« AnteriorContinuar »
pointed out at the time. In 1832, moreover, Lord Palmerston administered his antidote to an improved frontier, in the shape of a Bavarian prince, whom, for some years, he supported with his usual vigour and contempt of consequences. King Otho being a minor, a regency accompanied him from Bavaria to Greece in 1833, to govern in his name. This regency consisted of three statesmen of purblind views-men of the limited political intelligence which distinguishes the artistic city of Munich. Yet Lord Palmerston, in concert with the other protecting powers, consented strangle the Greek Chambers, in order to vest unlimited power in the hands of these Bavarian regents. Count Armansperg was chosen to do the honours, M. Maurer was intrusted with the duty of organising the civil administration, and General Heideck was allowed to sketch uniforms for the Greek army, and instructed to paint pictures for the cabinet of King Louis. These three statesmen soon quarrelled among themselves, and, with Teutonic bonhomie, called in the Greeks as spectators of their contests. The foreign policy of the regency was quite as ill-judged as their domestic behaviour. M. Maurer, who got the upper hand for a year, was ultra-Gallican; Count Armansperg, who at last succeeded in getting him shipped off to Bavaria, was ultra-Anglican. The follies of the regency, however, did not prevent the three protecting powers from heaping benefits on the Greek nation. A large loan, amounting to two million four hundred thousand pounds, was placed at the disposal of the Royal government. The object which the protectors of Greece had in view, was to remove any difficulties which the finances of Greece might have of fered to a reform in the general system of taxation, and at the same time to afford facilities for immediately commencing the construction of roads, and other necessary improvements. The Greek treasury was rendered completely independent of the receipts of the annual revenues for the period necessary to effect a thorough reorganisation of every branch of the public service, civil, military, naval, and judicial. Greece
had everything done for her which her friends could desire. But the Greeks, instead of employing their energies, and making use of the liberty of the press to restrain the Bavarians from wasting the loan, aided them to dissipate it in every way by which they could profit. The whole force of public opinion, it is true, was employed in driving the Bavarians from profitable employments; but when success attended the clamours of the Greeks, instead of abolishing the offices which they had previously declared to be useless, they installed themselves in the vacant places, and employed the influence thus acquired to diminish even the scanty sum devoted to national improvements by the Bavarians. Accordingly, we find that the Bavarians did as much for improving Greece during their short period of power, as the Greeks during their long subsequent administration. Yet every traveller hears the Greeks constantly declaring that all the evils in the country are caused by foreign interference. The only truth in their observation is, that they were and are utterly unfit to be trusted with the administration of any money beyond what they levy on themselves in the way of taxation. Nothing, indeed, shows the moral obliquity of the Greeks more than the ingratitude with which they receive every public and private gift.
We consider that ingratitude a sufficient excuse for recapitulating some of the favours which the British Government has conferred on them since Otho the beloved ascended the Hellenic throne. Nothing but the blindest self-conceit, or the blackest ingratitude, can prevent their acknowledging that the English Cabinet has done infinitely more for advancing the commercial prosperity and extending the agricultural industry of Greece, than King Otho's ministers or the Greek Chambers. The personal interest which several members of our Government took in the success of the kingdom they had contributed to found, induced them to conclude a reciprocity treaty with the King's government at an early period. To the same feeling we may ascribe the early repeal of the duty on currants imported into the British dominions from the Greek kingdom. This change of duty,
by placing the currants, a most important product of the Morea, on the same footing as those of Zante, was a direct boon to the currant-growers of Achaia, a bounty on the cultivation of fruit in the Greek kingdom, a premium to commerce at Patras, and a considerable gift to King Otho's treasury. Lord Palmerston was Foreign Secretary during these changes, and we therefore request the public writers at Athens, when they think fit to reproach him for quarrelling with their beloved monarch, whom they believe is ever ready to sacrifice his throne for their orthodoxy, to bear in mind that these measures have done more for the agricultural and commercial prosperity of Greece, than any which King Otho or the Greek Chambers have adopted since they freed themselves from foreign domination.
