The Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, Vol. II
by Thomas Lord Cochrane
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[6] Trikoupes, vol. iv., p. 152.

[7] Gordon, vol. ii., p. 392.

"The scheme," says one who was in close attendance on Lord Cochrane all through this time, Mr. Edward Masson, "was anything but insane. It was one of the most sober, safe, and practicable plans ever formed. The first and fundamental condition on which Lord Cochrane consented to co-operate in any plan of landing troops at Cape Colias was, that the troops landed should not expose themselves to an attack of cavalry in the plains, but should, on being landed, proceed by a night march, in compact order, and without halting, to a specified rocky height beyond the temple of Jupiter Olympus, a position which, it was admitted by all, they could hold with perfect safety during the day. From this position, the leaders were to try to communicate, by signals or otherwise, with the garrison, and in concert with it, act as circumstances might dictate. Should the garrison resolve to make a sortie, the main body of the Greek army advancing simultaneously from the Phalerum, it was confidently hoped that the combined attack on the enemy would prove victorious; or, at least, would be so far successful, as to enable the Greeks to save the garrison and bring away the families. The great characteristic of the plan was, that nothing should be risked in reference to the enemy's cavalry, and that if the detachment should find they could accomplish nothing, they should, on the following night, return as they went, in safety, and be embarked for the Phalerum."

Unfortunately, the two main points on which Lord Cochrane had insisted were neglected, and thereby what must otherwise have been a brilliant victory was turned into a miserable defeat. He had insisted upon the movement from Cape Colias being aided by the march of the main body of the army direct from the Piraeus to the hills, thus diverting the attention of many of the Turks while the advancing party and the garrison were uniting; but Zavella, to whom this part of the work had been entrusted, never moved at all. He had urged yet more strongly that the preparations for the advance should be so hastened as that all the ground should be travelled over during the night-time, while the Turks were in ignorance of it; but instead of that, the Greeks, though they were embarked at Phalerum by midnight, and landed at Cape Colias before two o'clock in the morning, loitered near the shore till daylight, so that their whole enterprise was exposed to the enemy. The critics who have laid the blame of the disaster on Lord Cochrane have neglected to show how these circumstances caused the failure of the enterprise.

The story of the disaster of the 6th of May will be best told in the words of an eye-witness. "About three thousand soldiers," said Dr. Gosse, in a letter written to M. Eynard on the 23rd, "were embarked in the night between the 5th and the 6th of May, in a clear moonlight, and in the most perfect order, and promptly landed on the other shore. Up to that time everything favoured our enterprise; but the treason and negligence of the chiefs, and the indolence of some of the soldiers, altogether destroyed it. Instead of marching directly to Athens during the night, they employed themselves in constructing redoubt after redoubt, as bad as they were useless, of the sort called by them tambourias. We counted a dozen. Only the Suliots, the Candiots, commanded by Demetrius Kalerdji, two hundred regular troops, under the orders of Inglesi and D'aujourd'hui, and twenty-two Philhellenes, went in advance. Without any hindrance, they reached within cannon-shot of the Acropolis, towards Philippapus, so that, as I have heard, they could even speak with the besieged; but, having received no orders to enter, they waited until the day rendered their position hazardous. The enemy thus had time to ascertain their weakness and to send against them eight hundred horsemen. Thrice these troops were repulsed. Vasso and Notaras, however, who covered the right flank, abandoned their posts, as they had done in the affair of the unfortunate Bourbakes, and thereby they caused confusion among the troops in the centre. The latter defended themselves with renewed valour, but yielded at last to the sabres of the Dehli cavalry. Then was exhibited such a panic as cannot be described. The soldiers who occupied the redoubts in the rear, and near to the place of debarkation, began to flee almost at the same time as those of Vasso, and threw themselves into the sea at the risk of being drowned. I was at this time with Lord Cochrane, who did not wish to mix himself up with the affair, when the sudden flight forced us at once to rejoin our boat, and even this was not done without great difficulty. General Church was also on the shore, and he too was only saved by the sloop which was waiting for him. The Turkish cavalry, after having killed or captured all the advanced party, rushed into the plain and made terrible havoc among the Greeks. Seven hundred of them were killed; and two hundred and forty were taken prisoners. The rest, numbering about two thousand, rushed down towards the sea, and would soon have been all destroyed by the Turkish guns placed on the hills if the fire from the vessels off the coast had not kept the enemy at a respectful distance. They passed the day in a terrible uncertainty, but were sustained by the courage of certain chiefs, especially of Nicolo Serva, a Suliot captain; and in the following night they were embarked and carried back to Phalerum. While this portion of the army was being thus troubled, the Greeks, under the orders of Kisso Zavella, remained inactive. That chief quietly smoked his pipe, and when implored to march, was content to answer coldly, 'When they pay me I will go.' The troops of Kolokotrones the younger, and of Sessinis, deserted in the direction of Livonia. The Turks, taking advantage of the disorganized condition of the Greeks, attacked the Phalerum on the night of the 6th, but were repulsed."

Lord Cochrane's account of the battle sent to the Government on the 7th of May, though more general, supplies some other details. "The plan concocted previous to the death of General Karaiskakes," he said, "was carried into effect on the 6th, by his excellency General Church, with this difference in the execution of the service, that his excellency and myself were anxious that a rapid march should be made from the place of debarkation direct to Athens, by a body of four thousand men, in order to return with the women and children and the wounded, whereas the officers of the army insisted upon entrenchments being made in the line of their progress—an operation which required so much time as to preclude the possibility of effecting the object surprised and unopposed. The redoubts were in progress of construction, and the work continued with unremitting labour until about nine o'clock in the morning, when the enemy's cavalry, having collected from all quarters, broke in upon the unfinished redoubts and vigorously attacked those who had advanced the furthest, and who, from the number of subdivisions left, according to the custom of the country, in these redoubts during their progress, had become so weakened as to be incapable of making effectual resistance. The loss on our side has been very considerable. I had to lament this day that the Greeks still continue their aversion to that regularity of movement and honesty of action which constitute the strength of armies, and I grieve to see great bravery rendered useless to their country and dangerous to themselves, and wasted in desultory and unsupported personal efforts. The use of the bayonet and very slight military instruction would have saved most of those who fell on this occasion, and would have rendered unnecessary those redoubts which delay the progress of your arms, and destroy more men in insignificant enterprises which tend to no result, than would be required for the deliverance of your country. The affairs of Greece require energy, and that remedy be at once applied to whatever impedes the progress of affairs."

Lord Cochrane testified to the excellent soldiership of the Turkish horsemen. With sabres and short muskets, they dashed in and out of the crowd of retreating Greeks, who, having no bayonets and no weapons adapted for close fighting, were utterly defenceless. He himself, having landed with Dr. Gosse to watch the operations from the shore, was so hard pressed by these formidable antagonists that he was only rescued by his own bravery and the daring of Dr. Gosse, who retained possession of the boat which was waiting for him on the shore until his chief had time to force his way back to it through the crowd of fighting Turks and Greeks and through the waves beating up to his neck. It was only when he was again on board the Hellas, and able to direct the firing of the guns, that the Turks were driven back, and the remnant of the Greek force was allowed to collect and prepare for the return to Phalerum.

The fall of the Acropolis soon followed this terrible defeat. By it the Greeks were utterly disorganized. Lord Cochrane, finding it impossible to persuade them to another attempt, returned to Poros with the fleet on the 10th of May. Sir Richard Church remained at Munychia, his army being every hour reduced by desertions, till the 27th, when he and the two thousand starving men who were left to him abandoned their position. Fabvier and the garrison, through the intervention of the French Captain Le Blanc and Admiral De Rigny, capitulated on the 5th of June. It was then found that the Acropolis still contained stores of food and ammunition sufficient for four months' use, and that their reports of destitution had been deliberate falsehoods, intended only to force their friends outside to come speedily to their relief.

Those falsehoods had been particularly mischievous. By them, as has been shown, Lord Cochrane was induced to listen to the entreaties of Karaiskakes and the Government, and take his ships to Phalerum, instead of carrying out his plan of stopping the Turkish supplies in the Negropont and at Oropos. Had that plan been adhered to, it seems as if a very different issue might easily have been brought about.

The work on which he had been engaged having terminated so unfortunately, Lord Cochrane was much blamed for it by critics who had private reasons for being jealous. We have shown, however, that he only entered upon that work at the request of men whose power and influence he could not gainsay; that, having undertaken it, he set himself shrewdly and earnestly to render it successful; and that the failure was occasioned, not by adoption of his plans, but by their perversion or rejection. If he erred, he erred only in expecting too much patriotism and valour from the people whom he was doing his utmost to serve.

