Through four weary months and more he was waiting at Brussels, harassed by the prosecutions arising out of the lawsuits that have been already alluded to, in reference to which he said in one letter, "I think I must make up my mind, though it is a hard task, to quit England for ever;" harassed even more by the knowledge that the building and fitting out of the vessels for his Greek expedition were being delayed on frivolous pretexts and for selfish ends, which his presence in London, if that had been possible, might, to a great extent, have averted. "The welfare of Greece at this moment rests much on your lordship," wrote Orlando, the chief deputy in London, "and I dare hope that you will hasten her triumph:" yet Orlando and his fellows were idling in London, profiting by delays that increased their opportunities of peculation, and doing nothing to quicken the construction of the fleet. Galloway, the engineer, wrote again and again to promise that his work should be done in three weeks,—it was always "three weeks hence;" yet he was well informed that Galloway was wilfully negligent, though he did not know till afterwards that Galloway, having private connections with the Pasha of Egypt, never intended to do the work which he was employed to do. Lord Cochrane had good friends at home in Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Hobhouse, and others; but they were not competent to take personal supervision of the details. He had an experienced deputy in Captain Abney Hastings, who had come from Greece some time before, and who was now to return as Lord Cochrane's second in command; but Captain Hastings, single-handed, could not exert much influence upon the rogues with whom he had to deal. "The Perseverance," he wrote of the largest of the ships, which was to be ready first, on the 10th of December, "may perhaps be ready to sail in six weeks—Mr. Galloway has said three weeks for the last month; but to his professions I do not, and have not for a length of time, paid the slightest attention. I believe he does all he can do; all I object against him is that he promises more than he can perform, and promises with the determination of not performing it. The Perseverance is a fine vessel. Her power of two forty-horses will, however, be feeble. I suspect you are not quite aware of the delay which will take place." Lord Cochrane soon became quite aware of the delay, but was unable to prevent it, and the next few months were passed by him in tedious anxiety and ceaseless chagrin.
There was one desperate mode of lessening the delay—for Lord Cochrane to go out in the Perseverance as soon as it was ready to start, leaving the other vessels to follow as soon as they were ready. Captain Abney Hastings went to Brussels on purpose to urge him to that course, and Mr. Hobhouse also recommended it. "There are two points," he wrote on the 23rd of December, "to which your attention will probably be chiefly directed by Captain Hastings. These are, the expediency of your going with the Perseverance, instead of waiting for the other boats, and the propriety of immediately disposing of the two frigates in America"—about which frequent reports had arrived, showing that their preparation was in even worse hands than was that of the London vessels—"to the highest bidder. As to the first, I am confident that, although it would have been desirable to have got together the whole force in the first instance, yet, as the salvation of Greece is a question of time only, and as it will be probably so late either as May or June next before the two larger boats can leave the river, it would be in every way inexpedient for you to wait until you could have the whole armament under your orders. Be assured, your presence in Greece would do more than the activity of any man living, and, as far as anything can be done in pushing forward the business at home, neither time nor pains shall be spared. I wish indeed you could have the whole of the boats at once; but Galloway has determined otherwise, and we must do the next best thing. Captain Hastings will tell you how much may be done even by one steam-vessel, commanded by you, and directing the operations of the fire-vessels. On such a topic I should not have the presumption to enlarge to you. As to the American frigates, it is Mr. Ellice's decided opinion, as well as my own, that you should have the money instead of the frigates. First and last, the frigates never will be finished. The rogues at New York demand 60,000l. above the 157,000l. which they have already received, and protest they will not complete their work without the additional sum. Now 70,000l. in your hands will be better than the hopes—and they will be nothing but hopes—of having the frigates. If you agree in this view, perhaps you will be so good as to state it in writing, which may remove Mr. Ricardo's objections."
Lord Cochrane was tempted to follow Captain Hastings's and Mr. Hobhouse's advice; but he first, as was his wont, sought Sir Francis Burdett's opinion; and Sir Francis dissuaded him, for the time, at any rate. "I would by no means have you proceed with the first vessel, nor at all without adequate means," he wrote on the 15th of January, 1826; "for besides thinking of the Greeks, for whom I am, I own, greatly interested, I must think, and certainly not with less interest, of you, and, I may add, in some degree of myself too; for I am placed under much responsibility, and I don't mean to be a party to making shipwreck of you and your great naval reputation; nor will I ever consent to your going upon a forlorn and desperate attempt—that is, without the means necessary for the fair chance of success—in other words, adequate means. Although you have worked miracles, we can never be justified in expecting them, and still less in requiring them."
Following that sound advice, Lord Cochrane resolved to wait until, at any rate, a good part of his fleet was ready. He wrote to that effect, and in as good spirits as he could muster, to Mr. Hobhouse, who in the answer which he despatched on the 5th of February acknowledged the wisdom of the decision. "I am very glad to perceive," he said in that answer, "that you have good heart and hope for the great cause. I assure you we have been doing all we can to induce the parties concerned to second your wishes in every respect; and I now learn from Mr. Hastings, who is our sheet anchor, that matters go on pretty well. I hope you write every now and then to Galloway, in whose hands is the fate of Greece—the worse our luck, for he is the great cause of our sad delay."
"You see our House is opened," said Mr. Hobhouse in the same letter. "Not a word of Greece in the Speech, and I spoke to Hume and Wilson, and begged them not to touch upon the subject. It is much better to keep all quiet, in order to prevent angry words from the ministers, who, if nothing is said, will, I think, shut their eyes at what we are doing. There is a very prevalent notion here that the (Holy) Alliance have resolved to recommend something to Turkey in favour of the Greeks. Whether this is true or not signifies nothing. The Turks will promise anything, and do just what suits them. They have always lost in war, for more than a hundred years, and have uniformly gained by diplomacy. They will never abandon the hope of reconquering Greece until driven out of Europe themselves, which they ought to be. By the way, the Greeks really appear to have been doing a little better lately; but I still fear these disciplined Arabians. I have written a very strong letter to Prince Mavrocordatos, telling them to hold out:—no surrender on any terms. I have not mentioned your name; but I have stated vaguely that they may expect the promised assistance early in the spring. It would indeed be a fine thing if you could commence operations during the Rhamadan; but I fear that is impossible. Any time, however, will do against the stupid, besotted Turks. Were they not led by Frenchmen, even the Greeks would beat them."
Of the leisure forced upon him, Lord Cochrane made good use in studying for himself the character of "the stupid, besotted Turks," and the nature of the war that was being waged against them by the Greeks; and he asked Mr. Hobhouse to procure for him all the books published on the subject or in any way related to it, of which he was not already master. "With respect to books," wrote Mr. Hobhouse, in reply to this request, "there are very few that are not what you have found those you have read to be, namely, romances; but I will take care to send out with you such as are the best, together with the most useful map that can be got." More than fifty volumes were thus collected for Lord Cochrane's use.
From Captain Abney Hastings, moreover, he obtained precise information about Greek waters, forts, and armaments, as well as "a list of the names of the principal persons in Greece, with their characters." This list, as showing the opinions of an intelligent Englishman, based on personal knowledge, as to the parties and persons with whom Lord Cochrane was soon to deal, is worth quoting entire, especially as it was the chief basis of Lord Cochrane's own judgment during this time of study and preparation.
I. Archontes, or men influential by their riches.
Lazaros Konduriottes.—A Hydriot merchant, the elder of the two brothers, who are the most wealthy men in that island, and even in all Greece. This one, by intrigue, by distributing his money adroitly in Hydra, and keeping in pay the most dissolute and unruly of the sailors, and protecting them in the commission of their crimes, has acquired almost unlimited power at Hydra. He asserts democracy, appealing on all occasions to the people, who are his creatures. The other primates hate him, of course. Lazaros has the reputation of being clever. He never quits Hydra for an instant, for fear of finding himself supplanted on his return.
George Konduriottes.—Brother of the former, and, like him a Hydriot merchant; an ignorant weak man; said to be vindictive; espouses the party of his brother at Hydra, by which means he has obtained the Presidency [of Greece]. He made the land captains his enemies, and had not good men enough to form an army of his own, viz., regular troops. His penetration went no further than bribing one captain to destroy another; which had for effect merely the changing the names of chieftains without diminishing the power. I understand he has lately retired to Hydra, and takes no active part in affairs.
EMANUEL TOMBAZES.—A Hydriot merchant and captain. There are two brothers, at the head of the party opposed to Konduriottes. This man was the first who ventured on the voyage from the Black Sea to Marseilles in a latteen-rigged vessel. This traffic afterwards gave birth to the colossal fortunes in Hydra. These men are the most enlightened in Hydra. This one is dignified, energetic, and a good sailor. However, he lost in Candia much of the reputation he had previously acquired; but with all the errors he committed there, the loss of that island is not attributable to him. 'Twould have been lost, under similar circumstances, had Caesar commanded there. Konduriottes and his adherents hate him, of course, and did all they could to paralyze his operations in Crete. All considered, this man is more capable of introducing order and regularity into the ships than any other Greek.
