Imágenes de página

turally quite ignorant, it becomes a mere waste of words. But if employed on their local and municipal affairs, concerning every detail of which they are fully informed, it would soon become the means of checking the corruptions of the court and of the central administration. This aptitude for public business enabled them to retain a large share in the local administration of their provinces under the Turks, and to organise the communal system to which we are inclined to attribute their success in the revolutionary war. The various central governments which followed one another in succession during the war with Turkey, never displayed much talent, nor enjoyed much influence over the people. The naval force, though admirably conducted by Miaoulis, was, in spite of the gallant deeds of Kanaris, inadequate to secure a decisive victory. The military force was without organisation, powerless for attack, and extremely ill-directed. No general in Greece, native or foreigner, displayed any great military talent. In the navy, on the contrary, the name of Hastings, who first employed hot shot and shells from ship artillery, ranks justly with the glorious names of Miaoulis and Kanaris. The war on land was entirely supported by the indomitable perseverance of the people. Their political and military leaders weakened their powers of resistance by their intrigues, avarice, and incapacity, but the energy of the people never failed. Glorious examples are innumerable, though Mr Tricoupi, the Greek historian of the war, has not the judgment to select them. Lord Byron describes their behaviour, in speaking of the Spaniards

"Back to the struggle; baffled in the strife,

War! war! was still their cry-war, even to the knife !" Messolonghi attests its truth.

The friends of Greece,-and she has still some sincere friends, in spite of all her faults-may look forward to her communal system and local attachments as a basis on which political order and national prosperity can be firmly established. But unless the restless activity of the people be usefully occupied in the management

of their local affairs, they will employ it, as at present, injuriously, in profiting by the corruption of the central government. The want of a proper sphere of energy for a large class of the population is evidently preparing Greece for a series of revolutions. A representative government and a free press, linked to a centralised administration, without the control of a municipal organisation, tends naturally to revolution. To remove a parish grievance, it becomes necessary to overthrow a minister; and a very little experience in such countries reveals the secret, that it is easier to make a revolution than obtain a reform.

Such was the state of Greece when the French and English troops landed at the Piræus in the month of June, to prevent King Otho from throwing the country into a state of complete anarchy by his insane policy of assisting Russia. The Greeks, who had invaded Turkey, were already defeated, strong garrisons were already placed in all the Turkish fortresses on the Greek frontier, and a fleet of Turkish steamers commanded the Archipelago. The war had degenerated into a series of forays by land and piratical expeditions by sea, in which the Greeks carried off the cattle, and plundered the warehouses and barns of the subjects of the Porte. On the other hand, the Othoman government, unable to guard against these attacks, threatened to invade Greece, and occupy the richest islands of the Archipelago as a material guarantee for indemnity. The interference of the Allies was quite as necessary to defend the Greek people as the Turkish provinces. A change was of course immediately effected in the government. M. Alexander Mavrocordatos, then Greek minister at Paris, was appointed Prime Minister. The name of Mavrocordatos is well known to all who are acquainted with the history of the Greek revolution. His merits and defects are correctly stated in General Gordon's excellent work. General Kalergy, another distinguished name in Greek history, was intrusted with the war department. M. George Psyllas, who for the last ten years has stood forward as the only consistent supporter of liberal measures and communal interests in

the Senate, was named Minister of Religion and Public Instruction. He is an Athenian, and represented Athens at the first National Assembly, held at the commencement of the revolution, when the constitution of Epidaurus was framed. These three men are undoubtedly the best men in Greece for the offices committed to them. But their colleagues are not so well selected. Kanaris is Minister of the Marine-no braver nor more patriotic man breathes, but he is no better suited to be a minister than an archbishop. The other ministers are positively very ill chosen. M. Anastasios Londos, whose tergiversation and folly caused the quarrel with Great Britain in 1850, and the blockade of the Piræus, is Minister of Justice. He is as deficient in knowledge of law and judicial administration, as he has shown himself ignorant of the principles of political honesty, and destitute of sound judgment. The other individuals may be left nameless.

