Christian
Ministers in order either to the making or preserving peace.”
There follows a record of these efforts for peace which, thanks
to Kara Mustafa’s statesmanship, were to end in a war that brought
the Ottoman Empire to the brink of the abyss. Little did Kara
Mustafa dream that, in browbeating the representatives of Poland
and Russia, of the German Empire and the Venetian Republic, he was
digging his own grave. But that was still in the future. Meanwhile
the Grand Vizir had all these Powers at, or rather under, his feet.

On the departure of the Palatine of Kulm, a Polish Resident was
left at Constantinople. Nevertheless, King Sobieski now sent a
special envoy charged to inform the Porte that the Poles had
renewed their truce with the Muscovites for fifteen years longer.
Poland thought it necessary to give this notice, lest the Turks
should take umbrage: “Such is the awe which that halfe conquerd’
Kingdome hath of this Empire.”[230]

An envoy from Muscovy, at the same time, laboured for peace
under conditions which anywhere outside Turkey would have been
intolerable. Sixty Janissaries kept strict watch over him to
prevent all access to his person; while Kara Mustafa sent the
Capitan Pasha to fortify the Black Sea. By this move the Turks put
“a Bridle into the Muscovites mouthes.” For the rest, it seemed
unlikely that they had any desire to advance farther northwards,
“their camels and horses not being able to endure the rigour of
that climat.”[231]

The duped diplomat departed in disgust; but six months after
another came to treat with the Porte and fared no better. Before
admitting him to audience, the Grand Vizir obtained a translation
of the letter he had brought: it was couched in the usual style
of the Tsars, who loved to fill their letters with as high threats
and as hyperbolical boasts and titles as the Sultans. The Vizir,
incensed by so good an imitation of Turkish arrogance, when the
envoy appeared in the Audience Room, asked him whether this was
indeed his letter, and on the envoy replying “Yes,” he dismissed
him with a “_Chick Haslagiack_--Be gone, you Rogue, you deserve
to be hangd’!” One would think, says Sir John, that this “studyd’
affront” might give a stop to the negotiations. But such was not
the case: “the Visir learnes dayly, that He looses nothing by
the rough treatment of forreign Ministers; as the Ambassadour of
Poland’s ill usage, as well as others have confirmd’ to him.”[232]

Take, for instance, that other great Empire, which, calling itself
(Heaven only knows why) “Holy” and “Roman,” claimed to be the
bulwark of the Christian West.

The Emperor’s Internuncio Hoffmann, since the previous summer when
he arrived to renew the truce, had been accorded only one business
audience and that was little to his satisfaction: a circumstance
from which it might, Sir John thought, justly be suspected that
the Grand Vizir meant to keep him in suspense till he drew the
army to the Danube, and then suddenly to clap up a peace with the
Muscovites and turn his course upon Hungary. Other circumstances
pointed in the same direction. Before he could obtain a second
interview, Hoffmann died, and was soon followed to the grave by his
successor Terlingo. A little earlier, as we have seen, Kindsberg
and Sattler had had their careers cut short by death. So that
in fifteen months the Emperor had lost four Ministers. Sir John
could not help regarding this mysterious mortality as “a presage
of a warr, but,” he adds, “omens then worke upon me when they are
accompanyd’ with naturall reasons, and a considerable one is this,
that the Turke cannot live without a warr.”[233]

That Sir John, eminently a man of peace though he was, prayed for
war, is plain from the eagerness with which he dwells on every
symptom of a bellicose intention, from the disappointment with
which he notes the absence of any bellicose preparations. Hopeful
and despondent by turns, he ends with the sad admission, “Wee are
like to have the Gran Signor’s and Visir’s company here, much to
the advantage of our commerce but as much to the disquiett of all
Ministers here.”

Our Ambassador’s sentiments can easily be understood. For at this
time Kara Mustafa, who was always most at ease when he was violent,
appears to have indulged his peculiar genius at the expense of
foreign Ministers a little too far.

We know already the “avania” brought against the Bailo of Venice.
Sir John had since learnt from a person present at the inspection
of the Venetian Treasurer’s books after his death, that the sum
extorted was not, as he had been told, 45,000, but 85,000 dollars.
Now a fresh claim for Customs-duties lay upon the Signoria, and the
Vizir threatened that, if a bond for 20,000 dollars was not given
him, he would bring the case before the Divan and there condemn
the Bailo to more than double that amount and shut him up in the
Seven Towers till it was paid: afterwards His Excellency might
complain to the Sultan, if he liked. Signor Morosini had no option
but to comply. Including the supplementary fleecing by the Vizir’s
Kehayah, Treasurer, and Rais Effendi, Sir John reckoned that the
operation would come to 40,000 dollars. This treatment made so
painful an impression upon the Bailo that he told Finch that he
intended, on his return home, to advise the Senate to break off
relations with Turkey once for all rather than “be thus eaten up by

A new Venetian Ambassador who arrived to relieve the much-tried
Morosini was treated like an envoy from a vassal State. The Turks
searched the men-of-war that escorted him, and detained them on the
plea of having stolen slaves and killed them. Several corpses found
floating about the vessels lent colour to the accusation, though
the Venetians protested that the corpses came from shipwrecks in
the Black Sea. Be that as it may, the affair was finally settled
for an amount which no man knew: it was said that both the Vizir
and the Bailo wished to keep it private, for, if the Grand Signor
heard of it, he would want his share. And so at length the
new-comer had his audience. From the Venetians themselves Sir
John obtained a graphic account of the function. The Commander of
one of the men-of-war told him that, just as he went out of his
boat, a ragged Turk stepped up to him and, calling him “Giaour,”
gave him a blow with his fist in the nape of the neck, which for
some time deprived him of consciousness: and this was done in the
presence of the Turkish officers who conducted the Ambassador. The
Ambassador’s own son informed Finch that his father sat at a great
distance from the Vizir, who, for all welcome, brusquely asked him,
“When do your ships depart?” though he very well knew that he was
the person who detained them, and throughout the interview looked
another way.[235]

Likewise from the Genoese, whose trade with Turkey, since the
suppression of the traffic in false coin, was worse than nothing,
Kara Mustafa wrung a large sum, though Sir John could not learn how
large nor upon what ground. This secrecy annoyed our Ambassador
sorely: “I much wonder,” he wrote, “that men endeavour to smother
their Avanias whenas I proclaim mine rather by sound of Trumpett
not that I hope for Pity, but that our Great Trade might be lesse
envious.” However, thus much was certain: Signor Spinola, unable
to bear any more bleeding, asked that he might be allowed to ship
off his Nation and quit the country; but he was answered that, if
he again repeated such an unmannerly motion, he should be clapt
into irons. Spinola was presently superseded. But Genoa had to
pay fifteen purses before her old Resident was permitted to go
away, and as much more before the new one could enter. And that,
apparently, was only the beginning of a fresh innovation. Kara
Mustafa’s Kehayah gave out that the Vizir intended thenceforward
to make every new Resident pay 25,000 dollars, and every new
Ambassador double that sum. Further, a high official of the Porte
was heard to say that the Vizir expected monthly presents from all
foreign Ministers, and that they who forgot their duty should
quickly be put in mind that the Vizir was here.[236]

Evidently, success had not made Kara Mustafa milder. The victor
of Muscovy could afford to despise Genoa, Venice, and every other
Power. But it was upon the tributary and vassal States that
he thought himself at liberty to vent the full measure of his
greed and ferocity. It was the Ragusans’ obvious interest not
to multiply their hostages in the Vizir’s hands. But they could
not help themselves: the annual tribute had to be paid. Two new
Ambassadors were accordingly sent with it, and added to the number
of prisoners. They were thrown into the same “loathsome Dungeon”
as the others. “They have been beaten there, stript naked, and
threatned Torments.” All the appeals which the Republic addressed
to Italy for aid had remained fruitless. “The Pope, who will be
concernd’ for Ancona if the Turkes take possession of Ragusi; that
City loosing all its Trade and the Casa Santa it selfe being in
danger; contributes not an Asper to their relief; Hereticks it
seems being in his judgment more dangerous to the Romish Religion
then the Turk’s.” As to the Prince of Moldavia, our Ambassador
briefly informs us that he had “24 times the Torment for non
payment of mony agreed for.”[237]

In this way, to quote Sir John’s phrase, “the Gran Visir thunders
amongst us.” The phrase is one of those that make a picture
leap to the mind’s eye: the picture of a monster, half-human,
half-diabolic, whose voice was thunder and whose gesture lightning.
This picture is, of course, over-drawn and over-coloured. But
there can be no doubt that it is a faithful enough portrait of
Kara Mustafa as he appeared to the contemporary diplomats who
had the misfortune to come into contact with him. They all speak
of his cruelty, avarice, and cunning in terms of unqualified
abhorrence. They all describe him as a creature whose soul was as
black as his face, whose heart held not one generous or merciful
sentiment, whose appetite for gold was as insatiable as that of
a ghoul for blood: a fiend incarnate.[238] In truth (things have
become sufficiently remote to be visible in their true perspective)
Kara Mustafa, a miscreant of imposing magnitude as he was, was not
much more violent, grasping, and unprincipled than the average
Grand Vizir:[239] he was only more consistent. His iniquities,
historically viewed, are but a memorable instance of the misery
which it was in the power of a Turkish Prime Minister to inflict.
But men who smarted under his lash could not be expected to see
current events in the proportions in which, after the lapse of
centuries, they appear to the philosophic historian. “These
things,” says Finch, “will appear to others as they doe to me my
selfe incredible.” He consoles himself, however, by reflecting that
“_Res nolunt male administrari_--Things mend themselves when they
become insupportable.”

Sir John based his hopes of a “mending” on France. A new French
Ambassador, M. de Guilleragues, had arrived in the autumn of
1679, with instructions to demand redress for all the wrongs
which M. de Nointel had failed to prevent: restoration of the
Holy Sepulchre to the Latin Fathers; exemption from the poll-tax
for Frenchmen married to country-born women; and, above all,
restitution of the Stool upon the Soffah. He was understood to be
a man of determination, and he had shown the spirit in which he
meant to approach the Porte on his very arrival by refusing to
salute the Seraglio as he sailed into the Golden Horn, or to suffer
his men-of-war to be searched before they left. In the treatment
that awaited M. de Guilleragues the other foreign Ministers would
read their own fate. They could not hope, as Finch said, to fare
better than the envoy of France, seeing that he possessed two great
advantages over everybody else: a large quantity of new presents,
and a number of French renegades in high places about the Vizir.
Would his advent make the clouds grow lighter, the thunders roll
away, and the horizon at length clear up?

The Turks had let the French men-of-war depart
unsearched--carrying, it was said, seventy fugitive slaves with
them--and otherwise had given the Frenchman a much more respectful
reception than the new Venetian and Genoese envoys. This was a
good omen; but nothing could be predicted with certainty until M.
de Guilleragues had his audience--that would be the real test.
Sir John awaited that crucial event with keen interest: but the
months passed, and the audience did not take place. As far as he
could learn from the Ambassador’s own mouth, as well as from other
sources, M. de Guilleragues was making no progress. Kara Mustafa
had positively refused to move the Stool: whereupon the Ambassador
had refused audience, averring that he must wait for fresh orders
from his King. “How this matter will end,” Finch wrote on the 1st
of March 1680, “I know not.”

Meanwhile his friend and partner in many good and evil days had
left in the vessel that had brought out his successor, making
the third colleague gone during the year. Ruined in pocket and
reputation, Nointel must still have been an object of envy to
Finch: he had, at all events, reached the end of his martyrdom: he
was gone home--to Christendom, to civilisation, where Grand Vizirs
raged not, nor were gentlemen treated like galley-slaves. Another
person, even nearer to Finch, was also just gone: the Honourable
Dudley North. He went not ruined in pocket and reputation like
Nointel: far from it. He went to enjoy at home, according to plan,
the wealth he had piled up abroad, while his brother carried on the
prosperous business at Constantinople. North was the third English
associate to vanish from Sir John’s circle since the accession of
Kara Mustafa. Mr. Paul Rycaut, after seventeen years’ residence in
the East, had found himself suddenly “affected with a passionate
desire of seeing my owne country,” and forthwith “signifyed as much
to the Levant Company, desiring them to send me their favourable
dismission, and to supply this office with another Consul.”[240] He
retired with the consent of his employers, who expressed their high
appreciation of his services. The Rev. John Covel had also resigned
his engagement with the Levant Company and “left Stambul, which,
for many reasons, I may well liken to the prison of my mother’s

Lucky, indeed, were all those who could leave a land in which life
had become so hard. But Sir John himself would not now be very
long. His six years’ contract had expired, and he had informed
the Levant Company that he cherished no wish to renew it--nor,
we may easily surmise from many hints, was the Company reluctant
to dispense with his services. All that he waited for was the
appointment of a successor. As to another post, he had put himself
in the hands of his brother, the Lord Chancellor, and would
acquiesce in whatever was done for him: any seat would be a seat of
roses after Stambul.[242]

The waiting was not now so irksome to Sir John as it would have
been a year or two ago. It is true that in one of his despatches
there occurs a passage tinged with pessimism: “I must,” he wrote
towards the end of 1679, “committ all to the Protection of the
Almighty, and God direct me in these difficult times in the
carrying on His Majesty’s concerns in the commerce of His subjects,
which is at this time greater then ever in this place, and by
consequence more envious and more exposd.”[243] But this was only
a passing mood. In the same despatch he thanked God for not being
“strooke” by Kara Mustafa’s thunder; and some months later we
even detect in his tone an optimism to which he had long been a
stranger: “As to _my_ condition here, I must needs say, that I
loose no ground as to the Publick Interest, but advance”[244]--we
seem to hear again the complacent, self-satisfied Finch of the
pre-Mustafa period. And then, all of a sudden, we hear him asking
the Secretary of State to guess how he is “tossd’” by “the present
tempestuous Goverment in Turky.”

What had happened?

The curious will find it in the next chapter.


[230] Finch to Coventry, June 17-27, 1679.

[231] _Ibid._

[232] The Same to the Same, March 4-14, 1679-80.

[233] The Same to the Same, Jan. 3-13, 1679-80.

[234] The Same to the Same, Dec. 12-22, 1679.

[235] The Same to the Same, March 1-11, 1679-80.

[236] The Same to the Same, Dec. 12-22, 1679.

[237] The Same to the Same, June 17-27, 1679. For details about the
treatment of the Princes of Moldavia and Wallachia see Hammer, vol
xii. p. 41.

[238] _Un diable incarné_ is the French Ambassador’s verdict,
supported by a great many counts which are absent from Sir John’s
indictment. See Vandal’s _Nointel_, pp. 225, foll.

[239] Let one example suffice for many. In 1620 Sir Thomas Roe
tersely described the Grand Vizir of his day as “the veriest
villaine that ever lived.” _Negotiations_, p. 61.

[240] Rycaut to Coventry, April 18, 1677, _Coventry Papers_. The
Same to Williamson, same date; the Same to the King (undated),
_S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[241] _Diaries_, p. 282.

[242] Baines to Covel, in _Finch and Baines_, p. 70.

[243] Finch to Coventry, Dec. 12-22, 1679.

[244] The Same to the Same, March 1-11, 1679-80.



Whenever Sir John thought of his miscarriage over the Soffah--and
hardly a day passed without his thinking of that melancholy
event--he comforted himself with the reflection that he was the
last of all the European Ministers to submit.[245] By holding out
longer than the others, he believed that he had gained the respect
of the Turks, including that of Kara Mustafa.[246] Hence his
comparative quiet amidst the general turmoil. This, however, was
but a fancy--one of those pleasing fancies with which we all try to
minimise in our own eyes the importance of a thing we are sorry or
ashamed to have done. It cannot be questioned that, last or first,
by submitting to the Grand Vizir’s caprice Sir John had lost caste
among the Turks. An ambassador who once endured an affront at their
hands patiently could not expect the Turks to respect him ever
afterwards. He could only expect them to trespass further on his
patience; “for certainly,” as our sensible Rycaut remarks, “Turks
of all Nations in the World are most apt to crush and trample on
those that lie under their feet.”[247]

Moreover, there were certain little foibles about Sir John that did
not tend to enhance his prestige in Stambul. Such was his habit of
speaking too much. His interminable discourses, with their frequent
repetitions, were calculated to inspire a very poor opinion of his
understanding in a people which held more obstinately than any
other the superstition that silence is golden. Such also was his
habit of going about in a sedan chair. He had brought out with him
two of these ornamental boxes, one for himself and one for Sir
Thomas Baines; and he used to be carried to and fro, instead of
riding on horseback. This he did, according to Baines,[248] partly
because his country-house was not above half-a-mile from his town
residence, partly because his friend was, by reason of his stone,
unable to ride, and Finch would not stir a yard without him; but
chiefly, if the truth must be told, because he was no horseman. To
ordinary Turks our Ambassador’s mode of locomotion appeared a vile
effeminacy unbecoming a man: a man, they said, should ride a horse
and not be carried in a cradle like a baby.[249] To Kara Mustafa it
not only appeared unbecoming, which would have simply excited the
Grand Vizir’s derision, but it also savoured of presumption, which
aroused the Grand Vizir’s wrath. Once he spoke of ordering his
chaoushes “to break that cage on his [Sir John’s] head.”[250]

In the circumstances, it is rather a wonder that our Ambassador
had managed to “maintain all the Capitulations inviolable” so long.
But it was not in the nature of things that he should maintain
them much longer. All that Kara Mustafa waited for to let loose
the forces of his “tempestuous Goverment” fully upon him was an
occasion. It presented itself in the summer of 1680, and from that
date on there was no more peace for our hapless pilot: nothing but
the roar of rushing winds, the awful sight of foam-crested billows.
We see him tossed about at the mercy of the elements, now defiant,
now despairing, always anxious to do his very utmost for the ship
confided to him, with or without hope, till the very end.

The trouble once again originated at Smyrna. A local Jew had pawned
to a member of the English Factory some goods--part merchandise
and part wearing apparel and jewels--which, as he was unable to
redeem them, were in time eaten up by interest. By and by the
Englishman went home, leaving his affairs in the hands of two
other merchants, his Assigns; and the Jew, who in the interval
had been reduced to the verge of starvation, thinking that if he
made noise enough and put in a claim large enough, he would be
sure to get something, lodged with the Cadi of Smyrna a complaint
against them. An ill-founded complaint perhaps; but we, at this
distance of time, have no means of judging. With whatever mental
reservations, we must needs tell the story as it has come down to
us.[251] Unsuccessful at Smyrna, the Jew carried his grievance up
to Constantinople and threw himself at the Grand Vizir’s feet
with horrid cries, praying to be rescued from the claws of those
English harpies. Kara Mustafa was only too ready to believe any
charge brought against a Frank, and never denied his sympathy to
the oppressed if he saw a chance of turning compassion into current
coin. So the two Englishmen were promptly summoned to appear before
the Divan.

Sir John, who had consistently protested against these frequent
summonings of English factors from their business,[252] could
do no less than lend them such protection as the Capitulations
afforded. The defendants, knowing that the Jew relied entirely upon
witnesses, thought to cut the ground from under him by appealing
to an Article in the Capitulations which provided that no evidence
should be valid against a Frank unless supported by a _Hoggiet_, or
written statement made in the presence of a Dragoman. This Article
had on many occasions proved useful in inferior courts and even,
several times, in the Grand Vizir’s tribunal itself, when the Grand
Vizir happened to be favourably inclined to the defendants. But
at other times even the best Vizirs had declared that the Article
was intended only for inferior courts and that the Vizir looked
upon himself as being above the Capitulations, were they never so

To understand the position we must clear our minds of the
suggestion which the word “treaty” naturally produces: it implies a
totally false conception of the relations between the parties. The
Capitulations were not “treaties” in the ordinary meaning of the
word. They were mere concessions made by the Grand Signor, for the
sake of his revenues, to wretched Giaours in need of trade. As such
they depended for their duration on his pleasure, and for their
interpretation on the ingenuity or candour of his Ministers. For
that reason ambassadors who knew their business--who knew, that is,
the spirit of their environment--urged the Capitulations as seldom
as possible, never entered into litigation on their basis, if they
could avoid it, and suffered a small injury to pass unnoticed
rather than bring it before the supreme tribunal. The English,
perfectly aware of these conditions, never cited the Capitulations
except when they were assured beforehand that the citation would be
received favourably.

Sir John could not plead ignorance of these conditions. Some four
years before he had had an object lesson on this very point. In
1676 the Genoese Resident Spinola had tried to swindle a Greek out
of a sum of money, and on the matter being brought up to the Divan,
had tried to screen himself behind that Article. Ahmed Kuprili
was so angry to see a privilege granted to foreigners for their
protection used by them for the spoliation of the Grand Signor’s
subjects that he not only forced Spinola to an adjustment with the
plaintiff, but shortly afterwards condemned the Dutch Cancellier
also to pay a debt on the bare testimony of witnesses. Finch,
considering this procedure “a thing of pernicious consequence” to
all Franks, had done all he could to get the sentence against the
Dutchman reversed, but with little success.[253] If such was the
attitude of Ahmed Kuprili, what might be expected from a Vizir
who, in Finch’s own words, declared Capitulations to be “like a
peice of wett parchment that may be stretchd’ any way”? Yet, in
the present case, forgetting his experience, Sir John did a most
reckless thing.

Although utterly lacking any assurance of a favourable reception,
though, in fact, having every reason to anticipate the opposite,
he caused the Capitulations to be produced in Court. Whereupon the
Grand Vizir ordered them to be left with him, that he might study
that interesting article at leisure.

It was not long before the folly of his action became manifest to
our Ambassador. When he asked to have the Charter back, he was told
that the Grand Vizir perceived in it many things which he supposed
had been obtained in former times by corruption, without the Grand
Signor’s knowledge: he intended to show it to the Grand Signor and
learn his pleasure in the matter.

Sir John listened with blank dismay: “His Majesty’s Capitulations
thrice sworn to and subscribd’ by this present Gran Signor,”
the Capitulations which had cost him so much “care, paynes, and
hazard,” to say nothing of gold and silver and Florence wines--in
the hands of Kara Mustafa! And that, too, “at a time when,
besides the great estate wee had allready in the country, wee
had the accession of 300,000 Dollars in ready mony, and above
three millions of Dollars in effects by our Generall Ships which
arrivd’ in this conjuncture.”[254] It was a prospect to shudder at.
Something ought to be done, and done quickly--before Kara Mustafa
should work some great mischief. But what? Before doing anything we
must find out what the Vizir’s aim is.

Overtures were made to the Vizir’s underlings--his Jewish man of
business acting as a go-between; and it was found that his aim
was--money. How much? Fifteen thousand for the Capitulations, and
three thousand for the claim against the Smyrna merchant: in all,
18,000 dollars. A big sum; but not too big for the emergency. With
all its limitations, the Charter constituted the only safeguard
of our estates and persons. Even in the worst of times, when the
most cruel and covetous Ministers had governed, we had always fled
to that Charter, as to a stronghold; and, though it had sometimes
been assaulted and shaken, yet it had never failed to afford us
some shelter. Without it we were lost. That was the plain fact of
the matter, and however much it might be embroidered by diplomatic
phraseology it remained fundamental. Sir John had to choose between
a course which wounded his pride and a course which imperilled the
existence of the English colony: he preferred the former. So the
sum was paid, and the Capitulations were restored by the Grand
Vizir “at a publick Court, in presence of all the Bassàs.”[255]

This was a master-stroke of Kara Mustafa’s--it threw into the shade
the turpitude of any previous Vizir. No Vizir had ever before
thought of such a thing. No Vizir had ever before ventured to flout
the dignity of the King of England in such a way, or to put the
Grand Signor’s faith up for sale. It was nothing less than holding
the whole English Nation, with its Ambassador and its Consuls, to
ransom: an achievement without example.

Having discovered that a European nation could be held to ransom,
Kara Mustafa hastened to exploit his discovery for all it was
worth. After the English came the turn of the Dutch; and in their
case the Vizir’s rapacity was aggravated by the brutality that
arose from the violence of his temper. A private lawsuit here also
supplied the occasion. M. de Broesses, the principal Dutch merchant
at Constantinople, who besides was Secretary to the Minister of
Holland commissioned direct from the States and had formerly
been Resident at the Porte, sued a Greek for a debt before the
Divan. The Grand Vizir, after listening to his claim, said that it
appeared to be a false demand. “Sir,” replied the Dutchman, “we
Franks use not to make false demands.” Taking this as a reflection
on the Turks, Kara Mustafa in an access of fury, ordered him to be
laid down and drubbed in sight of the Divan. M. de Broesses had
184 blows upon his bare feet out of the 300 to which he had been
condemned, and was carried home in a critical condition. “The poor
man is in danger of being crippled all his life, his feet since his
recovery being twice opend’,” wrote Finch at the time; but it seems
that he never really recovered, and his death, which occurred soon
after, was attributed to this cruel punishment.[256]

Presently (August 13th) the Dutch Capitulations were taken away,
not by sleight of hand, as the English had been, but by an express
command from the Vizir. Nor was it alleged as an excuse for their
detention that they contained anything contrary to Moslem Law or
detrimental to the Grand Signor’s Exchequer. Kara Mustafa no longer
thought it necessary to cover his tyranny under an appearance of
law. When the Dutch Dragoman asked why they were detained, the
Vizir’s Kehayah bluntly answered: “You infidel dog, do not you eat
the Grand Signor’s air, and will you contribute nothing to him?”
The Minister of Holland proceeded to negotiate through the Vizir’s
Jew, as Finch had done; and it was not without some satisfaction
that the latter heard from the Jew that the ransom would be at
least double of what he himself had paid: “but as to this point,”
he comments, “wee have but a Jew’s word for it.” He need not have
been so sceptical. Kara Mustafa’s dragon-appetite grew in eating.
The Dutch Minister, Justinus Collyer, unable to protect his people
ashore, endeavoured at least to save their property afloat, and
kept their General ships, which arrived at that moment, outside the
Castles of Smyrna, declaring that he would not let them come in,
until his Capitulations were restored. But Kara Mustafa possessed
other means of persuasion. He threatened Collyer with the Seven
Towers and similar severities; and Collyer, with the example of
his Secretary before him, had no need to be told that the Vizir
threatened not in vain. So, after holding out for nearly two
months, at last, anxious for peace and persuaded that peace could
be obtained only in one way, he ordered the ships to come in;
and immediately got his Capitulations back on payment of 40,000

Such was Kara Mustafa’s fiscal system. So well did this gifted
statesman know how to levy tribute on foreign envoys; and those
envoys, instead of joining forces against the common oppressor,
invited his depredations by their insane dissensions.