JAKOMAKI TOMBAZES.—A Hydriot merchant and captain, brother of the former. He commanded the fleet the first year of the Revolution, and to him is due the introduction of fire-vessels, by which he destroyed the first Turkish line-of-battle ship at Mytelene. He is perhaps the best-informed Hydriot; but he wants decision, and demands the advice of everybody at the moment he should be acting. This man takes little part in politics and follows his mercantile pursuits. His hobby-horse is ship-building, in which art he is such a proficient as to be quite the Seppings of Hydra. As to the rest, he is a very worthy, warm-hearted man, but excessively phlegmatic.
MIAOULIS.—A Hydriot merchant and captain, who obtained command of the Hydriot fleet after Jakomaki resigned. He is a very dignified, worthy old man, possesses personal courage and decision, and is less intriguing than any Greek that I know.
SAKTOURES.—A Hydriot captain. He has risen from a sailor, and is considered by the Archontes rather in the light of a parvenu. He is courageous and enterprising, but a bit of a pirate.
BONDOMES, SAMADHOFF, GHIKA, ORLANDO.—Hydriot merchants without anything but their money to recommend them.
PEPINOS.—A Hydriot sailor of the clan of Tombazes, who has distinguished himself frequently in fireships.
KANARIS.—A Psarian sailor; the most distinguished of the commanders of fire-vessels.
BOTAZES.—A Spetziot merchant; the most influential person in his island. But the Hydriot merchants possess so much property in Spetziot vessels that, in some measure, they rule that island.
PETRO-BEY [or PETROS MAVROMICHALES].—The principal Archonte of Maina; was governor of that province under the Turks. A fat, stupid, worthy man; is sincere in the cause, in which he has lost two if not three sons.
DELIYANNES.—A Moreot Archonte, and one of the most intriguing and ambitious; was formerly sworn enemy to Kolokotrones and the captains, but, having betrothed his daughter to Kolokotrones's son, they have become allies. This man, if not the richest Archonte in the Morea, is the one who affected the most pomp in the time of the Turks, and he cannot now easily brook his diminished influence. He is reported clever and unprincipled.
NOTABAS.—A Moreot Archonte, considered the most ancient of the noble families in the Morea; is a well-meaning old blockhead; has a son, a good-looking youth, who commanded the Government forces against the captains in 1824; is said to be an egregious coward.
LONDOS.—A Moreot Archonte; was much flattered by the Government, but afterwards leagued against them. He is a drunkard, and a man of no consideration but for his wealth.[A]
[Footnote A: Lord Byron used to describe an evening passed in the company of Londos at Vostitza, when both were young men. After supper Londos, who had the face and figure of a chimpanzee, sprang upon a table, and commenced singing through his nose Rhiga's "Hymn to Liberty." A new cadi, passing near the house, inquired the cause of the discordant hubbub. A native Mussulman replied, "It is only the young primate Londos, who is drunk, and is singing hymns to the new franaghia of the Greeks, whom they call 'Eleftheria.'"—Finlay, vol. ii., p. 35.]
ZAIMES.—A Moreot Archonte; said to possess considerable talent, and he exercises a very considerable influence. His brother was formerly a deputy in England.
SISSINES.—A Moreot Archonte; was formerly a doctor at Patras; has risen into wealth and consequence since the Revolution; has great talent, and is a great rogue.
SOTIRES XARALAMBI.—A Moreot Archonte of influence. I do not know his character.
SPELIOTOPOLOS.—A Moreot Archonte, whose name would never have been heard by a foreigner, if he had not been made a member of the executive body; a stupid old man, possessing little influence of any kind.
KOLETTES.—A Romeliot; was formerly doctor to Ali Pasha; possesses some talent; has held various situations in the ministry; is detested, yet I know not why. I never could ascertain any act of his that merited the dislike he has inspired a large party with. I fancy 'tis alone attributable to jealousy—the peculiar feature of the Greek character. It must nevertheless be acknowledged that he has sometimes made himself ridiculous by assuming the sword, for which profession he is totally incapacitated by want of courage. He is, however, poor, although in employment since the commencement of the Revolution.
THIKOUPES.—An Archonte of Missolonghi; of some importance from the English education he has received from Lord Guildford; a worthy man, possessed of instruction, but, I think, not genius. He has married Mavrocordatos's sister.
[DEMETRIUS] HYPSILANTES.—Is of a Phanariot family; was a Russian officer; although young, is bald and feeble. His appearance and voice are much against him. He does not so much want talent as ferocity. He possesses personal courage and probity, and may be said to be the only honest man that has figured upon the stage of the Revolution. He does not favour, but has never openly opposed, the party of the captains. He felt he had not the power to do it with success, and therefore showed his good sense in refraining. The Archontes, fearing the influence he might acquire would destroy theirs, have uniformly opposed him, secretly and openly; and they hate one another so cordially now that it is impossible they should ever unite.
MAVROCORDATOS.—Of a Phanariot family; came forward under the auspices of Hypsilantes, and then tried to supplant him; and to do this he made himself the tool of the Hydriots, who, as soon as they had obtained all power in their hands, endeavoured to kick down the stepping-stool by which they had mounted. Perceiving this, he entered into negotiations with the captains, and frightened the Hydriots into an acknowledgment of some power for himself. He possesses quickness and intrigue; but I doubt if he has solid talent, and it is reported that he is particularly careful not to court danger.
III. Captains or Land-Chieftains.
KOLOKOTRONES.—A captain of the Morea, and the most powerful one in all Greece. He owes this partly to the numerous ramifications of his family, partly to his reputation as a hereditary robber, and also to the wealth he has amassed in his vocation. He is a fine, decided-looking man, and knows perfectly all the localities of the country for carrying on mountain warfare, and he knows also, better than any other, how to manage the Greek mountaineers. He is, however, entirely ignorant of any other species of warfare, and is not sufficiently civilized to look forward for any other advantage to himself or his country than that of possessing the mountains and keeping the Turks at bay. He proposed destroying all the fortresses except Nauplia. 'Twas an error of Mavrocordatos to have made this man an open enemy to himself and to organization. Had he been allowed to have profited by order, he would have espoused it. At present he may be considered irreconcilably opposed to order and the Hydriot party.
NIKETAS.—There are two of this name; but the only one that merits notice is the Moreot captain, a relation of Kolokrotones. He is as ignorant and dirty as the rest of his brethren, but bears the reputation of being disinterested and courageous. He is always poor. All the chieftains are good bottle-men; but this one excels them so much that 'tis confidently asserted he drinks three bottles of rum per day.
STAIKOS.—A Moreot captain who took part early with the Hydriot party from jealousy of Kolokotrones. When that party gained the ascendency, not finding himself sufficiently rewarded, he joined the captains.
MOMGINOS.—A Mainot chieftain, a rival of Petro-Bey; is undistinguished, except by his colossal stature and ferocious countenance.
GOURA.—A Romeliot captain; was a soldier of Odysseus, and employed by him in various assassinations, and thus he rose to preferment and supplanted his protector, and at length assassinated him. This man possesses courage and extreme ferocity, but is remarkably ignorant. In the hands of a similar master, he would have been a perfect Tristan l'Hermite. To supplant Odysseus, he was obliged to range himself with the Hydriot party.
CONSTANTINE BOTZARES.—A Suliot captain; nephew to the celebrated Makrys, who, from all accounts, was a phenomenon among the captains. This man bears a good character.
KARAISKAKES, RANGO, KALTZAS, ZAVELLA, &c. &c.—Romeliot captains; all more or less opposed to order, according as they see it suits their immediate interest.
That estimate of the Greek heroes—in the main wonderfully accurate—was certainly not encouraging to Lord Cochrane. He determined, however, to go on with the work he had entered upon, and in doing his duty to the Greeks, to try to bring into healthy play the real patriotism that was being perverted by such unworthy leaders.
Great benefit was conferred upon the Greeks by his entering into their service from its very beginning, in spite of the obstacles which were thrown in his way at starting, and which materially damaged all his subsequent work on their behalf. No sooner was it known that he was coming to aid them with his unsurpassed bravery and his unrivalled genius than they took heart and held out against the Turkish and Egyptian foes to whom they had just before been inclined to yield. And his enlistment in their cause had another effect, of which they themselves were ignorant. The mere announcement that he intended to fight and win for them, as he had fought and won for Chili, for Peru, and for Brazil, while it caused both England and France to do their utmost in hindering him from achieving an end which was more thorough than they desired, forced both England and France to shake off the listlessness with which they had regarded the contest during nearly five years, and initiate the temporizing action by which Greece was prevented from becoming as great and independent a state as it might have been, yet by which a smaller independence was secured for it. Hardly had Lord Cochrane consented to serve as admiral of the Greeks than the Duke of Wellington was despatched, in the beginning of 1826, on a mission to Russia, which issued in the protocol of April, 1826, and the treaty of July, 1827—both having for their avowed object the pacification of Greece—and in the battle of Navarino, by which that pacification was secured.
