top of page
< Back

Don Pacifico

Albert M. Hyamson

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Don Pacifico By Albert M. Hyamson* HETHER, as the Roman in days of old held himself free from indignity when he could say Civis Romanus sum, so also a British subject, in whatever land he " * may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against injustice and wrong." With these words as a culmination the Foreign Secretary, Palmerston, speaking without notes in a speech that lasted almost from darkness to dawn of a summer night in June 1850, despite the eloquence of the foremost men in the House?Peel, Disraeli, Cobden, Graham and Cockburn?converted members of all parties in a very critical if not hostile House of Commons ; and not only secured himself in office but paved the way to his accession to the premiership five years later. The occasion was a vote of confidence in him and his policy as mani? fested in his action towards the Greek Government: the motion was moved by John Arthur Roebuck, an outstanding Independent member of the House of Commons during the middle years of the nineteenth century. The centre of the drama, before it shifted to the House of Commons, was Athens and the hero, one David Pacifico. Pacifico, known generally in English history as Don Pacifico?he himself preferred the title "The Chevalier D. Pacifico" with which as a rule he signed his letters?was a British subject. The works of reference give as his place of birth Gibraltar and the year 1784.1 According to a passport issued to him on the 1st March, 1833 by the Lieutenant Governor of Gibraltar, he was then forty-four years of age, having been born at Oran in Algeria, the centre of a Jewish Community for many centuries, of British parents ; and the information on which these statements wrere based was presumably furnished by him. On a later occasion2 Pacifico himself stated that he was born in Gibraltar and, still later, in August 1848, repeating this statement, he added "My family has been English upwards of a century."3 Whatever the place of his birth, the question of Pacifico's nationality was further complicated, the Greek authorities suggested, by his appointment to a salaried office in the Portuguese consular service in 1839 as a Portuguese subject, and alternatively by his application in Athens in 1847 to the Spanish Consul for assistance, on the ground that he was of Spanish nationality,4 and by the acceptance of that claim. Whatever his nationality, Pacifico certainly did enter the Portuguese salaried consular service. His first office was in Morocco and he was later transferred to Athens as Consul-General. In 1842 his services were dispensed with, but he continued to reside in Athens, being apparently engaged in business. The Pacifico family is of Italian Jewish origin. David Pacifico's parents were Asser Pacifico and Bella, daughter of Moses Rieti, also a member of a Venetian Jewish family. They were married in London under the auspices of Bevis Marks in 1761. Another contemporary Anglo-Jewish family, emanating from Venice, was that of dTsraeli, in Italy Israeli. There were marriage connections between all the Venetian Jewish * This paper was prepared by Mr. Hyamson but was not delivered before his death in October 1954. 1 See e.g. D.N.B, and the Jewish Encyclopedia. 2 24th January, 1848 (Correspondence respecting the Demands made upon the Greek Govern? ment . . . Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty. February 1850. pp. 112 and 151). 3 Ibid. p. 151. 4 Ibid. p. 121. See also pp. 11 and 13. 1</page><page sequence="2">2 DON PACIFICO families in England, as in the case of other Jewish groups emanating from the same geographical centre on the Continent. During the earlier half of the nineteenth century it was a custom for the Greeks to celebrate Easter by the burning in effigy of Judas Iscariot. In April 1847 the Athens police forbade this combined display of high spirits and religious intolerance?it was said in order not to offend Baron Charles de Rothschild, who was at the time in the city and from or through whom the Government was anxious to obtain a loan. Despite the prohibition, however, the mob assembled in accordance with custom. Baulked of its immediate object it turned on the house of Pacifico which happened to be near, broke into and pillaged it. The house was damaged and much of its contents stolen or des? troyed. Police were in the neighbourhood but made no noticeable attempt to protect the property or disperse the mob. Pacifico estimated his losses as a consequence of the attack at about ?32,000 and he made a claim for this sum on the Greek Government. Failing to obtain satisfaction he turned to his own Government, the British. As a consequence the Pacifico Affair ceased to remain a petty affair of local consequence. It entered a larger field and influenced not only the fate of a British Government but also the hazards of peace and war. The matter first came under the notice of Palmerston, the Foreign Minister, and the Foreign Office in May 1847 when Sir Edmund Lyons, the British Minister in Athens, sent a despatch1 reporting Pacifico's complaint to him. "It has been the custom in Athens for some years to burn an effigy of Judas on Easter Day, but this year the Government, in consequence of the Baron C. M. de Rothschild being here, took measures to prevent it taking place; and the brigands who infest the capital took advantage of the occasion to spread a report that M. Pacifico, who is a Jew, was the cause of the dis? continuance of this annual custom, and to excite the people against him in order that they might plunder his house.