For nearly five years-that is, from the beginning of 1833 to the end of 1837-the Bavarians continued to waste the loan granted by the three powers, partly in large salaries to themselves, and partly in creating places and jobs for the Greeks, to induce the most influential and clamorous to consent to their mode of dis
domination, a well-filled treasury, a number of foreign officers and native councillors of state, political sycophants, dressed in handsome uniforms and speaking good French, a hired press, and a liberal distribution of King Otho's Order of the Redeemer of Greece, with its ribbon and star, to foreign diplomatists and English peers, concealed from Western Europe the discontent, civil wars, and brigandage that fermented in the little kingdom. The bands of robbers that infested Greece during this period became so numerous as to give their system of plunder the character of a civil war. In the year 1835, during the administration of Count Armansperg, a body of about 500 brigands remained for more than a month levying contributions under the walls of Lepanto, in which it kept the garrison blockaded until relieved by a general from Athens with a strong detachment of Bavarian and Greek regular troops. These armed bands repeatedly resisted the central government, which drew all the money of the country to the capital without making any improvements in the provinces. Several foreign officers were charged with the task of re-establishing order. Generals Schmaltz, Gordon, and Church, each made a campaign against the brigands, who rendered Messenia, Etolia, Acarnania, Doris, and Phthiotis in turns the scene of their skirmishes with King Otho's troops. Besides this extensive system of brigandage, a regular civil war was caused in Maina by the same central rapacity and want of judgment on the part of the Regency. In Maina, the Bavarian troops were defeated, and a considerable number were compelled to lay down their arms.
During the whole of the Bavarian domination, the Greeks enjoyed the liberty of the press. M. Maurer placed the newspapers under some reasonable restraints, and Count Armansperg made one or two feeble demonstrations against them, for he was timid in everything but emptying the Greek treasury. His attacks were easily repulsed, and the Greeks have the honour of retaining the liberty of the press by their own exertions, though they have hitherto not ren
sipating the public money. Notwithstanding this, there can be no doubt that Greece received some permanent benefit from the regency. The Greeks were not in a condition to establish an equitable system of laws. M. Maurer endowed the country with this invaluable boon. To him Greece owes its excellent judicial organisation, and its code of civil procedure. Whatever were the defects of M. Maurer as a statesman, he was an able legislator, practically conversant with every detail of legal administration. The judicial system he planted in Greece was so complete in all its parts, that it has become an element in the political civilisation of the kingdom; and it affords the strongest grounds of hope to those who look forward to the Greek nation as the instrument for extending political civilisation in the East. Count Armansperg governed Greece much longer than M. Maurer, but his improvements were not so beneficial. He made court balls and political bribery national institutions.
During the whole of the Bavarian
dered the privilege of much use to the nation. At length, in the month of December 1837, the Chevalier Rudhart, the last Bavarian primeminister, resigned his office, and from that time King Otho has governed his kingdom with Greek or Albanian prime-ministers. This office has been more than once held by men who could hardly read or write; but the individuals have invariably been persons of some mark in the factions that divide the place-hunters of Athens. The ignorance and want of education of his ministers, which is often made a reproach to King Otho, ought to be considered as a national disgrace, for the court would never have selected men so destitute of administrative knowledge, had they not possessed considerable influence and a numerous following.
Ever since the commencement of the year 1838, the Greeks have possessed a predominant influence in King Otho's cabinet. They are entirely responsible for the faults of his government from that time; for if the Greek ministers had used their power with a very little honesty, and one single grain of patriotism, they might have retained the direction of the internal administration in their own hands, and effected every improvement the nation could desire. Indeed, if they had ever shown a wish to improve the material condition of the population, it is probable King Otho would have given them his support in their endeavours. But when the King saw them intent only on profiting by office to enrich themselves and create places for their partisans, in order to perpetuate their tenure of office, he very naturally looked about for means to form a royal party, and thus render the court independent of the ministers. We shall soon explain to our readers how effectually his Hellenic Majesty accomplished this object. The Greek ministers never made any serious effort to diminish the weight of taxation, either by economy or by improving the barbarous manner in which the agricultural taxes are collected; they thought only of appropriating the national lands, and creating new places to reward their supporters. Instead of establishing
systematic regulations for securing a respect to seniority and merit in civil, judicial, and military appointments, they destroyed the system the Bavarians had established, and disposed of the highest offices in the most arbitrary and unprincipled manner. Judges have been appointed in violation of the law, and men have been made generals who had never served in a military capacity. Worthless politicians and intriguing secretaries were decorated with military titles in order to enrich them with high pay. These men may be seen at the balls in King Otho's palace, flaunting in vulgar embroidery, and imitating with Greek pertness the sumptuous Albanian dress and Mussulman gravity of the chiefs who filled the halls of Ali Pasha of Joannina. The Greeks alone have enjoyed the profits of the corruption which has reigned in the administration since the year 1838; they are consequently not entitled to throw the blame on foreigners.