The Duke of Wellington passed through Brussels, on his way to St. Petersburg, in March, 1826. Halting there, he informed the hotel-keeper that he could see no one except Lord Cochrane, which was as distinct an intimation that he desired an interview as, in accordance with the rules of etiquette, he could make. The hotel-keeper, however, was too dull to take the hint. He did not acquaint Lord Cochrane of the indirect message intended for him until the Duke of Wellington had proceeded on his journey. Thus was prevented a meeting between one of England's greatest soldiers and one of her greatest sailors, which could not but have been very memorable in itself, and which might have been far more memorable in its political consequences.
The meeting was hindered, and, without listening either to the personal courtesies or to the diplomatic arguments of the Duke of Wellington, Lord Cochrane continued his preparations for active service in Greek waters. The details of these preparations and their practical execution, as has been shown, he was forced to leave in other and less competent hands, and their actual supervision was still impossible to him. Gradually the irritating and wasteful obstacles for which Mr. Galloway was chiefly responsible induced him to resolve upon following the advice tendered in December by Mr. Hobhouse and Captain Hastings—that is, to go to Greece with a small portion only of the naval armament for which he had stipulated, and which his most cautious friends deemed necessary to his enterprise. To this he was driven, not only by a desire to do something worthy of his great name, and something really helpful to the cause which he had espoused, but also by the knowledge that the tedious delays that arose were squandering all the money with which he had counted upon rendering his work efficient when he could get to Greece.
Of this he received frequent and clear intimation from all his friends in London, though from none so emphatically as from the Greek deputies, Orlando and Luriottis, who, being themselves grievously to blame for their peculations and their bad management, threw all the blame upon Mr. Galloway and the other defaulters. Finding that the proceeds of the second Greek loan were being rapidly exhausted by their own and others' wrong-doing, they were even audacious enough to propose to Lord Cochrane that, not abandoning his Greek engagement, but rather continuing it under conditions involving much greater risk and anxiety than had been anticipated, he should return the 37,000l. which had been handed over to Sir Francis Burdett on his account, and take as sole security for his ultimate recompense the two frigates half built in America, acknowledged to be of so little value that no purchaser could be found for them. "Our only desire." they said, "is to rescue the millions of souls that are praying with a thousand supplications that they may not fall victims to the despair which is only averted by the hope of your lordship's arrival."
To that preposterous request Lord Cochrane made a very temperate answer. "I have perused your letter of the 18th," he wrote on the 28th of February, "with the utmost attention, and have since considered its contents with the most anxious desire to promote the objects you have in view in all ways in my power. But I have not been able to convince myself that, under existing circumstances, there is any means by which Greece can be so readily saved as by steady perseverance in equipping the steam-vessels, which are so admirably calculated to cut off the enemies' communication with Alexandria and Constantinople, and for towing fire-vessels and explosion-vessels by night into ports and places where the hostile squadrons anchor on the shores of Greece. With steam-vessels constructed for such purposes, and a few gunboats carrying heavy cannon, I have no doubt but that the Morea might in a few weeks be cleared of the enemy's naval force. I wish I could give you, without writing a volume, a clear view of the numerous reasons, derived from thirty-five years' experience, which induce me to prefer a force that can move in all directions in the obscurity of night through narrow channels, in shoal water, and with silence and celerity, over a naval armament of the usual kind, though of far superior force. You would then perceive with what efficacy the counsel of Demosthenes to your countrymen might be carried into effect by desultory attacks on the enemy; and, in fact, you would perceive that steam-vessels, whenever they shall be brought into war for hostile purposes, will prove the most formidable means that ever has been employed in naval warfare. Indeed, it is my opinion that twenty-four vessels moved by steam (such as the largest constructed for your service) could commence at St. Petersburg, and finish at Constantinople, the destruction of every ship of war in the European ports. I therefore hold that you ought to strain every nerve to get the steam-vessels equipped. For on these, next to the valour of the Greeks themselves, depends the fate of Greece, and not on large unwieldy ships, immovable in calms, and ill-calculated for nocturnal operations on the shores of the Morea and adjacent islands. Having thus repeated to you my opinions, I have only to add that, if you judge you can follow a better course, I release you from the engagement you entered into with me, and I am ready to return you the 37,000l. on your receiving as part thereof 72,500 Greek scrip, at the price I gave for it on the day following my engagement (under the faith of the stipulations then entered into), as a further stimulus to my exertion, by casting my property, as well as my life, into the scale with Greece. This release I am ready to make at once; but I cannot consent to accept as security, for the fruits of seven years' toil, vessels manned by Americans, whose pay and provisions I see no adequate or regular means of providing. But should the 150,000l. placed at the disposal of the Committee not prove sufficient for the objects I have required, I will advance the 37,000l. for the pay and provisions necessary for the steamboats on the security of the boats themselves. Thus you have the option of releasing me from the service, or of continuing my engagement, although I shall lose severely by my temporary acceptance of your offer."
In that letter Lord Cochrane conceded more than ought to have been expected of him. In a supplementary letter written on the same day he added: "I again assure you that I am ready to do whatever is reasonable for the interest of Greece; but it cannot be expected that for such interest I ought to sacrifice totally those of my family and myself, as would be the case were I to give up both the means I possess to obtain justice in South America and my indemnification, on so slender a security as that offered to me. Believe me, I should have tendered the 37,000l., without reference to the Greek scrip I had purchased, had it not been evident to me that, under such circumstances, the security of your public funds would be dependent on chances which I cannot foresee, and over which I should have no control."
Thus temperately rebuked, the Greek deputies did not urge their proposal any further. They only wrote to promise all possible expedition in completing the steam-vessels. Lord Cochrane, however, voluntarily acceded to one of their wishes. Hearing that the largest of the steamers, the Perseverance, was nearly ready for sea, and that Mr. Galloway had again solemnly pledged himself to complete the others in a short time, he determined not to wait for the whole force, but to start at once for the Mediterranean. It had been all along decided that the Perseverance should be placed under Captain Hastings's command; and it was now arranged that he should take her to Greece as soon as she was ready, and that Lord Cochrane should follow in a schooner, the Unicorn, of 158 tons. It was not intended, of course, that with that boat alone he should go all the way to Greece; but it was considered—perhaps not very wisely—that if he were actually on his way to Greece, the completion of the other five steamships would be proceeded with more rapidly; and he agreed that, as soon as he was joined in the Mediterranean by the first two of these, the Enterprise and the Irresistible, he would hasten on to the Archipelago, and there make the best of the small force at his disposal. Not only was it supposed that Mr. Galloway and the other agents would thus be induced to more vigorous action: it was also deemed that the effect of this step upon the Hellenic nation would be very beneficial. "As soon as the Greek Government know that your lordship is on your way to Greece," wrote the London deputies on the 13th of April, "their courage will be animated, and their confidence renewed. We may with truth assert that your lordship is regarded by all classes of our countrymen as a Messiah, who is to come to their deliverance; and, from the enthusiasm which will prevail amongst the people, we may venture to predict that your lordship's valour and success at sea will give energy and victory to their arms on land."
With the new arrangements necessitated by this change of plans the last two or three weeks of April and the first of May were occupied. Lord Cochrane put to sea on the 8th of May. "As a Greek citizen," one of the deputies in London, Andreas Luriottis, had written on the 17th of April, "I cannot refrain from expressing my sincere gratitude towards your lordship for the resolution which you have taken to depart almost immediately for Greece. This generous determination, at a moment when my country is really in want of every assistance, cannot be regarded with indifference by my countrymen, who already look upon your lordship as a Messiah. Your talents and intrepidity cannot allow us for a moment to doubt of success. My countrymen will afford you every assistance, and confer on you all the powers necessary for your undertaking; although your lordship must be aware that Greece, after five years' struggle, cannot be expected to present a very favourable aspect to a stranger. Your lordship will, however, find men full of devotion and courage—men who have founded, their best hopes on you, and from whom, under such a leader, everything may be expected. Your lordship's previous exploits encourage me to hope that Greece will not be less successful than the Brazils, since the materials she offers for cultivation are superior. With patience and perseverance in the outset, all difficulties will soon vanish, and the course will be direct and unimpeded. The resources of Greece are not to be despised, and, if successful, she will find ample means to reward those who will have devoted themselves to her service and to the cause of liberty."
LORD COCHRANE'S DEPARTURE FOR GREECE.—HIS VISIT TO LONDON AND VOYAGE TO THE MEDITERRANEAN.—HIS STAY AT MESSINA, AND AFTERWARDS AT MARSEILLES.—THE DELAYS IN COMPLETING THE STEAMSHIPS, AND THE CONSEQUENT INJURY TO THE GREEK CAUSE, AND SERIOUS EMBARRASSMENT TO LORD COCHRANE.—HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH MESSRS. J. AND S. RICARDO.—HIS LETTER TO THE GREEK GOVERNMENT.—CHEVALIER EYNARD, AND THE CONTINENTAL PHILHELLENES.—LORD COCHRANE'S FINAL DEPARTURE, AND ARRIVAL IN GREECE.
Lord Cochrane, having passed from Brussels to Flushing, sailed thence in the Unicorn on the 8th of May, 1826. Before proceeding to the Mediterranean, he determined, in spite of the personal risk he would thus be subjected to through the Foreign Enlistment Act, to see for himself in what state were the preparations for his enterprise in Greece. He accordingly landed at Weymouth, and hurrying up to London, spent the greater part of Sunday, the 16th of May, in Mr. Galloway's building yard at Greenwich.
He found that the Perseverance was apparently completed, though waiting for some finishing touches to be put to her boilers. "The two other vessels," he said, "were filled with pieces of the high-pressure engines, all unfixed, and scattered about in the engine-room and on deck. The boilers were in the small boats, and occupied nearly one half of their length, Mr. Galloway having, through inattention or otherwise, caused them to be made of the same dimensions as the boilers for the great vessels, which, by the by, had been improperly increased from sixteen feet, the length determined on, to twenty-three feet." The inspection was unsatisfactory; but Mr. Galloway pledged himself on his honour that the Perseverance should start in a day or two, that the Enterprise and the Irresistible should be completed and sent to sea within a fortnight, and that the other three vessels should be out of hand in less than a month.
Trusting to that promise, or at any rate hoping that it might be fulfilled, and after a parting interview with Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Ellice, and other friends, Lord Cochrane left London on Monday, and joined the Unicorn, at Dartford, on the 20th of May. It had been arranged that he should wait in British waters for the first instalment of his little fleet, at any rate. With that object he called at Falmouth, and, receiving no satisfactory information there, went to make a longer halt in Bantry Bay. At length, hearing that the Perseverance had actually started, with Captain Hastings for its commander, and that the other two large vessels were on the point of leaving the Thames, he left the coast of Ireland on the 12th of June.
He vainly hoped that the vessels would promptly join him in the Mediterranean, and that within four or five weeks' time he should be at work in Greek waters. The journey, however, was to last nine months. The mismanagement and the wilful delays of Mr. Galloway and the other contractors and agents continued as before. The urgent need of Greece was unsatisfied; the funds collected for promoting her deliverance were wantonly perverted; and the looked-for deliverer was doomed to nearly a year of further inactivity—hateful to him at all times, but now a special source of annoyance, as it involved not only idleness to himself, but also serious injury to the cause he had espoused.
He passed Oporto on the 18th, Lisbon on the 20th, and Gibraltar on the 26th of June. He was off Algiers on the 3rd of July, and on the 12th he anchored in the harbour of Messina. There, and in the adjoining waters, he waited nearly three months, in daily expectation of the arrival of his vessels, Messina having been the appointed meeting-place. No vessels came, but instead only dismal and procrastinating letters. "We deeply lament," wrote Messrs. J. and S. Ricardo, the contractors for the Greek loan, in one of them, dated the 9th of September, "that, after all the exertions which have been used, we have not yet been able to despatch the two large steam-vessels. Everything has been ready for some time; but Mr. Galloway's failure in the engines will now occasion a much longer detention. We leave to your brother, who writes by the same opportunity, to explain fully to your lordship how all this has arisen, and what measures it has been considered expedient to adopt. In the whole of this unfortunate affair we have endeavoured to follow your wishes; and our conduct towards Mr. Galloway, who has much to answer for, has been chiefly directed by his representations." "Galloway is the evil genius that pursues us everywhere," wrote the same correspondents on the 25th of September; "his presumption is only equalled by his incompetency. Whatever he has to do with is miserably deficient. We do not think his misconduct has been intentional; but it has proved most fatal to the interests of Greece, and of those engaged in her behalf. On your lordship it has pressed peculiarly hard; and most sincerely do we lament that an undertaking, which promised so fairly in the commencement should hitherto have proved unavailing, and that your power of assisting this unhappy country should have been rendered nugatory by the want of means to put it in effect."
Those letters, and others written before and after, did not reach Lord Cochrane till the end of October. In the meanwhile, finding that the expected vessels did not arrive at Messina, and that in that place it was impossible even for him to receive accurate information as to the progress of affairs in London, he called at Malta about the middle of September, and thence proceeded to Marseilles, as a convenient halting-place, in which he had better chance of hearing how matters were proceeding, and from which he could easily go to meet the vessels when, if ever, they were ready to join him. He reached Marseilles on the 12th of October, and on the same day he forwarded a letter to Messrs. Ricardo. "I wrote to you a few days ago," he said, "from Malta, and, as the packet sailed with a fair wind, you will receive that letter very shortly. You will thereby perceive the distressing suspense in which I have been held, and the inconvenience to which I have been exposed, by remaining on board this small vessel for a period of five months, during all the heat of a Mediterranean summer, without exercise or recreation. This situation has been rendered the more unpleasant, as I have had no means to inform myself, except through the public papers, relative to the concern in which we are now engaged. My patience, however, is now worn out, and I have come here to learn whether I am to expect the steam-vessels or not,—whether the scandalous blunders of Mr. Galloway are to be remedied by those concerned, or if an ill-timed parsimony is to doom Greece to inevitable destruction; for such will be the consequence, if Ibrahim's resources are not cut up before the period at which it is usual for him to commence operations. You know my opinions so well, that it is unnecessary to repeat them to you. I shall, however, add, that the intelligence and plans I have obtained since my arrival in the Mediterranean confirm these opinions, and enable me to predict, with as much certainty as I ever could do on any enterprise, that if the vessels and the means to pay six months' expenses are forwarded, there shall not be a Turkish or Egyptian ship in the Archipelago at the termination of the winter. It may have been expected that I should immediately proceed to Greece in this vessel. I might have done so at an earlier period of my life, before I had proved by experience that advice is thrown away upon persons in the situation and circumstances in which the Greek rulers and their people are unfortunately placed. Having made up my mind on this subject, I must entreat you to let me know by the earliest possible means what I am to expect in regard to the steamships. I see by the 'Globe' of the 2nd of last month that the holders of Greek stock were to have a meeting. I conclude they came to some resolution, and this resolution I want to know. I wish I could give them my eyes to see with—they would then pursue a course which would secure their interests. This, however, is impossible; therefore they must, like the Greeks, be left to follow their own notions. I have, however, no objections to your stating to these gentlemen, either publicly or privately, that I pledge my reputation to free Greece if they will, by the smallest additional sacrifice that may be required, put the stipulated force at my disposal."[A]
[Footnote A: This letter, like some others of this nature, is partly written in cypher, the key to which is lost. Its concluding sentences, therefore, are not given.]
At Marseilles, Lord Cochrane received information, disheartening enough, though more encouraging than was justified by the real state of affairs, with reference to his intended fleet. On the 14th of October he wrote to explain his position, as he himself understood it, to the Greek Government. "By the most fortunate accident," he said, "I have met Mr. Hobhouse here, who, from his correspondence with Messrs. Ricardo and others in London, enables me to state to you that the two large steamboats will be completed on the 28th day of this month, and that they will proceed on the following day for the rendezvous which I had assigned to them previous to my departure. You may, therefore, count on their being in Greece about the 14th of next month. The American frigate is said to be completed and on her way, and I feel a confident hope that I shall be able here to add a very efficient ship of war to the before-mentioned vessels.[A] It is probable," he added, "that many idle reports will be circulated here and through the public prints, because, under existing circumstances, I find it necessary to appear now as a person travelling about for private amusement. I can assure you, however, that the hundred and sixty days which I have already spent in this small vessel, without ever having my foot on shore till the day before yesterday, has been a sacrifice which I should not have made for any other cause than that in which I am engaged; but I considered it essential to conceal the real insignificance of my situation and allow rumours to circulate of squadrons collecting in various parts, judging that the effect would be to embarrass the operations of the enemy."
[Footnote A: It should here be explained that the building and fitting out of the two frigates contracted for in New York, at a cost of 150,000l., having been assigned to persons whose mismanagement was as scandalous as that which perplexed the Greek cause in London, one of them had been sold, and with the proceeds and some other funds the other had been completed and fitted out, more than 200,000l. having been spent upon her. She reached Greece at the end of 1826, there to be known as the Hellas.]
That concealment had to be maintained, and the wearisome delays continued, for three months more. All the promises of Mr. Galloway and all the efforts, real or pretended, of the Greek deputies in London, were vain. The completion of the steam-vessels was retarded on all sorts of pretexts, and when each little portion of the work was said to be done, it was found to be so badly executed that it had to be cancelled and the whole thing done afresh. In this way all the residue of the loan of 1825 was exhausted, and all for worse than nothing.
Lord Cochrane would never have been able to proceed to Greece at all, had the Greek deputies, Orlando and Luriottis, who had contracted for his employment, been his only supporters. Fortunately, however, he had other and worthier coadjutors. The Greek Committee in Paris did much on his behalf, and yet more was done by the Philhellenes of Switzerland, with Chevalier Eynard at their head, of whom one zealous member, Dr. L.A. Gosse, of Geneva, "well-informed, very zealous, full of genuine enthusiasm for the cause of humanity, and an excellent physician," as M. Eynard described him, was about to go in person to Greece, as administrator of the funds collected by the Swiss Committee. Lord Cochrane's disconsolate arrival at Marseilles, and the miserable failure of the plans for his enterprise, had not been known to M. Eynard and his friends a week, before they set themselves to remedy the mischief as far as lay in their power. As a first and chief movement they proposed to buy a French corvette, then lying in Marseilles Harbour, and fit her out as a stout auxiliary to Lord Cochrane's little force expected from London and New York. Lord Cochrane, being consulted on the scheme, eagerly acceded to it in a letter written on the 25th of October. "As I have yet no certainty," he said, "that the person employed to fit the machinery of the steam-vessels will now perform his task better than he has heretofore done, I recommend purchasing the corvette, provided that she can be purchased for the sum of 200,000 francs, and, if funds are wanting, I personally am willing to advance enough to provision the corvette, and am ready to proceed in that or any fit vessel. But I am quite resolved, without a moral certainty of something following me, not to ruin and disgrace the cause by presenting myself in Greece in a schooner of two carronades of the smallest calibre."