(The mob was) aided, instead of being repressed, by soldiers and gendarmes, and who were accompanied and encouraged, if not headed, by persons whose presence naturally induced a belief amongst the soldiers and the mob that the outrages they were committing would be indulgently treated by the Government. I have not failed to represent to M?ns. Coletti that there is a great distinction between a common burglary and a protracted attack upon a large and conspicuous house in the middle of the day by several hundred persons who were aided instead of being repressed by soldiers and gendarmes, and who were accompanied and encouraged, if not headed, by persons whose presence naturally induced a belief amongst the soldiers and the mob that the outrage they were committing would be indulgently treated by the Government,\ With the despatch Lyons enclosed a letter from Pacifico, dated 7th April, 1847 : "Last Sunday, Easter Day, at about 12 o'clock, a crowd of people, amongst whom were some soldiers of the gendarmerie just come out of church, presented themselves at the door of my house, which they very soon battered down with large pieces of stone. These brigands, in number about 300 or 400, entered my house, and swearing dreadfully, began beating my wife, my innocent children, and my son-in-law. After having broken the windows, doors, tables, chairs, and every other article of furniture, they robbed me of my jewels, forcing open the closets in which were vases, candlesticks, gold and silver ornaments, diamonds, and lastly a box containing money to the amount of 9,800 drachmas, of which 2,300 were my own private property, and 7,500 which had been deposited with me by the Jewish Community of Italy for the projected erection of a temple, and for the poor of this kingdom. These barbarians did not even leave me the Consular Portuguese Archives which were torn by them to pieces. These papers being my security from that nation for the sum of ?21,295.1.4 sterling." 1 Ibid. No. 75 of 20th May, 1847, p. 53.</page><page sequence="3">DON PACIFICO 3 Pacifico had addressed himself at once to the local judicial authorities, and the Attorney-General had instituted an enquiry. But three days later, and without awaiting the results, Pacifico, doubtless on advice, claimed the protection of the British Legation as a British subject. The Greek Foreign Minister neither made reply to nor even acknowledged the British Minister's representations although several weeks passed. Palmerston therefore instructed Lyons1 to obtain from Pacifico a detailed statement of his losses and claims and "if the claims appear to be just and reasonable and if his statement is supported by satisfactory proof, you will present a note to the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs requesting His Excel? lency to direct that the sum so claimed shall be paid to Monsieur Pacifico." The death of Coletti, the Greek Foreign Minister, on 12th September, 1847 no doubt caused some excusable delay but did not excuse the continued failure to give the required satisfaction or even to reply to the British representations, and on the 1st October2 Lyons had again to report to Palmerston that, although he had pressed Coletti's successor, Glarakis, for a settlement, he had obtained no satisfaction. With this despatch Lyons forwarded a detailed statement of Pacifico's claim which amounted in all to the equivalent of ?31,534.1.1 ; of which ?26,618.16.8 represented the loss of documents supporting claims (?21,295.1.4 plus interest) against the Portuguese Government. ?293.19.6 money deposited with him by Jewish Communities in Italy and by Baron James de Rothschild of Paris for the benefit of the Jewish Community of Greece and ?200.4.3 "thorough repair of the damage done to the house." In addition Pacifico claimed "(1) The interest on my claim upon Portugal from the 24th of July until such time as I shall be paid, (2) An indemnification equivalent to the rent of my house, which I can no longer let, as I did before that calamity, because it is uninhabitable, (3) Indemnification for the expenses which I have incurred in consequence of my wife's illness and my daughter's wound, (4) Lastly, an indemnification for the injury which so lamentable an occurrence has occasioned to my reputation and to my credit." In his detailed list of specific losses he did not show undue modesty: Three drawing room cushions ? ?75 Damask tablecloths ? ?10 each Four dozen serviettes ? ?15 One dozen dessert serviettes ? ?36 Three copper frying pans ? ?2.10.0. Two pudding moulds, over ? ?1 each A warming pan ? ?4 etc. With regard to the claims against the Portuguese Government Lyons stated that he considered them "just and proper." A week later Pacifico addressed an appeal for support direct to Palmerston.3 In the meanwhile Pacifico had put forward a further claim against the Greek Govern? ment. His house and land abutted on the wall of the Royal Palace Gardens and, as he 1 F. O. 32 : No. 64 of 19th July, 1847. 2 F. O. 32 : No. 153 of 1st October, 1847 and "Correspondence respecting the Demands," etc., No. 4. 3 "Correspondence respecting the Demands," etc. No. 5 of 8th October, 1847.</page><page sequence="4">4 DON PACIFICO said, when he learnt that the King desired to acquire a portion of his land so as to round off the gardens, Pacifico had willingly acceded to the request, asking only for the price that he had paid for the land. This was agreed to but, although the land had been taken, two or three years had passed and still Pacifico was unable to obtain payment. There was a similar, although independent, claim on the part of George Finlay, the English historian of Greece, who was at the time resident in Athens, which the Greek Govern? ment had also failed to meet. Palmerston acted promptly. Within a few days of the receipt of Pacifico's appeal he instructed1 Lyons to press energetically for the payment of those claims that had previously been put forward and also for the value of the land that had in effect been expropriated. In the meanwhile Pacifico reported another outrage, although of a minor