The imbecility of these diplomats and their pettiness never
showed in a worse light than at the present conjuncture, the hour
of extremest danger for all of them. As our Ambassador played a
prominent part in this suicidal squabble he may be allowed to give
his own account of it:

“I read in Our printed Gazettes, That the Resident of Holland
here, complaining to His Masters that the Ambassadours of France
and Venice would not return his visits, they thought fitt to
change His Title from Resident into that of Ambassadour. Though my
name is left out in the Print, yet there was more reason perhaps
to have inserted It then that of the others.” He proceeds to
demonstrate that he amply deserved the fame which the newspapers
had so unaccountably refused him. “During the Warr between France
and the States, the Dutch Resident made me constantly two visits
for one, as He did likewise to my Predecessours; and is the style
of all Residents towards Ambassadours in this place: But no sooner
was the Peace made with France, but that the Dutch Resident gave
me to understand that He expected Visit for Visit. My answer was,
That the King my Master’s Ambassadour was never a jot the lesse for
the Peace, nor the States Resident the greater: And so wee passd’
without visiting each other.” There followed a similar estrangement
between the Dutchman and the representatives of France and
Venice, so that, when Collyer announced to them his promotion to
Ambassadorial rank, all three refused to acknowledge him, alleging
that it was neither honourable nor safe for them to do so till the
Porte had received him as such; and some of them (Finch says it
was not he) had the meanness to inform the Porte of the intrigue.
Nothing could be more pleasing to Kara Mustafa than discord among
his victims. He hastened to foment it by forbidding them to
recognise the Dutchman as Ambassador, and to turn it to account in
his characteristic fashion. When Collyer spoke to him about his new
Commission, the Vizir said, “Where are then the Letters of Credence
to me, and the accustomed presents?” Collyer replied that they were
both on the way. “Well,” said the Vizir, “when they arrive, we
will talk further of the matter,” and cut the audience short. The
visitor gone, he sent for the Register to find out what presents he
was supposed to be entitled to. He found that Cornelius Haghen, who
had originally made the Dutch Capitulations, gave presents to the
value of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars; and to fix this
claim more firmly, the very same night he despatched his Dragoman,
Dr. Mavrocordato, to take possession of Collyer’s Commission.[258]

Meanwhile the party in England which called for closer relations
with Holland had temporarily gained the ascendant, and, in
obedience to instructions from home, Sir John would fain support
her representative now. But it was too late. The utmost he could
do was to send Collyer his compliments privately, and to explain
to him the reasons why he dared not do more: by this time himself
stood in a “Ticklish condition” (such is his expression) with the
Porte again.

“Ticklish,” indeed, was hardly the word for it. Had Finch foreseen
all that lay in front of him, he would probably have described his
condition as “Tragick.”


[245] “To my dayly comfort I was the last of all the Christian
Ministers that submitted.”--Finch to Coventry, March 1-11, 1679-80.

[246] “I am fully perswaded that in the Turkes’ judgment, nay, that
of the Visir himselfe, I am a gainer every way.”--The Same to the
Same, Sept 2-12, 1678.

[247] _Present State_, p. 168.

[248] Baines to Conway, June 1-11, 1677, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[249] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 124-5. Oddly enough, Sir John
himself tells a similar anecdote at the expense of the Polish
Ambassador: Finch to Coventry, Nov. 29, S.V. 1677. If we could but
see ourselves as we see others!

[250] Vandal’s _Nointel_, p. 227.

[251] Owing to a gap in the Ambassador’s correspondence and to
the absence from the scene of our candid Treasurer, much of what
follows rests on the authority of North’s second-hand reports
(see _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 90-92) and of a Narrative which
the Levant Company submitted to the King (_Register, S.P. Levant
Company_, 145), both sources in sad need of critical scrutiny.

[252] A parallel case, between an Englishman and a Greek of Smyrna,
had just elicited such a protest. See Finch to Coventry, March
1-11, 1679-80.

[253] Finch to Coventry, Aug. 4-14, Aug. 29/Sept. 8, 1676.

[254] Finch to Sir Leoline Jenkins, Aug. 21-31, 1680, _S.P.
Turkey_, 19.

[255] _Ibid._

[256] _Ibid._ Cp. _Life of Dudley North_, p. 100.

[257] Finch to Jenkins, _loc. cit._; the Same to Sunderland, Nov.
6-16, 1680, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[258] Finch to Jenkins, Aug. 21-31; the Same to Sunderland, Nov.



Our Ambassador bad every right to expect that the ransom he had
paid down would be accepted by Kara Mustafa as a price of immunity
from persecution for the remainder of his sojourn in Turkey. But it
was not to be. Kara Mustafa had in store for him another tempest--a
tempest beside which all those he had outlived might seem as spells
of fine weather. It arose, by a singular irony, out of the very
event which had once filled him with so much pride and so many
hopes of a serene and prosperous career at the Ottoman Court.

It will be remembered that the late Grand Vizir had relieved Finch
from the importunities of the Pasha of Tunis by sending that worthy
to a Governorship in the utmost confines of Arabia--somewhere
beyond Egypt--near Ethiopia: nobody exactly knew where, but
everybody earnestly hoped that, wherever his place of honourable
exile was, he would never quit it. Finch, as we know, had not
forgotten him: every now and again, in moments of depression,
thoughts of the Pasha forced themselves upon his mind; and these
apprehensions, once vague, had become particularly vivid of late.

The thing which Sir John feared came to pass at last.

Towards the end of June 1680 the Pasha returned to Constantinople
with his grievance, which, carefully nursed in the tropical climate
of his residence, had grown to gigantic dimensions. In 1674 he had
simply desired that the Ambassador should procure restitution of
his remaining goods from the corsair. Now he demands them from him.
Moreover, now he alleges his loss to be far greater than he had
represented it before, and, indeed, greater than it could possibly

He began by applying to the Vizir’s Kehayah, to the Rais Effendi,
and to the Chaoush-bashi. Sir John sent to them a Dragoman who
set forth his case, relating all that he had done for the Pasha
in Italy and Malta out of sheer courtesy. The Ministers appeared
fully convinced, and Finch thought that the story had ended;
but it was only beginning. The plaintiff, disappointed with the
result of his first step, addressed himself directly to the Vizir,
who appointed the same three officers to hear the Pasha and the
Ambassador face to face, and to report to him. Finch confronted
the Pasha accordingly; the plaintiff’s demands and his own defence
were heard, and, to all seeming, the case went wholly as he wished:
the Rais Effendi undertook to obtain a favourable verdict from the
Vizir for a trifle of two purses, that is, a thousand dollars,
which sum was promised to be paid when sentence had been issued.
On receipt of the report, the Vizir, as was anticipated, announced
that he must take cognisance of the cause himself, and summoned
both parties to appear before his tribunal.

Friday, September 3rd, Sir John goes to the Divan, and finds the
Grand Vizir seated on the bench with the two Cadileskers, or Chief
Justices of Europe and Asia. All the great Ministers of the Porte
are also present. Kara Mustafa opens the proceedings by bidding
the Pasha produce the list of his losses, and saying that, if the
plaintiff can prove his claim, he will find him a paymaster and
clap up the Ambassador in the Seven Towers. The list is produced
and read out: it amounts to 700 purses, or 350,000 dollars! The
reading over, Finch asks: “Who has taken all those goods?” “The
Corsair,” answers the Pasha. “He that has taken them, let him
restore them”--a good retort; but it does not seem to please the
Grand Vizir.

“Ambassador,” he breaks in sharply, “you and all other ambassadors
are sent hither by your respective princes to answer for the lives
and estates of all Mussulmans all over the world that are endamaged
or suffer by your respective subjects, and you are here a hostage
to answer for all damage done by Englishmen all over the world.”

Sir John, “knowing how subitaneous the Visir is in all his motions
and not judging it prudent to provoke him at first,” would fain
decline a direct answer to that strange doctrine--strange, yet,
from the Turkish point of view, perfectly orthodox. But as Kara
Mustafa, with great heat, calls for an answer, he replies:

“The Gran Signor is a Great Emperour and yet He cannot secure His
ships from Gran Cairo from the Corsaros, nor His Caravans by land
from the Arabians, both being often robbed. Neither can my Master
secure His own subjects or the Gran Signor’s from pirates; for none
but God Almighty could doe it.”

This soft answer turned away the Vizir’s wrath, and the case went

Finch pleads that he is not in the least concerned in the Pasha’s
losses, seeing that the ship from which his goods were taken was
no English ship, and the captain, a renegade of his country and
religion settled and married at Leghorn, was the Great Duke’s
subject. But even supposing, for the sake of argument, that he
were concerned? Here is the discharge by which the Pasha’s own
Procurator released Captain Chaplyn and all Englishmen from any
liability in the matter.

How that discharge had been obtained we know already; also the
statement that the _Mediterranean_ was no English ship was less
accurate than we could have wished. But Sir John is here to defend
a case, not to speak the truth; and, it must be owned, he defends
it as one to the manner born. Unfortunately, the Grand Vizir has no
taste for dialectics. A Turk had come to grief whilst travelling
under the English flag, and the English Nation was bound to
indemnify him: that is the sum and substance of the whole matter,
in accordance with the traditional Turkish view[259]--a view to
which, in the present instance, the English Government appeared
to lend colour by recovering part of the Pasha’s property: if
part, why not the whole? Finch, too, by dwelling on the point of
the ship’s and captain’s nationality, did he not implicitly admit
the validity of that view? Therefore, the Vizir, breaks into the
argument by ordering the Ambassador to write to his King to cause
full restitution of the Pasha’s goods. Sir John answers that what
His Majesty had already done was done out of kindness and not from
any obligation; it would be useless to trouble His Majesty. But
Kara Mustafa insists with so much vehemence that Sir John has to
say, if His Excellency so commands, he will write, though nothing
can come of it, as it is impossible to find what pirates and
thieves have stolen. The Vizir presses the matter no further, and
the case goes on.

The Pasha denies that the Aga in question was his Procurator. Finch
produces a document under the Pasha’s own hand and seal, drawn up
at Constantinople before a Cadi, in which he recognised him as
such. This unexpected stroke disconcerts the Pasha, but it does not
disarm him. Changing his ground, he denies that he has received
any of the goods recovered at Leghorn or Malta. Finch produces the
receipt which the Pasha had given to his Aga. Unabashed, the Pasha
changes his ground again and alleges that the English Consul at
Tunis had given him a _Hoggiet_, guaranteeing the property laden on
Captain Chaplyn’s ship: but for that guarantee, he says, he would
have gone overland. Finch replies, First, that the Barbary Coast
is not under his jurisdiction and therefore the Consul must answer
for himself; Secondly, that, even if the Consul were under him,
an inferior could not bind his superior, any more than any Pasha
in the Empire could bind the Grand Vizir; Lastly, that he cannot
believe that any Consul of His Majesty’s would become surety.
Therefore he asks to see the _Hoggiet_. The Pasha says that it was
taken from him with the rest of his property. Finch retorts that a
document of such importance could easily have been carried about
him, and that, though he is not concerned in the loss of his gold
and jewels, yet it is probable he has lost neither, since he had
time to carry out of the ship five boatloads of goods before the
Corsair came up with the _Mediterranean_, and men do not usually
leave gold and jewels to the last. This the Pasha does not deny;
but changes his ground once more by denouncing the Captain. Finch
replies that, although he is not answerable for the Captain, yet
he had brought him along with him to answer for himself: Captain
Chaplyn had stayed at Smyrna seven months, and the Pasha’s
Procurator had given him, before a Cadi, a certificate of good

At this point the Cadilesker who was to pronounce judgment began
to write down his verdict. But the Vizir stopped him, saying
that the case could not be decided at one hearing. Finch “much
misliked” this; but, of course, he could do nothing. So the case
was adjourned.

In spite of that ominous move, the Ambassador left the Court not
without hopes: both the Cadileskers had throughout declared for
him, and the Vizir had distributed his thunders pretty evenly
between the litigants. He was not, however, allowed to continue in
this hopeful state of mind long. Next day, the Vizir’s Kehayah and
Rais Effendi sent for his Dragoman and told him that a very large
sum was demanded from the Ambassador: the Pasha, who governed Tunis
during an insurrection, had raised his great fortune by plundering
rebels and, in addition, had given the whole of it to the Grand
Signor: therefore, the Vizir would expect a good deal to rid him
of this claim. Sir John’s answer was that “he could as a gentleman
thank his friends, but could not as an Ambassador treat by way of
contract for an asper.” This brought a milder demand: 15 purses for
the Vizir and 7 for the other Ministers--altogether 11,000 dollars.

To those who made it, this demand no doubt appeared moderate,
considering the amount of the claim involved; but our Ambassador
thought it monstrous, considering that the claim was nothing but
a false pretence. Besides, would compliance really free him from
further molestation? Sir John did not believe it would. He knew
the Turks too well by now, and simply looked upon these overtures
as a new example of “their old way of inviting a man to treat
and then screwing him up to what they please.” So he returned a
categorical answer in writing to the effect that he was in no way
to blame; he had not only a most just cause, but also a cause
full of merit; that this suit was directed against the King his
master, the merchants being not in the least concerned in it, and
that, consequently, he could not treat for a single asper; but to
those who should free him from this injurious pretension, when
the business was done, he could and would show his gratitude.
“So,” he concluded, “remitting my selfe to the justice of the Gran
Visir, I implore the Divine Protection, and shall acquiesce in His
Holy Will, happen what will.” In answer to this, the Kehayah sent
Finch word that he should repent his rejection of the proposed

That, indeed, was the opinion of the English merchants, too. So
far from not being in the least concerned in the matter, they were
terribly interested, and warned the Ambassador that, if the Vizir’s
mouth was not stopped at once, they might have to pay very heavily
in the end. Some even reproached him for driving the Company to a
dangerous precipice. But the Ambassador, having been censured by
the Company for his other adjustments, was this time determined to
stand firm at all hazards and let Kara Mustafa do his worst.[261]

Some twenty-four days passed, and then the Vizir’s Jew came to
inform Sir John “with many threats intermingled” of the resolution
taken at the Porte--that he should enter into negotiations for
an agreement. Sir John referred the emissary to his former
declaration, adding that, far from seeing any reason to recede from
it, he must confirm and ratify it again, “and the rather because
since the writing I had receivd positive orders from England not to
enter into any contract”--he could not make one step further: the
Vizir “might doe what he pleasd.” “Thus,” he reported on September
29th, “stands this case, either victory or imprisonment of my
person is like to be the result of it.”[262]

It is impossible to contemplate without admiration the intrepidity
with which Finch faced the alternative before him. Happen what
might, he had decided to hold out, and the only effect which the
expostulations of the English and the threats of the Turks produced
on his decision was to strengthen it. Courage, as we have seen,
was by no means a conspicuous feature of Sir John’s character; yet
on this occasion he displayed all the steadfastness of a hardened
fighter. He would not let the Turks lure or intimidate him on to
ground which no Ambassador could consent to occupy without grave
detriment to the interests confided to him. The question was vital
“not onely in regard of the Great Summe which under all the
variety of demands is at the lowest very high: but in regard it is
a Precedent of pernicious consequence to Our Commerce, so long as
this Visir livs.”[263]

Kara Mustafa’s choler at this calm defiance is not inconceivable.
It behoved him to teach the English, as he had taught other
Giaours, what they got by defying his thunder. You refused all
terms of peace? You shall have war.

On October 1st the Ambassador was once more summoned before the
Grand Vizir’s tribunal--to plead the same cause for the third and
last time. He went, accompanied by five of the leading English
merchants and his Dragomans. What his emotions were as he went we
know from his own mouth. Victory or imprisonment, he had said, with
a certain glow of internal pride--like that of a resolute pilot
amid the piled tempests. But Sir John was not either a hero or a
martyr by nature: he was merely a man with a sense of duty--which
does not exclude other senses. With perfect frankness he confesses
that “When I went to the Tryall, accompanyd’ onely with five of
the chief of the Factory, wee all, and our Druggermen too, had
apprehensions of imprisonment.”

The manner in which the proceedings were conducted was not
calculated to reassure the defendants. The Pasha’s claim had in
the interval risen to the colossal figure of 1000 purses, that
is, half-a-million dollars: so much for this, so much for that.
He went on specifying the various items, until the Grand Vizir
himself ordered him to stop--he had heard enough. Then turning
to the Ambassador, he asked for his answer. Sir John’s answer
was the same as before: a flat denial of responsibility, backed
with the familiar arguments. But how poor is the eloquence of him
who advocates a cause which we disapprove: how inadmissible his
statements, how unconvincing his reasons! Kara Mustafa, who had put
on his most thunderous look for the occasion, overruled everything
that might be said for the defence with such truculence, that
“when wee saw how prodigiously things were carry’d against us, wee
thought imprisonment unavoidable”--we already saw ourselves in the
cell of the condemned....

In this fearful emergency Sir John had an inspiration--one of
those inspirations that panic sometimes begets. It occurred to him
suddenly to beg for time to write home for instructions. Contrary
to his own expectation, Kara Mustafa agreed to suspend proceedings
till the end of February--five months being necessary for an
interchange of communications between Constantinople and London.
This prompt assent could easily be accounted for. In Turkey a
request for time was commonly understood to be equivalent to a hint
that the party had a mind to come to terms.[264] Certainly so the
Grand Vizir understood it, though Sir John, far from suspecting the
construction put upon his words, congratulated himself upon his
strategy. “Had I not thus prevented the pronouncing of sentence,”
he wrote next morning, “Wee had all not onely bin clapd’ up
in prison, but the estates also of the Levant Company had bin
violently seizd’ till I had complyd’ with the summe.” It was
not, to be sure, an acquittal, but it was the next best thing--a
respite. “Now I must say with the Italian, _chi da tempo, da vita_.
I should think that, when the five moneths are expird’, it would
not be hard to get three moneths more, though I doe not say that
it is to be relyd’ upon for who knows this Visir.” Thus checking
his own elation, he went on to press for his supersession. He
had occupied that thorny seat on the Bosphorus long enough; it
was time that somebody else had his turn. “I believe,” he told
the Secretary of State, “most men will be of opinion that a new
Ambassadour, accompanyd’ with particular orders and fresh Letters
from His Majesty relating to this case, will, in so palpably a just
cause, make the false pretensions of the Bassà of Tunis wholely

People at home entirely agreed that a new broom was needed to clear
up the mess in Stambul, and steps had already been taken to provide
one. After some discussion on the advisability of sending out an
ambassador at all whilst Kara Mustafa raged in Turkey, the Levant
Merchants, at a Court held on October 3rd, 1679, had decided to
take the risk; six months later they petitioned the King to order
Sir John Finch’s return, so that they might select a successor;
and, having obtained the King’s permission so to do, they took a
ballot on April 22nd, 1680.[266]

It is a very curious thing that, though the Constantinople Embassy
was a byword for difficulty and even for danger in the diplomatic
world, and though few of its tenants had not, sooner or later,
begged for recall as for an inestimable boon, yet there never
were wanting keen candidates: the pay and perquisites offered an
irresistible attraction, and, apparently, each would-be ambassador
flattered himself that Fortune would prove kinder to him than she
had done to his predecessors. No fewer than eight individuals
(some of whom ought to have known better) were eager to step into
Sir John’s tight shoes. One of these was our friend Paul Rycaut.
As soon as the recall of Finch was decided upon, the ex-Consul,
encouraged by his former chief Lord Winchilsea with assurances that
“neither his person nor endeavours towards this promotion would
be displeasing to his Majesty,” hastened to put in a claim with
the Crown, dwelling on his past services, his qualifications, and
“the knowne loyaltie of his family.” At the same time he canvassed
the Levant Company, which, on his return home, had acknowledged
its obligations to him with a gratuity. Everything tended to make
Rycaut think that “he stood as faire in the nomination as any
person whatsoever.” But suddenly the Earl of Berkeley, Governor of
the Company, put an end to Rycaut’s expectations by announcing that
the King did not wish that any one who had lived in Turkey “under
a lesse degree and qualitie then that of an Ambassadour” should be

Another aspirant was the Hon. Dudley North. He also felt sure that,
with all his experience of Turkey, he would be able to do the
nation better service there than anyone else. But his aspirations
never got beyond the stage of aspirations. Before leaving
Constantinople he had sounded his brothers, and they laughed him
out of the project by telling him that he knew “as little of London
and interest at Court here, as they did of Constantinople and
the Turkish Court there.”[268] This, in fact, was the one fatal
objection to North, as it was to Rycaut. Either of these gentlemen
would have made an ideal envoy at the Porte: no contemporary
Englishman could be compared with either in all the essential
qualifications for the post. But neither stood the slightest
chance; for neither possessed the influence (or, as they said in
those days, the “interest”) without which qualifications then, as
now, were of little account.

The other six suitors were men of weight in Court and commercial
circles: Sir Thomas Thynne, Mr Thomas Neale, Major Knatchbull,
Sir Phi. Matthewes, Sir Richard Deereham, and Lord Chandos. The
last-named candidate was particularly well furnished with the
qualifications that count. On one hand, he was connected, though
remotely, with the Earl of Berkeley, Governor of the Company, and
on the other, very closely, with Sir Henry Barnard, an influential
Turkey Merchant whose daughter he had married. To these merits
Chandos had just added by taking his freedom of the Company.
Thus amply supported, he made no secret of his hopes to get the
appointment; and the event showed that he was right. In the ballot
mentioned, he was chosen by 72 voices as against the 55 given for
Sir Thomas Thynne. There was some little doubt whether the King
would confirm the choice, for Chandos was one of the “petitioning
lords”--that is, one of the band of politicians who at that time
of extreme party virulence were bitterly hated by the Court and
its adherents for ventilating their views in the form of petitions
addressed to the Crown: a hate which they repaid with generous
interest, the nation being, in fact, divided into “Petitioners”
and their “Abhorrers,” epithets equivalent to those of “Whig” and
“Tory” that were just coming into fashion. Although the King could
not punish these importunate patriots, he was not obliged to show
them any preference. But, in truth, the very argument used to
the disadvantage of Chandos was a very strong one in his favour.
Charles at that particular moment had every reason to conciliate
the popular party. He therefore magnanimously forgave Chandos
his little indiscretion, and before the end of the year 1680 the
Letters which accredited “Our Right Trusty and well belov’d James
Lord Chandos, Baron of Sudely and one of the Peeres of this Our
Kingdome of England” to the Porte, were signed at Whitehall.[269]

Meanwhile Sir John at Constantinople had enough to keep him busy.
Two days had hardly elapsed since the adjournment of the case,
when he received from Kara Mustafa’s Kehayah a request not to
write to his king, as the Pasha of Tunis would appear against
him no more--the Grand Vizir had freed him wholly from that
suit--wherefore he expected a present commensurate with the service
rendered. This was, of course, the logical sequel to the grant of
time. Kara Mustafa in putting forward his demand was simply asking,
in perfect good faith, for the fulfilment of what he imagined
to be a tacit understanding. Sir John, as we have seen, had
neither understood himself nor had he asked some more experienced
Englishman to enlighten him. So he also in perfect good faith
answered that, as to not writing, he could not oblige the Vizir,
having already done so. As to his being wholly freed, he could
not think himself clear of the Pasha’s pretensions until he had
a formal sentence given in his favour, and a copy of it delivered
to him. Had that been done, the Grand Vizir would not have found
him wanting in due acknowledgments, but, as things stood, he was
far from having any such security. Although he had appealed to the
Capitulations, and to the Pasha’s own acquittances, he had been
overruled on every point; nay, indeed, he had not heard one word in
his favour except from the Cadilesker, who had rejected the Pasha’s
witnesses. In the circumstances, he was “out of all capacity of
answering the Visir’s expectation.”

The Kehayah, shocked at the Giaour’s perfidy, sent him word
that he would make him, some way or other, pay the sum demanded
thrice over, and drove his Dragomans out of the room with the
coarsest abuse, calling them “infidels” and “dogs.” The wretched
Interpreters fled in dread of being drubbed. Sir John’s feelings on
hearing of this--who could paint them better than he?

In great amazement, the Ambassador sat down to give an exhaustive
account of what had happened to both Secretaries of State at once,
so that, if the Earl of Sunderland should be too preoccupied,
he might at least secure the attention of Sir Leoline Jenkins.
To Sunderland he writes: “My Lord, affayrs in this Court are
incredible, indicible, nay really inconceivable. What is true
to-day, is not true to-morrow. No promise is strong enough to bind.
No reasons, be they never so cogent, powerfull enough to perswade.
Impetuous passion, accompanyd’ with avarice, over rules all Laws
and Capitulations....”[270]

The letter to Jenkins is even more pregnant with comments which
depict the writer’s mental condition: “This is the State of things.
I pray Acquaint his Majesty with it, that the Ambassadour here may
be sure not to want Positive Orders and Directions, how to proceed
by the end of February; that being the uttmost Time limited by the
Visir. Nay Truly, The Violence of the Times here is such that I
know not whether they will have Patience with me till the 150 dayes
from the first of October are expired. For it may justly be feard,
That by the Turkish Violence offerd’ to my Person, and to the
Estates of the Kings Subjects under my Protection here, that I may
be compelld’ to doe that, which is abhorrent to the Trust reposd’
in me, and my own reason. I have twice in Person appeard’ before
this Visir in Publick Divan, a thing that no Publick Minister ever
yet durst doe under this Visir, though His Prince was attacqud’.
In these Appearances I may modestly say, I usd’ some resolution
even when the Visir expressd’ much anger: I gott from Him 150 dayes
respite, which I believe He now repents to have granted, thinking
that all Ministers will from this Precedent, make the like plea
when any demands are made upon them.”