If anything further need be said in explanation and defence of Lord Cochrane's position up to this time, it will be best done by quoting part of a letter addressed to M. Eynard on the 27th of May, in which he concisely repeated the whole story. "On my arrival in Greece," he wrote, "I found that the authority was claimed by two factions, that nothing like a navy existed, and that a number of individuals called an army were collected to raise the siege of Athens,—but wholly deficient in military talent on the part of the commanders, or in obedience and discipline on the part of the troops. As soon as I had accepted my commission, I commenced active exertions to save the Acropolis. I advised Karaiskakes to embark and land to the southward and eastward of the Phalerum, and, marching direct to the Acropolis, bring out the women and children. But my counsel was in vain, as he had no idea of any combined naval and military movement, nor indeed of any military plan, except that of advancing by slow steps, after the manner of the Turks, who construct little fortifications, called tambourias, at every few hundred yards, which are again opposed by others of the adverse party; and, as neither army attacks these forts by active force, the whole, after a few hours, are brought to a stand, and the result of the contest depends on who can the longest continue to furnish pay and provisions. Such was the state of the military contest when General Church took the command. The battle at Phalerum, though brilliant, was accidental, and, not being followed up, was productive of no result. Karaiskakes fell, and General Church embarked the troops in order to execute the movement that ought to have taken place a month before. The moment was more inauspicious than we were aware of; for the Turkish commander had that very night been joined by a large body of cavalry and a number of infantry from Negropont and elsewhere. This, however, would not have proved decisive, had not General Church, with a view to conciliate the officers under his command, and indeed in order to induce them to embark at all upon the expedition, conformed to their absurd views of military movement, and permitted them to carry entrenching tools to form their usual numerous positions on the line of their route, the construction of which wholly defeated the intention of surprise, and enabled the enemy to surround their advanced guard or van, weakened by the division of the troops into fourteen garrisons left in a line in their advance, whereas the whole body might, with perfect safety and in two hours, have reached the Acropolis. The slaughter which the Turks made in the advanced posts of the Greeks was horrible, and the panic which took possession of those who remained on the Phalerum, at three leagues' distance from the scene of action, was as disgraceful as the conduct of their chief, Zavella, who made no movement even to create a diversion, but sat coolly looking at the slaughter of his countrymen. With six thousand men under his command he remained totally inactive. This expedition to Athens cost upwards of twenty-five thousand dollars of the naval money and destroyed most of our provisions. At the same time, I believed it to be my duty to act as I did, and I have not since regretted any step that I took, because, if Fabvier and the garrison fall into the hands of the Turks and are destroyed, I shall at least have the consolation of knowing that my utmost efforts were made to avert their fate."




Before arriving in Greece, Lord Cochrane bad been informed by Captain Abney Hastings and other experienced Philhellenes of the inefficiency of the navy, and a very short stay at Poros served to convince him of the truth of the information. On the 17th of April he obtained from the National Assembly a decree authorizing the organization of a better national fleet, and, before proceeding to join in the efforts for the relief of the Acropolis, he did all that was possible towards the achievement of this object, making such arrangements as would prevent any hindrance thereto arising from his temporary absence on the most pressing work that devolved upon him. Having sent Captain Hastings with all the available ships on the expedition to the Negropont which has already been described, he established at Poros the centre of the administration of the fleet, entrusting its direction to Dr. Gosse, as Commissary-General. He then visited Hydra, Spetzas, and other islands, and left in each directions for the inspection of all the ships there stationed, in order that, according to the national decrees, the best of them might be bought up by the Government, on equitable terms, and converted into vessels of war at Poros. During his stay near the Piraeus he was in almost daily correspondence with Dr. Grosse and Emanuel Tombazes respecting the purchase of stores, the construction of gunboats, and every other essential to the fulfilment of his purpose. He sent Jakomaki Tombazes, the elder of the two brothers, to look out near Candia for a new corvette which had just been built at Leghorn for the Pasha of Egypt. All other means in his power were adopted by him for augmenting the naval strength of Greece, and fitting it to oppose the force of her enemies so soon as he was able to devote himself exclusively to that work.

This he did promptly and zealously immediately after the failure of the expedition in favour of the garrison of the Acropolis. "Brave officers and soldiers and seamen of the military and naval services," he wrote in a proclamation issued on the 7th of May, "a defeat of the enemy's naval force will tenfold repay the check which was sustained in yesterday's attempt to relieve the Acropolis. Let every man maintain his post as duty to his country demands, and in a few days I trust you will find your affairs not only retrieved but secured on a permanent base."

That trust was not fulfilled. The Greeks proved themselves on sea as well as on land unable to fight worthily, and with enough real patriotism, for the liberty of their country. But honour must not on that account be withheld from the man who used all his large experience and larger philanthropy in trying to put them in the way of victory.

Lord Cochrane returned to Poros on the 10th of May, after an absence of just three weeks. He lost no time in rendering to the Government, then located in that island, a personal account of his recent proceedings, and in doing his utmost to persuade the Greeks to aid him in the new exploits on which he hoped to enter with better prospect of success. An address to the Psarians, dated the 11th of May, will serve as a specimen of many documents of the same nature. "It was my intention yesterday," he said, "to have paid my respects to you, in order personally to have made known to you the circumstances in which the naval service is placed and the state and preparations of the enemy, and to have called on you to show an example to the other islanders, on whose exertions now depend the liberties and fate of their country. The abandonment of the schooner, in which I have hitherto been embarked by all her seamen, prevented me from fulfilling my intention, and the certain intelligence received this morning that the Turkish fleet from Constantinople passed Syra the day before yesterday, to join the Egyptian fleet, compels me now to recommend you by writing, instead of by word of mouth, to save your country and yourselves by prompt and energetic exertions. The money I brought here with me, being the proceeds of subscriptions made throughout Europe for your cause, has unfortunately been nearly consumed in fruitless endeavours to save the capital of Greece by means of an irregular and unmanageable body of men, who will neither receive instruction nor listen to advice. I hope that the brave seamen who understand their duty will listen to my recommendation through you that they should at once step forward to save their families from oppression and slavery, and the name of their country from being struck out of the list of independent nations. By one glorious effort Greece may be free; but if she remain in her present state of apathy all hope must be abandoned. I call upon you now to stand forward in defence of your religion and all that is valuable to man. I send you a thousand dollars, which is all that I can spare. Those who will equip their ships may depend on repayment out of the first money that shall be remitted to me for the public service of Greece."

As that letter implies, Lord Cochrane had to begin his reconstruction of the Greek navy—now the only remaining resource of the nation in its hope of working out and assuring its independence by effort of its own—almost without funds. The small sum of 8000l. which he had brought with him, as well as the money collected by the European committees and transmitted to the Philhellenic Committee in Greece, composed of Colonel Heydeck, Dr. Bailli, and Dr. Gosse, was nearly exhausted, and the bankrupt Government was unable to provide him with any adequate resources for carrying on his work. It had authorized him to buy ships and stores and to employ labourers and seamen, and expected him to do all without stint, but gave him no money for the purpose. In lieu it authorized him to borrow upon the security of all the future revenue to be derived from the islands; and every effort to utilize this mortgage was made by his agent Dr. Gosse, but with very poor success. The credit of the Greek Government was so low that the prospects of any considerable revenue in the depressed state of commerce—likely to be yet more depressed by the steady advances made by the Turks in regaining their dominion over the insurgents—deterred capitalists from staking their money thereupon. Lord Cochrane, as we shall see, had to apply half his energies in performing the work of a financier, never anticipated by him, and certainly not proper to his functions as First Admiral; and, the result of all being feeble, his legitimate duties were grievously crippled.

Money being absolutely needed, however, he did his best to procure it, and with this view, as well as in order to make personal acquaintance with the principal ports, and the ships and sailors contained in them, he left Poros, three days after returning to it, on a tour among the other important islands.

Starting on Sunday, the 13th of May, he reached Hydra on the following morning. There, in the house of the brothers Konduriottes, its richest and most influential inhabitants, he met several other leading primates, and prevailed on them to take upon themselves the outfit of several brigs and brulottes, the cost of which he had at present no means of paying. Having, on the 15th, passed on to Spetzas, Lord Cochrane had a similar interview with its chief residents. "I have been highly gratified," he wrote on the 16th to the elder Konduriottes, "by the spirit here manifested in following the noble example which you have set, and I have no doubt but a sufficient force will be immediately equipped to cut off all the resources by which the army of Reshid Pasha is maintained, and so destroy that army even more effectually than by the sword. The utmost promptitude, however, is necessary. One day's delay may permit several weeks' provisions and stores to enter the Negropont."

Promptitude was not easy, in spite of the favourable promises of the primates. "Strange as it may appear to you," said Lord Cochrane, in a letter to his friend, M. Eynard, "it is yet a fact that, out of the thousands of seamen idle and starving at Hydra, Spetzas, and Egina, not a man will enter the service of his country without being paid in advance; nor will they engage to prolong their service beyond a month, so that the labour of disciplining a crew is interminable. Were there funds to increase the pay for each month, the sailors would remain, and there might be some hope of getting a ship in order. At the present moment there are no individuals in Greece who are instructed in their duties as officers in ships of war." "I see no termination to the obstacles," he wrote to Dr. Gosse on the 17th, "which present themselves at every step I advance. Neither the Hydriots nor the Psarians, nor the Spetziots, nor the Poriots, will embark in this frigate, which is thus useless to Greece, if not prejudicial, because her maintenance is an expense without benefit. I wish I could do a thousand things which I am compelled to neglect, by reason of the difficulties and want of assistance of all kinds. You, my good friend, are my only aid."