character, and appealed for protection and redress. It was alleged that the mob on this occasion was led by a son of the Prime Minister. Sir Edmund Lyons promptly called the attention of the Greek Government to this further incident and at the same time pressed for payment for the land that had been purchased (?) and of the compensation previously demanded on account of the original outrage.2 The response of the Greek Government was a series of prevarications that dragged through the subsequent two or three years. At first Glarakis, the Greek Foreign Minister, argued that Pacifico should have applied to the Greek Courts of Justice and denied that the British or any other foreign government had any locus standi in the matter. The second attack, of which Pacifico complained, Glarakis dismissed as "quite trivial." "Towards the end of the month of September about thirty children ran together in pursuit of an individual, and having taken the direction of the dwelling of M. Pacifico, approach? ed thither, crying out against the object of their pursuit, and they made the Israelite believe that this mob was directed against him, and that they were going probably to invade his house. It is true that in passing under his windows those children uttered at the same time some exclamations, but this was all; and the police who hastened immediately to the place where this scene occurred relate that it is from the mouth of the Sieir Tzarmitzi himself, whom M. Pacifico speaks of a witness and protector of his domicile, that these facts were reported to them."3 Palmerston fully supported his representative in Athens and agreed with him in accepting in full the claims of Pacifico. He even went further and on the 2nd February 18484 instructed him to press for payment not only of the sum of ?21,295.1.4 for loss of property, etc., but also for interest on this amount at ten per cent from the 24th January 1845 when Pacifico first preferred his claim against the Portuguese Government, and in addition ?500 on account of Pacifico's "personal injuries and sufferings." The further claims "which must be considered, prima facie at least, to be reasonable and proper" should also be pressed. Glarakis, when he did trouble to reply to these representations, continued to take up the position that the claims were a matter for submission to the local Courts of Justice. The second attack he suggested was a figment of Pacifico's imagination. So far as the criminal side of the case was concerned?the attack by the mob on Pacifico's house? 1 Idem No. 6 of 30th October, 1847 and F.O. 32, No. 100. 2 F. O. 32 : No. 7 (Lyons to Palmerston). 3 Enclosure No. 3 to F.O. 32 : No. 7, (Lyons to Palmerston). 4 F.O. 32 : No. 5 (Palmerston to Lyons).</page><page sequence="5">DON PACIFICO 5 Lyons reported an opinion given by Greek lawyers to the effect that members of the Prime Minister's family were "beyond the reach of the Law."1 In February 1848 there came an interlude of which Palmerston and Lyons took full advantage. A Greek citizen had been "cruelly" treated in Cairo and the Greek Govern? ment appealed to the British Minister to secure the intervention of the British Minister in Constantinople on his behalf?Egypt was still considered a province of the Ottoman Empire. Sir Edmund replied to the Greek Foreign Minister to the effect that he had transmitted the request to the British Minister in Constantinople "who will, I am very sure, do all that is right in the interest of Justice and humanity without allowing himself to be influenced in the slightest degree by the reflection that whilst His Hellenic Majesty's Government expect him to support their demands for redress for ill treat? ment received by a Greek subject in Egypt, they do not satisfy the demands of Her Majesty's Government for redress for ill treatment received by persons under the British protection in Greece." This reply was after Palmerston's own heart and he warmly approved it. In replying to Lyons he instructed him to inform Glarakis that "Her Majesty's Government cannot refrain from expressing their surprise that the Greek Government should ask British assistance to obtain redress for wrongs sustained by Greek subjects, while the Greek Government is evading to grant redress for wrongs sustained in Greece by British subjects and Her Majesty's Government cannot but remark that there is as little of dignity in the application for aid made by the Greek Government as there is justice in the denial of redress."2 Sir Edmund Lyons was instructed to read this despatch to Glarakis. Pacifico now enlisted outside support and appealed to Adolphe Cremieux, the French Jewish statesman, to use his influence with the Greek Prime Minister to get his claims settled. Cremieux did write to Coletti as one "who has a devotion towards Greece which amounts almost to worship. Athens always presents itself to me sur? rounded by a circle of glory."3 But the Greek statesman was on his deathbed and, although Pacifico claimed that Coletti had been moved by the letter and had decided to grant the request, the intervention brought no result. The terms of Palmerston's despatch, however, had no noticeable effect and the series of demands for a settlement, which either remained unanswered or brought further objections and delays, continued. In the meanwhile a new Foreign Minister, M. Colocotrony, had been appointed in Athens and Sir Edmund Lyons approached him to the same end. He asked for payment without delay of the balance of the sum due for the acquisition of Pacifico's land?an inadequate payment had in the meanwhile been made; of the sum of five hundred pounds damages for the sufferings of Pacifico and his family; and for an assurance that "the main question of compensation for his losses on that occasion (the sack of Pacifico's house) is in a fair way of settlement."4 The reply was again unsatisfactory, though of great length. In the course of it Colocotrony explained that on taking up office he had found considerable arrears of correspondence that required attention. Among these were the communications that 1 F.O. 32 : No. 16 of 7th February, 1848 (Sir E. Lyons to Viscount Palmerston). 