With that money, however, Lord Cochrane, using his great personal influence with the officers and crews, induced them to rejoin the fleet. The funds were placed in his hands on the 12th of July, 1824, and equitably disbursed by him during the following three weeks. On the 2nd of August he set sail in the Pedro Primiero from Rio de Janeiro, attended by the Maranham and three transports containing twelve hundred soldiers.
Having landed General Lima and the troops at Alagoas on the 16th, he arrived off Pernambuco on the 18th. There he found that a strong republican Government had been set up under the presidentship of Manoel de Carvalho Pais d'Andrade, whose authority, secret or open, extended far into the interior and along the adjoining coasts. "Knowing that it would take some time for the troops to come up," he said, "I determined to try the effect of a threat of bombardment, and issued a proclamation remonstrating with the inhabitants on the folly of permitting themselves to be deceived by men who lacked the ability to execute their schemes; pointing out, moreover, that persistence in revolt would involve both the town and its rulers in one common ruin, for, if forced to the necessity of bombardment, I would reduce the port and city to insignificance. On the other hand, I assured them that, if they retraced their steps and rallied round the imperial throne, thus aiding to protect it from foreign influence, it would be more gratifying to me to act the part of a mediator, and to restore Pernambuco to peace, prosperity, and happiness, than to carry out the work of destruction which would be my only remaining alternative. In another proclamation I called the attention of the inhabitants to the distracted state of the Spanish republics on the other side of the continent, asking whether it would be wise to risk the benefits of orderly government for social and political confusion, and entreating them not to compel me to proceed to extremities, as it would become my duty to destroy their shipping and block up their port, unless, within eight days, the integrity of the empire were acknowledged."
While waiting to see the result of those proclamations Lord Cochrane received a message from Carvalho, offering him immediate payment of 400,000 milreis if he would abandon the imperial cause and go over to the republicans. "Frankness is the distinguishing character of free men," wrote Carvalho, "but your excellency has not found it in your connection with the Imperial Government. Your not having been rewarded for the first expedition affords a justifiable inference that you will get nothing for the second." That audacious proposal, it need hardly be said, was indignantly resented by Lord Cochrane. "If I shall have an opportunity of becoming personally known to your excellency," he wrote, "I can afford you proof that the opinion you have formed of me has had its origin in the misrepresentations of those in power, whose purposes I was incapable of serving."
The threats and promises of Lord Cochrane's proclamation did not lead to the peaceable surrender of Pernambuco, and at the end of the eight days' waiting-time he proceeded to bombard the town. In that, however, he was hindered by bad weather, which made it impossible for him to enter the shallow water without great risk of shipwreck. He was in urgent need, also, of anchors and other fittings. Therefore, after a brief show of attack, which frightened the inhabitants, but had no other effect, he left the smaller vessels to maintain the blockade, and went on the 4th of September in the flag-ship to Bahia, there to procure the necessary articles. On his return he found that General Lima had marched against Pernambuco on the 11th, and, with the assistance of the blockading vessels, made an easy capture of it.
There was plenty of other work, however, to be done. All the northern provinces were disaffected, if not in actual revolt, and, in compliance with the Emperor's directions, Lord Cochrane proceeded to visit their ports and reduce them to order. Some other ships having arrived from Rio de Janeiro, he selected the Piranga and two smaller vessels for service with the flag-ship, leaving the others at the disposal of General Lima, and sailed from Pernambuco on the 10th of October.
He reached Ceara on the 18th, and then, by his mere presence, compelled the insurgents, who had seized the city, to retire, and enabled the well-disposed inhabitants to organize a vigorous scheme of self-protection.
A harder task awaited him at Maranham, at which he arrived on the 9th of November. There the utmost confusion prevailed. The Portuguese faction had the supremacy, and there were special causes of animosity and misconduct among the members of the opposite party of native Brazilians.
"In Maranham," said Lord Cochrane, "as in the other northern provinces of the empire, there had been no amelioration whatever in the condition of the people, and, without such amelioration, it was absurd to place reliance on the hyperbolical professions of devotion to the Emperor which were now abundantly avowed by those who, before my arrival, had been foremost in promoting and cherishing disturbance. The condition of the province, and indeed of all the provinces, was in no way better than they had been under the dominion of Portugal, though they presented one of the finest fields imaginable for improvement. All the old colonial imports and duties remained without alteration; the manifold hindrances to commerce and agriculture still existed; and arbitrary power was everywhere exercised uncontrolled: so that, in place of being benefited by emancipation from the Portuguese yoke, the condition of the great mass of the population was literally worse than before. To amend this state of things it was necessary to begin with the officers of Government, of whose corruption and arbitrary conduct complaints, signed by whole communities, were daily arriving from every part of the province. To such an extent, indeed, wad this misrule carried that neither the lives nor the property of the inhabitants were safe."
This state of things Lord Cochrane set himself zealously to remedy; and, during his six months' stay at Maranham, he did all that, with the bad materials at his disposal and in the harassing circumstances of his position, it was possible for him to do. Unable to break down the cabals and intrigues, the mutual jealousies and the unworthy ambitions that had prevailed previous to his arrival, he held them all in check while he was present and secured the observance of law and the freedom of all classes of the community.
Thereby, however, he brought upon himself much fresh hatred. The governor of the province, being devoted to the Portuguese party and a chief cause of the existing troubles, had to be suspended and sent to Rio de Janeiro; and though the suspension occurred after orders had been despatched by the Emperor for his recall, it afforded an excuse to the governor and his friends in office for denunciation of Lord Cochrane's conduct, alleged to be greatly in excess of his powers and in contempt of the constituted authority. In fact, the same bad policy that had embarrassed him before, while he was in Rio de Janeiro, continued to embarrass him yet more during his service in Maranham. That that service was very helpful to the best interests of Brazil no one attempted to deny. The French and English consuls, speaking on behalf of all their countrymen resident in the northern provinces, overstepped the line of strict neutrality, and entreated him to persevere in the measures by which he was making it possible for commerce to prosper and the rules of civilized life to be observed. The Emperor sent to thank him for his work. "His Majesty," wrote the secretary on the 2nd of December, "approves of the First Admiral's determination to establish order and obedience in the northern provinces, a duty which he has so wisely and judiciously undertaken, and in which he must continue until the provinces submit themselves to the authorities lately appointed, and enjoy the benefits of the paternal government of his Imperial Majesty."
The Emperor, however, was at this time almost powerless. The leaders of the Portuguese faction reigned, and by them Lord Cochrane continued to be treated with every possible indignity and insult. Not daring openly to dismiss him or even to accept the resignation which he frequently offered, they determined to wear out his patience, and, if possible, to drive him to some act on which they could fasten as an excuse for degrading him. They partly succeeded, though the only wonder is that Lord Cochrane should have been, for so long a time, as patient as he proved. His temper is well shown in the numerous letters which he addressed to Pedro I. and the Government during these harassing months. "The condescension," he wrote, "with which your Imperial Majesty has been pleased to permit me to approach your royal person, on matters regarding the public service, and even on those more particularly relating to myself, emboldens me to adopt the only means in my power, at this distance, of craving that your Majesty will be graciously pleased to judge of my conduct in the imperial service by the result of my endeavours to promote your Majesty's interests, and not by the false reports spread by those who, for reasons best known to themselves, desire to alienate your Majesty's mind from me, and thus to bring about my removal from your Majesty's service. I trust that your Imperial Majesty will please to believe me to be sensible that the honours which you have so graciously bestowed upon me it is my duty not to tarnish, and that your Majesty will further believe that, highly as I prize those honours, I hold the maintenance of my reputation in my native country in equal estimation. I respectfully crave permission to add that, perceiving it is impossible to continue in the service of your Imperial Majesty without at all times subjecting my professional character, under the present management of the Marine Department, to great risks, I trust your Majesty will be graciously pleased to grant me leave to retire from your imperial service, in which it appears to me I have now accomplished all that can be expected from me, the authority of your Imperial Majesty being established throughout the whole extent of Brazil."
That request was not granted, or in any way answered; and the statement that the whole of Brazil was finally subjected to the Emperor's authority proved to be not quite correct. Fresh turmoils arose in Para, and Lord Cochrane had to send thither a small force, by which order was restored. He himself found ample employment in restraining the factions that could not be suppressed at Maranham.
That was the state of things in the early months of 1825, until unlooked-for circumstances arose, by which Lord Cochrane's Brazilian employment was brought to a termination in a way that he had not anticipated. "The anxiety occasioned by the constant harassing which I had undergone, unalleviated by any acknowledgment on the part of the Imperial Government of the services which had a second time saved the empire from intestine war, anarchy, and revolution," he said, "began to make serious inroads on my health; whilst that of the officers and men, in consequence of the great heat and pestilential exhalations of the climate, and of the double duty which they had to perform afloat and ashore, was even less satisfactory. As I saw no advantage in longer contending with factious intrigues at Maranham, unsupported and neglected as I was by the Administration at Rio de Janeiro, I resolved upon a short run into a more bracing northerly atmosphere, which would answer the double purpose of restoring our health and of giving us a clear offing for our subsequent voyage to the capital.