At Spetzas, and in its neighbourhood, Lord Cochrane remained four days, directing the arrangements to be made in organizing a fleet strong enough to go against the enemy's shipping, and, while waiting for that, in appointing two minor expeditions upon services that were urgent. On the 18th of May, he sent Admiral Saktoures with ten brigs and four fireships to cruise about the Negropont and capture as much as he could of the stores sent through that channel from Constantinople for the use of the Turkish army in Attica. On the following day he went himself in the Hellas, attended by the Karteria, under Captain Abney Hastings, in the direction of Cape Clarenza, the north-westernmost point of the Morea, opposite to Zante.[8]

[8] "The admiral," says Gordon, "weighed with the Hellas and Karteria alone, leaving the rest of his squadron to draw pay and rations at Porto Kheli" (vol. ii., p. 415). The fact was that all the rest of his squadron that was fit for service was sent to the Negropont; and Lord Cochrane left directions that the other vessels, as soon as there were men to be rationed and funds for paying them, should follow him to Clarenza. But they only came to run away.

Castle Tornese, there situated, was being besieged by the Turks, and Lord Cochrane hoped to be in time to avert its capture. In this he failed. Arriving on the 22nd of May, he found that the castle had capitulated a few hours before. All he could do was to chase two Turkish frigates which he found on the coast. "We fired into them," he said, "but our guns were ill-directed, and the noise and confusion on board this ship was excessive, which prevented my choosing to attack them again, though they did us not the slightest injury, because I am desirous that the Hellas shall be in somewhat better order before I voluntarily attack an enemy who may take advantage of the impossibility of causing my orders to be obeyed, and so leave the fate of the ship to the conduct of a rabble."

One capture, however, the Hellas was able to make on the following day. She fell in with a vessel, manned by Turks and Ionian Islanders, bearing the British flag, loaded with captives, chiefly women and children, just taken in the Castle Tornese. Lord Cochrane seized her, and sent her, with a reasonably indignant letter, to the Lord High Commissioner at Corfu. "If I do not attempt to express my feelings in addressing you," he said, "it is because I am aware that the terms I should employ would fall far short of the sensations that will arise in the breast of every honourable man throughout the civilized world, and the degradation which every Englishman will experience, on learning that the flag of England, first prostituted by supplying the traffickers in Christian slaves with all the necessaries for their horrid purposes, is now further debased by a traffic in the slaves themselves. I send you an Ionian vessel, full of women violated in their persons, and who, with their children, had been reduced to slavery, in order that the British public and the world may ascertain whether these unfortunate people will be protected by the decision of an Ionian tribunal. If there were any hope that the people in the Ionian Islands would abandon their infamous dealings otherwise than by force, I should ask your excellency to issue an order upon the subject. I beg, however, to signify that I am ready to co-operate with the admiral and officers of the British naval service in the Mediterranean in enforcing obedience to the laws of justice and humanity, and putting down the Ionian trade in slaves, as well as the piracies which have originated chiefly in the total contempt shown by the Ionian people and others for the laws of nations and the principles of justice during the contest between Greeks and Turks. I also put at your disposal the Turks found on board the Ionian boat, not considering them as prisoners of war, but as men apprehended in violating the laws of civilized nations and insulting the feelings of Christendom." "Since writing the above," it was added in a postscript, "I have experienced considerable difficulty in restraining the fury of the Greeks from bursting forth upon the violators of their countrywomen. From what I foresee, I also feel it my duty to warn you that, should the transportation of Christian captives by neutrals be continued, I cannot answer for the safety of Ionians found so employed by the other vessels of the Greek squadron."

A formal acknowledgment of that letter was all the answer received by Lord Cochrane.

On the 24th of May, when near Missolonghi, he made another capture—a Turkish brig, with eight guns, bearing Austrian colours, which was proceeding from Previsa to Navarino. In her, besides a good store of flour and gunpowder, were found some Turkish officials and several members of Reshid Pasha's harem. The alarm of these prisoners was very great at first; but they were treated with courtesy, and landed, with all their personal properties, at the first convenient halting-place, the brig and its cargo being retained as prizes. Reshid Pasha, in return for the generous treatment shown to his attendants, afterwards released a hundred Greek prisoners without ransom.

Another curious incident occurred at this time. Several small Turkish merchant-vessels passed Lord Cochrane's ship during his stay near Missolonghi, but he abstained from capturing them, deeming it unworthy to interfere with such small crafts, devoted, as it was supposed, only to trading purposes. He was afterwards informed that in one of them Ibrahim Pasha himself had been concealed. Had the Egyptian leader been thus made prisoner, the future course of the war might have been altogether changed.

Lord Cochrane had gone into the Gulf of Patras in hope of meeting with Captain Hastings, from whom he had parted soon after leaving Spetzas; but the Karteria had been disabled by a squall, which took away both her masts, and so had to return to Poros; and with the ill-manned Hellas alone Lord Cochrane did not deem it prudent, as he had wished, to attack Navarino, whither the besiegers of the Castle Tornese had gone, and where twelve Egyptian frigates, twenty corvettes, and forty or fifty smaller vessels were for some time lying. Several of these came out to take on board the Ottoman troops who had done their work at Cape Clarenza, and Lord Cochrane, on the 1st of June, remained for several hours within sight of them, ready and hoping to be attacked. No fight being offered, however, he did not choose to run the risk of going single-handed into their midst. He accordingly contented himself with surveying the coast, and forming his own judgment as to the relative value of its ports and harbours, as he sailed back in the direction of Poros.

To Poros itself Lord Cochrane did not venture to proceed. "I have written for all the Greek vessels that are ready, including the fireships and explosion-vessels, to join me," he said in a letter to Dr. Gosse, written on the 7th of June, off Cerigo; "I remain at sea with this frigate, lest the whole of her crew should desert, according to custom, were I to pay a visit to Poros." The want of zeal which he thus perceived in his seamen was shared by nearly all their countrymen. All wished him to serve them, but very few made any patriotic effort to aid him in the service. His most active supporter was Captain Abney Hastings; and Captain Abney Hastings complained yet more loudly than did his superior of the indolence and bad conduct of the Greeks. "I had the honour to receive your order of the 7th, enjoining me to repair to your lordship without delay, if ready for sea," he wrote on the 9th, from Spetzas; "a variety of circumstances, unavoidable in a country deprived of even the shadow of organization, has prevented me from being yet ready to sail. The majority and best of my crew have left me, and I must look for others."

Hastings and all his other officers wrote over and over again to Lord Cochrane, asking for stores of all sorts, and for money with which to pay the wages of their crews. But Lord Cochrane was still almost without funds. Only from Konduriottes, and the other island primates, could he procure scanty supplies with which to carry on his work—or rather, to prevent that work from being altogether abandoned. "I have the honour," he wrote to the Government, "to represent to your excellencies that I find it impossible to realise the credit which you assigned to me on the revenues of the islands, and that insurmountable obstacles prevent my acting as affairs require. The Hellas even is idle for want of supplies. Each day, each event, increases my conviction that, without strong and special efforts, without a prompt and disinterested co-operation of all its citizens, Greece must of necessity be overcome. Isolated as I am, I am useless to them. Supported by their patriotism and zeal, I could fight for their independence. The islands of the Archipelago are willing to aid our efforts, but they claim from me in return a guarantee for the safety of their goods and for the regular administration of their imposts. I await your excellencies' instructions for promptly answering their demand; for the resources of the western nations are drained; European charity is wearied. The islands alone offer us the means of maintaining the naval forces, and of resisting, if it be possible—if it be not too late—the vigorous preparations of our enemy. We must act promptly or abandon everything." The Government only answered by urging its chief admiral to lose no time in securing the independence of Greece.

This, in spite of the difficulties thrown in his way, he set himself heartily to attempt. Two courses were now open to him. Reshid Pasha, having taken possession of the Acropolis, and thus completed the capture of Athens, had laid siege to Corinth; and Sir Richard Church, with a weak and vacillating body which went by the name of an army—the remnants of that which had proved so useless in the neighbourhood of the Piraeus—was vainly trying to raise the siege. By him and by the Government Lord Cochrane was urged to muster as large a fleet as possible in the Bay of Corinth, and to co-operate with the land forces by blockading the besiegers, after the method that had failed at Athens. Experience convinced him that such action would be useless; whereas from modification of the plan which he had in the former instance been induced to abandon he hoped much. He knew that a large Egyptian force was being prepared at Alexandria, to be employed first in aiding the siege of Corinth, and afterwards in completing the conquest of all Greece. If only he could train the Greeks to act under his bold leadership, as he had trained the Chilians and Brazilians, he trusted that, by one daring movement, he could seize Alexandria as he had seized Valdivia and Maranham. And to this project he zealously addressed himself, deeming it sufficient to send a small force to blockade the gulfs of Patras and Corinth, and leaving Dr. Gosse as his agent in command of naval affairs at home, with special orders to visit the various islands, and, in accordance with authority received from the Government, to collect the revenues of each, in order that the necessary expenses of the fleet might be met.

He collected all the vessels he could muster in the neighbourhood of Cape Saint Angelo. His force consisted, besides the Hellas, of one corvette, the Sauveur, which he had brought from Marseilles, commanded by Captain Thomas, of fourteen Greek brigs and of eight brulots or fireships. With these he started for Alexandria on the 11th of June, the Hellas having often to slacken speed in order that the slower Greek vessels might be kept in attendance. Candia was passed on the 13th, and Alexandria was sighted at five o'clock in the morning of the 15th. Lord Cochrane stood out to sea so that he might not be discovered, and spent the day in putting his fleet in order, preparing an explosion-vessel, and arranging for the work of the morrow. "Brave officers and seamen," he said, in an address to his followers, "one decisive blow, and Greece is free. The port of Alexandria, the centre of all the evil that has befallen you, now contains within its narrow bounds numerous ships of war and a multitude of vessels laden with provisions, stores, and troops, intended to effect your total ruin. The wind is fair for us, and our enterprise unsuspected. Brave brulotteers, resolve by one moment of active exertion to annihilate the power of the satrap. Then shall the siege of Athens be raised in Egypt; then shall the armies of Ibrahim and Reshid be deprived of subsistence, and their garrisons perish of hunger, whilst the brave inhabitants of continental Greece and the islanders, freed from impending danger, will fly to arms, and, by one simultaneous movement, throw off the barbarian yoke. Date the return of happy days and the liberty and security of Greece from your present exhibition of valour. The emancipation of Egypt and the downfall of the satrap are also inevitable consequences; for the war is concentrated in one point of action and of time."