The corvette was bought and equipped; but in this several weeks were employed. In the interval, for a week or two after the 8th of December, Lord Cochrane went to Geneva, there to be the guest of Chevalier Eynard, to be introduced to Dr. Gosse, and to become personally acquainted with many other Philhellenes.
Neither Lord Cochrane nor his friends could quite abandon hope of the ultimate completion of the London steam-vessels. They felt, too, that with nothing but the new vessel, the American frigate, and the Perseverance, Lord Cochrane would have very poor provision for his undertaking. "I have this moment received a letter from his lordship," wrote M. Eynard to Mr. Hobhouse on the 12th of January, 1827, "wherein he appears rather disappointed with respect to the scantiness of the forces and the means placed at his disposal. He informs me that he has no officers, few sailors; and that, in case the steamers should not arrive, he will not feel qualified to encounter the Turkish and Egyptian naval forces, as well as the Algerines, who of all are the best manned. 'I therefore shall not be able to undertake anything of moment,' continues his lordship. 'Thus to stake my character and existence would be a mere Quixotic act. I will put to sea, however, but still with a heavy heart; yet not until I have with me all requisites, and my stores and ammunition be embarked likewise.' Discouragement appears throughout his lordship's letter."
The discouragement is not to be wondered at. It is hardly necessary, however, to give further illustration of it, or of the troubles incident to this long waiting-time. Enough has been said to show Lord Cochrane's position in relation to this deplorable state of affairs, and to exonerate him from all blame in the matter. That he should have been blamed at all is only part of the wanton injustice that attended him nearly all through his life. He had consented, in the autumn of 1825, to enter the service of the Greeks, on the distinct understanding that six English-built steamships should be placed at his disposal, and to facilitate the arrangements he did and bore far more than could have been expected of him. For the delays and disasters that befel those arrangements he was in no way responsible: he was only thereby a very great sufferer. But his sufferings would have been greater, and he would have been really at fault, had he consented to go to Greece without any sort of provision, as a few rash friends and many eager enemies desired him to do, and afterwards blamed him for not doing.
As it was, he greatly increased his difficulties by at last proceeding to Greece with the miserable equipment provided for him. In his little schooner, the Unicorn, he left Marseilles on the 14th of February, 1827, and proceeded to St. Tropezy, where the French corvette, the Sauveur, was being fitted out under the direction of Captain Thomas, a brave and energetic officer. Thence he set sail, with the two vessels, on the 23rd of February. He reached Poros, and entered upon his service in Greek waters, on the 19th of March. "He had been wandering about the Mediterranean in a fine English yacht, purchased for him out of the proceeds of the loan, in order to accelerate his arrival in Greece, ever since the month of June, 1826," says the ablest historian of the Greek Revolution.[A] The preceding paragraphs will show how much truth is contained in that sarcastic sentence.
[Footnote A: Finlay, vol. ii., p. 137.]
THE PROGRESS OF AFFAIRS IN GREECE.—THE SIEGE OF MISSOLONGHI.—ITS FALL.—THE BAD GOVERNMENT AND MISMANAGEMENT OF THE GREEKS.—GENERAL PONSONBY'S ACCOUNT OF THEM.—THE EFFECT OF LORD COCHRANE'S PROMISED ASSISTANCE.—THE FEARS OF THE TURKS, AS SHOWN IN THEIR CORRESPONDENCE WITH MR. CANNING.—THE ARRIVAL OF CAPTAIN HASTINGS IN GREECE, WITH THE "KARTERIA."—HIS OPINION OF GREEK CAPTAINS AND SAILORS.—THE FRIGATE "HELLAS."—LETTERS TO LORD COCHRANE FROM ADMIRAL MIAOULIS AND THE GOVERNING COMMISSION OF GREECE.
During the one-and-twenty weary months that elapsed between Lord Cochrane's acceptance of service in the Greek War of Independence and his actual participation in the work, the Revolution passed through a new and disastrous stage. In the summer of 1825, when the invitation was sent to him, the disorganisation of the Greeks and the superior strength of the Turks, and yet more of their Egyptian and Arabian allies under Ibrahim Pasha, were threatening to undo all that had been achieved in the previous years. One bold stand had begun to be made, in which, throughout nearly a whole year, the Greeks fought with unsurpassed heroism, and then the whole struggle for liberty fell into the lawless and disordered condition which already had prevailed in many districts, and which was then to become universal and to offer obstacles too great even for Lord Cochrane's genius to overcome in his efforts to revive genuine patriotism and to render thoroughly successful the cause that he had espoused.
The last great stand was at Missolonghi. Built on the edge of a marshy plain, bounded on the north by the high hills of Zygos and protected on the south by shallow lagoons at the mouth of the Gulf of Lepanto, and chiefly tenanted by hardy fishermen, this town had been the first in Western Greece to take part in the Revolution. Here in June, 1821, nearly all the Moslem residents had been slaughtered, the wealthiest and most serviceable only being spared to become the slaves of their Christian masters. In the last two months of 1822 the Ottomans had made a desperate attempt to win back the stronghold; but its inhabitants, led by Mavrocordatos, who had lately come to join in the work of regeneration, had resolutely beaten off the invaders and taken revenge upon the few Turks still resident among them. "The wife of one of the Turkish inhabitants of Missolonghi," said an English visitor in 1824, "imploring my pity, begged me to allow her to remain under my roof, in order to shelter her from the brutality and cruelty of the Greeks. They had murdered all her relations. A little girl, nine years old, remained to be the only companion of her misery."[A] Missolonghi continued to be one of the chief strongholds of independence in continental Greece; and, the revolutionists being forced into it by the Turks, who scoured the districts north and east of it in 1824 and 1825, it became in the latter year the main object of attack and the scene of most desperate resistance. Here were concentrated the chief energies of the Greek warriors and of their Moslem antagonists, and here was exhibited the last and most heroic effort of the patriots, unaided by foreign champions of note, in their long and hard-fought battle for freedom.
[Footnote A: Millingen, "Memoirs on the Affairs of Greece," p. 99.]
Reshid Pasha, the ablest of the Turkish generals, having advanced into the neighbourhood of Missolonghi towards the end of April, began to besiege it in good earnest, at the head of an army of some seven or eight thousand picked followers, on the 7th of May. While he was forming his entrenchments and erecting his batteries, the townsmen, augmented by a number of fierce Suliots and others, were strengthening their defences. They increased their ramparts, and organised a garrison of four thousand soldiers and armed peasants, with a thousand citizens and boatmen as auxiliaries. At first the tide of fortune was with them. The Turks had to defend themselves as best they could from numerous sorties, well-planned and well-executed, in May and June; and fresh courage came to the Greeks with the intelligence that Admiral Miaoulis was on his way to the port, with as powerful a fleet as he could muster. While he was being expected, however, on the 10th of July, the Turkish Capitan Pasha of Greece arrived with fifty-five vessels. Miaoulis, with forty Greek sail, made his appearance on the 2nd of August. Thus the naval and military forces of both sides were brought into formidable opposition.
At first the Greeks triumphed on the sea. In the night of the 3rd of August, Miaoulis, finding that Missolonghi was being greatly troubled by the blockade established by the Turks, cleverly placed himself to windward of the enemy's line, and at daybreak on the 4th he dispersed the squadron nearest the shore. At noon the whole Turkish force came against him. He met them bravely, but being able to do no more than hold his own by the ordinary method of warfare, he sent three fireships against them in the afternoon. The Turks did not wait to be injured by them. They fled at once, going all the way to Alexandria in search of safety. Miaoulis then lost no time in seconding his first exploit by another. A detachment of the army of Eastern Greece, under the brave generals Karaiskakes and Zavellas, having been sent to harass Reshid Pasha's operations, the admiral assisted them in a successful piece of strategy. The Turks were, on the 6th of August, attacked simultaneously by the ships and by the outlying battalion of Greeks, while fifteen hundred of the garrison rushed out upon the invaders. Four Turkish batteries were seized, and a great number of their defenders were killed and captured; the remainder, after tough fighting during three hours and a half, being driven so far back that much of the besieging work had to be done over again.
