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Mr. Trant, in a subsequent part of his work, describes the effect that was produced on the different parties in Greece by the appointment of Prince Leopold to the sovereignty.
'When the nomination of Prince Leopold was first publicly talked of, the President affected to treat the report with contempt; but when the fact became subsequently known, he expressed himself delighted with the decree of the Allied Powers, and said, "that from the commencement of his government, he had been constantly impressing upon them the necessity of placing a foreign prince on the throne of Greece; that, for his part, he had long been tired of public life, and wished to pass the remainder of his days in retirement; but if his dear country required that he should still devote his talents to her cause, he would willingly serve under Leopold as minister, or in any other capacity."
To those who were acquainted with Capo d'Istrias's character, these professions seemed of dubious import; in the exaggerated and malicious reports subsequently circulated amongst the people, it was easy to perceive that some deep counterplot was in agitation; and so well were his subordinate engines worked, that he succeeded in maturing his projects, and (as the result proved) threw imaginary difficulties in the way of the sovereign, which caused his resignation, and delivered Capo d'Istrias from the fear of English influence. Capo d'Istrias well knew that if a British Prince ascended the throne of Greece, his power would terminate; he had long since given up all hopes of imposing upon the clear-sightedness of the British Government, who had pierced through the flimsy veil he cast over his designing policy; he knew that the false patriot appeared to them in his true colours, and by an underhand intrigue could he alone hope to counteract the fate which he foresaw awaited him. The senate was called; he pulled the strings of his puppets, and whilst he uttered the words, the obedient machines performed whatever the showman required.
I was speaking one day to an extremely clever Greek gentleman, relative to the change likely to ensue in Greece, on the arrival of Prince Leopold, who, he hoped, would hasten his departure from England; and by a strange though just comparison-"The first seven years of the Revolution," said he, " may not unaptly be termed our hell; the last two, our purgatory; and we now, in the accession of Prince Leopold to the throne, hope to realize our Paradise. Those who have really the welfare of Greece at heart, view the nomination of the Prince as the measure, of all others, that they could most have desired. Greece, in his appointment, sees that not only the wishes of the Allied Powers, but also her own feelings have been consulted; and that far from having a sovereign imposed upon her, she has, in fact, been a party in his selection; for, in 1825, when first she sought the protection of Great Britain, she requested that Prince Leopold might be sent to preside over her interests. Under his government, in five years we may hope to see Greece a flourishing country: the wounds caused by the Revolution are already partially healed; and although the spirit which should animate and fully awaken the energies of Greece is still dormant, it is not from there being a deficiency of materials to work upon, but because there has been no controlling power to call it forth and direct its first impulse. That being once given, and life infused into the weakened frame of this country, its prosperity will increase most rapidly. The
recent events in Greece may be compared to those fires which, in consuming the withered herbage of the mountains for a time, cause the land to seem bleak and desolate; but after the first beneficent shower, the verdant grass springs up, the shrubs sprout forth anew, and it appears that the flames did but clear away the noxious weeds and enable the young plants to shoot without resistance. So it is with Greece. The fire of the Revolution destroyed every thing, and converted the country into a desert; the President's rule checked the farther progress of the flames; and we may now hope to see them extinguished, and that our devastated country will again spring into existence."-pp. 244-247.
We give Captain Trant's concluding reflections.
'I had seen enough of Greece to convince me that although she possesses great capabilities, yet the future ruler will have a most arduous task to perform in bringing her within the bounds of civilization. Inveterate habits and prejudices must be weeded from the minds of the people, and their irascible passions calmed; a new impulse must be given to the enterprising spirit of her mariners; a lawless soldiery is to be disbanded and thrown loose upon the country; taxation must be enforced; roads made, and justice administered; and to effect these objects, the new Sovereign must be supported by a foreign army, and resolve to govern his subjects with a
"Main de fer et gant de velours."