That spirited address was ineffectual, and Lord Cochrane's bold plan for seizing Alexandria was prevented by the cowardice and disorganization of the Greeks whom he was labouring to serve. They could hardly be persuaded on the 16th to follow the Hellas and the Sauveur, all bearing Austrian colours, as far as the entrance to Alexandria, and when twenty large Egyptian vessels were found to be there lying at harbour, they lost heart altogether. Lord Cochrane knew from past experience that, with proper support from his subordinates, he could easily capture or disperse the enemy's shipping. He had made arrangements for attacking them with the fireships and his explosion-vessel. But nearly all the crews refused to serve. Kanaris alone among the Greeks was brave. Having command of the fireships, he induced the sailors of two of them to bear down upon the enemy, and at about eight o'clock in the evening one man-of-war was burnt. So great was the effect of this small success that the other ships of the enemy prepared to escape, and great numbers of the inhabitants of Alexandria hurried out of the town and sought a hiding in the adjoining villages. Seeing the Egyptian ships making ready for flight, however, the Greeks supposed that they were coming out to attack them, and themselves immediately turned sail, heedless alike of their own honour and of Lord Cochrane's assurances that a splendid victory was easy to them. All the night was vainly spent by the Hellas and the Sauveur in futile efforts to collect them, and on the morning of the 18th they were found to be dispersed far out at sea over an area of more than twenty miles.

In despite of his feeble allies, Lord Cochrane would have gone boldly into port and attacked the enemy. But his own Greek sailors were as timid as their comrades; and after a whole day spent in reconnoitring the enemy, whose force of twenty-five sail dared not offer battle, but had gained courage enough to abstain from actual flight, he was compelled, on the 19th, also to put out to sea and to spend two other days in signalling the brigs and fireships to join him. Not till the afternoon of the 20th, by which time he had pursued his allies to a distance eighty miles from Alexandria, was he able to bring them into any sort of order, and then the bitter conviction was forced upon him that further prosecution of his plan, for the present at any rate, was useless.

The scanty store of provisions that had been sent with the fleet, moreover, was nearly exhausted, and thus a new difficulty arose. Lord Cochrane sent the most useless of his vessels back to Poros for a fresh supply, and with an earnest entreaty that some efficient reinforcements might also be forwarded to him, announcing his intention of waiting in the neighbourhood in hopes of achieving some better success. "Your excellencies may rest assured," he said in his letter to the Government, "that our visit to Alexandria will have a powerful effect in paralysing the equipment of an expedition, and I have every reason to conclude that the example made before their eyes of the brig-of-war will deter any of the numerous neutral vessels from engaging as transports in the expedition equipping by the Pasha. The sensation created must indeed have been powerful as two neutral vessels of war made the signal for pilots before we weighed anchor on the morning of the 17th, under the impression, no doubt, that a more effectual attack would shortly be attempted. I am going to make a short tour, with a view, as far as I am enabled with the inadequate means at my disposal, to distract and paralyse the enemy."

In accordance with that purpose, being already near Cyprus, Lord Cochrane conducted his fleet a little further north, and anchored, on the 23rd of June, off Phineka, in Asia Minor, where, after a brief fight with the Turks, he effected a landing, and received some much-needed food and water. Thence he addressed letters, urging the prompt despatch of the necessary stores and vessels, to the Government, to the primates of Hydra, and to Dr. Gosse.

From this halting-place, also, he sent a noteworthy letter to Mahomet Ali, the Pasha of Egypt, a supplement to one which he had addressed to him nearly a year before, when he was on his way to enter the service of the Greeks.

"Your employing foreigners in your military and naval service," he had said in the former letter, which will be best quoted in this place, "the privilege which you claim and exercise of building and equipping ships-of-war in neutral states, and of purchasing steam-vessels and hiring transports under neutral flags, for hostile purposes, and to transport to slavery a people whom the Ottoman arms have never yet been able wholly to subdue, warrant a belief, whatever your sentiments may be, that the civilized, educated, and liberal portion of mankind will be gratified that succours similar to those which you, unfortunately, have hitherto obtained from these states are now about to be afforded to the brave, the oppressed, and suffering Greeks. Nor will the advantage derived be wholly theirs; for, until you shall cease or be forced to abandon your inhuman traffic in Christian slaves and the commission of cruelties which stain the character of man, your subjects must inevitably continue barbarians,—a state from which it would be a source of great gratification to contribute to release them. It is true that the Christian world has not of late contended in arms with those of your faith on points of religion. It has, however, not fallen into a state of apathy so great as to see unheeded the perpetration of those enormities which you are daily committing on Christians,—a sentiment with which no feeling of animosity towards you or towards your people is combined. On the contrary, it desires to render you every good service consistent with that duty paramount to all others, namely, to wipe out the stain from the civilized world of unfeelingly and inhumanly co-operating to exterminate, enslave, and transport to bondage a whole Christian people—and such a people—the descendants of those Greeks whose genius laid the chief foundation of literature, the sciences, and the arts; who reared those noble monuments and edifices which time and the more destructive barbarian hand have yet failed to destroy, and which, compared with the wretched hovels of your hordes, may better point out to you the elevation they attained, and the prostrate state in which your people are—owing, alas! to the baneful effects of bigotry and despotic sway. Surely, surely there is ample field for the exercise of your energies at home, in encouraging industry, the arts and sciences, in promoting the civilization of your people, and in enacting equitable laws for the security of persons and property—on which bases the national prosperity of all countries must rest. But should your ambition, not content with bestowing blessings like these on your native land, lead you to soar almost above mortal acts, distant oceans would unite, and the extremities of the globe approach at your command.[9] Thus might your name be rendered immortal, and Egypt become again the emporium of commerce, and one of the richest and happiest nations upon earth. How infinitely great the glory from such acts! How despicable the fame of a tyrant conqueror, the ruler of slaves! It would be pleasing to support you as the author of great and good works, but it is shameful to permit your present proceedings, and dastardly to leave the unfeeling apostate sons of neutral and Christian nations unopposed, aiding to perpetuate barbarism for horrid gain, drawn from the price of Christians torn from their homes and sold as slaves in foreign lands. Against these atrocious men, my companions and myself, casting the gauntlet down, will contend, in the hope that they and you may perceive your true interests and your great error, and pursue a different course before it shall be too late. Quit the classic sacred soil of Greece, let the flayings, and burnings, and impalings of that people cease, and oh! shocking to humanity, the ripping up of pregnant women, and the hewing up of their infant babes, and other acts yet worse than these—too horrid to relate. Release the Christian slaves; pursue an honourable and enlightened path, and we become friends to aid you in your pursuits—but should the present course be continued, let the bands of cruel assassins in your employ count on our opposition; count, too, on our neutralizing the effects of every vessel procured or bought from Christian states. 'Hear the voice of the Lord, ye rulers,' in the prophecy now to be fulfilled. 'Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help and stay.' 'When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they shall all fall together.' Instead of filling brim full the cup of bitterness, of which you yourself must ultimately drink, how admirably might you not employ your people, and your treasure—the waste whereof is rearing to you a barbarian successor to prolong the bondage of Egypt. The Christian prayer of those called to rescue their suffering brethren is that, conforming yourself to the dictates of reason and humanity, you may live long to benefit mankind; and as you are more enlightened than your predecessors, so may you become more humane and just."

[9] It is singular that at this early date Lord Cochrane should thus have advised and prognosticated the construction of the Suez Canal.

The second letter was more brief. "The discrimination of your Highness," Lord Cochrane now wrote, "enables you to judge between those who offer advice to promote personal objects and those who disinterestedly desire the welfare of mankind. Egypt may become great by the attention of her rulers to her internal concerns, but not by war and foreign conquest, and assuredly not by the conquest of that people with whom your Highness is now engaged in hostilities, not only on account of the impossibility of reducing them to subjection but because the whole of Europe is directly or indirectly engaged in their support. I beg your Highness to be assured that, if I present myself to your consideration in a more conspicuous point of view than others, it is only because the habits of my life have enabled me to be openly instrumental in the protection of a Christian people whom you attack, and not because I feel animosity against your Highness, nor because I desire the overthrow of the lawful power of your Highness. Should your Highness, however, listen to interested counsellors, or to those who hope to gain by adulation, and continue the present unjust and sanguinary contest, I take leave once more to warn you that the first visit I have had the honour of paying you shall not be the last, and that it is not in the power of your Highness to prevent the destruction of your ships destined for the invasion of Greece, nor to defeat my intention to block up the port of Alexandria. I had the honour to address your Highness twelve months ago; but have thought proper to repeat once more the honest advice I then expressed, in order that your Highness may acquit me when, in the hour of adversity, you have to regret that you have not listened to the voice of truth."