"Accordingly," the narrative proceeds, "I shifted my flag into the Piranga, despatched the Pedro Primiero to Rio, and, leaving Captain Manson, of the Cacique, in charge of the naval department at Maranham, put to sea on the 18th of May. On the 21st we crossed the Equator, and, meeting with a succession of easterly winds, were carried to the northward of the Azores, passing St. Michael's on the 11th of June. It had been my intention to sail into the latitude of the Azores, and then to return to Rio de Janeiro. But, strong gales coming on, we made the unpleasant discovery that the frigate's main-topmast was sprung, and, when putting her about, the main and main-topsail yards were discovered to be unserviceable. For the condition of the ship's spars I had depended on others, not deeming it necessary to take upon myself such investigation. It was, however, possible that we might have patched these up, had not the running rigging been as rotten as the masts, and we had no spare cordage on board. A still worse disaster was that the salt provisions shipped at Maranham were reported bad, mercantile ingenuity having resorted to the device of placing good meat at the top and bottom of the barrels, whilst the middle, being composed of unsound articles, had tainted the whole, thereby rendering it not only unpalatable but positively dangerous to health. The good provisions on board being little more than sufficient for a week's subsistence, a direct return to Rio de Janeiro was out of the question."
It was therefore absolutely necessary to seek some nearer harbour; but Lord Cochrane was considerably embarrassed in his choice of a port. Portugal was an enemy's country, and Spain, by reason of his achievements in Chili and Peru, was no less hostile to him. France had not yet recognised the independence of Brazil, and therefore a stay on any part of its coast might lead to difficulties. England afforded the only safe halting-place, though there Lord Cochrane was uncertain as to the way in which, in consequence of the Foreign Enlistment Act, he might be received. To England, however, he resolved to go; and, sighting its coast on the 25th of June, he anchored at Spithead on the following day. Salutes were exchanged with a British ship lying in harbour, and in the afternoon he landed at Portsmouth, to be enthusiastically welcomed by nearly all classes of his countrymen, whose admiration for his personal character and his excellence as a naval officer was heightened by the renown of his exploits in South America during an absence of six years and a half.
His subsequent relations with Brazil can be briefly told. His unavoidable return to England afforded just the excuse which his enemies in Brazil had been seeking for ousting him from his command. They and the Chevalier Manoel Rodriguez Gameiro Pessoa, the Brazilian Envoy in London, who altogether sympathised with them, chose to regard this occurrence as an act of desertion. Lord Cochrane lost no time in reporting his arrival and requesting to be provided with the necessary means for refitting the Piranga and preparing for a speedy return to Rio de Janeiro. To expedite matters, he even advanced 2000l. out of his own property—which was never repaid to him—for this purpose. His repeated applications for instructions were either unheeded or only answered with insult. He was ordered to return to Brazil at once, towards which no assistance was given to him; and at the same time his officers and crew were ordered to repudiate his authority and to return without him.
Lord Cochrane had no room to doubt that by going back to Brazil he should only expose himself to yet worse treatment than that from which he had been suffering during nearly two years; but at the same time he was resolved to do nothing at variance with his duty to the Emperor from whom he had received his commission, and nothing invalidating his claims to the recompense which was clearly due to him. At length he was relieved from some of his perplexities, after they had lasted more than three months. On the 3rd of November, 1825, peace was declared between Brazil and Portugal; and thereby his relations with his employers were materially altered. The work which he had pledged himself to do was completed, and he was justified in resigning his command, or at any rate in declining to resume it until the causes of his recent troubles were removed.
This he did in a letter addressed to the Emperor Pedro I., from London, on the 10th of November. "The gracious condescension which I experienced from your Imperial Majesty, from the first moment of my arrival in the Brazils, the honorary distinctions which I received from your Majesty, and the attention with which you were pleased to listen to all my personal representations relating to the promotion of the naval power of your empire," he wrote, "have impressed upon my mind a high sense of the honour which your Majesty conferred, and forbid my entertaining any other sentiments than those of attachment to your Majesty and devotion to your true interests. But, whilst I express these my unfeigned sentiments towards your Imperial Majesty, it is with infinite pain and regret that I recall to my recollection the conduct that has been pursued towards the naval service, and to myself personally, since the members of the Brazilian administration of Jose Bonifacio de Andrade were superseded by persons devoted to the views and interests of Portugal,—views and interests which are directly opposed to the adoption of that line of conduct which can alone promote and secure the true interests and glory of your Imperial Majesty, founded on the tranquillity and happiness of the Brazilian people. Without imputing to such ministers as Severiano, Gomez, and Barboza disaffection to the person of your Imperial Majesty, it is sufficient to know that they are men bigoted to the unenlightened opinions of their ancestors of four centuries ago, that they are men who, from their limited intercourse with the world, from the paucity of the literature of their native language, and from their want of all rational instruction in the service of government and political economy, have no conception of governing Brazil by any other than the same wretched and crooked policy to which the nation had been so long subjected in its condition as a colony. Nothing further need be said, while we acquit them of treason, to convict them of unfitness to be the counsellors of your Imperial Majesty.
"None but such ministers as these could have endeavoured to impress upon the mind of your Imperial Majesty that the refugee Portuguese from the provinces and many thousands from Europe, collected in Rio de Janeiro, were the only true friends and supporters of the imperial crown of Brazil. None but such ministers would have endeavoured to impress your Imperial Majesty with a belief that the Brazilian people were inimical to your person and the imperial crown, merely because they were hostile to the system pursued by those ministers. None but such ministers would have placed in important offices of trust the natives of a nation with which your Imperial Majesty was at war. None but such ministers would have endeavoured to induce your Imperial Majesty to believe that officers who had abandoned their King and native country for their own private interests could be depended on as faithful servants to a hostile Government and a foreign land. None but such ministers could have induced your Imperial Majesty to place in the command of your fortresses, regiments, and ships of war such individuals as these. None but such ministers would have attempted to excite in the breast of your Imperial Majesty suspicions with respect to the fidelity of myself and of those other officers who, by the most zealous exertions, had proved our devotion to the best interests of your Imperial Majesty and your Brazilian people. None but such ministers would have endeavoured by insults and acts of the grossest injustice, to drive us from the service of your Imperial Majesty and to place Portuguese officers in our stead. And, above all, none but such ministers could have suggested to your Imperial Majesty that extraordinary proceeding which was projected to take place on the night of the 3rd of June, 1824, a proceeding which, had it not been averted by a timely discovery and prompt interposition on my part, would have tarnished for ever the glory of your Imperial Majesty, and which, if it had failed to prove fatal to myself and officers, must inevitably have driven us from your imperial service. When placed in competition with this plot of these ministers and the false insinuations by which they induced your Imperial Majesty to listen to their insidious counsel, all their previous intrigues, and those of the whole Portuguese faction, to ruin the naval power of Brazil, sink into insignificance. But for the advancement of Portuguese interests there was nothing too treacherous or malignant for such ministers and such men as these to insinuate to your Imperial Majesty, especially when they had discovered that it was not possible by their unjust conduct to provoke me to abandon the service of Brazil so long as my exertions could be useful to secure its independence, which I believed to be alike the object of your Imperial Majesty and the interest of the Brazilian people.
"If the counsels of such persons should prove fatal to the interests of your Imperial Majesty, no one will regret the event more sincerely than myself. My only consolation will be the knowledge that your Imperial Majesty cannot but be conscious that I, individually, have discharged my duty, both in a military and in a private capacity, towards your Majesty, whose true interest, I may venture to add, I have held in greater regard than my own; for, had I connived at the views of the Portuguese faction, even without dereliction of my duty as an officer, I might have shared amply in the honours and emoluments which such influence has enabled these persons to obtain, instead of being deprived, by their means, of even the ordinary rewards of my labours in the cause of independence which your Imperial Majesty had engaged me to maintain,—which cause I neither have abandoned nor will abandon, if ever it should be in my power successfully to renew my exertions for the true interests of your Imperial Majesty and those of the Brazilian people.
"Meanwhile my office as Commander-in-Chief of your Imperial Majesty's Naval Forces having terminated by the conclusion of peace and by the decree promulgated on the 28th of February, 1824, I have notified to your Imperial Majesty's Envoy, the Chevalier de Gameiro, that I have directed my flag to be struck this day. Praying that the war now terminated abroad may be accompanied by tranquillity at home, I respectfully take leave of your Imperial Majesty."
