New Findings and Evidence on the Identity of Mehmed Rauf — Author of The Travelogue of EuropeFikret Turan
Mehmed Rauf, who visited many cities across Europe, described his travel impressions in The Travelogue of Europe (1851). Although the work holds a special place among the travelogues written by Tanzimat intellectuals and statesmen, questions concerning the identity of its author remained unanswered for a long time. We have had the opportunity to access the author’s autograph, and while examining various pages, it became clear that the author Mehmed Rauf was the son of Sadık Rıfat Pasha, one of the leading government ministers of the Tanzimat period. In the second part of the text of the same manuscript, in a short unpublished text titled, “The Discourse of Europe,” he recounts the social, political, and economic conditions of European societies. He held high-level positions in government offices when he became a member of Meclis-i Vâlâ “the Counsel of State,” specifically as an undersecretary and a governor between 1860 and 1883. He also wrote a biographical work on the lives of state officials and important personalities of the period as well as a work on the Crimean War, neither of which have been placed and published as yet.
Seyahatname-i Avrupa’nın Yazarı Mehmed Rauf’un Kimliğine Dair Yeni Bilgiler ve TespitlerFikret Turan
1851 yılında Büyük Londra Sanayi Fuarı’na yaptığı seyahatinde Avrupa’nın birçok önemli ülkesini ve şehrini gezen Mehmed Rauf gördüklerini Seyahatname-i Avrupa isimli monografisinde anlatmıştır. Tanzimat döneminde Avrupa’ya dair yazılan seyahatnameler arasında önemli bir yeri olan böylesi eserin yazarının sosyal statüsü, görevleri ve başka eserinin olup olmadığı gibi kimliğine dair sorular uzun süre cevapsız kalmıştır. Yazarın kendi el yazısıyla yazdığı Seyahatname-i Avrupa’nın müellif nüshasını incelediğimizde kendisinin Tanzimat döneminin önde gelen devlet adamlarından Sadık Rıfat Paşa’nın oğlu olan ve kaynaklarda Rıfat Paşazade Mehmed Rauf (1829-1883) olarak isimlendirilen devlet adamı olduğunu tespit etmiş bulunmaktayız. Aynı elyazması metnin ikinci kısmında yazarın Avrupa toplumlarına ait görüşlerini ortaya koyduğu “Avrupa Lâyihası” olarak isimlendirdiğimiz basılmamış kısa bir eseri de bulunmaktadır. Kendisinin Kırım Savaşına dair basılmamış bir çalışmasıyla dönemin önemli şahsiyetlerinin hayatına dair biyografik bir eserinin bulunduğu ve 1860-1883 yıllarında Meclis-i Vâlâ üyelikleri, müsteşarlık, valilik ve mutasarrıflık gibi üst düzey devlet memurlukları yaptığı tespit edilmiştir
Seyahatname-i Avrupa “The Travelogue of Europe” by Mehmed Rauf is one of the most prominent 19th-century Ottoman travel works. It stands out in terms of the number of cities and places described among the travel works that Ottoman statesmen and intellectuals produced during their trips to Europe. Mehmed Rauf visited nearly 50 cities and interesting sites over roughly four months on the departure and return routes of his European trip when he visited the Great Exhibition of London, which opened on May 1, 1851. He described what he saw in a serious tone and style in the work, and it was printed around 1852. At present, we have only a single copy of this printed book and, unfortunately, some of its pages are missing, implying that there is not even a single complete copy available. In this same printed book, there is no information on the publication place, year, printing press, or publishing company. Due to these and other shortcomings, it is not possible to fully see all the places and sites described in the printed work.
One of the important issues raised by this work is related to the identity of the author. Although the author introduces himself as Mehmed Rauf from the “Amadi” secretarial office, which was a high-level administrative office under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we, for a long time, did not know the details of his identity. This includes his family and social status and how he found the opportunity to make such a long and expensive journey. While doing research on these issues, we had the opportunity to access the author’s handwritten autographed copy. Going through its pages, it became clear that the author, Mehmed Rauf, was the son of Sadık Rıfat Pasha, who was one of the leading government ministers and statesmen during the Tanzimat period.
The information “Year 68, 8 Jamādiyu’l-Awwal” [29 February 1852], which is shown at the end of the autographed copy should be considered the completion date of the work by the author. We are of the opinion that since the author was the son of a powerful statesman and held a prominent bureaucratic position, he had the opportunity to have his work printed in the capital Istanbul in the same year.
The autographed copy is in the form of a handwritten manuscript and consists of 32 pages. It is written in an extremely smooth and legible manner with the Babiali rik’a writing style that was commonly used in official correspondence during the Tanzimat period. In the introduction section, a traditional prayer including, basmala (homage to Allah), salwala (prayer to the prophet), and madhiyya (praise to the sultan of the time), is missing. The writer explains his work in the beginning and then explains his name, his work, and purpose of writing of the work, namely, the reason for and rationale of his writing.
Although Mehmed Rauf very briefly introduced himself in the printed text, some phrases that he crossed out in the autograph reveal important clues about his family and identity. On page 2a of the manuscript, the crossed out phrase reveals that he was the eldest son of Sadık Rıfat Pasha (1807–857). Sources report that the eldest of Sadık Rıfat Pasha’s three sons was Mehmed Rauf, who was born in 1829 (h. 1244), which confirms that he was 13 years old when he was with his father, Sadık Rifat Pasha, while the latter served as the Ottoman ambassador to Vienna for the second time between October 1842 and May 1843. Mehmed Rauf is generally referred to as Rıfat Paşazâde Mehmed Rauf Bey in the sources. Some sources also indicate that he had an unpublished work on the Crimean War and a biographical work describing the lives of the prominent Ottoman statesmen and other important figures of his time. He held high-level positions in governmental offices since he was a member of Meclis-i Vâlâ “the Counsel of State”, specifically as an undersecretary and a governor at various times between 1860 and 1883.