Lord Cochrane's threats could not be enforced. Off the coast of Asia Minor and among the southern islands of the Archipelago he waited for more than a week. But no adequate reinforcements or supplies of provisions arrived. The disorganised fleet became more and more unmanageable. One vessel after another deserted, and those that remained in nominal attendance on the flag-ship could not be brought under control. Lord Cochrane, who had made skilful sailors and brave warriors of enervated Chilians and Brazilians, found the Greeks utterly unmanageable. Up to the 2nd of July he tried vainly to bring them into order, and only succeeded in pursuing them from island to island until, on that day, they had drawn him back to the neighbourhood of Hydra. There they all dispersed, and with a heavy heart he anchored at Poros on the 4th. The Hellas was immediately deserted by her crew. Another month had been wasted and another bold project for the assistance of Greece had been spoiled by the want of patriotism which, exhibited first and most flagrantly by the leaders, was now rapidly pervading all classes of the Greeks.

An amusing instance of the worthlessness of the Greek sailors, whom, from first to last, he tried to make useful, may here be given. On one occasion, following his invariable habit of taking every possible occasion of trying to win the confidence and friendship of those under him, he was exhibiting a magic lantern to the crew of the Hellas. At many of the dissolving views they manifested a childish delight, but at length one unfortunate picture was brought before them. It depicted a Greek running from the pursuit of a Turk, and then melted into a view of the Turk cutting off his captive's head. At that sight every Greek on board took fright. Some ran into the hold of the ship, others jumped overboard, and many hours had to be spent in bringing them together again and dispelling their frivolous and superstitious fears.

Lord Cochrane, however, though disheartened, still sought, with unabated zeal, to render to Greece such help as became his name and character. But he saw that this could not be done without a thorough reform in naval affairs; and this, often urged by him before, he lost no time in urging again. "The crew of the Hellas," he wrote to the effete Government on the very day of his return, "having, according to their usual practice, abandoned the vessel on her arrival in port, it is essential that others should be enlisted to serve in the frigate without delay. It is further essential that the individuals so enlisted shall engage to serve during a period of not less than six months, and that they shall be young men who will conform to the rules and regulations by which the ships-of-war of other states are governed. It is quite impossible to conduct a large ship-of-war amidst the noise and confusion which I have witnessed during the two months that have elapsed since my flag was hoisted on board this ship, and equally impossible to induce monthly crews to conform to habits of order and regularity. Under these circumstances, I enclose you a proclamation, stating the pay and advantages which will accrue to such individuals. I should prefer that the enlistment should take place under such respectable young men as propose to obtain rank in the national marine, and who can be in some degree responsible for the good conduct of the individuals who accompany them, each individual qualified for, and aspiring to, the rank of lieutenant being accompanied by sixty young seamen, the second lieutenants to be each accompanied by thirty. For this ship five of the first class and eight of the second are required." The proclamation which Lord Cochrane submitted to the Government detailed his plan for ensuring, or at any rate making possible, honest and hearty service in seafaring.

"I wish I could inform your excellencies," he said in another letter written two days later, "that the obstacles, however great, which presented themselves in the course of the naval service were all I had to contend with. The jealousies among the islanders, even the most enlightened, embarrassed me exceedingly; and these, I regret to say, cannot be alleviated by having recourse to your advice or authority, at the distance at which you are placed, without a correspondence so voluminous that I should occupy too much of your attention. I must, therefore, act according to my own responsibility; and in so doing I am aware that some may be displeased, and probably no one will be satisfied."

Nearly all the month of July, indeed, was spent by Lord Cochrane in zealous efforts to render the Greek navy more efficient. For this two things were needed—that the officers and crews should be honest and intelligent, and that there should be money enough in hand for paying their wages, for fitting out proper vessels, and for supplying the requisite stores and provisions. For the first object proclamations were issued, letters were written, and agents were sent into various parts of Greece and her islands. For the second, Lord Cochrane went personally to the assistance of Dr. Gosse, who, as Commissary-General of the Fleet, had been attempting to collect the revenues of the islands which, by order of the Government, had been assigned to naval uses. He succeeded to some extent in this, and also in quickening the latent patriotism of the people whom he visited.

His most important visit was to Syra, where, as will be seen from the letter which he addressed to the Government on the 13th of July, he was obliged to resort to strong measures for securing the good end he had in view. "I have the honour to inform your excellencies," he wrote, "that, a new crew having been procured for the Hellas with less delay than I anticipated, by reason of the pay having been increased one-third in amount, I proceeded to Syra, taking with me several of the principal inhabitants of the three maritime islands, who expressed to me, by letter, their anxiety to have an opportunity of promoting a loan on the credit of the revenues of the islands, which your excellencies had authorised me, jointly with others, to collect. I have now the pleasure to inform you that when I left Syra yesterday everything seemed to promise a favourable result; but in order to attain this important object it became necessary that I should take upon myself the responsibility of intimating to the prefect of police, who had assumed despotic authority, that it was essential to the public good that the magistrates should resume the functions that they exercised previous to his arrival. I am convinced that your excellencies will perceive as clearly as I do, that it will be impossible to preserve harmony amongst the islanders, if strangers are sent to exercise over the natives an authority that is not acceptable to them. Indeed, the character of these natives demands at all times prudence and circumspection on the part of the Government."

Unfortunately, the miserable triumvirate to which the direction of Greek affairs had been assigned until the arrival of Count Capodistrias was wholly wanting in prudence and circumspection. After vainly trying to maintain a show of authority, and to use it to their own aggrandisement at Damala and at Poros, they had, on the 4th of July, removed to Nauplia. There, however, they only found themselves more embarrassed than ever. While the last hopes of Greek independence, to be secured and maintained by Greeks themselves, were rapidly dying out, the leaders were amusing themselves and gratifying their petty jealousies and ambitions by conduct more despicable than ever. Nauplia was the seat of civil war between two military factions, whose joint contempt of the worthless Government would have been, at any rate, excusable, had not the interests of the whole nation been thereby injured. The triumvirate was driven from the town, and taking refuge in a little island in the Bay of Nauplia, wrote in despair to Lord Cochrane, asking him to come to its aid and devise some means of preserving, or rather of constructing, its authority.

To Nauplia he accordingly went on the 19th of July. "I am now at the anchorage of this place," he wrote thence to Dr. Gosse on the 22nd. "The town is evacuated by the inhabitants and abandoned by the Government. The latter are in the little island in the bay in the most deplorable condition, trembling like Sancho when invaded in his dominions of Barataria, and not knowing which way to turn, whether to avoid or meet the enemy. No words can depict the state of things. I have had correspondence with the Government and all the chiefs, but have waited on none, because I am determined to keep myself clear of faction, and go straightforward in what I consider to be my duty." "We are now weighing anchor," he added, in a postscript written in the evening of the same day, "and the Austrian commodore is coming into the bay—an evil omen. He is watching, like a vulture, the agonies of the expiring authorities of Greece."

"As you have done me the honour," said Lord Cochrane, in a letter to the Government, "to request my opinion regarding the manner of settling the disputes between the contending chiefs who hold the higher and lower fortresses of Nauplia, it becomes a sacred duty to give that opinion without the slightest reserve, because the consequences of any half measure will be entirely destructive of the influence of your excellencies throughout Greece, and eventually may frustrate the endeavours of the European powers to promote a settlement with the Porte. Your excellencies, then, must at once remove from the situation in which you are now placed, or, more properly speaking, to which you have fled, and where you are still under the cannon of the disputing chiefs, or both these chiefs must be caused to abandon the fortresses they hold. To suffer one to remain and to expel the other would be voluntarily to surrender your authority, and through Greece and throughout the world you would be considered in no other light than as instruments for giving the semblance of legality to the dictates of a military chief."

Lord Cochrane did not wait to see the end of this dispute between the mock Government and its nominal subjects. He left Nauplia on the 22nd of July to complete the arrangements he had made for another attempt in defence of Greece. He had already sent Admiral Saktoures and a small force to maintain a show of blockading Alexandria, in order that thereby neutral vessels, at any rate, might be deterred from giving aid to the Turkish cause. He had sent vessels to blockade the Gulf of Patras in the same way. He had also issued a vigorous proclamation to the inhabitants of Western Greece, urging them to rise against their oppressors, and he was eager to go thither himself and encourage the work, for which he hoped that his fleet and his naval arrangements were now better fitted. One important auxiliary to this work he hoped to have in a corps of marines, to the number of a thousand, which Colonel Gordon Urquhart was now trying, under his directions, to organise. "I have several things in view which even this small force could accomplish," he wrote to Dr. Gosse, "and amongst the rest will be the rooting out of the pirates from the islands."

More important, however, than the restraint of piracy, was the resistance, if possible, of the Turkish forces. Several of the Egyptian ships which Lord Cochrane had hoped to destroy in the harbour of Alexandria had now come out and joined the Ottoman fleet, which had Navarino for its head-quarters. He determined, without loss of time, to go and see what injury could be done to them; and accordingly, after a brief visit to Poros, where he took on board some stores and provisions, and where he left Dr. Gosse to use the scanty supply of money which he had collected in completing the equipment of the other vessels, he started in the Hellas, on the 28th of July, for the western side of the Morea.

On the 29th, when near Cape St. Angelo, he fell in with the Sauveur, returning from a cruise in the Gulf of Patras, and the two vessels proceeded with all haste to Navarino. They reached that port, and had sight of the Turkish fleet on the evening of the 30th. With French colours flying, Lord Cochrane reconnoitred its position, and then watched for an opportunity of attacking some part of it.