All Lord Cochrane's subsequent correspondence with Brazil had for its object the recovery of the payments due to him and to his officers and crews for the great services done by them to the empire. Lord Cochrane had saved that empire from being brought back to the position of a Portuguese colony, and had enabled it to enter on a career of independence. In return for it he was subjected to more than two years of galling insult, was deprived of his proper share of the prizes taken by him and his squadron, was refused the estate in Maranham which the Emperor, more grateful than his ministers, had bestowed upon him, and was mulcted of a portion of his pay and of all the pension to which he was entitled by imperial decree and the ordinances of the Government. His services to Brazil, like his services to Chili, adding much to his renown as a disinterested champion of liberty and an unrivalled seaman and warrior, brought upon him personally little but trouble and misfortune. Only near the end of his life, when a worthy Emperor and honest ministers succeeded to power, was any recompence accorded to him.
THE GREEK REVOLUTION AND ITS ANTECEDENTS.—THE MODERN GREEKS.—THE FRIENDLY SOCIETY.—SULTAN MAHMUD AND ALI PASHA'S REBELLION.—THE BEGINNING OF THE GREEK INSURRECTION.—COUNT JOHN CAPODISTRIAS.—PRINCE ALEXANDER HYPSILANTES.—THE REVOLUTION IN THE MOREA.—THEODORE KOLKOTRONES.—THE REVOLUTION IN THE ISLANDS.—THE GREEK NAVY AND ITS CHARACTER.—THE EXCESSES OF THE GREEKS.—THEIR BAD GOVERNMENT.—PRINCE ALEXANDER MAVROCORDATOS.—THE PROGRESS OF THE REVOLUTION.—THE SPOLIATION OF THE CHIOS.—ENGLISH PHILHELLENES; THOMAS GORDON, FRANK ABNEY HASTINGS, LORD BYRON.—THE FIRST GREEK LOAN, AND THE BAD USES TO WHICH IT WAS PUT.—REVERSES OF THE GREEKS.—IBRAHIM AND HIS SUCCESSES.—MAVROCORDATOS'S LETTER TO LORD COCHRANE.
While Lord Cochrane was rendering efficient service to the cause of freedom in South America, another war of independence was being waged in Europe; and he had hardly been at home a week before solicitations pressed upon him from all quarters that he should lend his great name and great abilities to this war also. As he consented to do so, and almost from the moment of his arrival was intimately connected with the Greek Revolution, the previous stages of this memorable episode, the incidents that occurred during his absence in Chili and Brazil, need to be here reviewed and recapitulated.
The Greek Revolution began openly in 1821. But there had been long previous forebodings of it. The dwellers in the land once peopled by the noble race which planned and perfected the arts and graces, the true refinements and the solid virtues that are the basis of our modern civilization, had been for four centuries and more the slaves of the Turks. They were hardly Greeks, if by that name is implied descent from the inhabitants of classic Greece. With the old stock had been blended, from generation to generation, so many foreign elements that nearly all trace of the original blood had disappeared, and the modern Greeks had nothing but their residence and their language to justify them in maintaining the old title. But their slavery was only too real. Oppressed by the Ottomans on account of their race and their religion, the oppression was none the less in that it induced many of them to cast off the last shreds of freedom and deck themselves in the coarser, but, to slavish minds, the pleasanter bondage of trickery and meanness. During the eighteenth century, many Greeks rose to eminence in the Turkish service, and proved harder task-masters to their brethren than the Turks themselves generally were. The hope of further aggrandisement, however, led them to scheme the overthrow of their Ottoman employers, and their projects were greatly aided by the truer, albeit short-sighted, patriotism that animated the greater number of their kinsmen. They groaned under Turkish thraldom, and yearned to be freed from it, in the temper so well described and so worthily denounced by Lord Byron in 1811:—
"And many dream withal the hour is nigh That gives them back their fathers' heritage: For foreign arms and aid they loudly sigh, Nor solely dare encounter hostile rage. Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not Who would be free themselves must strike the blow? By their right arm the conquest must be wrought. Will Gaul or Muscovite redress ye?—No! True, they may lay your proud despoilers low, But not for you will Freedom's altars flame."
The Greeks, all but a few genuine patriots, thought otherwise. They sought deliverance at the hands of Gauls and Muscovites; and, as the Muscovites had good reason for desiring the overthrow of Turkey, they listened to their prayers, and other ties than that of community in religion bound the persecuted Greeks to Russia. The Philike Hetaira, or Friendly Society, chief representative of a very general movement, was founded at Odessa in 1814. It was a secret society, which speedily had ramifications among the Greek Christians in every part of Turkey, encouraging them to prepare for insurrection as soon as the Czar Alexander I. deemed it expedient to aid them by open invasion of Turkey, or as soon as they themselves could take the initiative, trusting to Russia to complete the work of revolution. The Friendly Society increased its influence and multiplied its visionary schemes during many years previous to 1821.
Its strength was augmented by the political condition of Turkey at the time. The Sultan Mahmud—a true type of the Ottoman sovereign at his worst—had attempted to perfect his power by a long train of cruelties, of which murder was the lightest. Defeating his own purpose thereby, he aroused the opposition of Mahometan as well as Christian subjects, and induced the rebellious schemes of Ali Pasha of Joannina, the boldest of his vassals. In Albania Ali ruled with a cruelty that was hardly inferior to Mahmud's. Byron tells how his
"dread command Is lawless law; for with a bloody hand He sways a nation turbulent and told."
The cruelty could be tolerated; but not opposition to Mahmud's will. Long and growing jealousy existed between the Sultan and his tributary. At length, in 1820, there was an open rupture. Ali was denounced as a traitor, and ordered to surrender his pashalik. Instead of so doing, he organized his army for prompt rebellion, trusting for success partly to the support of the Greeks. Most of the Greeks held aloof; but the Suliots, a race of Christian marauders, the fiercest of the fierce community of Albanians, sided with him, and for more than a year rendered him valuable aid by reason of their hereditary skill in lawless warfare. Not till January, 1822, was Ali forced to surrender, and then only, perhaps, through the defection of the Suliots.
The Suliots, dissatisfied with Ali's recompense for their services, had gone over to the Greeks, who, not caring to serve under Ali in his rebellion, had welcomed that rebellion as a Heaven-sent opportunity for realising their long-cherished hopes. The Turkish garrisons in Greece being half unmanned in order that the strongest possible force might be used in subduing Ali, and Turkish government in the peninsula being at a standstill, the Greeks found themselves in an excellent position for asserting their freedom. Had they been less degraded than they were by their long centuries of slavery, or had there been some better organization than that which the purposes and the methods of the Friendly Society afforded for developing the latent patriotism which was honest and wide-spread, they might have achieved a triumph worthy of the classic name they bore and the heroic ancestry that they claimed.
Unfortunately, the Friendly Society, already degenerated from the unworthy aim with which it started, now an elaborate machinery of personal ambition, private greed, and local spite, the willing tool of Russia, was master of the situation. The mastery, however, was by no means thorough. The society had dispossessed all other organizations, but had no organization of its own adequate to the working out of a successful rebellion. Its machinery was tolerably perfect, but efficient motive-power was wanting. Its exchequer was empty; its counsels were divided; above all, it had alienated the sympathies of the worthiest patriots of Greece. Finding itself suddenly in the way of triumph, it was incapable of rightly progressing in that way. Obstacles of its own raising, and obstacles raised by others, stood in the path, and only a very wise man had the chance of successfully removing them.
The wise man did not exist, or was not to be obtained. Perhaps the wisest, though, as later history proved, not very wise, was Count John Capodistrias, a native of Corfu. Born in 1777, he had gone to Italy to study and practise medicine. There also he studied, afterwards to put in practice, the effete Machiavellianism then in vogue. In 1803 he entered political life as secretary to the lately-founded republic of the Ionian Islands. Napoleon's annexation of the Ionian Islands in 1807 drove him into the service of Russia, and, as Russian agent, he advocated, at the Vienna Conference of 1815, the reconstruction of the Ionian republic. The partial concession of Great Britain towards that project, by which the Ionian Islands were established as a sort of commonwealth, dependent upon England, enabled him to live and work in Corfu, awaiting the realization of his own patriotic schemes, and watching the patriotic movement in Greece. Italian in his education, and Russian in his sympathies, he was still an honest Greek, worthier and abler than most other influential Greeks. "He had many virtues and great abilities," says a competent critic. "His conduct was firm and disinterested, his manners simple and dignified. His personal feelings were warm, and, as a consequence of this virtue, they were sometimes so strong as to warp his judgment. He wanted the equanimity and impartiality of mind, and the elevation of soul necessary to make a great man."[A] In spite of his defects, he might have done good service to the Greek Revolution, had he accepted the offer of its leadership, shrewdly tendered to him by the Friendly Society. But this he declined, having no liking for the society, and no trust in its methods and designs.