Miaoulis then went in search of the Ottoman fleet, leaving the townsmen, who were enabled, by the raising of the blockade, to receive fresh supplies of food, ammunition, and men, to continue their defence with a good heart. Reshid Pasha vigorously restored his siege operations, but, attempting to force his way into the town on the 21st of September, was again seriously repulsed. The Turks were allowed, and even tempted, to advance to a point which had been skilfully undermined by the besieged. The mine was then fired, and a great number of Moslems were blown into the air, while their comrades, fleeing in disorder, were further injured by a storm of shot from the ramparts. A similar device was resorted to, with like success, on the 13th of October. Reshid had to retire to a safe distance and there build winter quarters for his diminished and starving army. Karaiskakes and Zavellas entered Missolonghi without hindrance, there to concert measures which, had they been promptly adopted, might have utterly destroyed the besieging force.
They delayed their plans too long. The Capitan Pasha having in August fled in a cowardly way to Alexandria, there effected a junction with the Egyptians, and returned to the neighbourhood of Missolonghi in the middle of November with a huge fleet of a hundred and thirty-five vessels, well supplied with troops and provisions. These he landed at Patras on the 18th, just in time to be free from any annoyance that might have been occasioned by Miaoulis, who returned to Missolonghi on the 28th with a fleet of only thirty-three sail. He had vainly attacked a part of the Moslem force on its way, and now, after landing some stores at Missolonghi, made several vain attempts to overcome a force four times as strong as his own. He soon retired, intending to return as promptly as he could collect a large fleet and bring with him further supplies of the provisions of which the Missolonghites were beginning to be in need.
The need was greater even than he imagined. Not only had the Capitan Pasha brought temporary assistance, in men and food, to the besieging force. Yet greater assistance soon came in the shape of an Egyptian army, led by Ibrahim Pasha himself. An overwhelming power was thus organized during the last weeks of 1825, and the defenders of Missolonghi were left to succumb to it, almost unaided. Their previous successes had induced the Greeks of other districts to believe that they could continue their defence alone, and almost the only relief obtained by them was from the Zantiots, who had all along been zealous in the despatch of money and provisions, and from Miaoulis and the small fleet and equipment that he was able to collect from the islands of the Archipelago. Miaoulis returned in January, 1826, and did much injury to the Turkish and Egyptian vessels. But he could offer no hindrance to the action of the Turks and Egyptians upon land. The rainy months of December and January, in which no important attack could be entered upon, were spent by Ibrahim and his companions in preparation for future work. The invaders were now well provided with every requisite. The besieged were in want of nearly everything. "Invested for ten months," says the contemporary historian, "frequently on the verge of starvation, thinned by fatigue, watching, and wounds, they had already buried fifteen hundred soldiers. The town was in ruins, and they lived amongst the mire and water of their ditches, exposed to the inclemency of a rigorous season, without shoes and in tattered clothing. As far as their vision stretched over the waves they beheld only Turkish flags. The plain was studded with Mussulman tents and standards; and the gradual appearance of new batteries more skilfully disposed, the field days of the Arabs, and the noise of saws and hammers, gave fearful warning. Yet these gallant Acarnanians, Etolians, and Epirots never flinched for an instant."[A]
[Footnote A: Gordon, vol. ii., p. 253.]
On the 13th of January, Ibrahim Pasha sent to say that he was willing to treat with them for an honourable surrender if they would convey their terms by deputies who could speak Albanian, Turkish, and French. "We are illiterate, and do not understand so many languages," was their blunt reply; "pashas we do not recognize; but we know how to handle the sword and gun."[A]
[Footnote A: Ibid.]
Sword and gun were handled with desperate prowess during February and March and the early part of April. In April, offers of capitulation were renewed by Ibrahim, and more disinterested attempts to avert the worst calamity were made by Sir Frederick Adam, the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. Both proposals were stoutly rejected. The Missolonghiotes declared that they would defend their town to the last, and trust only in God and in their own strong arms. But on the 1st of April the last scanty distribution of public rations was exhausted. For three weeks the inhabitants subsisted upon nothing but cats, rats, hides, seaweed, and whatever other refuse and vermin they could collect. At length, on the 22nd of April, finding it impossible to hold out for a day longer, they resolved to evacuate the town in a body, and, cutting their way through the enemy, to try to join Karaiskakes and his small force, who, hiding among the mountain fastnesses, were vainly seeking for some way of assisting them, and to whom they now despatched a message, asking them to advance and help to clear a passage for their flight.
After sunset four bridges of planks were secretly laid over the outer ditch of Missolonghi, and the inhabitants were ordered to prepare to leave in two hours. Many—about two thousand—lost heart at last; some betaking themselves to the powder stores, there, when all hope was over, to end their lives by easier death than the enemy might allow them; others, crouching in corners of their homesteads, deeming it better to be murdered there than in the open country. The rest obeyed the orders of the generals. All the women dressed themselves as men, with swords or daggers at their waists. Every child who could hold a weapon had one placed in his hand. There was bitter leave-taking, and desperate words of encouragement passed from one to another, as the patriots were marshalled in the order of their departure;—three thousand fighting men to open a passage and four thousand women and children to follow;—the whole being divided into three separate parties. At length all was ready, and the first party silently passed out of the town and advanced to the bridges. To their amazement, they no sooner appeared than they were met by volley after volley of Turkish fire. A traitor had revealed their plan, and every measure had been taken for their destruction. Some rushed on in despite; others hurried back, to fall into confusion, which it was hard indeed to overcome. They felt, however, that this deadly chance was their only chance of life, and they pressed on through the fire, and the swords of their foes, and by the sheer heroism of despair forced a passage to the mountains. Karaiskakes's aid—apparently through no fault of his—was only obtained when the worst dangers had been surmounted or succumbed to. Of the nine thousand persons who were in Missolonghi on the day of the evacuation, four thousand were killed in the town or on the way out of it. Only thirteen hundred men and two hundred women and children lived to reach Salona after more than a week of wandering and hiding among the mountains.
The long siege of Missolonghi illustrates all the best and some of the worst features of the Greek Revolution. In it there was patriotism worthy, in its bursts of splendour, of the nation that claimed descent from the heroes of Plataea and Thermopylae. But the patriotism was often fitful in its working, and oftener wholly wanting. The Greeks could not shake off the pernicious influences that sprang, almost necessarily, from their long centuries of thraldom. Heroism was closely linked with treachery and meanness. The worthiest and most disinterested energy was intimately associated with ignorance as to the right methods of action, and with wilful action in wrong ways. The elements of weakness that had been apparent from the first were more and more developed as the painful struggle reached its termination. It seems as if, in spite of Reshid Pasha and Ibrahim and their fierce armies, it would have been easy for Missolonghi and its brave defenders to have been saved. But rival ambitions and paltry jealousies divided the leaders of the Revolution. They were quarrelling while the power that each one coveted for himself was, step by step, being wrested from them all; and when they tried to do well their want of discipline often rendered their efforts of small avail. No adequate attempt was made to relieve Missolonghi by land, and the brave conduct of Miaoulis on the sea was almost neutralized by the disorganization of his crews and the selfish policy of the islanders who sent him out.
"With respect to the Greek army," wrote General Ponsonby to the Duke of Wellington, from Corfu, on the 15th of June, "it is, generally speaking, a mob; and a chief can only calculate upon keeping it together as long as he has provisions to give it or the prospect of plunder without danger. There is nothing to oppose the Egyptian army but a mob kept together by the small sums sent by the different committees in foreign countries. The Greeks have a great horror of the bayonet, which, however, they have never seen near, except at Missolonghi. The Suliots, who chiefly formed the garrison of that place, are fine men, and certainly fought with great courage. Much has been said of naval actions, but there is no truth in any of the accounts. The Greeks are better sailors than the Turks, but no action has been fought since the beginning of the war, if it is understood by action that there is risk and loss on both sides. The Greeks, however, have done wonders with their fleet. They have destroyed many large ships, and, in the month of February last, with twenty-three brigs, they out-manoeuvred the Turkish fleet of sixty sail, and threw provisions into Missolonghi. This, though done by seamanship, and not fighting, was called a great battle and a great victory. I was within two miles of the fleets, and the cannonade for six hours was tremendous; but when I spoke to Miaoulis the following morning he told me he had not lost a man in his fleet."[A]
[Footnote A: "Despatches of the Duke of Wellington," vol. iii., p. 338.]
During the summer and winter following the fall of Missolonghi a series of small disasters, the aggregate of which was by no means small, befel the Greeks. It was the opinion of all parties, and admitted even by jealous rivals, that the tottering cause of independence was only sustained by the constant and eager expectation of the arrival of the powerful fleet which was supposed to be on its way to the Archipelago, under the able leadership of Lord Cochrane, the world-famous champion of Chilian and Brazilian freedom.
