« PreviousContinue »
the ear of the fovereign. Yffouf Pacha, who was raised to the office of grand vifier in January 1786, had originally ferved Haffan Ali in the capacity of a flave, and in the preceding year had been nominated by his influence to the government of the Morea. Maurojeni, his dragoman or steward, was about the fame time elevated to the fituation of hof podar of Walachia; and most of the great offices of state were filled with his dependents and creatures.
Having thus fecured the protection and fupport of the fovereign during the period of his abfence, he determined in the next place to undertake the conqueft and fubjugation of Egypt, trusting by this meafure at once to augment the profperity and refources of the Porte, and fo to eftablish his own reputation as to enable him to act with vigour and the confidence of the public in his meditated hoftilities against Ruffia. He failed from Conftantinople in May 1786; and having made the cufto mary annual circuit to collect by the immediate terror of the Turkish arms the tribute of the dependent provinces, he arrived at Alexandria in the month of July.
Haffan Ali landed with an army of twen y-five thousand men, which he expected to augment with reeruits levied in the province. He immediately marched from Alexandria to Rofetta. The Lower Egypt, or that part of the country which borders upon the Levant, was at this time divided between two beys, Murat and Ibrahim, who united their interefts, both against the court of Conftantinople, and in the wars they are lately faid to have carried on against the beys of the Upper, or more diftant divifion. At this time they had ftationed their forces be
tween Rofetta and Cairo. Here they were encountered by the intrepid Haffan, who is ftated to have made upon them three vigorous attacks in one day, and who concluded with gaining an entire victory. This event put him in poffeffion of the capital, where among other prisoners he found the wife of Ibrahim and one of his children, whom he treated with great humanity, and fent off the young prince to be educated in a manner fuitable to his rank at Conftantinople.
Murat and Ibrahim both of them escaped from the battle, though Haffan had had the precaution to order a detachment of his forces to take a circuitous march, and place themselves in the rear of the enemy to intercept their flight. They retreated to Girge, the capital of Upper Egypt, which ftands nearly upon the fite of the ancient Thebes, the city of an hundred gates, fo much celebrated by the Grecian poets and hiftorians. The princes of this country received them with hofpitality, confidering themfelves as engaged in a common cause with them againft the ufurpations of the Porte. Haffan in the mean time dispatched a numerous detachment to pursue them, who penetrated with fuccefs almoft as far as Girge, where they were attacked by a much larger army of Egyptians on the twenty-fixth of October, and obliged to retreat in confiderable diforder. Irritated at this miscarriage he pro-ceeded with all the forces he could collect; and not being able to induce the enemy to meet him in the field, he at length refolved on the fixteenth of February 1787 to ftorm them in their camp. Here he was twice repulfed, but returned a third time to the attack; and after an obstinate engagement
engagement of fix hours in duration, at length compelled them to feek their fafety in flight.
But, notwithstanding thefe brilliant fucceffes, the Turkish commander found himself unable totally to fubdue the refiftance of his adverfaries; and, after fome farther conflicts, attended, as it fhould feem, with various fuccefs, he thought proper to listen to terms of accommodation. Murat and Ibrahim confented toreftrain themselves within the boundaries of certain diftricts in the Upper Egypt, and gave hoftages to infure the province of Cairo against their irruptions. This adjustment appears to have taken place in July 1787, and Haffan, having made a farther refidence of three months in that country, quitted it in October, bringing with him the hoftages of its princes and a contribution in money to the amount of 6,000,000l. fterling, befide having fecured to the Porte an annual revenue, which is computed to fall little fhort of 4,000,000 l.
The whole period from the convention of January 1784, by which the Turks guaranteed to the Ruffians the entire poffeffion of the Crimea, is to be confidered lefs as a period of peace than a fufpenfion of arms, in which both parties inceffantly employed themfelves with more or lefs affiduity in warlike preparations, and conftantly meditated the commencement of hoftilities. The czarina was affiduous in endeavouring to fecure to herself an active alliance against the moment of conteft. The emperor in particular feems to have entered into the moft folemn engagements, to co-operate with her in an attempt to reduce the dominions of the grand fignior; and, if that prince fhould foreftal the Ruffians in commencing hoftilities, by no means to
fuffer a circumftance of that nature to defeat the project they had formed of a united attack. Catherine was alfo anxious to engage the republic of Venice in this league; and, influenced by views of this fort, prevailed upon the emperorto defift from a projected compulfory exchange of territory which he had formed against the republic. It feems probable that the Venetians difplayed no confiderable reluctance to enter into the views of the imperial courts, though the expectations they allowed themfelves to excite were not in the fequel productive of any important confequences.