2 F.O. 32 : No. 22 of 19th February, 1848. 3 "Correspondence," etc. p. 150. 4 F.O. 32 : No. 104 of 20th September, 1848. B</page><page sequence="6">6 DON PAC1FIC? related to the claims of British subjects against the Greek Government. However, all he did was to reiterate all the objections to the claims that had already been made, which had been brushed aside by the Foreign Office. He argued again that Pacifico should have had recourse to the Greek Courts and not until justice had been denied to him there had the British Government any locus standi in the matter. Palmerston therefore instructed1 Lyons to state to M. Colocotrony that he had received his communications on the subject of the claims against his Government by Pacifico and Finlay and that "Her Majesty's Government felt very great regret at the tone and substance of those com? munications .Her Majesty's Government had hoped that the present administration of Greece would have been inspired by a spirit of justice and by a sense of what is due to the honor of the Greek Crown and to the character of the Greek Nation. That Her Majesty's Government still hope and trust the full and complete answers given by Pacifico and Findlay (sic) to the objections made to their respective claims will have been duly considered by the Greek Government and that the claims of those two British subjects will either have been fully satisfied or will have been put into a train of speedy adjustment." Lyons was instructed at the same time to call attention to other unsatisfied demands and to request an immediate settlement of them. A fortnight later (October 19th) Lyons wrote2 again to Palmerston, forwarding further correspondence with the Greek, Foreign Minister. "The refusal to pay M. Pacifico for the land purchased from him for the use of King Otho, in the face of the proofs he gives of the sale, is altogether incomprehensible, nor is it easy to understand how the Greek Government can expect to escape indemnifying him for the losses and injuries he sustained in consequence of the attacks upon his house." The correspondence thereupon continued with as little satisfaction to Palmerston, Lyons or the claimants. At the end of the year there was a change at the Ministry of Finance in Athens, and the new Minister was induced to promise to pay at least the sum still due for the acquisition of Pacifico's land. However, the Minister soon went back on his promise. Pacifico, in despair, offered two alternatives to the Minister, either to pay the balance due, or to return the land to Pacifico, whereupon he would refund the money he had already received on account of the transaction. This offer, however, led nowhere. The reply of the Greek Government was to the effect that the original contract for the purchase could not be found and the Ministry could not accept Pacifico's copy as valid. However the pressure of the British Minister did have effect, for on the 28th February 18493 Lyons was able to report to Palmerston that the Minister of Finance had promised to pay on that day the money due in respect of the land. And this money was paid. But even then an attempt was made to induce Pacifico to become a party to a curious proceed? ing whose purpose is not altogether clear. The Minister of Finance tried to persuade Pacifico to sign a receipt for a sum smaller than that which he was to receive. This suggestion Pacifico rejected as "incompatible with his own honour and injurious to neighbours who are in the same situation with regard to their property as himself?and in this I (Sir Edmund Lyons) also supported him." 1 2nd October, 1848. 2 F.O. 32 : No. 14 of 19th October, 1848. 3 F.O. 32 : No. 19.</page><page sequence="7">DON PACIFICO 7 The British Government's efforts did not however cease with this payment. Sir Edmund Lyons was transferred from Athens early in 1849 and he was succeeded as British Minister by Thomas Wyse, who was at once instructed by Palmerston to continue the efforts that had previously been made to secure the full payment of Pacifico's claims. This Wyse did, but similarly without effect. Wyse was not previously a member of the Diplomatic Service, but a member of the House of Commons. At the time of his appointment to Athens he held a minor government appointment and almost simultan? eously with his arrival in Athens had been made a Privy Councillor. Some years later he was made a K.C.B. Wyse, who was a Roman Catholic, had married in 1821 a niece of the Emperor Napoleon, but they had separated seven years later. Although the Greek Foreign Ministers, who followed one another in fairly quick succession, as a rule ignored the representations of the British Minister, they were not slow to ask for British intervention on behalf of their own subjects whenever such inter? vention was considered useful. One instance?on behalf of a Greek who was said to have been unjustly treated by the Egyptian Government?has already been mentioned. In September 1849 there was another appeal for British assistance, when Glarakis, the Foreign Minister at the time, asked that the Queen's Minister in Florence should be instructed to support the claim of certain Greek subjects at Leghorn in their demand for the restitution of the War contribution that had been levied on them eighteen months earlier.1 The British Government was, however, not so complaisant on this occasion. Not only did Palmerston refuse to intervene, but the opportunity was taken to tell the Greek Foreign Minister that "Her Majesty's Government.cannot refrain from expressing their surprise that the Greek Government should