[Footnote A: Finlay, "History of the Greek Revolution" (1861), vol. ii., p. 196. Mr. Finlay served as a volunteer in Greece under Captain Abney Hastings. His work is certainly the best on the subject, though we shall have in later pages to differ widely from its strictures on Lord Cochrane's motives and action. But our complaints will be less against his history than against the two other leading ones—General Gordon's "History of the Greek Revolution" (1832), and M. Trikoupes's "[Greek: Historia tes Hellenikes Epanastaseos]" (1853-6), which is not very much more than a paraphrase of Gordon's work.]
The Friendly Society then sought and found a leader, far inferior to Count Capodistrias, in Prince Alexander Hypsilantes, the son of a Hospodar of Wallachia who had been deposed in 1806. Hypsilantes had been educated in Russia, and had there risen to some rank, high enough at any rate to quicken his ambition and vanity, both as a soldier and as a courtier. He was not without virtues; but he was utterly unfit for the duties imposed upon him as leader of the Greek Revolution. Not a Greek himself, his purpose in accepting the office seems to have been to make Greece an appendage of the despotic monarchy, which, by means of the political crisis, he hoped to establish in Wallachia, under Russian protection. With that view, in March 1821, he led the first crude army of Greek and other Christian rebels into Moldavia. There and in Wallachia he stirred up a brief revolt, attended by military blunders and lawless atrocities which soon brought vengeance upon himself and made a false beginning of the revolutionary work. Moldavia and Wallachia were quickly restored to Turkish rule, and Hypsilantes had in June to fly for safety into Austria. But the bad example that he set, and the evil influence that he and his promoters and followers of the Friendly Society exerted, initiated a false policy and encouraged a pernicious course of action, by which the cause of the Greeks was injured for years.
The real Greek revolution began in the Morea. There the Friendly Society did good work in showing the people that the hour for action had come; but its direction of that action was for the most part mischievous. The worst Greeks were the leaders, and, under their guidance, the play of evil passions—inevitable in all efforts of the oppressed to overturn their oppressors—was developed to a grievous extent. Turkish blood was first shed on the 25th of March, 1821, and within a week the whole of the Morea was in a ferment of rebellion. By the 22nd of April, which was Easter Sunday, it is reckoned that from ten to fifteen thousand Mahometans had been slaughtered in cold blood, and about three thousand Turkish homes destroyed.
The promoters of all that wanton atrocity were the directors of the Friendly Society, among whom the Archimandrate Gregorios Dikaios, nicknamed Pappa Phlesas, and Petros Mavromichales, or Petro-Bey, were the most conspicuous. Its principal agents were the klepht or brigand chieftains, best represented by Theodore Kolokotrones.
Born about 1770, of a family devoted to the use of arms in predatory ways, Kolokotrones had led a lawless life until 1806, when the Greek peasantry called in the assistance of their Turkish rulers in hunting down their persecutors of their own race, and when, several of his family being slain, he himself had to seek refuge in Zante. There he maintained himself, partly by piracy, partly by cattle-dealing. In 1810 the English annexation of the Ionian Islands led to his employment, first as captain and afterwards as major, in the Greek contingent of the British army. He had amassed much wealth, and was in the prime of life when, in January, 1821, he returned to his early home, to revive his old brigand life under the name of legitimate warfare. His thorough knowledge of the country, its passes and its strongholds, and his familiarity with the modes of fighting proper to them, his handsome person and agreeable deportment, his shrewd wit and persuasive oratory, made him one of the most influential agents of the Revolution at its commencement, and his influence grew during the ensuing years.
The flame of rebellion, having spread through the Morea during the early weeks of April, extended rapidly over the adjoining districts of the mainland. By the end of June the insurgents were masters of nearly all the country now possessed by modern Greece. Their cause was heartily espoused by the Suliots of Albania and other fellow-Christians in the various Turkish provinces, and their kinsmen of the outlying islands were eager to join in the work of national regeneration, and to contribute largely to the completion of that work by their naval prowess.
It was naval prowess, as our later pages will abundantly show, of a very barbarous and undeveloped sort. Besides the two principal seaports on the mainland, Tricheri on Mount Pelion and Galaxidhi on the Gulf of Corinth, there were famous colonies of Greek seamen in the islands of Psara and Kasos, and similar colonies of Albanians in Hydra and Spetzas. These and the other islands had long practised irregular commerce, and protected that commerce by irregular fighting with the Turks. At the first sound of revolution they threw in their lot with the insurgents of the mainland, and thus a nondescript navy of some four hundred brigs and schooners, of from sixty to four hundred tons' burthen, and manned by about twelve thousand sailors, adepts alike in trade and piracy, but very unskilled in orderly warfare, and very feebly inspired by anything like disinterested patriotism, was ready to use and abuse its powers during the ensuing seven years' fight for Greek independence.
During the summer of 1821, while the continental Greeks were rushing to arms, murdering the Turkish residents among them by thousands, and thus bringing down upon themselves, or upon those of their own race who, as peasants and burghers, took no important share in actual fighting, the murderous vengeance of the Turkish troops sent to attempt the suppression of the revolt, these sailors were pursuing an easier and more profitable game. The Turkish ports were not warlike, and the Turkish trading ships were not prepared for fighting. In May, a formidable crowd of vessels left the islands on a cruise, from which they soon returned with an immense store of booty. Early in June, the best Turkish fleet that could be brought together, consisting of two line-of-battle ships, three frigates, and three sloops, went out to harass, if not to destroy, the swarm of smaller enemies. Jakomaki Tombazes, with thirty-seven of these smaller enemies, set off to meet them, and falling in with one of the ships, gave her chase, till, in the roads of Eripos, she was attacked on the 8th of June, and, with the help of a fireship, destroyed with a loss of nearly four hundred men. That victory caused the flight of the other Turkish vessels, and was the beginning of much cruel work at sea and with ships, which, not often daring to meet in open fight, wrought terrible mischief to unprotected ports and islands.
The mischief wrought upon the land was yet more terrible. A seething tide of Greek and Moslem blood heaved to and fro, as, during the second half of 1821, each party in turn gained temporary ascendency in one district after another. Greeks murdered Turks, and Turks murdered Greeks, with equal ferocity; or perhaps the ferocity of the Greeks, stirred by bad leaders to revenge themselves for all their previous sufferings, even surpassed that of the Turks. Of their cruelty a glaring instance occurred in their capture of Navarino. The Turkish inhabitants having held out as long as a mouthful of food was left in the town, were forced to capitulate on the 19th of August. It was promised that, upon their surrendering, the Greek vessels were to convey them, their wearing apparel, and their household furniture, either to Egypt or to Tunis. No sooner were the gates opened than a wholesale plunder and slaughter ensued. A Greek ecclesiastic has described the scene. "Women wounded with musket-balls and sabre-cuts rushed to the sea, seeking to escape, and were deliberately shot. Mothers robbed of their clothes, with infants in their arms, plunged into the water to conceal themselves from shame, and they were then made a mark for inhuman riflemen. Greeks seized infants from their mothers' breasts and dashed them against the rocks. Children, three and four years old, were hurled, living, into the sea, and left to drown. When the massacre was ended, the dead bodies washed ashore, or piled on the beach, threatened to cause a pestilence."[A] At the sack of Tripolitza, on the 8th of October, about eight thousand Moslems were murdered, the last two thousand, chiefly women and children, being taken into a neighbouring ravine, there to be slaughtered at leisure. Two years afterwards a ghastly heap of bones attested the inhuman deed.
[Footnote A: Finlay, vol. i.; p. 263, citing Phrantzes.]