Neither Venice nor the emperor were wanting in motives, or at least in pretexts of controverfy with the Porte. We have already mentioned the hoftilities committed by the pacha of Scutari upon the Venetian Dalmatia in 1785; and, though the refident from that republic at the court of Conftantinople repeatedly demanded a reparation for the inju ries committed, and the punishment of the aggreffor, the divan, partly from a difpofition at once haughty and fupine, partly from the intrigues of the pacha, who had formerly lived in habits of confiderable friendship both with Haffan Ali and the new grand vifier, and partly from the imbecility and impotence of the fupreme authority, never yielded any effectual hearing to his remonftrances. The Venetian had alfo claimed the interference of the Ottoman Porte to adjust their differences with the regency of Tunis, a matter to which the grand fignior feems to have been still lef competent than to the punishment of the pacha of Scutari. They therefore deemed themfelves obliged to vindicate their own rights; and their fleet under chevalier Emo in the years 1785 and 1786 bombarded the fet
tlements of Sfax, Biferta and Tunis.
At the moment that the czarina had afferted her dominion over the peninfula of Taurica, the emperor advanced his claims to a certain extenfion of territory on the fide of Hungary, claims which from the known caprice and inftability of his character had been fuffered to pafs without adjustment at the favourable moment, and which had fince been uniformly evaded by the Turks. The diftricts that were demanded appear too trivial to fpectators placed at fuch a diftance as we are, to be able to excite any diftinct idea or fenfation in the mind; but, fuch as they are, they have been fpecified in a preceding volume of our regitter. One circumftance that attended them feems entitled to notice. Certain articles were published at Vienna in the autumn of 1785, purporting to be the propofitions of the Turks, and accompanied with the answer of the emperor; and great doubts were afterwards formed whether the Turks had ever made the conciliatory offers which thefe articles contained.
The government of Conftantinople conftantly exhibited all the fymptoms of a weak, imbecil and difjointed administration, their moft timid ftatefimen not always abftaining from measures of irritation, and their boldeft politicians frequently betraying the marks of fear and irrefolution. The Ruffian knew well how to take advantage of this circumflance. She had always matters of complaint against the Porte, which to a fuperficial obferver affumed a plaufible appearance; and thefe complaints were in her hands productive of fo many reiterated triumphs. She had notoriously over-reached the Ottoman adminiftration in the com
mercial treaty of 1783; and the confuls fhe placed in the different cities of Turkey under the fanction of this treaty, frequently had not even the pretence of commerce, but were spies to discover the weakness and diffentions of the inhabitants, or agents to excite them to difaffection and hoftility againft the government under which they lived. Of confequence the Turks demanded but in vain the recal of fome of thefe, and refufed to admit others into places where by the letter of the treaty they were entitled to refide. The Ruffians had equally violated the fubfifling treaties by admitting Maurocordato the depofed hofpodar of Moldavia to take refuge in their dominions.
Towards the latter part of the year 1786 the Turks feem to have adopted a regular system of indirect hoftility against Ruffia. Ever fince the acquifition of Crimea and the Cuban, the Ruffians in the latter of thefe provinces were engaged in a conftant feries of military operations. They fucceeded either by terror or cabal in inducing the two princes of Georgia, the czar of Teflis and the czar of Imiretta, to recognize the court of Petersburgh as their lawful fuperior, They were not equally fuccefsful in reftraining the incurfions of the Lefghis, or Tartar inhabitants of Circaflia. Thefe Tartars were, at leaft in the sequel, inftigated and fupported in an indirect manner by the court of Conftantinople; and their operations were fo far fucceffful, that Heraclius, czar of Teflis, found himself obliged to have recourfe to the power that could yield him the moit effectual protection; and fhaking off the allegiance of Ruffia, he declared himfelf the vaffal of the Porte in a period of about
two years from the time in which he had fubmitted to the northern rival of that power. About the fame time Sahim Gherai, late khan of the Crimea, fled from the aufpices of his imperial protectress into the Turkish dominions, and by order of the grand fignior took up his refidence in Rhodes, where twelve months after he was beheaded.