venture to ask the good offices of Her Majesty's Government to prevail on a third Power to satisfy the claims of subjects of the King of Greece while there are so many just claims of British and Ionian subjects still remaining unsatisfied by the Government of His Hellenic Majesty."2 During the month that elapsed between the appeal of the Greek Government and the reply, one slight movement had been made towards a settlement. Finlay had agreed to submit his claim against the Greek Government to arbitration and Wyse reported optimistically that that claim should therefore be within sight of settlement. He under? stood that, as soon as it was out of the way, the Greek Government would give considera? tion to the Pacifico claims. Wyse, however, did not yet know the ways of Greek diplomacy. The Finlay arbitration could certainly have been concluded within a few hours, but it wasn't. Very much ink and patience had still to be spent before any payment was made, or agreed to be made, to Pacifico. By December Wyse had to admit that his patience was exhausted. "All my efforts for the settlement of M. Pacifico's claim have proved ineffectual".3 However, he made one more effort before the end of the year. Taking advantage of the appointment of a new Greek Foreign Minister, M. Londos, he at once called "his immediate attention to the unsatisfied demands made on behalf of aggrieved British and Ionian subjects." This be considered to be "the best and frankest mode of responding to the confidence which Monsieur Londos invited."4 Palmerston approved this move. 1 F.O. 32 : Enclosure in No. 33 of 2nd September, 1849. 2 F.O. 32 : No. 43 of 8th October, 1849. 3 F.O. 32 : No. 63 of 8th December, 1849. 4 F.O. 32 : No. 69 of 26th December, 1849.</page><page sequence="8">8 DON PACIFICO In the meanwhile Palmerston had also begun to lose patience. The possibility of more positive action had been gradually entering his mind and in November 1849 he had written to Wyse giving him instructions regarding co-operation with Admiral Sir William Parker, who was in command of the fleet in the Mediterranean, with a view to obtaining a satisfactory settlement of the claims on the Greek Government. Parker was at the time in Turkish waters, sent there to support the Porte against the pressure brought to bear against it by the Russian and Austrian Emperors to surrender the Hungarian and Polish refugees who had fled to Turkey for protection after the abortive attempt by the Hungarians to gain their independence. The sending of the British fleet to the Dardanelles had aroused suspicions and uneasiness in all the principal chancelleries of Europe and had led to the appearance of a French fleet at Smyrna, which in its turn had aroused suspicions in Whitehall. But the Turkish difficulties were soon settled or on the way to settlement and the British fleet was, after not a long interval, sailing west. On this return, at the instance of the British Foreign Office, it went out of its way to call at the Piraeus and there it was at the disposal of Wyse in order to support his pressure on the Greek Government. With the fleet by his side Wyse was able to take a still stronger line. In his despatch to Palmerston of the 18th January 1850,1 he reported that he had reminded M. Londos, the Greek Foreign Minister, that24 "I left untried no opportunities or means of persuasion which could bring the question to an amicable settlement. M. Glarakis on five several occasions promised me that it should be entered on and on each proved unwilling or unable to redeem his pledge. Worn out at last by continued and ineffectual solicitations I informed him, and he agreed to the arrangement, that I should consider his silence as tantamount to a refusal of the demand". The Greek Government was given unofficially twenty-four hours in order to satisfy the British demands, in the absence of which, after the lapse of a further twenty-four hours, steps would be taken to compel compliance. Admiral Sir William Parker, who was present at the interview, confirmed Wyse's statement and said that he had full directions to support the demand in the most effective manner. M. Londos complained that further time was not given for consideration. On the following day, however, he informed Wyse that the Greek Government had appealed to the Govern? ments of France and Russia for their good offices, which appeal had been answered and he yet trusted that "through their amicable mediation the question might be adjusted." Wyse rejected the suggestion of arbitration or mediation. There was therefore no al? ternative but to present the formal note which had been foreshadowed. Later in the evening offers came from the French and Russian Ministers of their good offices but these were declined. Subsequent offers to the same effect were also declined. On the following day the Bavarian Minister also intervened and again suggested arbitration. In the meanwhile British residents were warned of the position of affairs and Pacifico and his family were taken on board a man-of-war. A blockade of the Piraeus, so far as government vessels was concerned, followed immediately. This proving ineffective, on the following day the British Minister and his staff embarked on a vessel of the blockading fleet. Correspondence ensued from the vessel between Wyse and the Greek Government and the French and Russian Ministers which led to no result. The line taken was that the British action amounted 1 F.O. 32: No. 2.