The only question of interest in Great Britain is, whether these ministers can do anything to improve the condition of the people, to establish a greater degree of security for life and property than now prevails, open new fields for commercial and agricultural industry, and make Greece an improving and prosperous country; for these changes alone can guarantee the tranquillity of the East.

The first step to be taken must be, to abolish the existing manner of collecting the tenth of the gross produce of the land, as a land-tax. There is no other means of getting quit of the numerous fiscal regulations which deprive the agricultural classes of the power of disposing of their labour in the way most conducive to their profit. The next thing is, to restore life and energy to the municipal system, and extend the independent sphere of action of the municipal authorities. The present Minister of the Interior is perhaps as well fitted to do this as he is to swallow a camel. The Greeks generally have shown that they are deficient in the temper and capacity requisite to conduct a central govern

ment. They still want the experience necessary to give ordinary men a sense of the value of political honesty, and there is no possibility of their gaining it in any school but that of their own municipal practice. If they are incurably addicted to peculation, they had better commit their acts of dishonesty at home, where the exact amount of their frauds can easily be ascertained, and is sure to be made public. Palikarism must be utterly rooted out. General Kalergy has promptly commenced the work which no man is so well able to complete. The army and navy must be reformed. A corps of pioneers must be formed to build bridges; steam-packets, and galleys with oars, must facilitate communications.

Now, is Alexander Mavrocordatos the man to do these things? We cannot say. He has always shown himself too much the slave of bureaucratic prejudices for us to feel any very firm confidence in his political views. Nevertheless, at this moment, he is the only Greek who possesses the political honesty and diplomatic experience necessary for preserving friendly relations with the allies of Turkey, and at the same time saving the national independence of his country: he has, therefore, our best wishes for his success.

The time is one of great difficulty. A mighty revolution has commenced in the East, which the Greek race has neither the energy nor the power to direct. If well and wisely governed, it may profit by the course of events; but if its national vanity force it into collision with any of the great actors in the scene, it may be brushed rudely aside, and sink back into the insignificant position it has held ever since the Franks conquered Constantinople and founded principalities in Greece in 1204. Hellenism and orthodoxy must yield to philanthropy and Christian civilisation. To us the future is dark; but of one thing we are assured, that the occupation of Greece by the allied troops was absolutely necessary to enable any ministry to commence the task of improvement in the kingdom of Greece.



EXEMPTION from the authority of the ordinary legal or correctional tribunals was one of the remarkable features of the ancient universities, and the relics of it which have come down almost to the present day in Scotland are very curious. The university was a state in itself, where the administrators of the ordinary authority of the realm had no more power than in a neighbouring independent republic. So jealously was this authority watched and fenced, that usually when the dispute lay between the liegemen of the university and those of the State-between gown and townthe university haughtily arrogated the authority over both. To be sure, it was very much the practice of the age to adjust rights and privileges by balancing one against another- by letting them fight out, as it were, every question in a general contest, and produce a sort of rude justice by the antagonism and balance of forces, just as in some Oriental states at this day the strangers of each nation have the privilege of living under their native laws; a method which, by pitting privilege against privilege, and letting the stronger bear down the weaker, saves the central government much disagreeable and difficult work in the adjustment of rights and duties.

So, in the middle ages, we had the ecclesiastical competing with the baronial interests, and the burghal or corporate with both. Nay, in these last there was a subdivision of interests, various corporations of craftsmen being subject to the authority of their own syndics, deans, or mayors, and entitled to free themselves from any interference in many of their affairs by the burghal or even the royal courts. Ecclesiastical law fought with civil law, and chancery carried on a ceaseless undermining contest with common law; while over Europe there were inexhaustible varieties of palatinates, margravates, regalities, and the like, enjoying their own separate privileges and systems of jurispruBut over this Babel of autho


rities, so complexly established in France that Voltaire complained of changing laws as often as he changed horses, what is conspicuous is the homage paid by all the other exclusive privileges to those of the universities, and the separation of these grand institutions by an impassable line of venerated privileges from the rest of the vulgar world. Thus, the State conceded freely to literature those high privileges for which the Church in vain contended, from the slaughter of Becket to the fall of Wolsey. In a very few only of the States nearest to the centre of spiritual dominion, could an exclusive ecclesiastical jurisdiction extending to matters both spiritual and temporal be asserted; and France, which acknowledged the isolated authority of the universities, bade a stern defiance to the claims of the priesthood.

