sovereignty. Still the Greeks who were subjects of the Turk saw by their side other Greeks who, if not really free, were at least under civilized instead of under barbarian masters.(2) And this helped to keep up hope and a spirit of enterprise in the whole nation.

We are now coming near to the greatest events in the later history of the Turkish power and of the nations under the Turkish yoke. This is no other than the general uprising of the Greek nation against its barbarian lords, the liberation of part of the Greek nation, and the formation of the liberated part into a new and independent European state. The revolt of Servia began first; but the Greek and the Servian war were going on at the same time, and both were mixed up with the general affairs of Europe, especially with the wars between Russia and the Turk. It is only in this last way that the Greek and the Servian revolutions are at all brought together. Each was an indirect help to the other, by diverting a part of the Turkish force; but the two struggles could hardly be said to be carried on in concert. Many causes joined together to stir up the spirit of the Greek nation. When we speak of the Greek nation, we must remember that the Greeks and those Albanians who belong to the Orthodox Church have always had a strong tendency to draw together. A large part of Greece was at various times settled by Albanians, and among these should be specially mentioned the people of the small islands of Hydra and Spezza, because they did great things for the cause. But there are Albanians in other parts of Greece also, and it must ALI OF JOANNINA. 177

be remembered that the Albanians generally, both Christian and Mahometan, have always kept up a strong national feeling. Christians and Mahometans alike have always been discontented, and often rebellious, subjects of the Turk. Some of them were able to maintain their independence for a long time in wild parts among the mountains. Such were the people of Souli, Christian Albanians who were never fully subdued till 1803, when they were overcome by Ali of Joannina. This was a conquest of Christians by Mahometans; but it was not a conquest of Christians by Turks. It was in truth a conquest of Albanians by Albanians. Ali was a cruel and faithless tyrant; still he was not a Turk, but an Albanian; he was a rebel against the Sultan, and he was so far an indirect friend of the Sultan's enemies. And, like many other tyrants, among all his own evil deeds, he did a certain amount of good by keeping smaller oppressors in order. Thus the most opposite things joined together to weaken the Turkish power and to stir up the spirit of the Greeks. The way in which the Souliots withstood Ali, and the way in which Ali withstood the Sultan, both helped. Just at the end of his life, Ali, who had destroyed the freedom of Spuli and Parga, was actually in alliance with the Greeks who had risen up to win their own freedom.(3)

The Greek Revolution, or War of Independence, began in 1821, and the first fighting was where one would certainly not have looked for it, namely, in the Danubian Principalities. It could hardly be said that the Greeks had suffered any wrongs in that part of the world; but the rule of Greek princes had brought together a considerable Greek element in that

N

quarter, and it was there the war actually began. There was fought the first battle at Drageshan, where the Greeks showed that they could fight bravely, but where they were defeated by the Turks. The real Greek War of Independence was of quite another kind, and had quite another ending. It is most important to remember that the rising was in no way confined to the narrow bounds of that part of Greece which was set free in the end. The whole Greek nation rose in every part of the Turkish dominions where they had numbers and strength to rise. They rose throughout Greece itself, both within the present kingdom and in Epeiros, Thessaly, and Macedonia, in Crete too and Cyprus and others of the islands. In some parts they were too weak to rise at all; in some parts the rising was easily put down; and in some parts where there was no rising at all the Turk did as he always had done, as he always will do whenever he has the power. Wherever the Turk was strong enough, he did then exactly as he did last year. Fifty years and more ago men were shocked by the story of the massacres of Chios, Kassandra, and Cyprus, just as we have been shocked by the story of the massacres of Bulgaria. Sultan Mahmoud, whom it has been the fashion to praise, was guilty of exactly the same crimes as his predecessors and his successors. In Constantinople innocent men were slaughtered day by day by the Sultan's order. The Patriarch Gregory suffered martyrdom ; and what should specially be noticed, good men among the Turks themselves who tried to stop the cruelties of Mahmoud and the Turkish populace were, in some places murdered, in others disgraced.(4) This also has happened again in our own time.

THE GREEK WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. 179

The effect of Mahmoud's cruelties was to put down the revolt in many places, but in many others, especially in the greater part of old Greece, the Christians were able to hold their own. Truth forbids us to pretend that the Greek war was a scene of unmixed virtue and patriotism on the Greek side. No insurrection ever was or will be. War is a fearful scourge, even when carried on by civilized armies; and it is, in the nature of things, something yet more fearful when it is carried on between barbarians and men who have long been held down by barbarians, and have therefore learned somewhat of barbarian ways. The revolt of Greece against the Turk, like the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain, was marked by some ugly deeds on the part of the patriots as well as on the part of the oppressors. And, as usual, jealousies and dissensions often weakened the patriot arms. It could not be otherwise; men who had just escaped from bondage will carry about them some of the vices of the slave; it is only in the air of freedom that they can get rid of them. But many great and noble deeds were done also. Among the foremost in the struggle were the men of some of the islands, the Albanians of Hydra and Spezza, and the Greeks of Psara. These islands were among the parts of the Turkish dominions which suffered least, or rather they did not directly suffer at all. They contributed a quota of men to the Sultan's fleet, and beyond that were left to themselves. Shallow people sometimes ask, Why should men who were so much better off than their neighbours be the foremost to revolt? The reason is simply because they were better off than their neighbours. Men who enjoy a partial freedom, who therefore have some knowledge of what freedom

is, will be more eager to win perfect freedom, and will be better able to win it than those who are in utter bondage and who have neither heart nor strength to stir. Besides this, there are such things, though some people seem to think otherwise, as noble and generous feelings, which lead those who are free themselves to help those who are in bondage. Therefore great things were done in the War of Independence by those who were themselves nearest to independence. Such were the two foremost men of the War of Independence by sea, the Albanian Andrew Miaoules of Hydra and the Greek Constantine Kanares of Psara.

The Greek revolution was mainly the work of the Greeks themselves, counting among them the Christian Albanians. They had some help, but not very much, from the other subject nations. The Servians had their own war of independence going on; but a few Bulgarian and Rouman volunteers did good service in Greece. But more was done by volunteers from England, France, and other western countries. Lord Byron's name is well known as one who in his latter days gave himself for the Greek cause, and much was done by other Englishmen, as Lord Cochrane, Sir Richard Church, General Gordon, and Captain Hastings, the worthy fellow of Miaoules and Kanares by sea. These are men whose names should be remembered in days like ours, when Englishmen sell themselves to the service of the barbarian. And great things were done by the Greeks and Albanians themselves, as by the Souliot hero Mark Botzares, and by Alexander Mavrokordatos, who was not a military man, but a Fanariot of Constantinople, almost the only one of that class who did anything. He

« PreviousContinue »