He had written thus far when the Dragomans whom he had sent to
the Porte about the present, given in accordance with the usual
etiquette by all ambassadors at the Bairam, returned and told
him that the Kehayah had said curtly, They had no need of his
presents. If a Turk’s demand for bakshish was disturbing, his
refusal of bakshish was terrifying. It was an act which, as the
poor Ambassador added in his despatch, “every one that knows
Turky, knows how to interpret.” It meant the Seven Towers. At the
best that Ottoman Bastille was a miserable gaol, and even robust
ambassadors had been known to contract in it mortal diseases. Sir
John was anything but robust. The possibility that at any moment he
might find himself shut up in that hideous prison--his body wasting
away with sickness and his soul withering with hope of deliverance
deferred--was more than he could bear. He closed his despatch with
a heart-rending cry, which seems still to ring in the reader’s
ear across the gulf of the dead centuries: “God Almighty protect

Shortly afterwards the Grand Signor left for Adrianople, followed
by the Grand Vizir and his Kehayah, whose parting words to Sir
John’s Dragoman were: “Let your Ambassador vaunt that he has
outwitted us.” Outwitted them! when? how? Incredible though it
will sound, Sir John even now has no inkling of the tragedy of
cross-purposes in which he has entangled himself: so utterly out of
touch, after seven years’ residence in Turkey, he remains not only
with the Turks and their ways, but also with his own countrymen.
Any factor at Galata could have solved the riddle for him; his
Dragomans likewise. But Sir John is too aloof to ask them for a
solution, and they do not volunteer one, because obviously they
think that he has, indeed, outwitted the Vizir. Thus, while the
world about him admires his astuteness, Sir John dolefully wonders
what the meaning of that cryptic utterance may be. “I am apt to
believe,” he repeats, “that the Visir was surprisd’ in granting me
5 moneths time; Upon second thoughts imagining that all Ministers
would, upon all demands, from this Precedent, recurr to the same
Expedient, which made the Kehaiah tell my Druggerman when he
parted, in anger, Let your Ambassadour vaunt that he has outwitted
us.” The more he thinks it over, the more probable does this
explanation appear to Sir John. But, however that may be, “these
things being thus, Wee are not to expect now (what I insinuated in
my first letter as possible) any prorogation of time, but rigorous
Proceeding. In the meantime how they will deal with Me or the
Merchants by their forgery’s and Avanias, God know’s; for the Visir
I fear sayes within Himselfe Who has resisted My Will? But at the
best if His Majesty’s Commands and Directions accompanyd’ with His
Letters to the Visir arrive not by the 27th of February next, The
Ambassadour here will be at a great losse.”[272]

Sir John casts about for some means of conjuring away the storm he
sees hanging over his head. At length an idea comes to him: those
Bairam presents--true, the Kehayah had rejected them once; but
what if we paid him the respect of sending them a day’s journey
after him, “accompanyd’ with the addition of a rare pendulum, an
excellent gold watch, and a long Perspective glasse”? Surely, such
an act of humility could not fail to soften even an unspeakable
Kehayah’s heart. But alas! the Kehayah is uncajoleable: he
dismisses both the olive branch and the dove that brought it with

The days drag on, and the face of things remains as black as
ever. It is the beginning of November. A month ago Sir John,
buoyed up by his imaginary respite, was proud to feel that he had
“carry’d this case so high”--that he had made good his bit of
resolution--that he was the one mortal who had prevailed, if but
for a short season, against the fiend incarnate. But he does not
feel at all proud now. The disdainful silence of the Porte somehow
cows him more than the vehemence to which he had been subjected
before. He lives trembling at what this silence may portend.
Utterly mystified and profoundly alarmed, he sends one of his
Dragomans to the friendly Hussein Aga “to penetrate into the sense
of the Court.” The Customer, being the last man who took leave of
the Kehayah, would probably know what dark designs lay behind that
cryptic utterance. The Dragoman returned just as Sir John finished
his report. We have the result in a Postscript. Before the emissary
opened his mouth, Hussein of his own accord said that he had
twice spoken to the Kehayah, telling him that the King of England
had suspended commerce with Turkey (he had the news from the
Hollanders) and that now he might as well throw up his office and
shut up the Custom-House, as the English were the only people who
brought any considerable profit to it. That, he said, had made the
Kehayah pause, but had not elicited one word. Next day, he added,
he told the Kislar Aga, or Chief of the Black Eunuchs, the same
thing. He concluded by sending Finch a message to the effect that
he did well to keep up his resolution, for “things at last would
end well.”[273]

The Customer’s information was correct: the Levant Company
had decided at a General Court to suspend commerce with
Constantinople and Smyrna temporarily, in order to “take from
before the Turks those baits and occasion of temptations which
the vastness of our trade hath of late years administered.” This
resolution they submitted to the King and his Privy Council, for
approval, justifying it by a minute account of “the many grievous
oppressions” which the English merchants and Ambassador “of late
years have sustained and at present labour under in Turkey, by the
corruption of the Vizir Azem and other Turkish officers.”[274]
It was a measure which several times in the past, at periods of
similar stress, had been proposed as the only remedy for Turkish
greed. But it had never yet been tried, with the result that the
Turks, arguing that either the trade was lucrative enough to bear
any amount of squeezing or that the English could not subsist
without it (in the words of a Cromwellian Consul, “that if they
should bore out our eyes to-day, yet we would return to trade with
them again to-morrow”), set no limit to their rapacity.

It remained to be seen whether the remedy would prove efficacious
now. Certainly the impression which the news of the strike
had made on the Kehayah, “if true,” was encouraging. Also the
Customer’s friendly message was comforting. These things revived
Sir John’s drooping spirits somewhat. But they did not quite
exorcise the anxiety that was gnawing at his heart. At no time
since the Grand Vizir first declared war on him had the hope of
peace seemed more remote. The only consolation Sir John had in his
affliction was the knowledge that he was not the only sufferer.
All his colleagues were in the same ticklish condition. The Dutch
Minister’s difficulties have been described. The Bailo of Venice,
notwithstanding the vast sums Kara Mustafa had already wrung from
him, was faced with a fresh claim on his purse. The Resident of
Genoa likewise groaned under another “avania.” Only the French
Ambassador seemed exempt: though, after a full twelvemonth, he
still continued to refuse audience unless he had it on the Soffah,
nothing, “to all men’s astonishment,” had happened to him: yet
even his position was so precarious that he bitterly repented
having brought his lady and his daughter, an only child, with
him.[275] Sir John noted the troubles of his neighbours with all
the fortitude with which we note other people’s troubles; but, as
the days went by, he was less able to endure his own.

Thus matters stood till the end of November--when the situation
underwent a sudden change.


[259] See Appendix XV.

[260] Finch to Jenkins, Sept. 24, 1680, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[261] The Same to Sunderland, Oct. 2-12, 1680; _Life of Dudley
North_, p. 95.

[262] Finch to Jenkins, Sept. 29.

[263] The Same to Sunderland, Oct. 2-12.

[264] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 97.

[265] Finch to Sunderland, Oct. 2-12.

[266] _Register_ (_S.P. Levant Company_, 145), p. 71; _Hist. MSS.
Com. Seventh Report_, pp. 475, 478.

[267] “To the King’s most Excellent Majestie: The humble petition
of Paul Ricaut late Consul of Smyrna,” _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[268] _Life of Dudley North_, p. 114.

[269] _Register_, pp. 95 foll.

[270] Finch to Sunderland, Oct. 8-18.

[271] The Same to Jenkins, Oct. 8-18.

[272] The Same to Sunderland, Nov. 6-16.

[273] _Ibid._

[274] _Register_, pp. 73-81.

[275] Finch to Sunderland, Oct. 8-18, Nov. 6-16.



“God be praisd’ that I can once write your Lordship Good Newes out
of Turky: the Kehaiah of the Gran Visir is cut off!”--with these
words Sir John Finch began his next despatch; and then went on to
describe “the occasion of the fall of this Tyrant and worst of Men”
as follows.

Whilst hunting in the Thracian plain, the Grand Signor had learnt
that at Constantinople, despite his edicts against drunkenness,
_boza_--a fermented liquor made from millet-seed--was openly sold!
In a transport of prohibitionist frenzy, the Sultan ordered all
the _boza_-vessels to be smashed. Whereupon the _boza_-sellers
submitted to His Majesty a protest: They had not only paid to
the Vizir’s Kehayah 70 purses for their license, but also bound
themselves to pay a similar sum every six months; further, the
Kehayah had created a Head for their Guild and vested him with one
of the Grand Signor’s _kaftans_: was it just, after such a solemn
and costly recognition of their trade, that they should have their
vessels smashed? When the Hunter heard this, his rage knew no
bounds. It was then for this--to enrich a miserable Kehayah--that
he had deprived himself of the 400 purses per annum which the
wine-tax yielded him! Let his head fly off--and straightway the
Kehayah’s head flew off.

Truly a fine piece of work; no finer done in Turkey for many a
year; and the fruits of it manifold, immediate and remote, tangible
and otherwise. Take this, for a beginning: “His Hoggera’s and
Houses Seald’ Up, and His whole Estate confiscated to the Gran
Signor. As yett they have onely opend’ one Hoggera, where they
found in ready mony 700 Purses, and 500 Purses in rich Persian
furniture: They goe on dayly opening the rest, and at last They
intend to open His Mansion House. The expectation is of finding
No lesse then 3,000 Purses in all; from which hopes if they fall
or find any clancular Imbezzlements, they have in hold His two
Treasurers, Him of Adrianople, and the other of this Place, who
will be forcd’ by Torture to confesse all.” This is the sum-total:
three thousand purses (or a million and a half dollars) amassed
in three years! Lost in as few minutes! No people in the world
ever were more greedy of wealth than Turkish pashas--or less
certain of its enjoyment. But on these aspects of the work--the
economic and the moral--Sir John is silent: he feels, perchance,
that little which is new can be said of the one, and little which
is helpful of the other. Instead, he gives us a glimpse into the
fiend incarnate’s invisible world, which so long submissive had
thus suddenly risen in revolt. Let us, for Sir John’s sake, and to
illustrate the situation, quote:

“The Visir was extreamly Jealous of two Great Men about the Gran
Signor: Soliman, Kehaiah to the former Visir and Master of the
Horse at present to the Gran Signor, was one; and the Kisler Aga,
the Black Eunuch, was the other. The former, the Visir endeavourd’
to have removed by preferring Him to great Bassalikes. Against the
latter He had workd’ so farr, that He had separated Him from the
Gran Signor and the Queen Regent in this present removall of the
Court, under pretence of giving Him the Honour of conducting the
Queen Mother to Adrianople. But the Kisler Aga was not without a
true friend, the Gran Signor’s Secretary, who had Confidence and
Witt, and He took upon Him to acquaint the Emperour, that there
were dayly Quarrells amongst His Women and that till the Kisler Aga
returnd’, things would never be in good Order. Hereupon the Gran
Signor gives order for His returne and He came doubly armd’, First
with Presents to the Gran Signor of the value of Seventy Purses
to regain His favour; for which the Emperour said to Him, Thou
art now Twice My Sonne; then in the Second Place, He caused Seven
Men to appear with an Arrs [Memorial] to the Gran Signor, wherein
was expressed’, That His Majesty having deprived Himselfe of 400
Purses Per Annum, which the Custome of Wines did yield Him, to the
End that the Mussulmen might not be drunk and kill each other,
that His Ministers had introducd’ and licensed the publick Selling
of Boza.” Hence that smashing of _boza_-vessels and flying off of
Kehayah-heads: followed, in the orthodox Turkish course, by sealing
up of dollar-crammed hoggeras and houses: a sequence as inevitable
as any ever planned by a Harem-bred brain.

Going deeper into this Oriental labyrinth of plots, stratagems,
and spoils, our Ambassador adds, though as a thing “which I cannot
averr for certain,” that secret information of the Imperial
rage had been conveyed in advance to the Vizir by one of his
creatures, and that Kara Mustafa, to exonerate himself and to
prevent awkward revelations, hastened, before the fatal command
arrived, to give a striking demonstration of his public spirit by
cutting off his Kehayah’s head and sending it to the Grand Signor.
Probable enough! Not the least use of the delegation of powers in
which the Ottoman polity delighted was to provide a superior with
a handy scape-goat--some one upon whom, on emergency, he could
shift the responsibility and the odium. The Grand Signor had such
a convenient deputy in his Grand Vizir, the Grand Vizir in his
Kehayah, and so every other grandee. For the rest, this was not the
first time Kara Mustafa had saved his own head by offering up to
justice that of another.[276] “But be it as it will,”--what really
concerns us--“Dead He is, and a great Blow given by it to the Gran
Visir; and many thinke that now the Gran Signor hath once Tasted
of Blood that the Sword will not stop here: Nay further the Gran
Signor Himselfe hath placd’ a New Kehaiah about the Visir who was
an Officer of the last Visir and had the reputation of a Man of
great Integrity; and when the Gran Signor conferrd’ the Charge upon
Him, He told Him, Look you to it that things of this Nature doe not
passe, else Your Head shall answer for it as Your Predecessours
has done. All Men from this one Action expect a great change of
Affayrs so that what were judgd’ Impossibility’s before become
Now possibility’s, and possibility’s become Now Probability’s in
effecting any thing. The French Ambassadour may Now at last in all
likelyhood obtain His Audience upon the Saffà, and Our Affayrs Now
give Us also a better prospect.” The age of thunder has gone--the
lightnings of Kara Mustafa are extinguished for ever! Never,
never more shall we tremble at thoughts of the Seven Towers. The
spirit of servitude is dead: hail to Freedom, the nurse of manly
sentiment, of that sensibility to “puntiglios,” which feels a
slight like a wound. The King my Master’s honour will once again
become a reality, instead of a mockery. All this, and much more of
the same exalted nature, we may credibly suppose, radiated through
Sir John’s mind, as he concluded: “I hope Your Lordship will Every
Day hear better Newes and that My Successour will find as great a
Calme as I have done a Storm.”[277]

In all this one thing stands conspicuous--not by its presence.
The opposition to Kara Mustafa in the Seraglio is led by our
“good friend” the late Vizir’s Kehayah, and by the Kislar Aga
who, as we have heard, had with that other good friend of ours,
the Customer, a pointed talk about our grievances on the very eve
of our great enemy’s fall. It is impossible to avoid the surmise
that our grievances and the consequent peril to the Grand Signor’s
revenue had contributed something towards the Imperial fire which
consumed the Kehayah. Yet in vain do we search our Ambassador’s
reports for any hint that he played the humblest part in bringing
about the happy conflagration; or for any indication that he
tried to feed it, once kindled by others. Some presents to the
“Queen Regent”--such as Elizabeth’s envoys knew so well how to
distribute--one imagines, would not have come amiss. Sir John has
here an excellent opportunity of reaching the Grand Signor behind
the Grand Vizir’s back; and Sir John does not even see, much less
stretch forth to seize it! Not to do, but to look on: commenting,
chorus-like, upon the wonderful ways of Providence, speculating
upon the benefits that may accrue to him from a situation he
has neither helped to create nor to consolidate--such is his
function in the drama of life. Does not here, in this monumental
inadequacy, properly lie the source of the maltreatments and all
the other “sinister Accidents” that befell us ever since that
thrice-unfortunate strategic retreat to our bed?

However, in his prognostications, at least, Sir John was not
wholly wrong. The fall of his Kehayah had a sobering effect upon
Kara Mustafa. It revealed to him the limits of his power and the
existence within the Seraglio of elements of danger hitherto
unsuspected. With such an example staring him in the face, it
was incumbent upon the Vizir to avoid all actions likely to
furnish those hostile elements with handles against him: such,
for instance, as the persecution of foreign Ministers. The result
was a holiday for the Diplomatic Corps. Their Excellencies took
advantage of the relief so miraculously vouchsafed them to renew
their petty squabbles. Sir John as usual was among the first in
the fray. The quarrel was with the representative of Holland: it
was, of course, about a point of honour. Let him relate it himself:
“According to the Custome sending my Druggerman to wish Him a
happy Christmasse (his Christmasse falling Ten dayes before Ours)
He Detaind’ Him above half an houre in Expectation of an Answer,
and at last His Secretary came out and askd’ my Druggerman what He
came for, who saying that He came to His Excellency from me to wish
Him Le buone Feste, the Secretary told Him That His Master being
now an Ambassadour could not receive a Druggerman but expected My
Secretary and so sent Him away, My Druggerman with a smile telling
Him, that He just then came from performing the same office to the
Holland Ambassadour’s Superiours, for indeed I had sent Him before
to the Ambassadour of Venice who receivd’ Him with respect, and
afterwards to the Ambassadour of France who was not inferiour in
his Civility’s. And really, My Lord, it hath bin a custome near
thirty yeares for the Ambassadours to send reciprocally to each
other upon this Ceremony their Druggermen, as my Druggermen under
their hands have attested to me.... The French Ambassadour is at
irreconcilable odds with him, for diverse other neglects He hath
receivd’ from this Holland Minister, and the Venetian Ambassadour
is no lesse sensible of the disrespects placd’ upon Him. As for
my own Part, I found in few dayes some way of expressing my
resentment, for some Holland Merchants comming to wish me a happy
Christmasse, I bid my Secretary thank them for their Civility, but
withall to tell them that my Character would not permitt me to
receive any that depended upon the Holland Ambassadour S. Justinus
Collyer, till he had made reparation for the publick disrespect
shown to my Character. In short the Truth is My Lord, that when
He was Resident onely, He would make himselfe equall to me in
challenging Visit for Visit: And now He is but half an Ambassadour
He would make Himselfe Superiour to Us all, in pretending that Wee
must send Him a Secretary; when Wee three are well satisfyd’ with
the sending of Our Druggermen to each other.”[278]

In this ridiculous way Sir John Finch began the new year--to such
account he turned the calm Providence had vouchsafed him. However,
the calm continued, and our Ambassador went on anticipating all
manner of blessings therefrom, even “it may be hopd’ that My Lord
Chandos is now also in some possibility of procuring reparation
for what is past.” Kara Mustafa did nothing to discourage such
anticipations. Quite the contrary. Here is an instance. Early in
February, Sir John, understanding from the letters which reached
the merchants that Lord Chandos was not likely to arrive, at
soonest, before the middle of March, and the time assigned by the
Vizir in the case of the Pasha of Tunis expiring at the end of
February, thought it necessary to despatch a Dragoman to Adrianople
with a letter for the Grand Vizir: “acquainting Him that the King
My Master, upon the account of the many Sinister Accidents that
befell Me in this Charge, had namd’ a New Ambassadour to succeed
Me, who was like to come fully instructed; Therefore I desird’ the
Visir that there might be no further proceeding in that Case till
the arrivall of my Successour. To which the Visir readily assented,
and that with some Ceremony also, patiently hearing my Druggerman.
It is the opinion of all Men, that the fury of this Great Storm is
blown over. So great and suddain a change does the taking away one
Kehaiah’s Head make in this Vast Empire.”[279]

When, towards the end of March, the Court returned to
Constantinople, Kara Mustafa still lay under this strange spell
of uncongenial geniality. Indeed, he was more genial than ever.
Sir John had another proof of his curious conversion: “For all
the Ministers here sending Him in their Presents at His return,
I was forcd’ to follow their Example, having more need of Him
then all the rest putt together; which, though it was but a small
one, He receivd’ with great kindnesse, presenting my Druggerman
Ten Dollars, though never before He had given Him a Penny.”[280]
Dollars instead of a drubbing: the Dragoman must have nearly
fainted. A change, indeed!

The subordinate officials, as always, took their cue from their
Chief. About a month later Sir John wrote to the Levant Company:

“I receivd’ two messages at different times from the Rais Affendi,
both to this effect: That I might rest quyett with a contented
Heart, in regard that the Bassà of Tunis should give Me No Trouble,
He having His beard in His Hand. A third passe was also made to Me,
which was, That the Rais Affendi seeing My Druggerman, calld’ to
Him and askd’ whether the Ambassadour of England had any occasion
of His service. Laying these things together I sent My Druggerman
with this message, That I was extreamly obligd’ to Him for His
Civilitys, and that reciprocally I desird’ to know wherein I could
any way’s testify my respects to Him; And as to that repeated
message sent Me, that neither I nor My Successour need to fear,
He having the Bassà of Tunis his beard in His Hand, I desird’ Him
more particularly to explain it to Me; I having still the power
in My Hand to gratify them that should doe me right, and revenge
My Cause, though I could, not treat about it. Upon this I receivd’
the following answer: That until the new Ambassadour was arrivd’
at Smyrna, He could not unfold and open Himselfe fully; but that
in the very moment I sent Him notice of my Successour’s arrivall
there, that He and I should adjust it here.

“What the meaning of this message was I did not then understand,
nor doe not as yett fully comprehend. Most certain it is that they
doe not yett fully believe that I have a Successour upon the way.
Neverthelesse I made this return to Him: In the first place, I
thankd’ Him for the Civill offices past in behalfe of My selfe and
My Successour; and that in case the same Powers rested in Me upon
the arrivall of my Successour which now I am invested withall,
that I should make use of His favour; but not knowing whether
His Majesty’s fresh Commands may wholely devest me from power of
acting, in case they did I should pray His Excuse, and begg from
Him the same acts of kindnesse towards My Successour.”[281]

But strong as was Sir John’s desire to believe in the permanence
of the change, it did not quite befool him. Notwithstanding these
promising appearances, he knew too well that, until the harbour was
reached, there could be no sleep with safety. He therefore kept a
vigilant eye on the horizon, ready to note every disquieting sign.
Such signs became visible before spring was far advanced. The Grand
Signor had been prevailed upon to send his Master of the Horse,
Kara Mustafa’s sworn enemy, away to Mecca--“to see that place
repayrd’.” From this and several other circumstances our Ambassador
deducts, with such sensations as may be imagined, that the Vizir,
“after the last violent shock, beginns to take firm root again.”
In proportion as he regains confidence, Kara Mustafa recovers his
natural amiability. Only, pending complete rehabilitation, he deems
it expedient to go slowly: where delay was necessary Kara Mustafa
could display the most indefatigable patience. Sir John by this
time has learnt to read the Vizir pretty accurately. Personally he
has nothing to complain of; but his colleagues have. In the past
every indication of differential treatment was for him a ground for
exultation, for self-glorification. He knows better now: “like a
Bear that hath bin freshly bated, I am left to some repose that I
might recover strength, whilst other Ministers are brought upon the
Theatre.” He proceeds to describe the performance. His reports are
coloured by prejudice; but it may well be asked whether reporters
of any kind ever have described, or could ever have been reasonably
expected to describe, much more than the ways in which facts
impinge on their own individual minds.

“As to the Holland Resident or Ambassadour, for as yet I know not
what to call Him, His Intrigues upon the score of his new sought
for Honour alwayes encreasing, and his Titles alwayes diminishing;
His Condition is this. By the last conveyance He receivd’ Letters
of Credence from the States His Masters to the Visir owning Him
for their Ambassadour; upon which He demands Audience of the
Visir, and Having obtaind’ it, He carryd’ with Him the Presents
of an Ambassadour, viz. 20 Vests, and 2 gold watches. The Visir
receives his Presents and bids the Rais Affendi or Chancellour
take his Papers; but tells Him that the G. Visir had no power
of constituting Ambassadours and that it was presumption in Him
to thinke He could, that the G. Signor must have his Letters of
Credence and Presents also, and that He must give a Talkish or
Memoriall to the Gran Signor of this Proceeding of the Dutch
Minister. So He was dismissd’ without so much as receiving One
Vest, or being perfumd’ which is the characteristicall distinction
of the reception of an Ambassadour from that of a Resident. The
World knows what this meanes, which is mony, and his Enemys say
(for I thinke He hath not one friend) that the Summe will amount
to 50,000 Dollars; but though mony will be the conclusion of it,
yet a farr lesse summe will doe the buisenesse.” From the tone of
this lively narrative it is plain that Sir John had not forgiven
Collyer the disrespect he had placed upon him at Christmas. On
the contrary, he had since had fresh causes for annoyance, some
of which he shared with the Dutchman’s other colleagues and some
were peculiar to himself. It appears that, at the audience just
mentioned, Collyer, before he sat down, kissed the Vizir’s vest,
and, moreover, instead of giving the Vizir the usual appellation
of Excellency, he bestowed upon him the title of Highness. For
these concessions “all the Ambassadours vehemently exclaim against
Him”--“And I have particular Reason to complain of Him for the
Visir asking Him, What Newes, He told Him that England was in
Civill Warrs and like to be ruind’; the Duke of Yorke being retired
into Scotland, whither His Most Christian Majesty had ordred a
Fleet in His assistance, but that the States His Masters had ordred
60 sayl of Men of Warr to helpe the Protestants of England against
His Royall Highnesse and the Roman Catholicks.”[282]

In view of these grievances, how could Sir John sympathise with the
Dutchman’s distress? No such animosity clouds his account of the
French Ambassador’s predicament.

M. de Guilleragues, after defying the Grand Vizir for eighteen
months, had resolved to force a decision--as he might have said,
_brusquer un dénouement_. Letters from his King had reached him
for the Grand Signor and the Grand Vizir. In these letters Louis
disavowed M. de Nointel’s surrender, demanded audience for his
Ambassador on the Soffah, declaring that he would not be satisfied
with less, and, in case of refusal, requested leave for him to
return home. Guilleragues informed Kara Mustafa through his
Dragoman of the arrival of these letters and said that, if the
Vizir would not give him audience on the Soffah, he would not
present them in person, but deliver them through his Secretary.
The Vizir answered that he could not grant the Soffah; and as to
the Secretary, he would not do the Grand Signor and His Majesty of
France the disrespect to receive Royal letters by other hands than
those of the Ambassador. This passage of arms had taken place in
March, while Kara Mustafa’s position was still shaken;[283] and
Guilleragues was so confident of victory that he put himself to the
expense of rigging out his attendants in new rich liveries, and
made many of his gentlemen provide costly clothes for the Audience.
But all his thrusts were skilfully parried by Kara Mustafa, who now
brought the duel to a halt by telling Guilleragues that, “If he
would have audience, he must receive it as the other Ministers had
done, or be gone.”[284] There was a deadlock.

The whole of Constantinople, from both banks of the Golden Horn,
watched this queer combat for a foot-high eminence with breathless
interest: Stambul gnashing its teeth at the Giaour’s unheard-of
impudence; Pera rejoicing, as openly as it dared, at his prowess.
For the Soffah was a symbol. To the Turks it typified their
superiority, to the Franks their abasement. Therefore all Franks,
irrespective of nationality, saw in M. de Guilleragues their
gallant champion. Like a paladin of olden times he stood forth as a
defender of Christendom and its dignity against the arrogant hosts
of Islam. In fighting for the Soffah, the Ambassador of France
fought the battle of Europe. The anxiety was universal; but no one
felt more anxious than Sir John Finch. To him the recrudescence
of Kara Mustafa’s obduracy was of ill augury for his own affairs:
“Methink’s,” he wrote with reference to the Pasha of Tunis case,
“the Visir should be enclind’ to something of Temper in this

In the midst of these melodramatic doings, news came that Lord
Chandos had reached Smyrna in the _Oxford_. Immediately Finch sent
a special messenger to inform him of the Rais Effendi’s mysterious
overtures and to ask for guidance in the matter without delay. “The
noble Lord’s answer from thence was that he was hastening all he
could to communicate to me His Majesty’s Commands and the Company’s
Instructions, adding that he feard’ our latitude was not great
on the submissive part.”[286] On receipt of this reply, Sir John
notified the Rais Effendi that his successor was at Smyrna and that
he hourly expected him at Pera: the pulling of the Pasha’s beard
would have to be put off for a while. That and all other operations
henceforth passed out of his hands.

For the first time after many years Sir John felt able to breathe.
But patience to a man in a state of suspense is difficult. He
counted the days, the hours, he consulted the weather prophets: it
was the time of year when the Etesian winds setting N.E. rendered
navigation in that corner of the Mediterranean exceedingly slow.
The ship, faced by a thousand snares of sea and land, had to
struggle along the Asia Minor coast, continually tacking and taking
careful soundings, frequently casting and weighing anchor, and
casting it again--now before Mytilene, now before Tenedos, until
after a whole week’s voyage from Smyrna it reached Gallipoli--there
to meet the millrace of the Dardanelles. So fierce was the current
in that season and, owing to the tortuous nature of the channel, so
dangerous, that ships had to wait at the mouth of the Hellespont
for the wind to change before they could even enter the Straits.
Sometimes they had to wait so long that, it is said, in Byzantine
times, the corn which was transported from Egypt to Constantinople
rotted on board. Sir John could not wait: “I long for dispatch, all
delay being a just ground (if any can be so) of impatience.”[287]
The moment he heard that the _Oxford_ had arrived at Gallipoli,
he sent thither a brigantine with twenty oars and four boats to
expedite the last stage of Lord Chandos’s journey. His Lordship, no
less sensible of the need of dispatch, promptly left the _Oxford_
at Gallipoli and with a few servants performed the last 125 miles
in the brigantine, landing at Constantinople incognito on Friday,
July 22nd, “to my no small joy.”[288]

Of course, Sir John could not get away at once. The Pasha of
Tunis’s beard had to be pulled first. Until that operation was
over, he was practically a prisoner. But he relied on Lord Chandos
to release him from captivity.