It can hardly be said that, invested with these high powers, the universities bore their honours meekly. Respected as they were, they were felt to be invariably a serious element of turbulence, and a source of instability to their respective governments. In the affairs of the League, the Fronde, and the various other contests which, in former days, as in the present, have kept up a perpetual succession of conflicts in turbulent Paris, the position to be taken by the students was extremely momentous, but was not easily to be calculated upon; for these gentry imbibed a great amount both of restlessness and capriciousness along with their cherished prerogatives. During the centuries in which a common spirit pervaded the whole academic body, the fame of a particular university, or of some celebrated teacher in it, had a concentrating action over the whole civilised world, which drew a certain proportion of the youth of all Europe towards the common vortex. Hence, when we know that there were frequently assembled from one to ten thousand young men, adventurous and high-spirited, contemptuous of the condition of the

ordinary citizen, and bound together by common objects and high exclusive privileges-well armed, and in possession of edifices fortified according to the method of the day-we hardly require to read history to believe how formidable such bodies must have proved.

An incident in the history of a wandering Scotsman, though but a petty affair in itself, illustrates the sort of feudal power possessed by the authorities of a university. Thomas Dempster, the author of Etruria Regalis, and of a work better known than esteemed in Scottish Biography, in the course of his Continental wanderings found himself in possession of power-as sub-principal, it has been said, of the college of Beauvais, in the university of Paris. Taking umbrage at one of the students for fighting a duel one of the enjoyments of life which Dempster desired to monopolise to himself - he caused the young gentleman's points to be untrussed, and proceeded to exercise discipline in the primitive dorsal fashion. The aggrieved youth had powerful relations, and an armed attack was made on the college to avenge his insults. But Dempster armed his students and fortified the college walls so effectively that he was enabled, not only to hold his post, but to capture some of his assailants, and commit them as prisoners to the belfry. It appears, however, that like many other bold actions this was more immediately successful than strictly legal, and certain ugly demonstrations in the court of the Chatelain suggested to Dempster the necessity of retreating to some other establishment in the vast literary republic of which he was a distinguished ornament-welcome wherever he appeared. He had come of a race not much accustomed to fear consequences or stand in awe of the opinion of society. His elder brother had, among other ethical eccentricities

flight with some casualties, the heir hoisted the standard of an independent adventurer in Orkney, where, setting fire to the bishop's palace, he rendered the surrounding atmosphere too hot for him. He made his final exit in the Netherlands; and his conduct there must have been, to say the least of it, questionable, since his affectionate brother, whose conduct in Paris is the more immediate object of our notice, records that his doom was to be torn to pieces by wild horses. In such a family, flagellation would have little chance of being condemned as a degrading punishment, inconsistent with the natural dignity of man. Indeed, to admit the plain honest truth, the records of the Scottish universities prove to us that this pristine discipline was inflicted on its junior members; and it is especially assigned in Glasgow as the appropriate punishment for carrying arms. Local peculiarities of costume gave facilities for it in some instances, which were not so readily afforded by the padded trunk-hose and countless ribbon-points of the Parisian "swells" of Louis XIII.'s day. The Parisian aristocracy took serious umbrage at the conduct of Dempster; and he had to take his vast learning and his impracticable temper elsewhere.

