Morier, David Richard (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MORIER, DAVID RICHARD (1784–1877), diplomatist, was the third son of Isaac Morier [q. v.], consul-general to the Turkey Company at Constantinople, and was born at Smyrna 8 Jan. 1784. He was educated at Harrow, and entered the diplomatic service. In January 1804, at the age of twenty, he was appointed secretary to the political mission sent by the British government to 'Ali Pasha of Janina and to the Turkish governors of the Morea and other provinces, with a view to counteracting the influence of France in south-east Europe. In May 1807 he was ordered to take entire charge of the mission, but as the continued rupture of diplomatic relations between England and the Porte defeated his negotiations with the Turkish governors, he was presently transferred to Sir Arthur Paget's mission at the Dardanelles, the object of which was to re-establish peace. While attached to this mission he was despatched on special service to Egypt, where he was instructed to negotiate for the release of the British prisoners captured by Mohammed 'Ali during General Fraser's fruitless expedition against Rosetta in 1807. In the summer of 1808 he was attached to Mr. (afterwards Sir) Robert Adair's embassy, and in conjunction with Stratford Canning [q. v.], afterwards Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, assisted in the negotiations which resulted in the treaty of the Dardanelles of 5 Jan. 1809. He proceeded with Adair and Canning to Constantinople, where, with the exception of a mission on special service to Tabriz (where the British legation in Persia was then established) from October 1809 to the following summer, he remained engaged in the business of the embassy, first under Adair, and then (1810–12) as secretary of legation under his successor, Stratford Canning. (Some letters written during the period of his employment at Tabriz are published in Lane-Poole's 'Life of Stratford Canning.') On the termination of Canning's appointment, Morier accompanied him (July 1812) on his return to England. In 1813 he was attached to Lord Aberdeen's mission to Vienna, and during the years 1813-1815 was continually employed in the most important diplomatic transactions of the century the negotiations which accompanied the 'settlement of Europe' after the fall of Napoleon. He was with Lord Castlereagh at the conferences at Chatillon-sur-Seine, and assisted in the preparation of the treaties of Paris of May 1814. In the same year he attended the foreign minister at the famous congress of Vienna, and, when the Duke of Wellington succeeded Castlereagh in his difficult mission, Morier remained as one of the secretaries. In July 1815, after the final overthrow of Napoleon, Morier accompanied Castlereagh to Paris, and was occupied till September in drafting the celebrated treaties of 1815. He had been appointed consul-general for France in November 1814, but he did not take over the post until September of the following year, when the work upon the treaties was completed; and in the meanwhile he had married. At the same time he was named a commissioner for the settlement of the claims of British subjects upon the French government. The consul-generalship was abolished, and Morier retired on a pension 5 April 1832, but was almost immediately (5 June) appointed minister plenipotentiary to the Swiss Confederated States, a post which had previously been held by his old chief and lifelong friend, Stratford Canning. The fifteen years of his residence at Berne endeared him to British travellers and all who came under his genial and sympathetic influence. On 19 June 1847, at the age of sixty-three, he finally retired from the diplomatic service, and spent the remaining thirty years of his life in retirement.

Morier was a man of warm sympathies and transparent simplicity and honesty of character, and his varied experience of life and mankind never succeeded in chilling his heart or in clouding his gracious benignity. He was a staunch friend, and his affection for Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, for example, lasted unchanged for seventy years. His deep sense of religion led him to publish two pamphlets, entitled 'What has Religion to do with Politics?' (London, 1848), and 'The Basis of Morality' (London, 1869). At the age of seventy-three he published his one novel, 'Photo, the Suliote, a Tale of Modern Greece,' London, 1857, in which 'imperfect sketch' or 'fragment,' as he calls it, a vivid picture of Greek and Albanian life in the first quarter of the century is presented, with something of the graphic power of his more literary brother, the author of 'Hajji Baba.' The materials for the story, beyond his personal recollections, were supplied by a Greek physician with whom Morier was compelled to spend a period of quarantine at Corfu. He died in London 13 July 1877 at the age of ninety-three, but in full possession of his natural vivacity, a model, as Dean Stanley said, of the 'piety and virtue of the antique mould.' His only son, and last male representative of the family, Sir Robert Burnett David Morier, is noticed separately.

[Foreign Office List, 1877; Times (Dean Stanley), 16 July 1877; Lane-Poole's Life of Stratford Canning, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe; private information.]

S. L. P.