In consequence of the misconduct of the Greek ministers and the servility of a council of state filled with official sycophants, the Greek government became such a scene of corruption that the patience of all ranks was exhausted, and an attempt was made to reform the vicious system by a revolution in the year 1843. A representative chamber and an imitation of Louis Philippe's senate of officials, called in France a House of Peers, were constituted. The deputies were chosen by universal suffrage, but the election of the municipal authorities was left subject to the oligarchical restrictions imposed by the Regency. Ten years have now elapsed since the constitutional system was established, so that for ten years the Greeks have made their own laws and voted their own budgets. At the same time, the enjoyment of the fullest liberty of the press, and the existence of sixteen newspapers at Athens, have enabled every party and class to criticise the acts of the government with unrestrained license. If corruption and venality have been the leading features of political society in Greece during this period, it is evident that the nation has been a party to the abuses, from its refusal to punish the offenders. The mass of those whose
superior knowledge and rank have obtained for them the direction of public opinion in political matters, have sacrificed the interests of the nation to advance their own personal schemes of profit. The Greeks ought not to feel surprised at the low estimation in which they are now held. It is entirely their own fault. They have hawked about their nationality at Munich, Paris, and St Petersburg, for illicit gains in a falling market at a very unpatriotic price.
Yet we collect from the newspapers published at Athens, that a considerable number of well-educated men of all parties, while they acknowledge the degraded state of their country, assert that the whole blame ought to be ascribed to the three protecting powers. Many of these patriots, it seems, are nevertheless in the receipt of large salaries from the public treasury; yet, though they feel that they are themselves destitute of the patriotism necessary to lighten the burdens of their country, they take the liberty of supposing that Lord Palmerston had the power of making all Greeks honest men by the magic of a protocol. We are not going to waste the time of our readers, as the Greek Senate and House of Representatives have wasted the resources of the country, by exposing the childishness of modern Greek political logic. If the descendants of Lucian's contemporaries can find relief in their present degradation, by swallowing any dose of vanity they can mix for themselves, we have no wish to deprive them of the solace. But we cannot refrain from advising them to try some other remedy to remove the evils that are undermining the national strength and character. Instead of seeking for apologies to excuse their vices, they had better commence reforming their vicious habits.
Nothing has so much retarded the progress of the Greek race as the inconceivable vanity and unbounded presumption of the class who make letters a profession. Those who believe in the unmixed purity of the Hellenic blood might cite this besotted pride, after two thousand years of national degradation, as a proof that the Greeks of the present day are lineal descendants of those who sold
their country to the Macedonians and the Romans, as they have lately attempted to sell it to the Russians. An admixture of foreign blood would probably have infused into the people a wish to look forward to a glorious future, instead of leaving them to gaze at a reflection of the past, distorted by their own senile visual orbits, at moments when action, not contemplation, is their business.
The strange manner in which the modern Greeks misrepresent history for the gratification of their national vanity, is well displayed in their ecclesiastical history. We will select one anecdote from the History of the Patriarchs of Constantinople, written by Malaxos, one of the Greek logiotatoi of the sixteenth century. His work was first published by Martin Crusius in his Turco-Græcia, and has lately been reprinted in the new edition of the Byzantine historians, in the course of publication at Bonn.