This is a digression; but Thomas Dempster is a good type of those Scotsmen who brought over to us, from their own energetic practice, the observance of the Continental notions of the independence and power of the universities. His experience was ample and varied. He imbibed a tinge of the Anglican system at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Besides serving and commanding in different colleges at Paris, he held office at Louvain, Rome, Douay, Tournay, Navarre, Toulouse, Montpelier, Pisa, and Bologna. A man who has performed important functions in all these places may well be called a citizen of the world. At the same time, his connections with them were generally of a kind not likely to pass from the memory of those who came in contact with him. He was a sort of roving Bentley, who, not contented with sitting down surrounded by the hostility of nearly all the members of one university, went about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might attack and insult, and left be

-or, as they would now be justly deemed, enormities-taken unto himself for wife his father's cast-off mistress; and when the venerable parent, old Dempster of Muiresk, intimated his disapproval of the connection, he was fiercely attacked by a band of the Gordon Highlanders, headed by his hopeful son. Defeated and put to

hind him wherever he went the open wounds of his sword, or of his scarcely less direful pen, scattered thickly around him. He was one of those who, as Anthony Arnaud said of himself, are to expect tranquillity only in a removal from that sublunary world in which, like pieces of clockwork wound up, they are doomed to a ceaseless motion during their vitality. Thomas Dempster has many sins to answer for, and at this day the most conspicuous of them is the cool impudence wherewith, in his Historia Literaria Gentis Scotorum, he makes every man whose birthplace is not notorious, and whose name gives any excuse for dubiety, a Scotsman-as, for instance, Macrobius, who is claimed in virtue of his Mac, and in forgetfulness that his is a Greek name, signifying long-lifed. Yet peace to our countryman's long dispersed ashes. He was a fine type of the fervent, energetic, brave, enduring national character; and the ungoverned waywardness of his career was an earnest of what his countrymen might achieve when a better day should dawn upon their poor distracted land.

But to return to the exclusive judicial authority of the universities, and the relics of the system found in Scotland,-we do remember that on the occasion of one of those great snowball emeutes, which at intervals of years make the Edinburgh students frantic, the police had entered the quadrangle of the College and captured some of their sacred persons. The occurrence was improved on by the students of Aberdeen-then in possession of an organ of no despicable ability, called the Aberdeen Magazine -who maintained that their own academical edifices were sacred from civic intrusion, and pointed the finger of scorn at their southern brethren, who submitted without rebellion to invasion by a body of glazed-hatted constables, under the leadership of a superintendent of police. It was said, in retaliation, that the reason why the universities of Aberdeen were exempt from the visitations of the police was because there was no force of police constables in the northern capital; and it was maintained that whenever they should make their appearance there, they would pay no more respect to

the precincts of the university than to those of the old privileged religious houses whose boundaries, sacred some centuries ago from civic intrusion, are still set forth in the titledeeds of burghal estates. We know not how the matter may really stand, but we suspect that the broadbonneted and broad-shouldered gentry who now make so curiously conspicuous a police in the streets of Aberdeen, are not sufficiently acquainted with the privileges of Marischal College to pay them the due defer


Still we do find curious practical relics of the privileges of the universities. On the 19th of June 1509, a general convocation congregatio generalis-of the University of Glasgow was held in the chapter-house of the cathedral-the now venerable University edifices had not then been built. In that assembly solemn discussion was held upon certain momentous matters, the first and most important of which was a representation by the Chancellor and temporary Rector of the University that the exclusive jurisdiction and adjudication of causes-jurisdictio, causarumque cognitio-were falling into desuetude, to the great prejudice of the University, and the no small diminution of its valuable privileges. The next notice that one finds in the Records is a few years later-28th March 1522-but it is rather a conflict between the privileges of two of the universities than between the academic and the judicial authorities. In the general convocation of the University, Peter Alderstoun is accused of having served a citation from the Conservator of the Privileges (Conservator Priviligiorum) of the University of St Andrews on a certain Mr Andrew Smyth-the aristocratic spelling is older than we thought it had been in Scotland. The breach of privilege was aggravated by its occurring in the habitation of the Reverend David Kinghorn, Pensioner of Cross Raguel. The bailiff, or whatever else he might be, pleaded ignorance of the nature of the writ; but he was obliged, barehead, to seek pardon from the injured party. We find nothing more bearing on the question of the special university privileges, until, in the

« AnteriorContinuar »