The new Ambassador came armed with a double set of Letters of
Credence from the King, two addressed to the Grand Signor and two
to the Grand Vizir: the one set was couched in milder, the other
in sterner terms; and his instructions were to present the one or
the other, as he should think most suitable to the actual posture
of affairs and most likely to achieve the end in view--namely,
security for the present, guarantees for the future, and, if
possible, reparation for the past: all this had to be managed
with due regard to “the frowardness of the present Ministers and
the state of a fixed and Radicated Tyranny.” Courage tempered by
circumspection was the word. But a postscript to his Instructions,
dictated by the Levant Company, empowered the Ambassador, in
case “the Vizier doth persist in his great oppressions upon Our
Subjects,” to acquaint him (and the Grand Signor, too, if need be)
that he would only remain at the Porte until he should receive
final directions from home “how to dispose of Our Subjects and
their Trade for the future.”[289] This, translated into plain
language, amounted to a threat of a rupture of relations.

Long has the Majesty of England suffered insult and injury meekly.
But now it would seem meekness had reached its uttermost limit: an
august Monarch, a Most Honourable Privy Council--nay, a Company
of timorous traders itself--in their despair, had taken to a new
course: we were to make a solemn final remonstrance and appeal for
justice; failing which, we were to fling down the wet and worthless
piece of parchment at the Grand Signor’s feet, and depart shaking
the dust of his dominions off ours--or, perhaps, not to depart,
but to stay on under entirely new conditions: our ambassadors
unaffronted, our merchants going to market sure that they shall
come back unplundered? or, horrible thought! to fall once more
under the yoke, our remonstrances and veiled menaces alike
ending--in smoke?


[276] When Governor of Erzerum, he had by his oppression driven the
inhabitants to complain to the Sultan. Ahmed Kuprili shielded him
as a kinsman: so the fault was laid upon the Governor’s Kehayah,
who lost his head, while Kara Mustafa lost only his post. See Finch
to Coventry, inclosure in despatch of May 26, S.V. 1677, _Coventry

[277] Finch to Sunderland, Dec. 3-13, 1680, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[278] Finch to Sunderland, Jan. 1-11, 1680-81.

[279] The Same to the Same, Feb. 9-19, 1680-81.

[280] The Same to the Same, April 12-22, 1681.

[281] Finch to the Levant Company, May 9-19, 1681.

[282] Finch to Jenkins, May 10-20. The law of retaliation may be
pleaded in extenuation of Collyer’s garrulity; and, at any rate,
what he told the Vizir was the common talk of Europe. The actual
facts were as follows: Just then the Duke of York had “obtained
leave to retire to Scotland, under pretence still of quieting the
apprehensions of the English nation, but in reality with a view of
securing that Kingdom in his interests.”--Hume, vol. viii. p. 118.

[283] Finch to Sunderland, April 12-22.

[284] The Same to Jenkins, May 10-20.

[285] The Same to the Levant Company, May 9-19.

[286] The Same to Jenkins, July 25.

[287] The Same to Jenkins, July 25.

[288] _Ibid._

[289] “The Humble Addresse of the Company” “to the King’s most
Excelent Majestie and to the Lords of his most Honourable
Privy Councill,” dated Oct. 27, 1680, _Register_ (_S.P. Levant
Company_, 145), p. 81. The same Register contains the Company’s
and the King’s Instructions to Chandos, the latter dated Dec.
29; the former Jan. 28 (pp. 82-95); copies of the two sets of
Credentials, dated Dec. 29 (pp. 95-101); also a supplementary
letter from Charles to the Sultan, dated Jan. 24, (pp. 103-4)
dealing exclusively with the Pasha of Tunis affair, and demanding
“the said Pasha and his false witnesses to be brought to condigne
punishment.” In his sterner Letter of Credence, Charles desires
the Grand Signor “to make enquiry” into, “besides many other
insupportable greivances,” the taking away “of those Imperiall
Capitulations which are the onely security of their Trade” and “to
doe Justice upon all such as shall be found culpable therein.”



How Lord Chandos would have acquitted himself of his delicate
mission, had he been left to his own resources, it is impossible to
say. As it was, the unaccountable Power which, for want of a better
term, we call “luck” seconded him beyond his own or any one else’s
most sanguine hopes. Just as he arrived on the scene, the strain
between France and Turkey ripened to a crisis.

Besides her grievances against the pashas on the Bosphorus, France
had many scores to settle with the pirates of Barbary. Louis had
put up with their depredations for eight years--so long, that
is, as his war against Holland, Denmark, Spain, and Germany tied
his hands. But the pacification of the West had set him free for
action in the East. The monarch who had humbled all the Powers
of Europe would no longer brook humiliation at the hands of the
petty principalities of Africa. He decided to deal with them
summarily and, at the same time, with their patron in Stambul:
the combination, in truth, was unavoidable, for the corsairs were
permitted to prey upon the French even in the ports--nay, in the
very towns--that lay directly under the Grand Signor’s rule. Only a
few months ago the French Consul at Cyprus and a French merchant
were carried out of their houses during the night aboard a Tripoli
man-of-war, and after being soundly drubbed were forced to ransom
themselves. M. de Guilleragues could obtain from the Grand Vizir
no satisfaction for this outrage; and the pirates improved the
occasion by taking a French ship worth 100,000 dollars as it sailed
from Smyrna.[290]

So the famous Admiral Duquesne was sent with a squadron to scour
the Mediterranean. His orders were to seek and destroy the pirates
wheresoever he found them. After sweeping everything before him
farther west, Duquesne entered the Archipelago. The Grand Signor’s
Capitan Pasha met him with his Fleet and asked what he came into
these seas for. The Frenchman quoted his orders. “Nay,” said the
Turk, “the Grand Signor will never allow the Tripolines to be
attacked in his own ports.” “We shall see about that,” replied
Duquesne, and made for Chios, where four Tripoli men-of-war and
four petaches lay careening with their guns all ashore. The Admiral
sailed into the port (July 13, 1681) and, without any ceremony,
went for the disarmed pirates. They fled into the Grand Signor’s
Castle, which fired two guns. Duquesne retorted with thirty, and a
message that, if the Grand Signor’s Castle protected them, he would
knock it down about the ears of the Grand Signor’s garrison. The
Turks, terrified, desisted from further acts of hostility, turned
the Tripolines out, and sent word to the Admiral that they would
remain neutral. Duquesne then set to work: in four hours, and at
the expense of 8000 shots, he disabled the Tripoline vessels (how
he managed not to destroy them does not appear), slaying about 300
of their crews and, incidentally, doing some damage to the town.
Some of his shots battered down several buildings, among them a
minaret, and killed some of the inhabitants. Whereupon loud uproar
in Stambul: it was the greatest affront the Ottoman Empire had
ever received since its foundation! Rumour added that Duquesne had
sailed to the Dardanelles, whence he had addressed, through the
Turkish commander of the Castles at the Straits, a message to the
Vizir demanding to know how the French Ambassador would be treated
as to the Soffah and stating that he would shape his conduct
accordingly! Cause enough for uproar.

At the Porte all is confusion. Councils are held in quick
succession; orders are despatched to the Capitan Pasha to put his
Fleet in a place of safety; couriers fly in different directions on
secret errands. Until their return, what steps Kara Mustafa will
take, no man can tell, he least of all.

Among the French residents all is consternation. M. de
Guilleragues, after repeated demands and denials, had only a week
before obtained leave for his wife and daughter to depart on the
plea of ill-health: now, fearing lest the Porte should cancel the
permission, he hastens to send them away; but he is not quick
enough: the vessel has fallen down the Sea of Marmara some leagues,
the ladies are on the very point of following in a boat, when a
peremptory command from the Vizir stops them and compels the vessel
to turn back. Simultaneously the Ambassador is summoned to give an
account of what was done at Chios; but before he has set out, a
countermand comes, ordering him to hold himself ready for another
summons. While waiting for this summons, M. de Guilleragues gives
out that, when he appears before the Vizir, he will not utter one
word, unless he has his seat on the Soffah: he will only hand
to him the King’s letters--which all these months still remain
undelivered--and, let him do his worst, Kara Mustafa shall have no
other answer. Very fine--but the French merchants, in great alarm,
apply to the various foreign Ministers to save the best of their

The English await developments with tense interest: “Every day is
like to produce great matters,” writes Sir John, and the writing,
much larger and with wider spaces between the lines than usual,
illustrates his excitement. “The result of these resolute orders
of His Most Christian Majesty can end in nothing mean.” France,
he thinks, has gone too far to draw back: she must either come to
an absolute breach with the Porte, or “make the Proud Heads of
this place to stoop”--in which case all Christendom will reap the
benefit: “If the Turk once finds that things are not tamely putt
up, transactions here will be more easy, and I hope My Lord Chandos
will find the good effect of this passe.”[291]

The anticipation was abundantly verified. Chandos made the most
of this fortunate conjuncture. During the weeks he remained
incognito waiting for the _Oxford_, he prepared the ground, and
in his audience with Kara Mustafa he delivered the sterner letter
from the King: the Vizir read it through most carefully and bade
the Ambassador welcome, without any allusion to its contents.
But it was obvious that he had been deeply impressed; and the
Ambassador did not fail to strike while the iron was hot. He
struck so vigorously and skilfully that by the 5th of September
he had obtained full satisfaction on the two main points: The
money extorted from Finch for the Capitulations was refunded to
the Treasurer of the Levant Company by Kara Mustafa’s Jew, who, to
save the Grand Vizir’s face, pretended that it came out of the dead
Kehayah’s hoard. This was a triumph of which Chandos might well
be proud--restitution of money had never yet been procured from a
Turk; and it was followed by another, not less pleasant: in his
own words, “the false demand upon his Excellency for a prodigious
sum of money by the Pasha of Tunis is also for ever damn’d by the
most valid way in their Law we could desire without parting with
one asper.” And even that was not all: “We are also now promised
several other Articles of considerable benefit to trade in these
parts and shall have them in our custody in a few days.” On one
point only the Ambassador found the Vizir adamant and was forced by
the haste which the Company’s interests required not to lose time
in disputing it, but to accept his “parole of honour that if any
prince in the world ever had the priviledge of the Suffra we should
have it the first”--a promise which the Vizir had no difficulty
in making, as he went on to add that “heaven should be earth and
earth heaven before any such thing should be condescended to by
them!”[292] That a man, while parting with solid cash, should cling
so passionately to an empty form, is but another manifestation of
the mysterious workings of the official mind. However, we were
more than satisfied with a liberality which would have been more
meritorious, but could not have been more welcome, had it been

At the same time Lord Chandos obtained leave for Sir John to depart
when he pleased. But alas! the boon which a little while ago
would have filled Sir John with joy found him now unable to enjoy
anything. On the 22nd of August his friend Baines had been seized
with a malignant double tertian, of which he was very certain that
he would die, in accordance with the method of Providence. “For,”
he told Finch, “God had under many diseases preserved him so long
as he could be any wayes usefull or serviceable to me, but that
now, returning into England where my friends were all so well in
their severall posts, he could no longer be of any use to me, and
therefore God would putt a period to that life which he onely
wished for my sake.”

His comrade’s condition, reacting upon Finch’s own system through
the subtle laws of sympathy, “cutt off the thread of all my
worldly happinesse and application to business,” so much so that
he himself fell ill of a tertian. Then, on September 5th, the very
day on which the leave to depart was brought to him, Baines died:
the friend from whom during thirty-six years he had never been
separated for more than a week or two at a time--“the best friend
the world ever had, for prudence, learning, integrity of life and
affection”--was taken away from him.

For this calamity Sir John’s mind ought to have been prepared.
About a year before, while he and Sir Thomas were sitting in
their gallery after supper, there came upon the table a “loud
knocking.” Such was the first warning. The second was not less
significant. A few days before Sir Thomas’s illness one of Sir
John’s teeth dropped out of his head without any pain whilst they
dined together: “which,” notes the ex-Professor of Anatomy, “seemes
to confirm the interpretation of those who make the dreaming
of the losse of a tooth to be the prediction of the losse of a

These reflections, however, came to poor Sir John afterwards.
At the moment he was not in a state for coherent thought of any
kind. The blow fell upon him with all the stupefying force of an
unforeseen catastrophe: it prostrated him: his tertian rose to a
double continual tertian, which reduced him to such weakness that
he was given over by his physician and all others. Thus he lay,
forlorn, desolate, broken in mind and body, for about a fortnight.
By September 22nd, however, he had recovered sufficiently to indite
a lengthy despatch, in which, after touching upon his bereavement,
he gives the sequel of the French Admiral’s exploit.

So far the only outcome of the debates held at the Porte had been
an embargo imposed on French ships and men throughout the Empire.
The Turks did not find themselves in a condition to express greater
resentment; for Duquesne’s squadron, small as it was, was “more
than doubly able to fight all the force the Ottoman Empire is able
to make appear at sea. So that, contrary to the bilious and proud
procedure of this Court, they go on with Spanish phlegm. The Porte
are very sensible that France can doe them all manner of mischief,
both by its power and its vicinity, and that they can take no other
but the small, pitifull revenge of exercising their indignation
upon the French Ambassadour and as many of the King’s subjects as
reside in the Empire.” The Tripolines, left in the lurch, sued for
peace. But “Mons. de Quesne refusd’ to treat with such a company
of rascalls.” Some fruitless negotiations between the Admiral and
the Capitan Pasha ensued. Then, Sir John adds three weeks later, a
courier from the Capitan Pasha came with the news that the Admiral
had blocked up his whole Fleet in the port of Chios. On receipt
of this fresh instance of the Giaour’s temerity, “the heat of the
Gran Signor was such that he ordred the Gran Visir to send for
Mons. de Guilleragues and send him to the Seven Towers. The Visir
sent for the Ambassadour using great threats towards him; but his
Excellency carry’d himselfe with great courage, not onely refusing
to sit below the Saffa, but being pressd’ to doe it, kickd’ his
stool down with his feet, and then delivring the Letter from the
King his master, which for more than 8 moneths the Visir had
refusd’ to receive.” When Kara Mustafa urged reparation for the
affront and damage done to the Grand Signor’s port of Chios, M. de
Guilleragues retorted that the King of France had received none for
the affront and damage done to his Consul and subjects at Cyprus,
concluding that, “it was as lawfull for the King his Master to set
upon his enemy’s in the Gran Signor’s ports, as for them to attack
the French.” Thanks to his “dexterous and resolute prudence,” the
French Ambassador was only detained in custody of the Chaoush-bashi
for a while, and then, on signing a paper to acquaint his Most
Christian Majesty with the Grand Signor’s desires, was released;
and it was thought now that in the agreement the point of the
Soffah would be included. “Certainly Mons. de Guilleragues has
shown himselfe in this a Great Minister.”[294]

This is Sir John’s last official report from Pera. While penning
it, he was busy with his preparations for leaving a spot to which
he was now bound by nothing save memories of suffering. Every hour
he passed in that house only accented his sense of desolation. With
Sir Thomas Baines all that had made Turkey bearable had vanished.
He was no longer there to support him. The hapless bachelor,
physically and mentally worn out, and relieved of all public
concerns, had now nothing to do but brood over his personal grief.
He was like a shipwrecked mariner stranded on an alien and hostile
shore. His one desire was to hasten home. It is much to his credit
that of all this inner misery the only hint we have is contained
in a paragraph of unwonted self-restraint: “I with some impatience
attend the recovery of my health that I may be once freed from
the commands of a Goverment so irregular that they are wholely
irreconcilable to all methods of reason and honour and return into
my native soyl.”[295]

It was with the same wish, expressed in the same words, that
Sir John had left his “native soyl” in 1673. Eight years had
passed--had he known what lay at the end of it all, would he
have had the strength to persevere? And now, more than ever, he
languishes for home: the longing grows, as the days go by. At last,
in November 1681, he set sail in the _Oxford_, carrying with him
the body of his friend embalmed. But he was destined to have one
more experience of Kara Mustafa’s “irregular goverment” at Smyrna,
where the _Oxford_ put in that she might take under her escort four
English merchantmen which lay there richly freighted. The convoy
was ready for its homeward voyage, when a command from the Porte
forbade it to sail. Why, oh why had he not departed two months ago?
Why had he waited to recover: will accidents never cease to dog his
steps? Without sharing Sir John’s superstition, no one that studies
his life can help being struck by the continuity of his bad luck:
everything seems to go wrong with him--not always through any wrong
calculation of his own; and when something lucky happens, it is not
he that reaps the gain and the glory, but his successor.

The causes of this latest check were as follows:

The panic into which Duquesne’s feat had thrown the Porte had
subsided. The French admiral was still cruising about the Levant
coasts, but did nothing. Kara Mustafa saw that he had little to
fear from France. Nor had he much to fear from England. Scarcely
had Lord Chandos received satisfaction for past injuries, and he
had not yet received the additional privileges promised to him,
when news reached Constantinople that English ships laden with
a vast estate were on their way to Turkey. For this injudicious
precipitancy the Levant Company was not to blame, but only some
members of it, our old friend Dudley North chief among them. For
reasons of his own he had from the first opposed the suspension
of trade, and now, by representing the scheme to the King and
the Privy Council, through his brother the Lord Keeper, as a
treacherous design inspired by the Opposition with a view to
hurting the Royal Exchequer, he got the Government to force the
merchants to rescind all they had done.[296] The result was such as
might have been foreseen. Kara Mustafa, concluding that the English
were anxious for trade at any price, decided to make them pay for
the blow they had dealt at his purse and his pride. All that he
needed was a specious pretext; and he had not far to look for one.

The English by their Capitulations were obliged to pay a 3 per
cent export duty on silk. But the Turks, to avoid fraud--an art
in which foreigners surpassed the natives--preferred to collect
this duty from the native seller, who charged it to the foreign
buyer and handed over to him together with the goods the official
receipt. Such had been the established practice for over thirty
years. Nevertheless, the letter of the law remained unaltered;
and it was in this pure technicality that Kara Mustafa found his
pretext. Suddenly our merchants were called upon to pay the duty
on all silk they had exported for five years past, a sum amounting
to over 100,000 dollars, and it was suspected that this was only a
beginning, the intention being to extort ultimately the duty for
the whole thirty years. On their refusal to comply, the Customer of
Smyrna stopped the ships which the _Oxford_ was to convoy.

Lord Chandos was summoned by the Grand Vizir to the Divan and asked
if his Nation ought not, in accordance with their Capitulations,
to pay a 3 per cent duty. He replied in the affirmative. “But,”
said the Vizir, “do you?” Chandos naturally answered that the
duty was paid by the sellers on account of the buyers. “Oh,” said
Kara Mustafa, “that shall not serve your turn. The sellers are
the Grand Signor’s subjects, and he may lay what he pleases on
them. What they paid was on their own account, but you must pay
for yourselves,” and, without further argument, he gave a kind
of sentence against the English. The Ambassador protested, but
was told that, if he did not obey, he should be put in irons, and
was sent away to think about it. What a clap of thunder to our
merchants: their victory turned suddenly into a ruinous disaster!

Chandos thought of nothing less than submitting; but Finch,
who itched to see the last of Turkey, positively declared that
he would not stay more than a few days: if the matter was not
settled quickly, he would sail in the _Oxford_, leaving the four
merchantmen behind. Chandos considered what this would mean: an
indefinite detention of the ships, to the great loss of freighters
and owners, not to mention the danger of confiscation. He therefore
offered the Vizir 25,000, 40,000, 55,000 dollars. But all these
offers were rejected. Thereupon the English had recourse to “other
means, wherein by a marvellous Providence we succeeded.” This
providential intervention consisted of a bribe of 12 purses, or
6000 dollars, administered to the Smyrna authorities. It acted like
a charm: the vessels were suffered to slip away, and Sir John was
able to pursue his voyage in peace.[297]

The shores of Turkey gradually merged in the sea-mists. That harsh
Eastern world lay hushed behind him. Before him, ready to welcome
the exile, friendly Italy; and beyond, England, dear relatives, and
leisure, and rest.

On January 18th, 1682, we hear of the ex-Ambassador’s arrival at
Argostoli on the island of Cephalonia, where he was treated by
the Venetian Governor very courteously.[298] On March 11th he was
at Leghorn, purchasing Italian pictures, statues, and wines. From
Marseilles he intended to travel overland to Calais in a litter;
but he changed his mind and continued his journey by sea, visiting
Seville on the way and purchasing Spanish wines. By the time he
reached the Downs he had with him, besides some sixty trunks,
nineteen enormous chests of books, twenty-three of Italian pictures
and statues, fifteen of Florence wine, a butt of Smyrna wine, and
six of Saragossa. From the _Oxford_ he wrote to his nephew, giving
him minute directions about this baggage: “I believe a barge will
be most convenient as I can put three or four trunks upon it which
cannot well be left for any other passage.” The chests of books and
pictures and statues “will require a hoy or vessell that hath a dry
hold to keepe them from rain above and sea water below.” “If wine
in bottles pay no custome, I will have 50 dozen bought for me with
good corks.”[299]

That a man who had suffered such a bereavement should have any
thoughts left for pictures and statues; that he should, to the sad
cargo of his friend’s coffin, be adding chests of wine and ordering
corks, may to the impercipient seem strange, and to the cynical
convey a suggestion of insincerity. But those acquainted with the
psychology of grief will understand. In reality it was distraction
from thought which these thoughts brought him. Sir John sought
some antidote--he felt the need, which certain natures under the
stress of intolerable sorrow feel, of turning to commonplace
occupations, of busying himself with trivial details, as the only
means of reducing the dreary melancholy which else would crush him

His attempt was rewarded by a measure of success. Although during
the early part of the voyage he had been so depressed that he
made his will, in July he landed on his “native soyl” in much
better spirits than he could have hoped “after so much weaknesse
and sicknesse and sorrow.” But the rally was only temporary: the
anxieties, the mortifications, the apprehensions he had endured
at Constantinople had undermined his delicate constitution: the
worm of grief had gnawed too far into his heart for anything to be
remedial now; and after laying the remains of Sir Thomas in the
chapel of Christ’s College, Cambridge, as if the last frail tie
that held him to life had snapped, Finch himself succumbed to an
attack of pleurisy on the 18th of November 1682.

His body was conveyed to Cambridge and buried, as he had desired,
beside his friend’s under the tomb which is still visible: a marble
monument, the laboured elegance of which reflects the Italian
tastes of the age and of the men in whose joint memory it stands.
It is adorned with a Latin epitaph from the pen of Henry More--the
tutor who had first introduced the two friends to each other. Thus
years that were far asunder were bound together, and the hand which
had started Sir John and Sir Thomas on their common course rounded
off its common end.

Beneath that stone the Ambassador whose doings and sufferings we
have witnessed sleeps quietly--the sleep of clay and dust. Of all
those agonies and vanities: emotions once so real and vibrant--of
that personality so impulsive, so susceptible to flattery, so prone
to anger and fear--remains only a pale reflection in the letters
we have deciphered. Out of those fussy despatches he who cares may
still call up the phantom of Sir John Finch: there, if anywhere, he
still lives--a soul infinitely pathetic.

For Sir John was nowise great; and such elements of greatness
as may have been in him were frustrated by his one life-long
attachment. From the time he met Baines, Finch lost every chance
of self-development and self-realisation. Tied, heart and mind, to
that monotonous, masterful pedagogue, he never used his own powers.
The universe had contracted round him to the narrow circle limited
by that pedant’s exiguous vision. How completely Baines kept the
world, its inhabitants, and its interests from Finch may be seen
from the fact that, after seven years’ residence, our Ambassador
knew almost as little of Turkey as on the day of his landing.
During all those years the realities about him took a second
place in his thoughts: the first place was filled by abstractions
according to Sir Thomas: on Sundays the twain composed essays on
Theology, and on week-days they talked what Sir Thomas imagined
to be Philosophy. Life-long tutelage must have a debilitating,
devitalising effect; and it can hardly be questioned that the
benignant Baines exercised over his friend a most malignant
influence. Not intentionally, of course: Baines, we are persuaded,
meant well; but much of the mischief done on this planet is done by
people who mean well.

It was a sound instinct that made Finch shy at public life. As
a diplomat he displayed all the faults of one to whom zeal and
judgment had not been given in equal proportions. He was not
born for diplomacy: certainly not for Turkish diplomacy. In all
those oscillations of mood and fluctuations of the will which he
so naïvely betrayed when wrought up by his feelings, we see a
temperament very ill adapted to a profession which requires above
all things coolness and firmness. That he failed at Constantinople
cannot be disguised. But, despite his foibles and his friend, he
would have done as well as any average ambassador, if he had had
no exceptional difficulties to contend with. So much is clear
from his history: as long as the sun shines and the waters are
smooth, we see him steering on, happily enough; as soon as the
tempest bursts, the helm slips from his hold and he flounders on
in thick darkness, inward and outward--a fair-weather pilot, like
many another. To drop metaphor, the man--everything reckoned--was
essentially a victim of circumstances: chief among them the death
of Ahmed Kuprili. Even more mediocre natures would have succeeded
under that Grand Vizir; under Kara Mustafa only talents of the very
first order could have availed. And it is poignant to reflect what
a trifle would have turned Sir John’s failure into a success: had
he accepted the Turkish Embassy when it was first offered to him,
in 1668, his career at Constantinople would have terminated before
the death of Ahmed--on such little ironies hang the destinies of
poor mortals.


[290] Finch to Sunderland, Nov. 6-16, 1680.

[291] Finch to Jenkins, July 25, 27, 1681.

[292] Chandos to Jenkins, Sept. 23, St. Vet. 1681.

[293] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 72.

[294] Finch to Jenkins, Sept. 22, Oct. 14-24.

[295] _Ibid._

[296] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 171-2.

[297] Chandos to Jenkins, April 17-27, 1682; Petition of the Levant
Company to the King in _Register_, pp. 114-17; _Life of Dudley
North_, p. 98.

[298] Sir Clement Harby to Jenkins, Zante, Feb. 10, 1681-82, _S.P.
Turkey_, 19.

[299] Malloch’s _Finch and Baines_, p. 77.


The death of Sir John Finch forms so fitting an end to the drama
in which he bore a principal, if not a leading, part that, in a
work of the imagination, any further addition would have been
an artistic crime. But in a book like the present the claims of
artistic fitness must yield to those of historic completeness.

After getting their ships out of the Vizir’s clutches, the English
endeavoured to come to an arrangement with him on the basis of
their original offer of 55,000 dollars, in which the sum paid
at Smyrna should be included; but they failed. Kara Mustafa,
infuriated, meant to have his revenge; and a few days later he
summoned the merchants to the Porte--the merchants only, for his
policy now was to treat the matter as a quarrel between them and
the Customer--a purely commercial lawsuit in which neither the King
of England nor his representative had any concern. But Lord Chandos
would have none of these fictitious distinctions. He assembled all
the merchants in the Embassy, and when the Chaoush came to fetch
them, he positively refused to let them go without him. After a
day’s parley, he carried his point; and so, on Sunday morning,
January 15th, 1682, Ambassador and merchants went together. They
were shown into the Kehayah’s room, where they found, besides
that officer, the Chaoush-bashi, the Customer, and three or four
other dignitaries. The discussion soon degenerated into a violent
altercation, until the Kehayah, proceeding from words to deeds,
ordered a Chaoush to seize the two chief merchants, Montagu North
and Mr. Hyet. Chandos at once interposed and, getting hold of
them, declared that he would go to prison in their place: he was
there to act as surety for the Nation under his protection. “No,
no,” said the Kehayah, “the King of England and the Grand Signor
are good friends, and you shall be treated accordingly: this is a
mere matter of trade, in which the merchants are the only parties
concerned,”--and he asked his Lordship to sit down and drink his
coffee and sherbet! His Lordship hung on to the prisoners, as the
Chaoush dragged them out--he hung on to them across the courtyard:
the Chaoush pushed him off, but he still hung on with true bull-dog
tenacity: so that the Chaoush had to resort to a ruse: he carried
the prisoners back into the house, shut Lord Chandos out, and got
them off by a back-door.