His approach was hardly more a cause of hope to the Greeks than a subject of fear to the Turks. No sooner was it publicly known that he had espoused the cause of the insurgents than angry complaints were made by the Turkish Government to the British ministry, and Mr. Canning, then Foreign Secretary, had more than once to avow that the authorities in England knew nothing of his movements, and had done all that the law rendered possible to restrain him. He had also to promise that everything legal should be done to keep him in check on his arrival in Greek waters. "We have heard," he wrote in August to his cousin, Mr. Stratford Canning, afterwards Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, the ambassador at Constantinople, "that Lord Cochrane is gone to the Mediterranean; whether it be really so, we know not." He then proceeded to define the bearing of English and international law in the existing circumstances. "Lord Cochrane may enter the Greek service, and continue therein. He may even, as a Greek commander, institute (as he did in Brazil) blockades which British officers will respect, and exercise the belligerent rights of search on British merchant-ships, without exposing himself to any other penalty than that which the law will inflict upon him if ever hereafter he shall again bring himself within its reach, and be duly convicted of the offence for the punishment of which that law was enacted. If, indeed, he should do any of such things without a commission he would become a pirate, and liable to the summary justice to which, without reference to the municipal laws of his country, he would, as an enemy of the human race, be liable; and liable just as much from the officers of any other country as of his own."[A]
[Footnote A: "Despatches of the Duke of Wellington," vol. iii., pp. 357, 358.]
While that correspondence was going on, Lord Cochrane, as we have seen, was battling with a long series of delays, as irksome to himself as they were unfortunate to the Greeks. It was not till the 14th of September, about eight months after the time fixed for the arrival of his whole fleet, that the first instalment of it, the Perseverance, which he had sent on as soon as it was completed, with Captain Abney Hastings as its commander, entered the harbour of Nauplia. On the 26th of October, Captain Hastings wrote a letter, giving curious evidence of the estimate formed by him of the Greek character. It was left at Nauplia and addressed to "the commander of the first American or English vessel that arrives in Greece to join the Greeks." "An apprenticeship in Greece tolerably long," he wrote, "has taught me the risks to which anybody newly arrived, and possessed of some place and power, is exposed. They know me, and they also know that I know them; yet they have not ceased, and never will cease, intriguing to get this vessel out of my hands and into their own, which would be tantamount to ruining her. Knowing all this, I take the liberty of leaving this letter, to be delivered to the first officer that arrives in Greece in the command of a vessel, to caution him not to receive on board his vessel any Greek captain. They will endeavour, under various pretences, to introduce themselves on board, and when once they have got a footing, they will gradually encroach until they feel themselves strong enough to turn out the original commander. The presence of such men can only be attended with inconvenience, for, if you are obliged to take a certain number of Greek sailors, these captains will render subordination among them impossible by their own irregularity and bad example. If you want seamen, take some from Hydra, Spetzas, Kranidi, or Poros. The Psarians may be trusted in very small numbers. Take a few men from one, a few from another island, and thus you will be best enabled to establish some kind of discipline. Take a good number of marines. Choose them from the peasantry and foreign Greeks, and you may make something of them. You must see, sir, that, in this my advice to the first officer arriving in command of a vessel, I can have no interest any further than inasmuch as I wish well to the Greek cause, and therefore do not wish to see a force that can be of great service rendered ineffective by falling into the hands of people totally incapable and unwilling to adopt a single right measure. In Greece there cannot be any military operations except such as are carried on by foreigners in their service."
That letter was written after Captain Hastings had endured a month's annoyance from the trouble brought upon him by the Hydriot officers and seamen who tried to oust him from the command of his fine vessel, whose name was now changed from the Perseverance to the Karteria. Unfortunately, his letter, left at Nauplia, did not reach the captain of the next reinforcement, the American frigate, which arrived at Egina on the 8th of December. "She was one of the finest ships in the world," we are told, "carrying sixty-four guns—long 32-pounders on the main, and 42-pound carronades on the upper deck—and was filled with flour, ammunition, medicines, and marine stores for eighteen months' consumption. The Greeks contemplated her with delight, but, upon the departure of the American officers and seamen who navigated her out, they discovered that she would be more embarrassing than useful to them. To manage vessels of such a size was beyond their capacity, and the mutual jealousy of the islanders suggested to the Government the absurd notion of putting the frigate into commission, Hydra, Spetzas, and the Psarian community being desired to send quotas of men. This plan was now found to be impracticable. Repeated fights occurred on board. The ship was twice in danger of being wrecked at Egina, and at Poros she actually drifted ashore, luckily on soft mud. She was finally given up to Miaoulis, with a Hydriot crew of his own selection."[A]
[Footnote A: Gordon, vol. ii., p. 326.]
This frigate, christened the Hellas, came too late to be of much service to Admiral Miaoulis, before the arrival of Lord Cochrane. In the previous summer and autumn, however, he had been harassing and keeping at bay the Turkish and Egyptian fleets—work in which Hastings was in time to assist him.
Andreas Miaoulis, one of the least obtrusive, was almost the worthiest of all the Greek patriots. During five years he had never ceased to do the best that it was possible for him to do with the bad materials at his disposal. When the Greek Revolution was at its height, he had contributed largely to its success; and in the ensuing years of disaster upon land, he had maintained its dignity on the sea by offering bold resistance to the great naval power of the combined Turkish and Egyptian fleets. No better proof of his patriotism could be given than in the zeal with which he surrendered to Lord Cochrane the leadership of the fleet which had devolved upon him for so long and been so ably conducted by him. "I received four days ago," he wrote from Poros on the 23rd of February, 1827, "your amiable letter of the 19th of last month, and my great satisfaction at the announcement of your approaching arrival in Greece is joined with a special pleasure at the honour you do me in associating me with your important operations. I shall be happy, my admiral, if, in serving you, I can do my duty. I await you with impatience."
Just a month before that, on the 23rd of January, a like letter of congratulation was addressed to Lord Cochrane from Egina by the Governing Commission of Greece. "The intelligence of your speedy coming to Greece," they said, "has awakened the liveliest joy and satisfaction, and has already begun to rekindle in the hearts of the Greeks that enthusiasm which is the most powerful weapon and the surest support of a nation that has devoted itself to the recovery of its most sacred rights. The Government of Greece is waiting with the utmost impatience for the most zealous defender of the nation's liberty. It hopes to see you in its midst as soon as possible after your arrival at Hydra, and then to make you acquainted with the actual state of Greece, and to furnish you with all the means in its power for the achievement of the grand results proposed by your lordship." The letter was signed by Andreas Zaimes, as President of the Commission, and by seven of its members, among whom were Mavromichales, or Petro-Bey, who, with Zaimes and two others, represented the Morea, Spiridion Trikoupes, the deputy for Roumelia, Zamados from Hydra, Monarchides from Psara, and Demetrakopoulos from the islands of the Egean Sea.
By the same body was issued, on the 21st of February, a preliminary commission, intended to protect him in case of any opposition being raised to his progress by the authorities of other nations. "The Governing Commission of Greece," it was written, "makes known that Admiral Lord Cochrane is recognised as being in the service of Greece, and accordingly has the permission of the Government to hoist the Greek flag on all the vessels that are under his command. He has power, also, to fight the enemies of Greece to the utmost of his power. Therefore the officers of neutral powers, being informed of this, are implored, not only to offer no opposition to his movements, but also, if necessary, to supply him with any assistance he may require, seeing that it is our custom to do the same to all friendly nations." Armed with this document, and provided with the necessary means by the Philhellenes of England, France, and Switzerland, Lord Cochrane proceeded from Marseilles to Greece.
The following "Resume of the Services of the late Earl of Dundonald, none of which have been Requited or Officially Recognized," was written by his son, one of the authors of the present work, and printed for private circulation in 1861.
1. The destruction of three heavily-armed French corvettes, near the mouth of the Garonne, the crew of Lord Cochrane's frigate, Pallas, being at the time, with the exception of forty men, engaged in cutting out the Tapageuse, lying under the protection of two batteries thirty miles up the river, in which operation they were also successful, four ships of war being thus captured or destroyed in a single day. For these services Lord Cochrane obtained nothing but his share of the Tapageuse, sold by auction for a trifling sum, the Government refusing to purchase her as a ship of war, though of admirable build and construction. Contrary to the usual rule, no ship ever taken by Lord Cochrane, throughout his whole career, was ever allowed to be bought into the navy. For the corvettes, which Lord Cochrane destroyed with so small a crew, he never received reward or thanks, the alleged reason being, that, having become wrecks, they were not in existence, and therefore could not have value attached to them. This decision of the Admiralty was contrary to custom, as admitted to the present day. In the late Russian war a gunboat of the enemy having been driven on shore and wrecked, compensation is said to have been awarded to the officers and crew of the British vessel which drove her on shore. The importance of wrecking a gunboat, in comparison with the destruction of three fast-sailing ships, which were picking up our merchantmen, in all directions, needs no comment.
2. Lord Cochrane's services on the coast of Catalonia, of which Lord Collingwood, then commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, testified of his lordship to the Admiralty that by his energy and foresight he had, with a single frigate, stopped a French army from occupying Eastern Spain. The services by which this was effected were as follows:—Preventing the reinforcement of the French garrison in Barcelona, by harassing the newly-arrived troops in their march along the coast, and organising and assisting the Spanish militia to oppose their progress, Lord Cochrane himself capturing one of their forts on shore, and taking the garrison prisoners.