The year 1787 opened with the extraordinary fpectacle of the journey of the emprefs of Ruffia from Peterburgh to Cherfon, where it feems to have been her original intention to have been crowned with all poffible magnificence, and under the fplendid titles of emprefs of the Eaft, liberator of Greece, and reviver of the feries of Roman emperors, who formerly fwayed the fceptre over that divifion of the globe. This journey had been for a confiderable time in contemplation, and was looked upon with horror by the Turks, as the period that would fet up a new pretender to their throne, and inflict a more public and atrocious infult upon their character than they had ever endured from any other quarter. The emprefs departed from Petersburgh on the fixteenth of January, and arrived at Kiow, the moft wefterly point of the hereditary poffeflions of Ruffia on the ninth of the following month. It is fufficiently fingular that the czarina had originally intended to take with her her two grand-children, fons of the grand duke of Ruffia, the eldeft of whom was only nine years of age; a measure that was doubtlefs intended as a precaution against the inftability of her fubjects, and a fecurity for her fafe return to the capital of the empire. This idea was at length, but with reluctance, given up; but the circumftance of her taking with
her, as fhe did in this gaudy procef fion, a numerous army of the choiceit part of the Ruffian forces, probably originated in a fimilar motive; and it did not at all tend to foothe the anxious fears and vigilant jealoufy of the court of Conftantinople.
Catherine refided for a period of near three months in the city of Kiow; and this was owing partly to the badness of the roads and the inclemency of the feafon; partly it may be to certain hoftile fymptoms, which were at this time betrayed by the Porte, and which, if they had immediately proceeded to all their confequences, would have entirely put a top to the imperial progrefs; and partly to certain delays of the king of Poland and the emperor, the former of whom was expected to meet the czarina at Kiow and the latter at Cherfon. The interview with Stanislaus took place on the fixth of May at Kaniew, a Polish town upon the Dnieper, that river having been chofen by Catherine to convey her and her train. The king of Poland was invited to come on board the veffel of the emprefs, and after one day fpent in mutual conference that princess proceeded on the day following for Cherfon.
The fplendour of the route of the czarina furpaffes whatever the imagination would fpontaneoufly fuggeft. She was escorted by an army. Pioneers preceded her march, whose bufinefs it was to render the road as even and pleafant as it could poffibly be made. At the end of each day's journey the found a temporary palace erected for her reception, together with all the accommodations and luxuries that Petersburgh could have afforded. In the lift of her followers were the ambaffadors of London, Versailles and Vienna; and her own ambaffador
ambaffador as well as the envoy of the emperor to the court of Conftantinople were appointed to meet her at Cherfon. She had directed the former, Mr. de Bulhakow, to found in a diftant manner the Ottoman Porte refpecting the fending an officer to compliment her upon her arrival, and thus to witness and sanction as it were the degradation of the Turks; but the propofal was rejected with indignation. We have feen the king of Poland meet her in her journey; and the emperor, not contented with fwelling her triumph at Cherfon, appeared in that capital eight days before her, and proceeded to a confiderable diftance up the Dnieper to intercept her progrefs. The coro nation, for reafons we are unable to affign, was laid afide; but the emprefs was received under triumphal arches at Kiow; and upon her arrival at Cherfon, having thought proper to extend the walls to take in a greater fpace than they had yet contained, the infcribed over one of the gates of the city, "Through this gate lies the road to Byzantium." The imperial vifitants entered the city on the twenty-third of May; and, having remained five days, pro. ceeded to make a tour through the principal places of the peninfula, which was completed in fomewhat lefs than a fortnight. The czarina returned to Petersburgh by the way of Moscow.
Previously to the departure of Mr. de Bulhakow upon his journey to meet the emprefs at Cherfon, he prefented by her order certain complaints to the Porte, which the wifhed to fee immediately remedied. She demanded that the Turks fhould explicitly acknowledge the czar of Teflis to be the rightful vaffal of Ruffia, that they should undertake to
oblige the Lefghis Tartars to ceafe from their hoftilities, that the dif putes refpecting the falt-pits of Kinburn fhould be finally adjusted, that a Ruffian conful fhould be sadmitted at Varna the chief port of the province of Bulgaria, that a more uniform and lefs vexatious government fhould be maintained in the Grecian principalities of Moldavia and Walachia, and that the Turks fhould come to an explanation with the empress refpecting their military preparations.
In the prefent temper of the court of Conftantinople it was not likely that their answer to thefe demands fhould be very conciliatory. They afferted that the czar of Teflis was, and by the treaty of Cainargi in 1774 had been recognized to be the vaffal of the Porte, that the Lefghis Tartars were entirely out of the ju rifdiction of the grand fignior, that the question of the falt-pits was trivial in its own nature and might best be adjufted by the intervention of certain inferior officers of government, that a Ruffian conful at Varna would be abfolutely useless, and that the introduction of one had been prevented only by the obftinate refiftance of the inhabitants, that the welfare of the principalities was a queftion in which the Porte was chiefly interefted, and refpecting which of confequence her exertions would be unfeignedly fincere, and that it was but natural that the Turks fhould put themselves in the fame pofture of defence which was affumed by their neighbours.
To thefe reafonings refpecting the demands of Ruffia the Turks are faid to have added certain requifitions of their own. They called for an explanation refpecting the intrigues alledged to have been formed