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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Which fell in with the ambitions of Mehemet Ali


Turkish-Egyptian War]

[Sidenote: Battle of Nissiv]

[Sidenote: Abdul Medjid, Sultan]

The long-brewing war between Sultan Mahmoud of Turkey and his vassal, Mehemet Ali of Egypt, broke out in May. In the face of new assurances of peace, the Sultan ordered his commander-in-chief of the Euphrates to commence hostilities. The Turkish troops crossed the Euphrates on May 23. In spite of the good counsels of Moltke and other European officers at the Turkish headquarters, the Turks were outmanoeuvred by the Egyptian forces under Ibrahim. June 24, Ibrahim Pasha inflicted a crushing defeat on the Turkish army at Nissiv. All the artillery and stores fell into his hands. The Turkish army dispersed in another rout. Mahmoud II. did not live to hear of the disaster. One week after the battle of Nissiv, before news from the front had reached him, he died. The throne was left to his son, Abdul Medjid, a youth of sixteen.

[Sidenote: Turkish fleet betrayed]

[Sidenote: Anglo-French intervention]

[Sidenote: French diplomacy offset]

Scarcely had the new Sultan been proclaimed when the Turkish admiral, Achmet Fevzi, who had been sent out to attack the coast of Syria, sailed into Alexandria and delivered his fleet over to Mehemet Ali. Turkey, now practically rulerless,

was left without defence, on land and on water. Mehemet Ali not only declared Egypt independent of the Porte, but, encouraged by France, prepared to move on Constantinople. In this extremity the foreign Ambassadors at Constantinople addressed a collective note to the Divan, announcing European intervention. Shortly afterward a squadron of British and French warships sailed into the Dardanelles for the ostensible purpose of protecting Constantinople against Mehemet Ali, in reality to prevent Russia from profiting by the terms of its treaty of Unkiar Skelessi. In vain did Russia propose to join the coalition. The recent acquisition of Aden gave England the upper hand. Russian diplomacy accordingly directed itself toward effecting a breach between the allies. A good opening was afforded by the French intrigues at Cairo, which fell in with the ambitions of Mehemet Ali. As a result, France was gradually crowded out of the European coalition during the course of 1839.

[Sidenote: Decamps]

At the French Salon of this year Decamps exhibited his celebrated "Punishment of the Hooks," "Executioners at the Door of a Prison," and "Children Playing with Turtles." Decamps with Delacroix, the leader of the French school of romanticism, was praised at this time for the exceeding charm of his colors.

[Sidenote: Rise of English Conservatives]

England during this period passed through a Cabinet crisis. The popularity of Melbourne's Ministry was waning. Lord Melbourne was a typical Whig, opposed to the policy of the Tories, or, as they were beginning to be called at that time, the Conservatives. The alteration in title is attributed to John Wilson Croker, who, in the "Quarterly Review," referred to "what is called the Tory, but which might with more propriety be called the Conservative party." This new name was indorsed by Lord John Russell, who said, "If that is the name that pleases them, if they say that the old distinction of Whig and Tory should no longer be kept up, I am ready, in opposition to their name of Conservative, to take the name of Reformer, and to stand by that opposition." Sir Robert Peel defined Conservatism when he said, "My object for some years past has been to lay the foundation of a great party, which, existing in the House of Commons, and deriving its strength from the popular will, should diminish the risk and deaden the shock of collisions between the two branches of the legislature."

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