The proceedings, af Capo d'Istrias's assembly at Argos sufficiently demonstrate the incapacity of the Greeks generally to understand the advantages of a representative government; and, therefore, previous to throwing any power into the hands of the delegates from the people, it would be necessary to form municipalities, and thus initiate them into the secrets of election. Municipal power would be so immediately felt by the persons interested, that they would learn to duly estimate the value of having a voice in the nomination of those authorities; and when this feeling becomes generally understood, it will be time to form a representative assembly. In the present state of affairs, the Greek people are so unfit to take any share in the proceedings of the government, that it would be an act of folly to grant them at the onset the constitution which may hereafter be requisite for them. Their debates would only be the efforts of one faction trying to undermine the other; and the partisans of the President's family, anxious to throw every impediment in the way of the new sovereign, under the pretext of demanding constitutional rights, would try to counteract all the measures of the Government. The misrule of the President, during the last two years, has placed the Sovereign in a more difficult position than that of Capo d'Istrias in 1827, inasmuch that, in addition to the vices of the Turkish administration, and to the abuses crept in during the war, he has also to unravel the web of Machiavelian texture with which Capo d'Istrias has entangled the country: and so difficult, or rather hopeless, is this task, that his only chance of succeeding will be in severing it at one blow. It is rather amusing to hear some persons, who know nothing of the Greeks except by hearsay, expatiating on the propriety of granting to them at once a constitution similar to our own; they either know not, or wilfully forget, that for four centuries the Greeks have been slaves to the most despotic power in the world; and that accus
tomed to be ruled with a rod of iron, it is morally impossible that they should be prepared for a democratic government-the transition is too rapid to be attended with a beneficial result; the materials for a constitution are still in too crude a state to be rendered available for present purposes; and the vicious habits acquired from the Turks are so deeply rooted in the hearts of many, that there is no room for the birth of truly patriotic sentiments. But in the course of a few years, when the steady march of an enlightened government has restored the component parts of the nation to their true equilibrium; when the refractory have not only been told what is right, but obliged to act up to it; when the revenues of the state, instead of being absorbed by a few needy adventurers, flow through the various channels of industry and commerce, until they return to the source from whence they started, again to renew their vivifying course, then indeed may the Greeks consider themselves an independent people, and claim their right to have a suffrage in state affairs.
At present Greece is like a wayward child, who, attempting to run before he can walk, falls, and hurts himself in the effort; and, by his watchful guardians, is again put into leading-strings, until age shall have ripened his mental and bodily faculties. To the good qualities of the Greeks are added many vices; but as the latter are most apparent among those who have mixed much with the Eastern world, we may believe that their virtues are their own, whilst their vices are those of example and education. Many writers upon Greece have been lavish in their abuse of the Greeks, and have not hesitated to stigmatize them with every vice that can disgrace mankind; whilst others, with equal prejudice, have represented them as being so many suffering angels, groaning under the scourge of a tyrant. Both pictures are overdrawn; the Greeks have many more faults than their advocates are led to believe, and fewer vices than their enemies are willing to admit; and a person going to Greece, prejudiced either one way or the other, will find himself much undeceived. Whilst they were a suffering people, they were meek, cringing, and submissive; and when success attended their arms, they became vindictive, cruel, and rapacious: but such are the characteristics of man in an uneducated state, and are applicable not to the Greeks alone, but to many other nations. The whole bent of their learning, during the Turkish rule, was to afford them an opportunity of exerting their talents for intrigue to the best advantage; morality, virtue, honour, were terms the signification of which was obsolete; of what use could they be within the precincts of a Pasha's court? Religion had been absorbed in superstition; and it is a matter of surprise, that the Greeks should possess any virtues whatever. The merits or demerits of the Greeks will, however, soon cease to be a matter of discussion; their regeneration is about to commence; they will soon be united with the great European family; and in the course of a very few years we may hope to see them rapidly approximating to the state of civilization attained by the other nations of Europe. pp. 344-349.