The opportunity occurred on the 1st of August. A corvette, carrying twenty-eight fine guns, and a crew of three hundred and forty, with two brigs and two schooners, had passed out on the previous day, apparently with the intention of conveying reinforcements to the Gulf of Patras. Lord Cochrane immediately gave them chase, and drove them backwards and forwards between Zante and the shore north of Navarino all through the night and till nearly noon on the 1st. Then suddenly tacking, he closed upon the corvette, and there was hard fighting—the first in which he had been able to persuade his Greeks to join—between the two vessels, for fifty minutes. At about one o'clock, after fifty of their number had been killed and thirty wounded, the Turks surrendered.[10] Lord Cochrane found on board twenty Greek women and several children, who had been subjected to the vilest treatment. In the meanwhile, Captain Thomas, of the Sauveur, had engaged with one of the brigs, carrying twelve guns, and captured her with a loss of fifteen killed and wounded to the Turks, but none to the Greeks. The other vessels escaped, but an Ionian vessel, laden with provisions for the Ottoman army at Patras, was seized in the afternoon, and her cargo put to good use.

[10] "The admiral," says Gordon (vol. ii., pp. 421, 422), "was less gratified at his victory than mortified that so inferior a vessel should have fought the Hellas for three-quarters of an hour, and disgusted at the backwardness of his crew. In his first cruise he carried with him four hundred men recruited in the Cyclades; but as they ran below in his engagement with the two Egyptian corvettes, he discharged them and took Hydriots alone. These last, though better mariners, and really more courageous, were disconcerted by his system of reserving fire till within pistol-shot—so different from their own plan of cannonading at a mile's distance. 'The boys,' said Cochrane, 'behaved pretty well; but the oldest, and ugliest, and fiercest-looking bravoes of Hydra ran to the other side of the deck, roaring like market-bulls.' His lordship took summary satisfaction by knocking them down with his fists, right and left."

Lord Cochrane waited off Navarino for two days, hoping that some of the enemy's fleet would come out to attack him. They, however, locked themselves carefully in the harbour until he had set sail for the south, when they feebly attempted to pursue him. He thereupon, after releasing the Turkish prisoners at Candia, returned to Poros, there to leave his prizes and endeavour to take back a larger force with which worthily to supplement his recent successes.




The Duke of Wellington's mission to St. Petersburg in the spring of 1826, which has been already referred to, was part of a policy by which the British Government materially contributed to the ultimate independence of Greece. Its first result was the protocol of the 4th of April, in which England and Russia recognized the right of the Greeks to claim from the Porte a recognition of their freedom. At about the same time our Government had sent Mr. Stratford Canning, afterwards Lord Stratford de Redclyffe, as ambassador to Constantinople, with special instructions to use every endeavour to bring about a cessation of the war which should be favourable to Greece; and on the 24th of April the National Assembly at Epidaurus had authorized him to treat with Turkey on its behalf, agreeing, if no more favourable terms could be obtained, to a recognition of the Sultan's supremacy and the payment of tribute to him, on condition that Greece should be independent in all its internal government. Those terms, however, were rejected by the Porte; and after a delay of a year and a half it was forced by the Great Powers, slowly awakening from their long lethargy, to accede to arrangements far more favourable to Greece.

These negotiations, however, proceeded very slowly, and before the dawn of Greek independence there was a time of almost utter darkness, the darkest time of all being the few months following Lord Cochrane's arrival. "Vanquished Greece," says her historian, "lay writhing in convulsive throes. In herself there was neither hope nor help, and the question to be solved was merely whether the Mahometans would have time to subdue her before the mediating powers made up their minds to use force. That the former, if not checked from abroad, must speedily overrun the country did not admit of the least doubt. But it was equally certain that they could not pacify it; for, while the rich and timid prepared to emigrate, the poorer and hardier portion of the insurgents formed themselves into bands of robbers and pirates, which would have long infested the mountains and the Levant seas, deriding the efforts of the Porte to suppress them. The only branch of the Hellenic confederacy that still presented a menacing aspect was the navy under Lord Cochrane. Every other department was a heap of confusion. No government existed, since it would be idle to dignify with that name the three puppets set up by the Congress of Damala. None ever thought of obeying them, and they sealed their own degradation by carrying on an infamous traffic in selling letters of marque to freebooters. There was no army, because there was no revenue. After the fall of Athens, Roumelia was entirely lost, and the captains either renewed their act of submission to Reshid Pasha or fled to the Morea. It was not, however, with an intention of defending the peninsula that they retreated into it. Their purpose was to seize the fortresses, and thereby be enabled to make a good bargain with the Turks, or any other party that should remain in final possession. Nauplia and the Acrocorinthus were already garrisoned by Roumeliotes. Monemvasia, the third Peloponnesian stronghold yet held by the Greeks, was in the hands of Petro-Bey's brother, John Mavromikales, who, fitting out from thence predatory craft, converted it into a den of thieves."[11]

[11] Gordon, vol. ii., pp. 403, 404.

It is not strange that, amid all this confusion, cowardice, and treachery, Lord Cochrane should have found it almost impossible to achieve anything worthy of his abilities or of the cause which he desired so earnestly to serve. Yet he continued, in spite of all obstacles, to do all that lay in his power, in fulfilment of his duty, and even in excess of that duty. He had engaged to act as First Admiral of the Greek Fleet. Finding that there was no fleet for him to direct, he laboured with unwearied zeal not only to construct one and to turn his unmannerly subordinates into disciplined sailors and brave warriors, but also to persuade the landsmen to co-operate with him in trying to withstand, if not to drive back, the advancing force of the enemy. One day when he was at Poros, Dr. Gosse came on board the Hellas to visit him. "See, my friend," said Lord Cochrane, taking a loaded pistol from the inner pocket of his waistcoat, "see what it is to be a Greek admiral." He found it necessary to be always provided with a weapon with which he could defend himself from his indolent, unpatriotic seamen.

Having returned to Poros with his prizes on the 14th of August, he was obliged to wait there for twelve days. There were no funds to be had for the requisite repairs and other expenses in paying and feeding his crews. All he could do was to repeat his former arguments and entreaties for assistance from the miserable Government at Nauplia, and the more active, but still half-hearted primates of the islands. He also made all the other arrangements in his power for improving his fleet and for carrying on some sort of naval warfare among the southern isles, especially on the coast of Candia, and for fomenting an insurrection of the inhabitants of Western Greece, who, held in awe by the Turks ever since the fall of Missolonghi, had hitherto done little in aid of the national strife, but to whose support he now looked with some hope.

On the 24th he obtained a little further assistance. Mr. George Cochrane, whom he had sent to Marseilles in the Unicorn, to ask for fresh supplies of money and stores from the Philhellenes of Western Europe, but whose return had been long delayed, now arrived with a cargo of provisions, and with a sum of 5000l., which, though altogether inadequate to the work to be done, made possible some work at any rate.

In the Unicorn also came a new volunteer on behalf of Greek independence. The schooner having called at Zante on her way back, Mr. Cochrane there met Prince Paul Buonaparte, nephew of the great Napoleon who asked to be taken on board in order that he might serve under Lord Cochrane. This was agreed to, and the Prince, a youth about eighteen years old, and six feet high, became, immediately after his arrival at Poros, a favourite with Lord Cochrane and all his staff and crew. He was remarkable, said Dr. Grosse, for "his good-will, his amiability of character, his solidity of judgment, his intelligence, and the moderation of his principles."

His stay in Greece, however, was very brief. On the morning of the 6th of September, all on board the Hellas were startled by a shriek and the exclamation, "Ah, mon Dieu! je suis mort!" Lord Cochrane and several officers rushed to the Prince's cabin, there to find him lying in a pool of blood, and writhing in agony. His servant had been cleaning his pistols, and he had just loaded one of them to hang it on a nail, when, the trigger being accidentally struck, the weapon discharged and a ball entered his body and settled in the groin. Dr. Howe, an American surgeon, famous for his services to Greece and for later philanthropic labours, being at hand, came to his relief until Dr. Gosse could be sent for. All that could be done, however, was to lessen the pain, which he bore with great heroism through two-and-twenty hours. Lord Cochrane had him placed in his own cabin, and carefully tended him with his own hands. At seven o'clock in the following morning he cried out, "Ah, quel douleur!" and died immediately.

That melancholy accident had a sequel which must be told in illustration of the greed of the Greeks. The Prince's body was placed in a hogshead of spirits and conveyed to Spetzas, there to be deposited in a convent until the wishes of the father, Prince Lucien Buonaparte, could be ascertained as to its interment. A few months afterwards, some natives entering the convent and smelling the spirits, but apparently in ignorance of the use to which they had been applied, could not resist the temptation of tapping the hogshead and drinking a part of its contents.

Prince Paul Buonaparte died while Lord Cochrane was again making a tour of the islands, vainly trying to induce the inhabitants to provide him with adequate means for a formidable attack on the enemy. "In the port of Spetzas," wrote one of his officers, on the 29th of August, "there are now nearly forty vessels—none of them ready, not a man on board. All the men are out in cruisers, notwithstanding his excellency's order to fit out their vessels to meet the enemy's fleet. But such are the Greeks; they have no foresight, and until they see the enemy they will make no preparations, nor will they, unless the money is in their hands, expend a dollar to prepare a single fireship to defend their country. It is now twenty-eight days since Lord Cochrane ordered the vessels from Hydra, Spetzas, and Egina to be prepared, and they are not yet ready."