The Greeks are in the habit of boasting that their Church preserved their nationality under the Turks. Considering the subserviency of the great body of the Greek clergy during that period, and the readiness with which they acted as spies and policemen for the Othoman government, we own that we entertain a very different opinion. We think it would be nearer the truth to assert that the people, having perpetuated their existence by the toleration of their conquerors, preserved their nationality by their municipal organisation, and that this preservation of their nationality was the cause of their ecclesiastical establishment surviving. Mohammed II. reconstituted the patriarchate of Constantinople, after he had conquered the city, merely as a branch of the Othoman administration. Mr Masson and other enthusiasts fancy they can discern Presbyterian doctrines in the Greek Church. It may We have heard that be the case. chemists find gold in strawberries; but the gold rarely sits heavy on the stomachs of those who eat strawberries, and we opine that the Presbyterian doctrines of the Greek Church never prevent its votaries from worshipping images. So, in the anecdote we are going to extract from the Patriarchal History, we find that the
Greeks regard violations of truth and honour as venial offences, if not absolutely meritorious acts, whenever they are supposed to have turned to the profit of their ecclesiastical establishment.
"During the reign of the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, when Toulphi Pasha was grand vizier,* the attention of the Sublime Porte was called to the circumstance that the duty of the caliph of the Mohammedan faith required the destruction of all places of worship belonging to Infidels in every city which the true believers had taken with the sword. Now, as Mohammed II. had taken Constantinople by storm, it was the sultan's duty to destroy all the Christian churches within the walls; and all the plagues and fires which had desolated the city, and which, it was observed, generally consumed more Turkish than Greek property, evidently arose from the Divine anger at the neglect of this important command of the Prophet. Sultan Suleiman was said to have consulted the mufti on the necessity of only tolerating places of worship for the Christians without the walls; and it was believed that the mufti had delivered a fetva, authorising the destruction of all the Greek churches in Constantinople. Sultan Suleiman then issued an order to his grand vizier, commanding him to carry the fetva into execution. At this time Jeremiah was patriarch of Constantinople.
"The patriarch heard the report, and, terrified at the news, mounted his mule, and hastened to the palace of the grand vizier, who received him with kindness. The two dignitaries discussed the matter of the sultan's order, and concerted together a mode of evading its execution. A meeting of the divan was held, at which the grand vizier made a public communication of the imperial decree to the patriarch Jeremiah. But the head of the Greek Church gravely observed, that the circumstances of the mufti's fetva were not applicable to the city of Constantinople. He declared that before Mohammed II. entered Constantinople, the Emperor Constantine,
finding the place no longer tenable, had gone out of the city and presented the keys to the Sultan, who had admitted him to do homage as a subject for himself and the Greek people, before the gates were thrown open to admit the conqueror. On this ground he pleaded that all the concessions made by Mohammed II. to the patriarchs and to the Greek Church were lawful. Well might all the members of the divan wonder at this strange tale concerning the conquest of Constantinople. But many had received large presents from the patriarch, and many waited to hear the opinion of the grand vizier before pretending to doubt its accuracy. The grand vizier declared that the question was so important that it would be proper to adjourn the business to a grand divan on the following day.
"The report having spread among the whole population of Constantinople, that the Government intended to destroy all the Christian churches, every class of society was in movement. Long before the meeting of the divan, crowds of Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and Jews assembled at the Porte to hear the result of the deliberation. The whole space from the gate of the serai to the court of St Sophia's was filled with the multitude. The Patriarch Jeremiah was waiting to be admitted to the divan, and soon after the members had taken their places he was summoned to enter. When he reached the centre of the hall, he made his prostrations to the assembled viziers, and then, standing erect, declared himself ready to answer for his church. All admired the dignity of his presence. His white beard descended on his breast, and the sweat fell in large drops from his forehead. The Greeks declared that he emulated the passion of Christ, of whose orthodox church he was the representative on earth. The archonts of the Greek nation stood trembling beside him.
"At length the grand vizier spoke. Patriarch of the Greeks, a fetva of our law has been delivered, and an order of the padishah has been issued, prohibiting the existence of any church
* This must evidently mean Loufti Pasha, who was grand vizier from A.D. 1539 to 1541.