In ways like these the first stage of the Greek Revolution was achieved. Before the close of 1821, it appeared to the Greeks themselves, to their Moslem enemies, and to their many friends in England, France, and other countries, that the triumph was complete. Unfortunately, the same bad motives and the same bad methods that had so grievously polluted the torrent of patriotism continued to poison and disturb the stream which might otherwise have been henceforth clear, steady, and health-giving. Greece was free, but, unless another and a much harder revolution could be effected in the temper and conduct of its own people, unfit to put its freedom to good use or even to maintain it. "The rapid success of the Greeks during the first few weeks of the revolution," says their ablest historian, "threw the management of much civil and financial business into the hands of the proesti and demogeronts in office. The primates, who already exercised great official authority, instantly appropriated that which had been hitherto exercised by murdered voivodes and beys. Every primate strove to make himself a little independent potentate, and every captain of a district assumed the powers of a commander-in-chief. The Revolution, before six months had passed, seemed to have peopled Greece with a host of little Ali Pashas. When the primate and the captain acted in concert, they collected the public revenues; administered the Turkish property, which was declared national; enrolled, paid, and provisioned as many troops as circumstances required, or as they thought fit; named officers; formed a local guard for the primate of the best soldiers in the place, who were thus often withdrawn from the public service; and organised a local police and a local treasury. This I system of local self-government, constituted in a very self-willed manner, and relieved from almost all responsibility, was soon established as a natural result of the Revolution over all Greece. The Sultan's authority having ceased, every primate assumed the prerogatives of the Sultan. For a few weeks this state of things was unavoidable, and, to an able and honest chief or government, it would have facilitated the establishment of a strong central authority; but by the vices of Greek society it was perpetuated into an organised anarchy. No improvement was made in financial arrangements, or in the system of taxation; no measures were adopted for rendering property more secure; no attempt was made to create an equitable administration of justice; no courts of law were established; and no financial accounts were published. Governments were formed, constitutions were drawn up, national assemblies met, orators debated, and laws were passed according to the political fashion patronised by the liberals of the day. But no effort was made to prevent the Government being virtually absolute, unless it was by rendering it absolutely powerless. The constitutions were framed to remain a dead letter. The national assemblies were nothing but conferences of parties, and the laws passed were intended to fascinate Western Europe, not to operate with effect in Greece."[A]
[Footnote A: Finlay, vol. i., pp. 280, 281.]
The supreme government of Greece had been assumed in June by Prince Demetrius Hypsilantes, a worthier man than his brother Alexander, but by no means equal to the task he took in hand. At first the brigand chiefs and local potentates, not willing to surrender any of the power they had acquired, were disposed to render to him nominal submission, believing that his name and his Russian influence would be serviceable to the cause of Greece. But Hypsilantes showed himself utterly incompetent, and it was soon apparent that his sympathies were wholly alien to those both of the Greek people and of their military and civil leaders. Therefore another master had to be chosen. Kolokotrones might have succeeded to the dignity, and he certainly had vigour enough of disposition, and enough honesty and dishonesty combined, to make the position one of power as well as of dignity. For that very reason, however, his comrades and rivals were unwilling to place him in it. They desired a president skilful enough to hold the reins of government with a very loose hand, yet so as to keep them from getting hopelessly entangled—one who should be a smart secretary and adviser, without assuming the functions of a director.
Such a man they found in Prince Alexander Mavrocordatos, then about thirty-two years old. He was a kinsman of a Hospodar of Wallachia, by whom he had in his youth been employed in political matters. After that he had resided in France, where he acquired much fresh knowledge, and where his popularity helped to quicken sympathy on behalf of the Greek Revolution at its first outburst. He had lately come to Missolonghi with a ship-load of ammunition and other material, procured and brought at his own expense, and soon attained considerable influence. Always courteous in his manners, only ungenerous in his actions where the interests of others came into collision with his own, less strong-willed and less ambitious than most of his associates, those associates were hardly jealous of his popularity at home, and wholly pleased with his popularity among foreigners. It was a clear gain to their cause to have Shelley writing his "Hellas," and dedicating the poem to Mavrocordatos, as "a token of admiration, sympathy, and friendship."
Mavrocordatos was named President of Greece in the Constitution of Epidaurus, chiefly his own workmanship, which was proclaimed on the 13th of January—New Year's Day, according to the reckoning of the Greek Church—1822. It is not necessary here to detail his own acts or those of his real or professing subordinates. All we have to do is to furnish a general account, and a few characteristic illustrations, of the course of events during the Greek Revolution, in explanation of the state of parties and of politics at the time of Lord Cochrane's advent among them. These events were marked by continuance of the same selfish policy, divided interests, class prejudice, and individual jealousy that have been already referred to. The mass of the Greek people were, as they had been from the first, zealous in their desire for freedom, and, having won it, they were not unwilling to use it honestly. For their faults their leaders are chiefly to be blamed; and in apology for those leaders, it must be remembered that they were an assemblage of soldiers who had been schooled in oriental brigandage, of priests whose education had been in a corrupt form of Christianity made more corrupt by persecution, of merchants who had found it hard to trade without trickery, and of seamen who had been taught to regard piracy as an honourable vocation. Perhaps we have less cause to condemn them for the errors and vices that they exhibited during their fight for freedom, than to wonder that those errors and vices were not more reprehensible in themselves and disastrous in their issues.
For about six years the fight was maintained without foreign aid, save that given by private volunteers and generous champions in Western Europe, against a state numerically nearly twenty times as strong as the little community of revolutionists. In it, along with much wanton cruelty, was displayed much excellent heroism. But the heroism was reckless and undisciplined, and therefore often worse than useless.
Memorable instances both of recklessness and of want of discipline appeared in the attempts made to wrest Chios from the Turks in 1822. The Greek inhabitants of this island, on whom the Turkish yoke pressed lightly, had refused to join in the insurgent movement of their brethren on the mainland and in the neighbouring islands. But it was considered that a little coercion would induce them to share in the Revolution and convert their prosperous island into a Greek possession. Therefore, in March, a small force of two thousand five hundred men crossed the archipelago, took possession of Koutari, the principal town, and proceeded to invest the Turkish citadel. The Chiots, though perhaps not very willingly, took part in the enterprise; but the invading party was quite unequal to the work it had undertaken. In April a formidable Turkish squadron arrived, and by it Chios was easily recovered, to become the scene of vindictive atrocities, which brought all the terrified inhabitants who were not slaughtered, or who could not escape, into abject submission. Thereupon, on the 10th of May, a Greek fleet of fifty-six vessels was despatched by Mavrocordatos to attempt a more thorough capture of the island. Its commander was Andreas Miaoulis, a Hydriot merchant, who proved himself the best sea-captain among the Greeks. Had Miaoulis been able, as he wished, to start sooner and meet the Turkish squadron on its way to Chios, a brilliant victory might have resulted, instead of one of the saddest catastrophes in the whole Greek war. Being deterred therefrom by the vacillation of Mavrocordatos and the insubordination of his captains and their crews, he was only able to reach the island when it was again in the hands of the enemy, and when all was ready for withstanding him. There was useless fighting on the 31st of May and the two following days. On the 18th of June, Miaoulis made another attack; but he was only able to destroy the Turkish flag-ship, and nearly all on board, by means of a fire-vessel. His fleet was unmanageable, and he had to abandon the enterprise and to leave the unfortunate Chiots to endure further punishment for offences that were not their own. This punishment was so terrible that, in six months, the population of Chios was reduced from one hundred thousand to thirty thousand. Twenty thousand managed to escape. Fifty thousand were either put to death or sold as slaves in Asia Minor.
That failure of the Greeks at Chios, quickly followed by their defeat on land at Petta, greatly disheartened the revolutionists. Mavrocordatos virtually resigned his presidentship, and there was anarchy in Greece till 1828. Athens, captured from the Turks in June, 1822, became the centre of jealous rivalry and visionary scheming, mismanagement, and government that was worse than no government at all. Odysseus, the vilest of the vile men whom the Revolution brought to the surface, was its master for some time; and, when he played traitor to the Turks, he was succeeded by others hardly better than himself.
In spite of some heavy disasters, however, the Greeks were so far successful during 1822 that in 1823 they were able to hold their newly-acquired territory and to wrest some more fortresses from their enemies. The real heroism that they had displayed, moreover—the foul cruelties of which they were guilty and the selfish courses which they pursued being hardly reported to their friends, and, when reported, hardly believed—awakened keen sympathy on their behalf. Shelley and Byron, and many others of less note, had sung their virtues and their sufferings in noble verse and enlarged upon them in eloquent prose, and in England and France, in Switzerland, Germany, and the united States, a strong party of Philhellenes was organized to collect money and send recruits for their assistance.
The two Philhellenes of greatest note who served in Greece during the earlier years of the Revolution were Thomas Gordon and Frank Abney Hastings. Gordon, who attained the rank of general in the army of independence, had the advantage of a long previous and thorough acquaintance with the character of both Turks and Greeks and with the languages that they spoke. He watched all the revolutionary movements from the beginning, and took part in many of them. In the "History of the Greek Revolution," which he published in 1832, he gave such a vivid and, in the main, so accurate an account of them that his narrative has formed the basis of the more ambitious work of the native historian, Mr. Trikoupes. Of the vices and errors of the people on whose behalf he fought and wrote he spoke boldly. "Whatever national or individual wrong the Greeks may have endured," he said in one place, "it is impossible to justify the ferocity of their vengeance or to deny that a comparison instituted between them and the Ottoman generals, Mehemet Aboulaboud, Omer Vrioni, and the Kehaya Bey of Kurshid, would give to the latter the palm of humanity. Humanity, however, is a word quite out of place when applied either to them or to their opponents." In another page, further denouncing the Greek leaders, he wrote: "Panourias was the worst of these local despots, whom some writers have elevated into heroes. He was, in fact, an ignoble robber, hardened in evil. He enriched himself with the spoils of the Mahometans; yet he and his retinue of brigands compelled the people to maintain them at free quarters, in idleness and luxury, exacting not only bread, meat, wine, and forage, but also sugar and coffee. Hence springs the reflection that the Greeks had cause to repent their early predilection for the klephts, who were almost all, beginning with Kolokotrones, infamous for the sordid perversity of their dispositions."[A] Gordon's disinterested and brave efforts to bring about a better state of things and to help on the cause of real patriotism in Greece were highly praiseworthy; but, as another historian has truly said, "he did not possess the activity and decision of character necessary to obtain commanding influence in council, or to initiate daring measures in the field."[B]
[Footnote A: Gordon, vol. i., pp. 313, 400.]