Baulked, angered, thoroughly disgusted, the Ambassador mounts his
horse and returns home--to plan such measures as the situation
demands. That afternoon he seals up all the English warehouses
at Constantinople and despatches to the Smyrna Factory notice to
provide against the worst. During the following days he plies
the Vizir with memorials, messages, petitions for audience--“too
tedious to relate”; to all of which he receives but one answer:
the Vizir has given him an audience on his arrival, he has also
seen him since about the business in dispute, and has heard all
that could be said on that subject: the Grand Signor will soon be
back: His Excellency will have an audience of him then, and an
opportunity of saying anything he has to say. An appeal to the
Mufti falls equally flat: the Mufti stands in too much awe of Kara
Mustafa. And meanwhile our merchants remain in custody: for a month
and a week they keep in tolerable health, but on the thirty-ninth
day one of them sickens: he seizes the chance of a visit from
the Ambassador’s Dragoman to say in Turkish that he will not die
there--if he owes any man anything, he is ready to pay; if he has
committed any crime, let his head fly. All he demands is justice:
since the Ambassador cannot free him, he has slaves in his house,
and he will send one of them to the Grand Signor with a pot of
fire on his head![300] This threat, it was thought, reported to
the Vizir by one of his spies, produced, or contributed towards
producing, the desired effect. Soon afterwards Kara Mustafa agreed
to Chandos’s original proposal that, for 55,000 dollars, he should
condemn his own sentence and absolve the English from all such
claims, past and future. The bargain struck, our prisoners, after
forty-two days’ confinement, were released, and the Ambassador
reported home:

“Thus are we restored to free commerce with these unrightuous
people once again, how long it may continue is past my guess for
never was there a people more false and ficle in theyr words then
I have found thos here I have had to doe with ... but I consider’d
it the duty of a faithfull servant to his master to avoid all is
possible the necessity of pushing disputes to such extremities as
to bring a war or great dishonor on his master and for this reason
in the first place and secondly in regard to trade which would
infallibly have receiv’d a deadly blow had their violence byn a
little more provok’d for ’tis most certain that we have stuck many
days at the pit’s brink.... I had my _ar’s_ ready to have gone in
person to the Visier and G: Signor but was overcome and prevented
by the merchants reasons and intreaties and I hope all is for the
best for there is not one instance of any one’s having ever got any
good by wrangling with this Visier.”[301]

In adjusting this avania Lord Chandos had hoped, as he tells
us, to find “some faire quarter” in other matters; but he soon
found that “there is no peace with the wicked.” When he applied
for his Audience of the Grand Signor, Kara Mustafa demanded an
extraordinary present--not, he explained, as a price for the
Audience, but as a recognition of the great favour he had done
us by letting us off the silk claim on such easy terms. Chandos
replied that all he had parted with was to purchase the Vizir’s
goodwill, and he was willing to strain yet further to give him
satisfaction; only he entreated his patience till the Audience was
over, lest it should be said that he had paid money for it: which,
being an alteration of the ancient practice between the Crowns,
imported much more than his head was worth. This reply, in spite
of its urbanity, set the Vizir in a mighty passion: he doubled his
demand, and, as the Ambassador took no notice, he refused to let
him deliver his Credentials. Moreover, every time an Englishman
was sued before the Divan, Kara Mustafa condemned him out of hand;
and, in short, missed no chance of showing his malice against
us. Not that we enjoyed the exclusive monopoly of his rancour.
The Dutch underwent a fresh fleecing on the same pretext as the
English--silk export duties--and were glad enough to compound for
25,000 dollars; the Venetians were forced to pay ten times that
sum by way of reparation for an affray between their own and some
Turkish subjects in Dalmatia--it was, in truth, reparation for
wrongs suffered rather than inflicted, but that made no difference:
the Bailo, finding reason useless, had to employ “the rhetorick
of chequins”--’twas the only means “to make faire weather with a
Visier who is of a temper to doe anything for mony and nothing
without it.” When describing to the Secretary of State how he and
his colleagues fared at the hands “of this greivous oppressor of
all Christians,” Chandos ventured to drop a hint that His Majesty
might, “if the intolerable tyranny of this vile Minister receiv’s
not a speedy check,” find “some other way to make him sensible of
His iust indignation”--some way more “becoming His great wisedome
and high honor.” But what could poor, lazy Charles do, where the
haughty and energetic Louis was content to eat humble pie by the
plateful? It was, indeed, the “submission,” as the Turks very
correctly called it, of the French Padishah that had raised Kara
Mustafa’s rapacious insolence to its present pitch. This brings us
to the conclusion of the Chios exploit in which the Franco-Turkish
quarrel had culminated.

Nothing more humiliating for Christendom, nothing better calculated
to inflate Ottoman arrogance, could be imagined. The French
Admiral, after hovering aimlessly about the Dardanelles with his
squadron for nine months, sailed away leaving the French Ambassador
to pay for his feat. It was no longer a question of exacting
satisfaction for past insults, but of averting imminent calamities:
M. de Guilleragues had to fight not for a stool, but for safety.
A three days’ struggle ensued--the French gazettes of the time
styled it an “audience.” The first day, when the Ambassador was
brought before the Vizir, he spoke and acted with spirit; but
Kara Mustafa, unimpressed by what he knew to be empty bluster,
ordered him to be locked up. Three days’ confinement brought M. de
Guilleragues to reason: he signed a bond to pay within six months
an indemnity thinly veiled under the euphemism of a “galantaria”
emanating from his private pocket--“a present of such value as
became a Chivaliere.” When the six months expired, the “present”
was duly tendered, but was rejected as falling short of what became
a Chevalier in distress to give or a victorious Pasha to receive.
After some kicking against the pricks, the Ambassador submitted
to a valuation of his “galantaria” by experts appointed by Kara
Mustafa, with the result that he was “screw’d up to 100 purses,
that is, 50,000 Dollars.” This was for the Grand Signor. “What
he paid the Visier himself and his inferior officers, by his own
confession, came to between 15,000 and 20,000 Dollars and most of
this mony was taken up at 18 or 20, and some at 22 per cent.”

Thus the long-drawn-out duel between the wig and the turban ended
in a decisive victory for the turban. It was not pleasant to
witness “the barbarous triumphing of the Turks over all Christians
upon this their success against the French, for the Turks judge
all things by the event and impute all that hitts right to the
great wisedome and conduct of their Visier, for in this business
they say (according to their proverb) the Visier _caught a hare
with a cart_, and the French who are the loosers have nothing to
say, which is hard according to our English proverb.” Nothing to
say--they who a few months before “made many high brags of great
wonders they resolv’d to doe.”[302]

But in ascribing their triumph to Kara Mustafa’s genius the Turks
paid him a tribute to which he was not entitled. The causes of the
French defeat lay in Paris rather than in Stambul. Louis was a
calculating politician as well as an arrogant prince. His arrogance
prompted him to beard the Turks, his policy forbade him to break
with them. It was essential for the success of his ambition in the
West that the German Empire should be engaged in the East; and
he did not hesitate to purchase the co-operation of Kara Mustafa
at any price. Kara Mustafa, on his part, had long nourished the
wish to attack Austria, and he had a good opportunity of doing so
in the first two years of his Vizirate, when the French harassed
the Emperor on one side and the Magyars on the other; but, with
characteristic acumen, he had chosen to go to a profitless war with
Russia and to postpone the realisation of his favourite dream to a
less convenient moment. However, Louis thought, better late than

In the meantime, while these machinations were maturing, Kara
Mustafa sharpened his sword. Chandos heard of “nothing soe much as
the drawing togeather of great forces from all parts of this vast
Empire,”[303] and, though he prayed “God defend all Christians
from the violence of Turks,” he could not help feeling that in
a long-protracted war lay his only hope of escaping further
molestation. It was therefore with profound relief that he saw
the Vizir make his stately exit from Constantinople: “nor doe we
dispair of God’s mercy either to convert him from or confound him
in his malice against us before his returne.”

Of the two contingencies it was the more probable that came
to pass; and, if the English had good reason to attribute the
aggravation of their woes to the Machiavellian policy of Louis, it
was to that same policy that they owed their final deliverance.

Kara Mustafa, in the spring of 1683, marched north at the head of
as numerous an army as ever Grand Vizir led--the whole strength
of the Ottoman Empire was bent against Austria. With this host,
augmented, too, by Hungarian rebels, he crossed the frontier,
traversed Hungary performing miracles of ferocity and perfidy, and,
not finding in his way either fortified towns or armies capable to
arrest his progress, penetrated to the very gates of Vienna (July
14, N.S.). At the approach of the enemy the Emperor Leopold fled
with precipitation, leaving the Duke of Lorraine with a small force
to defend his capital.

The unhappy citizens, isolated and abandoned by their natural
protector, presented to the world a memorable example of courage
and initiative. But hunger and disease soon began to decimate them.
Of succour there was no sign. The beleaguered city seemed doomed,
and with it the whole of Central Europe. Only a combination of
chances could save Vienna.

Such a combination was provided by Kara Mustafa’s multiform
imbecility. Eager to secure the treasures of the Hapsburg capital
for himself, he declined to stimulate the ardour of his soldiers
with the promise of plunder and avoided a general assault which
could have reduced the town before the arrival of relief, hoping
to take it intact by capitulation. Being as arrogant as he was
greedy, he disdained to keep himself informed of the movements of
the enemy, took no measures to prevent their passage of the Danube,
and allowed them to concentrate close behind his camp without the
slightest opposition. At the very moment when Vienna seemed ready
to succumb, John Sobieski joined the Imperial forces under the Duke
of Lorraine on the neighbouring heights.

Next day (Sept. 11, N.S.) this army of only 77,000 men descended to
the plain like an irresistible avalanche and beat Kara Mustafa’s
host into confusion, defeat, destruction. Some ten thousand Turks
remained dead on the field of battle. The rest, including the Grand
Vizir, fled leaving behind them their guns, their tents, their
archives, and all their colours except the sacred standard of
the Prophet. Not the least notable item in the long list of loot
was the Grand Vizir’s pavilion: a miniature palace surrounded
by baths, gardens, and fountains: which that night afforded a
luxurious resting-place to the happy King of Poland--the King whose
ambassadors Kara Mustafa had treated as we have seen. And so in a
few hours the cloud that had hung over Central Europe for months
melted away.

This rout, aggravated by some other disasters which overtook
shortly afterwards the demoralised Ottoman army, exhausted the
Grand Signor’s favour for his Vizir. Kara Mustafa’s enemies at
Court fanned the Imperial wrath to a white heat, and an Aga was
sent to Belgrade, where the would-be conqueror had retired, with
orders to relieve him of his head. The Aga arrived on December
25th (N.S.) after sunset; and before sunrise he had fulfilled his
mission. Thus perished, in the height of his pride, one of the
most wicked Ministers, and one of the weakest-minded, that ever
tyrannised over a country. His death was lamented only by those few
who had had no cause to regret his birth.

Kara Mustafa’s disappearance brought comparative peace and
contentment to foreign residents in Turkey. Not long afterwards
Lord Chandos had the Audience from which he had been debarred for
three years, and after a prosperous career this shrewd and sturdy
Englishman retired, in 1687, with a full purse.[304]

But for Kara Mustafa’s country there was neither peace nor
contentment. The discomfiture before Vienna afforded a revelation
of Turkey’s weakness which tempted Russia and Venice to join
Austria and Poland in what they called a “Holy League.” As we
have seen, they all had many scores to settle with the Porte.
They settled them now with a vengeance. From 1684 on to 1699 this
struggle for dominion and plunder raged under the name of religion.
The religious fervour of the Moslems was not less holy than that
of the Christians, but Allah fought on the side of the majority.
Misfortune followed misfortune and loss came on the top of loss.
In 1687 the Turks thought to change their luck by changing their
Sultan. But to no purpose: the cycle of their misfortunes went on
unbroken. Famine, fires, and insurrections at home heightened the
dismay caused by defeats abroad, until at last the mighty Ottoman
Empire, stripped of vast territories, distracted, and utterly
spent, had to seek the mediation of the Maritime Powers--England
and Holland. Lord Pagett and Jakob Collyer, the successors of the
diplomats whom Kara Mustafa had outraged so grievously, tried in
1699 to rescue what was possible from the wreck Kara Mustafa had
wrought. (Peace of Carlowitz, Jan. 26.)

Not long after this remarkable instance of historic retribution,
one of Kara Mustafa’s victims reappeared upon the stage. Mrs.
Pentlow had, on his fall, endeavoured to obtain reparation for
the injury done to her, and the new Grand Vizir, our old friend
Soliman, Ahmed Kuprili’s suave Kehayah, was very willing to see
both that and our other claims settled out of his enemy’s estate.
But the Grand Signor, who had confiscated that estate, demanded due
proofs, which was demanding the impossible. Avanias were always so
conducted that hardly any one besides the persons concerned knew
the details: the Turks concerned were Kara Mustafa’s creatures
who, on his death, were dispersed; the evidence of his Jew and
of our Dragomans was inadmissible against True Believers; the
only witness who could have helped us was the Chief Customer; but
Hussein Aga would not, for prudential reasons, come forward.[305]
So the matter dropped, and Mrs. Pentlow went away to England, where
she married a member of the St. John family, apparently resigned
to her loss. But she had not abandoned all hope, and in the autumn
of 1700, when our Ambassador was basking in the sun of popularity,
she arrived at Constantinople with her daughter, now grown into a
fine young “Mrs. Susanna Pentlow,” and a letter from the Earl of
Jersey, Secretary of State, to Lord Pagett, requesting him to use
his influence for the recovery of the Smyrna estate.

Lord Pagett enjoyed among the English in the Levant the reputation
of a diplomat who made “no great figure at Court, contenting
himself with being feared by his own nation.”[306] And in this
case he did precisely as the unfortunate Sir John Finch would have
done. He indited a lengthy despatch in which he gave five different
reasons why he could do nothing. The records of the Porte had been
lost before Vienna, and without them no claim would be considered.
The widow had no documents to prove her case. By the Turkish law
all debts for which no demand had been made for fifteen years were
invalid. The Vizir then in power was the son of Kara Mustafa’s
sister who was still alive, and there was nobody in the whole of
the Ottoman Empire who respected the memory of that “unfortunate
great man” so much or who showed a stronger devotion to his family.
Lastly, the Turkish Government had no money to pay off its soldiers
and sailors, all of whom were clamouring for their long overdue
stipends: “and while pressing, clear, just debts can’t be got in,
there’s little hopes of recovering an old, doubtfull, litigious
pretence, pursued upon a very cold scent.”[307] His Lordship
therefore advised that the matter should be allowed to rest till
some favourable opportunity turned up. Such an opportunity, to the
best of the present writer’s knowledge, has not yet turned up. And
so we may part for ever with Mrs. Pentlow, _alias_ Mrs. St. John,
and direct our attention to some of the other characters that have
figured in our story--those three distinguished Englishmen who, it
is hoped, did in Turkey enough to inspire the reader with a wish to
know what became of them afterwards.

The subsequent career of Paul Rycaut need not detain us long. On
missing the Constantinople appointment, our late Consul entreated
the King to cast a gracious eye upon him, when any office which
His Majesty’s wisdom should judge most agreeable to his talents
and experience became vacant; and in 1685 he obtained the post
of Secretary to the Earl of Clarendon who had recently been made
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. At the same time he was knighted and
sworn of the Privy Council and judge of the Admiralty in Ireland.
In this employment the ex-Consul earned his Chief’s commendations
for integrity and, among the Irish Catholics, the character of an
extortionate official. Whichever of these two opinions was correct,
Sir Paul did not hold that office long. At the beginning of 1688
he returned to England, and about the middle of the following year
he was transferred at last to a sphere for which his linguistic
attainments and his diplomatic and commercial experience really
fitted him--that of English Resident in Hamburgh and the Hanse
Towns. He filled that position almost till his death, which
occurred in 1700, a few months after his recall. As in Turkey,
so in Europe, Rycaut devoted much of his time to literary work,
publishing _The Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches_
(1678); _The History of the Turkish Empire from 1623 to 1677_,
including his _Memoirs_ (1680); and some translations from the
Spanish and the Latin. Of these productions the _History_ was
long considered one of the best works of its kind in the English
language; and the _Memoirs_ part of it, at least, can still be read
with profit and not without pleasure.

To turn to the Rev. John Covel. Thanks to his trip to Adrianople,
supplemented just before he left Turkey by some swift excursions
to Nicomedia, Nicaea, and the islands of the Sea of Marmara, and
by a passing view of such classic spots as the homeward bound ship
touched at, our Chaplain returned home with his fame as “a great
Oriental traveller” firmly established.[308] Soon afterwards he
was made Doctor of Divinity by royal warrant, instituted to two
sinecure rectories, and, in 1681, was appointed Chaplain to the
Princess of Orange at the Hague. He was now forty-three. With his
faculties unimpaired and patronage from high quarters flowing
in, he seemed to have the ball fairly at his feet. For about
four years he flowered in the sun of princely favour; and then,
suddenly, the fair prospect became overcast. Dr. Covel would never
speak of the cause which brought his residence at the Hague to an
abrupt close--it was, perhaps, the one subject on which he ever
succeeded in holding his tongue. But we know it. Among the various
and, doubtless, useful functions a divine had to perform in the
Orange household, that of gossip and newsagent was not included.
Dr. Covel, however, unable to break himself of an old habit,
continued his investigations into other people’s affairs with
unabated ardour. To put it plainly, he became one of the spies and
tale-bearers who were encouraged, if not actually employed, by King
James to make mischief between his daughter and his son-in-law. A
letter from the Chaplain giving the English Ambassador an account
of the way in which William treated Mary was intercepted--and Dr.
Covel had to pack at three hours’ notice.

King James tried to console the dismissed cleric with the
Chancellorship of York during its vacancy (Nov. 9, 1687); and
the Mastership of Christ’s College falling vacant, the Fellows,
to avoid having a certain Smithson thrust upon them by the King,
hastily chose (July 7, 1688) Dr. Covel: “a choice,” it has been
guessed, “they probably would not have made, had they had more
time.”[309] But the Rev. John was not to be consoled for the
loss of his place in the princely sun. He denied the accusation,
denounced his accusers, did everything possible to regain the
Paradise Lost. But all in vain. That William neither believed
nor forgave him became painfully obvious when, soon after the
Revolution, he visited Cambridge. That year (1689) Dr. Covel was
Vice-Chancellor of the University, and since he could not avoid
coming into personal contact with the King he had offended as a
Prince, he anxiously inquired how His Majesty would be pleased
to receive him. The answer must have made him wince: His Majesty
could distinguish between Dr. Covel and the Vice-Chancellor of the
University. Curt, caustic Majesty!

His garrulity had ruined Dr. Covel’s chances of ecclesiastical
preferment; but it did not stand in the way of his academic career.
He retained the Mastership of Christ’s all his life, and spent
much of his leisure in transcribing, expanding, correcting, and
every way spoiling the notes he had made at Constantinople: to the
satisfaction of himself, though not of others. No publisher could
be found courageous enough to undertake the publication of these
masses of immense discursiveness and laborious irrelevance. It was
only in our own time that a learned society ventured to print a
selection from them. But Dr. Covel was not fortunate even in this
tardy and partial emergence. To the author’s minute inaccuracies
the editor has added a multitude of absurdities of his own; the
upshot being the most bewildering bundle of blunders that ever
issued from the press of any country in the guise of a book.[310]

So much concerning Dr. Covel’s Travels. His _magnum opus_ on the
Greek Church, after nearly fifty years’ incubation, came out at
last when it was least wanted, in 1722--more than a generation
after the question with which it deals had lost its actuality. It
came out in folio, with a florid dedication to the Duke of Chandos,
son of our late Ambassador and at the time Governor of the Levant
Company: the author hints that, had he been made a Bishop, he would
have had time to finish his book sooner. The delay, indeed, had
its advantages: _non cito, hoc est, non cito ac cursim agere; vel
non temere et inconsulte_. Yet, despite fifty years’ revisions and
manipulations, he fears “some few things may yet appear Defective,
and others Confus’d and Indigested.” The fear is well founded.
Its diffused and confused style, and still more its creator’s
fundamental inability to take an objective view of things, render
this _Account of the Greek Church_ one of the best illustrations
extant of the aphorism _mega biblion, mega kakon_.

But, after all, it is not Dr. Covel the bad writer, but John the
good fellow we care most about. In course of time he left off
hoping for royal favours and episcopal mitres, and settled down to
a mechanical routine of existence such as good dons lead. Whether
he knew it or not, Dr. Covel was happy; the jollity which had made
the Papas popular with the Factors of Constantinople helped to
make the Master popular with the Fellows of Cambridge. This placid
existence lasted till December 19th, 1722, when the Rev. John, in
the 85th year of his age, went to join Finch and Baines under the
pavement of Christ’s College chapel.

An inscription commemorates the virtues of Dr. Covel. A good
portrait of him, in his congregational robes, preserves the
features of his countenance. His voluminous journals and letters,
stored in the British Museum, supply an ample and by far the most
trustworthy testimony to the traits of his mind and character; they
exhibit him as an amiable man rather than one of a very superior

[Illustration: DR. JOHN COVEL.

From the Portrait by Valentine Ritz at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

  _To face p. 372._]

Much more exciting were the fortunes of the Honourable Dudley
North. We saw him in Turkey a shrewd merchant, keen and
unscrupulous in his pursuit of wealth. We find him in England a
shrewd politician, keen and, some said, remorseless in his pursuit
of power. He returned at a moment when the feud between Whig and
Tory--to give the factions their new-fangled designations--was at
its fiercest. By that infamous fiction, the Popish Plot, the Whigs
had for a time driven the nation to madness and their principal
opponents to an ignominious death. The public was just beginning
to find out how it had been duped, and the Tories, profiting by
the reaction, were getting ready to pay the Whigs back in their
own false coin; the same gang of spies, witnesses, informers, and
suborners who had hounded innocent Tories to the gallows, were
now employed to hound innocent Whigs. North had come home a firm
believer in Titus Oates’s murderous myth. He was undeceived--all
the sooner because he was not slow to perceive that his interest
lay on the same side as the truth: the Tory side. At the instance
of his brother, then Lord Chief Justice, he was called to serve
the King’s party as Sheriff of London and Middlesex: an expensive
office which conferred the power of packing juries and securing
convictions. Dudley performed the services expected from him
with more energy than scruple. He considered it, indeed, very
unfortunate that so many trials for high treason and executions
should happen in his year of office; but business is business.

In the midst of all this sanguinary work, he found time to court a
wealthy widow, Lady Gunning, and, in spite of her father, to marry
her. She loved him, admired him, idolised him, and presided over
the splendid banquets he gave in his Basinghall Street mansion. He
returned her affection fully, and it was partly that she might not
remain, were it only in name, separate from him, but become Lady
North, that he accepted the honour of knighthood which a grateful
Court bestowed upon him. Thus happy both in his private and public
affairs, Sir Dudley climbed from height to height, becoming in
quick succession an Alderman, a Commissioner of the Customs, a
Commissioner of the Treasury, a Member of Parliament, and the chief
advocate for the Crown in all questions of revenue that came before
the House of Commons. In this last capacity North shone with a pure

Men who spend their lives in making money are usually the least
competent to understand the abstract principles that govern the
accumulation and distribution of wealth. The distant views and
ultimate conclusions which make up the science of Political Economy
are beyond their vision. All the progress achieved in that most
important field of knowledge has been achieved by philosophers, to
whose discoveries our merchants and manufacturers were the last to
be converted. North, by a most rare gift of nature, combined in his
mental constitution the contradictory qualities of the practical
trader and the speculative thinker. Together with a large fortune,
he had brought from the Levant a large fund of original deductions
from his experience.[311] Withal, he possessed a faculty of
expressing himself, at once homely and forcible, which arrested
attention and carried conviction. As a speaker on financial topics
the Member for Banbury had no rival.

How much higher a man of so many gifts and so few scruples might
have climbed must remain matter of speculation. The Revolution of
1688 pulled the ladder from under him. The day which witnessed
the victory of the Whigs was a day of reckoning for the Tories.
Forgetting the wrongs they had inflicted and remembering only
the injuries they had suffered, the victors were grimly set on
revenge. Parliamentary Committees were appointed to inquire into
the late judicial proceedings, to punish all persons concerned in
them, and to indemnify the victims out of their estates. Among the
rest, Sir Dudley North had to stand his trial. Great sport was
expected from his baiting. The galleries and benches of the House
of Commons were crowded with spectators; but they got very little
satisfaction. To all the questions put to him as to the manner in
which he had obtained his Shrievalty and his conduct therein, North
gave fearless and, apparently, full and frank answers. This was
not well! After much whispering into the Chairman’s ear, one of
the members of the Committee moved that the ex-Sheriff should be
asked to name the Aldermen who, as he pretended, had assisted at
his election. The Chairman nodded. That was Sir Dudley’s supreme
moment. He turned quietly round and with his cane pointed to five
Aldermen present, who since the Revolution had gone over to the
Whigs, naming them one after another with deadly distinctness.
This was worse than ever! To prevent further sensations, a cunning
Parliamentarian stood up hastily, and “Mr. Foley,” he said,
addressing the Chairman, “you had best have a care: you have an
honourable gentleman before you: that you do not ask him, etc.”
Having thus turned the tables upon his prosecutors, the clever
Dudley left the House with colours flying, sped away by the very
persons who had dragged him there.

For a time he continued in the Commission of the Customs. But,
presently, that and his other offices were taken from him; and Sir
Dudley relapsed to his original status of a Turkey Merchant. He
went back to the buying and selling of cloth with the resignation
of a philosopher and the spirit of a veteran trader. But even
there luck had at the last rounded upon him. The War with France
just begun (1689) hit North as hard as it did most of the other
merchants of England trading into the Levant Seas. Their trade
was attacked by the enemy both in Turkey and on the way to it.
These calamities abated North’s mettle and affected his health.
He decided to give up the perilous business and turn country
gentleman--a quiet rural life, he thought, would restore to him the
health of body and peace of mind of which the bustle of the world
had robbed him: he would beat his clothyard into a ploughshare; he
would raise crops with as much pleasure as he had raised dollars or
cut off heads. Alas! even here his good fortune failed him. After
inspecting several great estates and offering great prices for them
in vain, he succeeded at last in finding a home in Norfolk; the
date was fixed for him to go down to sign the agreement; but on
the day before, he was seized with the disease which killed him.
He died on the last day of 1691, at the comparatively early age of

However his character may be appraised, Dudley North will always
be remembered as one of the outstanding figures of his time: the
most brilliant of those seventeenth century merchant-adventurers
who were the founders of our national prosperity and commercial

So with all our actors off the stage, we may ring the curtain down.
_La commedia è finita._

[Illustration: The Hon.^{ble} S.^r DUDLEY NORTH K.^t Commissioner
of the Treasury to King Charles the Second.

From an Engraving by G. Vertue, 1743.