On the approach of a powerful French corps d'armee towards Barcelona, Lord Cochrane blew up the roads along the coast, and taught the Spanish peasantry how to do so inland. By blowing up the cliff roads, near Mongat, Lord Cochrane interposed an insurmountable obstacle between the army and its artillery, capturing and throwing into the sea a considerable number of field-pieces, so that the operations of the French were rendered nugatory. For these services, Lord Cochrane, notwithstanding the strong representations of Lord Collingwood to the Board of Admiralty, neither received thanks nor reward of any kind; notwithstanding that whilst so engaged, and that voluntarily, in successfully accomplishing the work of an army, he patriotically gave up all chances of prize money, though easily to be obtained by cruising after the enemy's vessels. In place of this, he neither searched for nor captured a single prize, whilst engaged in harassing the French army on shore, devoting his whole energies towards the enterprise which he considered most conducive to the interests of his country.
3. Having effected his object, Lord Cochrane sailed for the Gulf of Lyons, with the intention of cutting off the enemy's shore communications. This he accomplished by destroying their signal stations, telegraphs, and shore batteries along nearly the whole coast, navigating his frigate with perfect safety throughout this proverbially perilous part of the Mediterranean. In order further to paralyse the enemy's movements, Lord Cochrane made a practice of burning paper near the demolished stations, so as to deceive the French into the belief that he had burned their signal books; he rightly judging that from this circumstance they might not deem it necessary to alter their code of signals. The ruse succeeded, and, transmitting the signal books to Lord Collingwood, then watching the enemy's preparations in Toulon, the commander-in-chief was thus fully apprised, by the enemy's signals, not only of all their naval movements, but also of the position and movements of all British ships of war on the French coast. Lord Cochrane's single frigate thus performed the work of many vessels of observation, and Lord Collingwood testified of him to the Admiralty that "his resources seemed to have no end." Notwithstanding this testimony from his commander-in-chief, Lord Cochrane neither received reward nor thanks for the service rendered.
4. On his return to the Spanish coast, Lord Cochrane found the French besieging Rosas, the Spaniards maintaining possession of the citadel, whilst Fort Trinidad had just been evacuated by the British officer who had been co-operating with the Spaniards in the larger fortress. Lord Cochrane, believing that if Fort Trinidad were held till reinforcements arrived, the French must be compelled to raise the siege of Rosas, persuaded the Spanish Governor not to surrender, as he was about to do, on its evacuation by the British officer aforesaid, and threw himself into the fort with a detachment from the seamen and marines of the Imperieuse, with which frigate he maintained uninterrupted communication, in spite of the enemy, who, on ascertaining it to be Lord Cochrane who was keeping them at bay, redoubled their efforts to capture the fort, the gallant defence of which is amongst the most remarkable events of naval warfare. Lord Cochrane held Fort Trinidad till, the Spaniards surrendering the citadel, he would not allow his men to run further risk in their behalf, and withdrew the seamen and marines in safety. For this remarkable exploit Lord Cochrane, though himself severely wounded, neither received reward nor thanks, except from Lord Collingwood, who again, without effect, warmly applauded his gallantry to the Admiralty.
5. Immediately on his arrival at Plymouth, on leave of absence in consequence of ill health from his extraordinary exertions, Lord Cochrane was immediately summoned by the Admiralty to Whitehall, and asked for a plan whereby the French fleet in Basque Roads, then threatening our West India possessions, might be destroyed at one blow; this extraordinary request from a junior captain, after the most experienced officers in the navy had pronounced its impracticability, forcibly proving the very high opinion entertained by the Admiralty of Lord Cochrane's skill and resources. He gave in a plan, and was ordered to execute it, which order he reluctantly obeyed, having done all in his power to decline an invidious command, for fear of arousing the jealousy of officers to whom he was junior in the service. What followed is matter of history, and needs not to be recapitulated. Yet for the destruction of that powerful armament he neither received reward nor thanks from the Admiralty, though rewarded by his sovereign with the highest order of the Bath, a distinction which marked his Majesty's sense of the important service rendered.
Nine years afterwards head money was awarded to the whole fleet, of which only the vessels directed by Lord Cochrane and a few sent afterwards, when too late for effective measures, took part in the action. The alleged reason of this award was that the Calcutta, one of the ships driven ashore by Lord Cochrane, did not surrender to him, but to ships sent to his assistance. This was not true, though after protracted deliberation so ruled by the Admiralty Court, and officers now living and present in the action have recently come forward to testify to the ship being in Lord Cochrane's possession before the arrival of the ships which subsequently came to his assistance. A small sum was therefore only awarded to him as a junior captain, in common with those who had been spectators only, and this he declined to receive. Such was his recompense for a service to the high merit of which Napoleon himself afterwards testified in the warmest manner; and it may be mentioned as a further testimony that a French Court Martial shot Captain Lafont, the commander of the Calcutta, because he surrendered to a vessel of inferior power, viz., Lord Cochrane's frigate, the Imperieuse of forty-four guns, the Calcutta carrying sixty guns.[A]
[Footnote A: Captain Lafont was shot on board the Ocean, on September 9, 1809, for surrendering the Calcutta to a ship of inferior force, thus proving that she surrendered to Lord Cochrane alone, though Sir William Scott ruled in opposition to the facts adopted by the French Court Martial, which condemned Captain Lafont to death for the act. The surrender to Lord Cochrane alone is further proved by the additional fact, that the captains of the Ville de Varsovie and Aquilon, which did surrender to the other ships in conjunction with Lord Cochrane's frigate, were not even accused, much less punished for so doing.]
The exploits of Lord Cochrane in the Speedy and Pallas are too well known in naval history to require recapitulation, and of these it may be said that the numerous prizes captured by these vessels constituted their own reward. It may here be mentioned in confirmation of what has previously been said, that the Gamo, a magnificent xebeque frigate of thirty-two guns, was not allowed to be bought into the navy, but was sold for a small sum to one of the piratical Barbary States, notwithstanding that Lord Cochrane had said that if he were allowed to have her in place of the Speedy, then in a very dilapidated condition, he would sweep the Mediterranean of the enemy's cruisers and privateers. His capacity so to do may be judged from what he effected with the Speedy, mounting only fourteen 4-pounders.
With regard to the services previously enumerated, the case is different, notwithstanding their national importance in comparison with his minor acts, which may be classed as brilliant exploits only. But that no reward should have been conferred for doing effectively the work of an army, and that without the cost of a shilling to the nation beyond the ordinary expenditure of a small frigate, necessary to be disbursed whether she performed any effective service or not, is a neglect which, unless repaired in the persons of his successors, will for ever remain a blot on the British Government. Still more so will the worse neglect of not having in any way rewarded him for the destruction of the French fleet in Basque Roads, for though only four ships were destroyed at the moment, the whole fleet of the enemy was so damaged by having been driven on shore from terror of the explosive vessel, fired with Lord Cochrane's own hand, that it eventually became a wreck; and thus our West India commerce, then the most important branch of national export and import, was in a month after Lord Cochrane's arrival from the Mediterranean relieved from the panic which paralysed it, and restored to its wonted security;—a service which can only be estimated by the gloom and panic which had previously pervaded the whole country.
Were reference made to the pension list, and note taken of the pensions granted to other officers and their successors for services which in point of national importance do not admit of comparison with those of Lord Cochrane, the present generation would be surprised at the national ingratitude manifested towards one, who, in his great exploits, had so patriotically sacrificed every consideration of private interest to his country's service. His cruise in the Imperieuse, which has no parallel in naval history, procured for Lord Cochrane nothing whatever but shattered health from the incessant anxiety and exertion he had undergone in the profitless but high-minded course he adopted to thwart the French in their attempts to establish a permanent footing in Eastern Spain. His exploits in Basque Roads procured him nothing but absolute ruin; for, from his refusal as a Member of Parliament to acquiesce in a vote of thanks to Lord Gambier, even though the same thanks were promised to himself, may be dated that active political persecution which commenced by depriving him of further naval employment and did not cease till it had accomplished his utter ruin, even to striking his name out of the Navy List.
The animosity of this political partisanship towards one who had effected so much for his country is an anomaly even in political history. That amended representation of the people in Parliament, for which he strove up to 1818, had only fourteen years afterwards become the law of the land, and the boast of some who had persecuted Lord Cochrane for no offence beyond having been amongst the first to give expression to the popular will subsequently adopted by themselves.
The efforts of Lord Cochrane in favour of reforming the abuses of the Navy and of Greenwich Hospital, which at that time brought upon him the wrath of the Administration, are at this moment seriously engaging the attention of parliament, as being of paramount national necessity. The doctrine then openly laid down, that no naval officer in parliament had a right to interfere with naval administration, has long been abrogated, and many of the brightest ornaments of the navy are now amongst the foremost to denounce naval abuses in the House of Commons. It is, in fact, to them that the country now looks for that vigilance which shall preserve the navy in a proper state of efficiency. Yet for these very things was Lord Cochrane persecuted, though modern Governments, which have been liberal enough to acquiesce in popular reforms, of which he was the early advocate, have not been liberal enough to make him amends for the wrongs he suffered as one of the indefatigable originators of their now-cherished measures. Still less have they deemed it inconsistent with the honour of this great country to refrain from rewarding him in the ordinary manner for his most important services, rendered when others shrank from them, as was the case at Basque Roads, where his plans, declined by his seniors in the service, were successfully executed by himself under the greatest possible discouragement and disadvantage.