‘Dear Brother’ the unpublished letters of Charles Cadogan part 2.5, a change of plan; to Constantinople via the Balkans (July 1785)

Working my way through Cadogan’s letters, I realised that the date of the 25th letter has been misread. It is actually July 1785, rather than July 1789, and so it comes between his letters of May 1785 from Naples and August 1785 from Constantinople. Cadogan’s travel plans have changed abruptly, because he’s been told that the Balkan road is safe; instead of going to Spain and Gibraltar from Italy, he’s heading to Constantinople. Sir Robert Ainslie is the British Ambassador there. It was part of an ambassador’s job to keep open house for important British travellers. Cadogan met the technical qualification for importance. His father Lord Cadogan was – til recently – Master of the Mint and his great uncle General Earl Cadogan had been the Duke of Marlborough’s right-hand man. More than that, his letters suggest  throughout his travels that he was a great hit in diplomatic circles, and must’ve been very interesting company.

The ‘Scheld Business’ was the Austrian attempt to reopen the River Scheldt; the Dutch had blockaded the Scheldt in order to close the port of Antwerp, belonging to the Austrian Netherlands, now Belgium, and divert all trade to their own ports. Joseph II of Austria, Mozart’s patron, declared war in October 1784. It is known in Holland as ‘the Kettle War’ because when the Austrian battleship opened fire the only casualty was a kettle aboard a Dutch ship.


Vienna July 3d 1785

Dear Brother,

I got here 5 days ago after a most delightfull journey from Naples by Loretto, Ancona, Bologna, and Venice. I can not bring into the Compass of a letter the things I have seen on this journey, and therefore shall proceed by telling you I set out next week for Constantinople. I have said nothing to you hitherto of this, tho’ you know I had thought of it before I left England. The Reason is that I could not be quite certain of the Practicability of it on account of the Plague, nor could I be certain of a reception in Sir Robert Ainslie’s house at Constantinople. I found a letter from him here telling me that the Road through Belgrade was safe, and that I heartily welcome to come to his house as long as I pleased. I shall probably stay with him about a Month or six week, after which I shall proceed for the Grecian Islands, and thence coast round Asia Minor to Tripoli. From thence I hope to make an excursion to Palmyra and Balbeck. After this I shall take touches at Tyr Sidon and Jerusalem in my way to Alexandria, and conclude all by a trip from thence to Grand Cairo and the Cataracts of the Nile. From hence I return again to Alexandria, where I shall embark for Marseilles. I take the Mines in Hungary, as well as touches at Belgrade and Adrianople in my way to Constantinople. I will write to you from thence as well as from Marseilles, but I am afraid our mutual Correspondence must cease till I get to the latter place, where I hope to be in April or May next. Therefore d’ont write any more after you get this, as it will be in vain, and if you have wrote before, I’ll leave order here for it to be forwarded to Constantinople as it will come time enough to catch me there.

God preserve you and Mrs Cadogan till I can hear from You again. The Emperor is at present at Milan. They say that the Dutch are to pay him a Compensation for the Damage they have done to his Dykes, and that the Peace will be reestablished. He has made but a poor figure in the Scheld Business.

I saw among other things in my way here the famous Holy House at Loretto they make such a rout about. The Treasure there is invaluable, and I wonder they do not keep a Garrison in the Place to defend it, for I verily believe that were the Turks to land, the Image  of the Virgin would prove but a poor Defence.

My best and kindest Compliments to Mrs Cadogan. Pray tell Vatas not to write to me any more till he hears further from me. My Compliments to him Old Loveday etc, and believe me Dear Brother Yours most affectionately CH Cadogan

(Parliamentary Archive CAD 4/25)


The Sultan of Turkey granting an audience to Sir Robert Ainslie from Views of the Ottoman Empire (c) © 2013 Istorii britanice in Bucuresti

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