Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
[graphic]

m their heads; and, worst of all, to irritate and disgust the Greek government by their arrogant assumption of juvenile superiority. The wishes and intentions of such men may have been laudable, but, in general, the want of prudence, of discretion, sometimes of honesty, in the directors of such schemes, was deplorable.

The interposition of the Christian cabinets, if ready to be backed by force, would probably have been effectual with Turkey, pressed as she was by Russia; but it would have been difficult to have discovered any principle of justice, on which such an interference could have been defended. The sovereignty of Turkey over Greece was just as legitimate as that of Venice had once been over Candia and the Morea, or that of Russia over Georgia; it was perfectly consonant to the public law of Europe, and had been acknowledged without interruption, by all its powers. The tyranny or injustice of the Ottoman Porte towards its Greek subjects, could not be made the ground of interference, without setting it up as a principle that every sovereign had a right to' take care that his neighbour exercised his authority according to his notions of humanity and principle. France or England had no more right, in point of principle, to quarrel with the Sultan for leading into captivity the dishonoured matrons of Missolonghi, than for tying up in sacks, and throwing into the sea of Marmora, the matrons of Constantinople who talked of forbidden things. Neither could any help be derived from the fact, that the Greeks were Christians, and their oppressors Mahommedans,

Voi-. LXVIII.

however powerfully it might act as a bond of sympathy. In so far as oppression can justify foreign interference, it mmttefs not whether that oppression be exercised over orthodox believers or over heretics: to twist the bow-string round the neck of an innocent mussulman, is as great an enormity as to twist it round the neck of an innocent Christian; and it hag never been a rule of European policy, that nations of different religions ought not to be subject to the same sovereign. On what principle could Russia ask that Christian Greece should be withdrawn from under the yoke of Turkey, on which Turkey, in return, might not have insisted that the Mahommedan provinces of Daghistan and Shirvan should be liberated from the supremacy of Christian Russia? Any interference, therefore, in the shape of a demand, seemed to be out of the question: advice and good offices to both parties, were all that the Christian cabinets could offer. Russia, in the note in which she explained to the ministers of foreign powers at the Porte the reasons why she insisted by threats of using force, on the acceptance of her ultimatum regarding the principalities on the left bank of the Danube, assured them, that this resolution. had no connection with the state of things in Greece: that, notwithstanding her natural inclination and the universal wish of the nation to save from extermination its remaining fellow-Christians, she would not depart from her previous engagements, to act only in concert with the other powers; and that the instructions sent to M. Minziacky had no relation to those affairs. The note concluded C2B]

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors][subsumed]

ceiv'e with what temper he would have listened, in the moment of victory, to pretensions so high.

It was of importance to Greece to avoid, at least, eny quarrel with the European powers, in which the unblushing 'and unrestrained system of piracy pursued under her flag in the Levant, threatened to involve her. Almost every island in the Archipelago had becomcanestofrobbers. Whilethe government could with difficulty man the national fleet, flotillas of mystics, and other piratical craft, swarmed from Candia to Negropont, and violated the flag of every nation that sailed the Mediterranean. The crews of the captured vessels were frequently treated with barbarous cruelty; the cargoes were openly carried for sale generally to Syra, and often regularly imported into Smyrna, the very market for which they had been shipped in the home port. There were squadronsof British,French,American, and Austrian men of war cruising in the Levant, but sometimes the hardihood of the pirates set them at defiance. When pursued, they ran their light and small vessels into some narrow and shallow creek, where a ship of war could approach them only by sending out her boats. If she did so, they fought from behind rocks with all the courage of despair. If taken, it was only to be run up at the yard arm; if they allowed their vessel to be captured or burned, they were left to starve; to be shot, therefore, fighting to the last, with a chance of escape, was better than either of these alternatives. The government of Greece was much too feeble to be able to put down these dariug freehooters, who, i|i general,, islanders themselves, found abundant friends in the inhabitants of the Archipelago. By a decree, however, issued in June, it declared that it would consider as piratical all vessels which, not forming part of the Greek fleet, should cruise on the seas as privateers; secondly, all those vessels which, though belonging to the national fleet, should not be provided, besides their papers of military service, with regular letters of marque, signed by the government, or admiral ; thirdly, all those small privateering vessels, which went under the denomination of mistichs, pirames, and clephtines. The local authorities stationed on the isl nds on the coast of Greece, and the Greek ships of war, carrying regular commissions, were required to seize all such vessels, and, in case of resistance, to chase, sink, or burn them.Thebuilding of pirames, clephtines, and other similar vessels calculated for piratical cruising, was expressly forbidden. If the builders of these interdicted barks did not forthwith abandon the intended construction of them, or undertook the building of any new ones, they were to be punished with fine and imprisonment. The public authorities of the islands on the coast, on which such barks were built, were also to be punished with a pecuniary penalty, if they did not prevent the construction of them. This decree was principally valuable as fixing certain plain characters which should be indicative of piracy, and thus freeing the naval squadrons of foreign powers from the difficulty which they often encountered of ascertaining the pirate from the Greek ship of war.

[graphic]
[graphic]

But by far the greatest difficulty which the commission of government had to encounter, and the greatest obstacle to remedying the losses they had sustained in western Greece, arose from the total ruin of the finances. Neither discipline, nor constancy, could be expected from troops who were ill-clothed, ill-fed, and not paid at all. Possessed of no resources in themselves, the Greeks had already contracted debts which they were unable to pay, and yet these debts had been contracted, and the money raised by them expended, without one solitary real advantage having been hitherto purchased by them. On the return of lord Cochrane from establishing independence in Peru,he was willing,for an adequate pecuniary reward, to devote himself to the same cause in Greece: and, if a proper naval force could be put under his command, every thing was to be expected from his skill, his gallantry, and his love of enterprise. Certain gentlemen in London, styling themselves the Greek Committee, with the knowledge and consent of the Greek deputies, Messrs. Orlando and Luriottis, had entered into an arrangement with his lordship, by which a fleet was to be created, and placed under his command. It was to consist, not merely of the usual ships of war, but likewise of a number of steam-boats, not hitherto used in the Levant; and two large frigates were to be built in the United States. The only thing wanting for the execution of this plan was funds, precisely the want which it was most difficult to supply. Early in 1825, a loan to the extent of 2,000,000/. was negotiated in

£2 B 2]

[graphic]

[373

[graphic]
[graphic]

security would there be for the son's head, if the pacha should learri, that the steam-boats which were defeating his fleets had been fitted out by the father? In the mean time, lord Cochrane was lingering, in vain expectation, about the shores of France and Italy. Instead of leading a gallant fleet to the assistance of Greece in November, 1825, he had not a ship under his command in Nov. 1826. When the Greek government consented to appropriate so large a portion of the loan to this armament, it made a great sacrifice at the moment, but made it likewise for a great object. If the terms of the contract, on which they were entitled to rely, had been at all observed, it is difficult to believe that Missolonghi would have fallen. The intended armament, added to the Greek fleet already on foot, and led by an officer like lord Cochrane, would have been to Ibrahim a very different force from any that he had yet encountered ; and the peculiar powers of steam vessels, enabling them to enter the harbour, when the easterly gales blew the blockading squadron off the coast, would have insured the garrison against famine. After what had been already achieved by the Greek fleet on more occasions than one, there was no extravagance in supposing that it might now acquire and maintain the supremacy at sea; and, in that case, the fate of Ibrahim, dependent as he entirely was upon Egypt for supplies, was sealed. The Greek government, therefore, had every reason to complain of the mismanagement of those who had received, or.had, assumed the control of, this loan, and a clear right to annul theJ

« ZurückWeiter »