Since the foregoing pages were written, the abdication of Prince Leopold has been made public; and one cannot but regret that the Greeks should have been deprived of a Sovereign, who, whatever Capo
In making the reflections contained in the above extract, Captain Trant does no more than repeat what has been a hundred times said of states in a similar predicament with that of Greece. When we hear it so gravely and authoritatively declared of such countries, that they are yet unfit for freedom-that they have shown themselves unfit for it, we always feel inclined to ask, when is it that they will be in a proper condition to receive free institutions? In our opinion no country that has not some experience of such institutions can ever be in a fit state to receive them, and the history of the world is our authority for the doctrine. We hold it to be the course of human affairs, that political liberty must be a certain time in the possession of any community before they can duly appreciate and act up to its spirit. It is an instrument of human happiness requiring long practice from those who use it, to acquire the degree of skill which is necessary to draw forth its proper powers. It seems, therefore, an inevitable preparation to the settled enjoyment of freedom, that a people should in the beginning show extreme awkwardness in their mode of treating so precious a gift. We are allowed to believe that it may embarrass them for a season, and be the means of leading them to many errors and mortifications. We need but look to South America to satisfy us that this is true. There political liberty has hitherto produced only jarring and discordant sounds-for it is yet in the hands only of beginners. But, by and bye, those hands will be endowed with adequate power and skill; and we entertain no doubt, that in the maturity of time, that, which under imperfect management was only a source of discord and displeasure, will fully vindicate its nobler and more beneficial influence. Thinking, then, as we do, that states and communities must be educated to the use of freedom before they can enjoy it; conceiving that during this political probation they will commit many oversights and inconsistencies even to the very verge of forfeiting all claim to its benefits, we are not disposed to tarry until that stage of moral perfection shall have arrived for a given nation, when it can be pronounced to be in a fit condition for the possession of liberty. No, the possession itself is absolutely essential to a due preparation for the exercise and enjoyment of the blessing.
d'Istrias may say to the contrary, would have been well received by the nation. Capo d'Istrias was anxious to free himself from British influence and a British prince, and hopes, no doubt, to direct the councils of the Suture sovereign.'-p. 349.
ART. VIII-1. The Sea-Kings in England: An Historical Romance of the time of Alfred. By the Author of "The Fall of Nineveh." In three volumes. 8vo. London: Whittaker and Co. Edinburgh: R. Cadell. 1830.
2. First Love. A Novel. In three volumes. 8vo. London: Saunders and Otley. 1830.
3. Maxwell. By the Author of "Sayings and Doings." In three volumes. 8vo. London: Colburn and Co. 1830.
4. The Persian Adventurer; being the Sequel of "The Kuzzilbash.” By J. B. Frazer, Esq., Author of "A Tour to the Himala Mountains,” "Travels in Persia," &c. In three volumes. 8vo. London: Colburn and Co. 1830.
5. The Talba; or, Moor of Portugal: A Romance. By Mrs. Bray, Author of "The White Hoods," &c., &c. In three volumes. 8vo. London: Longman and Co. 1830.
6. The Exiles of Palestine: a Tale of the Holy Land. By the Author of "Letters from the East," &c. In three volumes. 8vo. London: Saunders and Otley. 1830.
THE fortunes of Alfred have furnished themes for almost every description of composition. They have been chaunted in epic, celebrated in lyric, ode, and hymn, represented in drama and melodrama, narrated in history, and embellished in romance and novel; and yet, neither in poetry nor prose, has any work been produced approaching to a realization of those charms with which our early conceived notions and associations surround the character of that prince, who, "if we were to judge of him from his writings, might seem to have passed his life in an university; if by his exploits, in a camp; if by his piety, in a cloister; and if by his admirable sense and useful wisdom, might be imagined to have made law and the dispositions of mankind his sole study*." The last production we remember to have read concerning the story of Alfred, was Pye's epic in six books, a work which, although it boasts of some excellently modulated stanzas, would be laughed at in these days. for the extravagance of its prophetic fictions, and for its frequent allusions to the incidents of the first revolutionary war with France. Our memory retains also some distant glimmerings of another poem of the same class, written by one Joseph Cottle, in the dim and remote age of the year 1800. That same Joseph appears to have been a precious frequenter of the Castalian fount, where he met with more "hideous shapes and things," more "rifted crags," and "midnight hags," and "carrion crows," and necromantic airs," than any other person who has ever drank of the sacred stream. Yet upon turning to the dusty quarto in which his poem is enshrined, we perceive that Mr. Atherstone is more indebted to it than he would, perhaps, wish to acknowledge. Indeed, if we except the loves of Edmund and Elfrida,
* Grant's Summary of History, &c.