  _To face p. 376._]


[300] As a rule, all petitions to the Sultan had to pass through
the Vizir’s hands; but in cases where the Vizir himself was
involved a direct appeal was possible through the above formality:
which secured to the petitioner access to the throne, but entailed,
if his complaint proved false, loss of his head. See Rycaut’s
_Present State_, p. 84; _Life of Dudley North_, p. 100.

[301] Chandos to Jenkins, April 17-27, 1682; cp. Sir John
Buckworth’s “Narrative of the Distresses of our Turkey Merchants at
C.P.,” Jan. 22, 1681-82, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[302] Chandos to Jenkins, Oct. 11, st. vet. 1682. _The Turk
catches the hare with a cart_ still is a common proverb among the
inhabitants of the Near East. It conveys an appreciation of Turkish
tactics: slow and blundering in appearance, yet forming parts of a
strategic plan, based on the principle that the ultimate outcome of
a struggle depends on which side can show the greatest endurance
and shall have most reserves when it comes to the final tussle.

[303] Chandos to Jenkins, March 29, 1683.

[304] “Few have made more of the place than he hath. He has
doubtless raised his estate considerably by it.”--Nathaniel Harley
to Sir Edward Harley, Aleppo, Oct. 29, 1687, _Hist. MSS. Com.
Thirteenth Report_, Part II. p. 242.

[305] _Life of Dudley North_, pp. 102-3.

[306] Nathaniel Harley to Sir Edward Harley, Aleppo, July 20, 1694,
_Hist. MSS. Com. Thirteenth Report_, Part II. p. 245.

[307] Pagett to Vernon, Jan. 17, O.S. 1700-1, _S.P. Turkey_, 21.

[308] Evelyn’s _Diary_, Nov. 23, 1695.

[309] _Dictionary of National Biography._

[310] It would be invidious to single out particular pearls,
but one is too precious to be passed over. Dr. Covel wrote in
his Diary: “Just at two o’clock Antonio called us to go to the
Alloy.” Now, as the reader may remember, “Alloy” was the name for
the ceremonial march-out of the Army. The editor, mistaking this
Turkish word for the name of an English ship, and then drawing upon
his imagination, evolves a pretty myth: “Dr. Covel and Sir John
Finch, the ambassador, started together on the _Alloy_, and the new
Grand Vizier, Kara Mustapha, came to see them off, and brought them
large quantities of presents.” He goes on to describe the voyage
of the phantom vessel as far as Venice (pp. 282 foll.). The only
parallel instance of an editor’s mythopoeic faculty working upon a
verbal misapprehension known to me is to be found in the _Rigveda_.

[311] See Appendix XVI.


[_Ellis Papers_ at the British Museum: _Add. MSS. 28937_, pp.

  Instructions for our Trusty and wellbeloved Servant S^r John
  Finch Knt going in Quality of our Amb^{r.} to reside at y^e
  Court of y^e Grand Seig^{r.} Given at y^e Court at Whitehall the
  ________ 1672.

1. You shall embarque your self upon y^e ship designed to carry
you, and dispose thereof according to y^e instruc͡ons of our most
Dear Brother the Duke of York, our High Adm^{ll.} of England.

2. Being arriued at Constantinople you shall in y^e first place
informe your self from Mr Newman Secretary to y^e late Amb^{r.}
S^r Daniel Haruy, and by him left in the care of our affaires,
and of our subjects in that Court, in what state things now are,
and by him and such others as are best able to informe you, to
instruct your self in the manner of making your addresses with
our credentialls to the Grand Seignior and the Grand Vizier
according to the accustomed stiles used by those inuested with your
character, remembering allways not to suffer it to be prejudiced or
uiolated in any circumstance either by that Court, or any forreign
Ministers residing there.

3. In your Addresses to y^e Grand Seig^{r.} and Vizier you
shall expresse the Great Value wee haue for their persons, and
satisfac͡on in the obseruance of y^e peace & good correspondence
these towards our Subjects in their Trade & Com͡erce, w^{ch}
is so beneficiall to those parts aboue any other nac͡on, and
particularly those made with Algiers, Tunis, Tripoly, which wee
desire they would continue to protect & recom͡end, assuring them
wee shall seuerely punish any of our subjects, that shall in any
degree uiolate the same; or if in your passage, or upon the place
you shall learne any infringem^{ts.} haue been made on either side,
you shall as occasion shall furnish you with matter for it, frame
excuses or complaints.

4. In all y^e time of y^r Residence there you must be carefull to
maintain a good correspondence with all y^e Amb^{rs.} and Agents of
Christian Princes, especially those y^t shall be in a nearer degree
of alliance and amity with us, But not forgetting it euen towards
those that are lesse so: to protect their persons, and render your
self usefull to them with all good offices, employing effectually
likewise towards the good of all Christians in generall of what
Degree, Quality, Sect, or opinion so euer they be, giuing the
preference therein still to those of our own profession in Religion
in procuring them Justice & Fauour in all things.

5. You will learne best upon the place in what manner you must
proceed towards the protec͡on of all the priuiledges and im͡unityes
of our subjects of the Turky Company, for whose good and Benefitt
you are most especially to reside there, by preseruing firme and
inuiolable to them the Capitulac͡ons that are allready in being
with the Grand Seig^{r.} and by solliciting & procuring such
further additionall ones, as time and other circumstances may make
usefull for them to haue, so wee need not be particular in our
Direc͡on to you therein, assuring our self that you will not be
wanting in any thing to performe all good offices towards them to
their entire satisfac͡on.

6. You shall make it y^r particular care & endeauour to be
truly informed of all negotiac͡ons & practises in y^t Court
which may disturbe the peace of Christendom in any part of it,
and accordingly informe us thereof under the surest and most
speedy conueyance you can, by the hands of one of our principall
Secretaryes of State, with whom you usually correspond, who will
likewise take care on their parts, to signify our pleasure &
further Instruc͡ons to you upon all Emergencyes, com͡unicating to
you all such aduices from hence as may be of use to you there.

7. And whereas frequent Representac͡ons haue been made to us by the
Turky Company and otherwise of the great mischeifs occasioned in
Trade by the permitting of false and faulty monyes to be imported
or passed in payment in Turky, you shall take some fitt opportunity
to insinuate to the Grand Seig^{r.} and Vizier the mischeifs and
ill consequences of that abuse, and shall in some publick way, such
as you shall find most fitt, disowne the same in Relac͡on to the
English, and in case any English Factor shall transgresse therein,
either in importing those monyes or colouring them, or in receiuing
them by consignac͡on from others, wee do, with the aduice of our
Priuy-Councell, hereby giue you sufficient power & authority to
punish such offenders.


[_S.P. Turkey_, 19, at the Public Record Office.]


Charles the Second by the Grace of the most High God, King of
Great Brittaine, France & Ireland, Defender of the Christian
Faith &c. To the most High & Mighty Emperor Sultan Mahomet Ham
Chiefe Lord and Commander of the Musulman Kingdome, sole and
Supream Monarch of the Easterne Empire, sendeth Greeting. Most
High & Mighty Emperor, Having received advice of the death of S^r
Daniel Harvey, Our late Ambassador in Your Court, and desiring
above all things to entertaine firme & inviolable on Our part
that Good Amity & Friendship which is between Us & You, to the
Mutuall benefit & advantage of both Our Subjects in their Trade
& Commerce, We have made choice of Our Trusty & Wellbeloved S^r
John Finch K^{nt} a Principall Gentleman of Our Court [lately Our
Resident with Our Cousin the Great Duke of Tuscany & Councellor
to Us in][312] Our Councell for matters relating to Our Forraigne
Colonies & Plantations, who is the Bearer of these Our Letters[313]
to reside at Your Port as Our Ambassador in the roome & place of
the said S^r Daniel Harvey, We pray you therefore to receive &
admitt him favourably to negotiate with You as Our Ambassador, &
to give entire beliefe & Credit to him in whatsoever he shall
at any time move, propose, or treate in Our name for the mutuall
good & welfare of Our Dominions & People Our Friends and Allyes,
the protection of Our Merchants trading into Your Empire from all
wrongs, oppressions & violence in their persons or Estates, & in
what else may conduce to the strengthening & increase of that
Amity, Commerce & good Correspondence, w^{ch} hath been soe long
continued between our Crownes & Subjects And which We on Our part
are resolved to preserve most sacred & inviolable. All whereof We
have given Our said Ambassador charge more particularly to assure
you, Not doubting but he will find in all things the same favour &
good respect with You w^{ch} his Predecessor the said S^r Daniel
Harvey reported to Us to have ever found from You & Your Ministers
in all his negotiations, For which We now acknowledge Our thankes,
& shall be ready to make on all occasions those returnes that may
expresse the particular esteeme, We have of y^r Friendship & Good
Will & soe We committ You & Your affaires to the Almighty.

Given at Our Court & Palace of Whitehall the ________ day of
November in the Yeare of Our Lord God one thousand six hundred
seventy & two & of Our Reigne the four & twentieth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Charles the Second by the Grace of the most High God, King of Great
Brittaine, France & Ireland, Defender of the Christian Faith &c. To
the High & Excellent Lord the Vizier Azem, sendeth Greeting.

High & Excellent Lord, Having received advice of the death of
S^r Daniel Harvey Our Ambassador with the Grand Signior Your
Lord & Master, & being desirous by all means to provide for the
improvement & encrease of that Amity & Friendship w^{ch} We have
hitherto soe happily entertained with the Grand Signior to the
mutuall profit & content of both our subjects, We have made choice
of this Bearer Our Trusty & Wellbeloved servant S^r John Finch
K^t a principall Gentleman of Our Court & one of Our Councell for
matters relating to Our Forreigne Colonies & Plantations, as one
who by the Employments he hath held on Our part for many yeares
in Courts of severall Forreigne Princes, We have judged more
particularly qualified to succeed the said S^r Daniel Harvey, to
reside with the Grand Signior as Our Ambassador, to negotiate on
our part & soe doe & performe those Offices on all occasions, by
which the Amity & good Friendship between us may be strengthened &
confirmed, & Our Subjects reciprocally reap the fruit thereof in
their Trade & Commerce, and therefore considering the eminent place
You justly hold in the favour, as well as the businesse, of the
Grand Signior your Lord & Master, & in regard of the good affection
you have alwayes expressed to Us & Our affaires, of w^{ch} We shall
ever retaine a very particular sense, We have desired by this to
recommend Our said servant to your kindnesse, as one of whose
discreet & respectfull carriage towards your Master & your selfe
We are very confident & doe therefore pray you to receive him as
your friend, to believe him in what he shall at any time deliver
to you in Our name, & to be aiding to him in all occasions by your
authority and support, in what may concerne the preservation of
that Friendship & good correspondence that is between Our Kingdomes
& that Empire & w^{ch} We are resolved to observe inviolably on
our part, as We doubt not of the Justice & good Disposition of
the Grand Signior to doe at all times on his. In w^{ch} We againe
pray your best Offices, & soe leaving Our said Ambassador in Your
favour, We recommend You to that of the Almighty.

Given at Our Court & Palace of Whitehall the ________ day of
November in the yeare of Our Lord God one thousand six hundred
seventy & two & of Our Reigne the four & twentieth.

  Your affectionate Friend.


[312] This sentence is crossed out; the Great Duke being the
Sultan’s enemy, the fact that Sir John came from his Court would
scarcely be a recommendation!

[313] Here the following is added in the margin: “After haveing
served Us with good satisfac͡on s̶e̶v̶e̶r̶a̶l many yeares in
severall Foreigne Negotiac͡ons.”


The Levant Company’s Charter of 1605, which established it in
perpetuity, superseding the earlier patents granted by Elizabeth
for a limited number of years, conferred on the Merchants full
power “to name, choose, and appoint at their will and pleasure”
Consuls or Vice-Consuls; but on the point of the Ambassador it was
silent, unless the Company’s right to name him might be inferred
from a clause which authorised it “to assign, appoint, create, and
ordain such and so many officers and ministers,” both at home and
abroad, as “shall seem expedient for the doing and executing of
the affairs and business appertaining to the said Company.” At the
same time, the Merchants were authorised, “for the sustentation of
the necessary stipends and other charges,” to levy upon all goods
transported from England to the Levant or vice versa, and upon
every ship so employed, such sums of money, “by way of Consulage
or otherwise,” as “to them shall seem requisite and convenient.”
[The original is to be found in _S.P. Levant Company_, 107, at the
Public Record Office; for a printed copy see M. Epstein’s _Early
History of the Levant Company_, London, 1908, Appendix I.]

The Parliamentary ordinance of 1643 accorded to the Merchants
explicitly “free choice and removal of all ministers by them
maintained at home and abroad, whether they be dignified and called
by the name of Ambassadors, Governors, Deputies, Consuls, or
otherwise,” and also recognised in specific terms their right to
levy import and export duties on foreign merchandise carried under
the English flag to and from the Levant (“Strangers’ Consulage”),
as well as on English merchandise (“Native Consulage”). Thus the
Company obtained an official recognition of its claim to appoint
the Ambassador and an undisputed power over all the funds by which
the Embassy was maintained.

The new Charter of 1661, though not ratifying the Company’s claim
to appoint the Ambassador, sanctioned its hold upon both kinds
of Consulage. [See the Charter in _S.P. Levant Company_, 108.]
In other words, the Merchants retained the material means of
keeping, and therefore, by implication, the right of appointing the

In 1668, when, upon the recall of Lord Winchilsea, the question of
a choice of Ambassador once more arose, Sir Sackville Crow, still
smarting from his grievances, presented to Charles a vindictive
Memorial in which he recapitulated the old disputes and urged
him to recover “one of the Supreme Prerogatives of your Crowne,
viz. the Election of the Ambassadours for Turky,” by depriving
the Company of the Consulage which enabled it to maintain and,
in consequence, to claim the right of naming, the Ambassador.
Otherwise, he said, His Majesty’s envoys, by depending entirely
on the Company for their maintenance, would be the Merchants’
“stipendiaries and vassalls, and obliged to serve theire Lustes and
Pleasures (good or badd) agaynst the Law or Crowne, whereof his
late Majestie had too sadde an experience and may justly caution
your Majestie to take care of and provide agaynst.”[314]

Nothing came of this instigation, and the anomalous position of the
Constantinople Embassy continued for ages a source of intermittent


[314] _Narrative Levant Companies Proceedings with the Crowne And
my Petition to His Majesty thereon for Examination_, in _S.P.
Turkey_, 19. Cp. _Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series_,
1667-1668, pp. 226, 230.


Ahmed Kuprili’s age is uncertain: “only thirty years of age”--Lord
Winchilsea to Secretary Nicholas, Nov. 11-21, 1661 [_S.P. Turkey_,
17]; “Not exceeding 32 years of Age”--Sir Paul Rycaut, 1661
[_Memoirs_, p. 82]; “The Vizier, they say, exceeds not the age of
two and thirty yeares”--Geo. Etherege[315] to Joseph Williamson,
“R. 8 May 1670” [_S.P. Turkey_, 19], which would make him at his
accession only 24. John Covel in 1675 writes: “He is, they say, 44
years old, though, for my own part, I guesse him not above 40, if
so much” [_Diaries_, p. 195]. Covel’s guess would make Ahmed at the
time of his accession 26--an estimate which coincides with Hammer’s
statement: “Kœprilu Ahmed, alors âgé de vingt-six ans” [_Histoire
de l’Empire Ottoman_, vol xi. p. 113].

Concerning his merits contemporary English opinion is unanimous.
“He was one of the best Ministers that People ever knew” [_Life of
Dudley North_, p. 72]. “This great Kupriogle was a Man of Honour
... and just” [Covel’s _Account of the Greek Church_, Pref., p.
lii.]. “He is prudent and just, not to be corrupted by money,
the general vice of this country, nor inclined to cruelty as his
father was” [George Etherege, _loc. cit._]. “Very prudent, honest
... not given to blood as his father, not mercenary, an enemy to
_avanias_ and false pretences ... just in his decrees” [Lord
Winchilsea, “Memorandums touching the Turkish Empire” (1669), in
_Finch Report_, p. 522]. Sir Paul Rycaut gives him the character
of “a prudent and Politick Person,” speaks of his “gentleness and
moderation,” and adds that “he was not a Person who delighted in
bloud, and in that respect of an humour far different from the
temper of his Father. He was generous, and free from Avarice, a
rare Vertue in a Turk!... In the administration of Justice very
punctual and severe” [_Memoirs_, p. 333].

Equally unanimous is the evidence as regards his favour to the
English. “I shall apply myself to the Vizier and doubt not to have
all satisfaction from him, being assur’d of his good will to us
and aptness to favor us in all our reasonable demands”--Sir Daniel
Harvey to Lord Arlington, Jan. 31, 1669 [-70]; “Your Lordship may
be assurd our merchants heer in Turkie are soe farr from meeting
with any obstruction in their affayrs, that they have all the
countenance and incouradgment the publick ministers which reside
in those places where we have factories can give them and that
not without some preference to other nations”--the Same to the
Same, April 30, 1671; “As to the honour and privilege which our
Nation enjoyeth here, and security of our persons and estates
under the Turkes, it is beyond the example of former times”--Paul
Rycaut, Smyrna, July 26, 1675 [_S.P. Turkey_, 19]. Cp. “He was
very observant of the Capitulations between our King and the Grand
Signior, being ready to do Justice upon any corrupt Minister who
pertinaciously violated and transgressed them” [_Memoirs_, p.
333]. “And whereas under the Government of Kuperlee Ahmet Pasha
... our Merchants enjoyed great security and freedome in the
Trade....”--Charles II. to the Grand Vizir, Whitehall, Dec. 28,
1680 [_Register_, 1668-1710, pp. 99-100, _S.P. Levant Company_,


[315] The celebrated Restoration dramatist. He had gone with Sir
Daniel Harvey to Turkey as his Secretary and, in the winter of
1669-70, accompanied him to Salonica, where the Ambassador had
his audience of the Grand Signor. Of this, Sir George Etherege’s
first step in the diplomatic service, no mention is made in the
article on him in the _Dictionary of National Biography_. The one
letter from him on Turkish affairs and personalities preserved at
the Public Record Office makes us wish for more: a better informed
or better written document does not exist in all the Turkey State


Two such instances may be quoted as affording an instructive
parallel to the present case. In 1661 the Algerines complained
“That the ship the _Goodwill_, bound, with the persons and goods
of several Turkish passengers from Tunis to Smyrna, meeting with
some Maltese galleys, without any dispute or contest, resigned them
up all with their estates into the hands of the Grand Signor’s
enemies. That another ship, the _Angel_, had done the like to the
Venetian fleet and rather sought excuses to cover the treachery
than means to avoid the enemy”--Lord Winchilsea to Secretary
Nicholas, Adrianople, Jan. 13, 1661-2 [_S.P. Turkey_, 17].


The Instructions given by the Levant Company to every new
Ambassador and Consul contain a clause to this effect: “If you
shall find any of our Factors or others of the English Nation to be
notoriously addicted to Gaming, Drinking, Whoreing, or any other
licentious course of life, to the dishonour of God, the scandal of
our Religion and Nation, their principalls’ damage, and the ill
example of others, wee doe straitly require and recommend to you
to endeavour to reclaim them by your good admonitions or, finding
them incorrigible, to give us speedy notice of such persons to the
end some other course may be taken with them.” [See Instructions to
Sir Daniel Harvey (1668); to Lord Chandos (1681); to Sir William
Trumbull (1687); to Sir William Hussey (1690); to Lord Pagett
(1693); to Sir Robert Sutton (1701); to Paul Rycaut, Smyrna (1668);
to Thomas Metcalfe, Aleppo (1687); to George Brandon, Aleppo
(1700); to William Sherrard, Smyrna (1703); to William Pilkington,
Aleppo (1708)--_Register_, 1668-1710, _S.P. Levant Company_,
145; _Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series_, 1667-8.] The
repetition of this injunction shows at once how necessary and how
ineffective it was.

Another means employed by the Company to combat licentiousness
deserves attention. Macaulay has grossly exaggerated the scarcity
of books during the 17th century.[316] From John Evelyn’s letters,
Pepys’s diary, and many other contemporary sources, it is clear
that England abounded both in private and in public libraries:
Norwich had one since 1608, Bristol since 1615, Leicester since
1632, Manchester since 1653. As to the English in the Levant,
that even there books were not lacking for those who cared to
make use of them is proved by two documents before me. The first
is “A Catalogue of the Library belonging to the English Nation at
Aleppo, taken in the year of our Lord 1688”--seven folio pages,
giving the titles of 210 works. The other is “A Catalogue of the
Books in the Library belonging to the English Nation at Smyrna.
Taken in the year of our Lord 1702”--a list of some 110 volumes.
[_Register_, pp. 157-164, 301-304, _S.P. Levant Company_, 145.] But
these collections, apparently formed under the inspiration of the
chaplains and, one might suspect, for their own benefit, consisted
mostly of Theological, Classical, Historical, and other ponderous
tomes hardly calculated to allure gay young sportsmen. With the
exception of “Lovelace his Poems, 8o Lond. 1649,” light literature
is represented in them by nothing lighter than “Bacon his Essayes,
12o Lond. 1664,” and “Lock, of Understanding, Lond. 1690.”


[316] Of that popular historian’s way of writing history one
instance will suffice. He cites Roger North’s Life of his brother
John as evidence that the booksellers’ shops in Little Britain
were crowded by readers who could not afford to purchase books
(_History of England_, 4th ed. vol. i. p. 392). In point of
fact, what North says is that scholars went to Little Britain,
“a plentiful and perpetual Emporium of learned Authors,” as to a
Market. “This drew to the place a mighty Trade; the rather because
the Shops were spacious, and the learned gladly resorted to them,
where they seldom failed to meet with agreeable Conversation. And
the Booksellers themselves were knowing and conversible Men, with
whom, for the sake of bookish Knowledge, the greatest Wits were
pleased to converse.” (_Life of the Hon. and Rev. Dr. John North_,
1742, p. 241.) North’s whole intention is to draw a picture of the
abundance and diffusion of books at the time, in contrast with the
opposite state of things which, he asserts, prevailed at a later
period, when the bookselling trade had “contracted into the Hands
of two or three Persons,” with the result that bookshops diminished
in number, deteriorated in quality, and, as places of resort, were
superseded by the tavern or the coffee-house.


When Macaulay, in his Third Chapter, depicted the English squire of
the 17th century as looking down upon those of his neighbours who
“were so unfortunate as to be the great grandsons of aldermen,” he
attributed to a past age prejudices derived from his own. A little
serious investigation might have taught him better. The Earl of
Danby, afterwards Marquis of Caermarthen (1680) and Duke of Leeds
(1694), was the great grandson of an alderman--the clothworker
Sir Edward Osborne, one of the founders of the Levant Company.
The Norths, whose _Lives_ he often quotes, emerged from obscurity
when the first North of whom we have any distinct knowledge
settled in London and became a merchant, sometime before the end
of the fifteenth century; his son rising to the peerage about the
middle of the next century. Sir John Finch’s brother, the Earl of
Nottingham, married the daughter of Daniel Harvey (about 1650); his
cousin, the Earl of Winchilsea, the daughter of John Ayres (1681);
and his successor at the Constantinople Embassy, Lord Chandos, the
daughter of Sir Henry Barnard (about 1670)--all of them merchants
of London. Another London merchant, Sir Josiah Child, as Macaulay
himself notes, married his daughter to the eldest son of the Duke
of Beaufort (1683). Further illustrations of the absence of any
chasm between the two classes will readily occur to any student of
literary history. For instance, the father of Sir Thomas Browne
(who was born in London in 1605), a merchant, sprang from a good
Cheshire family; the father of John Milton (who was born in London
in 1608), a scrivener, came of an ancient Oxfordshire stock; Edward
Gibbon was descended from a younger son of the Gibbons of Kent,
who, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, had migrated to
the City of London and become a clothworker. In mentioning this
fact, Gibbon very truly remarks that “our most respectable families
have not disdained the counting-house or even the shop” (_Memoirs
of My Life and Writings_, 1st ed., p. 5). Hume also, in speaking
of the Commonwealth, observes, “the prevalence of democratical
principles engaged the country gentlemen to bind their sons
apprentices to merchants” (_History of England_, chap. lxii.): he
is only wrong in the time he assigns to this social revolution--it
was much older than the Commonwealth, and was due to economic
causes rather than to political principles.


Of all the excesses of the age the most fashionable was excess in
drink. Smyrna was particularly famous for a kind of wine which
connoisseurs pronounced only inferior to Canary:[317] so excellent,
indeed, was this wine that a butt of it formed a most acceptable
present from an English Ambassador to a Secretary of State.[318]
The Franks made it in their own houses, buying the grapes in the
town. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that inebriation
nowhere attained greater heights than at Smyrna. When ships from
home came into port, captains and merchants vied with each other in
feats of conviviality. Here is a picture of these jollifications
drawn by a competent and appreciative eye-witness: “_Les marchands
vont quelquefois se divertir à bord des vaisseaux.... Ils y
viennent de bon matin et s’en retournent fort tard. Très souvent
les conviés ont besoin qu’on les mette dans leurs bateaux avec
des palans, de crainte que les pieds leur manquent en descendant
par les échelles. Cette précaution est sage et nécessaire après
ces sortes de longs festins où l’on a bu beaucoup, et, pour
l’ordinaire, beaucoup trop.... Quand les divertissements se font
à terre chez les marchands, et surtout chez les Anglois, on ne
peut rien ajouter à la magnificence des festins ni à la quantité
de vin qui s’y boit. Après qu’on a cassé tous les verres et les
bouteilles, on s’en prend aux miroirs et aux meubles. On casse et
on brise tout pour faire honneur à ceux à qui on boit et on pousse
quelquefois la débauche si loin que, ne trouvant plus rien à
casser, on fait allumer un grand feu et on y jette les chapeaux,
les perruques, et les habits, jusqu’aux chemises, après quoi ces
messieurs sont obligés de demeurer au lit jusqu’à ce qu’on leur ait
fait d’autres habits._”[319]


[317] Thevenot, _Travels into the Levant_, Part I. p. 92 (Eng. tr.

[318] Sir Daniel Harvey to Lord Arlington, Dec. 9, 1668; Jan. 31,
1670; Paul Rycaut to the Same, June 29, 1671, _S.P. Turkey_, 19.

[319] D’Arvieux, _Mémoires_, t. i. pp. 131-2.


This outrageous specimen of oppressive impudence, like other
abuses, can be traced up to a very respectable origin--to one of
those feelings which do honour to human nature. It is still the
custom among the Turks, after a banquet, to give the guests a
present which, in the quaint language of Oriental courtesy, they
style _dishe parassi_--“teeth-money”--a slight return for the
trouble the guest gave himself in partaking of their hospitality.
But what was originally a delicate token of respectful affection,
under the tyrannical circumstances of Ottoman rule, assumed the
form of a degrading and disgusting imposition.

In the same way, _bakshish_ generally, if considered in its origin,
is only a very natural expression of love and respect. Presents
have always been and still are the proper tokens of friendship
among men the world over. But observances of this kind have a
knack of degenerating; and the Turk in power soon learnt to exact
presents as tribute, until the institution became one of the
greatest political evils that ever afflicted a community: it would
be no overstating the case to say that the Ottoman Empire has died
of _bakshish_.



[_S.P. Turkey_, 19]


  _Jan. 31, 1669 [-70]_.