At length, on the 5th of September, Lord Cochrane was able, though still with difficulty, to resign the irksome and extra-official duties of a tax-gatherer that had been forced upon him. "Since my return from Zante, and, indeed, since my return from Alexandria," he wrote on that day to the Government, now lodged at Egina, "I have been using my utmost endeavours to procure the equipment of a dozen brigs and as many fireships. The delays occasioned, however, by the want of pecuniary means have hitherto prevented the realization of my wishes, and the services of this frigate have been lost to the State during the fore-mentioned period, owing to the impossibility of procuring the necessary funds without my personal presence at Syra and elsewhere. The equipment of the brigs and part of the fireships is now completed, in spite of all difficulties, and I shall not delay one moment the endeavour to effect something useful to the interests of the State. I think it proper, however, to intimate to your excellencies that, everything being paid relative to the expense of the present expedition, I know of no means whereby a single vessel can be maintained during the ensuing month."

On the 7th of September, Lord Cochrane was able to start on another warlike cruise. His force comprised the Hellas, the Karteria, the Sauveur, and nineteen or twenty other vessels. The Spetziots and the Hydriots, at the last moment, refused to aid him; but he was attended by Miaoulis, Kanaris, and Saktoures, the three best of the native admirals. After a brief visit to Candia, where he encouraged the garrison of Grabusa to hold out against the enemy, he again passed round the Morea, in which direction he desired to attain two important objects. The first was to injure as much as possible the Turkish and Egyptian vessels collected near Navarino. The second was to co-operate with the wretched force that, under General Church, had for three months past been making a show of resistance to the enemy at Corinth, and with its help to try and stir up the natives of Albania and Western Greece.

These objects, partly prevented in other ways, were nearly averted by a barbarous plot for Lord Cochrane's assassination. While halting off the southern coast of the Morea, on or near the 10th of September, a short, thick-built Greek, with an ugly countenance and determined eye, came on board the Hellas and asked for employment as a sailor. He was examined and rejected, on the ground of previous misconduct. Instead of going on shore again, however, he contrived to hide himself among the crew, and was not detected by Lord Cochrane for several hours, and when the frigate was in full sail. In the interval Lord Cochrane had received authentic information that this man had been commissioned by Ibrahim Pasha to attempt his life. There would have been justification for his immediate arrest, and, after a court martial, for his summary execution. But Lord Cochrane pursued a more generous policy. Walking up to his secretary, Mr. George Cochrane, he said: "Observe that man who is at the gangway on the larboard side. I have just had information that he has been sent by Ibrahim Pasha to assassinate me. Go quietly below, put on your sword, and watch him while he is on board." Mr. Cochrane obeyed his instructions. "In less than five minutes," he says, "I was again on deck with my sword. I took a few turns on the quarter-deck with his lordship, and then placed myself in a convenient position, about a dozen yards from the man. I did not lose sight of him for a couple of hours, keeping my eye steadily upon him. He soon observed that I was watching him, and I could perceive that he did not feel very comfortable in his mind. He did not attempt to come aft. Had he done so, I should have drawn my sword. After the men had had their dinner, one or two boats were got ready to convey seamen on board another vessel; and this fellow, seeing that his intentions were discovered, took advantage of the opportunity and got into one of the boats. I looked over the side of the Hellas, and saw him depart." Thus Lord Cochrane's life was saved.

Navarino was passed on the 11th of September. Lord Cochrane made no halt, as he saw that a British squadron, under Sir Edward Codrington, was there watching the Ottoman fleet and forbidding its egress. He accordingly at once proceeded northwards, and entered the Gulf of Patras on the 17th of September. On that day, in anticipation of the visit which he proposed to pay them, he forwarded proclamations to the inhabitants of the western coast. "People of Albania!" he wrote in one of them, "although you have so long suffered under the Mussulman yoke; although your love of liberty has been so long kept down by a dark and cruel despotism, the hour of your deliverance is not distant, and if you will you can hasten it. Europe takes a lively interest in your destiny; your fellow-countrymen are hastening to aid you. But all depends on the energy which you yourselves display: the support which we offer you, to be efficacious, requires on your part redoubled zeal and patriotism in the actual and decisive moment. Brave Albanians! your happy future, the security of your families, and the honour of your religion, are in your hands; your bold and steady co-operation will ensure your own salvation and our success!"

The intended expedition was prevented. It had been arranged that Lord Cochrane should wait near Cape Papas for the arrival of General Church's army and convey it to Western Greece, in the hope of putting it to better service in that region. But the land force was long in coming, and before its arrival Lord Cochrane had to write to the Government, explaining his recent movement and the reasons which compelled him to abandon the project of fighting in Albania. "Having proceeded to the Gulf of Patras," he said, "in order to co-operate with General Church in his intended expedition to Western Greece, I thought it would be conducive to the public service to invest the fort of Vasiladi, until, by the arrival of the forces of the general, more important operations could be undertaken; and accordingly that island was immediately blockaded by the boats of the squadron, and now continues surrounded by the vessels belonging to the Missolonghites, who have undertaken to maintain the blockade until it shall surrender. The Karteria, the Sauveur, and two of the gunboats, were immediately detached with orders to take or destroy all the enemy's vessels within the Gulf of Lepanto, whilst the Hellas went to the anchorage of Kalamos, in order to ascertain from the officers in arms what prospect there was of general co-operation; and I regret to say that the want of union among the chiefs and the prospect of some kind of accommodation with the enemy seemed to paralyse all their energies. I therefore detached all the squadron under Admiral Miaoulis to Syra and Naxos, to aid the Candiots and Chiots, should they continue inclined to assert their independence. I have to add that I received an indirect communication from the British Admiral, intimating his desire that no new or further operations should be undertaken in that quarter; for which reason I am about to proceed elsewhere, under the impression that nothing should be left undone to stir up the population of Greece to a sense of their duty to themselves and to their country."

The communication referred to was conveyed by Lord Ingestre, commander of the Philomel, who hailed the Hellas on the 27th of September, to deliver a message from Sir Edward Codrington. "Whereas I am informed by Sir Frederick Adam," wrote the English Admiral, "that Lord Cochrane, with the Greek fleet, is about to embark the army of General Church in the neighbourhood of Cape Papas, for the purpose of conveying them to the coast of Albania, you are hereby directed to make known to the commander of that expedition that I consider it my duty, in the present state of affairs, to prevent such a measure being carried into execution, and that I shall shortly present myself in that neighbourhood for that purpose." Lord Cochrane knew that, if it would be personally very distasteful to him to be in collision with the naval force of his own country, it would, on public grounds and in the interests of Greek independence, be wholly inexcusable for him to act in violation of Sir Edward Codrington's message. Therefore he complied with it and went back to the Archipelago, there to do other work, while England was serving Greece in her own way.

The service was to be rendered at last. After spending a year in diplomatic formalities, Great Britain and Russia had, in the spring of 1827, openly renewed their arguments with the Porte in favour of Greek independence. These arguments having been rejected, the two Christian powers were in consultation as to the next course to be pursued, when France, partly urged thereto by her schemes for the acquisition of Algiers, then a Turkish dependency, offered to take part in the defence of Greece. The result was a treaty signed in London, on behalf of the three states, on the 6th of July, having for its object the enforcement of the St. Petersburg protocol of the 4th of April, 1826. It insisted that Greece should have internal freedom, though under vassalage to Turkey; and provided that, if the contending parties did not agree to an armistice within a month, there should be a forcible intervention.

The Greeks welcomed the proposals made to them in consequence of this treaty; but they were rejected by the Turkish Government, notwithstanding the appearance of English, French, and Russian warships in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Reshid Pasha and Ibrahim continued their efforts to bring the whole insurgent district into thorough subjection, and accordingly the patriotic Greeks and their foreign supporters continued to act on the defensive. Lord Cochrane and a few others, indeed, were eager to secure action bolder than ever, considering that, when the settling-time arrived, the limits of independent Greece would be augmented if a larger area was then the scene of zealous opposition to the Turkish power. This it was that chiefly induced the efforts to quicken the revolt in Albania, and when Lord Cochrane was prevented by Sir Edward Codrington from persevering in his work in that quarter, he lost no time in sailing round to the eastern side of Greece, there to do his utmost towards rousing the people of Candia and other islands into an assertion of their independence, in order that they too might have a claim to be included in the liberation of the Greeks.

The message from Sir Edward Codrington to Lord Cochrane, which has been quoted, was dated the 25th of September. It was written immediately after an interview of the English commander and Admiral de Rigny, who was in charge of the French squadron, with Ibrahim Pasha. To him they had formally announced that they were instructed to insist upon a cessation of hostilities, and that they should promptly act upon their instructions. Ibrahim answered that he had orders from the Sultan to continue the war, but he promised to communicate with his sovereign, and pledged himself to abstain from hostilities until the answer arrived and was reported to the allied fleets. Before that answer came a fortunate series of accidents, arising out of Lord Cochrane's expedition to the Albanian coast, turned the current of diplomacy and secured for Greece more freedom than had been anticipated.

Lord Cochrane, attended by his Greek vessels, had left the neighbourhood of Cape Papas on the 27th of September. But, though deeming himself bound in honour to that course, he was willing to allow a part of his force to remain in the neighbourhood and watch the progress of events, especially as that part was at the time separated from him and lying in the Gulf of Lepanto. It consisted of the Karteria, under Captain Abney Hastings, the Sauveur, under Captain Thomas, and two gunboats, each mounting a 32-pounder. For a week this little squadron, ignorant of the arrangement between the allied admirals and Ibrahim Pasha, watched a Turkish force that was moored in the Scala of Salona, and comprised one large Algerine schooner carrying twenty brass guns, a brig of fourteen guns, six smaller brigs and schooners, two gunboats, and two armed transports. These vessels were protected by batteries on the level shore and other batteries on overhanging rocks. On the 30th of September, Captains Hastings and Thomas proceeded to attack them, and did so with excellent effect. The solid shot of the Sauveur and the gunboats soon silenced the batteries; the red-hot shells of the Karteria made havoc of the enemy's vessels, four being defeated within half-an-hour. Soon the Sauveur and the gunboats joined in the attack on the shipping, and, in the end, seven vessels were destroyed and three captured.

The news of that victory, as soon as it was conveyed to Navarino, where nearly all the naval force of the Turks was lying, roused the anger of Ibrahim Pasha, who complained that the allied powers, while binding him to inaction, allowed the Greeks to carry on the war. On the 1st of October, he sent out thirty war-ships with orders to enter the Gulf of Lepanto and punish Hastings and Thomas for their recent exploits. Sir Edward Codrington, however, pursued them, and drove them back to Navarino. Ibrahim Pasha, not easily to be baffled, himself left Navarino, on the evening of the 3rd, with fourteen of his stoutest vessels. Again Sir Edward Codrington gave chase, and this second squadron also was compelled by him to return to port. Ibrahim Pasha, however, was not to be robbed of his revenge. He dared not leave Navarino by sea, but he sent thence a land force, which marched up to the northern side of the Morea, and did serious mischief to the wornout fragment of an army which General Church was slowly conducting from Corinth to Papas, there to be embarked for Albania. Only by the unlooked-for valour of young Kolokotrones and his section was the rout of the whole army averted. Nor was Ibrahim satisfied with this act of retaliation. His troops scoured all the adjoining country, burning villages and laying waste the olive-groves and fig-gardens which were the only source of subsistence to the luckless natives.

Thereby Sir Edward Codrington and his allies were in turn incensed. They decided that the time had come for direct interference in the struggle, and for the expulsion of the Ottoman forces from the Morea. In the afternoon of the 20th of October, five and twenty line-of-battle ships, frigates, and sloops entered the Bay of Navarino. Ten of them were English, seven were French, and eight were Russian, and they carried in all 1172 guns. Twenty thousand Ottoman troops watched them from the fortresses of Navarino and Sphakteria, and, as they entered the harbour, they saw some eighty Turkish and Egyptian vessels, mounting about 2000 guns, drawn up in the shape of a horseshoe to receive them. They had come only to threaten; but accident, or design on the part of the enemy, brought about a most momentous battle.

A volley from the Ottomans began the fight, which was continued for four hours with stolid energy on both sides. The English and French vessels, being foremost, carried on the chief contest with the enemy's shipping; the Russians had to silence the batteries before they could enter the harbour, but then their Admiral, Count Heyden, did his full share of the deadly work. The fighting lasted till sunset; but by that time many of the enemy's hulks were in flames, and all through the night these flames spread from one vessel to another till nearly all were destroyed. At daybreak, only twenty-nine out of the eighty were afloat, and six thousand or more Moslems had been slain, burnt, or drowned. Many of the vessels of the allies were seriously damaged, and of their crews a hundred and seventy-five men were killed, and four hundred and fifty wounded.

That was the battle of Navarino. "I have the honour to inform you," wrote Sir Edward Codrington to the Greek Government, "that, according to the decision of my colleagues, Count Heyden and Rear-Admiral de Rigny, and myself, the combined fleet entered this port at two o'clock on the 20th, that some of the ships of the Turko-Egyptian fleet first began a fire of musketry, and then fired cannon-shot, which led very shortly to a general battle, which lasted till dark, and that the consequence of this has been the destruction of the whole of the Turkish fleet, except a few corvettes and brigs. Most of the ships of the allied fleets have received so much injury that they must go into port; but if the Greek vessels of war are employed against their enemy instead of destroying the commerce of the allies, they may henceforth easily obstruct the movements of any Turkish force by sea."




Heartily rejoicing at the benefit conferred on Greece by the battle of Navarino, Lord Cochrane could not but be troubled to think that the overthrow of the Turkish and Egyptian fleet, which he had laboured so zealously to effect, and which, had he received any adequate support from the Government or the people, would have been a work as easy for him as the enterprises in which he had been so notably successful in former times and other countries, had to be done by the officers and ships of foreign nations instead of by him and the native fleet of which, by name, he was commander-in-chief. The battle being won, however, he tried, with no flagging of his energy, to complete the triumph that had been thus begun, and, if anything was easy to a people so wanting in patriotism, made easier.

He was at Poros at the time of the battle. On his way thither he had fallen in with the Enterprise, the first of the steamers built in England, and which, with others that never were completed at all, ought to have been completed nearly two years before. The Enterprise had been so badly constructed, that now that she arrived, she was of very little use. Lord Cochrane was now trying to improve her sailing powers, and at the same time attempting to collect a really manageable crew for the Hellas, and to bring together other vessels fit for naval work. In these labours there was no less difficulty than had befallen him on former occasions. The Hellas was in want of water; but the inhabitants of Poros refused to supply it, on the plea that they had no more than was needed for their lemon-gardens. Some carpentering was urgently needed by the Enterprise; but, as it had to be done on Sunday, the workmen declined to touch a hammer, notwithstanding the exhortations of a priest who promised them absolution, and even threatened to excommunicate them if they failed in their duty to the country in this pressing time of its necessity. Of those sorts were the obstacles that occurred each day, and rendered futile all the efforts of Lord Cochrane and his officers.

On the 27th of October, Lord Cochrane again set sail from Poros in the Hellas, accompanied by the Sauveur, and the corvette which he had lately taken from the Turks, to which the name of Hydra was now given, and proceeded to Chios. That island, the scene of previous disasters, had since 1822 been left in the hands of the Turks. Colonel Fabvier was now attempting to recover it for Greece, and Lord Cochrane entered heartily into the work. He arrived on the 30th, and spent two days in vigorous co-operation with the land force that had reached the island a day before. His share in this enterprise, however, was brief. He was visited on the 2nd of November first by Captain Le Blanc, bearing a message from Admiral de Rigny, and afterwards by Captain Hamilton, who produced a copy of a letter addressed on the 24th of October to the Legislative Assembly by the Admirals of the three allied powers. "We will not suffer Greece," they there said, "to send any expedition to cruise or blockade, except between Lepanto and Volo, comprehending Salamis, Egina, Hydra, and Spetzas. We will not suffer the Greeks to carry insurrection into either Chios or Albania, and, by so doing, to expose the inhabitants to the cruel reprisals of the Turks. We regard as null and void all letters of marque given to cruisers found beyond the above limits; and the ships-of-war of the allied powers will everywhere have orders to detain them. There remains no longer any pretence for them. The maritime armistice is, in fact, observed on the side of the Turks, since their fleet no longer exists. Take care of yours, for we will destroy it also, if the case requires it, to put an end to a system of maritime pillage which will end by putting you out of the protection of the law of nations."

By that letter, Lord Cochrane was constrained to abandon his intended work at Chios. He could excuse the angry terms in which it was couched, since the anger was only directed against the same unpatriotic conduct which he had all along been denouncing. He was painfully aware that, with the exception of his own flag-ship and the few vessels commanded by English officers, his fleet was chiefly composed of pirates, who only took temporary service under the national flag in order to fill up their idle time, or to make their public service an occasion for further clandestine pursuit of their lawless avocations. From the first he had persistently and fiercely denounced this piracy, and from the day on which he had heard of the victory at Navarino he had resolved to make it a special business to do all in his power to root out the evil. "The destruction of the Ottoman fleet by that of the allied powers," he had said in a proclamation dated the 29th of October, "having delivered the Greek fleet from the cares which had necessarily occupied its attention, and the commander of the maritime forces of Greece having the right to take due measures for the extinction of piracy, to preserve the honour of the State, and to protect the people and property of friendly nations, it is now made known that ships of less than a hundred tons' burden are not to have arms on board, unless they are first provided with express commissions, so registered, and numbered in such a manner that the number shall be conspicuously noted on the ship. All other vessels of the size defined which shall be found at sea with arms will be considered as pirates, and the crews shall be brought to trial, and, if found guilty, be executed."

For the brief remainder of his service in Greece, indeed, Lord Cochrane made it his principal duty to do all in his power towards the suppression of piracy. The admirals of the allies having insisted that the Greek vessels should do nothing but watch their own coasts within a distance of twelve miles from the shore, he proceeded to the southern part of the Morea, making only a short tour, in order to meet the primates of Samos, Naxia, Paros, Candia, and other islands, and ascertain from them the condition of the people and their power of resistance to the Turks and to their piratical enemies of their own race. The information gained by him was not satisfactory. He found that here, as in the mainland and the nearer islands, patriotism was weak and misrule oppressive. Everywhere the people were the victims of their own want of patriotism and of the tyranny of foes, both Moslem and Christian.

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