</page><page sequence="9">DON PACIFICO 9 to "an attack on the independence of Greece, a disturbance of her tranquillity, an encroach? ment on her resources", and as such entitling the two other contracting powers to the Treaty of London (France and Russia), to step in and interpose their veto to the exercise of such right. "The detention of the few vessels, for the most part in a wretched condition and far below the amount of the compensation claimed, constituting the King's Fleet, has touched the pride of the Government, but has not induced it to yield. The "Otho", a schooner and a few gunboats have been detained; a corvette has been discovered at Poros, but so unseaworthy as not to be worth the removal, and our steamers are in pursuit of others".1 Wyse proposed as a next step the complete blockade of the Piraeus and of the ports of Patras and Syra. If these means were not effective an attack on private property and Greek commerce would have to follow. Greek inaction seemed to be based on the hope that the British fleet would soon be needed elsewhere and that then the control of the Greek vessels and property would come to an end. Wyse hinted at the same time that Greek intransigence was to some extent, at any rate, due to outside encouragement or pressure. Pacifico was the only British subject considered in need of special protection. The others were so far unmolested. A week later Wyse reported to Palmerston that the Russian representatives continued their support to Greece. "They have also apparently complied with the request of the Greek Government and placed their men-of-war at its disposal."2 The blockade was then extended to Greek merchant ships, all of those which could be caught being seized. At the beginning of February, a little later, Persiany, the Russian Charge d'Affaires, repeated the protest of Thouvenel. The argument was to the effect that the payment of the sums demanded by Britain would imperil the financial stability of the Greek Government on which depended the payment of interest on, and amortization of, the loan to Greece jointly guaranteed by the three powers.3 Greece had, however, already for some years defaulted on this loan and left the guaranteeing Powers to pay. And, as Wyse pointed out,4 financial stringency did not prevent the simultaneous appointment of expensive missions to Paris and St. Petersburg, intended, presumably, to urge the continuance of French and Russian support. Reporting5 on the 8th February the development of the blockade, Wyse said that the seizure of Greek vessels continued but no effect so far as the Greek Government was concerned was perceptible. "The intrigues of the Court: the almost incredible ignorance of the Ministry of the nature and extent of our demands ;6 the encouragement given by the Russian Charge d'Affaires and Party and by the French Minister (by proffering their services and promising the support of their respective governments) to this resistance of the Greek Government to our claims, continue to be the chief causes of this delay. The Greek Government still uses every effort to mislead the public both here and elsewhere as to the real nature of the case. They are vehemently, I might add virulently, seconded by the Russian organs of the Greek Press. 1 F.O. 32 : No. 3 of 18th January, 1850, and Further Correspondence respecting the Demands made upon the Greek Government . . . presented to both Houses of Parliament, 11 th May, 1850. 2 This statement was based on an unfounded rumour, but see F.O. 32 quoted below. 3 F.O. 32 : No. 11 of 7th February, 1850. 4 F. O. 32 : No. 8 of 29th January, 1850. 5 F.O. 32 : No. 12 of 8th February, 1850. ? The Greek Cabinet was apparently kept to a large extent in ignorance of the nature of the claims,</page><page sequence="10">10 DON PACIFICO The British Government is still represented as having made a sudden and peremptory demand, within twenty hours, for compensation, to an enormous and unproved amount, to a Jew of doubtful nationality ; all notice of previous remonstrances and continued indifferences on the part of the Greek Government continues to be suppressed, and the conclusion is drawn that these demands are mere pretexts set up to conceal a design to subvert (by fomenting discontent and embarrassing the public revenues) the present order of things, to dethrone the King and convert the Kingdom into a British dependency etc." In another despatch on the same day Wyse reported to Palmerston that the Greek Government was manifesting its determination not to comply with the demands of Great Britain.1 "The Greek Government shows no signs of yielding to our demands; and the French Minister and the Russian Charge d'Affaires not only continue to countenance their resistance, but attempt ... to convert a question simply affecting British and Greek interests, into a controversy between Great Britain and the two other Great Powers ; they have also apparently complied with the request of the Greek Government, and placed their men-of-war at its disposal". Practically the whole of the Greek navy had been secured, but its total value fell below the sum of the claims. The attachment of merchant vessels was therefore being proceeded with. The Greek Government apparently feared, or pretended to fear, that a bombardment of the Piraeus and a direct attack on Athens would follow. They communicated their fears to the Corps Diplomatique, who made joint representations to Wyse. The intention was to seize only as much property as was equal in value to the claims. The French and Russian representatives nevertheless protested at every step, but this may have been on their own responsibility.2 On the same day the Admiral in command, Sir William Parker, reporting to the Secretary of the Admiralty, said : "Since the first rumour of the embargo being contemplated every subterfuge has been resorted to, by tampering with the papers of Greek vessels, to exempt them and their cargoes from detention on the ground of their having been chartered by foreigners.and to stamp the cargoes as the property of Russians, Austrians and Turks."3 In the meanwhile the French Government was active in London, and the centre of interest was shifting from Athens. According to a despatch fron the French Ambassador in London published in The Times4' apparently based on information supplied by its Athens correspondent, Patrick O'Brien,5 who was very friendly disposed towards the Greek Government, the French Ambassador in London, Drouyn de Thuys demanded as a condition of the acceptance of French good offices in the dispute that (1) communica? tions between Athens and other parts of the Hellenic dominions should be re-established, 1 F.O. 32 : No. 13 of 8th February, 1850. 