I was received by y^e Grand Segnior according to y^e custome of
this Court, except in a condescention w^{ch} I am told this Monarch
does not accustome himself to, for after my Memorial was read by my
Druggerman, containing a congratulation for his success in Candy
& recom͡ending to his consideration y^e senceritie of my Master’s
frendshipe by such instances as ware proper to doe it, he asked me
if I had anything more to say by word of mouth, whareupon I pressd
y^e renuing y^e Capitulations, & y^e adding some new Articles to
explain & fortify y^e rest, w^{ch} ware often misinterpreted by
inferior ministers to y^e prejiduce of my Masters subjects. he
replied y^e Chimacham was his Deputie to whome he refer’d me, & y^t
if any of his subjects did any thing contrary to y^e Capitulations
w^{th} y^e King of England, he com͡anded him to cutt of thare



[_Coventry Papers_]


  _September the 9th, 1675_.

This done, I thought no other difficulty could remain; but when
they were wrote out and the Gran Sig^{rs} seale to them, and I
appointed to come to receive them from the Vizir, asking whether
the Gran Sig^{rs} Hattesheriffe or Hand was to them, I was answerd’
No. I said then, I could not receive them: Here I send to the Rais
Affendi who desires me to desist for it was impossible to be done,
for neither France, Venice, nor Holland had a Hattesheriffe to
their Capitulations who were renewd’ since ours. Then I send to
the Kehaiah my good Friend the Capitulations renewd’ by my Lord
of Winchelsea, to which the Imperiall Hand was sett, with this
message by my Druggerman, that it was a point I could not depart
from, for the Capitulations would not onely be thought by the King
my Master to whome I was to send them to be surreptitiously gott,
but also it was the losse of my Head to accept of lesse then what
my Predecessors had gott: Whereupon the Kehaiah immediately takes
Pen and Ink, and writes to the Vizir, who had an Answer immediately
that it should be done, but I attended a whole week before it was
effected, and three days more before the Vizir deliverd’ them.


Sir John Chardin, writing from first-hand knowledge, described
our export trade with Turkey at that time as amounting to between
£500,000 and £600,000 a year (a quarter of the total export trade
of the kingdom), and estimated the annual exportation of cloth, the
staple commodity of England, at about 20,000 pieces [_Travels into
Persia_, London, 1691, pp. 4-6]. These statements are corroborated
by an official Account which the Levant Company delivered to the
Lords Commissioners for Trade in 1703. We find there the exports of
cloth from 82,032 pieces (the total for the six years 1666-1671)
rising in the next six years (1672-1677) to 120,451: the high-water
mark of our Turkey trade [_Register_, p. 308, _S.P. Levant
Company_, 145]. Further evidence that the embassy of Sir John Finch
coincided with our commercial zenith is supplied by a Petition from
the Levant Company against the Woollen Manufacture Encouragement
Bill of 1678. The Petitioners claim that they have advanced the
consumption of broad cloth in Turkey from 14,000 or 15,000 to
24,000 or 25,000 a year [_House of Lords Calendar_, in _Hist. MSS.
Comm._, Ninth Report, Part II. P. 111.]

As to selling on credit, the Company’s attitude is illustrated
by the comment which accompanies the Account cited above: “My
Lords, By the foregoing particulars of our exportations does
plainly appear that the Trade hath been considerably increased
since the year 1672 when the Oath against Trusting first took
place.” Ambassadors and Consuls were instructed to watch over the
strict observance of that oath [see the Company’s Instructions
to Lord Chandos, Sir William Trumbull, Sir William Hussey, Lord
Pagett, Sir Robert Sutton, to Thomas Metcalfe, Consul at Aleppo,
to George Brandon, also Consul at Aleppo, and to William Sherrard,
Consul at Smyrna, in the _Register_ already cited]. It was found,
however, that the Factors, in spite of their oath, would “trust.”
Whereupon, in 1701, the wise men in London put their heads together
to discover “what methods were best to be used to prevent so ill
a practice” [Instructions to Sutton, Clause 7], and “made a new
Oath against Trusting, more full and comprehensive than the former,
to be taken by all our Factors in Turkey, which you are to see
strictly observed, with this limitation only: that our Factors
may sell on trust such goods of the growth and product of Turkey,
Persia, and India as are not proper to be sent to England, upon
their own account, being willing to make an experiment of the
effects which such an indulgence may produce” [Instructions to
Sherrard, Clause 5]. The text of this new Oath was as follows. I
reproduce a copy enclosed in a despatch from Sir Robert Sutton to
the Secretary of State, dated “Pera of Constantinople, Nov. 30th,
O.S. 1702” [_S.P. Turkey_, 21]:

“I A. B. do solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God and upon
the holy Evangelist that I will not sell or barter upon Trust,
for my own or any English-man’s account, any Cloth or other goods
and commodities whatsoever, nor suffer it to be done by any other
person or persons for or under me directly or indirectly.

And I do further swear that I will not deliver out of my
possession, nor suffer to be delivered directly or indirectly any
goods or commodities for my own or any English-man’s account,
before I have received full payment for the same in mony, if such
goods and commodities were sold for mony, but if such goods and
commodities were sold in barter against goods I will not deliver
the goods I so sell before I have received the full value in the
goods bartered for, and they to be at my immediate disposal to all
intents and purposes as if I had bought and paid for them with mony.

And I do likewise further swear that I will not take in payment or
in pawn as security for any goods sold or bartered, neither by
myself or any other person directly or indirectly, any Temesooks,
Mery Tescarees, Beghlar Tescarees, Sebeb Takrirs, Hojets, or any
assignments or other writing or writings of what nature soever of
or from any person or persons of what nation soever.

All which I will duely observe without any equivocation or mental
reservation so long as I shall remain in Turky, unless the Levant
Company shall sooner annul their order in this behalfe.

  So help me God.

At a General Court of the Levant Company held at Pewterers’ Hall
London the 24 October 1701.

Ordered that every person taking this Oath shall repeat the words
after him that administers it and the same shall be entered in
Cancellaria and subscribed by the respective parties.”


That the Levant Company did not consider the result of Sir John’s
expedition to Adrianople at all commensurate with the expenditure
it had entailed may be seen from its Instructions to subsequent
ambassadors: not to go out of Constantinople for the presentation
of their Credentials, but to await there the return of the Court,
and to forbear renewing the Capitulations, unless the juncture of
affairs should happen to prove so favourable that some new Articles
for the security and advancement of trade might be obtained; but,
in any case, not to entertain any thoughts of renewing them without
first consulting the Company [_Register_, 1668-1710, _S.P. Levant
Company_, 145].


To avoid similar complications, the Levant Company instructed
the Ambassadors: “Many Evils have ensued upon the marriage of
Englishmen with the Subjects of the Grand Signor. We therefore
pray your Lordship to discourage and discountenance that
practice, it being prejudiciall to themselves as well as to the
publique” [see Instructions to Chandos, Trumbull, Hussey, Pagett,
Sutton--_Register, S.P. Levant Company_, 145]. But the practice
continued. In 1758 the Grand Vizir Raghib Pasha re-opened the whole
question by issuing an ordinance which forbade Franks to marry the
daughters of _rayahs_ or to acquire real estate, and once more
the authorities at Galata were commanded to send in a list of all
Franks who were in the one or the other category [Hammer, _Histoire
de l’Empire Ottoman_, vol. xvi. p. 12]. But still the practice
went on, and in the end the Turks, whatever they may have held
in theory, acquiesced in our view that the descendants of Frank
fathers, no matter how remote, did not become Ottoman subjects.
Hence the so-called Levantine families settled at Constantinople,
Smyrna, Salonica, and other trade centres in the Near East; forming
ex-territorial colonies the members of which, amenable to their own
laws, administered by their own magistrates, and subject only to
the jurisdiction, within certain limits, of their own Governments,
preserved their respective nationalities and their civil and
political rights, just as if they lived in the countries of their
origin. This régime, unique in modern Europe, though common in
antiquity, endured unchallenged down to the Turkish Revolution of


In 1687 James II. extorted from the embarrassments of the Porte
what Charles II. and his predecessors had failed to obtain from
its sense of justice. The occasion was curiously similar to the
present one. An Italian corsair, operating under a commission from
the King of Poland, robbed an English ship, the _Jerusalem_, of
some passengers and goods belonging to the Pasha of Tripoli and
carried them off to Malta. On the petition of the Levant Company,
King James instructed his new Ambassador Sir William Trumbull,
who was on the point of sailing for Turkey, to call in at Malta,
expostulate with the Grand Master on the protection he gave to
pirates preying upon English vessels, obtain liberation of the
captives and restitution of the stolen goods, take both to Tripoli
and hand them over to their rightful owner. This was done, and King
James, in a letter to the Grand Vizir, after describing the service
rendered, proceeded “to declare our positive resolution pursuant to
the Capitulations in that behalfe that neither We nor any of our
subjects shall at any time answer for the persons or estates of
such subjects of your Imperial Master as shall of their own accord
embark themselves upon any of our Merchants ships. But that all
such persons as shall intrust either themselves or their goods upon
any English ship shall bear their own hazard of corsairs and pyrats
of what nature soever and sustain all other accidents whereunto the
sea is lyable and from which they can only be protected by the one
omnipotent God. And to this which is in itself so highly reasonable
and agreeable to the rules of common justice, We cannot doubt of
your assent.”

As at the moment the Ottoman Empire was assailed by four Powers
from without and was convulsed by rebellions from within, the
Grand Vizir readily gave his assent: “In conformity to the good
accord of peace established with the happy Port of the Empire
who is the refuge of the world, it is necessary and fit that the
subjects on both parts should be in safety one with the other; and
if the subjects of these Imperial Dominions shall enter voluntarily
into the ships of your Merchants and your Merchants shall give them
a writing any ways obliging themselves as security for said loss,
or damage, according to that writing which shall be given it shall
be obeyed and observed as to the security given for the loss or
damage. And if your Merchants are not in this manner obliged nor
give a writing of such import, the subjects of this Empire entering
voluntarily into the ships of the Merchants, any loss or damage
happening so to them, there shall be nothing pretended from your
Merchants nor your subjects on any such pretexts. This rule ... We
shall keep it an established Rule....”[320]

But alas for promises given under compulsion! Notwithstanding this
solemn engagement, the Porte clung to its favourite principle, and
every English Ambassador had to repeat, age after age, his nation’s
disclaimer of corporate responsibility. [See, for instance, the
Credentials of Abraham Stanyan (1717) and of James Porter (1746)
in _S.P. Turkey_, 56.] As to the Levant Company, it did what it
could to avoid trouble by instructing the Ambassadors either to
forbid English ships to carry Turks and their goods, under severe
penalties (such as making them pay double Consulage), or at least
to see that the necessary precaution was taken by a writing given
at the port of embarkation to secure the Company from any damage,
in accordance with the Grand Vizir’s letter. [See the Company’s
Instructions to Sir William Hussey (1690), to Lord Pagett (1693),
to Sir Robert Sutton (1701), in the _Register_ already cited.]


[320] For the documents (Levant Co.’s petition to Earl of
Sunderland; King James to Grand Vizir; Grand Vizir to King James),
see _Register_, pp. 132, 134, 151, in _S.P. Levant Company_, 145.


Dudley North’s genius is proved and his place in the history of
Political Economy established by an anonymous pamphlet which he
published shortly before his death under the title _Discourses
upon Trade, principally directed to the cases of the Interest,
Coinage, Clipping and Encrease of Money_. This great little
treatise, suppressed by the Government of William III. in 1691,
was reprinted, from one of the very few copies extant, in 1856
by J. R. M’Culloch among his _Early English Tracts on Commerce_.
It embodies, briefly and boldly, a system the originality and
completeness of which may be judged from the following abstract--a
theory in essence similar to, in some respects more consistent
than, that enunciated by Adam Smith generations later:

“The whole world, as to trade, is but one nation or people, and
therein nations are as persons. The loss of a trade with one nation
is not that only, separately considered, but so much of the trade
of the world rescinded and lost, for all is combined together.
There can be no trade unprofitable to the public; for if any prove
so, men leave it off: and, wherever the traders thrive, the public
of which they are a part thrive also. To force men to deal in any
prescribed manner, may profit such as happen to serve them, but the
public gains not, because it is taking from one subject to give to
another. No laws can set prices in trade, the rates of which must
and will make themselves. But when such laws do happen to lay any
hold, it is so much impediment to trade, and therefore prejudicial.
Money is merchandize, whereof there may be a glut, as well as a
scarcity, and that even to an inconvenience. A people cannot want
money to serve the ordinary dealing, and more than enough they will
not have. No man will be the richer for the making much money,
nor any part of it, but as he buys it for an equivalent price....
Exchange and ready money are the same; nothing but carriage and
re-carriage being saved. Money exported in trade is an increase to
the wealth of the nation; but spent in war and payments abroad,
is so much impoverishment....” The tract ends with these weighty
words: “No people ever yet grew rich by policies: but it is peace,
industry, and freedom that bring trade and wealth, and nothing

The author describes his propositions as “paradoxes, no less
strange to most men than true in themselves.” Their truth may
still be a matter of controversy; their strangeness at the time
at which they appeared is unquestionable. They were rank heresies
against the dominant creed of the day. According to the cardinal
article of that creed--the “balance of trade”--wealth consisted
solely of money: whatever sent the precious metals out of a
country impoverished it: whatever tended to swell the quantity of
bullion in a country added to its riches. Therefore, no trade with
any country was profitable, unless we exported to that country
more value in goods than we imported, receiving the difference
in money, which was considered the measure of our profit. North,
presumably, had his eyes opened to the fallacy of this mercantile
doctrine by the facts of our Levant trade. In the earlier days our
exports to Turkey fully paid for our imports, and in those days
English writers proudly contrasted our position with that of other
nations--the French, Dutch, Italians, Germans--who paid a balance
in cash. It did not occur to them that those nations must have
found it as profitable to pay for what they got in gold and silver
as we did in goods, else they would not have done so: and if they
got their money’s worth for their money, which no doubt they did,
they were quite as well off as the English who, of course, got no
more than the worth of their manufactures. [See Munn’s _Discourse
of Trade_, 1621, in Geo. L. Craik’s _History of British Commerce_,
1844, vol ii. pp. 19-20.] However, before North left Turkey, our
merchants had got into the habit of sending, in addition to goods,
large quantities of specie: in other words, now the “balance of
trade” was against us--and yet our Levant trade never was more
profitable! Here was a paradox to set a sensible man thinking.

But few men can think. Acting upon the established belief, English
public opinion clamoured for the exclusion from the Kingdom of
the products of foreign countries, particularly those of our
traditional rival, France. In one of these paroxysms of popular
frenzy an entire prohibition of French goods was proclaimed by Act
of Parliament (1678). On that occasion, indeed, national hatred
and religious excitement combined to invigorate and envenom the
feelings arising from commercial jealousy, for it was the time
of the ferment about the secret designs of France and Charles,
out of which sprang the wild delusion of the Popish Plot. But
the chief motive of that legislative measure was the prevailing
notion that the country was suffering enormous pecuniary loss in
consequence of our excessive importation of French commodities.
Dudley North’s comments on that notion are refreshing: “trade is
not distributed, as government, by nations and kingdoms; but is
one throughout the whole world, as the main sea, which cannot be
emptied or replenished in one part, but the whole, more or less,
will be affected. So when a nation thinks, by rescinding the trade
of any other country, which was the case of our prohibiting all
commerce with France, they do not lop off that country, but so much
of their trade of the whole world as what that which was prohibited
bore in proportion with all the rest; and so it recoiled a dead
loss of so much general trade upon them. And as to the pretending
a loss by any commerce, the merchant chooses in some respects to
lose, if by that he acquires an accommodation of a profitable trade
in other respects.” [_Life of Francis North, Baron of Guilford_,
1742, p. 168.] No wonder such views were obnoxious to a Government
bent blindly on crushing France, as the Whig Government of 1691
was, and it may be suspected that in choosing that moment for the
publication of his heresies North was actuated quite as much by the
wish to thwart the war policy of his opponents as by the desire to
promote the cause of Truth.

The Act of 1678 had been repealed in the beginning of James II.’s
reign, but immediately after the Revolution all commerce with
France was again barred. The boycott continued through the two wars
of 1689-97 and 1701-12, and the attempt made by the Tories in 1713,
when peace was restored between England and France, to re-open
the trade with the latter country, failed: the merchants took the
alarm, the Whig politicians exploited that alarm, public opinion
was roused, and the Bill was lost. We have heard the same clamour
for breaking off all commercial relations with a rival nation in
our own day--over two hundred years after Dudley North exposed the
egregious folly of such a policy.


    Court at, 24, 26, 28, 68;
    Finch’s preparations for, 86-8;
    entry into, 93-4;
    quarters in, 94-5, 172;
    foreign diplomats in, 96-7;
    the city, 97;
    festivities in, 68-9, 105-113, 131;
    plague in, 136-7, 138, 139, 156, 163, 174;
    departure from, 175-6;
    Levant Company and Finch’s visit, App. XIII. 400

  Affaire du Sofa, _see_ Soffah

  Aga of Pasha of Tunis, 16-20, 85-6, 305, 306

  Ahmed Kuprili, Grand Vizir:
    character, 12-15, 103, 104, 160, 165, 191-3, 225, 354, App. IV.
    siege of Candia, 14, 16, 132, 207;
    negotiations with Poland, 31, 68;
    and Pasha of Tunis, 85, 86, 173-4;
    finds quarters for Finch, 95;
    Finch’s audience with, 98-103;
    Charles II.’s letter to, App. II. 381-382;
    and Holy Sepulchre disputes, 117, 118-19, 123, 125, 158;
    and Tripoli corsairs, 129, 182;
    his intemperance, 132, 164, 165, 169;
    and Capitulations, 134, 147, 149, 158, 159, 160, 166, 169-71, 180;
    at Finch’s audience with Grand Signor, 140, 141, 142, 143, 146;
    and Vani Effendi, 153;
    letters to Charles II., 170;
    and Genoese Resident, 294;
    his death, 191, 192, 193;
    Kara Mustafa and, 325 (_note_)

  Ak-bonar, 137

    Anglo-French disputes at, 72-3, 188;
    customs duties at, 181, 218;
    dollars consigned to, 237-243;
    Hattisherif, 27, 150;
    library at, App. VI. 389;
    Pasha of, 237-8

  Algiers pirates, 85, 244, 248-9

  Allin, Sir Thomas, 85

  _Alloy_, the, described, 257-8, 370 (_note_)

    state kept by, 36, 39-40;
    Turkish conception of responsibilities of, 273, 303-4, App. XV.

  American ceremonialism, 200

  Anchorage charges, 28

  Ancona, 284

  _Angel_, the, App. V. 387

  Angora, 236

  Argostoli, 351

  Arlington, Lord, 3, 4-5, 52, 116, 121

  Ashby, Mr. John:
    the Pizzamano case, 211, 212-13, 214, 215-16, 218, 222, 231;
    the Pentlow case, 268, 269, 271-6

  _Asper_, 233

  Austria attacked, 361, 362;
    in Holy League, 364-5

  Avanias, 15, 228, 229, 233, 264, 274, 281, 283, 365

  Avji, the Hunter, 25, 131, 144, 146.
    _See_ Mohammed IV.

  Bailo of Venice, the, 20;
    and religious disputes, 119, 122, 124, 151;
    and Sir John Finch, 185, 189;
    Kara Mustafa and, 202, 227-8, 229-30, 281-3, 321, 359

  Baines, Sir Thomas, 40-44, 353;
    on the Turks, 22-3;
    journey to Adrianople, 89, 90, 94;
    at Karagatch, 137, 175;
    and Vani Effendi, 153, 155-7;
    reproves Nointel, 190-91;
    pulls strings for Finch, 245;
    his sedan chair, 291;
    death, 344-5, 347;
    burial, 352

  Bairam, Feast of the, 20, 216, 222, 316

  _Bakshish_, App. IX. 394

  _Barat_, 266, 267

  _Baratlis_, 266

  Barbary corsairs, 83-5, 339-41, 345, 348

  Barton, Edward, 119

  Belgrade, 39

  Bendyshe, Sir Thomas, 26, 120

  Berkeley, Earl of, 312, 313

  Bocareschi, Count, 133, 155, 156, 163

  Books in 17th century, App. VI. 388-9

  Bostanji-bashi, 248

  _Boza_, 323, 324

  Broesses, M. de, 297

  Brusa, 236

  Busbequius, 8;
    quoted, 33

  Caboga, Signor, Ambassador of Ragusa, 96, 112, 113, 250, 251

  Cadileskers, 140, 142, 303, 306, 315

  Caloyers, Greek, 118, 119, 151

  “Cambio Marittimo,” 83

  Cambridge, 2, 40, 112;
    Covel at, 54-55, 369-70, 371-2

  Cancellier, Levant Company’s, 51, 142, 144, 145

  Candia, siege of, 14, 15, 16, 101, 132

  Canizares, 119, 122

  Capiji-bashi, 93, 139

  Capitan Pasha, 193, 212;
    the new, 248, 257, 279, 340, 341, 346

  Capitulations, the, 14, 26-31, 98, 100, 293-5;
    prepared, 104, 134;
    Latin Fathers and, 124-5;
    postponements, 147, 149-51;
    draft shown, 157, 158, 159;
    the signature question, 166-7, App. XI. 396;
    signed, 168, 169, 170;
    not appreciated, 178-9;
    difficulties in execution, 180-81;
    Ahmed Kuprili maintains, 180, 193;
    Grand Signor and, App. X. 395;
    Kara Mustafa and, 223, 244, 249, 270-71;
    and cloth trade, 247;
    married Franks and, 266-7, 270-71;
    Kara Mustafa holds for ransom, 292, 293-6;
    silk duty under, 349

  Capitulations, the Dutch, 296-8, 300

  Carlowitz, Peace of, 365

  Carpenter, Mr. William, 51, 142, 144

  Catholics, _see_ Roman Catholics

  Ceremonialism, diplomatic, 199-200

  Chandos, Lord:
    appointment, 313-314, 329;
    arrival, 335-6, 337;
    delivers his letters, 339, 342-3;
    silk duty dispute, 348, 349-50, 355-8;
    his Audience delayed, 358, 364;
    retirement, 364

  Chaoush-bashi, 93, 139, 142, 198, 216, 239, 346, 355, 356

  Chaplyn, Captain, 18-19, 304, 305, 306

  Charles II.:
    knights Finch, 2;
    Arlington and, 5;
    policy of, 9, 15, 359;
    and Levant Merchants, 10-11, App. III. 384;
    and Grand Duke of Tuscany, 18;
    and Rycaut, 53, 367-8;
    Treaty of Dover, 69, 71, 121;
    and Roman Catholics, 120-121;
    letter to Grand Vizir, 99, App. II. 381-2;
    letter to Grand Signor, 144, 145-6, App. II. 380-81;
    gift of figs to, 170, 179-180, 209, 223;
    and Turkish currency, 235;
    turns against Louis, 260, 263;
    appoints Finch’s successor, 311, 312, 313, 314, 329;
    suspends trade with Turkey, 319, 320;
    letters borne by Chandos, 337-8, 342;
    resumes trade, 348-9

    Ahmed Kuprili at, 132;
    French bombard, 340-41, 346, 359

  Christ’s College, Cambridge:
    Finch at, 2, 40;
    Baines at, 40;
    Covel at, 53, 55;
    Finch and Baines buried at, 352;
    Covel Master of, 369-70

  Circassian slave, 184

  Circumcision festival, 68, 105-9

  Clarendon, Earl of, 121, 367

  Cloth trade, English, 27-8, 149-50, 247, App. XII. 397

  Coke, Mr. Thomas, Cancellier, 51, 142, 144, 145

  Colbert, 50

  Collyer, Jakob, 365

  Collyer, Justinus, 298, 299-300, 328, 333.
    _See_ Dutch Resident

    city described, 24-25, 33-6, 38-9, 44-5;
    Finch reaches, 20;
    Grand Signor’s dislike of, 24-6, 182;
    customs duties, 27;
    plague in, 24, 176-7;
    religious disputes in, 55-6, 57;
    Finch returns to, 176;
    Grand Signor at, 182-4, 196, 278

  Constantinople Embassy:
    Finch’s aversion to, 4, 5;
    Finch accepts, 1, 5, 11;
    appointments to, App. III. 383-4;
    character of post, 7-11;
    chaplaincy, 54 (_see_ Covel);
    candidates for, 311-14

  Constantinople factory and Pentlow case, 274

  Conway, Anne, Viscountess, 3

  Conway, Lord, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 22, 44, 245

  Cordeliers, Spanish, 119, 122-7, 138, 150-52, 158-9, 254-5, 286

    and Porte, 16-17, 84-5, 340-41, App. XV. 402-3;
    and English ships, 16-17, 83, 85, App. V. 387, App. XV. 402-403

  Counterfeit coin, 76-7, 82, 234-7, App. I. 379

  Covel, Rev. John:
    Constantinople chaplain, 53-7, 66, 89;
    journey to Adrianople, 90, 91;
    on Adrianople quarters, 91, 94, 97, 98;
    on Ahmed Kuprili, 102;
    during festivities, 111-13, 250;
    and religious controversy, 122, 125-6;
    on Turkish Court, 131, 132;
    and Bocareschi, 133;
    at Karagatch, 137, 148;
    at Grand Signor’s Audience, 142, 143, 144, 145;
    on Vani Effendi, 154;
    return to Constantinople, 176;
    in Grand Signor’s camp, 182-3;
    leaves Constantinople, 287-8;
    later career, 368-72

  Crete, war in, 14, 118

  Crim Tartar, 253

  Cromwell, Oliver, 10, 15, 120

  Crow, Sir Sackville, 10, 26, App. III. 384

  Currency, Turkish, 233-6

  Customer, Chief, _see_ Hussein Aga

  Customs-duties, 26-8, 349-50, 355-9

  Cypress trees, 36

  Deereham, Sir Richard, 313

  Dey of Tripoli, 83, 84, 129, 182

  _Dishe parassi_, 91, App. IX. 394

  Divan, 139-40

  Dositheos, 119, 125-6

  Dover, Treaty of, 69, 71, 121

  Dragoman of the Porte, _see_ Mavrocordato, Dr.