[Footnote B: Finlay, vol. ii., p. 129.]
Frank Abney Hastings was an abler man. Born in 1794, he was started in the naval profession when only eleven years old. Six months after the commencement of his midshipman's life he was present, on board the Neptune, at the battle of Trafalgar, and during the ensuing fourteen years he served in nearly every quarter of the globe. His independent spirit, however—something akin to Lord Cochrane's—brought him into disfavour, and, in 1819, for challenging a superior officer who had insulted him, he was dismissed from the British navy. Disheartened and disgusted, he resided in France for about three years. At length he resolved to go and fight for the Greeks, partly out of sympathy for their cause, partly as a relief from the misery of forced idleness, partly with the view of developing a plan which he had been devising for extending the use of steamships in naval warfare,—to which last excellent improvement he greatly contributed. He arrived at Hydra in April, 1822, just in time to take part in the fighting off Chios. One of his ingenious suggestions, made to Andreas Miaoulis, and its reception, have been described by himself. "I proposed to direct a fireship and three other vessels upon the frigate, and, when near the enemy, to set fire to certain combustibles which should throw out a great flame. The enemy would naturally conclude they were all fireships. The vessels were then to attach themselves to the frigate, fire broadsides, double-shotted, throwing on board the enemy at the same time combustible balls which gave a great smoke without flame. This would doubtless induce him to believe he was on fire, and give a most favourable opportunity for boarding him. However, the admiral returned my plan, saying only [Greek: kalo], without asking a single question, or wishing me to explain its details; and I observed a kind of insolent contempt in his manner. This interview with the admiral disgusted me. They place you in a position in which it is impossible to render any service, and then they boast of their own superiority, and of the uselessness of the Franks, as they call us, in Turkish warfare." Miaoulis, however, soon gained wisdom and made good use of Captain Hastings, who spent more than 7000l.—all his patrimony—in serving the Greeks. He was almost the only officer in their employ who, during the earlier years of the Revolution, succeeded in establishing any sort of discipline or good management.
Lord Byron, the most illustrious of all the early Philhellenes, used to say, shortly before his death, that with Napier at the head of the army and Hastings in command of a fleet the triumph of Greece might be insured. Byron was then at Missolonghi, whither he had gone in January, 1824, to die in April. Long before, while stirring up the sympathy of all lovers of liberty for the cause of regeneration in Greece, he had shown that regeneration could be by no means a short or easy work, and now he had to report that the real work was hardly yet begun—nay, that it seemed almost further off than ever. "Of the Greeks," he wrote, "I can't say much good hitherto, and I do not like to speak ill of them, though they do of one another."
It was chiefly at Byron's instigation that the first Greek loan was contracted, in London, early in 1824. Its proceeds, 300,000l., were spent partly in unprofitable outlay upon ships, ammunition, and the like, of which the people were in no position to make good use, but mostly in civil war and in pandering to the greed and vanity of the members of the Government and their subordinate officials. "Phanariots and doctors in medicine," says an eye-witness, "who, in the month of April, 1824, were clad in ragged coats, and who lived on scanty rations, threw off that patriotic chrysalis before summer was past, and emerged in all the splendour of brigand life, fluttering about in rich Albanian habiliments, refulgent with brilliant and unused arms, and followed by diminutive pipe-bearers and tall henchmen."[A]
[Footnote A: Finky, vol. ii. p. 39.]
Even the scanty allowance made by the Greek Government out of its newly-acquired wealth for fighting purposes was for the most part squandered almost as frivolously. One general who drew pay and rations for seven hundred soldiers went to fight and die at Sphakteria at the head of seventeen armed peasants.[A] And that is only a glaring instance of peculations that were all but universal.
[Footnote A: Trikoupes, vol. iii., p. 206.]
That being the degradation to which the leaders of the Greek Revolution had sunk, it is not strange that its gains in previous years should have begun in 1824 to be followed by heavy losses. The Greek people—the peasants and burghers—were still patriots, though ill-trained and misdirected. They could defend their own homesteads with unsurpassed heroism, and hold their own mountains and valleys with fierce persistency. But they were unfit for distant fighting, even when their chiefs consented to employ them in it. Sultan Mahmud, therefore, who had been profiting by the hard experience of former years, and whose strength had been steadily growing while the power of the insurgents had been rapidly weakening, entered on a new and successful policy. He left the Greeks to waste their energies in their own possessions, and resolved to recapture, one after another, the outposts and ill-protected islands. For this he took especial care in augmenting his navy, and, besides developing his own resources, induced his powerful and turbulent vassal, Mohammed Ali, the Pasha of Egypt, to equip a formidable fleet and entrust it to his son Ibrahim, on whom was conferred the title of Vizier of the Morea.
Even without that aid Mahmud was able to do much in furtherance of his purpose. The island of Kasos was easily recovered, and full vengeance was wreaked on its Greek inhabitants on the 20th of June. Soon afterwards Psara was seized and punished yet more hardly.
On the 19th of July Ibrahim left Alexandria with a naval force which swept the southern seas of Greek pirates or privateers. On the 1st of September he effected a junction with the Turkish fleet at Budrun. Their united strength comprised forty-six ships, frigates, and corvettes, and about three hundred transports, large and small. The Greek fleet, between seventy and eighty sail, would have been strong enough to withstand it under any sort of good management; but good management was wanting, and the crews were quite beyond the control of their masters. The result was that in a series of small battles during the autumn of 1824 the Mahometans were generally successful, and their enemies found themselves at the close of the year terribly discomfited The little organization previously existing was destroyed, and the revolutionists felt that they had no prospect of advantageously carrying on their strife at sea without assistance and guidance that could not be looked for among themselves.
Their troubles were increased in the following year. In February and March, 1825, Ibrahim landed a formidable army in the Morea, and began a course of operations in which the land forces and the fleet combined to dispossess the Greeks of their chief strongholds. The strongly-fortified island of Sphakteria, the portal of Navarino and Pylos, was taken on the 8th of May. Pylos capitulated on the 11th, and Navarino on the 21st of the same month. Other citadels, one after another, were surrendered; and Ibrahim and his army spent the summer in scouring the Morea and punishing its inhabitants, with the utmost severity, for the lawless brigandage and the devoted patriotism of which they had been guilty during the past four years.
The result was altogether disheartening to the Greeks. They saw that their condition was indeed desperate. George Konduriottes, a Hydriot merchant, an Albanian who could not speak Greek, and who was alike unable to govern himself or others, had, in June, 1824, been named president of the republic, and since then the rival interests of the primates, the priests, and the military leaders had been steadily causing the decay of all that was left of patriotism and increase of the selfishness that had so long been rampant.
There was one consequence of this degradation, however, which promised to be very beneficial. Seeing that their cause was being rapidly weakened, and that their hard-fought battle for liberty was in danger of speedy and ignominious reversal by their own divisions, by the stealthy encroachments of the Ottomans in the north, and by the more energetic advances of the Egyptians in the south, the Greeks resolved to abandon some of their jealousies and greeds, to look for a saviour from without, and, on his coming, to try and submit themselves honestly and heartily to his leadership. The issue of that resolution was the following letter, written by Mavrocordatos, then Secretary to the National Assembly:—
"Milord,—Tandis que vos rares talens etaient consacres a procurer le bonheur d'un pays separe par un espace immense de la Grece, celle-ci ne voyait pas sans admiration, sans interet, sans une espece de jalousie secrete meme, les succes brillants qui ont toujours couronne vos nobles efforts, et rendu a l'independance un des plus beaux, des plus riches pays du monde. Votre retour en Angleterre a excite la plus vive joie dans le coeur du citoyen Grec et de ses representans par l'espoir flattereur qu'ils commencent a concevoir que, celui qui s'est si noblement dedie a procurer le bonheur d'une nation, ne refusera pas d'en faire autant pour celui d'une autre, qui ne lui offre pas une carriere moins brillante et moins digne de lui et par son nom historique, et par ses malheurs passes et par ses efforts actuels pour reconquerir sa liberte et son independance. Les mers qui rappellent les victoires des Themistocles et des Timon, ne seront pas un theatre indifferent pour celui qui sait apprecier les grands hommes, et un des premiers amiraux de notre siecle ne verra qu' avec plaisir qu'il est appelle a renouveler les beaux jours de Salamine et de Mycale a la tete des Miaoulis, des Sachtouris et des Kanaris.