2 Further Correspondence, etc. (Wyse to Palmerston), No. 17 of 28th January, 1850. 3 Adm. 1/5603 : No. 36 of 8th February, 1850. 4 The Times, 22nd May, 1850. 5 O'Brien had previously served the newspaper in Constantinople. He was not altogether reliable and was at the end of the year dismissed from the service of The Times for other reasons. One of the principal reasons for his dismissal was that he had accepted favours from King Otho and his Government and could not therefore be considered impartial (History of the Times, II p. 241). The Paris Correspondent of The Times was J. B. O'Meagher who also got into trouble, but later, for making himself a mere mouthpiece of the President, Louis Napoleon (ibid. II p. 140).</page><page sequence="11">DON PACIFICO 11 (2) the obstacles that had been thrown in the way of commerce should be removed, (3) the blockade should be raised, and (4) the capture of Greek merchantmen should cease and the vessels already captured released. Palmerston replied that acceptance of the conditions was out of the question, and they were dropped. On the 15th Palmerston was in a position to write1 to Wyse forwarding a copy of a note sent to M. Drouyn de Thuys, the French Ambassador in London, in reply to an offer by the French Government of their good offices for the settlement of the differences that existed between Her Majesty's Government and that of Greece. This offer was accepted but it was made clear from the beginning that arbitration would not be accepted, only "good offices". On the question of the principle of the claims against Greece there was nothing to discuss. It had to be accepted. Once it had been accepted the details and the size of the claims against the Greek Government might be considered. There had for years been rivalry between Britain on the one hand and France, Russia, Austria and Prussia?in particular the first two Powers?on the other over the affairs of Greece. This went back to the Greek revolt against Turkey in 1820 and the establish? ment in 1832, as a sequel to it, of a constitutional monarchy, on the insistence of Britain, under the joint protection of Britain, France and Russia. Otho, a young Bavarian prince, had been chosen as the head of the new state. He was a boy at the time, but his develop? ment was not in the direction of constitutional monarchy. A most scathing character sketch from the pen of Lord Palmerston is to be found in a despatch to Lord Normanby, the British Ambassador in Paris.2 "Unfortunately it has happened that the King of Greece ever since his majority has pursued a system of policy diametrically at variance with the attainment of all these ends. Endowed by nature with a very limited capacity, he has nevertheless persuaded himself or has been persuaded by others that he is capable of managing alone all the affairs, great and small, of his kingdom, and though he is slow in making up his mind upon any thing, and is sometimes unable on some things to make up his mind at all, he looks upon any interference with his own personal will as a personal offence to himself. The consequence has-been that he has excluded from the service of the State all men of liberal political opinions, of self respect, and of independence of mind, and has surrounded himself with ministers who have been either so pliant in character as to be always ready to submit their opinions to his will, or who have been so deficient in the qualities required for the government of a state that they had scarcely any opinions for him to overrule." This scathing summary was followed in the same despatch with a criticism of the behaviour of the other Guaranteeing Powers. "For many years past King Otho has been encouraged in his vicious system of government by all the Powers of Europe with which he has diplomatic relations, with the single exception of England ; Russia, Austria and Prussia entertaining strong adversion to, and great dread of, constitutional principles, backed up King Otho in all his schemes for at first evading to grant a constitution, and for afterwards practically rendering that constitution a nullity. The Govern? ment of France might indeed have been looked to for support for the constitutional liberty of the Greeks, but the French Government, under the late Monarchy, abetted in Greece the same system of corruption and illegality which in France has brought the Monarchy to the ground." 1 F.O. 32 : No. 8 of 15th February, 1850. * F.O. 27 : No. 429 of 3rd October, 1848.</page><page sequence="12">12 DON PACIFICO And so that the views of the British Government should not pass unknown Palmer ston instructed Normanby to give a copy of the despatch to the French Foreign Minister. Normanby's reply1 was that he had handed a copy of the despatch to M. Bastide, the Foreign Minister, and, as a consequence, he anticipated that there would be "a disposition to depart from that spirit of antagonism between supposed French and English interests which had so frequently troubled the international relations during the last two years of the late reign." Eighteen months earlier2 Palmerston had also spoken very plainly to the French Government. "I have to instruct Your Excellency to tell M. Guizot3 that Her Majesty's Government are unable to perceive what object of political or com? mercial advantage there can be for the attainment of which England and France would find it worth while to engage in a struggle for influence