In January 1853, Tsar Nicholas I, "sweating violently" from a high fever and the gout, had risen from his sickbed to meet Sir Hamilton Seymour, the British minister in St. Petersburg. Their conversation turned inevitably to the Tsar's main preoccupation. Nicholas was convinced that the Ottoman Empire was on the point of imminent collapse. He told Seymour, "We have a sick man on our hands, a man who is seriously ill; it will. . .be a great misfortune if he escapes us one of these days, especially before all the arrangements are made."
From Andrew Wheatcroft's The Ottomans