"C'est avec la plus grande satisfaction, milord, que je me vois charge de faire, au nom du Gouvernement, a votre seigneurie, la proposition du commandement general des forces navales de la Grece. Si votre seigneurie est disposee a l'accepter, Messieurs les Deputes du Gouvernement Grec a Londres ont toute l'autorisation et les instructions necessaires pour combiner avec elle sur les moyens a mettre a sa disposition, afin d'utiliser le plutot possible votre noble decision et accelerer l'heureux moment que la Grece reconnaissante et enthousiasmee vous verra combattre pour la cause de sa liberte.
"Je profite de cette occasion pour prier votre seigneurie de vouloir bien agreer l'assurance de mon respect et de la plus haute estime avec laquelle j'ai l'honneur d'etre, milord, de votre seigneurie le tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur,
"Naples de Romanie,
"le 20 Aout, —————- 1825 1er 7bre
"A Sa Seigneurie le tres Honorable Lord Cochrane, a Londres."
LORD COCHRANE's DISMISSAL FROM BRAZILIAN SERVICE, AND HIS ACCEPTANCE OF EMPLOYMENT AS CHIEF ADMIRAL OF THE GREEKS.—THE GREEK COMMITTEE AND THE GREEK DEPUTIES IN LONDON—THE TERMS OF LORD COCHRANE's AGREEMENT, AND THE CONSEQUENT PREPARATIONS.—HIS VISIT TO SCOTLAND—SIR WALTER SCOTT'S VERSES ON LADY COCHRANE.—LORD COCHRANE'S FORCED RETIREMENT TO BOULOGNE, AND THENCE TO BRUSSELS.—THE DELAYS IN FITTING OUT THE GREEK ARMAMENT.—CAPTAIN HASTINGS, MR. HOBHOUSE, AND SIR FRANCES BURDETT.—CAPTAIN HASTINGS'S MEMOIR ON THE GREEK LEADERS AND THEIR CHARACTERS.—THE FIRST CONSEQUENCE OF LORD COCHRANE's NEW ENTERPRISE.—THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON'S INDIRECT MESSAGE TO LORD COCHRANE.—THE GREEK DEPUTIES' PROPOSAL TO LORD COCHRANE AND HIS ANSWER.—THE FINAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR HIS DEPARTURE.—THE MESSIAH OF THE GREEKS.
The letter from Mavrocordatos quoted in the last chapter was only part of a series of negotiations that had been long pending. Lord Cochrane, as we have seen, had arrived at Portsmouth on the 26th of June, 1825, in command of a Brazilian war-ship and still holding office as First Admiral of the Empire of Brazil. His intention in visiting England had been only to effect the necessary repairs in his ship before going back to Rio de Janeiro. He had no sooner arrived, however, than it was clear to him, from the vague and insolent language of the Brazilian envoy in London, that it was designed by that official, if not by the authorities in Rio de Janeiro, to oust him from his command. During four months he remained in uncertainty, determined not willingly to retire from his Brazilian service, but gradually convinced by the increasing insolence of the envoy's treatment of him that it would be inexpedient for him hastily to return to Brazil, where, before his departure, he had experienced the grossest ingratitude for his brilliant achievements and neglect and abuse of all sorts. At length, in November, upon learning that his captain and crew had been formally instructed to "cast off all subordination" to him, he deemed that he had no alternative but to consider himself dismissed from Brazilian employment and free to enter upon a new engagement.
That engagement had been urged upon him even while he was in South America by his friends in England, who were also devoted friends to the cause of Greek independence, and the proposal had been renewed very soon after his arrival at Portsmouth. It was so freely talked of among all classes of the English public and so openly discussed in the newspapers before the middle of August that by it Lord Cochrane's last relations with the Brazilian envoy were seriously complicated. "Lord Cochrane is looking very well, after eight years of harassing and ungrateful service," wrote Sir Francis Burdett on the 20th of August, "and, I trust, will be the liberator of Greece. What a glorious title!"
It is needless to say that Sir Francis Burdett, always the noble and disinterested champion of the oppressed, and the far-seeing and fearless advocate of liberty both at home and abroad, was a leading member of the Greek Committee in London. This committee was a counterpart—though composed of more illustrious members than any of the others—of Philhellenic associations that had been organized in nearly every capital of Europe and in the chief towns of the United States. Everywhere a keen sympathy was aroused on behalf of the down-trodden Greeks; and the sympathy only showed itself more zealously when it appeared that the Greeks were still burdened with the moral degradation of their long centuries of slavery, and needed the guidance and support of men more fortunately trained than they had been in ways of freedom. Such a man, and foremost among such men, always generous, wise, and earnest, was Sir Francis Burdett, Lord Cochrane's oldest and best political friend, his readiest adviser and stoutest defender all through the weary time of his subjection to unmerited disgrace and heartless contumely. Another leading member of the Greek Committee was Mr. John Cam Hobhouse, afterwards Lord Broughton, Lord Byron's friend and fellow-traveller, now Sir Francis Burdett's colleague in the representation of Westminster as successor to Lord Cochrane. Another of high note was Mr. Edward Ellice, eminent alike as a merchant and as a statesman. Another, no less eminent, was Joseph Hume. Another was Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Bowring, secretary to the Greek Committee. By them and many others the progress of the Greek Revolution was carefully watched and its best interests were strenuously advocated, and by all the return of Lord Cochrane to England and the prospect of his enlistment in the Philhellenic enterprise afforded hearty satisfaction. To them the real liberty of Greece was a cherished object; and one and all united in welcoming the great promoter of Chilian and Brazilian independence as the liberator of Greece.
Other honest friends of Greece were less sanguine, and more disposed to urge caution upon Lord Cochrane. "My very dear friend," wrote one of them, Dr. William Porter, from Bristol on the 25th of August, "I will not suffer you to be longer in England without welcoming you; for your health, happiness, and fame are all dear to me. I have followed you in your Transatlantic career with deep feelings of anxiety for your life, but none for your glory: I know you too well to entertain a fear for that. I had hoped that you would repose on your laurels and enjoy the evening of life in peace, but am told that you are about to launch a thunderbolt against the Grand Seignior on behalf of Greece. I wish to see Greece free; but could also wish you to rest from your labours. For a sexagenarian to command a fleet in ordinary war is an easy task, and even threescore and ten might do it; but fifty years are too many to conduct a naval war for a people whose pretensions to nautical skill you will find on a thousand occasions to give rise to jealousies against you. You will also find that on some important day they will withhold their co-operation, in order to rob you of your glory. The cause of Greece is, nevertheless, a glorious cause. Our remembrance of what their ancestors did at Salamis, at Marathon, at Thermopylae, gives an additional interest to all that concerns them. But, to say the truth of them, they are a race of tigers, and their ancestors were the same. I shall be glad to see them fall upon their aigretted keeper and his pashas; but, confound them! I would not answer for their destroying the man that would break their fetters and set them loose in all the power of recognised freedom."
There was much truth in those opinions, and Lord Cochrane was not blind to it. That he, though now in his fiftieth year, was too old for any difficult seamanship or daring warfare that came in his way he certainly was not inclined to admit; but he was not quite as enthusiastic as Sir Francis Burdett and many of his other friends regarding the immediate purposes and the ultimate issue of the Greek Revolution. He was now as hearty a lover of liberty, and as willing to employ all his great experience and his excellent ability in its service, as he had been eight years before when he went to aid the cause of South American independence. But both in Chili and in Brazil he had suffered much himself, and, what was yet more galling to one of his generous disposition, had seen how grievously his disinterested efforts for the benefit of others had been stultified, by the selfishness and imprudence, the meanness and treachery of those whom he had done his utmost to direct in a sure and rapid way of freedom. He feared, and had good reason for fearing, like disappointments in any relations into which he might enter with Greece. Therefore, though he readily consented to work for the Hellenic revolutionists, as he had worked for the Chilians and Brazilians, he did so with something of a forlorn hope, with a fear—which in the end was fully justified—that thereby his own troubles might only be augmented, and that his philanthropic plans might in great measure be frustrated. Coming newly to England, where the real state of affairs in Greece, the selfishness of the leaders, the want of discipline among the masses, and the consequent weakness and embarrassment to the revolutionary cause, were not thoroughly understood, and where this understanding was especially difficult for him without previous acquaintance even with all the details that were known and apprehended by his friends, he yet saw enough to lead him to the belief that the work they wished him to do in Greece would be harder and more thankless than they supposed.
This must be remembered as an answer to the first of the misstatements—misstatements that will have to be controverted at every stage of the ensuing narrative—which were carefully disseminated, and have been persistently recorded by political opponents and jealous rivals of Lord Cochrane. It has been alleged that he was induced by mercenary motives, and by them alone, to enter the service of the Greeks. His sole inducements were a desire to do his best on all occasions towards the punishment of oppressors and the relief of the oppressed, and a desire, hardly less strong, to seek relief in the naval enterprise that was always very dear to him from the oppression under which he himself suffered so heavily. The ingratitude that he had lately experienced in Chili and Brazil, however, bringing upon him much present embarrassment in lawsuits and other troubles, led him to use what was only common prudence in his negotiations with the Greek Committee and with the Greek deputies, John Orlando and Andreas Luriottis, who were in London at the time, and on whom devolved the formal arrangements for employing him and providing him with suitable equipments for his work.
These were done with help of a second Greek loan, contracted in London in 1825, for 2,000,000l. Out of this sum it was agreed that Lord Cochrane was to receive 37,000l. at starting, and a further sum of 20,000l. on the completion of his services; and that he was to be provided with a suitable squadron, for which purpose 150,000l. were to be expended in the construction of six steamships in England, and a like sum on the building and fitting out of two sixty-gun frigates in the United States. With the disappointments that he had experienced in Chili and Brazil fresh in his mind, he refused to enter on this new engagement without a formidable little fleet, manned by English and American seamen, and under his exclusive direction; and he further stipulated that the entire Greek fleet should be at his sole command, and that he should have full power to carry out his views independently of the Greek Government.
These arrangements were completed on the 16th of August, except that Lord Cochrane, not having yet been actually dismissed by the Brazilian envoy, refused formally to pledge himself to his new employers. In conjunction with Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Hobhouse, Mr. Ellice, and the Ricardos, as contractors, however, he made all the preliminary arrangements, and before the end of August he went for a two months' visit to his native county and other parts of Scotland, from which he had been absent more than twenty years.
One incident in that visit was noteworthy. On the 3rd of October, Lord and Lady Cochrane, being in Edinburgh, went to the theatre, where an eager crowd assembled to do them honour. Into the after-piece an allusion to South America was specially introduced. Upon that the whole audience rose and, turning to the seats occupied by the visitors, showed their admiration by plaudits so long and so vehement that Lady Cochrane, overpowered by her feelings, burst into tears. Thereupon Sir Walter Scott, who was in the theatre, wrote the following verses:—
"I knew thee, lady, by that glorious eye, By that pure brow and those dark locks of thine, I knew thee for a soldier's bride, and high My full heart bounded: for the golden mine Of heavenly thought kindled at sight of thee, Radiant with all the stars of memory.
"I knew thee, and, albeit, myself unknown, I called on Heaven to bless thee for thy love, The strength, the constancy thou long hast shown, Each selfish aim, each womanish fear above: And, lady, Heaven is with thee; thou art blest, Blest in whatever thy immortal soul loves best.
"Thy name, ask Brazil, for she knows it well; It is a name a hero gave to thee; In every letter lurks there not a spell,— The mighty spell of immortality? Ye sail together down time's glittering stream; Around your heads two glittering haloes gleam.
"Even now, as through the air the plaudits rung, I marked the smiles that in her features came; She caught the word that fell from every tongue, And her eye brightened at her Cochrane's name; And brighter yet became her bright eyes' blaze; It was his country, and she felt the praise,—
"Ay, even as a woman, and his bride, should feel, With all the warmth of an o'erflowing soul: Unshaken she had seen the ensanguined steel, Unshaken she had heard war's thunders roll, But now her noble heart could find relief In tears alone, though not the tears of grief.
"May the gods guard thee, lady, whereso'er Thou wanderest in thy love and loveliness! For thee may every scene and sky be fair, Each hour instinct with more than happiness! May all thou valuest be good and great, And be thy wishes thy own future fate!"
Those aspirations were very far from realised. Even during his brief holiday in Scotland, Lord Cochrane was troubled by the news that Mr. Galloway, the engineer to whom had been entrusted the chief work in constructing steam-boilers for the Greek vessels, was proceeding very slowly with his task. "My conviction is," wrote Mr. Ellice, "that Galloway, in undertaking so much, has promised what he can never perform, and that it will be Christmas, if not later, before the whole work is completed. No engines are to be got either in Glasgow or Liverpool. You know I am not sanguine, and the sooner you are here to judge for yourself the better. There has been no hesitation about the means from the beginning, but money will not produce steam-engines and vessels in these times."
In consequence of that letter, Lord Cochrane hurried up to London at once, intending personally to superintend and hasten on the work. He arrived on the 3rd of November; but only to find that fresh troubles were in store for him. He had already been exposed to vexatious litigation, arising out of groundless and malicious prosecutions with reference to his Brazilian enterprise. He was now informed that a more serious prosecution was being initiated. The Foreign Enlistment Act, passed shortly after his acceptance of service under the Chilian Republic, and at the special instigation of the Spanish Government, had made his work in South America an indictable offence; but it was supposed that no action would be taken against him now that he had returned to England. As soon as it was publicly known, however, that he was about to embark in a new enterprise, on behalf of Greece, steps were taken to restrain him by means of an indictment on the score of his former employment. "There is a most unchristian league against us," he wrote to his secretary, "and fearful odds too. To be prosecuted at home, and not permitted to go abroad, is the devil. How can I be prosecuted for fighting in Brazil for the heir-apparent to the throne, who, whilst his father was held in restraint by the rebellious Cortes, contended for the legitimate rights of the royal House of Braganza, then the ally of England, who had, during the contest, by the presence of her consuls and other official agents, sanctioned the acts of the Prince Regent of Brazil?"
It soon became clear, however, that the Government had found some justification of its conduct, and that active measures were being adopted for Lord Cochrane's punishment. He was warned by Mr. Brougham that, if he stayed many days longer in England, he would be arrested and so prevented not only from facilitating the construction of the Greek vessels, but even from going to Greece at all. Therefore, at the earnest advice of his friends, he left London for Calais on the 9th of November, soon to proceed to Boulogne, where he was joined by his family, and where he waited for six weeks, vainly hoping that in his absence the contractors and their overseers would see that the ship-building was promptly and properly executed.
While at Boulogne, foreseeing the troubles that would ensue from these new difficulties, he was half inclined to abandon his Greek engagement, and in that temper he wrote to Sir Francis Burdett for advice. "I have taken four-and-twenty hours," wrote his good friend in answer, on the 18th of November, "to consider your last letter, and have not one moment varied in my first opinion as to the propriety of your persevering in your glorious career. According to Brougham's opinion, you cannot be put in a worse situation,—that is, more in peril of Government here,—by continuing foreign service in the Greek cause than you already stand in by having served the Emperor of the Brazils. In my opinion you will be in a great deal less; for, the greater your renown, the less power will your enemies have, whatever may be their inclination, to meddle with you. Perhaps they only at present desist to look out for a better opportunity, 'reculer pour mieux sauter,' like the tiger. I don't mean to accuse them of this baseness; but, should it be the case, the less you do the more power they will have to injure you, if so inclined. Were they to prosecute you for having served the Brazilian Emperor, it would call forth no public sympathy, or but slight, in your favour. The case would be thought very hard, to be sure; but that would be all. Not so, should you triumph in the Greek cause. Transcendent glory would not only crown but protect you. No minister would dare to wag a finger—no, nor even Crown lawyer a tongue—against you; and, if they did, the feeling of the whole English public would surround you with an impenetrable shield. Fines would be paid; imprisonment protested and petitioned against; in short, I am convinced the nation would be in a flame, and you in far less danger of any attempt to your injury than at present. This, my dear Lord Cochrane, is my firm conviction."
Encouraged by that letter and other like expressions of opinion from his English friends, Lord Cochrane determined to persevere in his Greek enterprise, and to reside at Boulogne until the fleet that was being prepared for him was ready for service. He had to wait, however, very much longer than had been anticipated, and he was unable to wait all the time in Boulogne. There also prosecution threatened him. About the middle of December he heard that proceedings were about to be instituted against him for his detention, while in the Pacific, of a French brig named La Gazelle, the real inducement thereto being in the fact, as it was reported, that the French Government had espoused the cause of the Pasha of Egypt, and so was averse to such a plan for destroying the Egyptian fleet under Ibrahim as Lord Cochrane was concocting. Therefore, he deemed it expedient to quit French territory, and accordingly he left Boulogne on the 23rd of December, and took up his residence at Brussels, with his family, on the 28th of the same month.