over the Government of Greece." Then followed a very severe criticism of the Greek Prime Minister, Coletti, and his Ministers "supported by corruption, violence, intimidation and undue pressure." Coletti, the despatch said, was supported by King Otho "who hopes to use him as an instrument for the overthrow of the constitutional form of government." To return to the negotiations in London, these progressed with rapidity. Drouyn de Thuys, when he approached Palmerston at the beginning of February, intimated that the acceptance of the good offices of France "would be useful to them (the French Government) with reference to their position at home." Palmerston probably realized this, but he was not quite satisfied of the good faith of the French. If goodwill were shown on both sides the arrangement of an agreement, the principle of the acceptance of responsibility, could be merely a matter of days. Palmerston was therefore generous in suggesting three weeks as a maximum period, although he had to accompany this suggestion with the veiled threat that, if an agreement were not reached within that period, the pressure exercised by the fleet would have to be resumed.4 Baron Gros, a French diplomatist, was accepted as mediator, and in a further despatch5 to Normanby, Palmerston stated that "being convinced that if Baron Gros shall find after a reasonable time that he is not likely to succeed .... he will cordially, frankly, and without delay give notice thereof to Mr. Wyse." When informing Wyse on the same day of the course of the negotiations in London Palmerston added,6 so that there should be no misunderstanding, "if at the end of a reasonable time after the commencement of the discussions a satisfactory arrangement shall not have been concluded on all the matters in dispute, you will inform Sir Wm. Parker thereof in order that he may again have recourse to such means of coercion as on consultation with you he may deem necessary for obtaining the reparation which we require from the Greek Government." In the meanwhile the Greek naval and mercantile vessels that had been seized by Parker would remain under his control until full satisfaction has been actually given by the Greek Government. "As no dependence could be placed upon mere promises made by that Government if no sufficient pledges were kept in hand for the faithful execution of such promises and there 1 F.O. 27 : No. 644 of 13th October, 1848. 2 F.O. 27 : No. 183 of 14th May, 1847. 3 At the time French Foreign Minister. 4 F.O. 27 : No. 92 of 13th February, 1850. 5 F.O. 27 : No. 100 of 15th February, 1850. 8 F.O. 32 : No. 8 of 15th February, 1850.</page><page sequence="13">DON PACIFICO 13 would be great risk, if promises alone were trusted to, that those promises would be broken and that a necessity for active measures would again recur." This was followed on the next day by a further despatch1 informing Wyse of the choice of Gros as the organ of the good offices of the French Government. "Baron Gros is a man of sense and of a conciliatory disposition, and the choice seems to be a good one." But "Her Majesty's Government cannot give up any of the demands which have been made.It is possible.that propositions may be made to you respecting the detailed amount of Mr. Pacifico's claim; and you are not to hold yourself precluded from taking any such proposition into consideration if you should think it deserving of attention." It was said that this step by France was a consequence of rising anxiety regarding the intentions of Russia and the extent to which that Power was using the French intervention in support of its policy, which was suspected to be more pro-Russian than pro-French or pro-Greek. So far as Thouvenel, the French Minister in Athens between whom and Wyse relations were becoming less and less cordial, was concerned, the most was made of Gros's mission which was treated by his agents in the local press as a considerable French victory.2 It was generally believed that Thouvenel had gone so far as to request the French Admiral who was still at Smyrna to bring his squadron to Greek waters as a counter-stroke to Sir William Parker's action, but that the Admiral had declined to do so.3 Later in a very long despatch4 to Wyse, Palmerston made the position absolutely clear. "The French Government was distinctly informed by that note (to Drouyn de Thuys of 12 Feb.) that Her Majesty's Government accepted the good offices of France with a view to obtain through the friendly intervention of the French Government that satisfaction which they had taken steps to procure by other means, that Her Majesty's Government could not give up any of their demands, but would suspend coercive measures during the negotiation of the French Agent, trusting to his good faith and honour to inform you if he should fail in his efforts to bring matters to a satisfactory settlement; and that in that case reprisals would again begin. But that, although coercive measures would be suspended during the negotiation of the French Agent, the detained vessels could not be released until full satisfaction had been obtained. The French Government has.made repeated endeavours to obtain the immediate release of the detained merchant vessels, but Her Majesty's Government. have not felt it possible to yield to such suggestions .... The whole amount of (Pacifico's) claim (for damage and destruction of property) even taking Mr. Pacifico's own estimate falls somewhat short of ?5,000. The claim however may possibly admit of some reduction, if it can be shown that the values set by him upon the articles which he lost are in any instances obviously too high, but where only a doubt arises, it is but fair under the circumstances of the case that such doubt should be determined in his favor, and it is to be remembered that what he lost was everything of every kind that was in the house