Friday, August 12, 2016

Abraham Hayward to Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bart., September 19, 1862

The Palace, Corfu,
Sept-19, 1862.

I am here with Storks. The Ionians are now quiet, and only mutter discontent enough to keep up the steam. Not so the Greeks of actual Greece. Scarlett1 told me they were ripe for a revolution, when their spirits were suddenly damped by Garibaldi’s failure. They dream of founding a Greek empire on the ruins of the Turkish, and have not industry or enterprise to make a railroad from the Piraeus, or a good road of any sort. The Acropolis is the most glorious of ruins, far, far beyond the Coliseum or anything in Rome. The modern Athens is a second-rate English watering-place.

At Constantinople I lived with the Bulwers,2 and saw everything to the best advantage. All without in the way of view is splendid; all (or almost all) within is mean, tawdry, and dirty. Our loans and efforts to set up Turkish finance were the subject of ridicule to all. What signify the resources of a country, when indolence and corruption reign th[r]oughout? I rode round the Whole city outside the walls: not a sign of cultivation, dry plains and mountains covered with forests of tombs. Some individual Turks are men of talent and knowledge, but the Sultan is as absolute as at any period. His lightest caprice is law, and he must have some expensive caprices, for he spends on his establishments and himself two-and-a-half millions sterling a year.

I was very much struck with the Grand Vizier and Foreign Secretary, Fuad Pasha and Aali Pasha, who dined with us one day, and who drank wine, and talked (in perfect French) like cultivated Europeans. Fuad had a great deal of Palmerstonian fun, and came out capitally on the subject of marriage. The Sultanas’ reading is confined to French novels, and their morals must be odd. I do not know whether they are flung into the Bosphorus, but some of them do their best to merit it. One of them told Lady Bulwer she should take La Dame aux Camélias for her model, and on Lady Bulwer shaking her head, exclaimed, Quoi, elle non bonne femme?

Bulwer managed the Servian business with great ability, and does well a great deal of work. I do not believe a syllable of the stories that have reached England concerning him. He and his wife are on the best possible understanding — like Lord and Lady Palmerston, or you and Lady Theresa.

At Vienna I had also a long interview with Count Rechberg3 (Foreign Sec.), he expounded his views on all subjects, from Garibaldi to free trade. He struck me as a clear-headed man, with broad and just views. I also passed a day with the Motleys at their villa, and found him more unreasonable than ever, vowing that the restoration of the Union in its entirety was “as sure as the sun in Heaven.” On my way down the Danube I was in the thick of Wallachian and Moldavian Counts and Countesses returning from the German baths: most amusing companions, and very sociable. I was the only Englishman, and the conversation was a mixture of German, French, and Italian, to say nothing of Danubian and other dialects. I also struck up a friendship with a young and good-looking Russian couple — Prince and Princess Bagratien, on their way to their Georgian principality. They are coming to England next spring and will make a sensation: for she is pretty, and not more that nineteen or twenty ; he, young and very gentlemanlike. I shall certainly bring them to Kent House.

Eber is here, having been stopped by Omar Pacha on his way to Belgrade. Storks sent a yacht for him to the Albanian coast, and he is now going on to Constantinople. Omar handsomely offered to let him go on receiving a pledge, that nothing published in the Times should be used to the detriment of Turkey.

This is a charming place as regards climate and scenery. I shall go to Ancona next week, and home through Milan and Turin. I hope to be in London about the end of October. With best regards to Lady Theresa,

Ever faithfully yours,

1 The Hon. Peter Campbell Scarlett was British Minister at Florence.

2 Sir Henry Bulwer, afterwards Lord Dalling, was British Ambassador at Constantinople.

3 Count Rechberg was head of the Austrian Government. As the friend of Madame de Bury, he received Mr. Hayward with great cordiality and frankness.

SOURCE: Henry E. Carlisle, Editor, A Selection from the Correspondence of Abraham Hayward from 1834 to 1884, Volume 2, p. 81-3

No comments: