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We are willing to feed at our ease on the perennial food of their glorious past, without regarding their present or their future. The past is scarcely to be disputed; and the only question is, can we excuse ourselves to our own consciences for this indifference and neglect? The Greeks had a fine expression by which they figured, by a tender irony, the obligations due to parents as a debt for payment of expenses and trouble of rearing. Has any circumstance occurred which can wipe out our account for Tpopeia, or expenses of nurture, to Greece and Italy? Easy enough and ready to the lips of a nonchalant worldly wisdom is the answer. Greece and Italy are dead. It is a question no longer of even the affectionate tending of the decrepitude of a benefactor, but of the canonisation of his dry bones. Let us ask ourselves in sincerity whether or not this is true? To make the case more personal, we will suppose a homely illustration. We had, let us imagine, in our infancy and youth a venerable friend, who adopted us as his own child, became at once our tutor and guardian, raised us from the anonymous obscurity of a parish foundling to wealth, station, rank, and honour. We owe him all, from cleanliness and competence, up to virtue and religion; without him we might have been no better than a sweeper of the crossings. His son or his daughter comes to us like a returning prodigal, and, the father being dead, to us in the place of that father: the son has been led, through capture by pirates in early life, into piratical courses himself; the daughter, through deluded innocence, into a life of disgrace; they come to us, one or the other, or both, now, and tell us that they have repented of the evil, which was not their own fault in the beginning, and are anxious to lead a new life and achieve respectability, if we will but lend them the hand of our strength to save them from the bitter waters of despair which are closing over their souls. They bring with them the best credentials, the best proofs of identity. The tone of their voices, the dialect they use, the nobility of their manners, the lineaments of their features, bring to mind most
unmistakably the friend we lost who was everything to our youth. It may save us trouble to tell them that they are impostors or reprobates, but the verdict of our hearts will not be gainsaid, and if we turn our backs upon them our self-respect must pay a bitter penalty. Not less forcible is the claim of these two countries, Italy and Greece, on our attention and respect. Yet how gladly do we take up every story which tends to illustrate their degradation when sympathy is demanded for them. Bearing in mind what they suffered, the wonder is not that they have vices, but that they have any tradition of virtue left. In considering our relative obligations to Greece and Italy, we cannot refrain from striking the balance pretty evenly between them. Greece planted in remote antiquity the first seeds of those beautiful thoughts which were destined to grow into a vast forest and overshadow the surface of the earth. All the arts and all the sciences had their beginnings in the nursery-garden of her intellectual culture. We will advert to our obligations to Italy as we proceed. But the sun of Greece has suffered an eclipse of two thousand years, partial under Macedon, Rome, and Venice, total in the outer darkness of Turkish domination. Yet, wonderful to say, the light still lives, and the earthly glories of Greece are preserved by that salt of the earth which came down like manna from heaven. We cannot turn a deaf ear to the plea of Tricoupi urged in the language which immortalised the war of Troy: "Professing a religion which teaches the high beginning and the higher end of human nature, and wonderfully conducing to the perfection of the human mind, they have never ceased to extend, as far as their servile condition admitted, the circle of their ideas; and as deriving their descent from great ancestors, whose writings and actions have never been entirely unknown to them, it was not possible that they should appear quite unworthy of their brilliant origin." The language of Homer, of Hesiod, of Eschylus, and of Sophocles, is still spoken among the mountaineers of Ætolia and the Morea, and in the numerous islands
of the Archipelago. It is so like what it was that any old Greek scholar can understand its drift and meaning without separate study when it is written; and when it is spoken, with an easy acquisition of the differences between the native and our barbarous pronunciation.
It is an error to call ancient Greek a dead language, quite as much as it would be to call that English a dead language, which was spoken by the victors of Cressy. And as long as a language lives, it may easily be assumed that a people does not die; and the preservation of the beautiful language of Greece, almost unmutilated and unalloyed to the present time, is nearly as miraculous, considering what Greece has undergone, as the preservation of the Hebrew nationality. And no less miraculous is it that in many instances Hellenic virtue should have asserted itself, and shown the old heroism still living and active after two thousand years of slavery. The names of Botzaris, Ypsilanti, Canaris, and Mavrocordato in the great insurrection, recall those of Miltiades, Leonidas, Brasidas, and Thrasybulus, in the palmy days of old. And in the presence of names such as these, and deeds such as these men did, who shall dare to say that Greece is dead, or even trance-bound, with little hope of resuscitation?
If we turn to the history of the insurrection itself, we find that Greece alone and unaided, except by the cold sympathy of the Western Powers and the interested and suspicious encouragement of Russia, was able, with a few handfuls of irregularlyorganised mountaineers, not only to set at defiance, but to exhaust the armies and break the spirit of her Ottoman enslavers, and was only subjected by the interference of Egypt, which was virtually a foreign power. Greece alone, by her own right arm, and the yet living power of her antique spirit of freedom, had set herself free; and if England had only held up her little finger at that time, would have remained so, with strength and resources worthy to support her freedom; but it suited the purpose of our Government better to allow her to be crushed first, and then to
lift her mutilated, exhausted, and
Russia and France, an arbitrary geographical line across her, and mocked her with a partial freedom, mortgaging even that to the maintenance of a pauper and puppet dynasty which she did not want, and still leaving her finest provinces in the power of her ancient oppressors. And now we affect to be in dudgeon with Greece because she has sympathised with Russia rather than with us in the late war, and because she thought the entanglement of Turkey a good opportunity for asserting her entire emancipation. Surely the history of the third decade of this country must have passed out of memory. Those who groan over the wrongs of Poland and Hungary-which countries havebeen seized by foreign powers that they may incorporate them with their dominions, and treat them as the rest of their subjects-ought to recollect that it was not the subjection but the extermination of the Greeks which was the avowed object of the Turks of that period. With reference to this intention we read"A deliberate proposal was made in the Divan to slaughter them all in cold blood, innocent and guilty, of whatever age or sex. This proposal, however, was resisted by Gazi Hassan. His chief argument, which alone carried conviction to his hearers, was, 'If we kill all the Greeks, we shall lose all the capitation they pay. Even without the provocation of a Russian war, Sultan Mustapha, predecessor and brother of Abdulhamid, on his accession to the throne, proposed to cut off all the Christians in the empire, and was with difficulty dissuaded from it."* And in the memorable massacre of Scio, in addition to other horrors, we read: "The only exception made during the massacre, was of the young women and boys, who were preserved only to be sold as slaves. Many of the women, whose husbands had been butchered, were running to and fro frantically, with torn garments and dishevelled hair, pressing their infants to their breasts, and seeking death as a relief from the still greater calamities that awaited them. The number of those slain or
dragged into slavery on those dreadful days was not less than forty thousand." After this we read, in the same article, that the principal merchants of Scio, who were far from the scene of the conspiracy and quite innocent of it, were seized at Constantinople and impaled alive. This massacre of Scio roused the spirit of resistance and revenge in the whole of Greece. One might have thought that it would have roused something more than the good offices, at the Divan, of the power which was dominant at sea, and boasted of its own freedom and Christianity as few have boasted before or since. The heroic Canaris gloriously avenged his outraged countrymen by grappling with his fireship the ship of the Capudan Pasha, and destroying it with its commander himself, the chief miscreant, on board; and the Turkish invasion of the Morea was disastrously and ignominiously repulsed. So hard were the blows struck now by the spare but sinewy arm of Hellenic vengeance, that the representative of the false Prophet may have well leaped up thrice from his throne, as the king of Persia is said to have leaped, when Leonidas with his knot of heroes was driving pell-mell before him, and threatening destruction to, the largest host that ever came from Asia into Europe. But the fleet of England still fay asleep on the waters, and Ibrahim Pasha came up with his Egyptians to help the discomfited Turk. What his intentions were we learn from a conversation recorded as having passed between him and Captain Hamilton of the Cambria in September 1825, when he declared that "he intended to burn and destroy the whole Morea, so that it should be profitable neither to the Greeks, nor to him, nor to any one." Yet England still slept heavily. Ibrahim Pasha kept his word, and did his work well. Then some accidental violation of the laws of war occurred, and an action came on which sent the Turco-Egyptian fleet to the bottom of the Bay of Navarino; and Greece, with very few Greeks left in
* ETON'S Survey of the Turkish Empire, quoted in Blackwood for December 1826. Art. "Greece," No. III.
it, and even now but a scanty portion, was declared independent under the joint protectorate of England, France, and Russia. Truly the Greeks have no great reasons for gratitude to the Western Powers! But some persons say Greece has become worse and Turkey better since that time; and that while Greece has been sinking to a lower level in lawlessness, barbarian Turkey has been gradually rising until it is fit to hold up its head amongst the civilised powers of Europe. With regard to Greece, whatever Greece is, we made her. She preferred certain ly a nominal independence, coloured by the sky-blue livery of Bavaria, to her old subjection-for even the name of freedom is an advantage to a nation-but she doubtless did not obtain the government best suited to her nature. And if she may have become more unsettled and disorganised, we ought to recollect that it was we who threw to her the bullet head of an Otho, with a crown that looked much like a fool's cap, as an apple of domestic discord. But undeniably she has been making considerable progress, since her independence, in intellectual and moral culture, especially as regards her thinking classes; and the best proof of this is the tendency of her language to return to the classical standard, as testified by many modern works amongst others, by the excellent History of M. Tricoupi.
If brigandage has increased in Greece since the new arrangement, this is not to be wondered at when we consider what facilities a new frontier creates for robbers, and the disadvantage which a weakened local government has in dealing with a social evil whose roots spread out far beyond its administration into the lands where the old rule still continues. On the whole, it must be allowed that Greece has somewhat improved since her recognition as a free state; while the fact that the improvement has been of limited extent, is quite sufficiently accounted for by the circumstances of the case.
and always was; and as for other vices which stauk so strongly in the nostrils of some of our sentimental Philhellenes -cunning, falsehood, selfishness, rapacity, and blushless impudence of all kinds-such rank weeds grow from a neglected moral soil, not only in Greece, but in the streets of London and Edinburgh, and elsewhere; the only difference being, that in our case a wicked and neglectful parent brings up corrupt individuals, while, in the case of the modern Greeks, a wicked and neglectful government had brought up a corrupt people.
There is no doubt some truth in the doctrine of races and hereditary propenmore subtle in speculation, and more sities; and the Greek may probably be cunning in practice, than the other families of the Indo-European stock. Nevertheless, we are inclined to believe that the proverbial falsehood of the Greeks, which is the worst vice now continually thrown in their teeth, is as much the result of circumstances as of blood, and that, under the same influences, any Teutonic race whose honesty is now most loudly bepraised, would exhibit a large development of the same vice. When a people is not allowed to play the lion, it must either learn to play the fox or perish.'
But whether it is true or not that the Greeks have improved, let us see to what the boasted amelioration of Turkey amounts. If we ask any of our soldiers returning from the Crimea what they think of the Turks, they will tell us things impossible to publish in this Magazine. The cold complacency of the manners of a Turk goes a great way with an Englishman, being himself one of a nation which professes to despise demonstrative vivacity, and his mercantile good faith is duly appreciated by the most mercantile nation in the world. Nevertheless, he remains in his heart the same unlettered barbarian who first came down from the Imaus and destroyed Asiatic churches and Asiatic civilisation. He seems almost the only human being on whom the civilisation of other nations, conquered or confederate, does not appear to produce the slightest effect; only to his Tartar rudeness and brutality he has superadded the full-blown sensuality of the warmer regions of the earth. Unlike the
* MURE'S Tour in Greece.
VOL. LXXX.-NO. CCCCLXXXIX.
gentler Moor and Saracen of Spain, whose manners, culture, and exquisite taste were pleasantly contrasted with the roughness and ignorance of his Castilian vassals, conquerors, or neighbours, the Turk has ever remained as he began, an intractable and inexorable barbarian-the puritan of Islamism without purity-the destroyer and despiser of the Beautiful, not because it may lead to and be made the excuse for vice, but even because of its tendency to wean the heart from vice in its grosser forms. His present mildness is nothing more than the effect of bloodletting. Yet even now, with his Christian allies virtually in occupation of the capital of his unworthy nation, which they have just saved from the grip of another Christian power, he occasionally appears to show the cloven foot with consummate effrontery. We read in an account by the correspondent of a London journal,* dated 8th May, from Constantinople, that a young Greek lady of great personal attractions, the daughter of an opulent merchant of Kullalee, having shown herself at a party at the "Sweet Waters of Asia," an attempt was made to seize her by a pasha resident in the neighbourhood, and to carry her to his harem, but that, the outrage attracting the notice of General Woolridge, commanding the German Legion, she was saved under the British flag; and it is well worthy of remark that her family thought it necessary to leave the place and fly to independent Greece, knowing that the persecution would be repeated with certain prospect of success as soon as the protecting parties were gone. It is true that the Porte has been obliged, under the fearful pressure of the times, having been rescued from dissolution by Christian powers, to put his Christian subjects on a nominal equality with his Ottoman; but it is evident that the very weakness from which this concession was wrung will render it comparatively nugatory in the provinces, unless the strong hand of the contracting powers remains suspended over Turkey till
effect has been given to the bond. An instance to prove this occurred somewhere in Asia Minor, where a Turkish official, obliged to give permission to Christians to bury their dead in a certain cemetery, took care to word these permissions in language which conveyed the grossest insult to the professors of the Christian religion. Although we cannot help admiring in war the Turkish common soldier, who appears to be courageous, sober, and enduring, under the most adverse circumstances, yet the narrative of that siege of Kars, in which the virtues of the lower order of Turks most conspicuously shine, shows that the same people, when placed in offices of honour and responsibility, become sunk in sloth, corruption, and sensuality, so that none but foreigners can be depended on for any office of trust; and make us feel inclined to say of Turkey, that though there may be some strength left in her extremities, yet "her whole head is sick and her whole heart faint." The reverse will be found true of Greece. Though the ignorant and ill-used peasant race of her mountains have still the antique vices of craft, greed, and treachery, without the virtues of civilisation-though many remain in their habits and practices not much better than that Themistocles and Alcibiades who cut so great a figure in history-yet their country undeniably furnishes many bright examples of men in high place amongst them, merchants, warriors, and statesmen, illustrated by all the graces of civilisation, and adding to the possession of those virtues honoured in the West, the grand self-respect which ensues on the remembrance of an immortal Past. There is more hope for a country where men become better as they rise in the scale of society, than one in which the reverse is the case; for the good example of the higher classes cannot fail in time to react upon the lower, while the rude virtues of poverty, which chiefly consist in the absence of temptations, soon give way when the sweets of indulgence have been once tasted.
The Morning Herald of May 23.