  Dragomans, 46-50, 204, 266, 267;
    Finch’s, 50-51, 86-7, 94-5, 164, 175-6, 186-7, 203-4, 272, 315,
    _See_ Draperys _and_ Perone

  Draperys, Signor Giorgio, 50-51, 89, 94, 95, 141, 144, 145-6, 164,
          186-7, 188

  Drink, excess in, fashionable, 60, App. VIII. 392-3

  Druggermen, _see_ Dragomans

  Duquesne, Admiral, 340-41, 345, 346, 348, 359-60

    Kara Mustafa and, 202, 228, 296-8, 300, 359;
    married, 267;
    rivalry with English, 28, 237, 238, 240, 242, 247

  Dutch Cancellier, 294

  Dutch Capitulations, 296-8, 300

  Dutch Resident, 31, 160-161;
    Kara Mustafa and, 202, 228, 298, 300;
    Finch’s quarrels with, 299-300, 327, 332-3

  Elizabethan relations with Turks, 8, 30, 46, 326-7;
    with Greeks, 119

    Dutch and, 28, 237, 238, 240, 242, 247;
    French and, 71-72, 73-6, 80-82, 261-2, 262-3;
    Greeks and, 119;
    Turks and, 16-17, 100-101, 224, 231-2, 236-7

  English, custom-house privileges of, 246-8

  English merchants, 36-9;
    married, 267, 269, App. XIV. 401;
    Turkish justice and, 28-30, 63, 157-8, 223-4, 231-2, 274, 307-8

  English renegades, 29-30, 149, 157-8

  English shipping:
    pirates and, 16-17, 83, 85, App. V. 387, App. XV. 402-3;
    Turks requisition, 15, 127-9

  Eyre, Sir John, 10

  False coin, manufacture of, 76-7, 82, 234-7

  Festivities at Adrianople, 68, 105-113, 131

  Finch, Sir Heneage (father), 1

  Finch, Sir Heneage (brother), 1, 2, 3, 288.
    _See_ Nottingham, Earl of

  Finch, Heneage (cousin), 4.
    _See_ Winchilsea, Earl of

  Finch, Heneage (nephew), 2

  Finch, Sir John (Baron), 1

  Finch, Sir John, Ambassador at Constantinople:
    family, 1-2, 4;
    early career, 2-3;
    knighted, 2;
    in Italy, 2, 3-5;
    appointed Ambassador to the Porte, 1, 5, 11;
    character of post, 7-11;
    his instructions, 9, App. I. 377-379;
    credentials, App. II. 380-382;
    the case of the Pasha of Tunis, 16-20, 85-6;
    landing at Smyrna, 19-20, 22, 71;
    arrival at Constantinople, 20;
    audience of the Kaimakam, 20-21, 30-31;
    the new Capitulations, 26-31;
    life in Constantinople, 36-41, 43-5;
    devotion to Baines, 40-44, 353;
    Dragomans, 50-51;
    colleagues and friends, 51-67;
    delays presenting credentials, 69, 88, 165, 173;
    Anglo-French difficulties, 69-77;
    relations with Nointel, 69, 78-82;
    the Tripoli corsairs, 83-5, 102, 129, 181-2;
    claims of the Pasha of Tunis, 85-6, 173-4, 244, 300;
    preparations for journey, 69, 86-8;
    journey to Adrianople, 89-93, App. XIII. 400;
    enters city, 93-4, 172;
    his quarters, 94-5, 97-8, 172;
    and other diplomats, 96-7;
    audience of Grand Vizir, 98-103;
    preparing the Capitulations, 104, 115, 134;
    at festivities, 110, 134;
    dispute between Greek and Latin Fathers, 116, 119, 122-6, 150-152,
    requisitioning of English ship, 127-30;
    winning favour at Court, 131-4;
    Capitulations promised, 134, 138;
    audience of Grand Signor, 136, 139-46, 172;
    Capitulations delayed, 147-8, 149-53, 157-9;
    the bribery system, 159-162;
    further delays, 162-8;
    Capitulations signed and delivered, 168-73, 174, App. XI. 396;
    return to Constantinople, 175-6;
    Levant Company’s ingratitude, 178-80;
    Capitulations upheld, 180-81;
    Tripoli corsairs punished, 181-2;
    Grand Signor at Constantinople, 182-4;
    quarrel with Genoese Resident, 185-8;
    difference with Nointel, 188-190;
    death of Ahmed Kuprili, 191-3
    Kara Mustafa, 194-5, 196-7, 207, 225-6;
      the Soffah affair, 198-201, 202, 203-5, 207-8, 249;
      diplomatic illness, 201-3, 210;
      negotiations for an audience, 203-5, 207-8, 209-10, 216-19;
      the Ashby case, 211-216, 218, 222, 227, 232;
      audience of Kara Mustafa, 222-5;
      on Kara Mustafa’s extortions, 227-30, 256;
      the Aleppo dollars case, 237-43;
      troubles to come, 244-245;
      friendly Turkish dignitaries, 246-9, 326, 330;
      on Kara Mustafa and Ambassadors, 250-255;
      Greek and Latin Fathers again, 254-5;
      description of the _Alloy_, 256-9;
      Anglo-French disagreement, 260-62;
      compact with Nointel, 262-3;
      on Vizir’s return, 264-5;
      the Pentlow case, 268-77;
      on Court affairs, 278-84;
      colleagues leave Turkey, 287-8;
      contract with Levant Company expires, 288;
      standing with Turks, 290-92;
      the Smyrna Jew’s case, 293-5;
      Kara Mustafa holds Capitulations for ransom, 295-6, 343;
      quarrels with Dutch Resident, 299-300, 327-9, 332-4;
      revival of case of Pasha of Tunis, 301, 302-10;
      Finch stands firm, 308-10;
      proceedings suspended, 310-11, 314, 329, 330-31, 335, 336, 337;
      his successor appointed, 311-14, 329;
      breach with Kara Mustafa, 314-20;
      on the Kehayah’s execution, 322-6, 327, 329;
      Kara Mustafa’s temporary friendliness, 330-31;
      awaiting Chandos, 335, 336, 337, 342;
      on trouble between France and Turkey, 342, 345-7;
      the Pasha of Tunis defeated, 343;
      death of Baines, 344-5, 347;
      departure from Turkey, 347-8, 350;
      the voyage home, 350-52;
      death and burial, 352

  Fireworks, Turkish, 107-8

  Florence, Finch at, 3, 4, 5, 7, 18, 19, 33, 40

    England and, 69, 71, 121;
    war with, 375, App. XVI. 406-7;
    Germany and, 31, 170, 171, 361;
    Spain and, 171
    Turkey and, 15, 118;
      crisis between, 339-342, 345, 348, 359, 361

  France, King of, styled _Padishah_, 30

  Franceschi, Domenico, 16, 17, 18

    marriages of, 266-7, App. XIV. 401;
    Turks and, 11-12, 14-15, 17, 65-6, 335, 359, 360-361, 365

    against Turks in Crete, 15, 118;
    and interpreter problem, 49-50;
    ceremonialism, 200;
    married factors, 267, 286;
    rivalry and disputes with English, 69-70, 71-6, 80-82, 203, 206,
          224, 238, 247;
    war on Tripoli pirates, 339-41, 345, 348, 359

  Galata, 35, 186, 266, App. XIV. 401

  Genoa, 18, 234, 283

  Genoese Resident, 185-8, 202, 228-9, 283, 286, 294, 321

  German Emperor’s Resident, 31, 96.
    _See_ Kindsberg

  German Internuncio, 263-4, 280

    France and, 31, 170, 171, 361;
    supports Latin Fathers, 117

  Glover, Sir Thomas, 119

  Golden Horn, the, 35

  _Goodwill_, the, App. V. 387

  Grand Signor, 8, 15, 35;
    and vassal corsairs, 84-5, 102, 244, 248-9, 303, 340-41.
    _See_ Mohammed IV.

  Grand Vizirs, 12, 103-4, 293.
    _See_ Ahmed Kuprili, Kara Mustafa, Mohammed Kuprili

  Greek and Latin Churches, feud between, 55-6, 57, 116-19, 120,
          122-7, 150-52, 158-9, 254-5, 286

  Greek Patriarchs, 55-6, 122

  Greeks, English and, 119

  Guilds, processions of, 105, 106, 257, 259

  Guilleragues, M. de:
    the Soffah question, 285-7, 321, 326, 334-5, 342, 346-7;
    and bombardment of Chios, 340, 341-2, 346-7, 360

  Gunning, Lady, 373

  Haghen, Cornelius, 300

  _Haratch_, 266, 267

  Harem intrigues, 103, 324, 326-7

  Harvey, Sir Daniel, 1, 4, 8, 17, 26, 177;
    and pirates, 17, 85;
    and Nointel, 70;
    and Catholics, 121-2;
    and false coin, 235, 236;
    Grand Signor and, 146, App. X. 395;
    Ahmed Kuprili and, App. IV. 386;
    Kara Mustafa and, 207

  Hasnadar, 161, 212, 215, 216, 222

  Hattisherif, Aleppo, 27, 150

  Hedges and Palmer, Messrs., 61-2

  Hoffmann, German Internuncio, 263-4, 280

  _Hoggiet_, 293, 305

  Holland, Resident of, _see_ Dutch Resident

  Holy League, 365

  Holy Roman Empire, 280

  Holy Sepulchre disputes, 116-19, 122-7, 158-9, 254-5, 286

  _Hunter_, the, 74, 81, 183

  Hunter, the (Mohammed IV.), 25

  Hussein Aga, Chief Customer, 134, 180-81;
    friendly to Finch, 210, 246-8, 319, 320, 326;
    and Ashby case, 214, 215-16;
    and Aleppo dollars, 239, 241, 242;
    and Pentlow case, 366

  Hyet, Mr., 95, 142, 144, 356

  Ibrahim, Sultan, 25

  Imperial Resident, _see_ Kindsberg _and_ Sattler

  Interpreters, 21, 30-31, 47-8, 49-50

  Italy, Finch in, 2, 3, 33

  James II., 369, App. XV. 402-3

  Janissaries, 91, 136, 139, 141, 256, 257, 258

  Jenkins, Sir Leoline, 315, 316

  Jersey, Earl of, 366

  _Jerusalem_, the, App. XV. 402

    Holy Sepulchre disputes, 116-19, 122-7, 151, 158-9, 254-5, 286;
    Patriarch, 119, 125;
    Nointel at, 151

  Jesuits, 120

  Jew, Kara Mustafa’s, 296, 298, 343, 366

  Jew of Smyrna, case of, 292-3, 296

  Jewish quarter, Adrianople, 94, 98

  _Kaftans_, 20, 100, 102-3, 169, 197, 217, 219, 248

  Kaimakam, 19-20, 30-31, 88

  Karagatch, 137, 139, 148, 175

  Kara Mustafa, 152, 193-5, 196, 230-231, 284-5;
    motives of his extortions, 230-31
    Ambassadors and Residents, 196-197, 202
      Dutch, 202, 228, 229, 297-8, 300, 332-3, 359
          diplomatic illness, 201-3, 210;
          negotiations for audience, 203-8, 209-10, 216-19, 221-2;
          the Ashby case, 212, 213, 216, 217-18, 219, 222, 231-2;
          audience with, 222-5;
          Aleppo dollars case, 238-44;
          the Pentlow case, 286-76;
          Capitulations held for ransom, 293-6, 343;
          the Pasha of Tunis, 302-10, 314-20
          and Charles II.’s letters, 337-8, 342-3;
          silk duty case, 349-50, 355-9
        Nointel, 197-9, 200, 201, 207, 208-9, 226;
        Guilleragues, 286-7, 334-5, 341, 342, 346-7, 360-61
      Genoese, 202, 228-9, 283, 321
      German, 228, 264, 280, 279, 280-81
      Polish, 251-4, 255, 259-60, 279
      Ragusan, 228, 230, 250-51, 284
      Russian, 255, 256, 279-80
      Venetian, 202, 227-8, 229-30, 279, 281-3, 321, 359
    the Soffah affair, 198-9, 203, 207 208, 286, 290, 334-5, 341, 342,
          343, 346-7;
    and Capitulations, 223, 244, 293-6, 343;
    extortions from Turks, 230, 256;
    the Russian war, 257, 258, 265, 361;
    and married Franks, 267, 270;
    his Kehayah executed, 323-5, 326, 327, 329;
    attacks Austria, 361-2;
    defeated, 363-4;
    executed, 364

  Kehayah, Ahmed Kuprili’s (Soliman), 86, 104;
    Finch interviews, 114, 115, 116, 125;
    and requisitioning of English ship, 127-8;
    and delayed Capitulations, 134, 138, 147, 150, 158, 166-7, 174;
    and title of Padishah, 150, 159, 160-161, 173;
    and customs dues, 180-181;
    and Tripoli corsairs, 182;
    and Ahmed’s death, 191;
    becomes Master of the Horse, 195, 323, 324, 331-2;
    Kara Mustafa and, 323, 324, 326, 331;
    sent to Mecca, 332;
    becomes Vizir, 365

  Kehayah, Kara Mustafa’s, 197;
    refuses Finch’s Bairamlik, 216-217;
    and Aleppo dollars, 239, 241;
    and Polish Ambassador, 254;
    and Pentlow case, 272, 273, 276;
    threatens tax on Ambassadors, 283;
    and case of Pasha of Tunis, 218, 306, 307, 315, 316, 317-18, 319;
    executed, 320-25
    his successor, 355, 356

  Kindsberg, Count, German Emperor’s Resident, 31, 96-7, 133;
    Kara Mustafa and, 228, 263, 279, 280;
    death of, 264, 280-81

  Kislar Aga, 103, 319, 323-4, 326

  Knatchbull, Major, 313

  _Konaks_, 90

  Kuchuk Chekmejé, 90

  La Croix, M. de, 96, 97

  Landed and trading classes, 58-9, App. VII. 390

  Latin and Greek Churches, feud between, 55-6, 57, 116-19, 120,
          122-7, 150-52, 158-9, 254-5, 286

  Lawson, Sir John, 85

  Lello, Henry, 119

  Leopold, Emperor, 362

  Leopold, Prince, 3

  Leslie, Walter, 96

  Levant, luxuries of the, 37-9

  Levant Company, 7;
    Charter of, 10, App. III. 383-4;
    and Ambassador’s appointment, 7, 10-11, App. III. 383-4;
    instructions to officers by, App. VI. 388-9;
    trade of, App. XII. 397-8;
    and Pasha of Tunis, 17-18;
    opposes credit system, 178, App. XII. 397-9;
    forbids _temeens_, 235, 236-7, 238;
    imports Lion dollars, 237;
    false economy of, 238, 243;
    and Pentlow case, 270-71;
    and suspension of trade with Turkey, 319-20, 337-8;
    forced to resume trade, 348-9
    Finch and, 9, 11, 178-9, 288, 311
    Treasurer of, _see_ North

  Levantine Families, 267, App. XIV. 401

  Libraries, 17th century, App. VI. 388-9

  Lion dollars, 233, 235, 236, 237-43

  Lorraine, Duke of, 262, 263

  Louis XIV.:
    Charles II. and, 69, 71, 260, 263;
    and Soffah, 334;
    and Barbary pirates, 339, 342, 359;
    and Turkish campaign against Austria, 361, 362

  Lucaris, Cyril, 119-120

  _Luigini_, 233-6

  Mahomet Kuprili, _see_ Mohammed Kuprili

  Majorca corsairs, 72

  Malta, Finch at, 19

  Marriages of Franks, 267, App. XIV. 401

  _Mary and Martha_, the, 183

  Matthewes, Sir Phi., 313

  Mavrocordato, Dr., Dragoman of the Porte, 100, 140, 143, 144, 164,
          168, 198, 217, 239, 300

  _Mediterranean_, the, 16, 17, 18, 304, 306

  Meletios, 119

  Merchants trading into Levant Seas, _see_ Levant Company

  Mohammed IV., Grand Signor, 24, 25, 105-6;
    and hunting, 25, 259;
    dislike of Constantinople, 24-6, 182;
    and Capitulations, 27, 166-8, 169;
    forbids tobacco, 63;
    at his festivities, 68-9, 87, 105-6;
    requisitions English ship, 127-8;
    prohibits intoxicants, 131, 148, 153, 322, 324;
    flees plague, 137;
    Finch’s audience with, 138, 140, 143-6;
    and Vani Effendi, 153-4;
    signature to Capitulations, 166-8, 169;
    letters to Charles II., 170;
    in Constantinople, 182-3;
    leaves Constantinople, 191;
    and death of Ahmed Kuprili, 192, 231;
    returns to Constantinople, 196;
    demands on Kara Mustafa, 231;
    in Silistria, 251;
    his _Alloy_, 257-258;
    fills Seraglio, 278;
    returns to Adrianople, 317, 318;
    executes Kehayah, 322-3, 324, 325;
    and Soliman, 331;
    Charles II.’s letters to, 337-8, App. II. 380-381;
    and corsairs, 84-5, 102, 244, 248-9, 303, 340;
    and Guilleragues, 346;
    reign ends, 365

  Mohammed Kuprili, 12, 13, 225, App. IV. 385-6

  Moldavia, Prince of, 51, 256, 284

  Money, Turkish, 233-6

  More, Henry, 352

  Morosini, Signor, 185, 282.
    _See_ Bailo of Venice

  Mufti, the, 105, 132, 149, 152, 158, 269, 357

  Muhurdar, 166, 168

  Munden, Sir Richard, 261

  Murad III., 26

    campaign against, 32, 257, 258, 265, 361;
    Embassy from, 255-6, 259-60, 279-80

  Mustafa Pasha, 152.
    _See_ Kara Mustafa

  Muteferrika, 133, 134

  _Naculs_, 110

  Narbrough, Admiral Sir John, 129, 181-2, 244, 248-9

  Neale, Mr. Thomas, 313

  Nicholas, Secretary, 121

  Nicusi, Panayoti, 117, 118

  Nimeguen, Treaty of, 263

  Nishanji-bashi, 140, 141, 142, 159

  Nointel, Marquis de, 69;
    and Smyrna disturbance, 72, 73;
    Rycaut and, 73-5, 77, 82;
    Finch’s interview with, 78-82;
    at Adrianople, 95;
    and religious disputes, 117, 118, 122, 123, 151, 152;
    Ahmed Kuprili and, 165;
    quarrel with Finch, and reconciliation, 188-91;
    Kara Mustafa and, 197-9, 200, 201, 207, 208-9, 227, 229;
    the Soffah question, 198-201, 206, 207, 208-9;
    Anglo-French compact with Finch, 262-3;
    leaves Turkey, 287

  North, Hon. Dudley:
    early career, and character, 57-67;
    economic genius, 67, 373-4, App. XVI. 404-6;
    and journey to Adrianople, 87, 90, 94, 95;
    at festivities, 106, 110-11, 113-14;
    and religious disputes, 124;
    during plague, 137-8;
    at Grand Signor’s audience, 142, 144-5;
    and Capitulations negotiations, 157, 160, 161, 167-8;
    leaving Adrianople, 175;
    on Ashby case, 211, 232;
    and Kara Mustafa, 226;
    and Aleppo dollars, 239, 242, 243;
    Hussein Aga and, 248;
    in Adrianople, 272;
    leaves Turkey, 287;
    a candidate for Embassy, 312-13;
    resumes trade too soon, 348;
    political career, 372-5;
    trial, 374-5;
    pamphlet by, App. XVI. 404-6;
    back in Turkey trade, 375;
    farming, 375;
    death, 376

  North, Lady Dudley, 373

  North, Montagu, 62, 287, 356

  Nottingham, Earl of, 2, App. VII. 390

  _Ottavi_, 233-6

  _Oxford_, the, 336, 337, 347, 348

  _Padishah_, the title of, 30-31, 145, 150, 159, 160, 172-3

  Padua, Finch at, 2, 40, 168

  Pagett, Lord, 365, 366-7

  Palatine of Kulm, 251-3, 254, 255

  Palmer, Mr., 61-2

  Panayotaki, 117-18

  Parker, Captain, 75

  Pasha of Aleppo, 237-8, 243

  Pasha of Tunis, 16-20, 85-7, 173-4, 218, 244, 248;
    his Vakil, 218;
    his case revived, 301-11, 314-17, 329, 330, 335, 337;
    Chandos defeats, 343

  Pashas and Pashaliks, 91

  Patriarch of Constantinople, 122

  Patriarch of Jerusalem, 119, 125

  Pay day of troops, 136, 140-141

  Pentlow case, 268-76, 365, 366-7

  Pera, 35, 38, 162, 165, 176, 267, 335;
    illicit still at, 186

  Perone, Signor Antonio, 51, 86-7, 88, 92, 94-5, 164, 166-7, 272

  Peskeshji-bashi, 139, 141

  Pickering, Dr., 142

    and English shipping, 16-17, 72-3, 83, 85, App. V. 387, App. XV.
    French and, 72-3, 339-41, 345, 348, 359;
    the Porte and, 16-17, 84-5, 102, 244, 248-9, 303, 340-41, App. XV.

  Pisa, Finch at, 2

  Pizzamano, Signor, 211, 212, 214-15, 216, 222

  Plague, 39;
    in Adrianople, 136-7, 138, 156, 163, 168, 174, 175-6;
    in Constantinople, 39, 176-7;
    in Karagatch, 148;
    Ambassadors die of, 252-3, 264

  Podolia, 254

    Turkey and, 14, 31, 32, 68;
    peace negotiations, 210, 251-3, 254, 264;
    and Holy Sepulchre, 254;
    announces truce with Muscovites, 279;
    and Turkish overthrow, 363-4;
    in Holy League, 365

  Polish Ambassador, Kara Mustafa and, 251-4, 255, 259-60, 279

  Pope and Turks, 284

  Popish Plot, 372, App. XVI. 406

  Prince, the Turkish, 108-9, 258

  Puntiglio, Finch and, 20, 30-31, 78, 80, 87, 88, 95-6, 188-9, 199,
          200, 203-4, 210, 217, 219, 299, 326, 327-9

  Queen Regent, 324, 326

  Ragusa, Ambassador of:
    at Adrianople, 96, 112, 113;
    Kara Mustafa and, 228, 230, 250-51, 284

  Rais Effendi, 104;
    and Capitulations, 114, 134, 147, 149, 157, 159, 166, 167, 172,
          173, 174;
    and audience with Kara Mustafa, 204-5;
    and Kara Mustafa’s extortions, 229, 230;
    and Palatine of Kulm, 254;
    and Pasha of Tunis case, 302, 306, 330-31, 336

  _Rayahs_, 266, 267, App. XIV. 401

  Renegades, 29-30, 107, 149, 157-8, 212

  Residents and Ambassadors, 205-6

  Roe, Sir Thomas, 120, 220-21, 285 (_note_)

  Roman Catholics:
    in England, 119, 120, 121, 126;
    in Turkey, 48-9, 120, 121;
    Charles II. and, 120-121

    Turco-Polish campaign against, 32;
    Kara Mustafa attacks, 255-60, 264, 361;
    peace negotiations, 279-80;
    in Holy League, 361

  Rycaut, Sir Paul, 51-3, 66;
    and Anglo-French disputes, 71, 73-75, 77, 82, 261;
    and Turks, 133 (_note_), 290;
    on Ahmed Kuprili, App. IV. 386;
    and Ashby case, 211-12;
    and coining, 236;
    and Pentlow case, 271, 273, 276;
    leaves Turkey, 287;
    desires Constantinople Embassy, 312, 313;
    subsequent career, 367-8

  St. Demetrius Hill, 177, 264

  St. Gothard, battle of, 14

  St. John, Mrs., 366, 367

  Sattler, Imperial Resident, 263, 264, 280

  Scanderoon, 72, 218

  Scutari, 36

  Sedan chairs, Turks and, 291

  Selivria, 91, 191

  Seraglio, Grand Signor’s, 35, 182, 278;
    intrigues in, 103, 324, 326-7

  Seven Towers, 208, 228, 282, 298, 317, 346

  Silk duty dispute, 349-50, 355-9

  Smith, Mr. Gabriel, 268, 269, 271, 272-6

  Smith, Dr. Thomas, 54

    Finch lands at, 19, 20, 71-2;
    Anglo-French disputes at, 71-2, 73-6, 80-82, 261-2;
    library at, App. VI. 389;
    life in, 38-9;
    North at, 59-60

  Smyrna factory, 20, 27, 38-9, 60, 165-6;
    and Ashby case, 213, 218;
    and Pentlow case, 274, 276

  Smyrna figs, 170, 179-80, 209, 223

  Smyrna Jew, case of, 292-3, 296

  Smyrna wine, App. VIII. 392-3

  Sobieski, King of Poland, 32, 279, 363, 364

  Soffah, the, 98-9;
    Nointel and, 198-201, 206, 207, 208-9;
    Finch and, 201-208, 209, 249, 290;
    Guilleragues and, 285-7, 321, 326, 334-5, 342, 346-7;
    Chandos and, 343

  Soliman, _see_ Kehayah, Ahmed Kuprili’s

    France and, 171;
    Turkey and, 8, 117, 119

  Spanish Cordeliers, 119, 122-7, 138, 150-52, 158-9, 254-5, 286

  Spinola, Signor, 185-8, 228-9, 294, 321.
    _See_ Genoese Resident

  “Sporca,” Sultana, 184

  Spragge, Sir Edward, 85

  Stamboli Effendi, 213, 214, 215, 216

  Stambul described, 35;
    Grand Signor and, 24

  Sultan, _see_ Mohammed IV.

  Sultana “Sporca,” 184

  Sunderland, Earl of, 315

  _Sweepstakes_, the, 72

  Tangier, 9

  Tartar Han, 253

  “Teeth money,” 91, App. IX. 394

  Tefterdar, 138, 140, 141, 142, 149, 150, 157, 239

  _Temeens_, 233-6

  Terlingo, German Internuncio, 280

  Thynne, Sir Thomas, 313

  Tobacco forbidden, 63

  Tories and Whigs, 372, 374, App. XVI. 407

  Trading and landed classes, 58-9, App. VII. 390-391

  Travellers, fear of, 91-2

  Treaty of Dover, 69, 71, 121

  Treaty of Nimeguen, 263

  Tripoli corsairs:
    English and, 16, 83-5, 86, 102, 129, 181-2;
    French and, 339-41, 346;
    the Porte and, 16-17, 84-5, 102, 244, 248-9, 303, 340-41

  Tunis, Pasha of, _see_ Pasha of Tunis

  Turkey, 6, 8, 12;
    cheap and luxurious living in, 37-8;
    oppression in, 11-12, 38, 290-291;
    plague in, 39

    Austria and, 361, 362;
    England and, 16-17, 100-101;
    France and, 15, 118, 339-42, 345, 348, 359, 361;
    Poland and, 14, 31, 32, 68, 251-4, 264, 363-364;
    Russia and, 32, 255-6, 264, 279-80, 361;
    Spain and, 8, 117, 119;
    Venice and, 8, 14, 15-16, 281-3, 286

    and European envoys, 205-206, 220-21, 303-4, App. XV. 402-3;
    tyranny of, 11-12, 38, 290-91;
    Baines on, 22-3;
    and Finch, 19-20, 291;
    North’s popularity with, 63-6

    Finch in, 2,3;
    coining in, 234

  Tuscany, Grand Duke of:
    Finch and, 3, 16, 19;
    and pirates, 16, 18, 19

  Ukrania surrendered, 253

  Vani Effendi, Sheikh, 153-7

  Vasvar, Peace of, 14

  Venetian Ambassador, _see_ Bailo of Venice

    and Aleppo dollars, 238;
    affray between Turks and, 359

    and Turkey, 8, 14, 15-16, 281-3, 286;
    in Holy League, 364-5

  Vienna, siege of, 362-4, 366

  Wallachia, Prince of, 256

  Wedding festivities, 68, 109-110

  Whigs and Tories, 372, 374, App. XVI. 407

  William of Orange, Covel and, 369-70

  William, Prince of Furstenberg, 170-171

  Winchilsea, Earl of, 4, 8-9;
    on Ahmed Kuprili, 13, App. IV. 386;
    on Constantinople, 34;
    Rycaut and, 52, 312;
    his Dragoman, 51;
    and Capitulations, 26, 98, 167;
    and pirates, 85, App. V. 387;
    and Jerusalem Fathers, 120, 121, 124-5;
    during plague, 177

  Wych, Sir Peter, 120

  Zechrin, 256, 264


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

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